How to Screen Tenants without getting into Legal Hassles

As a landlord, you want tenants who look after your property, pay rent on time, and stay till the end of their lease (or even renew it). Getting fantastic and affable tenants begins with the screening process and knowing how to do it without getting into trouble is an art that every landlord should learn.

Create a Screening Process

Don’t make your screening process ad hoc. Instead, create a step-by-step screening process. Make sure you have an application that asks them the following questions:

§  Reason for leaving this current home or apartment

§  Place of work

§  Information about their bank accounts

§  Personal habits, like smoking

§  Pet ownership

Create criteria for approving a prospective tenant’s application. This will help you select one who fulfills your requirements.

Educate Yourself about Federal Fair Housing Laws

There are federal laws that protect prospective tenants from being rejected for no reason by landlords. It is important you know the laws, so that your screening process conforms to them. Make sure you don’t select or reject prospective tenants based on their gender, sexual orientation, race or religion. In fact, you cannot question tenants about these things at all.

Let Applicants Know the Terms of the Lease

Make sure you let applicants know about the terms of your lease from the very beginning. For instance, if you have a security deposit, let them know the amount. By letting them know the terms, you let prospective tenants also decide whether they want to rent your property. If they don’t want to, they walk away, ensuring you don’t waste time or effort trying to market your property to them. Write down the terms and give a copy to the prospective tenants, so that they can read and understand them.

Perform a Thorough Reference Check

Although time consuming, you will thank yourself later if you check the references the applicants provides. Get permission to call the workplace, existing landlord and other references that the applicant has provided. Be sure to question the prospective tenant’s character.

Refuse in Writing

If you refuse to rent out your property to a prospective tenant, always do so in writing and keep a copy in your file. Make sure you clearly highlight the reason for refusal, so that the applicant knows the exact reason.

Screening tenants and finding a dream tenant can be time consuming. However, if you hire a stellar and reliable property management company, every aspect of the screening process will be taken care of. You don’t even have to worry about legalities, as such, since a company has knowledgeable property managers who know federal laws and make sure it is a win-win process for the landlord and tenant.

Three Ways to Attract the Best Tenants to Your Rental Property

As a landlord, you want to have fantastic tenants, who pay rent on time and respect your property. So, if you want reliable tenants, you will have to do some work. Of course, a part of your quest to get the best tenants involves pricing your property fairly, ensuring you maintain the property well and placing ads in multiple places to get your property noticed.

In addition, there are few more things that you should do to secure the tenants you desire.

1. Determine the Kind of Tenants You Want

One of the keys to obtaining the best tenants is first figuring out the kind of tenants you want to work with for a long time. Check with property managers to find out what features tenants are looking for in rental properties in your neighborhood. You can even call up realtors and check with them. Most tenants look for properties that offer easy access to the local school, public transportation, hospital, grocery stores, and so on.

But beyond this, tenants want homes with certain amenities and if your property can offer those amenities, you will be able to attract the right kind of tenants. Some of the amenities tenants look for are air conditioners, dishwasher, neat and safe surroundings, stellar plumbing fixtures, and modern appliances.

2. What is the USP of Your Rental Property?

Why should prospective tenants choose your rental property over others in the neighborhood? This is what will give you the unique selling proposition (USP). Rather than focusing on the number of bedrooms and bathrooms, focus on something that makes your property special and unique.

This could be a short drive from the best shopping area, located close to an award-winning restaurant that has affordable dishes, the best garden to bring the countryside to urban life or watch the most amazing and mesmerizing sunsets. You will want to include the USP in your advertisement to appeal to the right tenants.

3. Sell Your Property for its Benefits and not Features

When creating the advertisement for your rental property, focus on how tenants will benefit from renting your property. Usually, rental property ads are all about features – fresh paint, number of bedrooms and bathrooms, and the appliances. Remember, you don’t want just another tenant. You want the best tenant. So use the ad to demonstrate how the tenant will benefit from renting your property.

Finding the right tenant for your rental property can be tough. That’s why landlords collaborate with property management companies. These companies work on your behalf to get the ideal tenants, so that you can enjoy your life as a landlord. So, go ahead and forge a partnership with a reputable property management company and get the tenants you envisaged and covet. Forging the right relationship will make your life much more enjoyable in the months ahead.

How a Property Manager Handles Your Property’s Maintenance

As a rental property owner, it makes sense to collaborate with a property management company. Besides getting the right tenants and ensuring proper rent collection, the dedicated property manager will also help in the maintenance of your property, saving you money and future headaches. They may even save you from serious legal matters by preventing you from having to deal with tenants which can be troublesome at times even if you do vet them.

Here are some ways that property manager from property management companies handle the maintenance of rental properties.

Emergency Repairs

Emergencies come without warning. A burst pipe, heating not working in the dead of winter, or blocked drain are some emergencies that require prompt action. The moment you call the property manager, he will arrange for emergency services to fix the problem, even after hours. This will save you the headache of running around trying to fix something that is broken or not working. You can inform your tenants to contact the property manager for emergencies, but be clear on what constitutes an emergency.

Determining Tenant Neglect

Property managers are outstanding and judicious professionals. This experience allows them to determine what is tenant neglect and misuse and what is fair wear and tear. This way, the landlord is not held responsible for it. When property gets damaged due to tenant neglect, it is the tenant who has to fix it at his own expense.

Authorized Repair Limit

When you have a property management company handling your rental property, the agreement you sign with the company will clearly mention the value for repair limit. This basically means the property manager can sanction repairs to the tune of that amount.

Anything over and above the amount will require your permission. So, it makes sure the authorized repair limit is reasonable that lets the property manager handle maintenance issues without delay and also does not suck your funds dry. With this clause, you ensure your property manager has the leeway to fix maintenance issues quickly and keep tenants happy.

Property managers always work with licensed and insured vendors, so that you are not held liable for anything. Since property management companies handle many rental properties and offer contractors high volume of work throughout the year, you can rest assured knowing you will get quick service and competitive rates. This helps you save money on rental property maintenance without you even realizing it.

Doing Things the Smart Way

So, if you are a prudent landlord, you will work with a property management company that offers you a dedicated property manager for your rental property. The manager will handle all maintenance-related issues, leaving you free to expand your rental business or focus on other professional pursuits.

What are the Benefits of Managing Rent Collection Online?

With some of the world trying to go green and the Internet dominating most financial processes, it is a prudent time to consider managing your rent collection online. It provides convenience to both you as the property manager and your clients, as well. It allows you to cut down on the paperwork and administrative staff expenses. But most of all it helps you obtain the following major benefits:

1. Improves customer service

Customer service is all about delivering convenience. And with the online system of collecting rent you provide your customers just that. At the same time, since you will be concentrating less on personally collection rent, you can use that time saved for more productive work like marketing to new renters or building stronger better relationships with your present customers, or watching Transformers or the World Series!

2. Reducing disputes with paper trails

Any kind of online payment leads to the creation of paper trails in the digital format. This is also the case with online rent collection. In case, a renter claims to have made payment, you can instantly check through the online system if the transfer has been made. Property management software systems allow you to automatically mark the date and time when a payment is made and transfer the rent amount to the property owner’s account. It also gives you the details of all the tenants who have and have not made their payment for the month.

3. Control over the management of fees

With the online system of rent management, the administrative staff requirement is reduced in half. This means you will spend less resources to manage the rent collected. And, this, in turn, helps you spend more on things like property management or reduce the cost of your entire service package.

4. Improve security

The risks associated with payment of cash are reduced. You do not have to deal with miscalculations or fake notes. The rent amount will directly be transferred to your business account. As a result of this limited risk, property insurance companies are likely to charge you a lower coverage rate.

5. Keep payments on schedule

Some people tend to forget that their rent payment is due, resulting in delayed payments which caused a crunch to occur in their cash flow. This can affect your business since you have bills to pay too with that money. With the online payment system, payments can be made on the due date itself. You can also send the renter an email to remind him that his rent is due a few days before it is due, this way you do not have to deal with delayed payments or at least mitigate the chances of this occurring.

If you don’t have this capability available, it’s about time you made some changes to your rent collection system and keep your client, the landlord, happy.

3 Effective Ways to Find the Right Tenants

In the opinion of every property manager, the market for rental homes is absolutely fierce. So having a fabulous property that is well maintained is not enough. You need to have renters willing rent out your property. However, there are all kinds of renters available. And the segment of home renters does not only comprise of college kids and other youngsters. You may have a renter(s) as old as 65.

In order to get the demand over to your side, you can use the following methods:

1. Determine your targets

The type of tenants you need will depend on your property’s surroundings. If there is a school nearby, shopping malls, corporate offices, parks, and entertainment centers around your property, you will need to look for city dwellers and families.

Look for information like this to determine the kind of tenants you should be providing your services to. Now based on these details you can advertise your property in the localities where your ideal tenants are. If you are targeting city dwellers, don’t focus most of your promotional resources in the suburbs.

2. Make potential renters feel comfortable.

When you trying to rent out a property, it is important for you to get some information on the potential renters. The details you obtain about them should help you determine the whether they are trustworthy or not. But scheduling an interview with prospective tenants can cause them to feel awkward. So, make sure you maintain a professional yet friendly attitude with them. Let them know that this is standard procedure and once a few things are checked up on, then the coast will be clear.

3. Give people something to talk about

Word of mouth is a very effective way of introducing people to new things including property management services. Originally this method would take place on a small scale, but today with the existence of social media and the human network it has created, word of mouth has risen to greater heights. You can use this wide network to your advantage by giving your current tenants something to talk about.

It may be the immediate response to your tenant’s requests, immaculate homes or constant attention to detail. If they enjoy your services, they will definitely pass the word on to their friends and family members. Word-of-mouth publicity holds more value than any other form of advertising and promotion.

By following these simple guidelines you should be able to grab the attention of the right renters. This will ensure you don’t have to deal with vacancies for long periods of time and you do not have any issues once they move in.

How to Respond to Requests of Tenants?

Tenants will always have requests and some of these requests may be challenging for property managers and their teams. The entire schedule may get messed up or the request may be something that you just can’t handle. But either way you need to take your resident’s requests into consideration before giving them a yes or no answer.

You can use these tips when you are confronted by a situation involving resident requests:

1. Let them know you would like to help if it is within your capacity

Make it clear that you understand what is being asked of you. However, do not promise that you will take care of things without considering the request first. Tell the tenant you understand his needs and will do your best to help if possible. They may be asking too much out of you in terms of your money or in terms of your time.

You do not want the renter depending on you for too much or really that much at all.

Never give your residents false hope or even apologize for something that is not your fault. This will make the resident feel like your services are lacking in some way. If there are any legal or medical regulations or policies that prohibit you from fulfilling a resident’s request, let them know about it. Informing tenants that you have to maintain certain legal responsibilities and safety measures will prevent them from arguing with you.

2. Give them an alternative

Never say “no” directly to special requests from your tenants. See if you can offer an alternative before shooting them down. Consider a situation where the request of the tenant goes against the rules of the property owner. Inform the resident about the owner’s rules and arrangements and how his request cannot be facilitated. However, if the renter still urges you to reconsider, take it up to the home or land owner and ask him if an alternative can be provided or at least if they can meet the tenant’s request halfway. Providing an alternative will ensure the resident that his business is valued by the property manager.

3. Prepare your staff to deal with special requests

Special requests made by clients are always challenging, which is why they need to be dealt with in a specific manner. Device a standard response for various special requests that may conflict with the policies mentioned in the rental agreement. The standard response will ensure everyone on your team gives the resident the same response instead of different conflicting ones that could confuse him.

Remember you are running a business here. So keep your cool and don’t get into an argument with the tenant. Train your staff in such a way that they can handle these high pressure situations without breaking or cracking.

How to fix rental property issues?

If there is a problem with the property you are managing, you need to get it fixed ASAP to save time and money. But before you get to the fixing, toiling, and sweating, you need to figure out what the situation is. Ask the owner a couple of questions to get a picture of how bad the problem is, then prepare a solution for it.

Here are 3 problematic situations you could face as a property manager:

Situation 1: Discontented Customers

In any business, reputation means everything. So it is essential for you as a property manager to maintain it. In case of dissatisfied tenants, make sure you do everything in your power to reverse the situation. If you fail to turn things around and make them forget about their negative experience with you, they may inform other potential customers about it and this could affect business for you.

In case they hop on the Internet and blow up your Twitter page to inform others about your services and to disparage you, you can do a bit of damage control. Google your company name to find out what people have to say about your company. Identify the negative comments and respond to them. Own up to the mistake and mention the ways in which you have taken care of it.

Situation 2: Bug Issues

If you are dealing with bug problems, do not delay calling pest control! Insects like bed bugs and termites can affect the health of the people living on the property and the structure and integrity of the property. It will result in additional costs to deal both in terms of both finances and reputation. Get your property checked before and after your tenants vacate. This way, you can reduce the chances of vermin and pest issues.

Situation 3: Higher Percentage of Rent Skippers

Compared to the property management scene years ago, you have all the necessary tools to thoroughly screen tenants before giving them the keys to your properties. Ask potential tenants to provide you with details about their income, jobs, history as tenants and so on. If you find any details that could affect their ability to pay rent inform them of this and ask them how they plan on paying if they suddenly don’t have the finances to pay the rent.

If the renter or the potential renter does not have steady work or a consistent flow of income then they probably are not someone you want to deal with.

Prepare documentation that gives them enough time to come up with the money in case they are struggling financially. At the same time, put in clauses that will ensure you get paid, such as a third-party, who will pay the rent on their behalf should they fail to make a rent payment. This could be their parents or a relative.

End of Summer Property Upkeep: Tips for Property Managers

Now that summer’s ended, winter’s on its way means it’s time for property managers to get a head start in preparing for the holiday season. It’s time to do seasonal maintenance checks so that you can save money, improve the curb appeal of the property you’re managing, and keep the residents happy too.

Here are a few areas that you should look into during the end of the summer property upkeep process:

1. Check the insulation

Winter means cold weather is coming into the picture, so ensure the homes on your properties are properly insulated. Examine the exteriors of each property to see if they need new weather stripping or caulking. Also take a good look at the doors and windows to ensure they close tight enough to prevent cold air from getting in.

2. Clean the chimney and light the fireplace

If your properties have fireplaces, be sure to clean the chimney thoroughly to get rid of any dirt and debris. Clean the fireplace and liners too to avoid the buildup of soot and ash. In case of an electric fireplace always test it before winter to know if it is working fine or not.

3. Inspect the air flow

Dust is bound to build up over the summer months, so always clean your room fans, vents, baseboard heaters, dryer vents, and HVAC units thoroughly. It will help them work smoothly without blocking the airflow.

4. Service heating units

By turning on your HVAC unit you can make sure it’s in golden and suitable condition and can heat up the room in just a few minutes. Get a professional to service it so that it won’t fail the renter during the winter when needed most.

5. Clear the gutters

If you don’t clean up the gutters, they will get clogged during the winter. It could result in warping, broken shingles, and roof leakage. So get those gutters cleared and cleaned by removing the twigs and leaves that accumulate in them. At the end, pass water through them to check for blockages.

6. Clean up the garbage disposal and kitchen sink

Get a plumber to check the garbage disposal and clean it up inside. Scrub the sink clean to remove any grime, rust, or stains. Also, check the rest of the kitchen for vermin and disinfect the whole area.

7. Clean up the bathrooms

Scrub the bathroom floors until they sparkle to get rid of mildew and bacteria. Clean every inch on the sinks, showers, tubs, and floors to disinfect them of any germs and to get rid of any dirt stains. Add an air-freshener to keep it from smelling damp.

If the renter(s) is supposed to handle some of these steps then you do not have to worry about those particular steps.

Once you’re through with the maintenance process, you can get through the fall and winter season business without worrying and without any major calamities or complaints.

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