How Can You Deal With Multiple Offers From Tenants (and Pick the Best One)?
Beyond applications, first impressions and personality can help you find the perfect tenant.
Finding the right tenant for your property can quickly feel like finding a needle in a haystack, especially when hundreds of potential applicants show up to the open house. But occasionally, you get multiple, well-qualified applications to your rental listing, and it's hard to decide — how do you deal with multiple offers from tenants?
Sometimes looking at credit scores, rental history, monthly income, criminal background and references doesn't help you see the whole picture, especially when you have multiple offers from optimal people.
The tenant-landlord relationship goes beyond just exchanging checks once a month. It may come down to personality and other habits not included in an application to narrow down the best offer.
It's essential to prioritize factors that may bring a good tenant and long-term benefits to your rental property — versus making some quick cash and ending up with more repairs and a flaky tenant.
How to deal with multiple offers from tenants
First impressions matter more than you think. Beyond the application, what impression does the tenant make when you meet them? These insights will help you narrow down multiple good offers from prospective tenants.
Once the prospective tenant schedules an appointment, are they on time? Following instructions during the application process and showing up on time for every step speaks volumes about the tenant.
Do they introduce themselves immediately upon arriving? If they are arriving late, they give you a heads-up with a solid reason and reschedule accordingly. They take the situation seriously and handle it like a professional.
These factors, paired with an excellent reference showing timely rent payments and good credit scores, may take one tenant above the rest.
Long-term plans at your rental
While most leases are one year, you narrow down preferred tenants by how long they plan to stay. A more committed tenant who wants to live in your rental unit for longer will be more beneficial in the end.
You may offer a small discount if they sign a two- or three-year lease and have more peace of mind that they will take care of your rental unit.
From the moment they reach out, keep an eye on how quickly they reply to your questions about their application or text to confirm their apartment tour appointment. It's essential to ask about good, seamless communication when calling references, but it's always good to test it yourself as a landlord.
- Do they read the rental posting thoroughly and pay attention to detail?
- Did they fill out the application correctly with no errors and follow through on document requests promptly?
- Are they direct and honest when you ask them questions about their work, rental history or current habits as a tenant?
Make sure they can meet deadlines that you set, they communicate politely, any responses from them come quickly (within 24 hours) — and make sure that they report maintenance issues right away before signing the lease.
Respect for the space
While an open house might be chaotic, watch how prospective tenants act in the space. Did they track mud in or wipe their shoes outside? Did they bring food and drinks to leave water rings or crumbs on the counter? Are they just slamming doors or speaking loudly, disturbing other prospective tenants or current next-door residents?
If they have pets, how do they talk about discipline or crating? Aside from past references, ask previous landlords about potential pet damage. Each one of these details will provide more insight into the kind of tenant they are beyond the application.
Positive work ethic
If the tenant has shown to have the required monthly income number to qualify for the rental spot, ask them more about what they do and how many hours they work on average. These two questions will give you insight into the tenant's work ethic and how stable their job may be, along with reliability and honesty.
Pick the best tenant offer fairly
Any criteria you use, or any decision you make must comply with Fair Housing laws. As a landlord, make sure to be consistent and equitable with all tenants. Avoid restricting screening to particular populations, races, abilities or income levels to avoid discrimination claims and provide equal access. Record why and how you selected your new tenant to protect yourself from getting into legal trouble when you're dealing from multiple offers from tenants.