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Counting your leases before they hatch

So you’ve approved an application and the tenant wants to sign a lease in a week. Your search for a tenant is over, right? Maybe not. When it comes to renting apartments, until you actually have money in hand its never a sure thing.

If you’ve rented many apartments in the past you have probably been skunked by a few perspective tenants. You make arrangements to sign a lease only to find out the morning of the big “signing day” that the tenants parents don’t want them to live in “that neighborhood.” And it always seems like in the interim between approving the app and getting stood up, there is always a couple people you turn down for showings. You loss your time invested and the lost rent.

The only safe way to protect your position is to never quit showing the apartment or taking apps until you have a signed lease or at least a deposit. Tell the applicant that you will only pull the apartment from the market if they put down a nonrefundable deposit. The amount depends on the situation, but someone is a lot less likely to take advantage of you if they could lose $200 because of it. You don’t want to scare people away, but you need to put such measures in place to prevent people from wasting your time.

In this business, time is money as every additional day without a tenant is a loss. Being considerate and reasonable does not mean you shouldn’t protect yourself. If you put these protections in place your pocketbook will thank you.

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Matt Kastner

Matt Kastner is an Investment Real Estate Consultant at St. Louis Real Estate Society in St. Louis, Missouri. He is also develops properties on the side through Threshold Properties. When he isn’t representing investors in the purchase or sale of multifamily properties, rehabs, foreclosures and other income producing properties, he is often taking on rehab projects himself. He lives in South St. Louis and has been in the real estate business since 2004.

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