How can you find great tenants? It’s a question every landlord faces. While tenants are the foundation of every rental business’s success, it’s a challenge to actually get those tenants in your rental in the first place. The easiest way to find and keep great tenants is by following these simple yet impactful steps to ensure your rental business stands out from the crowd — before and after your tenants move in. Here’s what you need to know.
1. Know Your Screening Laws
Before you start searching for your dream tenants, you must make sure you’re following the law. The Fair Housing Act of 1968 provides legal protections for seven protected classes: race, color, religion, national origin or ethnic background, gender, familial status, and mental or physical disability. You cannot base your decision on whether to accept or reject a tenant on any of these qualities.
In addition, the Portland FAIR Ordinances provide some other guidelines. Landlords must:
- Process applications in order of receipt.
- Begin advertising the available rental at least 72 hours before the application window opens.
- List the qualifications on which you will evaluate applicants if you are charging a screening fee.
- Give applicants a receipt showing the date and time you received their application.
- Prioritize applicants with disabled mobility if the unit is an Accessible Dwelling Unit.
2. Choose Your Screening Criteria
Your screening criteria will help determine whether someone will make a good candidate for a renter. Standard screening criteria are:
- Credit Score: A credit score over 650 is often a good sign that a person will make a consistent tenant.
- Address History: If a person has a long history of renting with no issues, you can feel more confident they’ll be a respectful renter. If they haven’t rented before, it’s harder to be sure.
- Previous Evictions and Bankruptcies: These factors can be a red flag for landlords who would rather avoid the hassle and financial burden of evicting a tenant in the future.
- Nationwide Criminal & Sex Offender Search: A person’s criminal record may determine whether you want to rent to them. Remember that under Oregon law, you cannot consider an applicant’s previous arrest record if it resulted in a conviction for charges currently legal in Oregon (such as possession of marijuana).
- Monthly Income: Many landlords require a monthly income of 3x the rent. This helps ensure your tenant has plenty of income to cover rent.
3. Request a Landlord Reference
Talking to a tenant’s previous landlord is a great way to get a feel for what type of tenant they’re likely to be. Some potential issues with a tenant won’t show up in a background check. Maybe they created problems for other residents, or frequently broke the terms of their lease. With a landlord reference check, you can make your decision with open eyes.
4. Advertise Wisely
Finding the best tenants is impossible if they never see your listing in the first place. With so many websites and opportunities for advertising a rental, it’s hard to know where to start. In the modern era, digital marketing is the best way to make sure a wide audience sees your listing. Be sure to research which sites are most popular in your area. A few common options are:
If you’re working with a property management company, they will often advertise the property on their own website. This gives it a degree of legitimacy that renters often trust more than third-party sites.
5. Get The Best Photos
Quality photography is everything when putting your rental’s best foot forward. Make sure you get shots during the brightest time of day, with lots of natural light and in-focus shots. Document each room of the apartment diligently, and be sure to snap pictures of its best amenities.
You might also consider whether it’s worthwhile to stage your rental for photos. If you’re trying to rent out multiple units in a building, staging one of them for photographs can help spark interest for the entire building.
6. Write Excellent Copy
Once you have your photos, you’ll need to write up a listing for the rental itself. The key is to balance extolling the unit’s virtues while conveying all the information a renter needs to know. Make sure you list all the best amenities in the copy, and mention any positives about the area. Good school districts, nearby restaurants, and walkable neighborhoods are all big pluses.
7. Be Ready to Tour
If your dream tenant replies to your listing shortly after you make it, you want to be able to show them the property with no time to lose. Make sure you aren’t advertising your rental until you’re ready to start ushering people in through the door.
8. Be Friendly and Communicative
Remember, as you evaluate your rental applicants to see whether they’ll make good tenants, they’ll also be judging whether you’ll be a good landlord. And once you’ve found tenants who you really like, the ball is in your court to make certain they stay. One of the best ways to both find and keep great tenants is by being communicative. Renters like to know that you’re there when they need you. They want to feel that they can count on you to be friendly and professional, and maintain a good relationship throughout their tenancy.
9. Stay On Top of Maintenance
Late maintenance is the kiss of death when it comes to renter satisfaction. Sticking to a rigorous schedule of preventative maintenance and fast repairs will ensure tenants feel respected and valued — and keep your property in good repair.
10. Don’t Forget The Little Touches to Find and Keep Great Tenants
Have you thought of leaving your renters a little welcome basket on their move-in day? It’s small but meaningful gestures like those which can build long-term positive relationships between tenants and landlords. In the end, it’s the little things that make or break an incredible rental business. Of course, that can put a lot of pressure on landlords to stay on top of every detail. That’s why property management companies like Rent Portland Homes by Darla Andrew are a great option for Portland landlords who want to find and keep great tenants without the stress and hard work.
We have our business down to a science when it comes to screening tenants and ensuring they have an incredible experience in your rental. And best of all, with us managing your property, you’ll never have to worry about a thing. If you’d like to learn more about how we can help, call or text us at (503) 515-3170 or fill out our contact form!