The end of a lease is one of the most stressful times for any landlord. Between finding new tenants and getting the current tenant to the finish, it can be an overwhelming time. One of the worst things a landlord can ever do is to take the first tenant that comes their way. By not taking the time to vet prospective tenants, you open the door for problems. A bad tenant can be a source of constant stress, ruin your property or worse. Finding good tenants starts with having a good plan in place. The longer you wait to start this process, the more difficult it will become. If you want to make your life as a landlord as easy as possible, there are a few things that you need to start doing.
Advertise Early: The end of a lease can sneak up on you if you are not careful. Start looking for your next tenant as soon as you are 90 days from the current lease end. One of the most overlooked things landlords do is fail to ask the existing tenant if they have an interest in staying. Extending the current lease is not only easier, it will also save you time and money. Good tenants are difficult to find. If you have one you are comfortable with, you need to reach out to them. If you still need to find a tenant, you have to give yourself enough time. The closer you get to the lease end, the more desperate you become. The longer out you are, the more people that will apply and the more choices you have to choose from. Give yourself enough time to advertise .
Advertise Often: The method of advertising you used to find your current tenant may not work for your next one. Real estate advertising is constantly changing and you need to give yourself as many options as possible. The first place you should look for a new tenant is at the property. A simple $10 “for rent” sign on your front yard can attract more phone calls than anything else you do. Make it big enough for people in cars to read and keep it simple. You also need to utilize social media. Facebook, Craigslist, Zillow and Postlets are all places where renters look for property. Take a few minutes a couple times a week to update your post and place it at the top of housing searches. Even if you haven’t received any calls in a week, you can’t think that this isn’t important. All it takes is one tenant to fill a vacancy. The more places where your property is listed, the easier it will be to find a tenant.
Set Up a Website: In a perfect world, you will get a handful of inquiries a week. Instead of leaving your phone number on your advertising, you should direct interested parties to a website. Setting up a website for your property is cheaper and easier than ever. Since this is the only property you will use it for, it doesn’t have to have multiple pages or bells and whistles. The goal is to provide applicants with as many answers about the property as possible. List everything that is included in the lease and estimates on other monthly bills. Have an application ready if they would like to apply. Show everything about the neighborhood and the town the property is in. The more questions answered on the website the more serious any applicants will be.
Video Tour of the Property: Pictures of the property on your website are nice, but a video can seal the deal. You don’t need to have this professionally done – just something showing the property. Start with both sides of the street and work your way towards the front door. There is no use trying to hide negative areas of the property because they will eventually see them. Show every room in the house while highlighting the best features. Instead of having to drive to the property every time you get an interested inquiry, you can direct them to the website. Inquiries from tenants that see the property are serious and most likely ready to act quickly.
Set An Open House Day: By giving yourself enough time between leases you can take your time finding the next tenant. If you have multiple calls to see the property you should set one day for all the showings. You are in a position of strength and do not need to hurry. Pick one day that works for you and schedule showings one after another. You can also pick an open house time and have interested parties show up during those hours. You need to make sure you always follow fair housing laws and have an open application process. Having demand is the goal but you need to treat it the right way.
Finding tenants and turning your lease over doesn’t have to be a stressful time. By setting up a system and thinking like a tenant, you can make the process much easier. The most important thing is to make sure you give yourself enough time. Busy investors have plenty going on. It is easy to get sidetracked. Before you know it, you could be within 45 days of a lease expiring and panic mode sets in. By following these tips you can make finding tenants as easy as has ever been.