If you’ve ever owned a rental property, you’ve learned how to find great tenants and avoid the not-so-great ones. If you’re just starting out with rentals though, please enjoy this guest post from one of my investor clients who has a few tips to help you find your ideal tenants.
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We all want the perfect tenant. She pays on time, every time. She takes decent care of the property inside and out. She is respectful of neighbors and other tenants and is, in general, low maintenance. While sometimes seeming impossible to find, this ideal tenant is not a mythical creature. She exists, and there are things we can do to increase our chances of finding her.
A Few Tips to Find That Ideal Tenant
Make sure the rent you’re asking is ‘in the right neighbourhood’. Different prices attract different people. Too low or high a price point drives people away. You can do your own comparative by looking at rental rates in the area or hire a REALTOR® to complete a rental assessment for you. Or, since you’re a DIYer anyway, you may want to test the market to see what it will bear. If no one responds to your ads, you’ll know you’re aiming too high.
Craft a gem of an ad; make your property irresistible or at least intriguing alongside all the other ads. Use various media, spread the word among friends and colleagues. If you know the type of renter you seek (trucker, university student, family), advertise where they are.
Tenant selection is key, so interview thoroughly. You don’t need an interrogation room, but do get (and check!) references that are not friends and family. Talk to their previous landlords, current employers and even previous neighbours if you can. For tips on what to ask an applicant, look online or ask landlord friends. Also, just as an aside, when I was booking showings, 80% of people who made appointments did not show up. 80%. I learned to cram appointments together, 10 minutes apart to avoid wasting my time.
Know the Rules.
Both you and your tenant have rights and obligations. Know what they are. The Landlord Tenancies Branch (in Manitoba that site is here) is a great resource for documents and step-by-step instructions on handling different situations. The site clearly outlines each party’s role in a variety of circumstances.
I think the biggest surprise to me at the beginning was the realization that the tenant-landlord relationship is not just a business deal; it’s a relationship. I went in thinking of tenants as a line on my budget sheet and soon learned what Tina seems to know so well: It’s a people thing.
Desperation sure puts a person’s integrity to the test, doesn’t it?
After weeks of dashing town to town, waiting for no one in Open Houses, of failed offers and expired listings, I was feeling the pinch. Income was not happening and the expenses piled ever higher.
To put it in perspective, try to imagine working for free for two months. Now picture that suddenly all your appliances and the motor in your car all need expensive repair before you can even have the privilege of working this hard for free. It’s been kind of like that. Kind of an end-of-my-rope sort of autumn.
And there, at the end of my rope, I start to wonder if I’ve got it all wrong; maybe integrity and caring about people is a weakness in this business. Pushy salespeople get numbers, listings, and a sight more income after all… should I change my methods to get the numbers? I could. It’s common practice – even expected. And a girl’s gotta eat, right?
There, at the end of that rope is a choice between compromise and integrity; between hanging on and letting go. In these hard weeks I have learned something about integrity – that what I could gain through compromise would become worthless without integrity. It wouldn’t be worth it. So I hung on. And now, as things start to look up, I can move forward with my head held high because in that tempting moment I didn’t give in.
Hopefully this somehow encourages you, when you’re hanging by a thread, to keep hanging on. It will get better. And when it does, you’ll want to be able to hold your head up high. You’ll know who you are under pressure – the real you – and you’ll like what you see.
Yes, I’m talking to you, my precious reader, client, family, friend. Because I care, I’m gonna tell you straight – stop being a pushover! Far too often you let others tell you where it’s at.
The doctor tells you what to do, so you do it without question or research.
The store clerk says ‘we don’t carry that’, so you leave without double checking the shelves.
The banker tells you the best plan for you (which is, of course, found only at their bank), so you go with it, not researching or checking around.
And there are REALTORS® who push and pressure you – to sign with them, to reduce your price, to hurry, hurry before the market changes and you lose out… and you just do it.
Too often I see people choose REALTORS® of ill repute because they were too afraid to stand up and say ‘No’. I’ve seen people get pressured into and out of sales they were not ready for. It pains me deeply to watch people suffer this way. And I’m not sure which is worse– pushy sales people who get the job done at any cost, or the pushovers who reinforce this behavior by succumbing.
I care about you, and plead with you – stand up for yourself! Don’t be afraid to ask questions. (Anyone who would mock you for asking is likely intensely insecure and proud. Do you really need to impress someone like that?) Ask!! Find out for yourself! Check around! Research! And then think carefully – is the advice you’ve been given really best for you?
Look, most of the time the advice we receive is coming from someone with something to gain. Yes, they may be trained in their field. Yes, they may even know more about their ‘area of expertise’. But there is one thing they will never know that you do – what is right for you.
You are the only one who will ever know that.
Think about it.