The most common complaint I hear from landlords surrounds rent delinquency payments. The next most common is the damage tenants cause to owners’ properties. Repairs to damaged properties can be costly. Likewise, when a tenant remains in your premises and does not pay rent, your cash flow is disrupted severely. How can you select tenants who will take care of your property and be punctual with their rent? Below are some steps to take to find the right tenant for your property.
Set an Attractive Rental Figure
Search the classified ads of the newspapers to get an idea of the going rent for properties with similar features to yours. If you plan to use a Realtor ask his or her opinion of prices and ask for a list of properties that have rented in the area over the past six months. Your aim should be to find the right tenant in the shortest possible time. The longer the property remains vacant the more rental you lose – rent which you can never recoup. My approach is to set the rental slightly below the going rate. You will receive a larger number of calls and interest in viewing the property, than if you price it above or in line with the going rate. The larger pool of enquirers quickens the time of finding the right tenant.
Pretty up the Property
Always pretty up your property after a tenant moves out. Repaint the walls if necessary. Fill out nail holes. Scrub between the tiles of the bathroom walls and tubs. Restore the lustre of the kitchen and bathroom faucets . Remove stains from toilet bowls, replace discoloured toilet seats and fix any dripping pipes or running toilets. Replace blown bulbs. Clean the cover around the plugs and light switches. Remove debris from the renovation such as paint cans and used rags. Cut the grass or sweep the pavement. If it’s an apartment clean the corridor.
Assemble the Paperwork
I prepare three documents for prospective tenants. These are:
- An information sheet
- An application form
- A lease agreement
The sheet is a flyer with a picture of the property, a description of its features and a few special terms and conditions. It’s a means of further “selling” the property to prospective tenants. The form asks for their personal, employment, financial, and reference information. The lease spells out the terms and conditions of the occupancy.
Describe the features of the property succinctly in the form of an ad, state the number of bedrooms bathrooms, and mention any special features such as a view of the sea, the city or mountains. Is the property close to a river, a beach, a highway or public transportation? State it. Are the rooms spacious, or cozy? Are they equipped with air conditioned units? Advertise in the national and regional newspapers depending on the location or your property. Include in the advertisement, the price and a telephone number. In addition to the newspaper, spread the message by word of mouth to your friends and colleagues.
Arrange a Viewing
Prepare the property for viewing by opening all windows and doors and turning on the lights. Ensure that the property is spotless. Schedule a two or three-hour block of time, preferably on a weekend, for viewing of the property. Book appointments at fifteen or thirty-minute intervals with the responders to the advertisement. Have two or three clipboards and pens available for viewers who wish to complete application forms. Tour the property with one set of viewers at a time, answering their questions as you go along. If they show an interest, ask them to complete an application before they leave and tell them an approximate time you will get back to them.
Select the Tenant
It’s now time to review the applications. Begin by looking for affordability and employment or business income. Who is paying the rent, a working couple, a single individual or a company? If an individual applicant’s income is $150,000 per month, for example, it will be difficult for him or her to afford a rent of $80,000. Next, look for rental history. What are the reasons for leaving the previous premises? Are all the reasons pointing blame at someone else? If so, that is a red flag. You are looking for someone who has a degree of stability in the places they live.
Make a short list of the ones who seem most suited and verify their employment and their references. Ask the applicant to obtain a credit report from the CRIF NM office, the Jamaican credit bureau. This report will indicate how well they service their credit card, bank loans and a selected number of consumer credits. Finally, apply your instincts. How do you feel about the applicant? Do you get a good vibe? Inform the successful applicant of your decision. If they accept, send them a lease agreement and have them return it with a deposit within 24 hours. Wait until you receive the deposit before you Inform the unsuccessful applicants. Try to complete the process from viewing to a final decision within 48 hours. If you take the time and effort in the steps outlined here, you stand a good chance of selecting the right tenant.