As a vacation rental property owner, you put a lot of time, effort, and money into making your home look attractive to prospective renters. Given all the energy that goes into preparing your home for rent, the last thing you want is to have it be rented to a bad tenant. Tenant screening is therefore a critical part of vacation property rentals, and it can help avoid significant stress and aggravation. If you’re a property owner, the thought of dealing with late rental payments, complaints about the property, and just taking the time to screen prospective tenants is enough to cause a migraine. Fortunately, you can delegate those tasks to a professional property management company. It is a property manager’s job to take care of those cumbersome and less fun parts of renting so that you can get on with your daily life. Here’s what to look for when screening tenants and the benefits of using a property manager to handle a vacation rental.
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What To Ask The Tenant
In some ways, interviewing a prospective tenant for a vacation rental is a bit like interviewing an employee for the job. Either way, you’ll want to ensure a good fit! When you’re searching for a prospective tenant to rent your property, you’ll want a property manager to ask them several questions, including:
- Do you have pets?
- Will you undergo an eviction, credit, and criminal background check?
- Can you verify employment income or show the ability to cover the rent?
- What are your reasons for moving or renting long-term?
- When do you want to rent the property, and for how long?
- Do you have references from a landlord or an employer?
Even with these few questions, you can find out quite a bit of information about a possible tenant. This part can even be turned into a casual conversation by asking a few basic questions first to determine if you want to go forward with a full, formal interview. A tenant can be interviewed over the phone, online, or in person if he or she wants to see the site before committing to a vacation rental payment.
If you decide to move forward with a more formal interview, the application process officially begins. This is when it helps to have a property manager or property management company, as they can create a written template (remember that it’s always a good idea to have correspondence and documentation about tenant-owner relationships on paper) to keep tabs on each prospective tenant. The application serves as a way to organize tenant files, which is critical if you have a number of tenants applying at once, or if your property is popular and you want to make sure that only the most qualified applicants are permitted to stay. Furthermore, it is an easy way to keep a written reference handy of why you ultimately chose to either accept or deny a prospective renter.
In addition to creating an application, it’s always in your best interest to contact references for a vacation rental. This should include both current and possibly past employers and landlords to verify employment and get a feel for the person’s character. Asking for real work numbers and addresses of companies is a good way to eliminate fraudulent references. Taking the time to call or email the listed references verifies that they are legitimate, and it also helps you learn more about who’s asking for a vacation rental.
Finally, when you’ve created a tenant file and contacted his or her references, you move to the final phase of tenant screening, which is performing a formal screening. In places where a background check is legal, you will want to run the check. You can also look at the tenant’s credit score to find out if he or she has had financial trouble in the past and may have difficulties making the rental payment. Keep in mind that this part requires having a good working knowledge of local and federal fair housing laws. After all, your goal is to get a step closer to collecting rental payment, not get a step closer to paying for lawsuit fees! This is another area where it helps to have the expertise of a property manager to deal with the stress and complexities of screening prospective renters fairly and legally.
A Property Management Company Makes Screening Easier
As you can see, “hiring” a tenant for your vacation rental property takes a fair amount of work. Once you finally secure the tenant, you’ll be counting on his or her rental payment for the agreed-upon amount of time. If something happens during the time that your tenant is renting the property, and you’re forced to make an eviction, you’ll lose the guaranteed income and find that you’ve wasted a considerable amount of time. This all sounds like a nightmare, but making a rental property more manageable is just where a company like Casago comes in handy. We have a tech-savvy platform that generates reports and uses apps to keep you updated on your tenants’ payments and bookings. This information is available for past rental histories as well as the present. This makes it easy to keep track of who has rented your property and when the property can be scheduled for the next renter.
Listing And Renting Made Easy
From a home renter’s or buyer’s perspective, it seems so easy to just click on an ad or look at a real estate listing to see what features a property has. But on the other end, it’s actually quite a bit of work to make that happen! Property listings can take a surprising amount of time to create, and that’s just the start of the vacation rental process. You’ll also have to factor in time and financial resources for cleaning the place before and after tenants arrive and maintaining the property in between. Furthermore, a property owner (or the property management company) is expected to be on call to meet guests’ needs when they arise. With the advent of technology, you can now get offer instant guest support through mobile apps, the internet, and having a live staff member either present or available to answer questions and address any problems that the tenant might have.
Availability When You Need It
In today’s busy and increasingly tech-savvy world, getting an instant answer to questions and problems is more or less essential. Fortunately, a professional property manager like Casago will offer to be available around the clock to deal with tenants’ concerns. Between mobile phones and the internet, getting in touch with a property manager is now easier than ever. Even if you’re dealing with the most difficult tenant or hair-raising issue, tenants will appreciate the fact that someone took the time to listen to their concerns and address their issues. And remember that with the power of social media at their fingertips, renters have the ability to go online and either make or destroy your reputation and competence as a property owner. Assuming you’ll want to have the web show you and your property in the best light, it literally pays to keep renters happy!
One of the most tedious parts of property rentals, for many people, is dealing with the financial transactions. However, keeping track of payments and rates is also one of the most important aspects of renting a property. Along with making sure that renters have paid on time, you’ll be able to see what you charged renters in the past. In the case of a repeat renter, you can use the opportunity to offer them a discounted rate or special deal for renting from you again. A property manager can facilitate the financial part of property rentals by electronically managing your renters’ payments, security deposits, bookings, and billings. In the end, this saves you a lot of time and the dreaded possibility of losing a tenant’s check or payment in the mail. By having a payment management system in one central location, we’re equipped to handle all the financial needs of your tenants so that you can ensure you’ve been properly paid and all of their payments have been accurately accounted for.
A Property Manager Maximizes Visibility
Another area where property ownership and property rentals merge is in the area of advertising. A property management company will advertise your vacation rental in many places, including electronic sources. The property management company, as a professional in the business, will be aware of marketing and listing best practices, which ensures that your property will be shown in its best light and that its top features will be highlighted for fast reference. A property management company will know the best websites to advertise your property on, including popular vacation rental sites like Airbnb and VRBO. With Casago, you’ll get a prime listing on over 25 different sites! This increases the chance that your property will have a consistent rental schedule. For your convenience, our staff is on hand around the clock to make sure that your listings are posted as quickly as possible and the rental schedule is kept up to date. If you rent during specific seasons, we’ll also take the listing down at the end of the rental season so that you no longer get inquiries about the property.
Holistic Property Rental Management
If you’re not yet convinced to go with a property management company to handle your rental needs, you might be after seeing what renter verification services they will offer. A property management company is a great asset for dealing with avoiding scams, which are one of the most common and problematic encounters that both tenants and property owners have. Additionally, a property management company will handle cancellation policies on your behalf, including the tense situation of explaining to a tenant why a property rental might have to be cancelled at the last minute. Alternatively, if a renter cancels on you at the last minute, having a rental company act as the intermediary can keep your emotions from getting in the way of an interaction with the renter.
Another job of the property management company is to help you cut down on property maintenance costs wherever possible. If you prefer, a property management company can certainly help you look for a cleaning company, landscaper, gardener, and other property maintenance professionals. This can be tremendously helpful for the property owner, as it cuts down on the time spent evaluating professional services providers and getting stressed out about hiring the best one. If more extensive work on the property needs to be done, such as putting an addition on the home, making renovations, or repairing a leaking roof, a property management company will also act as a liaison between the property owner and the town or municipality to ensure that all permits are filed and that the regulations have been adhered to when making the modifications. The professional property management will also screen renters thoroughly to make sure that everyone has the best possible experience.
At the end of the day, owning and managing a rental property takes a lot of work. There is a lot to think about in the area of property and vacation rentals, and it’s often not apparent how much time it takes until you start trying to handle property rentals yourself. Fortunately, professional companies exist for the very purpose of making property rentals easier for both the tenants and the property owners. For the tenants, a property management company will make sure that the screening process is fair and legally abiding. For the property owner, the management company provides a sense of safety by thoroughly screening applicants before they book a rental. Regardless of whether a tenant is planning to stay one week or one month, it’s important to know who is in your house so that you don’t have to worry about possible damage, added expenses, or missed payments due to their negligent behavior. And best of all, having a professional on hand to take care of rental tasks lets you live your busy life without getting bogged down in a stressful situation. In the end, your reputation will remain intact, and you’ll have happy customers.