28 Jun

Written by Kathryn Vercillo on June 28, 2010

If you’re already a landlord then you know how important it is to get good tenants. If you are thinking about renting out your home or even a portion of your home to save money then you will rapidly learn this lesson soon enough. You want tenants that will pay on time, keep your home in good working order and stay for a long period of time. If you are renting out a room in your own home, you also want tenants that are safe for your family and easy to get along with. When you are doing your screening to accept new tenants, what how can you guarantee that these criteria will be met?

There’s no one hundred percent guarantee that you will choose the perfect tenant. However, there are signs that you can look for that indicate that you’re getting a good tenant who will pay their rent on time. Ten signs to look for are:

  1. Tenants who don’t hesitate to sign a long-term lease. People never know what might come up in their lives but you want to find someone who is fairly certain that they are interested in staying in your home for a long time. A one-year lease is common but it’s even better if you can get someone who will sign an eighteen-month lease. This isn’t just because it guarantees that the rent should be covered for that period of time. It’s also because someone who isn’t afraid to sign a long-term lease is someone who plans to stay for awhile. This saves you money on marketing and having an empty house down the line. Even if you have to lower the rent a little bit to get a long-term lease like this, it can be worth it in long-term costs and may help you find the best tenant for your home.
  2. Tenants who ask questions about energy efficiency in your home. Green-minded people who don’t want to waste energy are people who think about their long-term bills. They may have a keen interest in saving the earth but chances are that they are also interested in saving money on their bills. These types of savings really only benefit you if you get them long-term. Tenants who ask about this are tenants who are likely to keep their energy costs down and pay all of their other bills on time too.
  3. Tenants who have skills that can help with things around the property. Sometimes it is cost-efffective to get tenants who will be able to do repairs or landscaping on their own even if it means that they get a reduction on their rent. Someone who may otherwise struggle to meet their rental payments may be able to meet a lower rental amount and barter their time to take care of the property. This doesn’t necessarily mean that you are hiring them for an apartment manager or maintenance position. It just means that if they have skills that you can take advantage of then that can be a nice backup plan if they ever can’t afford the full rent.
  4. Tenants who notice the little details. Go the extra mile to put some nice little details in the home that you are going to be renting. High-quality light bulbs, creative paint trim and other little details don’t cost a lot on your end and make a house look nicer. This will be more attractive to potential tenants in general. However, the more important thing is that you will be able to tell who notices these things. A prospective tenant who points out their appreciation for these little details is someone who is likely to try to take care of the little things around the house. Such people are more likely to pay their rent and keep the home in good shape.
  5. Tenants who actually read the lease agreement. All too often you get to the part where you are signing the lease agreement and the tenant just skims over it and signs where they are supposed to. A tenant who reads through each section carefully and even asks questions is a tenant who is good with the details of renting the home. A tenant who knows his or her rights also knows his or her obligations. This is a good indication that the rent will be paid on time or that late fees will be paid as outlined in the lease agreement.
  6. Tenants with good credit scores, strong renting histories, etc. These are the basic background check things that all landlords tend to look for. They’re important, but they aren’t the be all and end all of finding a good tenant. Someone may have some credit problems but always pay their rent on time. Or they may have a poor rental history due to previous unemployment but now have stable employment. So yes, by all means, take a look at the credit histories and references of potential tenants but consider the other facts on this list as well.
  7. You know someone who has rented to the tenant before. The most ideal situation is to get a recommendation for a tenant from someone who has rented to the tenant before and will vouch for the fact that they made on-time payments. For example, maybe a friend was renting out a room in her house to someone and that someone wanted to move out in order to live in a bigger space with her boyfriend. If your friend lets you know that this couple is looking for a place and you have a rental property for them then you’re making a safe bet that if they like the place, you’re going to get your payments. Word of mouth recommendations from people you know are always a good way to get tenants (as long as the people you know are honest!)

You can never be certain that your tenants are going to pay on time all of the time. Taking the time to screen for good tenants who are likely to pay is well worth it, though.

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