Winter Is A Tough Rental Market In Florida...What do you do?
Written By David Lowrey, Stress Free Property Management
As an owner of a Wesley Chapel property management company, I've noticed a severe slow-down in available renters from November 1 through January 10th. This certainly is no surprise to most property owners. Tenants, just like homeowners, don't want to move during the Holidays. Everyone is saving up for Christmas, families are coming into town, and a lot is going on. But, if you have a property for rent, what do you do?
Now, I will describe some hopefully insightful ideas as a Wesley Chapel property manager in a moment but let me first emphasize the standard "blocking and tackling" in renting a home quickly. One, answer the phones 7 days a week, especially evening and weekends. I know it not the most fun thing to do, but it will make a huge impact during the slow season.
Two, process applications in 3 days or less.Get the background checks for credit and criminal ran on the first day. Reach out to previous landlords and current job of tenant by the next day or sooner. You'd be surprised how getting on top of the approval or denial of rental applications will dramatically reduce your vacancy. Often landlords delay this process, and the good tenants are still looking, and often find something else.
Okay, let me share some pro tips for renting a home in the slow season.First off, don't ask for top dollar. Give a $50-$100 discount over normal market rent.I know this is hard to swallow, but I'm going to share something next to make it less painful. When you get a qualified tenant at discounted rent, have them sign a 15-month lease.This way their lease will never end in the slow season. If they renew, you can give them a sizeable bump in rent. Oh, keep in mind, in Florida, any lease over 12 months needs two witnesses to sign it.
Another tip is to look more closely at your credit reports. Often landlords are quick to assign a minimum credit score to qualify. This is not a bad strategy, but the problem is your missing out on a lot of great tenants. I've seen hundreds of rental applications where the tenant's credit score was 580 or 620, which is typically not good. But…the reason for the drop was one or two late payments recently. They are not in collections, but simply paid a bill late. Each recent late pay drops the credit score by 100 points instantly.
Another example is someone who doesn't have much credit. I've seen low credit scores with nothing in collections and no late payments.
Let's not forget medical debt.I recommend not counting this at all.You will often find people with poor credit that is 100% composed of medical debt. They pay all their other debt on time and in full.
A final thought is the people who have a couple of silly balances less than $250 each, on stuff they are probably not even aware of. They pay their car loans, student loans, and credit cards, but owe a small balance to Verizon or a cable company.
I know some landlords will get up in arms about this, but in my opinion, we cannot expect our tenants to be just like us.If they were, they would not be renting from us. They may not know about these small balances because they don't check their credit reports regularly.
If you're having trouble renting a home in the slow season, I would give some thought to some of these ideas. I've rented to thousands of tenants and seen how they turn out over the years.These ideas do not automatically give you worse tenants. They work if you keep an open mind and give them a try.