As an experienced property manager, I can share with you that one of the most important things when renting out your property is finding a qualified tenant. We have all heard those stories about tenants moving out unexpectedly or even worse tenants who do not move out when they are supposed to & stop paying rent. Those stories are true!
The key to a happy landlord/tenant relationship is "qualified tenants". If you are a landlord who has decided to manage your own property I strongly suggest researching your potential tenant & asking lots of questions during the intial phone call. This will save you time & extra trips to the rental property. Here are some questions to get you started.
- What is your move in date? Decide how long you will hold a house for your tenant to move in. I usually want a tenant to take possession about 2 weeks from when they apply, but definitely no more than 30 days. If your property is ready in November & your prospect cannot move in until January, then you likely need to move on.
- Do you have any pets? If the property is a condo don't forget to check with the condo association to see if they have any special breed or weight restrictions.
- What is your VERIFIABLE income? I typically want my tenants income to equal about 3x the rent. This way I know that they can afford to pay rent.
- Do you have any EVICTIONS or do you owe money to other landlords? This is a huge risk. You do not want to have to go through evicting a tenant. It is time consuming & costly in terms of court costs, attorney's fees & having to clean up the mess in your property that is often left behind.
Screen, Screen, SCREEN
You will need a screening company to do your background check. Typically your prospective tenant will pay for this but do not skip this step even if you pay for it yourself. It is the best $50 you will ever spend. What you are looking for is any criminal activity, credit score, collections, late pays or money owed.
If you are in a State such as Florida, where you can find out almost anything you want to know online then go this extra step. Often times if an eviction has just been filed, your screening company may not have picked it up yet. You can go to your county clerk website, enter your prospect's name & see any court actions that they have been involved in.
Call the previous landlord & ask them about the potential tenant's rental history. Did they pay rent on time? How did they maintain the property? Were there any complaints from neighbors or HOA violations? Did they get their security deposit back?
There is much more to property management than you might think. Some times you get lucky & end up with an awesome tenant who pays rent on time & takes care of your property and sometimes, you don't. I often get calls from DIY landlords who got in over their heads & need assistance removing a non paying tenant and I am happy to help.