If you want your tenants to be forthcoming and honest with you, set the tone during your candidate search by laying your cards on the table. Let your candidates know what you expect out of your relationship. A good place to start is with your tenancy listing. Whether you use Craigslist, a newspaper ad, listing service or realtor, make sure you are advertising for precisely the type of tenant you want.
Be honest with yourself as well. There is nothing wrong with making a list of what you consider to be ideal tenant attributes. Is it cleanliness? Prompt payment? Do you hate noisy tenants but don’t mind night owls? The more specific you can be about what you dislike and can tolerate, the more likely you will be able to make a match that can suit your needs.
As you search for the perfect tenant for your property, here a few things to keep in mind:
1. Be upfront about any pet policies. If you have a pet policy, put it in your listing. Not only will this save you time, but will save you trouble down the line. Don’t let your lease do all the work. By the time you arrive at the lease signing, your tenant may already have fallen in love with your property or have given up other options to take your offer. This is a recipe for deception.
If you love pets, be upfront about this as well! Pet-friendly places are extremely desirable to many tenants and pet lovers will flock to your listing over others that have more nebulous pet policies. Be forthcoming from the first interaction and you will likely have more luck.
2. Put all costs on the table. Rent is not the only factor a tenant is considering. Let a tenant know if rent included any utilities. Responsible tenants will factor this in when calculating whether or not they can afford your property. If you are posting a bargain rent that does not include any utilities, you may be inadvertently attracting tenants that cannot afford your residence.
Other costs such as deposits, pet fees, and rental insurance should be disclosed at jump street too. Allow your candidates to make the most informed financial decision they can.
3. Let your candidates know you will run a financial and background check. Letting tenants know they will be screened can be a screening process in itself! Shady candidates will see this and run. So put your intentions in your ad and make sure only the most confident candidates are viewing your property.
4. Follow through on checking references. Checking references through a reputable background company is still the best way to give yourself peace of mind. If you promise to check references, make sure you follow through. Don’t let a shady tenant call your bluff. Do your homework and make sure you get the tenant you deserve.
5. Think like a tenant. Most potential tenants are not thinking of how to deceive you. They are thinking of how to make your property into their perfect home. As they tour your property, they may be thinking of painting the walls their favorite color, or the types of parties they could host, or possible roommates they’d like to help them with rent. If you have any policies or preferences regarding these sort of tenant concerns, don’t wait for your tenant to ask. Anticipate your tenants’ needs and make sure you talk about them during your first meeting.