Starting a tenancy

What to do if you can’t find a tenant

A rental property without tenants is worse than frustrating. For the owner, it means that money is going out instead of coming in.

The first two weeks that your property is on the rental market is critical. This is when the property seems the freshest and most attractive. Like any marketing exercise, you want to present the freshest merchandise you can.

You have listed your property on and planted a "for Lease" sign in the front lawn. You have printed applications and coloured brochures to give to interested parties but you still can’t find a tenant...

People are looking but no one is interested, Arrgh

The phone is ringing, people are coming for inspections. Rather than taking an application, they are voting with their feet and walking out. When this happens, the fault probably lies in your ad. It is not representing what your house really is or who it's for.

In order to get the right people through the door, go back and ensure that your advertisement targets the people whom your house is best suited for (who will pay the most money for it). For example, if you are trying to appeal to retired people, point out that the place is single level with few or no steps and requires minimal maintenance.

Can others in the area find a tenant? Consider adjusting your rent

Go back and check your competition on, search for similar properties within a 1km radius. If there are similar properties in your neighbourhood being rented, the difference may be your price. Consider adjusting your price by $5 under your main competition or create a “price range” with the lower end being below your main competition.

Keeping the merchandise fresh

As we stated previously, tenants will find an old advertisement less appealing than one that’s new to the market. Here are a few tips to keep your ad fresh in the minds of tenants.

  • Change the Rent

People use the rent amount as a way to remember your property. Try changing the price by the smallest amount possible, just $5 per week. This simple tactic keeps your ad fresh and may induce previous browsers to take a closer look at your ad.

  • Change the main Photo

The lead photo should be the one you feel shows your house the best. Typically, a front view of the house is used. You may consider leading with a feature that your prospective tenants will like, such as an large, up to date kitchen or great entertaining area.

  • Change the Heading

The heading of the ad should capture the element of your house which will be most important to your desired tenants. Something like "Free Flowing Open Floor Plan" tells tenants a lot while being catchy and simple to remember.

  • Change the Description

This works like the previous tip, but more focused. It does not need to be overly creative or colourful in your description, but a new description may bring out the detail which your perfect tenant is looking for.

  • Combine all the Changes at once

Completing all these changes at the same time will have the greatest effect to find a tenant. Every day your property sits vacant is costing money, so there is no time to waste. Will it appear like a whole new ad? Yes. Will that bring you a whole new audience of potential tenants? Try it and see.

Incentive programs

I’m not that enthusiastic about incentive programs, but I have seen them work more often than I want to admit. I feel better if I can approach them as a “Win-Win” proposition.

If your house is vacant or soon to be vacant, choose a date (two weeks ahead should be enough). Change your ad heading to "First Week's Rent FREE*". In the description, note that in order to take advantage of the offer, they must move in before the date you selected. This should help you find a tenant quicker, saving you 2 or 3 weeks of lost rent. Warning: Ensure the incentive date is clear to the new tenant before signing the lease, it will only come back to bite you.

“Your call is important to me”

Be prepared to deal with every enquiry about your house promptly and professionally. This is a place where the independent owner has a huge advantage over an agent. The agent may have other obligations which get in the way of setting up appointments that are convenient for the tenant. Both of you are busy people, but dealing with them personally and accommodating them at this stage will help to convince the right tenant that yours is the right property.

An empty house is more than lost income, it means you are losing money!

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