In today’s post, we will look at 4 tips to find and keep great tenants for your Ventura County rental. We will keep this post short and to the point, but you can see our previous posst for a more exhaustive guide on rental properties. And as always, make sure that you understand California law when it comes to landlord/tenant rights. The Department of Consumer Affairs has a pretty thorough guide on the subject that can be found here.
1. Advertise, Advertise, Advertise
Real estate is a numbers game, and this is no different when it comes to finding the best tenants for your rental. The more applicants that you have applying for your rental, the more options you will have to choose from to find the best candidate. If only a few people know that you have a vacancy and actually fill out an application, you may be forced to choose an undesirable tenant or have your property sit empty. In order to prevent this, you need to advertise for qualified leads in as many places as possible. Some options include using Craigslist, Facebook, Zillow, the newspaper, a rental sign, or even having an agent put your rental in the Multiple Listing Service (MLS). The more places your advertisement is seen, the better the chance you have of finding a great tenant. Of course this means that you have to take the time to look over all the applications, but if that saves you from a horrible experience with a bad tenant, so be it.
2. State Your Application Requirements
If you are trying to set yourself up for success as a landlord, you should have written requirements documenting the minimum a perspective tenant needs to have in order to be rented to. Although that is a good start, a best practice is to advertise those requirements when you have a vacancy. This will help perspective tenants know up front what your standards as a landlord are. Some of these requirements can include income, credit score, rental history, criminal record, etc. By documenting these requirements up front, it will save applicants from wasting time filling out an application if they know in advance that they do not meet the requirements. Likewise, it will save you time from having to screen unqualified candidates.
3. Screen, Screen, Screen
Once you have received all of the applications, it is time to start the real work. You now need to screen all the applications and verify that the applicants really do meet the requirements. You can do the best job possible in stating your requirements, but there will still be applicants who apply that do not meet those requirements, whether they do so purposely or not. There are many different criteria that you can use to screen applicants, but some of the common ways are calling their place of employment, calling previous landlords, and running background and credit checks. If you successfully do all of this, you have done as much as you can to mitigate the risk of having a horrible tenant. Of course no system is perfect and sometimes bad tenants can slip through the crack and tenant’s situations can change over time, but at this point you have done as much due diligence as possible.
4. Maintain Standards
Now that you have a great tenant in your rental, you need to make sure that you enforce the rules you have set in your lease agreement. People may have the best of intentions, but if you give a tenant a pass to break one rule, you are opening the door for them to try and break others. By signing your lease agreement, they know the rules in advance and are agreeing to abide by them. If necessary, you can remind them of this if they fail to make an on time payment and are asking for forgiveness on the late fee. Being a strict landlord does not make you a bad person. On the flip side, you need to treat the tenant with the same respect that you are expecting of them in return. If they have an issue that they need your assistance with, you need to respond in a timely fashion and make sure they are taken care of. Land lording is a two-way street and to think otherwise is a recipe for disaster.