How to Get a Good Tenant in a “Bad” Neighborhood
May 1, 2004
What do you do if you live in a bad area but you have a nice townhouse to be rented out? I have a 3 bedroom, 1½ bath, central air, alarm system, six foot privacy fence, 1½ car garage but when I tell people the address it deters them from even looking at the property.
Good tenants live in every area, as do bad ones. Obviously many prospective tenants are turned off by an address in an area that has a reputation for being an undesirable place to live. But lots of people still live there, not all of them career criminals, gang members, or drug addicts. That’s why the most effective way to market a property in a less-than-desirable neighborhood is to make it look exponentially better than the properties competing with it.
How do you that? All it takes is a bit of attention and elbow grease, and very little money.
People buy the package, before they buy the product. First impressions are everything. You have to get them to stop their car. They have to say to themselves “I wouldn’t mind living there.” The front of the townhouse needs to shine with fresh paint, trimmed shrubbery and defined edges. Defined edges means the grass next to the walkways is edged so it is sharp and crisp looking. The flower beds have to be nicely edged. If the management isn’t doing a good enough job, you have to do it yourself.
If the CC&Rs permit it, paint the front door a different, bright color. Polish the brass hardware. Wash the windows. Put larger watt light bulbs in each socket–where there was a 60 watt bulb, put in a 75; where there was a 75 watt bulb, put in a 100. Make sure the interior is spotless and bright, especially in the front room, the first thing people see when they walk in.
What you have to persuade them of, is that if they are going to live anywhere, it’s going to be in your rental property.
Newspaper ads to attract tenants to the property are just a waste of money. Mostly you will get the “don’t want to live in that neighborhood” response you are already getting. You have to attract the people who want to live in the area, and there are plenty. People who have family and friends there, for example, think it is, if not a terrific neighborhood, then is one that fits their needs.
How you get their attention is by using advertising methods that really don’t cost much money, but that zoom in on that area of town.
One method is flyers. Create an advertising flyer that you can put in front of the townhouse that tells all about the property. You can get complete information about how to create and use flyers in our report “How to Use Flyers to Attract Prospective Tenants,” available on the Rental Property Reporter web site. These are extremely inexpensive and will give a prospective tenant lots of information, or a prospective tenant’s family or friend something to take to give the prospective tenant regarding properties for rent in the area.
One free method for getting the word out is bulletin boards. You would be surprised how many bulletin boards there are in grocery and other types of stores in the area, as well as libraries and other public buildings. Use an abbreviated version of the flyer you place in front of the property to attach to the bulletin boards. Tack up either several flyers or one with phone-number tabs.
You can attract prospective tenants to a property in a “less-than-desirable” neighborhood, and in fact you can do it far less expensively than you can by simply running ads in the newspaper. Best of all, put a “magic” sentence at the bottom of your flyer that will keep the bad tenants from even calling you. It is one you could never afford to put in a newspaper ad: So that our properties remain great places to live, we check references carefully.