Screening tenants is one of the many important tasks that rental property owners and managers do on a regular basis. Investors, in particular, know that to keep their rental property profitable, they will need a quality tenant who will take care of the property and pay their rent on time each month. But figuring out which of the many calls you will get on an available property will lead to that ideal tenant can be a challenge. In fact, one of the biggest mistakes new property owners make is to set up appointments to show their vacant rental house without prescreening the caller first. The fact is, you can save yourself a lot of time and effort by adding a few prescreening questions to your tenant inquiry calls.
New investors are often eager to get their single-family rental home leased and earning a profit. But there are ways to go about it that are far more efficient than others. Your efficient leasing strategy should start with properly handling your tenant inquiry calls. Instead of setting up an appointment to show the property with everyone who calls about your property, it is important to first ask a series of questions aimed at determining whether the caller meets your minimum qualifying standards. This can help you get a better idea of whether or not the caller would make an ideal tenant.
Discuss Minimum Qualifying Standards
One way to do this easily is to casually mention your minimum qualifying standards as part of the conversation. For many property owners, these standards include things like a specific income-to-rent ratio (often 3 to 1, or 30%). You could also explain that you are looking for a tenant with a good credit score and a good reference from a previous landlord or property manager. It is often the case that by simply explaining these qualifications to a caller, they will end the call themselves if they feel they won’t meet your standards.
Discuss Property Details
On the other hand, for those who understand and agree that they meet your qualifications, you can then discuss details about the property itself. Although you may feel it is unnecessary to do so since this information is all in your advertisements, it is a good idea to mention things like where the property is located, the number of bedrooms and bathrooms, the move-in time frame you are looking for, and the total amount the tenant would need to bring to the lease signing (for example, a security deposit and the first month’s rent). Prospective tenants may not always read advertisements carefully and may realize after talking with you that the property does not meet their needs.
Questions You Cannot Ask
The one thing you should be careful not to do is to launch a full-blown interrogation. In fact, under the Federal Fair Housing Act, there are certain questions that you cannot legally ask your tenant. While the prospective tenant may volunteer information about their age, race, gender, religion, or family status, property owners are not allowed to use these characteristics to refuse to rent a property to an otherwise qualified tenant.
Arrange a Showing
If, after you’ve discussed everything with the prospective tenant and they still seem in agreement, you can then set up a showing. Some property owners will set up group showings (with appointments every 10 minutes) to save even more time. By using strategies like these, you can make your leasing process far less time-consuming and more efficient.
After all, your time is valuable and should be spent on the most productive aspects of your investing business. By turning over the day-to-day management of your property to the professionals at Overland Management, you can free up your time. To learn more about what we offer investors like you, contact Overland Management today.