I used to manage a triplex building. One of the units was in the basement. It had poor lighting, low ceilings, and very few features. While the landlord charged less rent for that unit than the other two in the building, I still had a hard time brining in tenants. Once, the basement apartment sat vacant for nearly six months. After that, the landlord and I agreed to use special deals and other incentives to keep the place rented.
Here are a few incentives I used that didn't cost the landlord too much upfront and helped keep the place leased and bringing in rent every month.
Waive the Application Fee
Potential renters want to know they're saving money anyway they can, even if it is a small amount like the application fee. One tactic I used to draw interest in the basement apartment was to add a line to my advertising saying the application was free. Since many landlords and property managers charge a fee to apply to their apartments, it made my unit seem like the best deal. When a tenant wanted to rent the apartment, I paid for the cost of the credit and background check. In total, I spent less than $50 on the incentive and leased the apartment for a year.
Split the Security Deposit
As a renter myself, I can tell you that moving from one apartment to the next can be financially overwhelming. Even responsible renters with good incomes can struggle to pay all of the upfront costs. Knowing that, I offered to split the security deposit into three monthly payments for the basement apartment. It didn't cost me or the landlord anything to offer the incentive and I was able to rent the place pretty quickly.
Offering a month of free rent is a surefire way to bring in a renter quickly. Anytime I listed free rent in the apartment ad, my business would double within the week. Typically, I would have the apartment rented within two weeks.
While it's a great incentive, it is also an expensive one, and going a month without income can be hard on a landlord. However, I've found that many potential renters are willing to split the month of free rent over the course of their lease. For example, if the apartment rents for $900 on a year lease, you can split the one month free into 12 deductions of $75 each. The tenant will pay $825 each month. He still gets free rent and you can keep income coming in every month.
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