A successful rental experience for Atlanta landlords and property owners starts with excellent tenant selection.
With the right tenant, you get predictability and profit; you’ll bring in reliable rental income each month, your property will grow in value, and your ROI will steadily increase throughout the tenancy. A bad tenant, however, will only cost you time and money. Bad tenants bring risks, including the risk that they won’t pay rent. Bad tenants can also cause property damage or lead you towards evictions, which are expensive and time-consuming.
No one can predict with 100 percent accuracy how a tenant will perform. However, you can protect yourself and your property with a smart tenant placement process. Tenant screening is critical, and it starts long before the application is turned in.
Take your time and put in the work that’s required to find the best tenant. If you are struggling with time or resources, hand the process over to a professional property manager. Property managers can immediately identify the red flags that would make an applicant questionable.
Pricing a Rental Property to Attract Good Atlanta Tenants
Not all property owners realize that pricing your investment property correctly will impact the type of tenant you place.
Well-qualified tenants in Atlanta have choices. A good tenant with a history of paying rent on time, verifiable employment, and first-rate landlord references can live anywhere. Landlords love those tenants. These tenants won’t settle for an overpriced property. Today’s renters are educated, and they know the Atlanta market. They’re comparison shopping online before they even schedule a showing. Don’t chase them away with a property that’s too expensive.
Pricing your home competitively will actually earn you more money in the long term because you’ll avoid vacancy and place a good tenant.
Marketing an Atlanta Rental Property
In Atlanta, marketing and advertising your rental home impacts the type of tenants you can attract.
Before you hastily post a Craigslist ad, think about how your marketing strategy can help you find the best Atlanta tenants. You are trying to reach qualified, long-term residents who will pay rent on time, follow the terms of your lease, and take good care of your home.
Prior to advertising your property, make sure it’s ready for the rental market.
- Take care of all outstanding repairs and maintenance. Check everything from the HVAC system to the weeds in the flower beds.
- Make sure the property is attractive. The walls should have fresh, clean paint in neutral colors. The floors should have clean carpet or tiles and laminate that’s free of scratches and holes. Curb appeal is critical because first impressions matter. So, stand outside and look at your house through the eyes of a potential tenant.
- Clean the home meticulously and professionally.
Online rental advertising is your best tool. Your ad must reflect all the best qualities about your property. Mention if you have a yard, off street parking, an updated master bathroom, a fireplace, or new appliances. If you’re in a great location, be sure to advertise the school district or the proximity to commuter routes and shopping. Include a lot of high quality pictures that show off your house.
Your ideal tenants are looking at rental sites like Zillow, Trulia, HotPads, Rentals.com, and Rent.com. Tenants who are working with agents will use the Multiple Listing Service (MLS). If you’re working with a property manager, your ad should be prominently featured on their website.
When it comes to rental advertising, there’s still a place for professional signage. An attractive, informative sign at the property is one way to attract tenants who happen to be walking or driving through the neighborhood. It will also allow people currently living nearby to refer people they know who are looking for a home. Make sure your contact information is clearly listed on the sign.
Atlanta Property Showings: Availability and Communication
There are several different ways to show your property to interested tenants. Sometimes, it’s best to show the property in person. This is a helpful way to find the best tenants because it enables you to meet face to face with people and do a little pre-screening.
Technology can help streamline the showing process to make it more efficient. If you don’t want to do in-person showings, you can use apps and software that will allow anyone to see the property on their own, at any time that works for their schedule. This doesn’t allow you to meet with your prospect, but a lot of tenants do appreciate seeing a property this way. It’s easier for them, and it may move your process along faster.
Whatever method you choose, make sure you’re available to potential tenants, and responsive. When you don’t answer emails or follow up with phone calls, you risk losing great tenants. They aren’t going to wait around for you to get back to them; they’ll simply move onto the next one. Call back the people who leave messages. Respond to their email inquiries. This is important in finding the best tenants for your Atlanta property.
Application Procedures for Atlanta Tenants
Provide a written application that collects all the pertinent information including names, contact information, social security numbers, current and past addresses, employment information, and landlord references. Your application must also provide permission for you to conduct a background check and a credit check on your prospective tenant.
Good tenants will fill out the application completely and quickly. Most of today’s tenants want to move as fast as you do; and they appreciate an online application rather than one they need to fill out with a pen and drop off or send through the mail.
To properly screen tenants, you’ll need documentation such as a copy of their government-issued I.D. and pay stubs or bank and tax statements that verify their income. Allow them to securely upload those documents to you. If you don’t have a system that supports this, consider working with a management company or a screening company so this entire process is automated for you and your prospective tenant.
When you provide your application to prospective tenants, give them your application criteria as well. Let them know what you’ll be looking for in a tenant. When you’re clear about the credit and income standards you expect, you’ll eliminate a lot of unqualified tenants right away. It’s best to provide something in writing that details your requirements.
Property Management Atlanta: Tenant Screening
The tenant screening process will allow you to separate the great tenants from the not-so-great tenants. Screen tenants the way professional Atlanta property managers screen them. Pay attention to the following:
- Rental history. This is the best indicator of how tenants will perform in your property. Talk to former and current landlords (and make sure you’re talking to actual landlords; not family members and friends). Ask landlords about whether the tenant paid rent on time, took care of the property, gave proper notice before moving out, or violated the lease terms. Ask if they would rent to this tenant again.
- Tenant credit checks. You don’t need a tenant with perfect credit. But, you do need a tenant without prior evictions or any landlord debt. Look for unpaid or overdue utility payments and avoid any tenants who are currently in bankruptcy or looking like they might be about to declare bankruptcy. A lot of debt indicates that rent will be hard to pay.
- Criminal background checks. The best tenants usually aren’t felons. Speeding tickets from 20 years ago are no big deal, but you don’t want anyone with a history of drug charges or convictions for violent crimes.
- Employment and income verification. Look for a stable employment history and an income that’s at least three time the amount of rent. Talk to employers and verify income.
It’s easy to glance at a credit score and feel comfortable that you have a financially responsible tenant applying for your property. But, you’re looking for more than a credit score. You want a responsible tenant. So, take the time to do a proper tenant screening. Dig into the application and make sure you have an idea of who is going to live in your home.
Fair Housing Laws in Atlanta
When you’re looking for the best tenants, you have to follow all state, local, and federal fair housing laws. Landlords don’t usually set out to discriminate against people. However, you can make some big fair housing mistakes without realizing it. The language you use in advertising can be scrutinized, for example. Saying that a property is perfect for families or in a neighborhood that’s popular with one particular culture can get you into trouble.
Make sure you know the federal and Atlanta fair housing laws and how to follow them. These laws change all the time. For example, disparate impact has become a big part of how you consider criminal backgrounds when you’re screening tenants. If you’re not sure how to handle these laws, make sure you’re talking to a property manager. Fair housing lawsuits are expensive, and the fines can be outrageous. You don’t want to make any mistakes in this area.
The best tenant is easy to identify, but often hard to find.
When you need help finding and placing the best tenants, please contact us at Specialized Property Management. We provide Atlanta property management, and screening and leasing is what we do every day. We can make sure your investment experience is a successful one.