Gov. Jerry Brown, under an executive order places protections against price-gouging in the wake of the North Bay fires — including rent increases over 10 percent — will be in effect until at least April of next year. Until April 18,2018 to be exact, You cannot raise rents more than 10% or it may be considered price gouging. Because the price-gouging law does not set clear parameters for determining where the price controls apply, rent increases exceeding 10 percent — anywhere in California — may constitute price gouging while the declaration is in effect. Anyone convicted of violating the statewide anti-price-gouging law can face a year in county jail, a fine of up to $10,000, or both, as well as civil penalties. Local ordinances may impose additional penalties.
Changing locks becomes a big issue for landlords and tenants both as usually they aren’t aware of the rules regarding lock changing. Whether it is the tenant changing the locks or the landlord, there are a few things that are to be understood beforehand.
Situations where changing locks become unavoidable for landlords and their solutions:
1. Tenant Moving Out:
There can be a situation where the tenant has paid the rent until the 30th of current month but chooses to move out on the 10th. . Upon visiting the property, you find out that tenant has taken the belongings but has changed the locks and hasn’t returned you the keys. In this case, you cannot enter the property or show it to other prospective renters. So, what are you going to do? What does the law says about such a scenario? What if your lease does not address this kind of situation?
Well, you have the right to change the locks in this case but you must inform your tenant that you will be changing the locks on the 1st of the next month. If you cannot wait that long, inform the tenant that you are changing the locks and he/she can pick up the spare key if required. Whether the tenant responds or not, you can go ahead with lock changing on the date mentioned in the notice.
Remember, you cannot change the locks without notifying the tenant because the rent is already paid and the tenant has every right to access the property until the end of month. Also, since the tenant has changed the locks and caused you unnecessary trouble by not handing over the keys, therefore, you can change the locks and deduct the expenses from the tenant’s security deposit. However, law varies in every state so do check the law regarding conditions of security deposit deduction in your state.
2. Violation of Lease Terms:
If the tenant has violated any of the terms of the lease such as caused damages to the property or has stopped paying you the rent, then you need to consider the legal eviction procedure so as to prevent tenant from entering. You simply cannot change the locks and put tenant’s belongings outside the property as it is illegal in every state and tenant can sue you for that and might even win the case. Therefore, the only solution to prevent trouble is to follow the state’s eviction procedure as defined in the law. It will be much faster, safer and cheaper than you might believe.
Why You Need to Make A Lock Policy:
Include a clause in your lease regarding lock changing to prevent all sorts of confusions and problems later on. Alternately, you can create a lock policy and get it signed by the tenant before moving in. Include terms and situations when you can stop the tenant from changing the locks or requesting for extra keys. If lease doesn’t include terms about lock changing, then tenants can change them at their will.
According to the law, landlords have the right to have a key to access the property and tenants cannot prohibit them from entering. However, we suggest that you include instructions about landlord inspection and occasions when you can visit the property. Clearly outline emergency scenarios that allow you to enter the property without prior notice and how to go about repairs and maintenance related issues.
If you are going to allow your tenants to change locks, state it in the lease as well and don’t forget to mention that tenants are bound to give you a set of keys after changing locks otherwise it will be deemed violation of the lease terms. Please be careful while giving this right to your tenants because it is possible that they never return you all the keys and keep one with them after moving out. Landlords can never realize if there is still a set of keys left with the tenants, which can cause all sorts of confusions and troubles later on. That’s why, it is always a good idea to change the locks and give one set of keys to the tenants.
Eviction is a mandatory part of rental business but a majority of landlords don’t really understand what eviction means. In simple words, it means to legally expel an existing tenant from your rental unit or property. Here the term Legally has been deliberately added to enhance the significance of evicting tenants in a legally acceptable manner.
Usually, landlords think that by changing the locks of their rental unit they can prevent tenants from entering and thus, perform eviction. This is called self-help eviction and it is a very damaging approach. Although it seems like the easiest way to quickly evict tenants but this kind of eviction is illegal. You might get into big trouble if you try to evict the tenant by changing locks or shutting off utilities like gas, water or electricity supply. Don’t take matters into your hands and follow the right process.
In most counties across the US, the standard eviction process includes sending lease termination notice to the tenant and if he/she fails to abide by, consulting the local eviction court and attending the hearings. Termination notice is generally considered the first step. You need to inform your tenant about your decision of terminating the lease or agreement.
If you want to terminate a fixed-term lease before it expires, you need to have a valid reason to do so. The cause must justify the decision of eviction. Conversely, month-to-month agreements are easier to be terminated.
Now, let’s check out the five most common reasons for evicting your tenant:
1. Unpaid Rent or Non-Payment of Rent:
If your tenant is not paying rent then you have every right to evict. A majority of courts and judges usually give the verdict in favour of the landlord if tenant has stopped paying rent. However, if the tenant proves that the landlord has failed to provide habitable accommodation then non-payment of rent will be considered justified.
2. Violation of Terms of Lease:
Related: Important clauses in your lease
If the tenant has violated any clause of the lease then landlord is allowed to terminate the lease between 3 to 30 days. Violation involves a number of aspects such as the tenant is having pets at a property where pets are not allowed; tenant is inviting unapproved guests or occupants for extended period without permission of landlord, subletting without landlord’s approval, noise complaints or using the property for commercial purposes without consent or permission of landlord.
3. Damages to Property:
Despite the fact that a majority of tenants do not cause intentional damage to the property, landlord has the right to evict tenants based upon this issue. If you feel that the tenants are careless and your property will constantly be receiving wear and tear due to their attitude, it is your right to evict them.
4. Performing illegal activities:
For instance, selling or making drugs is not legally allowed and if tenant is found to be involved in any such activity then the law allows landlords to evict him/her immediately. When a crime is committed by a resident, the local law enforcement would definitely take notice and deal with the person according to the law. Therefore, it is better to avoid trouble by evicting tenants performing illegal activities using your property. The laws are so strict in most of the states regarding illegal activities by tenants that landlords can send a 24-hour eviction period notice or even less.
5. Expired Lease:
In case of natural expiry of the lease and tenant refusing to move out, landlord can get the tenant evicted. In this regard, it is important to send a legal termination notice and if the problem persists, landlord can go to the court and file an eviction action case against the tenant.
These are the top five reasons due to which landlords can evict their tenants. However, in this regard following the law is highly important. If the tenant does not pay heed to the termination notice, file a case and let the judge decide.
We cannot deny the fact that identity theft has become the number one crime not only in the US but everywhere around the world. This is why renters have become increasingly hesitant in providing their Social Security Number to landlords because they cannot trust a person whom they have met just once or twice. On the other hand, landlords need this information to perform security screening of the prospective tenants since Social Security Number (SSN) tends to validate the authenticity of the person.
Nonetheless, collecting SSN is not safe anymore and landlords need to think twice and weigh the pros and cons prior to asking for such sensitive information. Wondering why is it not a good idea? Let’s check out the associated pros and cons:
Pros of Collecting SSN:
- Collecting SSN is an essential part of the screening process. Nowadays it is all the more important to be sure about the individual(s) you will be renting out your property and ensure peace of mind.
- If you don’t want to go through the troublesome tenant screening process then you can hire third-party background screening firms that perform screening including criminal background check. However, to inspect prospective tenant’s credit report, you would still need to provide SSN to the firm.
- In case your tenant fails to pay the rent, you cannot do anything but either file a lawsuit against him/her or hire a third-party debt collections agency. In this scenario, the agency will ask for the tenant’s SSN.
Cons of Collecting Social Security Number:
- Safeguarding such important information, which is of highly sensitive nature, is going to be very difficult for you as a landlord.
- Statutory laws regarding storing and securing SSN vary to a great extent and you must confirm the laws in your state about storing personally identifiable information otherwise you may not be aware that you have unknowingly broken the law.
- In case the tenant faces identity theft issue, you will be the first person to be held liable on the ground that you failed to protect his/her information.
- Landlords find themselves at the top of the suspect list when the identity of a tenant is stolen and landlord has the SSN.
- When you ask for the SSN from prospective tenant, it creates distrust as the tenant may think you doubt his/her intentions and credibility.
Why is it Better to Skip Collecting SSNs?
- The primary reason why landlords ask for SSNs is to run a credit check. However, the application fee of screening firms is way too high and definitely not worth the risk. You can easily ask the prospective tenant to provide you his/her credit report and avoid the hassle. Alternately, firms like TransUnion, Equifax and Experian are offering tenant screening services and you don’t need to provide them the SSN but only an email address and tenant’s participation.
- Criminal reports and court records no more contain the SSN because these records are publicly available and inclusion of SSNs would provide criminals an opportunity to perform identity theft. Therefore, you don’t need to collect SSN from the tenant to run criminal background check just the first and last name of the tenant, his/her date of birth and a recent photograph of the tenant would be great.
- If you want to file for small claims or eviction in the court, you won’t be asked for providing the SSN of the tenant in a majority of states. The only information you need is the name and current address of the person.
- During the court hearing, landlords can request for approval of wage garnishment, which if approved would force the employer to comply without asking for SSN. Wage garnishment is possible even if the tenant doesn’t show up at the hearing.
Have you ever considered that as a landlord you might be offering too many amenities and facilities at your rental property than necessary? As per the acceptable and implied laws of habitability, the landlord must provide his/her tenants safe and habitable accommodations that offer continuous supply of heat, electricity, gas and water along with a sound method of disposing of garbage. Amenities that you offer apart from these mandatory ones are a bonus for your tenants.
It is true that addition of necessary appliances like refrigerator or cooking range make the property more attractive to tenants but there are some items that can and do create liability issues and maintenance problems. The following list will introduce you to those must-not have appliances and amenities at your rental unit.
On average dishwashers are counted among those appliances that require extreme care and don’t generally last long. Although these are useful items to have at your property, let’s admit that many people can easily do without one. Avoiding installation of dishwasher will help save water, electricity and of course, money. Moreover, you will be able to prevent laborious maintenance and repair issues while the extra storage space would be helpful for the tenants.
2. Trash Compactor
Trash compactors are not as durable and long-lasting with an average life of around 6 years. The primary reason behind installation of trash compactors is to convert several bags of trash into one, heavy bag. However, the trash it can handle does not include glass, metal and plastic and since it is emptied infrequently therefore, there is every possibility that food scraps become smelly and attract ants and insects. It is better to avoid trash compactors and use the space for more practically viable things.
3. Ice maker
Ice makers offer a rather convenient way to make ice without having to constantly fill up the ice trays. However, when the refrigerator is moved from one location to another, it is possible to break the water connection resulting in unnecessary trouble due to water leakage. If you are willing to provide a refrigerator with ice maker, leave it disconnected to avoid issues later. We suggest that you provide a refrigerator without an ice maker.
4. Swing sets
Installing swing sets on the yard definitely helps in attracting tenants with kids but from a safety perspective, we suggest that you leave them out and let the kids enjoy the swings at the nearby park. You should be concerned about injuries that can be caused when kids become reckless with swings. Moreover, having swings around would make maintenance of the lawn or garden quite a difficult and time-consuming task. Don’t install swinging chairs anywhere around the porch either.
The main advantage of having carpeted property is that it muffles noise and makes the room cozier by adding insulation. However, the drawbacks of carpeting outweigh its advantages. You must not ignore the fact that mold frequently grows in carpets especially rugs and spills usually create permanent stains, which ruin the appearance of the carpet. The color is also faded due to sunlight if there are large windows in the room. Therefore, we recommend that you choose hardwood or laminate flooring.
6. Inflatable pools
You might need to refill inflatable pools quite often otherwise they will become unhygienic. This is not an easy task at all since you would need around 800 gallons of water if the pool is 6-by-6 foot and 3 feet deep. This much water would be enough to run an entire household for ten days. Maintenance of inflatable pool is quite expensive considering that the pool pump consumes a lot of energy and if the pool is poorly maintained, it will quickly become unsanitary creating health issues at your unit. This would result in earning a visit from local health department. Lastly, pools are very dangerous if there are small kids living at the property and many prospective tenants would avoid renting your property due to that.
It is very much possible that your tenants stop paying rent for all sorts of reasons. Landlords often find themselves in this predicament where the tenants either delay payment of rent for months or simply refuse to pay . So what should you do if your tenant stops paying rent?
Of course you would be frustrated since you must be having your own financial commitments and overheads to consider. However, getting into a dispute with the tenant may not be a wise decision in this situation; the key is to act reasonable but at the same time decisively. Don’t forget that you must stick to the law at all times while dealing with tenants so as to prevent legal complexities later. Abiding the law helps in resolving the problem without any unnecessary trouble. However, it requires an understanding of the law to act according to it.
What are the Rights of Landlords?
Every state has a different set of rules that determine the rights and duties of both the landlord and tenant but it is a universal rule that landlords can charge rent for their property and receive rental payments according to the pre-determined schedule. If the tenants decide to move out, they need to send the landlord proper notice explaining that they intend to end the tenancy. However, nowhere in the world does a tenant exercise such power to withhold the rent even if there is a dispute between the two parties, i-e, landlord and tenant. The Citizen’s Advice Bureau highlights that tenants aren’t legally allowed to stop paying rent and they put themselves at risk of eviction if they do so.
Landlords are also allowed by law to explore the rental history of their tenants (both prospective and existing) including the resources of rent payment. Landlords can check for any rent defaults and/or property damage that might be registered in the tenant’s name. The information is important in strengthening the trust of landlord over tenants.
What to do when Tenant Stops Paying Rent?
First of all, you need to keep checking your bank account regularly to be able to identify issues timely. If it is proved that your tenant is not paying his rent then first step towards resolving the issue would be to find out why he/she is not paying the rent. Start making inquiries politely but quickly because the reason might be too simple and you can easily fix it. For instance; it could be anything from the following:
- The tenant has forgotten to transfer the rent amount
- Temporary issues with cash flow
- Confusion between joint tenants
Conversely, the reason might be too complicated such as any of the following:
- Loss of job
- Separation or divorce between the couple
- Tenant facing challenging long-term financial, professional or personal issues like workplace stress
Or it could simply be that your tenant does not want to pay the rent. You need to address the issue as quickly as possible to ensure your own financial stability and peace of mind.
So how can you deal with this situation? Here are a few steps to follow:
The key to fixing the issue is to keep record of all the payments and correspondence between you and your tenant. To resolve the issue start with making a direct phone call to the tenant or a better idea would be to send a written letter and keep a copy of this letter with you. This would be helpful if at any point you get involved in legal proceedings. If the tenant and landlord agree to settle the issue and tenant promises to catch up on the missed payments, then don’t forget to keep the settlement agreement in written form and send to the tenant via post. Do mention the consequences of not following the agreement.
Contacting the Guarantor:
If there is a third party involved as a guarantor of your tenant for instance their relative or family friend, who has ensured you that they would be compensating for the missed rents if it is not paid by the tenant then it will be a good idea to contact the guarantor. Inform the third party about the issue. In a majority of cases, the problem is solved quickly when the third party is roped in however, if it doesn’t happen then take necessary action to get the rent from the guarantor;
Reclaim possession of your Property:
After passage of 21 days without payment of rent then you have the right to send the tenant a letter informing that you will be reclaiming possession of your property if payment is not made within a week or any specific date. If the deadline is missed by the tenant yet again, then according to the Housing Act 1988 landlords can claim possession of the property by following a format prescribed by the law.
Seek assistance from Court:
If you want to evict your tenant, it is your right to ask the court to give judgment against the tenant for two issues; one, the rent owed and second, the expenditures made by the landlord in pursuing it. However, before reaching out to the court, you must think from every aspect such as if the amount of debt is worth the effort, expenses and time that you will be required to spend?
It is a fact that for landlords, whether new or experienced, having to deal with a tenant who has refused to pay the rent is an extremely stressful situation. However, with time you will learn to deal with such stubborn tenants. An understanding of law will also be helpful in resolving the issue amicably and quickly. You must take notice and give importance to the matter when the tenant fails to pay the rent for the first time or when the tenant starts delaying the rent payment. Talk to your tenant right away to stop this behavior at an early stage otherwise, it would become a habit and you will have to wait longer and longer for the rent. Be wise and be strict in financial matters especially rent payment and you will never face such an issue with your tenant.
If you provide appliances in your rental unit then appliance repair will be your responsibility. Damage to the appliances are sure to become an issue given the abuse that these go through at the hands of tenants. You can ensure minimal damage is caused to the appliances installed on your property by providing thorough guidelines on how to use appliances properly. Generally, electric appliances last for at least 10 years and even longer if used carefully.
However, no matter how carefully your tenants use them, appliances are bound to have issues every now and then. It is worth noting that appliance repairing is quite expensive in this country as technicians charge about $150 per service call and the amount has to be paid before they touch the appliance to fix the issue.
We have a better advice for you, which is to adopt a DIY approach while tackling with appliance repairs. This would help in reducing your overhead. Are you feeling nervous about having to do appliance repairs yourself? No need to feel wary at all as it is quite easy to repair appliances. All you need to do is research about techniques of repairing different items at YouTube and prepare is handy appliance repair toolbox.
What do you need in an appliance repair toolbox?
Don’t worry at all; the list of tools is pretty short as you won’t need shaping or cutting tools and appliances don’t require painting either. You would need to take measurements, assemble and disassemble metal parts and perform electrical repair. So, the tools that you would need include:
- Measuring tape
- Battery drill
- Multi-driver with assortments of bits
- Pry bar
- Pipe wrench
- Multi meter
- Face hammer (16 ounce)
- Wire splicing tool
Moreover, you will need a laptop with fast internet connection. That’s because the internet is a helpful source for learning about the product’s specifications, instructions on repairs and salient tips. It is even more helpful when you don’t have the manufacturer’s manual at hand and need to fix the appliance on urgent basis. Furthermore, it is the best platform for finding and ordering replacement parts.
How to Perform Repair?
From an air conditioner that drips water uncontrollably to a refrigerator that lacks cooling, anything can be fixed within minutes if you have the right model number. So the first thing a landlord needs to do is identify the model number of the appliance, which usually is inscribed or printed at a prominent place but in some models you need to inspect the back of the appliance or look inside to find it. Now that you have the model number, you need to use your laptop and search for tips on how to fix the issue. In this regard, we have a few tips for you:
Googling an issue is probably the easiest way to find possible fixes for the appliance. Simply open the browser, type the model and make of the appliance and specify the problem. Be very straightforward and to-the-point while typing in the problem and omit unnecessary terms like How To, etc., and you will instantly find a YouTube video or a How-To article explaining the solution. In case you do not find desired results, then search for the service manual by including the term Manual with the model and make of the appliance and click on search button.
Once you are ready to perform the repair do make space for yourself so that you get plenty of room to work. Clean the area around the appliance and then disconnect and move it as far away from the wall as possible. Always keep rags and buckets (as per the nature of the issue) to catch water that is spilled from washers or other plumbing related problems that might involve water spilling. You may also need to let the appliance plugged in in some situations so to addresses this sort of a problem you need to have an extension cord in your toolbox.
Prior to disassembling something you need to take pictures as it will help you remember how every component/part was assembled together originally. Delete the picture after the problem is fixed.
Protect the Screws:
Many times amateur technicians forget where they put the screws and without appropriate screws, an appliance cannot be put together. Therefore, you must keep a small, clean container in your toolbox so that none of the product’s screws get lost during the repair process.
Don’t be over smart:
You might want to perform every single repair yourself but there are certain issues that are difficult to handle on your own so sometimes you must consult an expert technician or change the appliance. For instance, if the refrigerator’s compressor is faulty then it is no use to get the compressor serviced because a new refrigerator would be cheaper to buy. Similarly, if the refrigerator has gas leakage issue then hire a licensed technician to service it; if the water or space heater’s gas valve is giving problems then an expert would know how to handle the problem well.
However, there are certain problems that you can fix yourself such servicing the thermocouple, adjusting and cleaning the pilot tube or gas, space or water heater burner. You can also change the thermostats and elements installed on an electric water heater. You can successfully replace and/or repair the door seals, water supply hoses, refrigerator control board and deice or clean the coils. Moreover, you can easily service the electric heating element and belts on the dryer and clean the vents as well as change the drain pump, belts and control panel of the washing machine.
Maintenance of appliances can produce remarkable impact on their overall functioning and performance, which is why we stress upon preventive maintenance. If you perform maintenance regularly then the need for major repairs won’t arise at all. So, make sure that you perform the following tasks once a year or ask your tenants to do these tasks for ensuring optimal performance of the installed appliances.
- Clean the dryer vents by removing lint and service the ducts completely to vent the outlet and clean the lint trap before and after use
- Wipe away dirt and ice from coils of all appliances such as refrigerator
- Change refrigerator, washer, dryer, air circulation system filters
- Lastly, keep a maintenance record for every appliance installed at the unit to make instant diagnosis of the issue later on.
Landlords always need to do paperwork but not many are aware of the significance of some documents. If you have an idea about the most important files that you might need to access again and again then it will become a lot easier for you to file them properly. This is why we have created a list of necessary documents that every landlord needs to keep in an easy to find file.
What are the best practices for saving documents?
Please remember that there are some really important documents that landlords need to keep handy to ensure instant and secure access to them whenever required. Since we live in a digital age so there is no need to keep piles of files as you can easily store them in electronic versions on Google Drive and/or Dropbox. This is important because by storing them on the web, you will be able to access them from a variety of devices namely mobile phone, laptop, tablet or desktop, etc., while you can check them out even when on the go.
Many landlords want to follow the tradition and store paper versions of their important documents. We would never advise this because by storing paper versions, you are making all your data vulnerable to damages as there is every possibility of a burglary, house fire or other natural disaster, which would be detrimental for your precious documents.
Let’s now check out the most important documents that a landlord would most certainly need to access again and again and therefore, should be saved properly.
1. Move-in Checklist
This checklist is basically created to document the property’s condition before you let the tenant move-in to the rental unit. As per the law, your property must be in the same condition, ignoring normal wear and tear, when the tenant moves out as it was when they moved-in. If it isn’t so and the property has received severe damages then the landlord has the right to deduct the repairing cost of damages from the security deposit.
However, if you have found yourself in such a situation as a landlord but you don’t have the move-in checklist then the matter would be resolved according to your word against theirs method. This may or may not benefit you but if you have a move-in checklist then both parties will resolve the issue amicably. Moreover, having a move-in checklist would give tenants peace of mind since they would know that you won’t be charging them for existing damages. Please note that the move-in checklist should be filled in the tenant’s presence and both must sign the document. Adding pictures of property also helps in making a comparative analysis.
Getting an application form filled by applicants who wish to rent your property and their guarantor(s) is a good practice. It not only explains the most important personal, professional and financial details of the prospective tenant but also will provide information about the guarantor who will be paying the rent if the tenant fails to do so. Landlords get necessary information for running a credit check and perform tenant screening to finalize the best candidate for occupying the rental unit.
3. Emergency Contact
We suggest that you provide your tenant with a list containing information about emergency contacts. You may either make a separate form for explaining how to deal with emergency situations and whom to contact or include the terms in the lease agreement. Provide at least three emergency contacts information in the form. Similarly, you must ask your tenant to provide you three emergency contacts information so that if the tenant goes missing, stops paying rent or gets involved in an accident or falls sick, etc., then you will know where to call.
No matter if your property is new or old and big or small you must have a lease where you will list all the tenants and every tenant must sign the lease. It is important because by signing the lease you are actually creating a legally binding agreement between you and your tenants and everyone would be then required to follow the rules and terms laid out in the lease. If any of the two parties involved violates the lease agreement, the other will be able to take due action as per the law. Mention the rent amount, due date of paying rent, whether rent will be paid every month, bi-monthly, quarterly or annually, accepted payment mode in the lease and the penalty for delayed rent and the security deposit amount. It will also include the timing of property inspection, what situations would lead to eviction and what will happen when you decide to sell the unit. Maintenance and repairing related conditions will also be part of the lease and every other relevant aspect will be included. Always keep a signed copy of the lease with you.
For points that are not covered in the lease or you forgot to include something in the lease, then addenda will be prepared to add all the missing details. All you need to do is date the document, write the points and take signatures from all parties including you. The lease addendum must be stored with the lease agreement.
6. Lease Renewal Letter
A lease renewal letter is sent to the tenant by the landlord about two months before the existing lease expires. The letter is sent to determine if your tenants want to renew the agreement or move out. If your tenant wants to stay then a new agreement will be prepared stating the new terms and new rent and both parties will sign it again. If a new lease is not signed then the tenant will become month-to-month renter. You must keep a sample letter and fill in the required information every time you send a renewal letter to your tenants.
7. Mortgage and Improvements
You must keep the documents containing mortgage information of your property or properties including refinance information and record of improvements in the property that you have made so far like any expansion or renovation to the unit.
It doesn’t matter who pays for the utilities, it is important to keep list of utilities you are providing at each rental unit of yours.
9. Move-out Letter
This letter would contain information about what the tenants are required to do when they decide to move-out. This letter should be sent to the tenant a few weeks before the scheduled move out and would explain to them by what time and date are they required to vacate the property.
10. Move-out Checklist
It is quite similar to the move-in checklist and explains the condition of property after tenants move out. You can provide the list to tenants before they move out so that they repair the damages (if any) or you can perform an inspection when they have moved out. Don’t forget to record every single detail.
The secret of being a successful landlord lies in giving the tenants what they want, need or expect. Believe it or not there is a big difference between being a landlord and being a property owner. Buying rental property is one thing and being a landlord who is able to retain tenants and keep the property rented is a completely different thing altogether. If you have rental property but you are unable to get it rented or tenants are constantly vacating your property then you cannot be termed as a successful landlord.
Being a landlord is not easy; you need to constantly be on your toes regarding the maintenance and condition of your property. Furthermore, you are required to take every possible step to ensure renter’s satisfaction so that your property stays rented. In this regard, we can help you out. We have created a list of things that might help your rental unit so attractive that renters would want to stay for as long as possible. Pay attention to the following aspects and try to embed as many points as possible in your property.
1. Walking Distances
If your unit boasts of adequate amount of interesting places that are within walking distances, then you can expect tenants to love it. Walking distances are among the first things that every renter notices even before inspecting the property from the inside. No matter how luxurious the property is, the location relation to restaurants, shops, parks, school and entertainment/recreation points remain the main attraction to renters. You must ensure that your unit scores high on this point. Usually families prefer property that is closely connected to the city center or locations they need to access on a daily basis such as school or office and grocery stores. People want to be able to walk anywhere so if your property scores somewhere between 50 and 100 on Walk Score then you can feel relaxed as this means your property is within walking distance of most amenities while a score between 0 and 50 means that the unit is car dependent.
Related: Make Repairs on a Regular Basis
2. Well maintained Property
Typically, renters never worry about the maintenance of the property but the landlord has to remain alert at all times. It is usually the responsibility of the landlord to perform necessary repairs and keep the property in top conditions. Therefore, before renting out your property, we suggest that you make sure there aren’t any maintenance related issues. Even when the property gets rented and tenants have moved in, you need to carry out regular inspections to ensure that the unit is well maintained. Be responsive to major to minor damages and perform the repair as soon as possible.
3. Parking Area
Off-street parking is every renter’s dream and people who own a vehicle (who doesn’t own one nowadays?) look for rental units offering a parking place. So, if you don’t have this feature in your unit, try to make room for it and advertise about it as much as you can. Remember that in most urban areas a parking spot is a rarity so if your unit has the space, flaunt it and you will see renters pouring in immediately. If you cannot create garage space on your property then look for any off-street parking spot like a sheltered area or a driveway and offer it to your tenants as the parking place. Usually renters have no issue with street parking in the suburbs so go for it.
4. Storage Space
You can easily impress potential renters by creating ample storage space in your property. Walk-in closets are quite popular among renters so you might want to build one if your property doesn’t offer walk-in closets. Try to create storage spaces at areas that otherwise would be left useless such as the balcony or space under the stairways and the bedrooms must feature large cabinets and closets.
5. Washing/drying facility
Renters prefer properties that come with washer/dryer. You might think of it as an additional expenditure but in reality it makes the unit a lot more desirable to prospective tenants. It is also possible that the renter already own washer/dryer or are willing to buy one, so in such as case we suggest that you at least built a separate laundry area where they could place and install the washer/dryer.
6. Air Conditioning system
It turns out to be the ultimate game changer if your property is located in a hot and humid area or the climate overall remains hot. Installing an air conditioner is not enough to make the property attractive to tenants; what we mean is that your property must be airy and offer central-air conditioning system. Do not install window ACs because these prove to be a nuisance in humid weather as they add more moisture to the air.
7. Pet Friendly area
If you can allow pets, your property will become most desirable among tenants. Most families own a pet or more than one so offering a pet-friendly property or having flexible pet policies is very beneficial for the landlord.
Renters require security assurance so you need to make your property fully safe and secure for them. By safety we don’t mean that you need to install highly advanced locks to the doors but that you need to make the property secure. Install indoor alarm systems, surveillance cameras, adequate outdoor lighting, windows with grills, deadbolt locks to the doors and add wooden dowel to the bottom side of the sliding glass doors (if any). This would make tenants feel safe in your property and they would most certainly want to stay there on a long-term basis given the unpredictable societal conditions.
9. Outdoor Spaces
Amenities like fenced-in yard, balcony, deck, patio and a small pool are all desirable to tenants. Actually, renters nowadays look for outdoor areas in a property as they get to unwind and relax and outdoor spaces let them do just that. They are able to enjoy the weather and spend quality family time so why not give them this exclusive amenity in your unit?
10. Smart Property
Last but not the least if your property is considered “smart” then the millennials would love to rent it immediately. Adding Internet of Things devices, automated temperature controls, solar lights, energy efficient appliances and wireless internet are all important elements of our everyday life now. So, making the unit tech-savvy and ensuring comprehensive connectivity between devices will definitely be the deciding factor for many tenants.
It is very important and beneficial to run a credit check on your prospective tenant. It not only helps in safeguarding your rental unit but also allows you to get a clear picture of the financial stability of your tenant. It is a fact that you cannot judge a book by its cover so if your would-be tenant has good credit history, it means you can trust upon the tenant. The credit history will also inform you about an important aspect of utility bills payment. With the credit check you will get to know whether the prospective tenant pays bills on time or not because timely payment of utility bills would mean your rent will also be paid on time.
What information do you get from Credit Check?
There are two points to be noted while considering the information to be reviewed. Firstly, the information is bound to be varied as it totally depends upon the agency you have chosen and the credit check policy they follow. Secondly, the amount you pay for the credit check report will also play a determining role in this context.
Standard credit check would provide you the following information:
Personal identification verification: You will get verification of the prospective tenant’s name, date of birth, marital status and spouse name, previous and current residential addresses, Social Security number and employers (if not self-employed).
Credit History: It includes information about bank accounts (since when the accounts have been activated), credit card accounts and credit card limit, mortgages and loan amount (if any) and pattern of payment over the past two years.
Public Records: It will provide a list of tax liens, civil judgments, any reported evictions and bankruptcies.
Inquiries: if anyone has requested a credit report of your prospective tenant previously then the information will be provided in the credit check.
Remember that some credit check reports may also provide the FICO score of your prospective tenant.
Tenant Related Requirements for Running the Credit Check?
You need to get an application form filled by the tenant to run a credit check as well as tenant’s written permission for checking the credit history. This form must include the following:
- Full Name of the Prospective Tenant
- Date of Birth
- Previous two years’ residency addresses
- Social Security number
- Current employer and landlord
To obtain your prospective tenant’s credit history you need to follow the Fair Credit Reporting Act guidelines. According to the law you must ask for the applicant’s written permission to do so and the tenant will be required to sign and date a legally acceptable document to show that they agree to the credit check. Usually landlords include this condition at the end of the Application Form, so, if your form doesn’t include this point then it will be important to get a separate document signed by the tenant.
Requirements for Landlords Before running a Credit Check:
Just like there are rules for tenants, there are rules for the landlords as well. To run a credit check you need to verify that you are actually a landlord who needs to run credit checks. A majority of the companies will need the landlord to submit relevant information for confirming their landlord status. The required information or requirements also vary from company to company. Standard requirements include:
- Any document that could verify your current address such as a utility bill
- Identification proof such as driver’s license
- Proof of owning the rental unit such as insurance documents, deed, mortgage statement, utility bills, proof of title and purchase agreement
Usually it takes about 2 to 10 days for the application to receive approval and once it is approved, the subsequent process will be speedy as you will be able to run the credit check quickly.
Tips on Finding the Credit Agency:
There are various options in this regard such as you can choose from Mr. Landlord, E-Renter, Experian, etc.; these are names of some of the agencies that facilitate tenant screenings especially credit checks for landlords. You need to perform an extensive search online to look for other options and to find the right agency. Never give personal information to any agency prior to doing your homework and ensuring that the agency is accredited and reliable. It is important because you are handing over confidential information to the company and if it lands in wrong hands you can easily become the victim of identity theft as the agency might carry out malicious schemes in your name.
How to Run the Credit Check?
If you have the Social Security number of the prospective tenant or other information, use it to run the credit check by applying to the agency of your choice. You will be required to send the signed consent form of the tenant to the company via fax or email. Some companies provide the credit check within a few minutes while some may take time of a few days. When you receive the credit report, review it carefully. Check all the points mentioned above including chronic late payments and unpaid accounts. Look for debt as well; even if the applicant pays the utility bills on time but it is mandatory to check out the amount of debt he or she has. That is, if most of the tenant’s monthly income is committed already then it would be difficult to pay you rent on time.
Good credit is good news since this would mean the applicant pays bills on time. However, please remember that credit reports may also contain unverified or fake information as these aren’t foolproof. There are hordes of scam professionals and social engineering geniuses who can falsify data. Therefore, be sure that you get set the same move-in conditions for everyone and never accept renters if they haven’t transferred the security deposit. Lastly, if there are certain aspects of the prospective tenant’s credit report that are concerning to you, openly discuss with the applicant since there is always a possibility of mistake on the report and the tenant may not be aware of it. However, if the credit report is negative then you must not rent your property to that applicant because of the bad credit.