Dallas landlords and property owners want a successful rental experience. That experience starts with careful tenant selection.
A good tenant means predictability and profit. You can count on earning a reliable rental income every month, your property will increase in value, and your ROI will steadily grow throughout the tenancy. A bad tenant, however, will cause headaches and waste money. With a bad tenant, you risk property damage and inconsistent (or missing) rent payments. You might end up evicting a bad tenant, and that will cost you time and money.
No one can tell the future or predict with total accuracy how a tenant will work out. However, you can protect yourself and your property with a smart and strategic tenant placement process.
Tenant screening is critical, and remember that it starts long before the application is turned in.
Put in the work that’s required to find the best tenant for your Dallas home. If you’re struggling with doing this right, hand the process over to a professional property manager, who can lease your home quickly to the right person.
Dallas Property Management: Pricing a Rental Property to Attract Tenants
How does pricing your investment property impact the type of tenant you place?
Well-qualified tenants have a lot of choices among rental properties in Dallas. A good tenant with a record of paying rent on time and remaining gainfully employed can choose to live anywhere, especially if the landlord references are positive. Those wonderful tenants won’t pay more than they have to. These renters are educated, and they know the Dallas market. They’ve seen other properties, and you don’t want to chase them away from your home because it’s overpriced.
Pricing your home competitively will actually earn you more money in the long term because you’ll avoid vacancy and place a good tenant.
Dallas Rental Property Marketing
Marketing and advertising your rental home properly will help attract good tenants.
You can advertise on Craigslist, but you don’t want that to be your only platform. Remember who your ideal tenant is: someone qualified and willing to rent for the long-term. You’re looking for an above-average tenant, and you need to reach them where they are.
Prior to advertising, make sure your property is ready for the Dallas rental market.
- Take care of all deferred maintenance. Check everything in the property from the air conditioning unit to the doorknobs.
- Make sure your property has curb appeal. The walls need fresh, clean, neutral-colored paint. The floors need to be clean if they’re carpeted and free of damage if they’re tile or laminate. Take a look at your property the way a tenant will look at it.
- Clean the home professionally and thoroughly. You want the bathrooms and appliances to shine. You want the home to smell fresh.
Online advertising is your best tool today. Write an ad that reflects all the best things about your property. Include information on details such as large yards, off street parking, updated master bathrooms, fireplaces, and new appliances. If you’re in a desirable location, be sure to advertise the school district or the proximity to commuter routes and shopping. Include lots of high quality pictures.
The best tenants will visit rental sites like Zillow, Trulia, HotPads, Rentals.com, and Rent.com. Tenants in Dallas may work with agents who use the Multiple Listing Service (MLS). Property managers will include your ad on their website when you work with them.
When it comes to rental advertising, there’s still a place for signage – even in our digital world. An attractive, professional sign at the property is a good 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.
Showing Dallas Properties: Availability and Communication
You can show your property in a couple of different ways. Many landlords and property managers prefer to show the property in person. This is an excellent way to find the best tenants because it enables you to meet face to face with your prospective renters and do a little pre-screening.
Technology has helped to streamline the showing process and make it more efficient. If you don’t want to do in-person showings, you can use apps and software that allow your tenant to see the property on their own, in private and at any time that works for them. This doesn’t allow you to meet face to face with your prospect, but a lot of tenants in Dallas do appreciate this method of seeing a potential home. It’s easier for them, and it may move your process along faster.
Whatever method of showing the property that you choose, make sure you’re available and responsive. When you don’t answer emails or follow up with phone calls, you lose great tenants. They aren’t going to wait around to see your property; they’ll simply move onto the next one. Call back the people who leave messages. Respond to their email inquiries.
Property Management Dallas: Application Tips
Dallas landlords should use 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.
Encourage tenants to fill out the application completely and quickly. Most of today’s tenants will be looking for an online application rather than one they need to fill out with a pen and drop off or send through the mail. Make this process easy for them.
To properly screen your applicants, 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 kinds of things you’ll be looking for. When you’re clear and proactive 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. This will also help you in fair housing matters.
Property Management in Dallas: Tenant Screening Tips and Advice
The tenant screening process should help you identify a good tenant for your property. Screen tenants the way professional Dallas property managers screen them. Pay attention to the following:
- Tenant’s rental history. This is the best indicator of how someone 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 about whether the prospective tenant paid rent on time, took care of the property, gave proper notice, or violated the lease terms. Ask if they would rent to this tenant again.
- Tenant credit and financial 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. Measure their debt against their income.
- Criminal tenant background checks. The best tenants usually aren’t felons. Minor traffic incidents from 20 years ago are no big deal, but you don’t want anyone with a history of violent crimes, drugs, or predatory behavior.
- Income and employment. You want to see a stable employment history and an income that’s at least three time the amount of rent.
Don’t do a basic credit check and approve the first tenant who applies. You’re seeking a good tenant. So, take the time to do a proper 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 Dallas and the U.S.
When you’re looking for the best Dallas tenants, it shouldn’t be at the cost of fair housing laws. You need to follow the fair housing regulations that are enforced in federally and at the state and local level. No one wants to discriminate. However, you can make some big fair housing mistakes without realizing it. The language you use in your advertising can be unfair, 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 fair housing laws and how to follow them. These laws change all the time. For example, what do you know about disparate impact? This has become a big part of how you look at criminal backgrounds when you’re screening tenants. If you’re not sure how to handle these laws, make sure you’re talking to a Dallas 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 the best tenants, or you have questions about anything pertaining to Dallas property management, please contact us at Specialized Property Management.