Step 1: Quality Ads Attract Quality Tenants
Finding a wonderful tenant for your apartment for rent simply comes down to the law of attraction. Meaning: put out there what you want to receive. If you have an expensive rental, only post to sites where high-earning professionals would search. If you have an eccentric property that requires a specific type of tenant, make sure your listing advertisement properly reflect that.
To score the perfect tenant, start with the perfect listing. Here’s our best tips:
Where to Post your Apartment For Rent
Save yourself the time and effort and post your apartment online using paid sites. There are tons out there like rent.com, rental.com and the like. Be very wary of using free sites like Craigslist. Not only will you have to waste time dealing with scammers, you will often attract way too many responses, most of them being highly unqualified.
To ensure you cover your bases you should also think about posting ads offline. Here are some tried and trusted suggestions:
- Post an ad in the classified section of local newspapers
- Contact HR departments at local businesses to possibly post ads in break rooms
- Use social media platforms to advertise, and ask your friends to share
- Get referrals from your sphere of influence: family, friends and colleagues
Elements to Include
In your ‘apartment for rent’ listing you will obviously want to include basic information like:
- Photos (multiple interior and exterior)
- Rental rate (per month)
- Rental period (short or long term)
- Location (major cross streets, neighborhood, city and state)
- Number of bedrooms/bathrooms and square footage
- Amenities (washer/dryer, dishwasher, central air/heating, security system, fireplace, basement, garage, storage, etc.)
- Pet-friendly (breed, weight or number restrictions) or if they are prohibited
Here are some extra tips:
- If you want to attract clean, quality tenants then make sure your apartment for rent is clean and quality. Ensure that all photos and descriptions cast a positive light on the property. If it’s messy from current tenants, wait until they move out to take photos. Good tenants have options, so make your rental stand out.
- Ask directly for the tenant you want. Put in your description exactly who you are looking for. Student? Artist? Professional? No matter who it is ensure you spell out that y ou seek a tenant who is reliable, quiet and responsible. You will be surprised how this weeds out the bad eggs.
Step 2: Do Your Due Diligence
Now that you have properly advertised your apartment for rent, it’s time to screen your prospective tenants. Treat your rental exactly like an employer would a job applicant and use all the same elements: application, background/credit checks, employment verification and references.
Use a rental application form for every single prospective tenant to collect the necessary information (see below) needed to make an informed decision. There are several places to get a thorough rental application form online (both free and paid), just head on over to Google.
In addition to the application make sure you provide all prospects with a rental policy sheet covering all necessary information like lease conditions, deposits and rental insurance requirements.
When it comes to your apartment for rent, never trust a tenant based off of face value. This may sound harsh, but the only real way to make sure they are as reliable and financially responsible as they say they are is to check their past history through background and credit checks.
There are several reputable tenant-screening providers available that will research an applicants employment, credit and criminal records. Fees can run anywhere from $19.95 to $85 per candidate.
An industry favorite is Transunion’s Smart Move. Using this service there is no paperwork and you don’t have to handle any social security numbers.
Proof of Income
In addition to the background check you will want to make sure that the tenant can pay rent, here in present day. Not only should you ask for current and past employment information on the rental application, you should also ask for recent pay stubs or W2 forms that will verify they can afford to pay rent. The industry standard is that a tenant should make at least three times the monthly rental rate.
Collect references for all potential tenants…and make sure to check them! If you want the best person in your apartment for rent you will need to do some legwork and this includes contacting current and past landlords.
They will give you the most accurate snapshot of what kind of renter the individual is, including whether they paid rent on time and left the apartment in good condition upon vacating. Really the two most important pieces of information you will want to know.
Step 3: Hope For the Best, Prepare For the Worst
Now that you found and vetted your dream tenant to live in your apartment for rent, it’s time to cover your interests. While you may feel secure and happy with who is moving in, you can never prepare for any “X factors”. So, even if everything ends up going wonderful throughout the lease term, you want to make sure you are covered in case it doesn’t.
Start of on the right foot with a strong rental contract/lease that clearly outlines (1) all conditions for living in your apartment for rent and (2) basis for eviction. This includes information on:
- Rental rate
- Lease Term
- Rent payment (Where and how to submit, when it’s considered late and any penalties)
- Approved occupants
- Pet policy
- Rental insurance requirements
- Move-in and move-out requirements
Be sure to use a state approved rental application, click here for more information on that topic.
Upon lease execution you should require first, last and security deposits. At a minimum a security deposit should be equal to one month’s rent, but the amount depends on your exact apartment for rent. I.e. what will it cost to repair or replace interior or exterior finishes.
You should require that a tenant show proof of rental insurance before the move-in date. Not only will this protect them in the event of property damage (fire, flood, theft, natural disaster), it will protect you as well.
Consider even purchasing landlord insurance for your apartment for rent. The more you can safeguard your asset the better.