Tenants You Want To Avoid

Throughout your time as a Landlord, you may deal with a lot of tenants. It is the problematic tenants that give you the most stress and may cause you to lose both time and money, rather than gain. From one Landlord to another, you can avoid all of these unnecessary headaches by steering clear of potential tenants that display these four red flags that most Landlords seem to brush off:

The Lush Tenant. As a Landlord, I have seen my fair share of problematic tenants, so certain red flags jump out at me automatically. I once had a potential tenant who came to my property for a scheduled appointment to view the house. When he got out of his car and came to shake my hand I got a nice big smell of what seemed to be alcohol. The potential tenant wreaked of both alcohol and cigarette smoke. This was a red flag to me. Now do not get me wrong, alcohol and smoking may not necessarily mean that they will be throwing frequent parties and such, but it may be a strong indicator that they may treat your house the way they treat their own bodies. It is probably a very good idea to stay clear of anyone who seems to always be drinking or smoking, unless you want your house smelling that way.

The Anger Management Poster Child. As I was leading a potential tenant into one of my rental properties, the individual got a phone call. He answered his phone and started screaming and cursing at the person on the other line. He lost his temper very quickly. This was a red flag to me. I was with this potential tenant for only about fifteen minutes, and I had already started to see exactly who I did not want to be living in my property. People with short tempers are usually destructive and harder to deal with. Even if a person seems difficult to work with while you are showing them the house, they may also prove to be harder to tend to as a tenant.

Children Gone Wild. Another example of a tenant you should stay clear of are the ones who can’t control their children, or let their children run wild. If you are showing the house and the child is running around acting crazy, that should be a major red flag to you. One problem I have seen multiple times while showing a house, is a child that likes to swing on the refrigerator door. This shows that the tenant will most likely damage lots of things in the house, because their children cannot respect the property. This may cost you more in the long run to fix or replace many things in order to make your property rental ready after they leave. Further, tenants like this may cause you a lot of stress of worrying how they are treating your property.

The Persistent Negotiator. You should also be aware of tenants that may not seem to be able to pay the rent. If the potential tenant seems persistent about getting you to lower the rent, then that is a good sign that they are worried about being able to pay the rent that you want. If the potential tenant doesn’t have an adequate income or has a bad reputation of not being able to pay past rents then you should stay away. You should not have to chase your tenant down for the rent on your property.

Please keep in mind that no family or individual is perfect and these red flags may not always lead to horrific outcomes, but exercising good judgment and foresight may save you from a ton of future grief and heartache as a Landlord.

How Do I Get My Property Rented

Getting your property rented isn’t always easy. There are many factors that go into obtaining a good tenant quickly. For instance, our market in St. Petersburg, Florida is very competitive. To catch the attention of a quality tenant you need to get your product in front of them quickly. Also, you want to make sure that your property is easily accessible, rental ready and priced correctly.

Marketing for your tenant – The Internet

There are several methods to attract a tenant to your unit. Some of our favorites are the different internet listing sites. There are 100’s of internet sites such as: Realtor.com, Hot Pads, Rent.com, Zillow, Trulia, Rent My House, Rentlinx and many more. A good property management company will already have a sophisticated listing integration program and will be able to get your rental property viewed by 1000’s of potential renters.

Yard Signs

Yard signs are still a good way to attract quality individuals. For example, Northeast Saint Pete is a very desirable area. As soon as you get the sign in the yard we have usually have instant interest. Many folks looking for a specific area will drive through neighborhoods or have a friend or relative in the area keep an eye out for them

Social Media

In today’s market, social media is a tool used by most everyone. Posting your property to Facebook, Twitter, Linked In, etc. is an inexpensive and effective way to get in front of a different set of people. While they might not be interested – they may know someone who is.

Being Rental Ready

Quality individuals want a quality product. Make sure your unit is clean and in good repair. Curb appeal is extremely important when trying to get your property rented. There should be no visible deferred maintenance and the property should be free of pests or unwanted critters.

Viewing the Property

Unlike individuals purchasing a property, tenants are generally looking for immediate information and viewing instructions. Open houses or lockboxes are an effective way to give the tenants access immediately. Our office utilizes a 24-hour automated service that gives them details about a property and allows them to register and get an access code to view the property.

Pricing

Our philosophy is never to be the most expensive, but to be priced competitively to attract a quality applicant. In some instances, pricing your property too high will work against you. Many tenants who have a poor credit or rental history will pay more for a property because no-one else wants them, which frequently results in a bad experience for a landlord.

Often owners think finding a tenant is easy because we did it so well, but the reality is we have resources that we have compiled over the last 25 years. If you find yourself with a rental for more than 30 days, you may want to seek the advice of a professional property manager.

Dealing With Angry Tenants

A tenant’s rent is usually the largest monthly payment they make and a Landlord’s house is usually the most valuable investment they have. With these two things in mind, when there is a problem, things can get very passionate. As an owner or property manager you need to know how to defuse difficult situations. When a tenant has a problem and is angry, this is not the time to be emotional.

Listening is Key

Ask what the problem is and then listen. Do not interrupt or ask them to please calm down. They need to feel like you are listening and truly care about them. This is not always easy, especially if you disagree, but remember, we have two ears and one mouth for a reason. Your purpose is to diffuse the situation, not make things worse.

Be Sympathetic

The last thing an angry tenant wants to hear is that it is all their fault, you don’t care or you can’t help them. Acknowledge their concerns and act like you truly care about helping them. Avoid words that are negative in connotation such as ” I can’t, I won’t, that’s not going to work, etc.”. If you are unable to assist them explain why and give suggestions on how they may be able to resolve their problem.

Don’t Argue

The last possible thing you ever want to do is argue with a person who may not be acting reasonably. This will always fail and most likely cause the individual to escalate and retaliate. It does not matter if they are wrong or right. Pointing out why they are incorrect or misinformed will not diffuse a bad situation, it will only make it worse.

Treat Them The Way You Want to Be Treated

Respect, humility and treating them the way you want to be treated is key. Also, recognize that the reason they are going off the deep end may not be the issue. They could have a child who is ill, lost their job, got a ticket and this last issue has ignited their fury. If you really want to help resolve the problem – truly helping and acting like you care is critical.

Being A Savvy Tenant in A Demanding Rental Market

In the Pinellas County rental market – housing is in high demand and finding a nice property can be extremely challenging especially when you are competing against other possible tenants. Maneuvering through the rental market is easier if you are a proactive renter.

Locating A Property

The internet is the most useful tool in today’s market, but unfortunately many of the websites that pull them are out of date. As soon as you locate a property call immediately. Emailing can slow the process down and cause you to lose a potential property. If you cannot reach someone and there is an address – drive by the property. Often times there will be additional information on the sign that you can obtain. When you reach the property manager – put your “best foot forward” and always be polite and courteous.

Viewing and Applying For the Property

After viewing the desired property if you are interested follow up immediately. If a company has an online application, complete it, being as thorough as possible and pay the application fee. Once submitted call or email the property manager to alert them that you have followed the instructions and submitted the application.

Understanding Your Rental Worthiness

While credit is a big part of the decision-making process, it is not that all that counts. Most companies will also do a search on your civil and criminal background. They are also looking that you have stable employment and can afford the rental you are applying for. Lastly they want to see a stable rental history.

Evictions and Foreclosures may not rule you out, but you want to disclose anything derogatory upfront and offer to pay a higher security deposit. Don’t wait for them to find an issue, always inform the potential landlord before they run the application. This will help save you money if it won’t work or build good rapport with the property manager if they will consider you.

Securing the Rental

Your move in date also will affect the decision making process for a management company. The sooner you are willing to move in may be the deciding factor when up against another possible renter. Once approved, do not delay in bringing the landlord the security deposit and executing the rental agreement. A property is not yours until the lease is signed by all parties.

Even though Saint Petersburg and the surrounding cities of Pinellas County can be a demanding rental market – if you are a savvy tenant you are on your way to securing a property you can call home.

Investing In Rental Properties

Is now a good time to invest in rental properties? This is the question most people ask me when they realize I have been in property management for over 26 years and an investor for almost 30. My answer is an undeniable yes. There are many factors affecting our market today. The economy is improving and interest rates are on the rise which impacts greatly an investors bottom line. In addition, the housing market has bounced back in most areas and prices are steadily rising. The demand for rentals exceeds the supply, thus allowing an investor to command a higher rental price and obtain a better-quality tenant. The Millennials’ are not interested in home ownership as they do not want the responsibility nor do they want to be tied to one place long term.

But how does this compare to other investment opportunities? Real estate, when purchased correctly and professionally managed, can be one of the strongest returns I have found with very minimal risk. In real estate, you have the future appreciation of the property, your tenants are making the mortgage payments for you and are paying down the principle, all your expenses associated with the rental are tax deductible against the income and lastly you have tax benefits of the depreciation of the asset. For the strongest return, I always coach first time investors to invest in “middle America” and stay away from high end properties or high crime areas. While both of these look good initially, they rarely perform better and usually come with more headaches. I also caution investors to not over leverage. A good rule of thumb is 30% down with a mortgage of 70%. If you are thinking of investing in real estate go talk to a licensed real estate professional or property manager who owns their own investment property. They will give you the best advice.

Sandy Ferrera, CEO
All County Property Management Franchise Corp.