Scattered Site Rental Toolkit:
Business Planning for Development & Management
IV.C. Attracting Quality Tenants
What is a quality tenant? Many of the following are often on a landlordís list:
∑ Pays rent faithfully and on time
∑ Takes good care of the dwelling
∑ Keeps up with expected tenant maintenance and cleaning
∑ Tells the landlord right away if something is broken
∑ Is quiet and gets along well with other neighbors
∑ Stays for a long time
Should providers of low income housing expect their tenants to do these things? For the most part they should. Obviously the unexpected happens. A job is lost, someone gets sick, a family splits up, or a decision is made to move out of state. Those things can happen with any tenant. Sometimes you can provide services or subsidies to assist tenants in maintaining their unit. But aside from these kinds of events, tenants should be expected to meet these requirements.
If this is true, how can you get quality tenants in the first place? There are no guarantees, but there are a few things that you can do. Among them are the following:
∑ Ensure that they have adequate income and/or work with them to develop a subsidized rent that is sustainable with their income.
∑ Ask them about their long term plans.
∑ Ask for and check references.
∑ Ask about where they have lived over the past few years and check with previous landlords.
∑ Conduct a credit check.
∑ Conduct a background check.
In addition, there is much that can be included in the way that tenants and units are managed that will help to ensure that tenants continue to meet their requirements. This will be discussed in the section on management.
It is also important to think about the marketing of these units to your targeted population. What amenities and services will make these units easier to lease up and reduce turn over? In the example used earlier, that mother with three kids may want the amenities to include a dishwasher, a garbage disposal, a swing set and a window looking out over the backyard, as well as a second bathroom with a tub. In order to better understand the amenities that are in demand, one suggestion is to meet with area realtors to find out what amenities people are looking for, especially people within your target demographic. You may also be able to find some information from available data and/or surveys.