Top 7 Steps To A Successful Tenant Move In


Imagine dealing with troublesome tenants who call your phone at 3am, consistently make late rent payments, and probably even do a bit of drug dealing on the side. If you successfully dodge your way out of dealing with such, you could probably even end up with others, who down the road, you ultimately realize were less of a fit than the former. In a country of over 110.5 million renters, there is a significant number of prospects who perfectly fit this description. And of course, no landlord or property manager would ever want to house them. But unfortunately, they’ll always end up somewhere…and that translates to a rather unhappy group of landlords.

Most of the affected landlords are usually individuals who approach the process of tenant move-in like a “pregame” show- despite the fact that in reality, it’s actually the most significant part of the game. Your strategy here is what eventually counts in the landlord-tenant relationship.

The most critical attributes through this process are precision, alertness and patience. Desperation, even when you’re eager to fill vacant houses, could eventually cost you an arm and leg when the tenant ultimately moves in. As a matter of fact, with the population of renters currently outnumbering landlords on a scale of 1:5, there’s no need for anxiety, especially when your property is priced competitively.

So, now that we’ve established the attitude you should approach this with, what is the actual strategy to a successful tenant move-in?

1. Review Moving-Out Notice

The first step, of course, is overseeing the move-out process to ensure a smooth turn-over of the property. To avoid any misunderstanding down the road, termination of the lease should be explicitly communicated in writing. When a tenant expresses intention to move out, reply and confirm the exact date and time, plus additional instructions on property inspection and subsequent handing over of the keys.

The entire paper trail should be dully filed in your system, and used to schedule the inspection process. Since many renters are not familiar with the inspection procedure, you should communicate in due time and confirm on the most convenient time to schedule it. Of course it should always be conducted in the presence of the tenant, just to avoid any objections that would otherwise delay the turn over process.

2. Scheduling

After inspection, comes scheduling on vacating and subsequent maintenance. With over 2600 new renters every-day in the US, the rental market is always busy, especially during summer- and that means constant work for the most skilled repair workers. It’s therefore advisable to schedule and book the contractors early, to make sure that the maintenance works begin immediately the premises are vacated. This should be particularly easy if you’re leveraging a property management software that automates a bulk of these operations.

3. Start Advertising

Advertising does not come after your tenant moves out. To minimize the turn over time and grant yourself sufficient time for screening and lease agreement signing, the actual marketing process should start a month or so before the actual move-out.  Since prospects begin searching for new homes 35 days before they move out of their previous premises, you’ll be tapping into a market that will be ready to move in within a month’s time.

It’s not a secret that the most effective advertorial pieces contain relevant images. In fact, adverts with images attract 94% more views than adverts without. And that doesn’t mean just any set of images. They should be attractive, relevant, up-to-date and contain all the critical property features. Additionally, since color boosts attention by 80%, all your ads should have just the right amount of color, temperature and saturation- all of which require the touch of a professional property photographer.

If you’re a seasoned property manager, chances are, you know right where to post your property images. If not, conduct a thorough research on the most visited local property sites and combine them with social media marketing, and consequently expand your prospect base. Social media is considerably effective, and as a result, 91% of real estate agents are leveraging it to connect with prospective buyers and renters.

4. Screen Prospective Tenants

If the property is good and the pricing right, you’ll start being contacted immediately you post adverts. And that’s precisely when tenant screening should begin. Start by posing questions on details that are relevant to the tenancy agreement. Some of the things you could inquire about include; name, phone number, reason for moving, number of people moving, intended rental term, occupancy data, pets, credit score, and landlord reference. However, since 40% of prospects are usually first time renters, you may not get a comprehensive landlord reference report to gauge all the individuals interested in the property.

Any sign of discomfort in answering the questions (as long as you’re polite), of course, should be interpreted as a red flag. Serious and ideal prospects are usually eager to make great first impressions, and therefore answer queries without any hesitations or problems at all. Separating them from the rest of the prospects could eventually save you a lot of time and trouble.

5. Invite Qualified Prospects For Property Tour

If you’re comfortable with the answers you receive from a prospect, go ahead and invite them for a property tour. Set convenient but separate visiting times for all the prospects, to give them a chance to individually assess the property and interact with you. This should set the base for the proceeding tenant screening stage, which requires you to physically evaluate them on an individual basis.

Take keen note of specific telltale signs that help make informed judgments on the characters of the individual visitors. One’s appearance, for instance, is a reliable assessment factor on general cleanliness and responsibility. Observing attitude and manners should also help you identify people who show indications of being difficult to deal with in future. If you’re curious about a tenant’s perception of the price, engage them and pay specific attention to their remarks on the condition of the property in relation to value.

6. Request Prospects To Apply For Tenancy

This, unfortunately, is a stage that’s predominantly skipped by a bulk of property managers and property owners. Tenancy applications provide sufficient information to carryout relevant background checks on the individual applicants. The best approach would be providing applicants with pre-prepared forms, and briefing them that their applications would be considered along with the rest. Otherwise, one could mistake it for an invitation to a lease agreement.

If you plan to conduct a credit check, which is highly advisable, be sure to collect screening fee in line with credit reporting agencies (TransUnion, Experian and Equifax).  Subsequent data collected should be combined with observations from previous stages in reviewing and making a final decision on the most suitable tenant to move in. And of course, it’s always advisable to communicate to all the unsuccessful applicants, politely stating reasons for turning down their applications. In some areas, like the City of Madison, you write to an unsuccessful applicant within 3 days, explicitly explaining reasons for denial.

7. Sign The Lease Agreement

Although this is the simplest of all the steps discussed, it’s undoubtedly the most critical since it marks the beginning of the actual tenancy period. Without it, it would be practically impossible to legally prove existence of any lease. So, treat it with the seriousness it deserves by setting a time and date for signing, after all the parties have comprehensively read and understood all the terms.

During the actual signing, ensure that relevant identification documents are attached, and the required amount of money has been submitted by the tenant-to-be. House keys can only be issued after payment is confirmed and agreement is dully signed. And that marks the beginning of a new tenancy period.

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