For landlords, the goal is relatively simple; find a well-qualified tenant who will care for your property and pay rent on time. That is sometimes easier said than done, but finding the right person starts at the first contact. So, if you take the time to pre-qualify tenants before showings, ask the right questions, and follow up, you could be on the right path to a great tenant. Below we examine simple tips from what to do before a showing to asking for an application.
How to Pre-Screen Tenants Before Showings
Every landlord wants the best possible renter in their property. Many are familiar with different qualification metrics for evaluating applications, but what about pre-screening? Showings can take up a lot of your time, so determining which applicants are just looking and who is truly serious will help you better manage your time. Additionally, the first contact is the perfect time to let them know about your standard application qualifications. Check out some of the questions below to ask an interested party.
Common Tenant Pre-Screening Questions
- What is your time-frame for moving?
- Do you have pets?
- How long have you been in your current home?
- Why are you looking to move?
- How many occupants will be living in the unit?
- The property is non-smoking, are you able to comply?
- We require three times the monthly rent in income to qualify, do you meet this?
- Are there any issues I should know about before I run a background screening for all the adults in the household?
- Have you ever been evicted or broken a rental agreement?
- What are you looking for in your next home?
When screening, talking with or showing homes to prospective tenants, a landlord must be mindful of Fair Housing Laws. The best way to avoid this is to know the laws and stick to the same script of questions and qualifications. Each tenant that applies or inquires must be held to the same standards. So, to review, Fair Housing Laws in Baltimore City protect individuals from discrimination based on the following:
Protected Classes Under Fair Housing
- National origin
- Familial status
- Marital status
- Sexual orientation
- Gender identity
- Source of income
How to Prepare for Property Showings
Successful rental tours not only showcase your property but produce qualified applications. There are some helpful tips below to ensure an excellent showing experience for your and potential renters. Don’t forget, first impressions are everything!
- Sharpen your curb appeal: Do not underestimate the power of curb appeal! A well-maintained yard makes a great first impression and is inviting as a tenant pulls up.
- Clean, clean, clean: Nobody wants to walk into a dirty home. Evidence of dirt and grime gives the tenant an idea of how you take care of the place and handle potential maintenance issues. Therefore, clean the property beforehand or otherwise risk turning off tenants.
- Consider staging or upgrades: Installing new carpet, or freshly painting walls can make a significant impact on overall appeal. Additionally, be sure all appliances are in working order, and there are no broken or damaged fixtures. Do you have dated lighting or accessories? Consider some modern upgrades.
- Be prepared for questions: An interested tenant may ask many questions. So, make sure you know necessary household and neighborhood information they may inquire about.
- Safety first: Showing homes to people you do not know can be dangerous. Before scheduling a showing, obtain the client’s full name and contact information. Additionally, do not conduct showings after dark, check in with your office or someone frequently, never allow yourself to be cornered by clients, and have an escape plan if needed.
Conducting a Successful Property Showing
Read on for more tips for conducting showings. Also, remember that landlords are open to a wide range of potential claims of discrimination. Landlords have a responsibility to be aware of the Fair Housing Laws in your area. It is also important to note that local laws may have additional protected classes than the Federal mandates or even state regulations.
- Call and confirm scheduled showings a few hours beforehand.
- Set the temperatures in the rental to be comfortable upon arrival
- Turn on all of the property’s lights.
- Dress professionally
- Smile when you greet tenants, shake their hands, and formally introduce yourself
- Show them the grounds, both on and off the property (for example the pool, gym area, laundry facility, parking structures, BBQ areas, or roof decks)
- Have general information about the property on hand so the tenant can remember you later. Include things such as pictures of the property, square footage, monthly rent and deposit amounts, number of bedrooms and bathrooms, and any extra amenities
- Have applications ready for tenants to fill out immediately following the showing
- Emphasize the area’s selling points – nearby restaurants, shopping, entertainment, attractions, schools, parks, and roads for commuting.
The more information you can give potential tenants, the better equipped and more trustworthy you will seem. Plus, this information will help them to make a quicker decision and possibly forgo viewing other properties. When conducting tours, always follow the same route through the property and outline the same features while answering any client questions. Doing so will help eliminate any potential Fair Housing discrimination claims.
Follow-up After the Showings or Open House
The next big step in the process is follow-up. If the clients do not apply right away, consider sending a follow-up email or making a phone call. This allows you to make sure they have no further questions and to potentially receive feedback on the property. If they choose not to apply for any reason, always wish them well in their search. This seemingly small act of kindness can go a long way.
Finding a well-qualified tenant who will care for your property and pay rent on time is a process. However, if you take the time to pre-screen tenants before showings, ask the right questions, and follow up, you could be on the right path to a great tenant. Are you overwhelmed at the idea of Fair Housing liability and the process of qualifying tenants? Luckily there are experienced rental property management groups ready to help! Contact Bay Property Management Group today to see what our full-service experts can do for you.