10 Tips for Finding Great Residents

How to find renters for your vacancies?  Here is the scenario: You have an excellent opportunity to boost your income by introducing your rental property to the real estate market. The research is complete, and investments made.  Now a vacancy is primed for fantastic tenants to make your apartment property their new home. The problem now is, how do you find these tremendous Residents?

Apartment Marketing

Many landlords and property managers find themselves in this situation, time and time again, where the rental market competition is fierce.  More than one-third of the population rent and the collective mindset is shifting to this living scenario being a preferable, long-term option.

Furthermore, Residents are not just the college-age demographic with little to no credit. There are nearly as many residents aged 30-65 years old as there are renters under the age of 30.  Now begs the question, “How can one of these potential applicants become my new, great Resident?” With sound, reliable apartment marketing!

With such a broad span of age in the rental pool, there should be an equally diverse range of methods to attract people to your vacancies. The following are some ideas to get the job done.

Methods for Filling a Vacancy with a Great Tenant

  1. Word of Mouth.  Forget about the old game of telephone-tag you played as a kid, where you give someone information, pass it along to someone else, and hope it returns to you the way you intended. Today, leveraging technology can turn anyone’s voice into the most effective megaphone you can imagine.  Some of the most trustworthy Residents can come from those you know.  Tell everyone you can about your vacancy through every channel at your disposal.  Facebook?  Sure.  A property owner using only one form of communication will extend the pain of extended vacancies.  Use multiple channels to find numerous potential tenants.
  2. Check your phone contacts and text people who might know a potential applicant.
  3. Use every social media network you have at your disposal.  Post the rental advertisement on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram. Be sure to include photos.  Better still to add words to pictures; it keeps the viewer’s attention just a little longer.
  4. Incorporate your vacancies into small talk conversations as you go about daily activities. A simple “. . . my day has been going well, I’ve been looking to fill a vacancy.” can open the door to finding your new Resident.  Social distancing is making this much harder. But everyone still needs a place to live so no harm in reaching out when and where you can.
  5. With any method, do not forget the adage, “a picture is worth a thousand words.” Keep multiple photos of your rental property on your cell phone to share via Instagram to promote the vacancy online.
  6. Know Your Target Audience.  Apartment marketing starts and stops with knowing your marketplace. Is your vacant property close to schools, malls, business parks, or other areas of interest within the city? Please review this information and use it to your advantage to find some high-quality applicants. Suppose a college is in the vicinity, post on campus-based media.  Highlight features most attractive this demographic who may not have experience living on their own.  Consider advertising in locations close to shopping as a perk to consumers. Anywhere with a large number of businesses have employees excited to have a shorter commute.
  7. Know Your Policies. There is more to eliminating a vacant rental than just finding someone to occupy it. The ultimate goal is to find well-qualified renters that treat the property with care and pay their rent on time. Filter out the non-qualified as soon as possible in the process. Establish a set of clear, concise, and, most importantly, following local laws and regulations.
  8. Know the jurisdictional rental laws.  Begin with online research referencing a city, county, and state government (.gov) websites. For example, California released an online guide to outlining the responsibilities of landlords and tenants.
  9. Apply leasing criteria consistently to all applicants.
  10. Make sure the policies you create are compliant with federal regulations set forth by the Fair Housing Act. Many of these requirements ensure that no discrimination occurs during the application process –both intentional and unintentional.

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When a clear, concise, and legally permissible rental policy is available for applicants, they can decide before they apply whether your vacancy is a viable option. Having clear policies protects and helps bring in more qualified applicants to view a rental property.  This form of standard operating procedures is a cornerstone of sound operations.

Don’t Schedule ‘Interviews,’ Plan ‘Viewings’ with New Residents

It is in our nature as people and within our society to know and trust people. This is a good thing, but when it comes to renting a property, it can pose some potential problems. The ‘interview’ stage of filling a vacancy is too often based on the renting agent’s perception and opinion. This type of subjective reasoning can get the best of us in trouble and even eliminate the most fabulous potential tenants.

If an applicant has found your property and know your rental policy, and they are still interested in renting, the next step is to use methods that can keep all applicants on a level playing field. The most common of these is performing a background check that will provide the same type of non-biased searches on all applicants.

These checks will provide objective information that can be backed by credible data. This removes decisions away from subjective decisions that can lead to an applicant feeling thinking of discrimination based on bias. This is when sections of your rental policy checklist ensure the applicant is a good fit for the property.

To Find Tenants: Be Patient and Proactive

Finding great tenants can be a game of patience, but the more pre-planning that goes into it, the better you can expect the result. If you can begin the process the right way, you can build the type of relationship that makes re-listing properties few and far between.

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