Let’s talk about how to find good tenants online for free. I’m gonna start this post off with a piece of advice: take your time and find good quality tenants.
As someone who has endured many nightmares resulting from bad tenants, I can promise you that taking your time to find a tenant this is of good character and qualified to meet your expectations will certainly be worth it in both the short and long-term.
It is far better to have your property sit vacant while you wait for your prince charming tenant than to occupy it quickly with a deadbeat tenant.
Now, before we discuss where to find a tenant online, I want to first define what a good tenant is and what good tenants expect from a rental property.
What Is The Definition of a good tenant?
I imagine your definition of a good tenant is someone who pays their rent on time, right? Makes sense, but if that’s all it is, I would challenge you to broaden your definition a bit.
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In my mind, a good tenant is someone who not only pays rent when it’s due (although that certainly is at the top of this list); a good tenant is also someone who…
- has consistent, stable (w2) employment history
- has no prior evictions
- no criminal record (minor infractions such as speeding tickets excluded)
- no recent delinquent items on their credit report
- at least 5 years of verifiable rental history w/ good feedback from previous landlords
However, if even an applicant checks all the boxes and passes the “good tenant” test, you’ll never know for certain if someone is a good tenant until you start renting to them.
Will they start dealing drugs from the property, move in other family and friends who are not on the lease, pile their trash up in the back of the house, allow their kids to color all over the walls, etc.?
You just never know, but what I will say, is if you use the list above as your guide, you’ll greatly increase your chances of landing a good tenant.
What Do Good Tenants Expect In A Rental Property?
Finding good quality tenants is a lot like fishing. To attract to the right fish, you need the right bait.
As someone who’s owned over three dozen rental properties and dealt with many tenants over the years, I’ve found one thing to be consistently true: the condition of the property likely resembles the condition of the tenant.
If you have a crappy rental property, you’ll likely end up with a crappy tenant. The opposite is true as well.
If you want quality tenants, you need to make sure you have a rental property suitable to attract those kinds of tenants.
Here are few things to keep in mind even before submitting an offer on a rental to ensure you end up with a property that will attract good tenants.
Location, Crime, & Schools
As they say, real estate is all about location, location, location. Well, what about location is important?
When it comes to location, tenants, just like homeowners, are primarily concerned about safety and being close to good schools.
Get Neighborhood Crime Statistics
There are a number of sites you can use to pull crime statistics for a certain neighborhood, but I recommend www.spotcrime.com. It’s free & easy to use. You’ll be able to quickly identify the kinds of crimes, and the frequency of criminal activity for a certain area.
Move-In Ready Condition
I would strongly advise against renting or even showing properties until all renovations are complete, and the property is move-in ready. You want to make sure you leave a good first impression.
Not only should a property be move-in ready, but make sure it’s been professionally cleaned. Good tenants expect clean properties.
Additionally, once repairs have been completed, spend some time and do a slow, thorough walk-through of the property. Here are some things to look for:
- leaky faucets
- dirty ceiling fan blades
- make sure you have hot water
- doors latch and lock properly
- no cracks in windows
- ensure all kitchen appliances are in working order
- make sure all utilities are on (water, gas, & electric)
- ensure heat and air work properly
- grass is cut and presentable
- all trash has been removed
- check for pests
- outlets are in working order (use a receptacle tester)
- sinks, toilets, & showers drain properly
- light bulbs are working
Ample Parking Space
Your property doesn’t need a garage, but it’s ideal to have some kind of designated parking space. A lack of parking space will either deter good tenants, or you’ll end up with this…
Kitchen Appliances Included
At least where I rent properties in Springfield, MO, tenants expect that rental houses include kitchen appliances. At the bare minimum a stove and a refrigerator. A dishwasher is ideal, but likely not a deal-breaker.
I would not provide a microwave unless it’s an installed over-the-range microwave. Counter-top microwaves tend to grow legs and walk out on you.
Central Heating & Air
If the rental is a single-family home, good tenants are going to expect central heating and air.
Now, if you’re renting a smaller house or a guest house that’s under 1,000 sq. ft., you might be able to get by with an energy-efficient cooling/heating window air unit like this instead of central heating and air.
I do NOT advise supplying a washer and dryer in most cases, but it will be important to a good tenant looking at single family homes that you have a washer and dryer hook-up.
Ample Closet Space
Every bedroom should have an enclosed area to hang and store clothes.
Windows That Open & Shut
I realize that many older homes have windows that are old and sealed shut, but, even with central heating & air, it’s going to be important for most good tenants that they can open the windows and let in some fresh air.
I’m not saying you should replace all the windows in the house, but at the very least, I would replace the living room windows. Double pane single hung windows like this kind that Lowe’s sells are recommended.
How To Find Good Tenants Online For Free
So, now that we’ve defined what a good tenant is, and what property features are important to good tenants, let’s dive in and discuss how to find tenants online for free.
Real estate websites
To find good tenants online, you need to promote your rental property on various real estate websites.
Now, there are many real estate sites you can use to promote your rental property to find a tenant, but to make the best use of your time, you’ll want to focus on the sites that receive the lion’s share of the traffic.
According to inman, nearly half of all traffic to real estate-related websites is captured by the following 10 sites:
So, these are the sites I’d focus on. All of these websites are free to use to find a tenant.
What you want to do next is use software to automate the publishing of your listing on these various sites. To learn how to do that, read my post “Best Places To Advertise Your Rental Property For Free.”