There are two ways to find a tenant for a rental property: the easy way and the hard way.
Easy means hiring a certified property manager, while hard entails doing it yourself. Either route you choose, here are some tips to help get your place leased to a desirable tenant:
- Advertise your property. Start online. For a fee, you can advertise the property on a site such as Rentals.com. But if you want the best result for the least money, try YouTube, says Andrew L. Propst, president of the National Association of Residential Property Managers. Upload a virtual tour of your property and then post it to classified sites such as Craigslist and to your social media accounts. And don’t forget the essential “For Rent” sign in the front yard. “A business with no sign is a sign of no business,” Propst says. “Three out of ten properties we lease come from signage,” he adds.
- Clean it up. Surprisingly, some landlords don’t bother tidying up their homes and apartments for rent. Generally, the cleaner and nicer your home is at move-in, the nicer it looks when the tenant leaves. Repairing structural deficiencies, replacing broken appliances, removing left-behind junk, spraying for pests, and simply adding a fresh coat of paint will go a long way toward attracting an ideal renter. And you’ll be able to charge more.
- Use a formal application. Rental applications are simple, effective ways to gather the information you need to conduct a credit and criminal check on a prospective renter. You can get basic, customizable rental applications and agreements for free at sites such as LegalContract.com. Also, you may be able to charge a nonrefundable application fee of $25 to $40 to cover the cost of background checks. Be sure to provide a rental policy sheet that spells out the terms and conditions of the lease, such as whether you allow pets, require an extra security deposit, or expect tenants to carry renters insurance.
- Do a background check. SmartMove, a service of TransUnion Rental Screening Solutions, is discounted for USAA members and can simplify the tenant screening process. SmartMove offers tenant-screening tools, including access to one of the largest credit, criminal, and eviction databases in the industry. At the very least, make sure you or the company you hire calls the applicant’s employer to verify income.