Finding the right tenant for your Orlando rental property is very important. In fact, placing a well-qualified tenant is one of your most important jobs as a landlord, and something that professional property managers do really well. If you don’t put a good tenant in place, you are opening yourself up to the possibility of problems. Good tenants deliver a consistent rent check and help you take care of the property. Bad tenants cost you money due to property damage or unpaid rent.
The type of tenant you are hoping to attract has a lot of choices when he or she is looking for rental property. In today’s market, you need to be strategic and competitive when you’re identifying and attracting those renters. Good tenants will not pay more than they need to, and they’re looking for well-maintained homes with responsive property management. Tenants are more educated about the market than ever. And, they’ve looked at a lot of properties.
There are several things you need to consider when you’re looking for the best possible Orlando tenants for your rental property.
Attracting Orlando Tenants with Competitive Pricing
Novice landlords and inexperienced investors often believe they need to put their property on the market with the highest possible price tag. They believe that by charging a higher rent, they will earn more rental income and increase their returns quickly. This is not always true. Certainly, you want to earn as much as you can in rent. You never want to under-price your home because you’ll be at a disadvantage now and when it’s time to raise rent. Catching up with the market will be difficult. However, over-pricing your home is often more expensive than under-pricing it.
In fact, pricing your property properly will actually earn you more money as you retain your tenant and avoid vacancy. If you price your home too high, no one will want to rent it. The home will sit unoccupied for longer than it should, and you’ll never be able to earn back that rental income that you’ve lost. Overpriced homes also attract less desirable tenants. Good tenants have other options, and they’ll find a property they like that’s priced according to the market. If your home is overpriced, you’ll get a lot of applicants who have been rejected elsewhere because of terrible credit, recent evictions, or a lack of verifiable income.
Get to know the local market and the competing rental properties. Talk to a property manager about a comparative market analysis so you know where you should be pricing your home. If you want to attract the best tenants, resist the urge to price your home higher than it should be priced.
Preparing your Property for the Orlando Rental Market
Another key factor in finding great tenants is to make your property rent-ready. What does this mean? It means your home will show well. It will be clean, everything will be working, and the tenants who come to view it will feel like it’s ready for immediate occupancy. The best Orlando tenants will want to see a comfortable, functional space that they can call home. They want to see modern updates and small touches that are special, such as energy efficient light bulbs and low-maintenance landscaping.
You can clean the property thoroughly and have the carpets professionally cleaned. If the carpets are looking worn, invest in new carpet or some sort of hard flooring. A fresh coat of paint goes a very long way. Curb appeal is very important as well. Make sure the lawn is mowed and the landscaping is trimmed and neat. Remove any debris from the roof, the walkway, and the yard. Make sure there is good exterior lighting, and ensure the windows are clean and the ceiling fans are dusted. These small details make a difference.
Market Your Orlando Rental Property Aggressively
A good marketing plan will get your property rented to excellent tenants quickly. To reach your most qualified applicants, you’ll want to advertise aggressively online. This means you need good photos, because when tenants are browsing through online ads, they aren’t going to stop and spend any time on listings without photos. Take professional photos of every room in the house, from the best angles and with the most light. You might consider putting together a video tour as well. This provides prospective renters with a complete and detailed bird’s eye view of the property. It will help them imagine themselves living there.
An online marketing description can also outline all the key features in the home. Be sure to mention the number of bedrooms and bathrooms your property has, how much square footage of living space is available, and any updates or upgrades you’ve made. Your listing should mention the price, when the property is ready for move-in, and whether pets are permitted.
While online advertising is the most important and useful way to market your rental home, you can also benefit from professional signs in front of the property. People walking or driving through the neighborhood may see them. Make sure the signs look neat and include your contact information.
Develop Tenant Rental Criteria
You need to make your tenant criteria selection very clear. Tenants need to know up front what is required of them in order to be approved for your home. Make sure they know what you expect and what they can expect. When you put your standards in writing, it’s easier to comply with the local, state, and federal fair housing laws. You’re demonstrating what all applications will be judged on, and those consistent standards will ensure every applicant is treated fairly.
Provide the written criteria to interested tenants before they apply. This will save you and your prospective tenants time because you will receive fewer applications from unqualified individuals.
Be Responsive and Thorough During the Application Process
It is crucial in today’s property market to be responsive to all requests for showings. You need to respond to all calls and emails very quickly. If a prospective tenant is calling or emailing you, that means they have an interest. Do not let that interest pass you by. Always be available for showings and be available on their schedule. Good tenants, remember, have a lot of choices. If they don’t hear back from you, they’ll just move onto the next property.
Use a thorough, written application for all prospective tenants who are 18 years of age and older. Ask for documentation that verifies their identity and income. Collect information on employment and previous landlord references. Your application should be complete so you can do a thorough screening. You’ll also want to be sure the application grants you permission to run credit and criminal background checks. The Fair Credit Reporting Act requires you to be responsible with the personal information you gather, so be sure there’s a process in place to file and protect any sensitive personal and financial information on your applicants.
Orlando Tenant Screening Tips
Once you’ve gathered the application, the supporting documentation, and the application fee, it’s time to do your background check. Good tenant screening is thorough, comprehensive, and consistent. Make sure you follow the same process for every applicant.
While processing the application, start by checking rental histories. This is often the most valuable part of your screening process, because you’ll learn a lot of important information about your potential tenant. Former landlords can tell you whether the tenant paid rent on time, took care of the home, followed the terms of the lease agreement, and gave proper notice before leaving. You can ask if the tenants had any pets and got their full security deposit back.
After talking to current and former landlords, check a tenant’s credit and financial history. Not everyone is going to have perfect credit, but you want to make sure there are not any past evictions or monies owed to former landlords. Look for overdue or unpaid utility bills. These are the things that should concern you in a credit history. Many people have large unpaid medical bills and student loan debt. A few missed credit card payments are not as concerning to a landlord as electric company accounts that have been suspended or shut off.
Talk to employers and verify income. Your prospective tenants can provide copies of pay stubs, employment contracts, or bank statements and tax forms. Ideally, your best tenants will earn at least three times the amount of rent.
As you’re doing your tenant screening, remember to stay in compliance with fair housing laws. Any claims against you will be expensive and time-consuming, so you want to be sure you get the tenant screening right. Stay up to date on any legal changes and new requirements.
If you need help screening Orlando tenants or you have any questions, please contact us at Specialized Property Management in Orlando. We have a lot of tools and resources that can help you find the best tenant for your property, and we’d love to share them with you.