Whether you own and operate residential income properties independently or are one of the leading property managers in Cupertino, bad renters are among your greatest concerns. After all, a bad renter can be the difference between turning a profit and going into the red. This industry tends to put great focus on how to avoid these renters, but if you regularly find yourself dealing with such tenants, then you need to ask yourself what you’re doing to make yourself a target. That may be just another perspective on the same conversation, but it’s a way of looking at this problem that can help illuminate why you continue to attract the exact kind of renter you don’t want.
Marketing Your Residences to Good Renters
When property owners and property managers in Cupertino are regularly attracting bad renters, their mistakes usually begin with how they’re marketing their properties. Whether placing ads online or in local publications, the medium you choose dictates the kind of tenant you attract. You may find the best tenant you’ve ever had from the local free flyer, but such flyers will often make you susceptible to serial bad tenants and people looking for a quick solution until they can be where they actually want to be. The medium is important but so is the clarity and the crispness of the message. Photographs and accentuating community amenities are very important in this regard, and you should strive to present the property as one that’s likely to be gone by the time the reader makes the call.
Start with an Application
An application is an initial step in the process that will eliminate a lot of bad renters right out of the gate. In fact, serial bad tenants who target inexperienced landlords will often abandon their efforts once they realize an application is involved. When a person is willing to complete an application, it not only provides much of the information you’ll need to complete the vetting process, it gives you greater insight into that person. A person who took the effort to be neat, thorough and concise is likely that way in other avenues of life. A person who gives you an application that’s hard to read isn’t necessarily a bad tenant, but that’s certainly a warning sign you’ll want to pay attention to moving forward.
Set a High Bar
Even a property management company in Cupertino property management can make the mistake of setting the bar too low. Many landlords are wary of application fees because they fear that they make the property less appealing. However, application fees eliminate most bad tenants from the word go and thus save you a lot of time and therefore money over the long-term. Likewise, you never want to set the rent, security deposit and other terms too low. Doing so can actually drive good tenants away since it seems too good to be true, and that makes you susceptible to the bad eggs.
Follow Through on a Comprehensive Vetting Process
Another common mistake novice landlords make is not following through on a complete vetting process for prospective clients. First impressions may matter, but they can also be quite deceiving. After the prospective client submits the application, review it closely. More importantly, follow through on the references. References are an area where many landlords are lax and set themselves up for failure. Many bad tenants actually lie on their applications and provide nonexistent phone numbers and the like. Also, demand actual landlord references rather than employee and character references.
Demand All Residents Be on the Lease
Not having restrictions on residents is another reason some landlords are prone to poor renters. Demand that everyone who lives in the home be listed on the lease. Even minors can be listed without being on the lease in a legal sense. Furthermore, demand that any new residents be approved and added to the lease through the same vetting process discussed above. Any oversights in this area can allow good tenants to turn bad because you let your guard down once they’ve moved in.
Send the Right Message Starting with Day One
In that spirit, it’s also essential that you send the right message on move-in day and continue to send it over the course of the occupancy. A great way to do this is to provide new tenants with a move-in package. Since we know most tenants don’t read the full lease, you can include colorful documents that provide bullet points about various topics, such as parking, pool usage and pet ownership. Furthermore, alert tenants to any rule changes with similar documents that you hand deliver to them.
The way you present your properties to prospective tenants sends a message. If the lawn, for instance, is beautifully manicured, then that not only makes the property more inviting but sends the message that this is a landlord that cares and pays attention to detail. If you take a relaxed approach to the upkeep of the property, then any tenants who live there are likely to do the same. This is solid wisdom in all walks of life: If you want someone to behave a certain way, it starts with leading by example.
Nurture a Business Relationship with Your Tenants
Finally, the relationship between you and your tenants is a business relationship. You have to establish it and nurture it. To not do so is to invite all kinds of difficulties. You should be friendly with your tenants, but never lose sight of the fact that you’re not their friends. Some landlords have great difficulty maintaining this kind of relationship. They’re simply not that kind of person. That’s OK, but if that’s you, be honest with yourself about that and hire a professional who can maintain that arrangement.