Many interviewers in corporate America strut into an interview with the idea that they hold the cards and that the interviewee (job hunter) should bow to their presence. This attitude can be likened to the process of apartment hunting on some levels. The prospective renter (tenant) is looking for their next apartment. The landlord seems to "hold the cards" (he has the keys), but in reality - it's an illusion. Why is it an illusion? Because renters have wised up (just like job hunters) and are investigating landlords and property management firms before applying. Tenants are no longer blindly submitting their rental applications to the flashiest place they see in their neighborhood in CraigsList. They are more calculated, educated, and require that the landlord is verified with tools like VerticalRent.
The law of attraction states that whole attracts whole. Whether you believe in the law of attraction or not, a lot can be said about key charactertics you exude as an independent investor/landlord or a budding property management firm. We took some time to outline a few of the characteristics that we think are key to attracting reliable tenants who will pay rent on-time and keep your apartments in tip-top shape.
- Communication. It's the 21st century! If you you’re reading this article, then it’s likely you already have a computer and internet access. Good for you – that's a first step. Tenants demand landlords who are well-versed in all aspects of communication. Regular e-mail is unsecure. You should use an online property management system with bank-level security. Keep everything seucre with audit trails!
- Your reputation. Nobody is perfect. You will make bad decisions at times, which might tarnish your reputation with a few colleagues or tenants. The important thing is that you own up to your mistakes and strive to be consistent on where you stand. If you’re a small-town landlord with apartment complexes around town, you can rest assured that others will know your name. Try to keep your message consistent: high quality housing with superior customer service.
- Organization and Rent Payment Methods. You need to remain flexible with your tenants, while showing them that your capable of handling a multitude of situations. Leaky sink? No problem, call this toll-free number, or submit a maintenance request online – one of our trained techs will be there in 24 to 72 hours for moderate issues and within 1 hour for emergencies. Furthermore, you need to give them rent payment options. Paper checks and money orders are still the preferred methods for some tenants – but others want to pay by credit card or online. Give them that option and clearly outline the rules and regulations in your lease agreements. Lastly, you need to run your rental empire like a business. Keep your guard up and handle your interactions with professionalism. In other words, don’t watch Sunday football with your tenants and talk about your personal issues!
- Be Realistic. Landlords need to be tough – bottom line. But, you can’t be uncompromising with your tenants. You should practice empathy (put yourself in their shoes) and be realistic about situations with your tenants. One example is extenuating situations that may arise with your tenants. I rented to a couple who would often allow rotating residents (they were medical students) to stay with them. They likely charged these rotating residents a small sublet fee too! Although the lease agreement clearly stated that this was forbidden, my tenants were transparent about asking me first, in which I agreed to the arrangement. These were long-time renters with positive rent payment history. I was realistic as to what was occuring and made a decision to allow it. Just make sure you have everything documented and make it clear to your tenants that the visiting “dwellers” need to abide by the same rules & regulations that they do during their stay.
We hope that these tips help in your quest to build a rental property empire. Most of this sound advice is common sense, but it takes time and effort to hone your craft of landlording. Good luck and let us know if you have any more tips on attracting reliable tenants who pay rent on-time!