How to Find Tenants for a Rental Property

A significant portion of recent renters, approximately 66%, are contemplating a move within the next three years. Out of this group, around 20% are seriously considering relocating within the next year. These findings are based on the Zillow Consumer Housing Trends Report 2021.

For landlords, securing a reliable tenant is not a one-time event but an ongoing aspect of their business. The faster a property is rented, the higher the occupancy rate becomes, resulting in more consistent potential cash flow. In this article, we will explore various effective methods for finding tenants, techniques for advertising rental properties, and essential tips for effectively screening prospective tenants.

Utilize Rental Listing Sites 

Rental listing websites are popular among various demographic groups, ranging from Generation Z and millennials to Generation X and baby boomers, when searching for rental homes. By utilizing such platforms, landlords significantly enhance their marketing exposure, saving time and money while reaching a larger pool of prospective tenants. Many rental listing websites also offer optional features like tenant screening and automated rent collection. Consider prominent sites like:

10 Effective Strategies for Discovering Exceptional Tenants 

Securing reliable tenants for rental properties can sometimes be more challenging than anticipated. However, there are numerous effective approaches available to landlords who know where to direct their efforts. Here are ten common methods for finding prospective tenants:

Engage a Property manager or Leasing Agent 

Experienced property managers possess comprehensive knowledge of the local rental market and may already have a waiting list of qualified tenants who are eager to rent. These professionals can expertly set competitive rental prices, highlight desirable property features, and identify any warning signs during property showings. Trusted property managers undergo thorough vetting and consistent monitoring, usually charging a leasing fee equivalent to or less than the first month's rent.

Host an Open House 

Just like real estate agents showcasing homes for sale, landlords can arrange open houses for rental properties. These events can be conducted in-person or virtually, utilizing interactive 3D tours. Notably, nearly one-third of renters in 2021 deemed virtual tours extremely important in their decision-making process, according to Zillow. Holding an open house allows landlords to emphasize unique property features, gather initial impressions of potential tenants, and discuss applicant qualifications like income-to-rent ratio, pet fees, and move-in dates.

Display a "For Rent" Sign 

Employing a straightforward yet highly effective tactic, landlords can erect a prominent "For Rent" sign in the front yard or window of the property. Prospective tenants often drive through neighborhoods in search of rental homes, and neighbors may know individuals seeking rentals in the area. Ensure the contact phone number is clearly visible from the street; consider including a website address for the property; and verify with the homeowner's association (HOA) whether displaying a "for rent" sign is permitted.

Establish a Property Website 

Even landlords with a single rental home can easily and affordably create a property website. Website builders like Wix, Weebly, and provide pre-designed templates tailored for real estate and rental properties. Include essential information on the website, such as an engaging property description, high-quality photos, a 3D video tour, floor plans, the number of bedrooms and bathrooms, the monthly rent price, available move-in date, and contact details for the landlord or property manager.

Leverage Social Media 

Harness the power of social media's network effect by sharing information about available rental properties on platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Request friends and family to promote the property on their own social networks, as social media usage is ingrained in most people's daily routines. Additionally, the Facebook Marketplace is an excellent avenue for advertising rental properties, and posting an account status update along with a photo of the rental home on Instagram can further amplify visibility.

Consider Newspaper Advertising 

Print media remains a viable method for attracting tenants, particularly in smaller cities or urban areas where community newspapers circulate. Consult with the newspaper to determine peak readership days and schedule advertisements for those periods. Rental real estate ads are typically concise, so be prepared to use abbreviations such as BR for bedroom. Alternatively, consider allocating a slightly larger marketing budget to feature a more prominent classified or display ad.

Distribute Flyers 

Printing and distributing flyers can effectively spread the word about available rental properties or announce upcoming open houses. Treat rental property flyers as sizeable classified ads, including pertinent details such as property descriptions, monthly rent, available move-in dates, landlord or property manager contact numbers, property website addresses, and social media account information.

Utilize Bulletin Boards 

Public spaces like grocery stores, churches, community centers, and laundromats often have bulletin boards frequented by numerous individuals. Posting a modified version of the rental property flyer used for distribution, complete with eye-catching headlines and compelling photos, along with tear-off tabs containing contact information, can capture the attention of passersby who may be prospective renters.

Leverage Word of Mouth 

Forbes highlights word of mouth marketing as the original social media platform, and it remains one of the most effective methods of advertising. Informing everyone within a landlord's professional network that a rental home is available can quickly lead to finding qualified tenants. Additionally, existing tenants may have acquaintances, friends, or coworkers searching for suitable rental properties. 

Some landlords even offer a small referral fee to tenants who successfully refer an applicant that ultimately rents the property. By employing these diverse and proven strategies, landlords can maximize their chances of finding exceptional tenants for their rental properties.

Verify Tenant Information: 

Verify additional tenant details, including employment, income, and references from previous landlords and personal contacts. Important questions to ask during verification include reasons for moving, desired move-in date, intended length of the tenancy, number of occupants, pet ownership details (e.g., age, breed, vaccinations, training), smoking habits of residents, and any prior evictions.

Select the Tenant and Sign the Lease: 

After thorough screening, choose the most qualified tenant and execute a lease agreement that adheres to state landlord-tenant laws and federal fair housing regulations. 

7 Essential Tips for Screening Qualified Tenants 

When it comes to finding suitable tenants for rental properties, thorough screening is crucial. Treating every applicant fairly and equally is essential during this process. Landlords typically establish specific tenant criteria, including minimum credit scores, employment verification, proof of funds for rent and deposit, and passing background checks. To effectively screen tenants, landlords, can follow these seven steps:

Define Minimum Tenant Criteria: 

Determine essential requirements such as acceptable credit scores, rent-to-income ratio, and tenant lifestyle preferences (e.g., smoking or pet ownership).

Pre-Screen Applicants: 

Prior to the formal application process, provide potential tenants with important details, including monthly rent, security deposit amount, rental application fee, background check requirements, and the need for references from previous landlords.

Consider COVID-19 Impact: 

Take into account any COVID-19 related factors, especially for multifamily properties. Consider laws that may restrict group gatherings and amenities, as well as potential employment gaps caused by quarantine and the pandemic.

Collect Rental Applications: 

Gather comprehensive rental applications from interested applicants and obtain their consent for screening and contacting their current and past employers and landlords.

Conduct Credit and Background Checks: 

Run credit checks and criminal background screenings, using the reports to verify the accuracy of information provided on the application. Ensure the applicant's name, date of birth, current address, and employer details are correct. Evaluate whether any disclosed criminal history poses a risk to other tenants or neighbors.

In Conclusion: 

Landlords aim to protect their rental properties by finding qualified tenants promptly and avoiding extended vacancies that may impact potential profits. Increasing the chances of securing a good tenant involves attracting a pool of qualified applicants through various methods. By employing a comprehensive screening process, landlords can select reliable tenants for their vacant rental properties.