How To Find A Good Tenant Quickly During The COVID-19 Crisis
What a time to be alive! This has to be the most unusual situation any of us has had to deal with.
There is no guidebook - the convoluted and confusing statements from the state and federal government is proof of this - no one knows how to handle the situation, let alone has any idea of where we are headed in the near future.
Every landlord I have spoken with in the last fortnight has been affected to some degree. Some are dealing with tenants who have lost their job or had their income significantly reduced, and so are trying to negotiate rent payments or break their lease without penalty.
Some landlords are having cashflow issues themselves and may need to change their property plans.
Some have an upcoming vacancy and are terrified of the leasing market right now - and justifiably so.
It is this last concern that I want to focus on.
We need to remember: Regardless of everything going on, some people still need to move houses.
They may have sold their home and plan to rent before buying again, they may be moving to a new area and want to rent first, or they may simply just want to move out of their current property and do not want to wait for the COVID-19 situation to settle before doing so (as no-one knows just how long it will last).
If you have an upcoming vacancy, or your property is on the market for rent, do not lose hope. There are still tenants looking. But you do need to adjust your leasing campaign to suit the current climate.
Here are some tips to help find success in the current leasing market:
Take safety measures seriously
You must understand and abide by government instructions pertaining to health and physical distancing guidelines. Do not underestimate the danger posed. You should also give inspectors hand sanitiser/gloves and remind them not to touch any surfaces/handles.
Make your private public
You can no longer conduct open homes - you must do inspections by private appointment only. Some tenants still do not know this and will wait for the open time to show online. Give clear instructions in your ad. Make sure they know they have to enquire to view the property.
Get your ad fixed
It is crucial that you understand that in this market you are solely relying on inbound enquiry to generate tenant appointments. Now more than ever is the time to ensure your online advert is looking the best it can be.
Professional photography, enticing copywriting and a clear call to action (CTA) is imperative to make your advert a lead generating machine.
Meet the market
Understand that some tenants who do not need to move in the next 4 weeks may not be actively looking. This means that the tenancy pool has decreased markedly, and your asking rental price needs to reflect this.
Many landlords are getting more nervous by the day and are decreasing their asking rent regularly. You/your agent needs to keep up to date with this and your local rental market as a whole, otherwise, you will quickly become ‘overpriced’ in the eyes of the tenancy market.
Offering a shorter-term lease not only appeals to a tenant but is also beneficial to you as a landlord at the moment. Many tenants are now uncertain of their income in the near future and do not want to lock themselves into 12 month leases. Settle their worries by offering shorter-term agreements (I have had more enquiry for 3 month leases in the last month than I ever have before).
Also, if you do need to drop your asking rent in response to the current situation (as noted above), it may be in your best interest to offer a shorter-term lease so that you can ask for a fairer market rent once this situation is behind us.
Check, check and check again
Once you’ve found a tenant, you need to make sure they can stay. Checking employment references has always been a necessity before approving a tenant, however now it is prudent to also check the health of the company they work for and even in the industry they are in. Everyone’s future is uncertain, however I would feel much more comfortable approving a police officer than a waiter in this current climate.
Above all, do your best not to panic.
This is a new situation unfolding for everyone, and we’re all doing the best we can to navigate through it. Whilst it is to be taken seriously, panicking will help no one.
Communicate regularly with your leasing agent, stay connected with the market and keep working towards a successful outcome.