Oregon’s rental market is in a unique position. Earlier in 2019, The Beaver State became the first in the nation to pass a statewide rent control law. It bans most landlords from raising the rent more than 7 percent a year (plus inflation). While rent control got the most headlines, however, the law also made important changes to the eviction process. In a nutshell, it just got much harder for Oregon landlords to evict without any cause. That makes finding the right kind of tenants more critical than ever. Here are a few ways landlords can attract high-quality tenants to their rental properties:
Don’t Be Deceitful
The new legislation passed due in large part to the growth of Portland, the largest city in the state. Rents there have shot up more than 30 percent in the last five years. Even with the law, it’s still not going to be cheap to rent a place in Portland, but that’s no excuse for landlords and property managers to be shady and prey on tenants.
For example, the photos you post of an apartment should be accurate and recent. If you must post photos of a different unit with the same floor plan, be sure it’s clearly noted in the listing. If someone asks about a washer and dryer, don’t pretend like there’s an in-unit washer and dryer when they’ll actually have to walk down to the basement to do their laundry.
This is pretty basic stuff. Yes, you’re running a business, but that doesn’t mean you get to cheat or mislead your customers. The cost of filling out a rental application should be in line with what other apartments in your area charge. You shouldn’t be charging someone $100 just to fill out an online form. If you mislead a prospective renter now, they may think it’s fine to lie to you about things like the number of pets they have inside their apartment.
Check Their Background
You shouldn’t treat prospective tenants like criminals. That said, you should check to see if they’ve got any criminal background. A comprehensive background check won’t just pull up old mugshots, either. It can also let you know if they have a history of paying their rent and other bills on time.
You want to be sure the person you’re renting to is who they say they are. If they provide references that you asked for, then it only makes sense to call them. If their application says they work at a local medical clinic in Oregon, feel free to call that clinic up to verify their identity.
Also remember that laws about what landlords can screen for are subject to change. In spring, for instance, the Portland City Council considered passing a measure limiting landlords’ abilities to deny applicants based on some criminal convictions.
Use Your Network
If you’re a landlord who has been around a while, then you’ve got connections. You should leverage those connections to find potential tenants. If one tenant is moving to accept a job in Seattle, ask them if they have any local friends interested in renting from you.
Also remember that if you give people leads, they’re more likely to return the favor down the line. Let’s say you get a call from someone looking for a two-bedroom unit. You don’t have any of those available right now, but your friend in an adjacent neighborhood just told you that she has a two-bedroom apartment opening up in a couple weeks. If you forward the caller’s information to your friend, they just might come back later and mention that they know of someone who would be a great fit for the studio apartment you listed recently. Referrals can be the lifeblood of your success!