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7 Tips for Selecting the Right Tenants for Your Rental Property

Selecting the right tenant

Choosing the right tenants for your rental property is vital to the success of your investment. Whether you own a multi-family unit or a single family home, it’s critical to avoid future problems by selecting the best possible tenants to lease your property. And to find the right tenants, there must be a thorough process in place to screen them.

Here are 7 tips to help you select tenants to lease your residential rental property:

 

1. Treat all possible tenants with equality

The Federal Fair Housing Act prevents discrimination against people based on their race, religion, sex, family status, or disability. State laws also implement rules to follow to prevent discrimination.

Tip: As you screen possible tenants, it’s vital that you follow the guidelines outlined in the Federal Fair Housing Act.

2. Verify income of your potential tenants

Learn not only what the candidate’s current income is, but also their debt-to-income ratio. Ideally, housing and debt expenses combined are looked at against the rental amount. A debt-to-income ratio should be established and looked at carefully when making a decision on a possible tenant.

Tip: Ask for pay stubs, and contact their employer to confirm their employment history and reliability. Stability speaks volumes, so the length of time at a job is significant.

3. Confirm the good credit of your potential tenants

If a potential tenant has good credit and a history of paying bills on time, chances are, that will continue. Likewise, if their credit score is low and they don’t pay bills on time, history will likely repeat itself.

Tip: A potential tenant who has been financially responsible enough to have a good credit score will likely continue to be financially responsible in paying their rent on time.

4. Check your potential tenant’s rental history

Contact the tenant’s last two landlords and find out if they paid their rent on time consistently. If so, continue with questions such as:

  • How much notice were you given when the tenant moved out?
  • Did they treat your property with respect?
  • What condition did they leave your property in when they left?
  • Were they reasonable to work with when a maintenance issue came up?
  • How long did they live in your property?
  • Were they ever disruptive to other tenants or neighbors?

Tip: If there are no red flags from the previous landlords, there’s a good possibility you’ve found a good candidate to be your next tenant.

5. Perform a criminal background check

Once you have a potential tenant’s application, a criminal background check can be run. Ask for a current picture ID to verify their identity. Background checks should include:

  • A Federal Court Record Search
  • A Statewide Criminal Record Search
  • A County Criminal Court Search
  • A Department of Corrections Offender Search
  • A Sex Offender Search

Tip: A property management company can help alleviate the time-consuming details of criminal background checks and other tenant screening details.

6. When it comes to choosing tenants, trust your gut

All the due diligence practices designed to uncover any hidden details about a tenant applicant are important. But equally important is your own gut sense about the candidate. Sometimes you just know when a problem is lurking, even if it doesn’t show up on paper after checking databases, making phone calls, and looking at the obvious.

It pays to look at your own gut sense about the candidate, and weigh your personal sense into the decision equation. As you ask about a potential tenant’s desire in a rental, notice their behavior as well as their words.

  • Are they respectful or rude in their attitudes?
  • Are they cooperative with the application process you’ve outlined?
  • Did they complete the application fully, or leave things blank?
  • Do they appear to be tidy or unkempt?

Tip: Pay attention to the promptness of potential tenants when you show your rental property, and chances are, what you see at the showing is a small sample of what you will see over the long haul.

7. Ask if the potential tenant has pets

You have standards for your property, and it’s expected that they are respected. Look for a tenant that is honest and upfront with you about their pets. It’s not possible to hide a dog (or a smoker smell for that matter), so discuss things up front so there are no surprises to you.

Tip: Explain your pet policy and pet fees in detail so potential tenants are not taken by surprise at your policies and expectations.

We match residential property owners with the right tenants

 

At McGraw Property Management, we know that smart Tulsa real estate investors and residential rental property owners are keenly aware they need to have a steady income from their property—which comes from finding the right tenants.

  • We believe it should be simple for you to lease and manage your property.
  • We know how time-consuming it can be to find the right tenants, collect payments and manage maintenance requests.
  • We’ve helped hundreds of investors and homeowners find the right tenants and manage their property efficiently.

Three simple steps to getting your property managed efficiently

Stop losing time and money on vacancies and daily tasks. Instead, get the right property management services to help you stay in control of managing your property.

  1. Talk to us
  2. We’ll find the right tenant
  3. We’ll manage your property efficiently

Need help with tenant selection for your residential rental property?

Call McGraw Property Management and let us know how we can help. Tell us what you need to manage your property and make a profit. Our friendly, knowledgeable staff is ready to answer any questions you may have.

In the meantime, take a look at our Property Management services or learn about our technology advantage and how it helps us fill vacancies sooner.

Tenant’s Guide to Renting a Home or Residential Property

Tenants Using a Map to Guide Them

Avoid the frustrations of finding a rental property and moving in, only to be caught by surprise by problems with the property itself, followed by a poor response to your maintenance request. Fortunately, a poorly negotiated lease, a complicated process of making rent payments, or lack of communication with a challenging landlord are all avoidable.

Doing your homework, asking the right questions, and making some important observations prior to signing a lease can set you up for a positive leasing experience in a residential rental property. There’s no place like home—when you’ve found the right home!

Features to Look for in a Rental Property

When you’re in the market for a new home or residential rental property, to help you find the best fit, look for the following:

  • A well-maintained property
  • A property that is move-in ready and has high standards of cleanliness
  • A safe environment where you feel secure
  • A property with outdoor space to enjoy the sunshine and fresh air
  • A property with a smooth leasing process
  • A property with an easy set up for making rent payments
  • A well-managed property
  • A place where quality repairs are completed in a reasonable timeframe
  • A property where you can enjoy your home life
  • A property that meets the needs of your family, including one located in the best school system for your children
  • A property that is in proximity to work, grocery stores, gym, and recreational activities you enjoy
  • A property that has the right amount of bedrooms and bathrooms for your family
  • A property in your price range
  • A property you have toured and you have a good gut sense about
  • A place with either a garage or ample parking for your vehicle
  • A place that feels like home
  • A property with a central air conditioning and heating unit that works well and is properly maintained
  • A property with adequate storage and closet space

Questions to Ask Your Landlord or Property Manager

As a tenant, it’s important to have a good working relationship with your landlord or property management company. Both parties should be courteous, cooperative, and respectful when communicating. The relationship begins when you tour properties and get to know your new landlord. Pay attention to subtle things during your interaction. If there is not a tone of mutual respect, you may want to keep looking. Here are some questions to ask your landlord or property manager:

  • How much is rent?
  • How much is the security deposit?
  • What date is rent due?
  • Where do I pay my rent?
  • What is the lease term?
  • Are pets allowed on the property, and if so, how much is the pet deposit?
  • How do I initiate the process if a maintenance need pops up during normal business hours? What about after hours and on the weekend?
  • Is there an in-unit washer and dryer or a laundromat in proximity to the property?

Note: When meeting with a prospective landlord, take the time to ask all your questions, and realize the way the person responds is a good indication of how they will respond long-term.

Red Flags to Watch Out for Before Signing a Lease

  • Watch out for landlords who make you feel pressured in any way to sign a lease.
  • Resist the temptation to sign a lease if you’ve only seen pictures of the property. Be sure to tour the property before signing a lease.
  • Never sign a lease without reading it thoroughly.
  • Watch out for overestimating what you can comfortably afford and putting a strain on your finances as a result. Learn to live within your means by spending below 30% of your monthly income on rent.
  • Beware of rental rates that could increase without notice. Avoid surprise rental rate increases by asking the owner if there will be any changes in your rental rate during your lease period. Whatever the answer is, get it in writing.
  • Don’t assume anything when signing a lease. Ask detailed questions, and get everything in writing. Find out what is included in the lease agreement and what isn’t. Avoid misunderstandings about who pays for what by asking in advance about lawn care, trash pick-up, utilities, and what appliances are included in the agreement.
  • Sidestep the idea of moving into a neighborhood you have not taken the time to visit several times, including at night and on the weekend. Instead, learn about the neighborhood where you desire to rent. Talk with potential neighbors. Take a walk in the neighborhood. Get a feel for the safety of the area. And check with the police department about the crime rate in the area to verify future safety.
  • When renting a home or residential property, be careful about omitting renter’s insurance. For a minimal monthly fee you can relax, knowing your possessions are covered should a fire or flood occur. Coverage includes fire, storms, wind, hail, lightning, a frozen plumbing system, the weight of ice, snow, or sleet, and losses from non-weather items like theft and vandalism.

At McGraw Property Management, we know you need a landlord you can trust. The problem is that the process of finding the right home with the right landlord can be a time-consuming hassle, making you feel stressed or anxious. We believe it should be simple to find and rent the right home for you and your family. We know how frustrating it can be to work with a challenging landlord, which is why we’ve helped hundreds of tenants find a home to rent while properly managing their lease agreement.

There’s no need to waste valuable time trying to find the right home and a good landlord. Instead, get a property management service you can trust, tour some options, and enjoy your renting experience in a suitable piece of Tulsa real estate. Simply call McGraw Property Management and tell us what you’re looking for in a home, and we’ll get right on it. In the meantime, see our list of properties available for rent.

8 Worst Residential Property Maintenance Mistakes That Cost You Big

Property Maintenance

Preventative maintenance on rental properties is key to avoiding mistakes that could cost you as a landlord. From scheduling the right contractor to providing tenants with enough notice, the procedures you have in place to address preventative maintenance will save you big bucks and big headaches as a property owner.

Here are eight of the worst residential property maintenance mistakes and how you can avoid them:

1. Skipping routine maintenance on your rental properties

Things wear out. From air conditioning units to toilets, routine maintenance is necessary to prevent costly major repair bills. For example, skipping out on the routine fall and spring maintenance on your heating and cooling units. You could end up needing to replace the whole thing earlier than if you had simply scheduled the maintenance.

Solution: Discipline yourself to schedule routine maintenance on major systems like heating and air. You should have items like the roof and gutters checked regularly.

2. Ignoring the need to budget for costly repairs on your rental properties

There is a difference between routine maintenance, minor repairs, and major repairs. Face it, every property needs all three of these types of attention. Factually speaking, the roof is getting older each day and will need to be replaced in a timely fashion. Every hot water heater has a lifespan that, and if ignored, could cause unexpected flooding and the need for even more repairs.

Solution: Set aside two funds for each rental property: one for routine maintenance and minor repairs, and one for major repairs. Anticipate the upcoming major repairs by routinely setting aside a fixed percentage of the income from the property to assure you are well prepared for the expected and unexpected major repairs.

3. Neglecting to perform regular inspections of your rental properties

Property inspections are done for your benefit as a landlord. Many things can be picked up during an inspection. First of all, you can see firsthand how well your tenants are treating your property. If they have allowed their six favorite four-legged pets to live with them and their eight favorite friends, it will be evident.

Moisture leaks, mold, termites, and ventilation issues should all be inspected regularly. If property inspections aren’t performed, in some cases, insurance coverage could be invalid as a result. That’s a high price to pay for neglecting an important ingredient of successful property management.

Solution: Property inspections give you firsthand information on not only the repairs that need to be addressed immediately but also the upcoming maintenance that should be scheduled. Stick with the regular inspections and maintenance schedule, and you will save big in the long run.

4. Overlooking the need to ask your tenants to alert you if maintenance issues arise

Prevent serious maintenance needs by asking tenants to inform you if even small maintenance issues come up. Giving tenants some basic instructions for the care of your property (like looking out for signs of any type of moisture leak or damage) can save you big bucks.

Solution: Make it part of the lease signing procedure that you ask tenants to keep the lines of communication open and alert you to maintenance needs that pop up.

5. Delaying necessary maintenance on your rental property

When something needs to be fixed in a rental property, tenants appreciate it when prompt attention is given to the situation. An unkempt property sends the wrong signal to tenants. Delaying necessary maintenance could cost you. First of all, it could cost by creating disgruntled tenants and prompting swifter turnover. This creates more work for you in the long run. Secondly, it could cost you by creating more costly repair needs due to your delay or neglect of the problem at hand.

Solution: Take responsibility for maintenance issues when they arise. Keep your properties in good repair and reap the benefits of happy tenants who aren’t anxious to move from your quality rental property. Communicate with your actions that you are responsive to repair requests and care about your investment.

6. Underestimating the need to find trustworthy contractors and repairmen to address your property’s maintenance and repair needs

Finding reputable contractors and repairmen is a vital part of the success of your rental property. Just as you check references on tenants before they sign a lease, check references on the contractors and repairmen you hire to fix your property. 

Solution: Avoid the hassle of the need to redo shoddy work from unqualified repairmen by simply finding someone who will do it right the first time. It’s better to pay a little extra for a professional job than to pay a lot extra for a job that needs to be redone. 

7. Neglecting to give tenants proper notice when repairs need to be made

No one likes surprises, so schedule trusted contractors ahead of time for routine maintenance and give proper notice to tenants so they can prepare.

Solution: Even if there is a need for an emergency repair, contact the tenant to give any notice possible out of respect for them.

8. Not monitoring repairs

Routine maintenance done by reputable professionals you trust doesn’t typically need your monitoring. When major repairs are needed, whether expected or unexpected, it’s wise to show up and take a look at the need yourself. You may uncover the cause of the problem, or—while on-site—you may find other areas of the rental property that need attention in the near future. You could stop by after the repair work is complete, or ask your contractor or repairman to take a picture of the completed job and submit it to you.

We understand how time-consuming property management can be, particularly in the area of property maintenance and repairs. That’s why we’ve helped hundreds of investors and homeowners find the right tenants and manage their property efficiently. See our McGraw Property Management Services and tell us what you’re looking for.

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property responsibilities

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