5 Ways Landlords Save Money By Making Homes Eco-Friendly

Many individuals, landlords included, are opting to “go green.”

By making a property more eco-friendly, a landlord reduces the environmental impact of that home, but in addition to this benefit, there are a variety of ways it can also save them money.

1. Utilities Savings
While some landlords leave it to their tenants to have all utilities turned on, many also offer certain utilities, such as water and gas, as part of the rental agreement.

By installing water-saving technologies, such as low-flow shower heads and toilets, landlords can greatly reduce their water costs.
Similarly, investing in better insulation and new furnaces can reduce natural gas costs.

These are only a few options, as there are numerous home energy audits a landlord can perform to reduce a property’s environmental impact.

2. Tax Breaks
Although tenants are the ones who will inhabit a property, they’re not the ones who will have to pay taxes on it.

Because of this, it’s important for landlords to try to reduce their tax burden in any way possible, and fortunately, it’s easy to do this by simply going green.

The Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency (DSIRE) offers a resource that lists federal, state, and local tax incentives for home upgrades that are more environmentally sustainable.

3. Reduced Supplies Costs
Even seemingly minor costs can quickly add up for landlords who maintain more than one property. Paper waste, for instance, can quickly add up over the years.

Fortunately, a fair amount of this waste can be eliminated by simply using property management software that allows tenants to pay their rent online and landlords to perform background checks right over the internet.

4. Lower Repair Costs
Making a few eco-friendly changes around a property can also greatly reduce the repair costs that landlords see during a typical rental agreement.

Installing efficient insulation, for instance, will provide a home with better temperature regulation.

By doing this, HVAC systems will experience less strain from trying to maintain a comfortable temperature in a home.

Reduced HVAC running time equates to less wear and tear, and in the end, this means longer periods of time between necessary repairs and replacements.

5. Savings on Waste Removal
It’s also possible for landlords in certain areas to save money by reducing the amount of waste generated in their rental properties.

Many cities and counties, for instance, actually charge for waste removal based on the weight or volume of what’s removed from the property.

This means that, by simply eliminating some of the garbage created by tenants, landlords who cover waste removal can save money.

Unfortunately, it’s not easy, or sometimes even possible, to force tenants to reduce the amount of waste they produce.

It is possible, however, to increase the likelihood that they’ll do their fair share.

By providing composting areas for tenants, for instance, it’s possible to eliminate some of the waste generated in the average home by 25 percent.

Additionally, providing recycle bins can reduce waste even further.

In the end, these measures can result in substantial cost savings for landlords who pay for garbage collection by weight or volume.

There are countless environmental benefits of going green, but that’s not where the benefits end.

Whether a landlord is focused on saving money or saving the world, taking eco-friendly measures in their properties will help them succeed in their goal.

When your lease is silent or unclear

There are a lot of reasons landlords give tenants standard leases.

Sometimes it’s just faster and easier to use an existing or standard lease.

Standard leases help get a tenant in the space quickly, but they can also have drawbacks.

Even when a lease is customized to meet the needs of both landlord and tenant, unclear language or unforeseen circumstances can derail a smooth rental experience.

Before Signing a Lease

Many part-time landlords face these situations.

It is difficult to foresee in advance all the possible scenarios that may arise.

It is important to use a checklist of important issues relating to your property so you can make sure all those issues are addressed in the lease.

If you are using a standard lease, read through it to make sure that you understand what it is saying.

Don’t use language if you don’t understand what it means.  

Make sure you are familiar with your state’s landlord-tenant laws.

There may be laws that are automatically added into every lease.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development website contains links to current state laws.

For example, Florida’s laws can be found at the following location: http://portal.hud.gov/hudportal/HUD?src=/states/florida/renting/tenantrights

After Signing a Lease

You may need to amend your lease if you discover issues that need to be addressed.

You may need to define words in the lease or assign responsibility for maintenance of the property.

 If the change requires your tenant to do something that is not already required by the lease, the tenant must sign off on the change.  

The document that the tenant signs will then become a part of the lease.

If you and your tenant do not agree on the meaning of the lease or if the lease is silent, it is best to try to find a solution that is satisfactory to both of you.

 For example, If the dispute relates to repairs, you and the tenant could agree to split the cost of repairs or you could agree to rely on a decision of a third party as to who caused the damage.

Reaching an agreement allows you to preserve your landlord-tenant relationship, keep your rental income and avoid the time and expense of court.

If you believe that a lawsuit is your only recourse, then consider how a court would interpret the lease.

How Leases are Interpreted

In order to address these types of issues, it is important to understand how leases are interpreted by courts.

Some of the techniques courts use to interpret leases include:

  • The four corners of the document – What does the paperwork actually say regarding the disputed provision? Courts look at the whole document for answers, not only in the section that contains the disputed provision. Any specific details take precedence over any general language.
  • The intent of the parties – When the document itself doesn’t offer sufficient information, the court may be able to look outside the document for such information as the parties’ previous actions and other written communications between the parties.

Equally important is the need to maintain a good relationship with your tenant.

Tenants should feel like they are partners in the process of maintaining the property. Their involvement and interest in their home help landlords save time and money.

 

How to Insulate Yourself from Expenses with a Great Lease

Owning a rental property can be expensive, and if you’re not careful, you can end up footing the bill for repairs or damages that should be the tenants’ responsibilities.

One important way to insulate yourself from such expenses is to write a great lease that covers as many contingencies as possible and clearly specifies the financial responsibilities of all parties.

While regulations vary from state to state, there are some important items that should be included in any lease or rental agreement.

Names of All Tenants and Limits on Occupancy

Every adult living in the unit should be named and should sign the lease.

This way, each person becomes responsible for the rent and any other terms of the lease.

If one tenant leaves or can’t pay for some reason, you can legally collect the entire rent from any one of the tenants named in the lease.

You, as the landlord, have the right to screen and approve who and how many people live in your property.

So, the lease should clearly indicate that only the adults who signed the lease and their minor children can occupy the unit.

This way, you can evict a tenant who moves someone else in or sublets the unit without notifying you.

Rent and Deposits

The lease should clearly state the amount of rent, when it’s due and how you expect to receive it, such as by mail or delivered to you personally.

Make all details as clear as possible, including the following:

  • Acceptable forms of payment
  • Amount of late fees and whether there’s a grace period
  • Charges for bounced checks

The handling of security deposits causes a lot of conflict.

Avoid any misunderstandings by defining the following things:

  • The exact amount of the security deposit
  • How it can be used by you (to repair damages) and how the tenant can use it (to pay the last month’s rent)
  • When and how it will be returned to the tenant
  • Where the deposit will be held and whether the tenant is entitled to any interest earned

Repairs and Maintenance

Unless the specifics about your responsibilities and those of your tenant are unambiguously spelled out, you could find yourself paying for a lot of damage and repairs caused by a tenant’s abuse or neglect.

Specify things like:

  • Your expectation that tenants maintain a clean and sanitary unit and pay for any damages they cause
  • Their responsibility to notify you of any damages or defective conditions
  • Clearly explained procedures for submitting repair requests to you
  • Limitations on what kind of alterations they can make in the unit without your permission, such as painting or installing appliances.

Pets

If you allow pets, be specific about the size and number of pets allowed and what your expectations are for cleaning up waste in the yard.

Also, include requirements about repairing damage from pets in the repair and maintenance section of the lease.

Other Restrictions

Other terms that should be in the lease include:

  • It goes without saying that you don’t want your tenants doing anything illegal in your property, but to prevent property damage and avoid expensive legal problems, it’s still best to specify this in the lease.
  • Specify what, if any, businesses the tenant may run from the property.
  • Learn about all local laws and health and safety codes, and make sure your lease is in compliance.
  • Specify use of parking and common areas.

A lease is a legal document that is intended to protect you and your tenants.

Include these items in any of your leases to protect yourself from having to pay for something that should not be your responsibility.

Property maintenance tips for a landlord

As a landlord, you are responsible for ensuring your rental unit is free of damage and maintenance problems. Routine maintenance can be costly, so it is important to find ways to save money. By performing routine maintenance, you can help ensure that a small problem is fixed quickly before it becomes an expensive and headache-inducing emergency.

1. Test Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarms Regularly

Not having a working smoke detector is a lawsuit waiting to happen. Ensure that this is never a problem by checking these alarms monthly. The best time to get permission from the tenant for access to the unit is when the monthly rent is due. Keep in mind that the average lifespan of a smoke detector is 10 years and a carbon monoxide alarm is five years, so record the purchase date to know when you’ll need to buy a replacement.

2. Be Vigilant in Checking for Leaks and Water Damage

Although the best time to check that there are no water leaks is just after a storm, don’t wait for a big storm to verify that your property is free of water damage. Prior to a tenant moving in or out, always do a complete inspection of the home or apartment to check for any new damage. If you spot anything, immediately contact a professional and inform the new tenant that they may have to wait to move in.

No matter what, always check the home after a torrential rain or wind storm. Look for signs of water collecting near windows, the shower and any sliding doors. Be sure to check the ceiling for any discoloration or signs of soft spots. If you do not address water damage in a timely manner, it can lead to the growth of dangerous mold.

3. Change the Air Conditioning and Heating Filters

To ensure that the air conditioning and heating units operate at peak efficiency, you should change the filters twice a year. To keep on a set schedule, change the heating filter in October when the weather is just turning cold and the air conditioning filter in March when spring is approaching. The dirtier the filter, the more the monthly utility bill will be for you or your tenant, and the more likely an expensive maintenance problem will develop in the future. If you are not responsible for paying utility bills, it is still important to change the filters because high heat and air conditioning bills may lose you some tenants.

4. Drain the Water Heater

Not draining the water heater can lead to the development of excess sediment that can clog the drain valve. Not only will this make the water heater less efficient, but it could also lead to needing to replace the entire unit. You can drain the water heater yourself but it’s important to read the instructions and labels carefully as to not damage the water heater.

5. Call a Professional

While you may consider yourself a competent repair person or want to save a little money, it is always best to hire a professional when facing a costly maintenance problem. Only a professional can fix the problem the first time or offer a guarantee if the work is not done correctly. For help in finding a qualified repair person, ask friends and families for references. Chances are good that if a neighbor or trusted friend is using the person then they will be reliable and reputable.

Five Strategies to Increase Tenant Retention

Just because a tenant’s signed a lease, doesn’t mean they’ll stay–keeping a good tenant around has a lot to do with being a good property manager. Being flexible and friendly, yet professional, is crucial to tenant retention. Here are five strategies to increase tenant retention.

1. Call 48 Hours Before Coming Over

Don’t show up unannounced. Nothing causes more frantic cleaning and a painful feeling of awkward invasion than a property manager who shows up without calling first. Many folks don’t even like friends stopping by spontaneously, much less a landlord interrupting their dinner party. It’s important and polite to respect people’s backgrounds and personalities. Calling 48 hours ahead of time is a safe time frame that allows them to adjust their schedule and prepare for the visit.

2. Allow (Reasonable) Changes to the Property

Good tenants care about the property they live on. When they move in, they look for desirable features in the property, such as landscaping and space for a garden or an area for children to play. They keep the property in good shape because they’re not just looking for a cheap place to rest their head, trash, and leave. They’re building a home and taking pride in its aesthetics and functionality.

To keep these tenants, it’s important to allow them to personalize the property, whether it’s through planting an apple tree on the sunny side, growing a luscious garden, or adding a tool shed out back. Not only will this increase tenant retention but it will increase the value of your property with minimal effort on your part.

3. Allow (Reasonable) Changes to the Interior

Good tenants–tenants who stick around–may want to do more than just hang up a poster. They might call you with ideas to paint a mural in the baby’s room or install a bar in the dining area. You can state in the rental agreement that the tenant must discuss or collaborate on these projects with you. Remember, a client who can get creative in building their home is a tenant who’s invested in it. This tenant is likely to stick around and re-sign the lease for years to come.

4. Be Prompt when Fixing Issues

While the aforementioned tenants who get jazzed up about installing a bar or planting an apple tree are likely to unclog their own toilets and change their own light bulbs, they might not have the time or inclination to fix bigger projects. If the stove or the sink is in a state of disrepair, it can throw a wrench into their busy schedule. If you’re prompt on fixing the sink when your tenants need you, they’ll stick around longer.

5. Be Flexible and Understanding

That being said, if the tenant gets laid off, a move to an apartment with lower rent will look appealing, even if their decrease in income is highly temporary. A good tenant will appreciate a good property manager–one who understands when times are tough and is willing to reduce rent for one month. Another kind and smart thing to do when a tenant is considering re-signing the lease is to offer a rent discount on the first month. Again, this will prevent them from moving, and save you the headache and income loss of finding a new tenant.  

Tenants who are treated like people with desires and needs will feel respected and valued. This will encourage them to be even better tenants because they’ll know they can invest in the property without fear of a picky property manager undoing their homemaking. If your final goal is to sell the home, these tenants could be the ones, if allowed to treat it as their own home, which it is, after all. Keep these strategies at the helm of your operations to ensure a long term, positive relationship with your tenants.

When can landlords use the small claims court?

The Small Claims Court is a great system for recovering small amounts of money that are owed to you.

In exchange for a filing fee, you can have your case tried by a judge who may order a tenant to pay you what is due.

The best thing about Small Claims Court is that you don’t need a lawyer.

Some states even ban lawyers entirely in Small Claims trials.

You’ll need to pay a filing fee, which can be as low as $15, but the sort of skyrocketing expenses that can happen in other types of trials are not a concern.

Common Small Claims Court Actions
The maximum award offered by a Small Claims Court is between $3,000 and $5,000, depending on the state.

This makes it ideal for the kind of disputes that occasionally emerge in a landlord’s life.

Property Repair Costs
It’s every landlord’s worst nightmare: when your tenants move out, you may find that they have left your property in such disrepair that even their security deposit won’t cover the costs to fix it.

This is one of the most common reasons for landlords to take tenants to court.

Unpaid Rent
In cases where the client is clearly in breach of the lease contract, such as not having paid their rent, the court can help to force payment.

In reality, just the threat of a court date is often enough to convince the tenant to pay up.

Third Party Services
As a client yourself, you can take action against service providers such as plumbers, electricians, and cleaners if they fail to provide the agreed service, or if they damage your property while working on it.

Things to Consider Before Going to Court
The Small Claims Court is an important part of the landlord’s toolkit, but you shouldn’t head down the legal route until you’ve considered a few other things.

Landlord Obligations
If the tenancy has ended in an eviction, you’ll need to prove that you followed your state’s guidelines for removing a tenant.

This may include copies of move-out letters or eviction notices.

Supporting Paperwork
You’ll always need a copy of the tenancy agreement to demonstrate how the tenant broke it.

If no agreement was signed, the case will be governed by your state’s statutory laws.

Bring any other documents that support your case, like invoices if you’ve had to pay for cleaning and repairs.

Also, be sure that you understand the court’s paperwork requirements.

Some courts have specific submission rules that require you to submit two copies of everything, for example.

Speaking to the Tenant First
It’s surprising how many people go directly to court without attempting to resolve the dispute in person first.

There’s no point in being too trigger-happy, since many cases won’t proceed unless there has been some attempt to amicably resolve the dispute.

In some cases, the verdict may recommend using some kind of mediation service to reach an agreement, so it’s best to make a reasonable attempt to settle things directly with the other person before taking things to court.

Everyone enters into a tenancy agreement in good faith, and most leases end on good terms.

But if they don’t, it’s good to know that Small Claims Court can help you get the money you’re owed.

How Do Tenant Improvements Work

As you step into your rental property, you’ve noticed there have been a few changes made to the property by the tenant.

Two of the rooms have been repainted.

New shutters were added to the exterior.

Those cracks in the concrete steps have been repaired.

Landlords have two options when they discover improvements: they can accept them and the potentially added value they provide or reject them if unauthorized changes are forbidden due to the lease.

If rejected, changing the property back to its original condition can often be charged against the security deposit.

Tenants Do Not Get to Charge For Value

Improvements made by a tenant can often be written off as a tax expense for them because they did the work.

Landlords cannot take any tax deductions from accepted improvements and may wind up having an increased tax burden if the improvements increase the value of the property.

This is often why landlords attempt to reject improvements that are made.

Tenants have a case to fight against improvement rejection for a number of common reasons.

1. The paint they used was the same color that was already in the home or room that was improved.

2. Flooring needed to be repaired anyway and they just did it without notification.

3. There was a safety concern in the home that the tenants resolved on their own.

If you have white walls in your home and the tenant paints them red, then that could be an improvement that would possibly be rejected.

If the white walls are still white, but with a new layer of paint, then the improvement must generally be accepted.

Tenants Have No Right to Claim Value

The issue that landlords face is that some tenants expect to be compensated for their work when they move out.

They use the improvements as a bargaining chip to have their full security deposit returned.

This isn’t necessary in a vast majority of cases. A tenant may have spent $1,000 giving a property new paint, but if they left the property without cleaning it properly, then landlords have the right to charge for that service.

Tenants cannot sue a landlord for the value of the improvements if they were taken on voluntarily and there wasn’t a health or safety issue that required the repair.

Even cracks in concrete steps won’t qualify unless it was a health or safety issue.

Tenant improvements are generally one of those things that are nice to see.

As long as the property hasn’t been altered dramatically, it is generally a best practice to accept them and prepare the property for a new tenant.

Landlords in the Know: Tenant Rights 101

The landlord/tenant relationship is just as important to the landlord as it is to the tenant.

If entered into with care, the lease agreement will protect both you and the renter.

Following are basic tenant rights you, as the landlord, should be aware of when preparing to rent a property.

1. A Positive Landlord Review from the Beginning
Savvy landlords will have current and previous tenants willing to talk to prospective renters about living conditions in the rental unit and area.

Prospective renters have the right to an understand of what it’s like living in the rental and dealing with you as a landlord.

For example, potential tenants may learn that a landlord responds quickly when the rental needs repairs or the building needs maintenance.

It is like free marketing for the landlord.

2. Conduct a Walk-About
Before your tenant signs the lease, you are wise to make sure the tenant does a thorough walk-through of the premises.

Some landlords will accompany the potential tenant on a property tour to document in writing and take pictures of anything broken, damaged or worn.

In some cases, the landlord may give the potential renter a key to let him or her do a walk-through alone. You must change the locks once the property is rented.

A professional landlord documents damages and wear before the tenant enters the apartment alone.

Prospective tenants can document any damage or wear-and-tear they find, and the landlord and tenant will agree to a final reconciled damage list.

You and the tenant should sign and date the document to make it part of the lease package.

3. Landlord and Tenant: Know Thy Lease
Renters must read and understand the lease.

It is advisable to sit down with the tenant and review the lease clause-by-clause.

The tenant can initial each of the contract sections, indicating he or she has read and understands the terms.

Brief the tenant on privacy notification guidelines, conditions for the return of the deposit, and conditions for and consequences of breaking the lease.

4. Landlords: Know What You Can’t Do
Certain landlord actions are illegal, and it is important that you know they are illegal.

  • Refusing to make repairs that affect a tenant’s quality of life or safety
  • Demanding arbitrary rent increases outside the terms of the lease
  • Threatening to evict
  • Preventing tenant associations from meeting in the building’s common room
  • Turning off utilities
  • Locking out a tenant by changing the locks or putting a lock box on the doorknob
  • Placing the tenant’s belongings on the street

Although it may be tempting to lock a tenant out when repeated damage is done to the property, or the tenant falls behind in rent payments or engages in illegal activities on the property, you risk a lawsuit for trespass, wrongful eviction, emotional distress, and even assault and battery, depending on the events.

In every case, you as the landlord must inform the tenant via some type of termination notice.

The names of these documents differ by state, but they may include the “Pay Rent or Quit Notice,” the “Cure or Quit Notice” or the “Unconditional Quit Notice.”

5. When the Landlord Wants the Rental Back
To avoid a claim that a tenant was wrongfully evicted, the lease includes a description of the process to be followed should you want the rented property back for personal reasons.

If the property is rented on a month-to-month basis, the landlord only needs to give appropriate notice to the tenant that the lease is terminated.

If the lease has a fixed term, the landlord must honor the term but does not have to renew it.

The only exceptions are in the rent-control states of New York, California, Maryland, New Jersey, and the District of Columbia.

There are limits on your rights to evict tenants to move yourself, or relatives, into the rental.

For example, in San Francisco, the landlord can evict a tenant to move in a relative as long as the person rents within 3 months and lives in the rental unit for at least 36 months.

Understanding Landlord Harassment

As a landlord, you can be accused of harassment if your actions motivate a tenant to willingly abandon the lease.

This usually occurs when a landlord wants to evict a tenant but doesn’t want to go incur the cost and trouble of a legal eviction.

Landlord harassment generally involves interfering with a tenants’ privacy or making them feel unsafe or uncomfortable.

Breach of Responsibility
If you fail to properly maintain a property, a tenant may have a claim for landlord harassment.

A rental agreement implies a “warranty of habitability,” which means that you have accepted a responsibility to keep the property properly maintained.

If you willingly withhold maintenance, such as routine repairs, garbage collection, or landscaping (if that is part of your rental agreement), you are not fulfilling your responsibility as a landlord.

It’s easy to imagine a situation in which a landlord might withhold maintenance if they are dealing with a difficult tenant.

However, it’s not a good idea to expose yourself to this kind of liability just to send a message to a tenant.

Creating a Nuisance
Another type of landlord harassment involves creating a nuisance, such as sending a lot of verbal or written complaints about a tenant’s behavior.

Other examples of creating a nuisance include damaging or defacing the rental property or a tenant’s belongings, or doing something to make the tenants feel uncomfortable, like purposely making a lot of loud noise.

If you want to evict a tenant for improper behavior, do not try to intimidate the tenant into moving out.

It’s always best to follow the proper channels to communicate problems with a tenant.

Entering the Property
Entering the property can also qualify as landlord harassment.

Local jurisdictions generally have laws that limit how often and for what reason a landlord can enter a tenant’s property.

As a landlord, you have the right to inspect the dwelling a few times per year for the purpose of maintaining the property.

However, this doesn’t give you the right to snoop through their things while you’re there.

It’s also important to remember that even though you own the property, the tenant has legal possession of it.

You must give the tenant proper notification that you need to enter the dwelling, and the frequency of your visits should be reasonable depending on the repairs or maintenance needed.

Stating Rights to Access in the Lease
Some jurisdictions require leases to explicitly state the circumstances under which a landlord may enter the premises.

Even if you are not required to do so by law, you should consider putting a clause about this in the lease.

State in the lease that you have the right to enter the residence for the purposes of making an inspection, making repairs or to show the residence to a prospective tenant or purchaser.

Be aware that the tenant has the right to limit these visits to a reasonable frequency, and you never have the right to enter the property without an appointment.

Abandonment of the Property
If a tenant appears to have abandoned a property, you can get a court order that allows you to enter it.

However, this can be tricky in a few cases.

For example, when tenants are moving out, they may leave things in the apartment with the intention of returning to clean it up.

But if you think they have vacated the premises, you might come in ahead of them and try to charge them for cleaning up the mess they left.

Tenants may also travel for extended periods of time, and this can cause confusion about whether or not they have abandoned the property.

Encourage your tenants to communicate with you to avoid confusion in these situations.

Conclusion
In general, you can protect yourself from being accused of harassment by keeping the lines of communication open between you and your tenants.

If you have a problem with a tenant, don’t try to handle it on your own.

Always follow the proper procedure for documenting tenant problems and notifying them of any problems.

 

Marketing Effectively to Prospective Tenants

There are certain selling points for your property that may make perfect sense to highlight: a dishwasher, a walk-in closet, or a big backyard. These are great amenities, but are they all your prospective tenants are after?

Just because you, as the landlord or the property manager, think a given feature makes a unit stand out doesn’t mean that’s actually the case.

Since you view the unit from your unique perspective, you might be missing a truly standout feature that would make tenants sign a lease in a heartbeat.

How can you effectively identify a unit’s marketing points?

Look at Comparable Units’ Listings
Check to see what other landlords and property management companies in your area are highlighting in their units. Ideally, this will give you an idea of what tenants are looking for.

After all, if properties weren’t renting, their landlords would find other features to point out in listings.

Of course, following their lead can backfire. There’s no guarantee that other landlords understand what their tenants want either, and if you follow other companies’ listings too closely, you’re not going to stand out from the crowd.

Look at other listings to see what else is out there — and presumably renting out — but write your own descriptions.

Consider Demographics
Consult census and other demographic data on the area to learn more about the people you’re renting to.

When you do this, be careful not to fall into the trap of stereotyping your prospective tenants.

Keep in mind that fair housing regulations ban you from writing listings that exclude a protected class.

If you look at the data carefully and with sensitivity, you can form some hypotheses about your prospective tenants.

For instance, if your area is a college town that doesn’t have a lot of married renters or renters with children, you might want to place less emphasis on how your unit has a big backyard.

Be Sure You’re Being Accurate
Don’t misrepresent your property.

At the very least, it will get tenants upset with you and earn you a bad reputation around your community.

At worst, you’ll get dragged to court for violating false advertising regulations.

It’s always better to describe the good things your unit has rather than making up or embellishing information.

Consider touring the property yourself before you write the description.

If you own several units with different layouts or features, or if a given unit’s been occupied for some time, you may have forgotten some of its most marketable features.

Walk through, and look at it from a tenant’s point of view. What’s worth getting excited about?

Talk With Other Landlords
You might consider other landlords or property managers to be your competition, but they don’t have to be.

Making professional connections is part of any business.

If you have business contacts you trust, don’t hesitate to ask them what tenants react well to in listings.

Remember, you can’t legally lie about your property, and you can’t take that information and fabricate something with it.

Don’t Forget the Intangibles
When you maintain a property day-in and day-out, it can be easy to forget about some of its best assets.

It’s easy to think in terms of things that you put into a property, such as stainless steel appliances, an in-unit washer and dryer, or natural light, but are these the most important?

Ask yourself, “Is the property within walking distance of a business district?

Is it accessible via public transportation? Is the rent affordable compared to the rest of the neighborhood?”

These are things that matter to nearly all tenants, so don’t hesitate to draw upon them when writing your listing.

Just Ask Your Tenants
Outright asking your tenants what they look for may seem gauche, but it can help remind your tenants that you care about their needs.

As you’re touring the unit, signing the lease, or when you’re in conversation with your current tenants, ask, “What makes this unit stand out to you? Why did you choose to tour (or rent) this one, rather than another one? What’s important to you when you rent? Why do you continue to stay here?”

Be sure to ask a number of tenants so that you can get a complete picture of what they want.

If you phrase your questions carefully, you may see trends about what tenants don’t want.

What’s being omitted from people’s explanations of what they love?

When asking follow-up questions, be polite, and don’t make them feel pressured.

Unfortunately, there’s no magic formula when it comes to discovering what your tenants want and how best to market your unit.

You’ll likely need to experiment to figure out what draws prospective renters in, and even then you might find that what people want changes over time as the neighborhood evolves.

With the tips above, you should be able to make a good guess at what your renters want.

From there, you can experiment and work to refine your listings until they’re truly attention-grabbing.