If you’re a landlord, you understand how important it is to find great tenants. You want people in your building that will take care of the property, respect the other residents, and pay rent on time. Unfortunately, that seemingly simple combination of qualities is often difficult to find. Residents will pay rent but trash the apartment, or they will keep everything clean, but only in between loud parties that disturb the other residents.
It’s possible to find great tenants; they’re out there, and they’re looking for a place to live. If you’re really invested in renting your space and not selling it, and are willing to put in the time and effort, it’s well within your ability to fill their building with ideal residents. By following a few simple steps, you will eliminate the stress that comes with late-payments and poor upkeep.
Meet Face to Face
Some landlords choose to forgo a face-to-face a meeting and instead correspond with prospective tenants through email or text message. This is never a good idea. If you want to find the perfect tenants for your building, it’s important that you get a fully fleshed out sense of who they are. The only way to do this is with a face-to-face meeting.
Landlords who only correspond with tenants electronically are often duped by cheerful messages. It’s easy to add a few smiley faces or exclamation marks and make yourself seem friendly or kind. When you meet someone in person, you’re able to look them in the eye and evaluate them for yourself.
No matter how promising a tenant seems to be—your first meeting went great, they seemed friendly and responsible, etc.—you must check their references. It’s almost impossible to get a full picture of someone through a few simple meetings. You probably know this from your personal life. Someone seems to be a certain way, but over time you develop a more complete picture, for better or worse.
References are perhaps the only way to get a better idea of who someone is without actually taking the time to fully get to know them. As a landlord, you want to fill your properties as soon as you can, seeing as your livelihood depends on it. Call around after you’ve met a prospective tenant and see what their references have to say about them.
Ensure Financial Stability
This should go without saying, but some landlords don’t go as far as they should when making sure a tenant is able to pay rent monthly. Some landlords are content with accepting an initial deposit with first and last month’s rent—but that money can come from a small resource pool. A month or two in, when they start receiving checks later and later into the month, they realize they have a problem.
A landlord credit check, a document showing that they make at least three times the amount of rent every month, proof of employment—these are the things that you should be on the look for when you’re thinking of signing a tenant. Any less and it’s possible that you will run into issues. Even the kindest, most well-intentioned tenant can struggle to make rent. It’s difficult having uncomfortable talks with tenants you may like, so avoid this situation entirely by being thorough in your initial vetting.
Trust Your Instincts
As a landlord, you vet people regularly for housing. After having interacted with so many people, you should know what warning signs to look out for. Don’t be overly suspicious, but be wary when people seem like they’re trying to take advantage of you, or spin their story in a way that seems questionable. Go beyond looking for superficial signs and really try to get a sense of the person you’re thinking about leasing to. You can always spot the small things they’ll do or say to show they appreciate the house. Your gut instinct will, in most cases, guide you to the correct decision.
If you do end up signing the wrong tenant to a lease, there are steps you can take to try to remove them from the property. However, in many cases, the eviction process is incredibly time consuming, financially burdensome, and an altogether unpleasant experience. It’s best to avoid this situation entirely by taking the time to properly vet prospective tenants before you sign them. In the long run, you will be grateful that you took the extra time.