Step 1: Prepare Your Property
Your job at this point is to fix up, paint, clean, and dress your rental property home or apartment to make it attractive enough so that a good prospect will want to rent it from you for the rent you want to charge. You will always attract the best tenants and get the most rent from a rental home that shows well and smells good.
Even so, don’t become overly concerned with perfection when you are preparing a house for occupancy. Remember that you are appealing primarily to the senses of sight and smell. In this context, clean the appliances, stove hood, cabinets, and under the sink. Remove all non-adhesive shelf paper. Clean the showers, tubs, toilets, sinks, mirrors, and medicine cabinets. Dust the ceilings, baseboards, window sills, and closets, as well as wash the kitchen, bathroom walls, dry clean the draperies, etc. You get the idea, but just don’t go overboard. After all, you, the landlord, are not going to be living there and any tenant will end up fixing the place to their own taste any ways.
In addition to preparing the place for occupancy by cleaning, make sure to make it smell good. Perfume the place by cleaning the kitchen and bathroom with a lemon or pine-oil scented cleaner, or use a commercial air freshener to make the place smell of honeysuckle, limes, or cinnamon. The sense of smell is very important. Those who study such things say that smell revives memories more than any of our other senses. Remember the wonderful aroma of home-made cookies and all the pleasant memories that go along with them.
Step 2: Pre-Qualify The Prospects
This step is based mostly upon your tenant standards, whatever they happen to be, and consists of five or more determinations that can and should be made rather quickly, even over the phone, and will save you time, energy, and grief. This step serves to eliminate those people who are interested in renting from you but fail to qualify. You are pre-qualifying a tenant before showing them the rental property or having them fill out an application, so you won’t be frustrated to learn late in the process that they have too many people to fit into your rental or have pets when you don’t allow any.
You can’t very well determine at this stage whether someone will qualify according to all of your tenant standards. That questioning would be much too tedious to go into right now, and besides, it wouldn’t yield useful information anyway because there are certain things you need to observe and can’t ask about, like intelligent or cleanliness.
To avoid wasted time, effort, and possible embarrassment, you might prequalify prospects when you first speak with them by making these five essential determinations about them and their circumstances:
- When are they ready to move in?
- Whether they have enough money to move in and can afford a certain rent?
- Whether the number of people who intend to live there falls within your limit?
- Whether they have pets?
- Whether they operate a home-based business and what it may be?
If the prospects are not ready to move yet and your dwelling is ready for immediate occupancy, look for someone else in the meantime. If you require $750 to move in and they only have $400 to commit right now, don’t bother talking to them right now. If they are a family of four, and you’re looking for a maximum of three people, tell them.
However, unless you have a lie detector handy, establishing the truth regarding these particulars may take some time. Ask your questions in a subtle way not to demonstrate the answer you are searching for. Let them just answer the question and see where it goes. With all of these matters settled to your mutual satisfaction, invite them to take a look at the place.
Step 3: Showing The Rental Home or Apartment
This step requires no great talent or skills, but you might wisely employ a number of ideas to make showing the dwelling less troublesome and more productive.
- After you have prequalified those who call and express an interest in renting your available rental property, answer whatever questions they may have while they’re still on the phone, and explain exactly where the rental is located so they aren’t astounded by the neighborhood if it’s not quite what they had expected.
- If you’re an absentee landlord who rents out a house or an apartment complex which is located far from where you live or work, you’ll want to refrain from making repeated trips there. Do so by encouraging people to drive by the building first and then call back for an appointment to see the inside, or do so by holding an “open house” for showing your vacancy at designated hours for multiple people. Tell those whom you have pre-qualified, and save yourself many wasted trips and hours of waiting around for a specific caller who may or may not even bother to show up.
- While holding an open house may be a real convenience for a landlord, it also has the benefit of stimulating greater interest in the property. When several people show up and express an interest in renting a particular place, each one feels all the more interested just because someone else wants it. The open house creates a kind of “auction atmosphere” which sirs the bidders’ blood and puts you in command. You need not negotiate rent and conditions as some crafty tenants would attempt. You may be in a position to dictate rent and conditions and most importantly, the ability to be super-selective in picking the best available applicant.
- Also, never rent to any person who has not seen the rental property. Some prospective tenants will tell you over the phone that they want to rent your place without even looking at it. If they’re that eager, don’t insist that they see it, but don’t rent it to them immediately either. Be wary of the prospective tenant who does not appear in person but is being represented by somebody else, say a social worker, parent, friend, or minister. The prospective tenant could be an ex-con or a mentally incompetent person who may be a real threat to you or your other tenants. Insist that the prospective tenant appear in person, after all, should this person become your tenant, you will have to deal with him specifically.
- If possible, accompany your prospects on their tour of the premises rather than handing them a key and telling them to look everything over by themselves. Consider the showing as something of an opportunity to talk with the prospects and subtly learn more about them. If you can’t accompany them, take precautions about getting the key back promptly.
- Avoid mentioning whether any one prospect is the first person to submit an application. Many people believe erroneously that landlords have to check rental applications by sequence of submission. A landlord reviews a number of people for an available occupancy and considers each equally over a period of time or until the person best suited for the landlord’s management style comes along. But it is important to offer all visitors and guests to the rental property an application. Tell them that you will be accepting applications over the next few days, and after that, you will check each of them out and pick one. That way you avoid potential arguments over your reasons for refusing to rent to somebody, and everyone saves face.
- Offers applications to all who look at the place. Tell them that you will be accepting applications over the next few days. After that, you will check each of them out and pick one. This way, landlords can avoid potential arguments or litigation over your grounds for refusing to rent to somebody.
Continue with Step 4: How To Get Good Tenants – Rental Applications.