Regardless if you have one single-family property or 25 units, the quality of your tenants will dictate how successful you are. A good tenant that pays on time and treats your house like their own can make your life infinitely easier. Conversely, if you are constantly chasing the rent and wondering when the next phone call will come, it can make your life miserable. It should go without saying, but mind due diligence. Be smart about the process. Any landlord can fill a vacancy, but to make your life easier you need to find the best tenants possible.
Quite simply, a good tenant is one who pays their rent on time every month and won’t keep you up at night worrying about the condition of your property. Many landlords make the mistake of thinking that they will hand the tenant the keys and talk to them again at the end of the lease. Even the best tenants can have issues arise in the property that require your attention. Just because they call you with plumbing or electrical problems doesn’t mean they are bad tenants. A truly bad tenant is one that picks up in the middle of the night and leaves or is constantly a few weeks late on the mortgage. Tenants, especially young ones, will call you about every little thing in the house. This alone does not make them bad tenants. There is a difference between being overbearing and a bad tenant. It is easy to deal with overbearing, but bad tenants will affect your business.
Often times, the strength of a tenant is directly correlated to the landlord. Instead of looking at your tenants and blaming them, you may need to look at yourself. Did it take you two days to fix the toilet? Are you slow at returning tenant calls or emails? Did you promise something when they were looking at the house that you did not deliver when they moved in? All of these things will make your tenant sour on the property and become far less motivated to act when you want them to. Instead of sending out the rent a few days early, they will send it a few days late. Instead of taking care of your property, they will start to let it go as they please. If you don’t take care of your tenants, they will not take care of you or the property. Tenants appreciate the little things. If you can deliver on what you promise, you will be in a better position.
In addition to being an available landlord, you also need to look at the property itself. It is easy to dismiss updates because it is a rental property, but if you don’t do anything to improve the condition it will only get worse. With every new tenant, you should do something to update the property. If the house feels clean and fresh your tenants will be much more likely to stay in the house and treat it as if it was their own.
Good tenants don’t grow on trees. You will have to find them. This means taking the time to review an application and follow up with any references. Many landlords balk at the prospect of paying a few bucks to look at a credit report or to go through the process of having a tenant complete an application. The alternative is simply hoping that your tenant is a good one. You should have a pretty good idea of what your tenant is about before they move into the property. Things like income, employment and monthly debts should be known before you make a decision. If your tenant stops paying and you are forced to evict, it will cost you thousands of dollars to remedy. You can either spend a few bucks to look at a credit report or a few thousand to deal with an eviction.
It is also important, when looking for good tenants, to start the search process early. You should give yourself plenty of time before your current lease expires to make a seamless transition. This means attacking social media, Craigslist and any other real estate website you can think of. If you have a local realtor, you can use their assistance and you can always place a bandit sign on your front yard. The more options you have and the more time you have to weigh them, the increased likelihood that you will find the best possible tenants.
As a landlord, you are only as good as your tenants. Bad tenants can come out of nowhere, but the more time you put into finding good tenants, the better chance you will find them. However, do not neglect your duties. You need to keep up your end of the bargain. Good landlords and good properties produce good tenants.