5 Easy Ways to Find Quality Tenants

Written on April 13, 2016 by , updated on December 9, 2016

Finding Quality TenantsMost problems landlords face are related to sacrificing on tenant quality. Finding quality tenants is as important as actually renting the place.

Here’s an important rule to stick with regarding single-family tenants:

Always be willing to have a vacant property so you can have a high-quality tenant.

However, with the right training, you’ll know how to secure high-quality tenants without incurring any vacancy. Check out The Landlord’s Guide to Tenant Onboarding

To find high-quality tenants, the first thing you need to do before you begin is to familiarize yourself with fair housing laws. There are really only 7 protected classes nationally, but each state and city typically adds their own.

Related: Top 10 Mistakes with Fair Housing Laws

Now we’re ready to dive into the top five ways to find quality tenants.

1. Use a Waiting List

Most successful landlords keep an active waiting list for their properties. This is a lot easier to start than you would think.

Via Evernote

Tip: Install the Evernote app on your phone (iOS, Android). When somebody asks whether you have any rental property available, and you don’t, you can respond by saying, “I don’t right now, but I might have something soon. May I have your name, phone number, and email?” Add their contact info in an note labeled “waiting list tenants.”

Most people won’t follow up and won’t be ready for a unit that comes up. That’s okay because you might make a new connection. Here is the message you send:

Via MailChimp

Here is another easy and free way to build a waiting list.

Get a free Mailchimp account, and download the app on your phone.

Create a list called “Potential Tenants” that collects:

  • Name
  • Phone Number
  • Email

When you meet someone who asks to be notified the next time one of your properties becomes available, you say, “Sure thing. If you like, you can put your contact info on my list right now.”

You then open the app on your phone, and let them enter their information.

Related: Email Marketing for Property Managers, Investors and Landlords

2. Ask your Friends to Share on Facebook

Facebook has incredible reach, particularly if you have several hundred friends that you can reach out to and share your listing.

The real value, though, is getting your friends to share the listing.

Here’s how to do this. Post something like this:

If anybody knows someone looking for a high-quality rental property in a great location, please share this listing: [your link]

Now, your friends are directly referring business to you.  This really expands your network effect.

For added incentive, you could offer a $100 referral bonus to your friends if they refer someone who signs a lease.

3. Post a Craigslist Ad

No matter what you think of Craigslist, it can be an effective marketing tool. Here’s how to use it to find quality tenants.

Step 1: Create a Property Listing via Cozy

Step 2: Make sure you have amazing pictures and a video walk-though that points out the positives and the negatives.

If you have an apartment with small closets, for example, point it out. That way, people who must have a large closet won’t come by and waste their time and yours. If you point out that there are small closets and potential tenants come by anyway, you know that closet size won’t be an issue.

Step 3: Post the link to your Cozy listing with the photographs and videos in your Craigslist ad. The URL will look similar to “https://home.cozy.co/apply/XXXX”

Step 4: Viewers can either fill out the application immediately online, or you can send the link via email or text when they respond. After all, Cozy keeps the personally identifying information safe, and does not expose it to the landlord, so it’s completely secure and free.

If you have done a good job with the video and pictures, potential tenants should be ready to apply.

Step 5:  Many times, they will want to see the property before applying, but not always! If they pass the application process, you show the property. Nurture that relationship until they feel comfortable applying.

Related: 

4. Nonprofit and Medical Organizations

Most landlords don’t use this resource. However, some landlords use this resource exclusively.

There are several nonprofits that rent housing for their organization.

For example, say you’re building a 100-unit apartment complex that’s across the street from a hospital. You can get the hospital to pre-lease maybe 40 units.

You can also reserve a unit for a nonprofit that works with refugees.

5. Companies & Corporate Housing

You want somebody who has a steady income in your rental property.

A great way to achieve that is to reach out to companies to see whether they have anybody looking for a place to rent.

A lot of times, businesses have a company newsletter, a company Facebook group, or other ways to communicate with their employees. Further, companies often look for content. Your rental listing could be a nice addition. After all, they want stable housing for their employees.

For-profit companies sometimes rent out apartments for summer interns. Don’t rule them out just because they are renting them for the summer. Companies sometimes pay a year’s rent just to make sure they have places for their interns and other talent to stay.

What Not to Do

I’ve never been a fan of the “For Rent” signs at the property. These signs probably get stolen more often than they provide leads. And a yard sign is a GIGANTIC advertisement for burglars who see a vacant property that nobody is watching over.

All you’re really getting from a “For Rent” sign in the yard will be tons of calls from people just to see what the rent is, people who aren’t serious about the property. This wastes a significant amount of time for you and doesn’t lead to any tenants. But, hey, prove me wrong!

Where do you consistently find quality tenants? Let me know in the comments.

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6 CommentsLeave a Comment

  • Samantha Weston

    My comment is really a question. I can’t seem to wrap my head around someone applying without visiting the unit in person, nor can I imagine approving someone without meeting them. Do you really encourage this?

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Samantha,

      No, I don’t really encourage it, but sometimes it’s just not possible to visit the property. I’ve had a few tenants who are moving from out of state and they don’t want to visit beforehand. I’ll skype with them, so we can have a face-to-face meeting, but otherwise, they are relying on my photos and videos. If needed, I’ll go to the property and skype or facetime with them on the phone. I’ll give them a tour and answer any questions.

      One main benefit of having amazing photos is that applicants will feel comfortable with the place before they see it (if they even see it).

      • Samantha Weston

        That makes sense, and technology has become amazingly helpful. I guess I just rely at least somewhat on my gut instincts when evaluating an applicant, in addition to your screening tools of course :)

  • Usen

    Agreed about the For Rent sign at single property. Multi-family is different, as you usually won’t have all units vacant at the same time. If your multi is in an area near other multi family housing the for rent sign can be a huge lead generator. Also if it’s near any charity/government buildings like a welfare office. I have a triplex near a salvation army and I sometimes get more calls from people walking by who see the sign than I do from the Craigslist add.

  • Harry Warner

    Do you know of any advertising resources that target those needing corporate housing? Thank you!

  • Sam

    Hi Lucas: if tenant signed 1 yr lease with 1/2 annual payment upfront and the rest due after 4 months. Can he be evicted (by due process) for delinquent on second payment in California? There’s little hope he will pay due to prior eviction and poor credit history. Thanks, Chris

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