Owning rental property is a business. Generally speaking, revenue is earned through rent payments from a tenant. Having an empty space, whether it be an apartment unit or a single family rental, is considered a vacancy. A vacancy is like having no customers for your business. In other words, you have no revenue coming in. Vacancy is one of the biggest profit-killers in the buy and hold investment business.

In my experience as a property manager, landlords sometimes attribute vacancies directly to location and location only. While location does play a major role in the success of an investment, there are plenty of other factors that can tip the scale.

If you have an investment in a relatively poor rental location, the following tips can help boost your chances of finding a qualified tenant. If you have an investment in a prime rental location, these tips can help boost competition which leads to longer lease terms, stronger tenant criteria, and possibly higher rent amounts.

Plan In Advance
Leasing season (in Richmond, VA) is generally in Spring. This may vary in different localities. Find out when your leasing season is and aim to begin/end your leases during that time. It's difficult to find good tenants over the holidays since folks aren't focused on moving. During the leasing process, it's okay to ask for 15 month lease terms to get your leases to cycle in Spring.

With more competition in Spring, you’ll find it’s easier to get longer leases signed and appropriate or high rents than other times of the year when you might have to sacrifice those negotiating tools.

When negotiating a longer lease, be sure to explain how the tenant benefits the most if it ends during leasing season. Should they decide to move out in Spring when their lease ends, they will have much more inventory on the market to choose from! Mutual benefits.  This works excellent for getting our clients multi-year leases.

Take Good Pictures
This seems obvious, however many landlords or Property Managers are moving so quickly that they do not take the time to take quality pictures and adjust the quality of the pictures as needed. Move clutter out of frame, add light, and show detail. The more the tenants can see, the more likely they are to inquire.

Make a Walk Through Video
No, you don’t need a professional video camera. Everyone with a smart phone can take a quality video walking through the home in a matter of minutes. Show the closets, the yard, and any other details that the tenant might want to see that isn’t easily noticed in the pictures. After filming, take a few minutes to edit the video using a stock app on your phone, or download a video editing app to create a more professional outcome.

A walk through video will allow the tenants to see the home and understand the layout without visiting the home itself. This strategy can increase the number of applications you receive with a lower number of showings!

Create A Description With Emotion
When describing your property in the marketing description area, use emotion. Renters tend to connect emotionally with a home they see themselves living in. This is an experience. In business, an investment should never be emotional, however when a prospective tenant looks at a home to rent, they are picturing the memories they can make while living there. Help them feel those experiences.

For example: Instead of writing “home has large back deck” you may want to write “Back deck is perfect for having friends over for a cookout!”

Build A Relationship With Tenants
When you have prospective tenants in your home for a showing, take some time to get to know them. Keep in mind there are restrictions as to what questions you can ask and cannot ask legally, however find a way to connect with the tenants to begin to develop a relationship. The connection will allow for your instincts as a landlord to know if they will be good tenants. Additionally, the tenants will feel more comfortable with a better connection.

The relationship between and landlord and tenant is a professional relationship, but both parties want to have a positive human experience.

Be Responsive

When leads are incoming regarding a vacancy, act fast! Tenants are likely scrolling down a popular rental website and will only remember your property until they see the next one. Outshine your competition with fast responses and schedule a showing. Once a showing is scheduled, stay in touch with the tenant to let them know you are looking forward to meeting them. This will increase your odds that the tenant will show, and the connection will have already been established.

Good Luck!

These simple tips will help landlords achieve a lower vacancy rating. A little bit of attention to details and communication goes a long way.  Best of luck finding great tenants!