Whether or not you will file an eviction or contend with some difficult tenants has everything to do with whether or not you are sending the wrong message to prospective tenants through your leasing policies. So what are some good and bad leasing policies to keep in mind when prospecting for potential tenants? Here are a few:
Rental ads: Rental ads speak for the landlord’s professionalism. When you have rental ads that look crisp, clean and professional, you dissuade bad tenants from applying for your vacancy. Whip up a professional-looking ad that includes the price, the size, the floor plan, and flattering photos or a video tour. Add rental rules to the ad and warn prospects you will be screening in order to scare off bad candidates.
Pre-screening negotiations: Don’t haggle terms of the lease with an applicant before they have seen the place and before you have determined that they qualify. Even if you are desperate to find a tenant, your willingness to break this rule makes you come across as a pushover – a landlord that is too easy to persuade. Going down this route will only bring you more trouble in the future.
The rental application: ask for a lot of information on the rental application form. While it may take a long time for a prospective tenant to fill out the form, that person will be bound to take you more seriously and the longer form will mean that only interested candidates will apply.
Some applicants will not fill out every portion of the rental application and sign the bottom. Discard these applicants or ask them to fill in the missing information sections. If more than one occupant is moving in, have each complete a rental application.
Be sure to check the applicant’s references before you offer the candidate tenant a lease. This is the biggest mistake landlords make in the pre-leasing stage. Don’t wait until problems arise for you to contact the applicant’s previous landlord.
The lease: make sure the lease form is foolproof before you provide it to the tenant and that you understand every term of the lease — the applicant may try to negotiate with you for some extra flexibility with the rules. Expect this and stick to all your must-have provisions.
Post-lease: Inspect the property from time to time after the tenant moves in, after giving the appropriate notice, and find small ways to keep in touch like a newsletter.