Landlording: 5 Characteristics of Good Tenants
5 Characteristics of Good Tenants
Choosing a Good Tenant is not easy. Who would be a good tenant and who will not? How do we know? There are certain characteristics to look for in a good tenant and once you know what to look for, those qualities will shine through like rays of sun on a gloomy day. So, what are characteristics of a good tenant? Here are five characteristics you need to keep in mind when looking for good tenants.
- Demonstrates Responsibility & Respect
- Life Stability
- Good References
Below I’ve elaborated on the characteristics that a landlord should be looking for in a tenant, added some examples and my opinions and experiences.
Demonstrates Respect and Responsibility
Watch the prospect closely as you are setting up and making your viewing appointment. Is the prospect on time? If they are running late, did they let you know? Are they respectful of your time in terms of showing up on time for the appointment? Have they communicated with you if their circumstances have changed?
Just stopping for one moment to think about these questions, will give you a sure indicator of how small things are handled. If being on time for an appointment is important, a good chance that paying rent on time will also be a priority. If the prospect lets you know that they are running late, they are being respectful of your time. Qualities such as respectfulness and responsibility will shine through if you stop for a moment to pay attention to the details.
Tenants who are able to show that they have a stable income are priceless, however, circumstances of life change all the time. So, how do you look for the stability gene in people? I always start out by asking how long? How long what would you say? How long have they been living where they lived, how long have they worked at their job, the previous job, the previous place where they lived, how often have they moved in the last 5, 7, 10 years?
"in 30+ years, I have only lived in 3 houses,
averaging about 10 years at each house."
Just an example, I’ve lived in Atlanta for 30+ years (pretty consistent) and in 30+ years, I have only lived in 3 houses, averaging about 10 years at each house. In that period of time, I only had 3 job changes also. That’s pretty stable. Compare it to someone who moves every year or two (if there are good reasons for moving, it doesn’t count) but look for a pattern. Even good reasons don’t happen every couple of years. Changing of jobs every year – that shows me that someone is not settled in their life yet. They are still in search of something, and that’s not bad. It just doesn’t make for a good tenant. Whether you are just starting out in the landlord/rental property business, or have been here for a while, you know that the longer the tenant stays in your property, the more profitable the property will be.
It starts at your viewing appointment. Was your prospect on time? If not, it’s a good indicator that timing is not a quality that comes easily. Besides the fact that it’s disrespectful. However, the most important indicator of timely rent payments can be obtained from previous landlords. If you check the history with the previous landlords you will see whether they pay their rent on time or if they are late and how many times have they been late in a period of one year.
"It’s not just timeliness,
it’s being responsible."
Keep in mind, bad things happen to good people too, and take into consideration the circumstances of late payments. Just as an example, we have a tenant that has been with us for three years, and this year they got sick and didn’t work for 3 weeks. However, they let us know what was happening. They had a plan of how the situation would be resolved before they even called us, and when they did call us, they anticipated all our questions and were ready with the answers. The most important thing was, they actually did what they said they were going to do. It’s not just timeliness, it’s being responsible. Needless to say, this is one of our favorite tenants.
A good candidate for a rental property will demonstrate cleanliness in their appearances and through their references. The more respectful a person is to the space, the better. We want all our tenant to treat their rental property as if it was their own, keep it clean on the inside, and take care of the outside. How do you look for that BEFORE you rent to someone? It’s much harder to judge, but appearance is a good indicator. Also, asking previous landlords would help in getting that information. Traditionally speaking, people who can’t organize their time, won’t be able to keep your rental property clean either.
"Listen to what the other landlords have to say,
but make your own decisions."
Tenants that have clean track records and strong references are often likely to uphold a good reputation, pay their rent on time, keep the property in good condition and follow the rules. It is always good to check references and listen closely. Listen to what the other landlords have to say, but make your own decisions. We’ve had a landlord tell us that a tenant we were asking about was never happy with anything, that she was a nightmare. Always called, always complained, but kept the house clean and paid her rent on time. Always. We took a risk and rented to the person. She’s been with us for two years now and we only hear from her when something goes wrong. We actually call her and check to make sure that she is ok. So, listening to other landlords is very important, but the decision is still yours. Furthermore, the most predictable step to success with a tenant is to know how they have performed for other landlords in the past. Though it is not a guaranteed method, but it certainly works with a very high level of accuracy.
Finally, your tenants should know all that is expected from them before moving in. By properly outlining the expectations for rent due dates, maintenance, etc. and also the consequences of not following the lease or the rules that come with it from the outset, your situation will be markedly more manageable afterwards. Following some basic guidelines I have outlined above, heightening your attention to minor, yet very important traits and characteristics of your prospects, your chances of getting a good tenant are much higher.
I look forward to getting your comments on this article.
Marina Shlomov, a managing partner at ALH|Podland Rental Homes Property Management is the author of many articles on Landlording, Property Management, and Real Estate Investing. A residential builder in the state of Georgia since 1999, Marina is an investor herself. Her property management company is intended “For Investors” and “By Investors” for a simple reason – she knows what investors’ goals are and she works hard to reach their goals. In her spare time, Marina likes to spend time with her family, friends, garden, read and travel. Check her out at www.alhpodland.com in the About Us/Meet the Team section.