How to get good tenants

Posted on: 03 December 2013

As a landlord, you want to get a tenant in quickly so that you don’t lose out on the rent. But the wrong tenant can cost you time and money further down the line.

So how do you persuade good tenants to rent your property and not someone else’s? And once they’re in, how do you make sure they stay?

Finding good tenants

There are plenty of tenants out there, good and bad. As a landlord, it’s your job to convince the good ones to move in to your property.

1. Marketing your property

  • Invest a little time in promoting your property to attract the type of tenants you want. Firstly, take some good quality photos or even create a video tour, your prospective tenants can then get a feel of the property and space available. Secondly, provide a clear and well written description of the property and local area, focus on the positive features and services.
  • Most tenants’ first step in finding somewhere to rent is to go online to one of the property portals. By-passing the high street and using an online letting agent to list your property on RightmoveZoopla or Primelocation is becoming more and more popular. But will that attract good tenants? You may decide that listing via an agency on the street will market your property to the better calibre residents. And if you have good relationships with high street agencies, they can give you feedback on prospective tenants that have visited their shop too.
  • If you have a decent following on Twitter or Facebook, don’t be afraid to post your listing on your profiles. A friend of a friend might just be the good tenant you are looking for.
  • It goes without saying that the property needs to be in good repair (including the garden) before you show anyone round. But if you have a particular type of tenant in mind (such as a young family or mature students), help them see the stand-out features of the property that meet their needs, like the use of a box room as a play room or study.
  • The going rates for properties in your area will give an indication of where to price it, so be competitive. But also be realistic about what you expect good tenants to reasonably pay. And know how much you are prepared to haggle – knocking £15 off the rent every month for the right tenant could save you £100s in damage repair bills caused by the wrong one.

2. Make the most of viewings

  • Make sure your property is up to scratch. Before inviting viewings ensure the property looks well maintained, is clutter free and clean – both inside and out.
  • Once you have persuaded some good tenants to book viewings, remember that they need to be sold on you as the landlord as well as your property.
  • Be on time, be presentable and be prepared. Know your property inside out, including the positives in its less appealing features (like low ceilings making it feel cosy or a small garden requiring less maintenance).
  • Then take the opportunity to ask them questions, like what they do for a living and whether they enjoy what they do. Share a bit about yourself too if the conversation merits it – it will encourage them to be open with you, helping you decide if they are the right tenants for your property.
  • Good tenants will ask you questions too, like where the local grocery stores are, what schools are in the vicinity and when the rubbish is picked up. Giving the answers to questions like these help them see what life would be like in your property – and before you know it, in their heads they’ve already moved in.

Tenants are staying in a property on average for nearly two years. They expect a good looking home, not one which isn’t well kept.

3. Complete the paperwork

  • So you’ve got on well during the viewing, they like your property and they’re interested in renting it from you. But remember that although first impressions are important, it is vital to perform the necessary background checks before you sign them up. Credit, income, rental history and criminal checks can all be done online, based on some simple information obtained at interview.
  • If alarm bells start ringing during the process of putting their deposit into a protection scheme because they are delaying the process, or they are making excessive requests for changes to the tenancy agreement, think about whether or not to proceed. Your instinct is a good indicator of what makes sense for your business in the long term.

Holding on to good tenants

Having persuaded your dream tenants to move into your property, now give them every reason to want to stay.

1. Be helpful

  • Contact your tenants soon after they move in to check that everything is ok. Make yourself available to provide information about local transport, parks or services like gyms if they request it.
  • Ask them to raise any concerns about the property early on, listen to their reasons, and be accommodating in your response. If the shower isn’t working properly or a door handle is broken, fixing these quickly and with little fuss will go a long way to building a good relationship between you.

2. Communicate

  • Share your contact details with your tenants from the start, and make sure they know that you are available to answer queries or rectify problems. Ask them which form of communication they would prefer to use with you. This respects their privacy and avoids them feeling intruded upon by phone calls when they might prefer emails or texts.
  • When they contact you, be available to talk or return messages quickly. This helps them feel valued and also ensures any problems can be fixed promptly.
  • Give your tenants notice before you visit the property and explain the reason for your call. Find a time that is convenient for them as well as you, and if necessary, let them know any outcomes from work you have done.
  • Inform your tenants of any issues you hear about that might affect them, such as major works about to start on neighbouring properties, or roadworks that might impact their commute. They will appreciate the heads up.

3. Be professional and fair

  • Cutting corners when the paint is pealing or the oven is broken will not benefit anyone in the long run. Inconveniencing your tenants, or ignoring major issues like a leaking roof, will only spur them to look for somewhere else to live. So deal with issues in a way that you would want things dealt with in your own home. Your tenants will thank you by staying on.
  • But if you feel that your tenants are pushing the boundaries of the relationship, perhaps by requesting unreasonable repairs or visits at unsociable hours, explain what is realistically expected from them and you, and work out a solution that is mutually agreeable. Compare the cost of losing them and their rent over the odd call to fix a radiator after 7pm and see if you still think it merits an argument.

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