Investors give plenty of thought to the ins and outs of securing the right property.
High on their list of priorities is an apartment or home that will provide them with solid capital growth over the long term, which is in an area attractive to tenants and will be easy to rent out.
But what is equally important — but is rarely given the same amount of column space — is finding the right tenants.
Mark my words: there is a very big difference between a good and a bad tenant and this is a process you do not wish to rush for the sake of securing a tenant quickly.
The good tenants will treat your home like it is theirs, keep it in good shape and be respectful in all of your dealings with them.
These are the kind of people who you will fall over backwards to keep happy because you know that they are not thick on the ground.
And as for bad tenants?
The damage they can wreak is enormous.
They may not pay on time, which will adversely affect your ability to cover the mortgage, and they can ruin your place to a degree that even the bond will not cover the cost of repairs.
Here are some warning signs I look out for:
1. They don’t like the place
This is a fairly obvious one you would think, but in times of high vacancy rates many investors may be tempted to go with the first person willing to pay the advertised rent.
If a tenant is walking around the property continually pointing out flaws, then this is not a great omen.
It suggests a fussy attitude that could become a headache for you later on as you are called upon constantly to “fix” faults that seem like inventions to you.
Some people see problems wherever they look and these are not the kind of tenants you want in your investment property.
(However, if the flaws do exist and you have been shabby regarding the maintenance of the property, you need to be honest with yourself about this and not blame prospective tenants who are entitled to a clean and neat residence).
In the end, you don’t want to take on a tenant who genuinely doesn’t seem to be excited to live at the property.
While for you it is an investment, it is also a short-term home for someone else and you want that person to genuinely enjoy living there.
That is what will help make you a good landlord.
2. They have bad manners
How many times have you had an instinct about someone or a situation only to ignore it and pay the price later?
Probably all of us at some point.
These days, I am much more attuned to my gut feelings about situations and if a prospective tenant turns up looking shabby — they don’t need designer clothes just to look neat and tidy — then alarm bells will be ringing.
Perhaps they have a way of talking that suggests they would be difficult to deal with down the track, or sometimes they may be downright rude.
Pay attention to these cues.
If they lack basic manners, then this is a worry, too.
Perhaps they can’t look you in the eye when they talk to you or they spend more time staring at their phones than asking questions about the property.
Are they prompt in returning calls and emails?
Do they make excuses for half-filled out or late applications?
Once again, these are signs of the level of respect they have for others and are great indicators of their general approach to life.
3. They don’t check out
Perhaps the tenant seems fantastic, is keen on the property and ready to move in.
You may want them to come up clean on the verification checks, but pay attention to signs that they are not as good on paper as they purport to be in person.
Some tenants will try and avoid the application process altogether by feigning surprise at having to jump through such hurdles and insisting they have the bond and rent ready to go.
If they can’t produce supporting documentation or references then you should be concerned.
Furthermore, don’t be tempted to cut corners for friends or friends of friends.
Just because someone you know suggested a potential tenant does not mean you should be any less vigorous in your background checks.
This is one of your most important assets, after all.
4. They don’t pay up
There are some tenants who will always be in arrears.
Their rent will always be late, the bills will rarely be paid on time and their credit cards are likely to be maxed out.
The tenant who is bad with money will become a headache for you.
Trust me, this is one area where you cannot let your heart rule your head.
They may have been in dire financial straits and you really want to give them a go, but the truth is if they still owe money to their landlord then they are likely to bring those bad fiscal habits to your rental property.
It will cost you many sleepless nights and potentially quite a bit of money.
Go for the tenant with the track record of prompt payment.
They have earned their solid rental history and they deserve to be rewarded by going straight to the top of the pile.
5. They seem too good to be true
Now, this group can be hard to spot because they seem extremely enthusiastic at first blush.
They ask questions, they nod enthusiastically at everything you say and they are keen — super, super keen — to move in quickly.
If you feel that your prospective tenant is a little too eager to sign on the dotted line, so much so that you are feeling a bit rushed in making a decision, then it is time to take a step back and evaluate the situation.
They may simply be eager beavers — and could turn out to be perfect tenants — or they could be rushing the process because they have something to hide.
Beware the applicant who pushes their emergency situation on to you, and has to move in quickly for personal reasons.
While it would be great to get the property rented quickly, you need to make sure that you are still able to carry out the requisite checks and balances.
Furthermore if they offer you an extra month’s rent to secure the tenancy then you should be wary of accepting a tenant based on this lure, particularly in a market with high vacancy rates.
Not only is it potentially illegal to accept more up-front rent than is set down by our respective state’s tenancy laws, but you should not base your decision to rent out your property on whether or not someone is able to offer incentives.
You deserve a property manager who cares as much about your property as you do.
If you want to find out a little more about how Metropole can help you maximise the returns on your investment property, please click here and we will be in touch.