Choose the Kind of Tenant You Want

You have a vacant apartment to rent. Perhaps this is the first time you have ever rented out an apartment. Perhaps you have done it a few times before, with little success at choosing a stable family. Maybe you had such a bad experience renting out the apartment in the past, that you left the unit vacant for months, even years. Now, you need the additional income. This time, you want to do it the right way.

You should put your preferences for a rental applicant in writing before you start your selection process. Write down your criteria for the kind of person you want in your building. Then, you are less likely to choose a person based on outward appearances, instead of what you said you wanted. Learn how to avoid the “Rush to Rent” syndrome. This is when you you are strapped for cash, and do not take the appropriate precautions to ensure that your rental candidate is the best person or family for your building.

Once you make the commitment to rent out your vacancy, you need to constantly think about, and then be clear and steadfast as to the kind of tenant you want to occupy your real estate investment. Read the state and federal housing laws to avoid illegal renting practices. You want to select, not discriminate against your next tenant(s).

Make every candidate complete a rental application. Assuming that every rental applicant you see has a good income, good landlord references and good credit, what kind of person or family are you looking for?

1. You want a person or family who will pay the rent on time each month;

2. You want a person or people who will respect your building and apartment by maintaining it in a decent, clean, safe, and sanitary manner;

3. You want a person or people who will respect the other tenants in the building, and will live a quiet life;

4. You want a tenant who will call you if there is a repair problem needed in the apartment, such as a water leak or a kitchen cabinet loose from the wall;

5. You want a tenant or tenants who will call you when there is an emergency situation, either in their apartment or the building;

6. You want a tenant or tenants who will conduct themselves in accordance with their lease and the law;

7. You want a tenant who will respect you and your desire to maintain the property in a good way

There are numerous factors that could impact your decision to pick one applicant or family over another. These selection factors are different from discrimination based on a prejudice against a certain type of applicant, which is against state and federal law.

Some circumstances you may want to consider are whether or not the tenant or family will live in the same building as you and your family; whether or not the tenant(s) will share the same building with your elderly parent(s). You may prefer a person or family with a history of long-term tenancies, or for stability in employment, income, etc.

You should think about these factors before you begin your search for a tenant. You need to be prepared for those candidates who are very good at convincing others to do things their way. Create your preferences list, and refer to it often. When you begin your search for a tenant, your list will fortify you, and keep clear your tenant selection process.

When rental applicants try to convince you to choose them over someone else, review your list. How many of the attributes you said you wanted in a tenant do you see in this person or family? You do not want to be persuaded to choose someone against your better judgment over a person whom you originally said you wanted as a tenant. Take your time, and do not “Rush to Rent”. Your tenant selection process will go smoother.

This article is a modified excerpt from property management consultant and author Carolyn Gibson’s book, “How to Pick the Best Tenant”. Carolyn, a Certified Property Manager, is a speaker, educator, trainer and writer whose web site [] provides articles and how-to tips for landlords and tenants.