Finding quality residents for your rental home is an important step in ensuring a successful investment experience. Today’s residents are more savvy, better informed and have more options available to them. They are modern consumers who browse product availability (available rental homes) from their smart phones, tablets and computer screen. They will spend more time in self-discovery from the Web and less windshield time visiting property. By the time they make an appointment to visit property they have narrowed the search down to a very few properties and are well informed about the community, schools, transportation and neighborhood. They have typically read blogs and compared amenities leaving the site visit to simply affirm what they already know about the property.
Assuming the rental home is well presented and ready to rent then the next steps are to advertise and qualify the resident with consistency and to communicate the leasing process with clarity.
- Advertising: Online advertising is now the standard with over 85% of prospective residents searching for available rentals online. Mobile is now quickly becoming the new standard so having your rental home information mobile friendly is also important. Providing abundant information about the property, neighborhood, schools and region are extremely important. Online video of the property will attract increased interest from prospective residents.
- Application: A well designed, written application should be completed by each prospective adult occupant to include permission to obtain credit, criminal, employment/income and rent history – all of which are vital to help determine a resident’s ability to successfully fulfill the lease requirements. Any of these by themselves will only present a partial picture. The results should be measured through a written and consistently applied standard of occupancy. Although the application has been traditionally completed by filling in a hard-copy form, today’s resident’s prefer to complete the application securely online. Online processing has dramatically improved the turnaround time for leasing a property.
- Know the law: Federal Fair Housing Laws provide express guidelines applicable to all residential landlords. The laws are well written to protect the renting public from discriminatory actions by landlords. It is extremely important to know the law and put it into action for every part of the advertising, screening and showing process. Landlords must also understand and apply the Americans with Disabilities Act within the leasing process. A visit to hud.gov is a good first step in familiarization but implementing these and other required laws into the leasing process will be critical for compliance.