Would you ever consider leasing your Philadelphia rental property to a tenant you have never met?
Most property owners would immediately say “no.” After all, meeting a prospective tenant in person leaves a valuable impression on you, and ultimately helps in determining whether they are a good fit for your property.
But is there really a reason to meet a tenant in person prior to approving them to lease your property?
Several experienced landlords say “no.” In fact, many landlords have screened and approved tenants they have never met in person. Some landlords meet their tenants for the first time when handing over the keys to their property.
In addition, those that employ high quality Philadelphia property managers to place tenants in their rentals are in no way obligated to meet their property’s tenants, thanks in large part to the thorough job their property manager does during the screening process.
If you are wondering whether approving tenants for your rental property without meeting them is a good idea, keep reading.
Today we are going to share how you can find great tenants for your rentals without ever having a face-to-face meeting.
How to Approve Tenants for Your Philadelphia Rental Property Without Meeting Them
1. Have a Strict Screening Process in Place
If you are using Philadelphia’s leading property management company to help you keep track of all things property related, this will never be an issue.
However, for those that are self-managing their properties, enforcing a strict screening process is crucial.
Take a look at some things you can do while screening potential tenants that you haven’t met.
Verifying a prospective tenant’s income, credit score, and rental history can be done using a mix of phone calls, emails, and faxes. If your potential tenant can prove they meet your criteria, there is nothing wrong with continuing the approval process, despite not having met them in person.
Here are some tips to help you with the initial verification of potential tenants:
- Understand the average household income in your area so that you can price your rental accordingly, and assign proper income requirements to potential tenants
- Set a minimum credit score you would like to see in any tenant that is placed in your rental
- Conduct background checks on every prospective tenant to gauge what type of person they are, and how they might act as your tenant
- Always avoid discriminating against protected classes, regardless of whether you meet a tenant in person or not
In the end, either your potential tenant will pass the criteria you set or not. Their income, credit score, and criminal background will remain the same regardless of whether you meet in person.
Receiving a completed application from an interested tenant does not have to be done in person – email or fax works just fine.
Via an online application portal is even better.
If you use an online application system, you can receive not only the completed application with all of the tenant’s information, but the application fee as well via the portal.
With this system, there really is no need for you to meet a tenant in person to take an application and their payment. This is especially true if you have a property manager that can handle these steps for you.
Tenant referrals are an important part of the tenant screening process. And, referral information is easily found on a tenant’s written application.
This means you do not have to meet with the tenant to contact referrals. Using the above-mentioned methods – email, fax, or an online application system – will do.
Again, if your property manager requires an in-person application drop-off, great. This does not mean however, that you need to be present at this drop-off, and also doesn’t mean that you need to meet a potential tenant in person prior to approval.
The key here is to gather information about your potential tenant from their referrals, and other information that will not change by meeting them face-to-face.
2. Learn the Red Flags
Some red flags may alarm you about a potential tenant, and can pop up without ever having met the tenant.
In fact, many of these red flags will appear during the tenant screening process, a process that does not need to be done in person to be effective.
Here are some things to be on the lookout for while attempting to place a tenant in your Philadelphia rental:
- Tenants that you speak to on the phone that are negative about their past living situations are probably not the type you want to place in your rental. Sure, some complaints are justifiable. After all, not all landlords are perfect. However, those that have excessive negative comments about their past landlords, or the properties they lived in, are likely to be those that will never be satisfied with your property either. Without ever having met this tenant, you will know right away that they are not a good fit for your rental.
- Unstable employment. Changing careers from time to time is normal for most people. However, interested tenants that have a long resume of past jobs listed on their application are not ones to mess with. Those that change jobs frequently run the risk of losing their jobs while residing in your property. This means you may not receive your rent on time, or at all, at some point during the lease term. Again, meeting a tenant in person will not change the fact that they cannot hold down a steady job. If an interested tenant has a long list of prior jobs, approving them to lease your property is probably a no-go.
- Prior evictions. This is a big one, and not something you need to meet a tenant in person to find out. If your prospective tenant has had an eviction within the last 5-7 years, no amount of in-person friendliness can change the fact that they are a risk to you and your property.
In the end, there really is no reason you have to meet a prospective tenant in person prior to approving them to lease your rental.
All of the important information that is needed for approval is easily gathered through other means, and reveals immediately whether a tenant will be a good fit for your property.
If you own rental property in the Philadelphia area and are looking for an experienced, knowledgeable, and friendly property management team to help manage your property, look no further than Bay Management Group.
We focus solely on property management, offer competitive monthly management fees, and implement a strict tenant screening process that will not require you to meet a tenant prior to approval (if at all).
Start enjoying your life and lessen the stress of owning rental property by contacting Bay Management Group today.