Ways to locate prospective tenants for your apartment

Tips on how to lease your real estate property

There are numerous ways of letting prospective tenants know you have an apartment for rent. The two most common are vacancy signs on the property itself and rental ads in the local papers. 

Your leases should be written with a clause requiring the present tenant to give you at least 30 days' notice, prior to the expiration of his lease, if he intends to move. This gives you 30 days to locate another tenant. Ideally, you want to have just enough time to clean up the apartment for the new tenant. Many landlords keep a permanent rental sign on their building. When they know an apartment is going to become available in a month or two, they can start qualifying prospects who are willing to wait.

Newspaper ads should spell out terms, rent and at least the general location of the building. This will save you a lot of unnecessary calls from rentees who do not qualify because of price, and so on.

Should You Use Rental Agencies?

There are agencies in most areas who specialize in finding apartments for tenants. They are paid in one of two ways. They may charge the lessee or prospective tenant a fee to find them an apartment. They can also charge the lessor for "listing" their apartment for lease and offering it to apartment hunters. This fee is generally payable only if they find a tenant who accepts the apartment.

In order to perform the above functions and collect a rental fee, most states require the agencies to be registered real estate brokers, and the agents must also be licensed salespeople. In many areas, where rental apartments are in demand and the rental market is a lucrative one, there has been a surge of non-licensed rental agencies appearing. They skirt the law by offering to sell a "list" of available apartments to a prospective tenant. Since the agents are not licensed by the real estate commision, they cannot physically show the apartment. They merely sell you the list for a fee of $10 to $25. It is up to you to check out the leads. Unfortunately, most of these lists are compiled by listing the apartment rentals that are listed in the paper. Persons buying the list are often disappointed to find that many of the apartments offered are already leased or have different terms than as represented on the list.

How To Find Tenants For Stores And Offices

Newspaper advertising and signs on the property are the most common methods of locating tenants for commercial buildings and stores. If you have a sizable rental space available, try trade magazines and also contacting major chain stores in your area. Determine who would be a likely tenant for your building. Is the store space suitable for a drug store, discount store, food store? Is the office space suitable for an insurance company, attorneys, or an accounting firm?

Who would desire your industrial space? Is there a manufacturing company moving into your area? Contact your local industrial board. What about the tenants in the area? Could any of them be considering expansion? You may have to divide a large space if you cannot find a single tenant to lease all of it.

Use your imagination. Don't be afraid to contact many prospective tenants. But research the market first. Chances are a major store will not be interested in your space if they have another store close by.

Qualifying Tenants

This brings us to the area of qualifying a tenant. Of utmost importance: Be certain that none of your qualifying can be interpreted as discriminatory as far as race, color or creed.  It is against the law. There has even been a legal battle won by a young couple who took as invasion of privacy, a potential employer who asked the woman if she intended to have children in the near future. Although this was a job application situation, the same could apply to a landlord who is trying to make sure he will have no children in his building.

You can, however, restrict your tenants to mature adults, no children or pets, retired age people, etc. It is important to try to maintain a compatible balance of tenants in your building. When seven of your apartments are rented to retired couples, avoid leasing the eight to a young couple with a small child, or a bachelor who throws late night parties. Satisfied tenants are less apt to move when their lease expires.

As part of your tenant qualification procedure, you should have a personal application form to be filled out by a potential tenant. You should at least obtain answers to these questions:

1) Name and present address;

2) Present landlord's name and phone number;

3) Age and marital status;

4) Credit references;

5) Previous landlords;

6) Financial situation;

7) Occupation.

These questions allow you the opportunity to qualify the tenant and determine his financial ability to pay the rent, his stability, employment-wise, and whether or not he has had rental problems in his previous locations. Don't be afraid to call prior landlords and ask if they had any problems with your prospect.