Every landlord hopes to find tenants who will pay rent on time and take good care of their property. Finding those tenants begins with generating high-quality applicants. The more you vett your applicants, the easier it will be to attract your ideal tenant.
If you’re getting frustrated with under-qualified applicants despite clear requirements, try these tips to attract better applicants and smooth out your application process.
1. Use an online rental application service
Managing your rental application process on paper is time-consuming and labor-intensive. While you’ll always need to manually review certain parts of every application, an automated system can flag applications that don’t meet your criteria. For example, if you require a credit score of 650 or higher, you can program the system to flag applications when the applicant’s credit score is below 650.
All disqualified applications will be set aside for you to review manually, while maintaining your pool of qualified applicants. An online application process can also discourage low-quality tenants from applying in the first place.
Some online application systems automatically weed out people who don’t follow instructions and submit incomplete applications. For example, the Rent Spree platform makes the rental application process smooth by not allowing an application to be submitted until all fields are filled. Once submitted, tenants are automatically screened, and you’ll get the results without lifting a finger.
2. Raise your tenant screening standards
To find tenants who will pay rent on time and take good care of your property, you need high application standards. Your tenant screening criteria is the only thing that will protect you from unknowingly taking on a bad tenant.
First, assess your current standards. Are they up-to-date with current laws? Would your criteria pass in a discrimination claim? If your current criteria is legal, check to see if your standards are high enough. Your standards can include factors that qualify a tenant as well as what’s required to move in.
Ask yourself the following questions:
· Should I raise the minimum acceptable credit score?
· Should I stop making exceptions for people with bad credit?
· Am I asking for a large enough security deposit within my state’s deposit requirements?
· Should I ask for a non-refundable cleaning fee?
· Do my lease terms make sense?
· Is my monthly rent too low?
All of these factors will play a role in the tenants you attract. For example, a tenant with a high credit score might pay rent on time, but could be a violent person without a record. If you take them on as a tenant and they punch holes in your wall, you’ll wish you had collected at least two times the rent as a security deposit.
High standards will certainly give you fewer prospects to choose from, but you’ll have a better chance at finding your ideal tenants.
3. Maintain your property
The way your property looks will matter to your prospective tenants. High-quality tenants tend to care about how their home looks. You won’t attract ideal tenants if your property has issues like:
· Broken siding
· Plumbing issues
· Cracked cement in the driveway
· Invisible house numbers
· Overgrown weeds coming through a chain link fence (that just looks junky)
· Broken shutters
· Tree limbs leaning directly on the roof
Take care of your property. Your ideal tenants won’t want to move into a house that needs work. Questionable tenants might have no problem moving into a house that looks junky if that’s how they’re used to living.
4. Discourage unwanted applicants through your listing
If you’re getting an influx of unqualified applicants, it’s because people either don’t read full listings or they want to try their luck.
Word your listings to discourage unqualified people from applying. Just make sure your ads don’t discriminate against protected classes. The people you want to discourage from applying are people who have a history of evictions, charge-offs, unpaid rent, and certain criminal records like drug trafficking and violence.
Anything you’re legally allowed to deny an applicant for can be mentioned in your ad. You can tell people outright not to apply if they have certain criminal convictions, evictions, or a credit score below a certain number.
5. Take amazing photos
The tenants you want won’t be drawn to apply for homes that look dark or dingy in the photos. Skip the DIY photos and hire a professional photographer. Better photos will attract better applicants.
Don’t be afraid to reject applications
It’s tempting to fill a vacancy when it’s hard to find a tenant, but if you make the wrong choice, you’ll be stuck with that tenant for a long time. If an applicant doesn’t qualify, keep looking. You’ll find a qualified tenant eventually.