The revolution of free online rental applications is upon us. With more online tools, more online information, and more online technology available than ever before, it pays to move online. Literally. It puts more money in your pocket, more time on the clock, and more properties in your possession.
That said, it’s important to remember that while many digital tools do present a fantastic opportunity, they may also make you and your business more vulnerable to setbacks. We encourage you to ditch the paper rent applications, but not the common sense.
Put a face to your property, and we don’t mean through video chat. Keep a human touch that goes beyond the keyboard. Here a few ways to take advantage of the free online rental applications, but take care with your business:
Advertising vacancies have never been easier in today’s day and age. With a few professional photos, some decent copy, and just a little bit of luck, applicants will be knocking down your door (hopefully not literally). List your property on:
…but for the love of God, please employ TENANT SCREENING.
You may be thinking, “yeah, of course that’s a good idea. But it’s a huge pain.” You would be right, if this was ten years ago. Now, tenant screening services like, *ahem, TenantEvaluationfor instance, let you screen tenants for free. Seriously. It’s free, and it covers credit, rental, and eviction histories. It pulls from the nation’s largest and most comprehensive databases from every state (including Massachusetts) and synthesizes all the information into one easy-to-read, easier-to-understand report. It even gives you a recommendation on whether or not to approve or deny.
Bad tenants wreak havoc. They destroy property. They ignore rent. They cost thousands and thousands of dollars. We could go on, but we don’t need to. Just screen your tenants, for free, and make sure this applicant is the right applicant.
Here is a fantastic option for landlords tired of chasing down late, neglected, and refused rental payments, but one which must be complemented by face-to-face interaction. Or at least complemented by attempted face-to-face interaction.
Although landlords may not want to hear it, renters do fall on hard times. It’s not always some devious miscreant gaming the system. Sometimes it’s a good person struggling to get by and in between jobs.
It’s okay to not be the Shylock of modern rental payments. It’s alright to have a soul. It’s a good idea to cut your tenant some slack on one one late payment if he or she is a good tenant; and not just because it’s the right thing to do, but because it could mean more money and less stress for you going forward.
Vacancies cost money. Evictions cost more money.
If your renter misses a payment, give them a call. Send them a letter. Knock on their door. Do all of this before showing up with an eviction notice. Hear their side of the story and then decide for yourself if you want to move forward with an incredibly expensive eviction. All in all, the key is this: use discretion and be physically involved.
Say goodbye to 3 am phone calls and instead wake up to a subtle notification informing you a repair is needed. Online maintenance requests are MUCH less intrusive, but this comes with one caveat: you need to pay attention.
Although online maintenance requests are not in your face, that also means they may not beckon your attention the way they should. It’s of the utmost importance to make required repairs in a timely manner, or you risk angering your tenant. An angry tenant leads to a renter-landlord relationship characterized by needless stress, exorbitant property costs, and delayed cash flow. Pay attention to maintenance to pay yourself the rent you deserve.
The internet poses innumerable possibilities to increase revenue, expand your portfolio, and propel you to the next level. It also poses unknown issues until now, like taking the lord out of landlord. It dehumanizes property management, but it doesn’t have to.
Stay involved to stay ahead of the curve. Technology is supposed to bring us together, not pull us apart. Elevate your business and soar with free online rental applications, but stay down to Earth and remember tenants are people too.
All in all, use common sense, even if it’s not so common. Happy landlording!