IN THE BEGINNING
There was a time, not so long ago, that one could just stick a sign in the yard, a post in the church bulletin or a small ad in the classifieds when needing a new renter. But that is so not the case anymore. If anything, doing what was “norm” would hinder your progress for sure. When was the last time that you picked up a paper? Much less to read the classified section? Then think–when was the last time you had enough “time” to drive around street after street, collecting numbers from signs, calling on them, leaving messages and being available if and when a phone call was returned? It actually seems crazy to fathom that this was the selection process just a decade ago.
POST, LINK, TWEET AND TALK
This is where you need to get a little tech savvy. Advertise on at least a few free sites, like Craigslist.org and Lycos.com (but beware of the spam that you may receive when replying to email request and the scam attempts that inevitably ensue). You may consider paying for ads, too. And before you boo-hoo any sites that want to charge you to adveritse your rental, be sure to realize that you are not simply selling a used scarf or a used i-pad, rather you’re trying to find a high-quality tenant to live in your house!
Another suggestion would be to use your Facebook account and link with your friends and family. I’m not suggesting that you rent to friends and family (that ‘s a whole new blog post!), rather tell them about your rental, the price, location and availability date and ask if they can re-post on their Facebook under “Looking for a New Home to Rent?” You can even link a photo or two of the rental. How genius is that? You’ll make money, but your friends and family will do all of the work for you!
If you’re a tweeter, then tweet about it. Get the word out in a variety of ways. Rent.com, Hot pads.com, Trulia, etc…are all online venues to get the word out…all having their own fees too. Thinking does not hurt either. If the average renter is around 22 to 35, then think…where will they be searching online to find the rental of their dreams? Then just follow the crumbs…
FOUND A TENANT, NOW WHAT?
Here comes the scary part. We all know ourselves and we are basically a group of trusting individuals. If someone tells you they will take care of your place as if it were their very own, you will probably believe them. Especially if they are well dressed and drove up in a newer car. But Landlord beware. “Caveat Emptor” which means, Let the buyer beware. In this case, the landlord is considered the buyer because he/she is buying the information coming from the tenant. Think about it, you wouldn’t buy a car without collecting some Carfax information regarding it’s gas mileage and warranty, so why not take some time to verify the information is correct coming from the lips of this prospective tenant. Do not let them rush you. Tell them to fill out your application. Take it with you-along with a copy of their drivers license and two recent pay-stubs-and possibly a cashiers check for the deposit (which you can refund or hand back if you don’t rent to them). Check out their rental references immediately, see how they paid and for how long. Pay a service online to run the background and credit check needed. Then call the employer and verify their employment. If everything comes back alright, then you can probably proceed with a lease. If not, you are welcome to sit them down and ask questions as to certain blemishes on their reports. However, be aware that you do not want to violate any housing or discrimination laws. Tenants are savvy, and they know what to watch for. Tenants gain many rights as soon as they take possession of the property. Evictions are slow and costly; most can be avoided by doing the work before the lease gets signed.
USE A TENANT FINDER SERVICE
Best thing invented since sliced bread! At our company, http://www.ManageMyRental.net, we offer this service to every landlord that calls our office. For a 100% tenant placement fee (first month’s rent) we will come out to take interior and exterior photos of the property. We will load a nice 1 minute video of the property for our website to use in postings. We will aggressively advertise using over 20 paid search engines and rental sites. With each call, our agents will set an appointment and hand show the property to the prospect. Many times, they show 7 days a week as they make the times convenient tot he prospect. Once a customer is interested in a property, the agent will immediately receive a binder (first month’s rent) and a deposit (made out to the homeowner) in the form of cashiers checks. He/she will then have the prospective tenant fill out our online application. A background and credit check will be run. A tenant and Employment verification will be done and copies of pay-stubs and drivers licenses will be collected. A lease will be created and all signatures (via an online document) will be received from the landlord and the tenant. Upon move in day, the agent will meet the tenant at the home, remove the lock-box and the yard signage, walk them through and give them a move in condition form-perfect to give the landlord 7 days after move in. We typically leave a little gift with our card thanking them for using our services as well. OUR LANDLORDS LOVE THIS SERVICE! And why would they not? We do all of the work, and they get to sit back and reap the monthly financial rewards.