If you’re in the business of land lording, you’d probably agree that the role comes with its share of challenges. OK, more than its share. And one challenge landlords and real estate property management companies can do without is getting qualified tenants in and keeping them around.

Ensuring you have paying tenants and the associated rental income stream on a consistent basis may sometimes seem like herding cats.  If you find yourself sitting on vacancies more often than you’re comfortable with, where do you think the problem lies?

Regrettably, many landlords—both new and experienced—tend to make the same mistakes in their efforts to lease rental property. Thankfully, all of these oft-repeated mistakes are completely avoidable. Keep reading to learn 5 common land lording mistakes and discover ways you can steer clear of repeating them.

Are Your Listing Photos Cutting it?

While you know your rental property is a great place, close to everything, and in a cool neighborhood. what are you doing to spread the word to prospective tenants?

It’s assumed that you’re posting a listing ad on rental listing sites like Zillow.com, Zumper.com. Rentals.com. etc. OK, so you do run a listing on sites like these. Start with the images. Are your property photos clear or grainy? Is the indoor lighting bright? Open drapes to let as much natural light in as possible when taking your pictures.

In rooms that don’t get much natural light, turn on all the lighting. Are you photographing the best features of your rental? For instance, a patio or unique architectural elements such as a bay window or beamed ceiling? Tale pictures from angles that capture the best features of each room. Are you adding enough pictures to your listing (at least for, but 6-10 is better)? Not posting enough pictures with your listing is a big turn off to renters.

Check out this example of a rental property listing expertly written and formatted according to guidelines proven to maximize the number of potential tenants who spot it, click on it, and are inspired to call for a showing.

Including professional-quality photos with your listing is essential to attracting tenant interest. You don’t have to hire a professional photographer and in fact, you can use your cell phone camera to take your listing pictures. You can get some great tips and advice for taking property listing photos that stand out on the rental sites online.

Underselling Features and Amenities

Never underestimate the power of unique or sought-after amenities to attract tenants. Features like a 2-car garage, in-unit washer, and dryer, A/C, new appliances, energy-saver appliances, outdoor patio or balcony, fire pit, walk-in closet, hardwood floors, kitchen or bath upgrades,–

These are the lifestyle perks and conveniences tenants are looking for, so make sure to include them,

If you don’t have a lot of conventional amenities in your rental unit, open your eyes wider and think outside the box. Does your bathroom have a tub? Is the unit walking distance to shopping and entertainment venues? Are there hiking trails or bile paths nearby? Is it close to public transit? Does the rent price include any utilities or the internet? Will you accept a pet? Look at your property through a renter’s eyes and make note of any characteristics that set it apart and make it special.

If you see any negatives (neglected yard, front porch light or entryway light not working, clutter inside or out, walls needing paint, dated kitchen or bathroom hardware—you get the idea), fix them.

Highlight the best parts of your rental home or apartment but do so with transparency. You don’t want potential tenants to infer that there are niceties that simply don’t exist. For example, the property owner who advertises a condo for rent with an ocean view, when in fact the only ocean view is a sliver of shoreline that you need to stand on the roof to see.

Competitively Priced Rent Rate

Overreaching on the monthly rent rate is one of the worst mistakes a landlord can make and doing so can cost you a lot of money if the unit sits vacant month after month. This mistake is usually made by new and inexperienced landlords. Setting a rent price for your unit requires rigorous research and due diligence. Start by exploring similar rental properties in your market (or as similar as you can find) and see what your competitors are charging. Pricing a rental isn’t as easy as it sounds, and it’s a big mistake to overprice or even underprice a rental unit. Set the price too high and renters are apt to look at a more reasonably priced apartment, especially if there are lower-priced rentals in the area with comparable features and amenities. Set the price too low and you run the risk of not covering all your expenses such as the mortgage, property taxes, and insurance. Learn more about the factors involved in calculating a win-win rental rate.

Not Responding in a Timely Manner

It’s not uncommon for landlords to be overwhelmed by the sheer volume of inquiries they receive regarding a newly listed rental unit, so it’s understandable if he or she isn’t able to respond to all of them.  If weeks pass and a landlord still has not responded to all of the inquiries, it’s probably safe to assume that those prospects have moved on to another rental property whose landlord or property manager did respond to their inquiries.

While it’s understandable that a landlord can’t respond to every inquiry immediately, it’s always a good idea to take the time to review and respond to as many as possible. Even answering just a few a day would be better than none at all. Developing goodwill with your target customers (tenants) can go a long way. Most consumers expect a response to their inquiries.

When the next vacancy becomes available, you can bet that people who did not hear back this time aren’t going to leave new inquiries if they believe they shouldn’t expect a response.

If you simply don’t have time to reply to inquiries, you may be able to benefit from today’s AI-powered software that answers all inquiry calls and, through voice activation technology, can provide callers with answers to their questions, send the caller a tenant application that can be completed digitally, and schedule tenant showings. Real estate property management companies in competitive markets need to do whatever it takes to ensure all prospective tenant inquiries get a response. This way, your property will at least stay fresh in the renter’s mind and remain an option in the future.

Not Screening Prospective Tenants Thoroughly

Finding good tenants is a process that requires a series of audits to do it properly. This process includes a background check, an eviction check, an employment/income check, and a credit check. Sites like Zumper offer free tenant screening services or you can do them yourself if you have the time and don’t cut corners. Whatever method you choose to do them, just get them done. One of the biggest mistakes that landlords make is trusting someone on their word and learning the hard way that when a person needs a home, many are willing to say whatever it takes. Always screen your potential renters thoroughly and carefully to avoid headaches later on, especially potential renter scams. 

There’s no reason you shouldn’t be able to keep your units leased if you avoid these common mistakes. Take professional-quality photos, write and post a great listing, price your unit competitively, respond to inquiries and screen tenants carefully and reap the benefits of owning rental property. That’s how professional real estate property management companies do things.