Military Housing: Get The Best Tenants of All for your Rental Property

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When I first started out in this business, I once drove about an hour from my house to look at a deal in the middle of nowhere. And when I say nowhere, I mean cow pastures, farmland and not another living soul around for miles.

I didn’t end up doing the deal and I was ticked off I’d been foolish enough to drive all the way out there in the first place. But that’s part of the learning curve in this business. You make a lot of mistakes early on that you’ll never make again. But the reason I didn’t do this deal is because it would have been extremely hard to find a tenant. After all, who wants to live in the middle of nowhere? Sure, some people do, but not enough to take the chance at having a property sit vacant for months.

That’s why, when you’re looking at properties to pick up as rentals you need to ask yourself if you’re going to be able to get tenants for it. The beauty of the real estate investing business is that you get to choose where you buy houses. If you buy houses in a terrible area and it sits vacant for months, you have nobody but yourself to blame.

So where do I love buying houses?

Close to military bases.

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A great way to find the best tenants is with military housing

For example, on December 1st, I had tenants in one of my single family houses give me their 30 days notice. Of course, I was sorry to see this happen since right now is a tough time of year to fill a vacancy. However, in less than a month, I found a family of four (he’s a Marine) and they move into my property on January 3rd.

Of course, no tenant is perfect, but military families are about as close as you can get. I own several properties near military bases and I haven’t had a problem yet. Also, since military personnel are moving at all times of the year (like now) you can fill vacancies quicker during the winter months.

If I were you…

Look into Military Rentals!

badges-of-the-five-military-branchesI’d get online and find all of the military bases within a 60 mile radius of your house. Then find the quality neighborhoods that are close to the base, buy a mailing list of absentee landlords and start a direct mail campaign.

When you get your first deal, not only can you advertise it with signs, craigslist and in the newspaper. But most military bases have a housing page where you can post your rental properties too.

Also, military people obviously have lots of military friends who will be great referrals for you and the other properties you pick up in the future. (When I pick up new properties I send a letter to my tenants asking them for referrals.)

So, if you’ve got less than desirable tenants, start buying properties in better locations.

Photo: US Army Corps of Engineers Europe Division

About Author

Jason R. Hanson is the founder of National Real Estate Investor Month and the author of “How to Build a Real Estate Empire”. Jason specializes in purchasing properties “subject-to” and has purchased millions of dollars worth of property using none of his own cash or credit.


  1. I served in the Army for almost eight years. I bought a rental property in downtown Tacoma not far from Joint Base Lewis-McChord and was fortunate to have a military couple live in my property for almost 3 years! I recently bought another property not far from my first and will definitely be marketing it heavily to military personnel and their families.

    Here are a couple more reasons to consider renting to military personnel:
    1) Service Members aka military personnel receive a tax free housing allowance referred to as BAH (Basic Allowance for Housing). This information is available via the internet (Google BAH) and can be useful when trying to determine where to set your rent in order to attract Service Members.

    2) Landlord’s often have more recourse in the event of a missed rental payments and/or damaged property. Ask for the Service Members chain of command and their contact information and if something goes awry, don’t hesitate to call your tenant’s Commander. When I was a Platoon Leader and Company Commander, I always stressed to my Soldiers that they represented our unit both on and off base. Once, I had two Soldiers that skipped on their rent and wrecked their apartment. The property manager for said apartment called and spoke to the Soldiers’ supervisor explaining the situation. We made the Soldiers return to the apartment, clean up the mess, and made payment arrangements for the back rent. Why did we, the chain of command, go through this much effort? To safeguard our reputation as Soldiers and the reputation of our unit; honor is still relevant in the military. Another reason we made amends with the apartment community is to avoid future issues (discriminatory renting, increased deposits, etc.) for other Service Members.

    I hope this helps!

    • Is there a housing advertising site aimed toward military? I have rental properties and one of the best tenants I’ve had over the years was a Ft Lewis soldier and would love to get more quality tenants like that.


        Fort Lewis has a housing office. From the Fort Lewis website: “Area landlords can contact the HSO rental section at 253-967-5165 to list their properties.”

        Honestly, Craigslist is the way to go. Offer an incentive to military families but be careful of making the offer seem discriminatory against non-military prospects. I’d go with reduced deposit or waived application fee.

        • Just saw Maria’s comment below. Totally forgot about that site. AHRN is actually a great resource.

    • No major downsides besides deployments. You may have a great tenant that gets orders to deploy and decides to put all of their stuff in storage and move out. The military clause, which should be in your lease if you’re truly interested in renting to Service Members, affords them the ability to break a lease without penalty if they’re on orders.

  2. Do you have the service member fill out an application? Is there a special application for military? With non military renters I have credit reports and I was wondering, Do I need that?

    • Yep, treat Service Members like any other renter in regards to paperwork. Credit checks and rental apps for sure. No special application but I would ask for the unit info, as well as, their supervisor’s and Commander’s name and number.

  3. I have a home we rent out near 2 military bases. My experience with the military is this. I have received numerous checks returned for NSF. The yard has never been maintained by military persons and when they vacate the home, it is left trashed. Carpet is trashed, walls all have to be repainted. Wood work is damaged beyond repair. Their opinion of the NSF checks is “you will get it when I pay it.” “Bill me for it.” is their response to the damages to the home. Another favorite is with “no pet” agreed upon. They bring in pets without a care. Poop and pee everywhere. This is my experience with “the new military”.

    • Our beautiful home was trashed by a military family as well. We are trying to collect for the $10,000.+ worth of damage and loss right now. We have called the “destroyer’s” commanding officer multiple times for days on end and left messages without a single call back. Any suggestions on how to collect? They are hiding and refuse to give us a physical address (P.O. Box only).

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