If you’re like many property owners, you know you need tenants – but how do you find renters for your house in Boston? It may not be as simple as you think (especially if you’re looking for long-term, reliable and responsible renters). For most people, the best thing to do is to work with a property management company that will handle every aspect of the rental, including vetting tenants, handling repair requests and processing rent payments. If you choose not to fly solo and manage your own property, here’s what you need to know.
How to Find Renters for Your House in Boston: 9 Tips to Help You Get the Best Tenants
Finding good, reliable tenants is tough, and it requires you to do a significant amount of work – but if you’re willing to do it, use these nine tips to ensure you’re successful:
- Get to know local, state and federal housing laws
- Clean the house from top to bottom
- Advertise in the right places
- Use a thorough rental application
- Perform a background check
- Don’t do interviews
- Require renters insurance
- Get a cashier’s check or money order for deposits and require them for rent
- Use a strong lease agreement
Here’s a closer look at each.
#1. Get to Know Local, State and Federal Housing Laws
The federal Fair Housing Act has a lot to do with how you screen tenants and what constitutes illegal discrimination. You can never base your rental decision on things like race, religion, national origin, gender, age, disability or family status. Massachusetts has its own laws, as well, which may provide further protections for tenants. We can’t stress this enough: You must be incredibly familiar with federal, state and local housing laws before you consider renting your property. If you violate the law, you’ll open yourself up to a lawsuit. This is one of the main reasons many people choose to work with a Boston property management company.
#2. Clean the House From Top to Bottom
Before you start advertising that your property is for rent (see Step 3), you’ll have to ensure the house is in its best possible condition. A sparkling home attracts a wider range of applicants, which means you’ll have a larger pool to choose from when the time comes.
For most people, the best way to do this is to hire a professional cleaning company before listing the property for rent. A team of professionals can hit all the hotspots in the house faster and more efficiently than you can, ensuring that it’s truly move-in ready for your new tenants.
#3. Advertise in the Right Places
You have to know where your prospective tenants are before you advertise – it’s your job to meet them on their own turf. That might mean advertising on rental websites (usually for a fee), putting up fliers, taking out print ads and using social media to get the word out about your property. If you’re not familiar with advertising – which also requires compliance with the Fair Housing Act when it comes to real estate rentals – you need to take some time to familiarize yourself before you begin. An important part of finding renters for your house in Boston is being able to effectively reach prospective applicants without violating federal, state or local laws.
When you advertise, you’ll want to include plenty of important information to weed out people who can’t (or won’t) eventually rent your space, such as:
- Number of rooms and bathrooms
- Square footage
- Special features
- Rent amount
#4. Use a Thorough Rental Application
If you’re trying to figure out how to find renters for your house in Boston – the qualified kind of renters – one of the biggest factors in your success will be your rental application. You’ll use the application to gather information on applicants so you can perform background checks (see Step 5) and so you can make a fair determination about which applicant is the best fit for your property.
Your rental application should request:
- Social Security numbers
- Permission for a background check
- Driver’s license numbers
- Income sources and income amounts
- Number of pets and their breeds
- Employer contacts
- Non-family references
When you give a prospective tenant the application, you should also provide a rental policy sheet. Your rental policy sheet should outline the terms and conditions you’ll put into the lease, including pet restrictions, renters’ insurance requirements and rental amounts.
Many people choose to work with property managers because experienced managers have these applications and checklists – and because they know how to perform background checks.
#5. Perform Background Checks
In many cases, you can charge a prospective tenant the cost of obtaining a background check (but you don’t have to). Generally, these checks can cost between $40 and $70.
You should always do a background check on prospective tenants. It’s the only way you can determine whether someone will be a good tenant; these checks give you a better understanding of a person’s rental and financial history, as well as other things that can help you make the right choice for your property.
#6. Don’t Do Interviews
A lot of people want to do in-person interviews with potential tenants, but that’s not always a good idea. You should probably avoid interviews, although you can talk to prospective renters while you’re showing them the property. Interviews can be a legal minefield. Remember, too, that if you work with a property management company, your property manager will show the home and evaluate tenants for you.
#7. Require Renters Insurance
You’ll definitely want your renters to carry insurance, and they’ll have to show you proof of it when they move in. Renters insurance covers the tenants’ belongings and the damage that they may cause to your house.
Pro Tip: You can also purchase landlord insurance, which you can discuss with your insurance agent. It may be able to provide you with additional coverage.
#8. Get a Cashier’s Check or Money Order for Deposits – and Require Them for Rent
Don’t take personal checks for anything, including the background check fee. You can avoid potential problems by asking for a cashier’s check or money order for deposits and rent payments.
Pro Tip: If you decide to accept a personal check from someone, don’t pull your house from the market until the check clears. Keep all your listings active and let interested parties know that you’re waiting on an application to go through – but that you’ll call them if anything changes.
#9. Use a Strong Lease Agreement
Your lease can make or break the whole deal. You need a lease that clearly outlines the terms your tenants must adhere to, as well as your responsibilities as a landlord. A good lease also explains how eviction works in your property, lists all household members authorized to live in the home, describes penalties for late rent and other important information. This is also one of the main reasons people choose to work with property managers; experienced managers have airtight lease agreements that they customize for each home they manage.
Need to Learn More About How to Find Renters for Your House in Boston?
If you’re trying to figure out how to find renters for your house in Boston, we’re here to help. In fact, we can find renters for you so you’re free to focus on other things. (We can also help you improve your property so you can justify rental costs, screen tenants, collect rent and handle maintenance requests.)
Call us at 617-262-3075 to find out how we can take all the stress out of being a landlord so you can focus on what’s most important: Your investment.