If you are managing the rental process for your investment property, ultimately you will want to ensure you have the best tenants, who will look after your home, pay the rent on time, and hopefully stay for a while.
It is tempting to make your choice based on an applicant’s circumstances and whether they seem like a stable choice, but be aware under the Equal Opportunity Act you must not discriminate against any of the applicants based on their gender, age, race, religion, marital status, sexuality, whether or not they have children, pregnancy, mental illness or disability – and this is not an exhaustive list. Check the legislation in your state for a full list.
So how do you ensure you have done all your research to get the best person for your property?
Here is a few questions to ask before making the decision.
1. Can they afford it?
Ask prospective tenants about their job, income and how long they have been with their employer. Generally they should earn enough per month to pay two and half times the monthly rent. Factor in too, whether they will have a flatmate or partner who will be contributing to the rent. We recommend asking for payslips, and ringing their employer for verification.
2. Do they have a good rental history?
Undertake a rental reference check with two previous property managers, agents or landlords. Ascertain whether they were able to pay their rent on time, how long they stayed in the property, why they left the property, if there was any issues when they left, such as the condition of property. Were there any lease violations? Did the neighbours complain about them? Did they get their bond back?
3. Have they ever been blacklisted?
There are several state-based and national databases which list tenants who have not paid rent, been evicted or damaged property. A lot like credit checks when applying for a loan or credit card, these agencies can provide tenancy history checks when applicants apply for rental properties. Have a look at TICA, one of the national tenancy databases (tica.com.au).
4. Do they have pets?
Many landlords don’t mind too much if tenants have pets, but they can add to the wear and tear of a property. It’s one thing if they have one guinea pig in a cage outside, but quite another if they have 10 indoor Great Danes. If you are worried about maintaining property condition, you can either exclude pets, or allow them with extra conditions. However, it is important to check state legislation regarding pets, as there has been a recent reform last year in Victoria, now every tenant in Victoria will have the right to have a pet in their rental property.
Many lease agreements include a tenant’s obligation to have carpets cleaned and the house fumigated on termination of lease if they have pets. Some even include additional bond to be paid if pets will be living in the property.
5. Find out why they are moving house
By speaking with applicants about their motivations, you can discover if they may be a long term tenant or a short term one. If they are applying to rent while they finish a three-month course, they may not stick around, meaning you will have to start the search all over again. If they have been in seven properties in two years, they may also not be the type to commit for the long term.
6. Gut instinct and observation
You can almost always spot the people who are well organised and neat and tidy from their appearance and visual cues. The ones with their lease application filled out and ready to go at inspection are likely to be organised. The ones in the banged-up rusty car, may not be too concerned about respecting property. If you don’t want smokers, you may like to avoid the ones who stink of cigarettes. While gut instinct and visual cues should not be your primary criteria, usually your gut instinct is right.
All these factors combined should point you in the right direction when making a decision about the right tenant for your property. Of course, you can also ask them any other questions that you think might effect who you choose.
Good luck with your search!