Leasing & Tenant Retention
Screen, Interview and Select New Tenants: We do the best we can through the interview process and accumulation of rental and credit history to make a judgment as to the character of the tenant. That's what you are really renting to. There is one constant in the universe and the rental industry as well, and that is "change". Our goal is to guess how a tenant will cope with the changes that happen in their lives and how their attitude will effect your property and investment.
You may find this hard to believe, but not all tenants tell the truth. Oh, and by the way, many landlords have been known to twist the truth as well, especially if they want to get rid of a problem tenant. Probably the single most important asset we bring to an owner, when it comes to selecting a tenant, is experience. Yes, we do credit checks, verify their employment, and check with their previous landlord. But, what's more important, is knowing how to read and interpret all the information you have received from completing this process to determine a renters character. The problem most new owners have with this process is relying to heavily on a tenants past performance, whether good or bad and not "reading" it. As an example, someone with a couple of pages of bad credit due to a bankruptcy, may be a great risk and a good tenant. Remember, they had to have been a good risk at one time to get all of that credit. More than likely something life changing put them in a situation where they had no other choice but to file bankruptcy. Maybe death of an income producing spouse, possibly a divorce, maybe a layoff due to downsizing of a company. Those situations do not necessarily make a bad tenant, but it makes for a poor credit report. We look more for "attitude" and taking "responsibility" in the credit report. An example might be someone who has one open current charge account, but shows a collection account for a cable bill totaling $28 and a utility bill totaling $45. Most of the time the reasons we get for these problems is that a relative wanted the service and they opened it for them or the relative was supposed to pay it.... We find this type of attitude questionable at best. Why would you allow a balance of $28 to mar your credit, no matter what the reason?
We get this question a lot from new owners too... "Don't you check with their current landlord to guarantee they are going to be good tenants?". Yes we check. However, sometimes the landlords lie, especially if they want to make their problem go away and become your problem. What if these tenants are always having the police over, are regularly late with rent, and generally are causing you enough problems that you wish they would go away. Then, you get a call from a property manager that informs you that these tenants are looking to move into one of their properties... what might you do? I have yet to hear from an owner in this situation that these are the tenants from hell, they're nothing but trouble, and you would be wise not to take them. That type of honesty just doesn't happen.
Negotiate Contracts and Rental Agreements: One of the keys to good tenant relations is a clear understanding of what is expected of both parties at the beginning of the leasing/renting process. Having a detailed agreement is the first step, spending the time to go over it and answer all the questions a new tenant may have is the second step in preventing future problems. The third step is follow through. Retaining good tenants is fairly simple.... respond to their requests quickly, and accommodate them within reason.