Expert Tips on How To Choose the Best Tenants

Chris Heller HeadshotChris Heller, Licensed AgentMay 25, 2022


One of the biggest challenges for property managers is finding the right tenants that won’t give them sleepless nights. Pre-screening prospective tenants used to be enough, but it’s becoming increasingly difficult to find renters they can trust. 

While a criminal background check, income and employment verification, a credit check, etc. can reveal a prospective tenant’s true identity, they don’t tell the whole story. Despite all of that, many property managers still end up with nightmarish tenants. 

So, the question is, how can property managers get the best tenants?

We asked several key experts known for being top solution providers in the real estate industry to get their advice. They discussed and shared relevant tips and ideas about how to get better tenants for properties.

Since those with a real estate license and property managers both deal with housing and sometimes work hand in hand, real estate experts can also learn and grow by using these tips.  

Here’s what the experts had to say:

Use the right property management software

Bruce-Hogan Headshot

An inaccurate data-driven decision is one of the key reasons why property managers end up with the wrong tenants. How is that possible? Collating and analyzing potential tenant’s data with the wrong software can lead to inaccurate decisions.

According to Bruce Hogan, CEO of SoftwarePundit, “One of the easiest and most impactful ways for property managers to attract better tenants is to select and implement the right property management software. Leading property management solutions have several features that help property managers list properties and evaluate tenants.”

“For example, AppFolio makes it easy to quickly generate a listing for a property from an existing template that can be automatically syndicated to leading websites,” he said.

This means automated data analysis with the right software allows property managers to quickly spot red flags while screening prospective tenants.

Attract the right tenants with excellent property upkeep

Your property’s quality will most likely determine the quality of tenants you’ll attract and end up with. If your property is in bad shape and looks unkempt, what sort of tenants will it attract? Which is why it’s so important to get a home inspection. If you know the condition of the appliances and other features, it helps you create a fair price. Let’s hear from the experts. 

“A tenant that will move into a property that is rundown is a tenant that does not mind living in squalor and will most likely only make it worse. To attract quality tenants, you need to present a quality product. Offer them a property that shows that it has a landlord that cares about it’s upkeep,” said Robert Carillo, a Property Manager with Century 21 Haggerty in El Paso, TX. 

“If something needs to be repaired and it is the result of normal wear and tear, then make sure to take care of it in a timely fashion. Tenant’s very much appreciate a landlord that shows that they care about their well-being and comfort. It’s amazing how much they will show their appreciation for that in the way they take care of your home,” explained Carillo. 

Do a thorough tenant screeningRobert-Carillo headshot

Once prospective tenants start showing up, do a proper screening using an in-depth rental application and leaving nothing to chance. Carillo shared a great idea about how property managers should screen tenants.

“Use a thorough rental application that runs a background check which produces results on an applicant’s credit history, rental history, and criminal history. The application must also include a copy of the applicant’s ID and recent pay stubs so that employment and income can be verified,” said Carillo, who has spent a decade in the industry after getting his Texas real estate license in 2011. 

Screen all prospective tenants for the property before making a final selection. Do all you can to choose only the most qualified tenant for the rental property. Be aware that some prospective tenants lie during interviews, so run a background check to play it safe. This will save you a lot of trouble down the road. 

Make the property affordable

Depending on the rental market you’re targeting, if your property is overpriced, you may have difficulty finding the right tenants. Even when you find tenants, you may end up dealing with late payments and costly evictions.

Affordable rentals are in short supply, if you can afford to price at the lower end of the rent window then you will have plenty of tenants competing for your property.

Hogan added that using software such as “AppFolio allows you to pay to list your property in premium locations on several websites.”

Affordable rental properties are always attractive regardless of their market segment. 

Automate to find the best fit leads

James-Barrett Headshot

Managing every aspect of a rental property manually will only leave you stressed out with tons of work left undone. Your best bet is to automate as many things as possible to make your work easier, faster, and boost your efficiency rate.

James Barrett, Co-founder & CEO of Tenant Turner explains why automation is crucial in finding the right tenant and automating as many things as you can. 

“As soon as you list a rental property, you will get inundated with emails, phone calls, and text messages from tenant leads,” he said.

Barrett further explained that “With 53% of tenants not meeting your qualifications because of income, desired move-in date, or pet situation, you’ll need to quickly pre-qualify each lead in a consistent manner. That way you stay fair housing compliant and can focus on showing the property to only the best fit leads.”

However, you can use software to make automation easier and better whenever you need high-quality tenant leads. You can also automate rental payment reminders among several other tasks. 

Use Online Applications

Annabel-Maw Headshot

Online applications make it convenient and faster for prospective tenants to provide all the details you need as a property manager to start screening them. More so, using an online application can give you an edge over the competition as more tenants can reach out to you faster. 

“One of the best ways to get high-quality tenants is to use an online application form. Online application forms are much more in-depth than paper forms, legible, and easy to manage the submission data,” said Annabel Maw, at JotForm.

“With 31% of tenant leads expecting to hear back within hours, you’ll need to move quickly before you lose them to a competitor! You can use leasing software or set up your own templated auto-responders to ask critical questions and get back to tenant leads with real-time responses,” explained Barrett of Tenant Turner.

At the moment, there are more than 250 million smartphone users in the United States. Providing access to an online form makes it easier for prospective tenants to reach you within just a few minutes after learning about your property. 

Stick to fair housing practice

Leslie-Guiley Headshot

While you learn in real estate school that screening tenants is crucial, you still have to follow due process. Just like everyone else, tenants have rights, and you should always remember that while screening prospective tenants.

“Know the law, everyone has heard of fair housing, but practice is key, you cannot refuse to rent to felons or people with pets as emotional support animals. Reasonable accommodations must be made for ADA and a good property manager can make sure to keep it legal while conducting professional tenant screening,” advised Leslie Guiley- COO of Better Homes and Gardens BloomTree Realty.  

However, you shouldn’t hesitate to do a credit check to see the prospective tenant’s credit score. Other key things to note are criminal and eviction history. A clean criminal, eviction, and good credit score could indicate that the prospective tenant could be a good one.

Also, rental history allows you to understand whether the prospective tenant has a good tenancy record. Consider asking the tenant where they are relocating from and why. Ask for references of previous landlords too and reach out to them to learn more about the tenant.

Finding the right tenant for your rental property isn’t rocket science. Follow the expert tips mentioned here, and you’ll most likely end up with the right tenants for your rental property. 

Chris Heller Headshot

About the Author

Chris Heller brings 27 years of experience in real estate. Chris serves on the AgentAdvice Editorial Board and is the Chief Real Estate Officer at OJO Labs. Chris brings deep expertise having held influential industry positions including CEO of mellohome and former CEO of Keller Williams Realty International.

Last Updated: 5/25/2022



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