A how-to manual on finding the ideal renter

Special to The Times

HOUNDED by worrisome details, landlords often dread the task of finding new tenants. “Every Landlord’s Guide to Finding Great Tenants” by Janet Portman offers balanced advice on the topic, shedding light on both the legal and practical aspects of finding great tenants.

Portman unleashes a bevy of ideas, covering topics such as effective advertising and evaluating applications. Tips provide extra details on the subjects covered, including state-by-state rules and regulations.

Stressing that organized paperwork helps keep rentals in order, the book details a filing system for each rental. Starting with a landlord-tenant checklist at the end of the tenancy, the file moves on to the new applicant search, credit check and supporting document file.

Naturally, choosing good tenants is the building block of any rental business. But first, the book explains discrimination laws to help landlords avoid litigation. The next 12 chapters detail the rental process. Effective advertising is highlighted, including pointers when using an online rental service: “Online rental services work best when you want to provide more property detail, including photos.”


The book explains how and why preparing the unit for showing is essential. By asking, “Who is in the market for this rental?” landlords can home in on their target audience.

Portman offers practical basics for screening applicants, including checking references in detail and verifying their ability to afford the rental.

Because rejecting an applicant is often a delicate situation, Portman suggests “pausing for a moment before saying ‘no,’ taking into consideration the motive for the rejection and ensuring it is for ‘sound, business related reasons.’ ”

The CD-ROM included with the book is packed with 40 downloadable files that cover virtually every rental detail ranging from applications to the final move-out letter. Some forms are a bit cumbersome, such as the seven-page application to rent, whereas other documents benefit from the precise detail. The four-page rental policy outline does an excellent job of explaining guidelines and criteria used to consider all applicants.


The audio segment rounds out the disk, providing an opportunity to “listen in” to five topics of interest, plus an interview with the author. Portman develops a complete picture of the rental process, which should help landlords focus on the detailed task of finding great tenants.