You’ve scoured the property market and invested in the perfect Hong Kong apartment to rent out—now you’ll just have to find the perfect tenant who will pay rent on time, remain reasonable and cooperative, and, hopefully, rent your property for as long as your property is on the rental housing market. While social media and forums are among the first places people turn to when searching for apartments in Hong Kong, the sheer number of people who browse apartment listings and make enquiries on such platforms makes the process of finding your dream tenant that much more difficult. Here is what you can do to find the right tenant to rent your property with minimal fuss:
Know What Kind of Tenant You’re Looking For
Take time to consider the qualities you would want in your ideal tenant, and be specific: would you mind having pets living on your property? Would you be comfortable with tenants who smoke? Is there a limit to the maximum number of occupants you’ll be able to tolerate? Being clear and specific about your criteria for prospective tenants when listing your property on advertising channels would help you save time by filtering enquiries from less desirable candidates.
Do Your Research
After a prospective tenant makes an offer, make sure your tenant can pay rent on time by asking him or her for employment references. You may also wish to meet with your prospective tenant before signing the tenancy agreement to ensure that he or she fits your criteria.
Tap into Your Property Agent’s Network
Discerning individuals are more likely to approach reputable property agencies and real estate agents to find apartments for rent, instead of relying solely on social media platforms and forums. “Work with property agents who have a good reputation, because they’ll draw better clients,” recommends Senior Consultant Joseph Clark.
Jayde Pamuk, another Senior Consultant, says that in addition to advertising listings on their own websites, many property agencies also do the same on portals such as Spacious and Squarefoot: “We have a much bigger reach—we have almost 100 agents and the clients they represent so the network effect is significant.” In other words, working with one agent at OKAY.com is effectively leveraging the clients of the entire company. All our real estate agents are encouraged to refer clients (who can be either property owners or seekers) to one another because they will be rewarded a part of the commission for every successful referral. This speeds up the process of identifying the best matches between landlords and tenants. The exchange of information happens between property agents from different agencies, too, which greatly increases your chances of finding the right tenant when you work with a real estate agent.
Avoid Embarrassment and Save Time by Working with a Real Estate Agent
“List your property with a good real estate agent who understands what you’re looking for and takes your requests seriously,” advises Senior Manager Hiroko Byrne. If you feel uneasy about renting your property to someone without knowing whether they have a stable income, with the permission of the prospective tenant, your real estate agent can help you ask his or her employer for proof of income. Your property agent can help you identify prospective tenants who fit the bill—without the potential embarrassment.
Working with a real estate agent will also help you save time on screening potential tenants by answering enquiries, arranging and attending viewings, meeting with prospective tenants and filling out paperwork—including the tenancy agreement and various forms.
Make Your Criteria Legally Binding
Your property agent knows the paperwork and procedures that can best protect your rights. For example, if you are worried that the tenancy agreement’s standard subletting clause is insufficient to deter your tenant from renting your apartment out for short periods of time on vacation rental platforms, ask your property agent to include this in the tenancy agreement.
Your real estate agent will then stamp your tenancy agreement to make it legally binding so you can keep your tenant in check for the rest of the lease term.
Don’t Let a Good Tenant Slip Through Your Fingers
People looking to rent an apartment can be reluctant to give a landlord candid feedback. “If a landlord is dealing with a prospective tenant directly, that person is not going to say anything during the viewing—he or she is not going to want to offend the landlord,” says Senior Consultant Flo Geiser. However, this is feedback a landlord would want to hear: it could either provide more information on the changes a landlord intends to make to the home (e.g. the preferred colour of the walls), or help the landlord see how much interest there might be in more significant changes (e.g. the creation of an open kitchen). The homeseeker’s tendency to be polite can result in the loss of an opportunity to negotiate a compromise.
But, your real estate agent is in a very different position. To save time on future viewings, homeseekers are generally willing to give direct feedback to their property agents, which in turn can help you as the landlord. Plus, your agent will be able to help manage your prospective tenant’s expectations on what you will be able to provide once an offer is made.
During the lease, you can continue to rely on your agent for advice and support to maintain a good relationship with your tenant. Who knows? This might get your dream tenant to stay on for another lease or two.