Having a rental property that is in good condition will go a long way to attracting a good, low maintenance tenant. Ask yourself, would you live in your own rental property in the condition that it’s currently in? If not, what quality tenant would? This not only concerns the physical condition of the house, but also its location. Is the property in a good neighborhood?
In general, houses that are in areas in which most homes are occupied by tenants tend to lean toward lower quality tenants. Therefore, when shopping for a property, look for properties in neighborhoods that have a high owner occupancy rate. This will attract better renters. Also, avoid being on busy streets. Make sure the area is fairly quiet and that the neighbors’ properties are in good condition and well maintained. If a next door neighbor doesn’t mow the lawn and has old, rusty, beat-up cars on the street, the houses around it will be less attractive no matter how well they’re kept up. Once again, find a property that you’d be comfortable living in yourself.
Next, how well have you been taking care of the property? How well is the landscaping maintained? If there’s a problem, does it get fixed right away if it’s something that happens form normal wear and tear? This does not include things in which the tenant is responsible for or things in which he or she broke. Many tenants are irresponsible and negligent. Fortunately, it’s very easy to tell the difference. People that aren’t responsible will have problems more often. If there’s something to repair every time you turn around, the problem is not the property.
Finally, we all want tenants who seldom call. Of course, there are many in which will call hoping for you to fix something that was their own fault such as losing the garage door opener. A tenant with good character will admit when the problem is his or her own mistake. Better yet, he or she will simply take care of things without contacting you.
If you already own a property that is not in a prime location, it is an absolute must that you screen prospective tenants carefully. At a minimum, you should ask for their credit history, proof of ID, job history, rental history, and at least three references. This will improve the likelihood that the tenant will be able to pay if he/she is employed with good credit. A tenant that moves frequently should be a red flag.
A final important point is that you must treat your properties like a business. Even though you wish to be fair, also be firm. Many tenants beg for you to give them a break and will pay later. Do not give in. This is because if the tenant starts to see you as being soft, he/she is more likely to take advantage of you in the future. If the tenant is late, send them an eviction notice (make sure you’re in compliance with your local laws). Its understandable that sometimes life happens, but these things, in reality, are rare.
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