You can never be too safe when it comes to showing your rental to a prospective tenant. After all, you probably don’t know the person very well and it may be your first time meeting them in person. Reduce your risk by following these safety tips.
1. Know Your Applicant
ID and pre-qualify prospective tenants before showing them the property. At a minimum, get a copy of a driver’s license. Having basic information on a person is one of the best deterrents to a crime. You can even meet them in a public location first to get a copy of their identification.
2. Use the Buddy System
You could hold an open house if you have multiple applicants. If you are planning on meeting one-on-one with an applicant, consider having someone else at the property. When you meet with the applicant, tell them that you’re expecting another applicant so that they know you won’t be alone for long.
Always have your phone with you at showings. If you’re showing the place by yourself, have someone call you during the appointment to check in. You and the caller can have an innocuous phrase for you to say if you’re feeling uncomfortable and need assistance.
3. Be on Alert
At the property, be aware of your surroundings and the behavior of your potential tenant. Try to meet when it’s still light out and stay in well-lit areas. Leave the front door open and always let the other person enter a room before you. After they have left, be sure to secure the property by closing and locking doors and windows again.
4. Take a Self-Defense Class
It’s always a good idea to know some self-defense moves. If you don’t already know some, you can take a class. Try a local community center for self-defense classes.
5. Don’t Give Out Your Home Address
Avoid telling applicants exactly where you live. Consider setting up a PO box address or a mailbox at a UPS Store for receiving rent checks. You could also set up an online payment system. Communicating with applicants is safest by phone and email.
6. Check Your Communication
A misunderstanding can quickly escalate into a heated situation. Be as clear as you can when communicating with your applicants and be upfront about what they should expect of the property. If there is a misunderstanding and the situation escalates, stay calm and try to de-escalate the conflict. For de-escalation techniques, check out the Crisis Prevention Institute.
These are great tips for landlords and property managers who are dealing with rental applicants. Always trust your instincts when it comes to showing your property. Don’t forget that thorough tenant screening can warn you of risk factors upfront.