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How to find and keep good tenants

To get the best out of a rental property, having reliable tenants is essential. With steady payments, respectful behaviour, and easy communication, being a landlord is smooth sailing. So how can you ensure your tenants are top-notch?

In this article, we explain the key steps for attracting quality tenants as well as how to retain them for the long term. With these expert tips, you can keep your rental running smoothly with consistent income, simple management, and minimal headaches. 

What makes for a good tenant?

It's essential when you're selecting tenants for your investment property that you focus on objective facts rather than personal opinions. That's why it's wise to have a standardised and thorough screening process in place when searching for new tenants. 

In our many years of property management experience, we've found that the following are key things to keep an eye out for:
  • You are able to communicate easily and openly with each other in your initial conversations.
  • They have good references from previous landlords (ask about how they looked after the property, what condition the property was left in, and how they got along with the neighbours).
  • There is a history of paying their rent on time.
  • They have good credit reports.
  • There is no history of serious rental problems.

While it may take extra work to go through this screening process with all of your potential tenants, taking the time to do so will give you the best chance of ending up with dependable and considerate tenants before the lease is signed.

How to attract good tenants

So now that you know what you're looking for, how exactly do you attract the high-quality tenants you're after? You'll be happy to know that as a landlord there are several things you can do to attract and retain quality tenants. Here are three of the top tips we've seen work for other landlords over the years:

1. Put thought into how you advertise your rental property

Before you can select a tenant, you need to market the house in a way that attracts the right kind of people. Wherever you decide to advertise it, consider who will be seeing the listing and how it appears to them. 

For the most effective results, take the following steps:
  • Thoroughly clean the house (inside and out).
  • Take photos in bright natural light.
  • Write a description of the house that will appeal to the tenants you're looking to attract. 
  • Add details about the lease – including the start date, rent amount, and whether pets are allowed.
  • List the house on your chosen forum or website.
  • Respond to all enquiries in a timely manner.
  • Provide in-person viewings.

While you are communicating with people about the house, take note of their communication style and any general first impressions. 

For more tips on how to present your property at its best, check out our blog on how to prepare your home for tenants.

2. Make your expectations clear from the beginning

If you have certain expectations of what you're looking for it's important to make these clear from the beginning. This means including as much relevant information in your rental listing as possible and speaking with your tenants to discuss your preferences when you first meet. This way they can decide if what they're looking for aligns with the same things you're after.

Some of the common things we find that need to be communicated early include:
  • When you're hoping for the tenancy to start.
  • The length of the lease — are you looking for a fixed-term or long-term tenancy?
  • The maximum number of occupants you want in the property.
  • Will pets be allowed at the property — if so how many and what types?

While you can include many of these conditions in the tenancy agreement, it's important to have these conversations early so by the time you come to offer the tenancy to someone you're both on the same page and the tenancy agreement doesn't house any surprises for either party.

However, it's crucial to note that all tenancy agreements and included clauses must align with the Residential Tenancies Act. If not, they will be considered unenforceable clauses, and are legally void. By trying to enforce such a clause, you may end up at the tenancy tribunal paying an unexpected fine.

3. Conduct a comprehensive vetting of applicants

Once you've attracted a few good candidates you need to thoroughly vet your shortlist to ensure that everything checks out. While you may think that asking around, doing an online search, or checking out their social media profiles might be sufficient, this will not give you the insights you need to make an informed decision.

You'll want to follow a similar process to what we do, which can include:
  • A full credit check.
  • A tenancy tribunal check.
  • Contacting references.
  • A full background check.

As we mentioned earlier, these checks do take additional time and effort. Still, they're highly worthwhile especially when you consider you're going to be entrusting one of your largest assets with whichever tenants you end up choosing.

How to keep good tenants

Now that you've gone to all that effort of finding the ideal tenants for your investment property — how are you going to keep them? Luckily managing tenants is what we specialise in, so we have a few tips and tricks we can share with you:

Ensure you are respectful

One of the best things you can do as a landlord is to maintain a respectful relationship with your tenants. Quality tenants are more likely to be interested in a warm, clean, well-maintained property with a good landlord, so be sure to make a favourable first impression. On top of that, positive interactions with a tenant make it easier to raise and resolve concerns. 

Stay on top of repairs and maintenance

A good tenant wants to live in a well-maintained home, so it's crucial you're timely and considerate with repair and maintenance requests. Tenants may become frustrated if you're consistently taking a long time to get on top of things and it may just cause them to move out!

We have great relationships with local tradespeople so that when there is a problem with one of our managed properties we're able to help our landlords get on top of it quickly. This is something you need to consider — which plumber, electrician, or builder will you call if you need assistance quickly?

Respect your tenants' privacy

The majority of tenants do not want to hear from you unless they have a problem. So while you'll occasionally need to gain access to the property for property inspections and carrying out maintenance, try not to do so more often than is absolutely required.

Not only will this help to keep your tenant happy but legally tenants have a right to reasonable peace, comfort, and privacy. It's also important to remember that as a landlord you need to give the correct amount of notice or get the tenant’s permission to enter the property — otherwise, you may be breaking the law.

There you have it, our top tips for finding and keeping good tenants. Well, we actually have one more. Call us biased, but when it comes to finding tenants, we truly believe that hiring a property manager is the best thing you can do.

At McDonald Real Estate, our team has a network of reliable tenants already waiting so your vacancy periods are few and far between. Each prospective tenant is thoroughly vetted, so you can rest assured that your investment property is being taken care of. 

Not only will they find dependable tenants for you, but your property manager also has the skills and knowledge to resolve any issues before they get out of hand. They can help manage your investment, your compliance with legislation, documentation, rent collection and property inspections. This way, you get the peace of mind you deserve.

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For more information on rental property management, visit our property management page or contact the team today for a free, no-obligation appraisal.

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