HOW TO COMPLY WITH THE FEDERAL FAIR HOUSING ACT (FHA)

As a landlord or property manager, it is essential to understand the different laws pertaining to rental housing that are in place to protect tenants. Fair Housing is a component under the federal law which refers to the right everyone has to rent a place regardless of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, familial status or disability. Besides the federal law, each state and local governments have their own versions of Fair Housing laws that landlords would have to take note of.
Here is an explanation of some components of the federal Fair Housing Act (FHA).

Protected Classes

Under the Fair Housing Act, landlords are prohibited from discriminating against a person who falls under one or more of the protected classes. Discrimination in this case refers to treating them differently. To avoid being viewed as discriminatory, landlords should treat all potential tenants who are interested in their property the same way and answer their queries in a standardized manner.
A landlord should also watch the questions or suggestions they provide to potential tenants as it might come across as discriminatory, such as asking questions regarding their marital status. The best practice would be to let the potential tenant ask the questions and the landlord will just have to answer them factually.
(There may be other protected classes under additional state or local laws, such as LGBT status, income, age and sexual orientation.)
There are some special rules for different protected classes. When it concerns families, landlords are prohibited from rejecting interested tenants just because they have children. Even directing them to other properties that are more suitable for children is not allowed and considered discriminatory.
When it concerns disabled tenants, a landlord must comply with the following special rules:

Reasonable Accommodation refers to requests that a disabled tenant can make for an exception to the rules and policies of the rental. This includes allowing a live-in caregiver or a service animal, which is not considered a pet. The extra costs (often little to no cost) of these exceptions have to be borne by the landlord and cannot be charged to tenant.

Reasonable Modifications refers to changes being made to the property so as to give the tenant access to all the amenities, such as grab bars in the bathroom or ramps at the entryway. The cost of these can either be borne by the landlord or the tenant, depending on the arrangement.
Tenants with disabilities might make requests under these two categories, but the landlord should always wait for the tenant to make these request instead of suggesting it as it may be perceived as discriminatory. To refuse the tenant’s request, the landlord would have to issue a letter explaining the reasons behind the refusal, which has to be substantiated with facts.
It would be best for a landlord to document all interactions with potential tenants which could be served as evidence when accused of being discriminatory.

Advertising

When advertising their rental properties, landlords must ensure that there are no discriminatory statements in their advertisements. They should not word their advertisement in ways that would seem as though they are looking for or excluding a specific group of tenants such as young couples. The focus of the advertisement should be on the property and not the prospective tenant.
Landlords are also not allowed to falsely state that their property is not available just to deter “unwanted” tenants.

Steering Renters

Steering is the act of trying to defer or recommend a potential tenant to a property based on the protected classes. For instance, recommending a property in the Asian community just because the potential tenant is Asian or not showing them a property near a school just because they do not have children.

Landlords should always provide all potential tenants with all their available listings and focus on facts instead of assumptions when recommending properties.

Renter Applications and Screening

When reviewing potential tenants, landlords should establish and document a set of criteria that they require them to meet to be considered for tenancy. Landlords can request for tenants to provide information regarding source of income, credit score and criminal record, which will then be used as the criteria to evaluate the suitability of that tenant.

By establishing a standard set of criteria, the landlord will be able to clearly filter through tenants who do not meet their requirements and reject them based on a valid reason. Landlords should always document all applications and screening documents that can be used as evidence in the future if accused of being discriminatory.

Apartment Policies and Rule

Landlords are allowed to set policies and rules for their properties, but they would have to ensure that these policies and rules are applied to all tenants and not only a certain group of tenants. They are also allowed to set a maximum occupancy for their property by stating the number of “people” they allow and never “children” as that would mean they are limiting the number of children allowed (infants under the age of 1 are not considered as occupants). Landlords should familiarize themselves with their state’s laws on maximum occupancy when setting a maximum occupancy for their property.

Documentation

Landlords should always document all interactions with potential tenants and keep all rental applications and credit reports (check with state how long these documents should be kept). These could possibly be used as evidence when accused of being discriminatory. When accused, the landlord should not retaliate but instead immediately contact a legal professional.

Training

The Fair Housing Act is important for all landlords and their employees. It is essential that everyone is trained and understands all the laws and practices to ensure that their rental business is compliant.

Information from: https://www.zillow.com/rental-manager/resources/articles/fair-housing-guide/?utm_source=email&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=emm_zrm_fairhousing_041816_text

Preventative Property Maintenance Tips For Landlords

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Wear and tear is a fact of life for every landlord. It is important to uncover any issues before it’s too late as it can save you time, money and most importantly headaches down the road.

A preventative maintenance plan, with regularly scheduled inspections should be part of every residential landlord’s or rental property owner’s policies and procedures. Thorough preventative maintenance programs can have significant economic benefits, namely:

  • Lower utility bills
  • Prevention of expensive emergency repairs
  • Extension of the life of HVAC (heating, ventilation, air conditioning), plumbing and electrical systems
  • Lower taxes as maintenance and repair costs often can be used as tax deductions
  • Lower tenant turnover as a well maintained property keeps tenants from moving

Here are some tips to improve your preventative property maintenance procedures:

  •  Always keep in stock frequently used supplies like paint, plaster, floor polish, door knobs, latches, hinges, blinds, linoleum tiles, etc.
  •  Develop good relationships with your contractor which will help you out in the long run because most vendors will go out of their way to help out their best customers.
  •  Insist on a walk-through of every vacated home yourself. Take time to get an overview of your property to assess what needs to be done.
  •  Make a checklist of all wear and tear items during your own personal walk-through. A wear and tear checklist will include inspections of air conditioning units, water heaters, any electrical outlets, toilets, roof and the walls.

We also suggest to add the following to your checklist:

  •  Check all door knobs and locks to ensure they are working and are not loose.
  •  Open/close closet doors and check if they are on-track.
  •  Look for any cracks or water stains on the ceiling and walls.
  •  Check carpeting for dirt, spots and other signs of wear.
  •  Check carpet seams to ensure they are not coming up at the edges.
  •  Make sure wood, tile, and vinyl doors are not scuffed, scratched, thinning, or loose.
  •  Check counter-tops for cracks, damage or scratches.
  •  Check floors for cracks and other damage.
  •  Check windows for any sticking or rotting sills.
  •  Make sure all wallpaper is securely applied.
  •  Ensure that blinds and shades are in good condition and working order.
  •  Make sure all windows, latches, and screens are in good condition.
  •  Check faucet handles and other hardware.
  •  Check toilets for leaks or running water.
  •  Check for faded, chipped or cracked paint.
  •  Check if smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are in proper working condition and replace batteries regularly.

With yearly inspections and preventative maintenance, you can keep your rental property in great shape. You can also make costly items like the roof or the furnace last much longer, hence saving a lot of money. It is always good to encourage the tenants to let you know whenever a small issue occurs and needs to be repaired immediately. Thus, you can always stay ahead in the game.

8 Steps To Finding The Perfect Tenant

The hardest part of being a landlord or a property manager is by far how to find the perfect tenant. The perfect tenant is a person

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• who will take care of your property as if it is their own
• who will be a good neighbor to other people living in the same community
• who will have a steady job and will pay their rent on time
• who will commit to renting your property for a longer period of time
• who take care of minor maintenance issues themselves and notify you if something is broken in your property
• who will ask you for permission if he/she wants to make changes to the property
• who will give you plenty of notice when planning on moving out
• who will not engage in criminal behavior
• who is honest

And so on……..impossible to find? ……… maybe…….maybe not!

Choosing a tenant to fill your vacant property shouldn’t be a rushed process! A bad tenant can cost you a lot of time and money, so it is better to take your time finding the right tenant. Every prospective tenant should be screened in a systematic way so in the end you can make a decision based on a set of information that is the same for every applicant. This will also be helpful when trying to stay compliant with all the federal, state and local fair housing laws.

So here are 8 steps to follow to find that perfect tenant;

Step 1: Set standards that every applicant must meet to be “qualified”
Creating a set of standards that applicants must meet to qualify is extremely important. This set of standards can be different for each rental unit dependent on the quality and location of the rental. Standards could include things like verifiable income 3 times the amount of the rent, a credit score of 650 or above, never been evicted, maximum number of people who can live in the property, a pet policy and so on. As a landlord you get to determine what those criteria will be as long as they stay within the bounds of all fair housing laws. Then once you have your set of standards you will have to apply them consistently.

Step 2: Talk to applicants on the phone
When potential tenants contact you to tell you they are interested, make sure you talk to them on the phone before inviting them to visit the property. This is where the actual rental screening process starts. With a short phone interview you can quickly weed out tenants that are not serious and/or not qualified.

Put some effort in asking the right questions based on the standards you have set. Questions like what kind of pets do you have and how many people will be moving into my property are some of the questions to ask. Other questions could be; When are you looking to move? How long do you want to rent for? How long have you lived at your current address? Why are you moving? and so on. Make sure to mention the rent amount and the deposit amount and ask them if they can afford those amounts. Make sure to take notes and listen for inconsistencies in answers and applicants who are trying to avoid answering certain questions.

After filling out the pre-qualification form for all potential tenants that are still interested in the property, review the information and invite the most serious prospects to a scheduled tour of the rental.

Step 3: Show the rental property
realtormeetIt is hard to believe but sometimes applicants want to rent your place without even having visited the property! Please do not agree to this. You do want to meet applicants in person no matter how perfect they sound. Usually you get a lot better idea of what type of person someone is by meeting them. Here are some things to look for during the showing:

• Are they on time?
• Do you like them?
• Do they fit the profile?
• Do they seem to be very interested?
• Re-ask them some of the questions you asked them during the phone interview and see if their answers match?
• Do they look clean, put together?
• What is your gut feeling?

Based on this information you should have a pretty good idea of what type of person you are dealing with. So if it feels right, and the potential tenant is still interested, hand them an application and ask them to fill it out right then and there.

Step 4: Have the applicant fill out a rental application and charge an application fee
Personal information such as name, current address, Date of Birth and SSN of all renters above the age of 18 should be part of the rental app. Other information to request is the current and last two landlords, current and last two employers, monthly income, and pets if any. In addition, a reasonable application fee should be charged. Just make sure you follow all the local laws with regard to the application fee. In addition, make sure the application includes an authorization to do a complete background screening on the tenant including a national criminal and eviction check and a credit history check. The filled out application and the collected fee will be a good indication if the potential tenant is serious about renting your property.

Step 5: Review the applications
When reviewing all the applications, make sure that you comply with both federal laws (Fair Housing Act and Fair Credit Reporting Act) as well as the local ordinances that apply to the location of your property. Some landlords use their gut instinct to select their tenant but when you are facing discriminating charges in court this will not be a good defense. Make sure to store all applications of all interested tenants for several years, use the same rental application and use the same criteria for all applicants. This way you can prove that you did not discriminate and you can also objectively and fairly analyze and compare all prospective tenants to select the best one.

Make sure to read all rental apps carefully and pay attention to all the things that might disqualify an applicant such as no income, no employment, large pets, no previous landlords listed, no employers listed and so on. Do not believe everything you see on an application. Compare the application with the background check you will run in Step 6 and you will get a good idea if the applicant has been honest on their application.

Step 6: Run a comprehensive background screening report including a credit history
criminal checkSo you have pre-qualified the applicant; you like the person, the applicant has filled out the application, paid the fee and passed with flying colors. Don’t stop your screening process here. As previously mentioned, not everyone is honest on their application and during the pre-screening process! Background screenings should include a SSN trace, previous addresses, National Criminal and Sex Offender Search, National Eviction Search and an in depth Credit History. Running a comprehensive background screening report on potential tenants is an absolute must and is pretty easy to do these days.

Houserie.com is an online tenant screening company that will provide you with a comprehensive report that has all the criminal, eviction and credit background information you would need to make an informed decision on a tenant. We offer pay-as-you-go pricing and packages ranging from $19.99 though $29.99. It is all online and you can have the tenant fill out their own information online or you can decide to fill out the tenant information yourself online. When ordered during business hours the report should be available within a few hours sometimes even faster. Check out the Houserie ultimate sample report for more information.

When reading the report please pay close attention to issues that may disqualify your applicant based on your set of criteria such as certain criminal offenses, evictions, poor payment history, low credit score, bankruptcies and many collections/charge offs. The credit score range will tell you if the potential tenant makes payments on time, owes a significant amount of money, the number of tradelines used and the length of their credit history. If applicants have a history of not paying credit payments on time, they might not pay their rent either!

Step 7: Check references
You are almost done finding the best tenant possible, but do not stop here. Checking employment and landlord references listed in the rental application is one of the most important steps in screening your applicant. This should include contacting the last couple of landlords, their current employer, and any personal references if available. This sounds time consuming but it is the best way for you to develop a better picture of what your tenant is really like.

References from previous landlords. If an applicant has listed previous landlords, please call them and ask them questions like “Did the tenant pay their rent on time? Did you encounter any problems with this tenant? How long did the tenant live in your property? Please be aware that sometimes tenants will give “fake” references, meaning they will list a friend as a previous landlord! Also when talking to their current landlord, be aware they might not be always truthful as they might be trying to “get rid” of a difficult tenant.

References from current employer. Hopefully your applicant has been employed for a longer period of time with their current employer. To verify income, please request the tenant to provide you with a copy of the most recent paystub. You should also call the employer to get more insights. Many companies have rules and regulations on what information they’re able to disclose about their employees, so asking questions that require a yes or no answer might get better results than open ended questions. At least try to verify the information given on the application.

Step 8: Make a decision
rentedFinally you have reached the end of the tenant screening process. Now it is time to make a decision. After reviewing all the information in detail and comparing this information with the standards you set, you can now make your decision. Hopefully you have found that perfect tenant and you can have the applicant sign the lease and agree to all the rules and regulations. Congratulations on finding the perfect tenant!

Why Landlords And Property Managers Should Require Renters Insurance At Lease Signing

New landlords often are overwhelmed with the work that is involved in renting out a property. One of the most often overlooked issues is renter’s insurance. They make sure to buy landlord insurance to protect their property but they do not think about liability and damage to tenant’s belongings until they run into legal issues with tenants that are trying to sue them. This is when renters insurance comes into the picture! It covers the tenant’s belongings, covers against damage caused by tenants, and it usually also provides liability coverage for medical and legal costs if tenants/guests injure themselves on your property.
Many landlords and property managers have asked themselves if they can legally require tenants to buy renters insurance. The answer is YES! You just have to make sure that you include it as a stipulation in your rental contract for all your tenants and that you require proof of insurance for the lease term within several days of lease signing. You can even specify the minimum amount of coverage as long as it is reasonable.
renters insurance
Renters insurance provides benefits to both the tenant and the landlord. Here are some reasons why landlords and property managers should require renters insurance at lease signing:

1. It reduces financial liability
When tenants experience a loss due to a fire or maybe a burglary, landlord insurance does not cover the tenant’s belongings. Without renters insurance the tenant would have to pay to replace all their stuff and that might put a large financial burden on them which could result in them not being able to pay the rent on time. In addition, when a tenant moves out and leaves your property damaged, the security deposit may cover some of the expenses, but might not cover all of it. Renters insurance will cover the remainder of the expenses. Finally, the fewer claims landlords or property managers make on their own landlord insurance, the lower the premiums for this insurance will be!

2. It reduces legal and medical liability
Image you own a duplex that you are renting out to 2 families. A fire breaks out in one of the units due to tenant negligence but it spreads to the other unit and damages their personal property and injures one of the tenants in the other unit. Without renters insurance the tenants of the other unit would likely try to sue you, the landlord, for the medical bills and legal expenses. With both sets of tenants having renters insurance this would most likely not happen as their insurance would pay the bills.

3. It minimizes conflicts
Renters insurance gives both the tenant and the landlord peace of mind in case of a disaster. When a major loss occurs regardless of who is at fault, disputes about who is responsible for the costs and who should pay can be avoided by having insurance in place. Fewer arguments between landlord and tenant are beneficial to both parties and might keep the tenant from leaving their current rental and looking for a new place to live.

4. Quick insurance payouts reduce stress, uncertainty and cleanup time
Benefits under renters insurance are usually paid out immediately. Especially in case of flooding or fire when displaced tenants need money to cover temporary housing and associated expenses. This way the landlord or property owner can concentrate on damage repair and cleanup instead of on the loss the renter has incurred!

It is clear for many reasons that it is a good idea for landlords and property managers to require all their tenants to have renters insurance. It is the landlord’s responsibility to educate their prospective tenants about the benefits renters insurance will offer them. Many tenants might be apprehensive and believe that this insurance will be very costly and unnecessary but that is not true. Even for tenants the benefits clearly outweigh the costs. Besides the peace of mind it will bring them, renters insurance is very inexpensive and is easy to obtain. For about $200 a year a tenant can buy a policy that will cover up to $15,000 in property damage and up to $100,000 in liability coverage!

How Landlords Can Handle Tenant Versus Tenant Problems

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As a landlord or property owner, you face a multitude of problems. One of the hardest problems you may face is a tenant versus tenant disagreement. Here are some great tips and suggestions to help you mediate and solve a tenant versus tenant dispute.

Make Yourself Available

When your tenants initially move in, it’s a good idea to let them know you’re available for them if they encounter any problems. If they do encounter a problem, let them know they should contact you first.

Also, let them know what time you’re available and how they can contact you. Letting your tenants know that you’re there for them will make it easier for them to contact you for help if an issue does arise. This will help you greatly if a tenant does approach you with an issue involving another tenant because you will now be able to act as mediator, which allows you the opportunity to defuse. The earlier you know the easier it may be to fix.

Keep Yourself Safe

It’s very important as a landlord or property owner to always keep yourself and your tenants safe. Sometimes some problems are just too big for one person to handle, and you may not have the resources to correct them. If you ever feel unsafe about talking to or encountering a tenant, you may need to get the proper authorities involved. Always remember that there are some problems that are just too big to handle for even landlords and property owners.

Always Be Professional

No matters how out of hand a situation between tenants has gotten, you need to make sure that you always stay professional. You don’t ever want tenants to feel that coming to you with a problem is a bad choice. Be sure that you are listening to the tenant. and let them know that you are taking their problem seriously. Handling a situation in a professional manner is the right thing to do and is also a good way to show the tenant that you do care about what is going on.

Figure Out What the Tenants Want to Happen With the Situation

Once tenants have approached you with an issue and have told you their side of the story it’s a good idea to find out what they want to happen. A good example is a tenant complaining about another tenant being too loud. The tenant may be complaining about the timing of the noise, not the noise itself. The tenant may ask you to see if the tenant can keep the noise down during certain hours of the day. With this information you now know what to say to the other tenant to help remedy the situation and keep both parties happy.

Try to Work Out Disputes as Quickly As Possible

As a landlord or property owner, you need to get tenant disputes taken care of as soon as possible. Taking care of something as soon as possible is a good way to show your tenants that you care and are looking out for their well-being. The sooner a tenant versus tenant dispute is taken care of, the better it will be for all parties involved. Getting a situation taken care of quickly will also be one less thing that is hanging over your head.

Every Situation Should Be Treated Differently

Not matter what dispute a tenant has with another, be sure to treat each dispute as if it’s the first time you have handled it. What worked out in the past may not work for the present problem in front of you. Also, what worked for other tenants may not be what your current tenants want. Each situation is different and should be treated differently.

Check Back on Tenants to Make Sure the Problem is Solved

Be sure that after you have helped tenants resolve an issue that you contact them later to make sure everything is still okay. You hope that when you help tenants fix an issue that it stays fixed, since there is a chance it may not. Checking in with them to make sure both parties are keeping up with their side of the bargain is a very good idea. If they are not, it’s a good time to remember what they had agreed upon.

Conclusion

Tenant versus tenant issues can come up at any time and can range from simple issues like a tenant worried about a noisy neighbor to more extreme problems. Being ready for these problems is a huge step into getting these problems resolved. Hopefully with these suggestions you will be ready and better prepared to handle tenant versus tenant issues if and when they arise.

 

Screening Tenants: A Guide for Landlords

Tenant Background Screening

Finding a suitable and respectable tenant is one of the hardest jobs a landlord faces. Vigilance in searching for a potential tenant will lead to finding one who is trustworthy and reliable, and won’t end up trashing your unit or leaving and breaking the lease contract. There are too many landlords out there who never screen applicants before approving tenants, leading to many issues and headaches later. Thankfully, there are many ways for a landlord to screen tenants, and with new and emerging technology, landlords can now check backgrounds and run credit checks much quicker and easier than in the past. Remember, there is no excuse not to screen your potential tenants with so many quick and easy ways to do so.

  1. Create a paper application process (if you don’t already have one). Make sure to include all pertinent information that you will need from the tenant, including: full name, date of birth, Social Security Number, their current address, background information, employment data, rental history (this is important so you can contact previous landlords to see how the tenants have done in the past), income and also personal references. If you don’t have an application form, you can create your own simple version, or you can get a free one from the local real estate association. Once the tenant has filled out the application, here are a few things to look for:
  • Income. You need to make sure that the potential tenant’s income will be sufficient to cover the amount of rent they would be paying. Keep in mind they have other bills to pay as well.
  • Current (and previous) employers. Check out how long they have been with their current employer. Have they had multiple jobs? Do they have long gaps in between jobs?
  • Lifestyle clues. Take a look to see if the potential tenant has any pets, or other information that might be pertinent to whether or not they would make a good tenant.
  • Financial data. In order to do a thorough background check, you will need to ask the tenant for their financial information on the application. A full financial picture of the potential tenant is key to finding a reliable tenant.
  • Any personal references. Be sure to check up on any personal references that the tenant gives on the application. References should include the references’ names, phone numbers and how long they’ve known the tenant. Don’t just look it over, make sure to call at least one or two to verify they know the tenant and perhaps ask a few questions, such as how long they’ve known the tenant, their relationship with them and how they know them (Church? Work? Family?).
  1. Do an online search for the potential tenant. Searching online (using Google or Bing, or another popular search engine) will tell you a lot about a person; make sure to see if the tenant has any social media profiles, a website, or a blog. Decide by looking at everything online whether the tenant would be right for your property. If they don’t happen to have anything online to look at, then just skip this step.
  2. Run a comprehensive background check on the tenant. A comprehensive background check will reveal the tenant’s history and give a detailed report on any evictions, criminal activity and charges, and public records as well. You can order a background check through several different companies. Online reports are also available. If you’re watching your budget (most companies charge a fee for this service), you can do your own background check by contacting the local courts or police department, however this might be a very time consuming process.  As a side note, some states don’t allow landlords to reject a potential tenant based solely on if they have a criminal history (you will have to check with your state to see if this is enforced in your state).
  3. Run a credit check. There are three major companies that you can run a credit check through: Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. A credit check will let you see a tenant’s credit history for the last 7-10 years, and will give you an idea of the tenant’s credit activity (such as if they’ve ever declared bankruptcy, have any late payments, charged-off credit cards, etc.). To simplify this background screening process and to get comprehensive information on the tenant, you can use a service like Houserie.com to get not only a credit check, but also a comprehensive national criminal and an eviction check for a low fee.
  4. Reach out to previous landlords. Once the tenant has “passed” the first four steps, now it’s time to contact the tenant’s past landlords. Questions to ask include: Did the tenant always pay their rent on time? Did they ever damage the property? Did they get along with their neighbors? Was the property clean and undamaged when they left? All of these questions will give you a clearer picture of the tenant and how they will behave if you allow them to rent your property.
  5. Contact the employer. Once you have talked to the tenant’s past landlords, have a short phone conversation with the tenant’s current employer. A few important questions to ask might include the reliability of the tenant, verify that they do indeed work there, the tenant’s salary (some employers or Human Resource workers won’t give out this information; in this case, make sure to get two or three past pay stubs from the tenant) and if termination is in process.
  6. Set up a face-to-face interview with the potential tenant. Once you have completed all of the above steps, the final step would be to set up an interview with the tenant. Here are a few important questions to ask the prospective tenant:
  • Do you have any pets? How many do you have, and are they housebroken? (If you don’t allow pets, make sure the tenant knows this upfront.)
  • Do you smoke? If so, do you smoke outside or indoors?
  • Do you have people who stay the night frequently (family and friends)?
  • Do you have any children? If so, how many and what are their ages? Remember you cannot reject a tenant based on familial status, i.e. whether they have children and if so, how many children they have.

Now that you have completed all of these steps for screening your potential tenant, go over the lease contract with the tenant in detail. Then when both parties agree have the tenant sign the lease and move in! This whole process might seem like a lot of work but in the end finding the right tenant will save you time, money and a lot of stress.

Creating a Solid Lease Agreement: Three Top Tips for Landlords

Lease Agreements

One of the most important and essential steps for a new landlord is crafting a solid, yet easy to understand lease contract. This will help avoid issues and potential tenant evictions. For many landlords just starting out, this particular step can seem like the most difficult. Although it might seem like a daunting task, it can be easy to create a good lease agreement. We have outlined three important tips to help create a solid lease agreement, which will help you avoid a tenant eviction.

  1. Know the laws and regulations that apply in your state. In order to build an airtight lease contract, a new landlord will most definitely need to know their own state’s rules and laws regarding the landlord-tenant relationship.
  2. Clearly define the most important elements on your contract. This includes, but is not limited to: which party is responsible for paying utilities (water, septic, etc.); the appliances that are included or not included in the property; the contract duration; your particular details about fees and deposits; and fees/penalties for early termination of the lease agreement.
  3. Have a lawyer go over the finished product. It’s so important to have a lawyer or professional go over the finished lease agreement—simply because they can catch errors, point out additional items to add, reference new state laws that have gone into effect, include rules that may have been forgotten, mention important elements (such as a pet clause or early termination details), and even update current eviction practices.

Steps In The Tenant Screening Process

steps

Once you have your prospective listing ready to be rented, how do you find good tenants? Screening potential tenants with proper and lawful screening techniques can cut down on problems you could possibly face. The following are some steps in the tenant screening process to properly screen potential tenants:

 

1. Have Tenants Fill Out Rental Application

Having tenants fill out a rental application is a good way for you to first get information about them. You will be able to obtain information, such as their social security number, current address, and if they are currently employed.

2. Pay For A Tenant Screening

Most landlords will charge an application fee that can go towards paying for a tenant screening, rather than paying out of their own pocket.

3. Screen Your Tenants

There are tenant-screening services that landlords can use, such as Houserie.com (www.houserie.com). Screening a tenant yourself can be very time consuming and not always accurate.

4. Receive Screening Results

If a landlord uses an online service such as Houserie.com, the results can get back to them as soon as 24 hours. Depending on the screening you get, you can find out a tenant’s criminal background, if they have any past evictions, a summary of their credit, and a tenant scorecard.

5. Making The Final Decision On Tenants

The landlord will always have the final decision of whom he wants to rent to. With a proper tenant screening, he can now be better equipped to make that decision.

 

Finding good tenants will always be a coin toss. Screening possible tenants can help you find out who a potential renter really is, based on their background. It will also cut down on possible problems you could face in the future.

How Landlords Can Save Money

saving money

Completing regular property maintenance can save both time and money in the long run for landlords. From small repairs to fixing leaks, and more major maintenance like repairs on cracks in the foundation and even room renovations, all of these can enable a landlord to save a lot of money in the long run. Here are some ways for landlords to save money by doing these simple repairs and renovations:

  • Regular property checks for leaks and/or water damage. Make sure to check for leaks and damage after a big rain or snowstorm. Look at windows, showers, toilets, under sinks, and also the roof, walls, and ceilings. By checking regularly, you can avoid pricey repairs in the future since you’ll be repairing small leaks before they become a huge mess to fix.
  • Monthly exterminations. Most everyone hates seeing bugs in their home, so be sure to exterminate your units and property at least once monthly. Keeping up with killing bugs regularly will prevent a larger pest problem than if you just let it go, allowing a larger bug population to take up residence at your property.
  • Change and test all of your property’s smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. This not only saves money, but it can also potentially save lives. Always test the detectors to make sure they’re working properly, and install new ones if they don’t work. This saves money for the landlord by ensuring that a fire is detected before major damage occurs. This also ensures that your renters’ lives are not put in danger.
  • Clean or replace air filters. A simple $5 filter for a furnace or air conditioner can potentially save a landlord hundreds of dollars in repairs. Replacing a filter can prevent cleaning or repairing the furnace coils caused by the build-up of dust and other debris.

Four Ways to Protect Yourself from Rental Scams

scam

With the large number of foreclosures, bank repossessions, and declining home rates, people are forced to rent rather than buy. But the increase in renting also increases the risk of rental fraud.

There are two common types of rental scams: the outright con job that’s been going on for dozens of years and the more recent foreclosure scam. The classic rental fraud involves the scammer asking for the first and last months’ rent and sometimes the security deposit as well. The scammer then vanishes with the money, leaving the renter out of a lot of money and with nowhere to live. The second scam entails the scammer actually renting out a home or other property (such as units in a converted home or an apartment complex) that is already in foreclosure. The renters have no idea that they are renting out a foreclosed property until an eviction notice shows up from the bank, and by then the scammer is long gone with the money.

So what can an expected renter do to protect themselves from frauds and scams? There are many questions to ask and steps to take in order to make sure you won’t be scammed. Listed below are several protective measures for prospective renters to take.

  • Verify the landlord’s identity at the county assessor’s office. This simple action will let you know if the person actually owns the property you’re looking to rent.
  • Check with neighbors of the property. See how long it has stood vacant, as a longer time period might indicate a foreclosure property.
  • Make a visit to the county recorder’s office. This will let you see if there has been notice of default recorded for the property.
  • Be wary of a landlord who uses an answering service. If you pick up the phone to contact the landlord of a property you’re interested in, and an answering service answers the phone, you should be very wary. There are a lot of scammers who use an answering service, and then respond back via email. If the prospective landlord does this to you, you definitely need to take more steps to verify them.

Questions Landlords Cannot Ask Their Prospective Tenants

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Interviewing prospective tenants can be a nerve-wracking time for many landlords—especially if it’s their first time renting out an apartment—but they still need to make sure of the questions they can and cannot ask their potential tenants. Learn what not to say or ask a prospective tenant during your interview process:

  1. Any question that could potentially violate fair housing laws. This would include, but not be limited to, discrimination against the seven classes: color, race, sex, religion, national origin, family status, and disability. For example, you cannot ask a potential tenant about their sexual orientation as this could potentially lead to a discrimination claim. Also, a landlord needs to keep up-to-date on their particular state’s protected classes.
  2. You cannot ask if a tenant has ever been arrested. You can, however, ask if they have ever been convicted of a crime, which is different than if they’ve been arrested. By law, a tenant who has been convicted of a crime must answer questions about that conviction. Alternately, you can use a thorough screening process such as the one Houserie.com offers to get a comprehensive background check which includes a tenant’s criminal history as well.
  3. Don’t ask questions that aren’t part of your usual qualification or interview process. Have a prearranged set of questions that you ask all potential tenants and don’t stray from them. If you ask questions that are different than those you normally ask, a tenant can accuse you of discrimination.
  4. Landlords cannot ask if a tenant plans to have (more) children. This question would be considered discriminatory. A landlord should not care how many children a tenant might or might not have in the future and choosing a single professional over a family will make a landlord liable for discrimination claims that may arise.

Most Effective Ways to Handle Problem Tenants

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All landlords, whether amateurs or seasoned professionals, may have to deal with problem tenants at some point in their careers.  It’s a seemingly inevitable part of the landlord business. There are effective ways of dealing with tenant issues, and there are methods that just don’t work. Listed below are some of the best ways to deal with problem tenants.

  • Professional behavior. First and foremost, you need to always behave in a professional manner, even if the tenant is screaming and/or making a scene. Be polite and nice to the tenant and hopefully they will calm down to discuss the issues. Always remember that this is a professional relationship.
  • Better communications. Strive to start and maintain communications with the tenant, even if they don’t seem to want to talk to you. Many times—and especially if money is involved—the tenant will try very hard to avoid you. Make sure to keep the lines of communication open, and try different methods of contact, such as their cell phone, email, and face-to-face visits.
  • Be aware of any potential problems. Visit the unit and listen to any issues from neighbors. Also keep an eye out for any maintenance issues or damage you might see on the visit. By learning of any issues as soon as they occur, you can evaluate whether you want to renew the lease for the tenants after their current lease period is up.
  • Accurate and up-to-date records. By keeping accurate records of everything that occurs at your property/unit, you can refer back to them at a later date if you need to (for legal action, etc.).
  • Purchase insurance. And not just for the property or unit, but also for contents (especially on units that come already furnished), accidental damage and even an emergency help insurance policy.

Three Easy Ways to Identify a Problem Tenant

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Bad TenantsThe skills to recognize a bothersome tenant can be invaluable to most landlords, as most people don’t just become a problem overnight. A certain behavior pattern will definitely show up when you start delving into their background, and there are a few tell-tale signs to look for when you begin your search of the potential tenant’s past history.

  1. Interview past landlords. Call and speak with the applicant’s past landlord(s) and listen carefully to their answers. If the applicant listed an individual as a landlord instead of a property management company, you need to be sure the person is actually a landlord and not a friend or family member. All too often, a problem tenant will try to hide their past bad behaviors by using a friend to act as the landlord.
  2. Confirm employer information. As with past landlords, problems tenants have been known to use friends and family to impersonate past or present employers, especially if they have recently lost their job. Make sure to have the potential tenant give at least two recent pay stubs. Also, call the current and even past employers to verify the tenant’s employment dates.
  3. Run a credit check. Another powerful insight into potential “problem” tenants is if they have little or no credit. Of course, younger tenants will more than likely not have a lot of credit, simply because of their young age. However, if an older tenant has no credit, be sure to run a background check and complete these other steps to ensure they are who they say they are. Many times, people who have an unsavory past, owe money to past landlords, have been evicted, or have a criminal background, will steal a social security number and use it to rent a unit. Houserie.com offers comprehensive background checks, including social security verification, credit checks, criminal history, and eviction checks.

Why Online Tenant Screening is Becoming the New Normal

Tenant Background Screening

Completing tenant screenings takes time and money, and it becomes quite a headache for landlords. From credit checks, background checks, and even a criminal record check, doing online screenings is becoming a new way for landlords to easily complete these tedious screening duties. Here’s why it’s the better way to go:

  1. Saves time. If you use an online company that specializes in tenant screenings, you can let them handle every aspect of the screening process. They will run all of the credit, background, and criminal checks for you. They can even pull eviction records on the potential tenant. You are then able to focus on other aspects of your business and make the final decision once they get back to you with the report findings. A site like Houserie.com provides exactly this for landlords.
  2. Saves money. Usually for one upfront fee, you can have an online screening service conduct all the checks that you need, instead of having to pay separate fees for each background check, saving you money. This also simplifies the process for landlords.
  3. Liability issues. By using these online services, such as Houserie.com, a landlord never sees a tenant’s social security number, bank account numbers, and other sensitive personal information. This creates less liability for the landlord since the online service company stores all of this information securely for the landlord.
  4. Quicker results. Some online screening companies can have results back to you in an hour; this can make the entire process much quicker than if you conducted the screening yourself, thus enabling you to rent your property faster.

Top Reasons to Keep a Tenant’s Security Deposit

Tenant Background Screening

There are certain reasons that allow landlords can keep their tenant’s security deposit. These are also things that tenants should watch out for, so that they can ensure that they get their deposits returned. A security deposit is essentially a sum of cash, usually equivalent to one month’s rent, which is given to the landlord to cover any damage that might occur to the property during the tenant’s occupation of the home. Tenants are able to retrieve this money when they leave, as long as they have followed all the rules of the lease agreement that they have with their landlord. There are a few situations where the landlord can keep all or some of the deposit. (Each state has its own laws regarding security deposits, and landlords should be up-to-date on their state’s regulations.)

  1. Property damage. One of the most common reasons that landlords keep a security deposit is property damage. The type of damage that would warrant a landlord to keep the deposit is not just normal wear and tear – it’s large and noticeable damage, such as large holes in walls, stains or holes in carpeting, major water damage to hardwood floors, damaged or missing smoke detectors, broken windows, broken doors, cracked countertops, and keys that aren’t returned at the end of the lease.
  2. Default rent.  If a tenant refuses to pay or just leaves without paying their rent, landlords have the right to keep all of the security deposit, since most states stipulate this as a legitimate reason for keeping the security deposit. Keeping the deposit allows the landlord to cover the cost of the lost rent.
  3. Early rent/lease termination. Breaking a rent/lease contract allows a landlord to collect the full or part of the security deposit to cover the costs of the broken lease. However, this must be noted clearly on the rent/lease contract in order for the landlord to collect the security deposit.

 

Five Great Tips for New Landlords (Tenant Screening)

Tenant Background Screening

A landlord’s responsibilities run the gamut of planning, maintenance, safety, and legalities. Most new landlords just don’t realize how much really goes into renting their property. Safety is one of the most important priorities, but a new landlord should also be careful about choosing the right tenant, keeping the property safe and clean, following state laws and regulations, and even creating a solid lease agreement.

1. Safety. Before even thinking of leasing out your property, bring in professionals to make sure it is safe and suitable for a tenant to live there. In particular, hire someone to look for bug infestations, electrical issues, gas leaks, plumbing problems, building code violations, and fire safety issues.

2. The contract. This is another of the most important steps a new landlord can take. The lease agreement is a great way to specify your rules regarding rent payment, policies on pets, damage, and renter’s insurance. It is also good to outline the eviction process you have in place and any other specific details you have for your property.

3. Insurance. Landlords must have special landlord insurance on all of their properties to cover the buildings and sometimes even the contents inside if the property is being rented furnished. You may need to check with your state, as most states have differing rules and regulations regarding landlord insurance.

4. Repairs and renovations. As a new landlord, you must get the property for rent suitable and ready for habitation. This can mean making necessary repairs, changes, renovations, and improvements to the property before even beginning a tenant search. This could also potentially attract a lot more interested potential renters.

5. Screen tenants thoroughly. Always be sure to check references (past landlords) and income information, and to run a credit and background check. If they’ve had any past bankruptcies or foreclosures, both should come up under the credit check. This is one of the most crucial steps for new landlords, and many do not conduct a strenuous tenant screen like they should. Houserie.com can help landlords perform comprehensive background checks quickly and easily, with minimal paperwork or time wasted! You’ll have peace of mind knowing that your tenant is reliable.

Five Reasons Landlords Raise their Rent

rising rentAlthough many landlords feel that if they raise their rent, their tenants may become angry or cancel their renter’s contract, there are many understandable reasons to raise the rent. From cost of living increases to property tax increases and more, there are many reasons that landlords raise the rent on their properties.

  1. The tenant’s special move-in rent has ended. If you advertised a special introductory rent for potential tenants, you may raise your rent amount once that certain time period (usually three months) has ended. Make sure to note this on the rent contract so tenants are well aware of the increase when it occurs, and they aren’t faced with a rude (and expensive) surprise!
  2. Property improvements or repairs. Everyone knows that repairs and improvements are costly, and sometimes this justifies the cost of a rent increase, especially when the tenant would greatly benefit from the repairs and improvements. This is also something to be stipulated on the renter’s contract.
  3. The cost of living has increased. Inflation and cost of living is one of the most common reasons for rent increases, along with property improvements and higher taxes. Landlords have to stay competitive with the rental market and keep their income at a place where it covers any rising costs.
  4. Tax hikes. This second common rent increase reason is because the landlord has to cover the cost of rising taxes to both their business and their property taxes, which can create a very large monetary burden.
  5. Neighborhood value improvement or gentrification. If the neighborhood that your property is located is suddenly being improved or gentrifying, the overall worth of the neighborhood will increase as well. Landlords must go with the value of the neighborhood to stay competitive with other landlords in the area to keep current tenants and snag potential tenants. This will also help them cover any property tax increases that may also come with the gentrification of the area.

Effectively Handling Tenant Complaints

Tenant Background Screening

As the landlord of your properties, it’s up to you to handle your tenant’s complaints in a friendly and effective manner. There are so many common complaints that a tenant can have, including plumbing, cracks, leaks, and more. Here are some tips for handling these complaints easily and efficiently.

  1. The noisy neighbors. Tenants seem to complain about raucous and noisy neighbors all the time. Do your best to address this issue as soon as possible, since tenants are very sensitive about their peace and quiet. They also get worried if the noisy neighbors seem to be loud and violent.
  2. Property maintenance issues. There are always going to be maintenance issues for tenants to complain about. Make sure you go over all maintenance plans and needs in your rental agreement, or speak with the tenants when they first move in to set expectations.
  3. Always be available. This will make your tenants feel secure that all their issues will be taken care of in a quick, efficient manner. Being available to your tenants will also let them know you care and are willing to quickly take care of any issues.
  4. Listen. Just genuinely listening to your tenants will help with communication, the landlord-tenant relationship, and also building trust with the tenant. Listen to what your tenant has to say in regards to any issues and complaints. Your tenants will be more likely to renew their lease contract if they trust and enjoy their landlord.

The 4 Most Common Mistakes That Landlords Make (Tenant Background Checks)

Tenant Background CheckAll business owners make mistakes when it comes to their companies, and landlords make a few that are all too common. From being too lenient and lax with rent to not conducting thorough checks on their tenants, here are the four most common mistakes to steer clear of:

  1. Lax background checks on tenants. Making sure a potential tenant is qualified is one of the most important steps a landlord can take. Failure to conduct a thorough background check can cause lots of problems down the road, especially if the landlord decides to rent to a tenant who has had renting troubles in the past. Always be sure to check the tenant’s credit history, rental history, criminal history (for risk of violence or other felonies), and if they have ever been evicted before. Houserie.com can help landlords conduct all of these background checks in a fast, easy, and secure manner.
  2. Failure or leniency with collecting rent. Any successful business owner will tell you that to continue being successful, you have to get paid. Landlords need to collect rent as their source of income, and failure to keep up on rent collection is just not a good business practice. Have a rule set in place that the tenant will have a late fee if they don’t pay by a certain date.
  3. Not evicting a tenant when needed. If you have a tenant who is always late with their payments or who violates the terms in any other way, you need to evict them. Don’t put it off just because you don’t want to deal with an unhappy or angry tenant.
  4. Handling business accounting by yourself. If you’re not good at math, don’t attempt to handle your business accounting and expenses yourself; instead, hire a competent accountant or CPA to deal with this for you, and you can concentrate on other aspects of your landlord duties.

5 Simple Ways to Hold onto Good Tenants

Good tenantsOnce you find qualified, trustworthy tenants, you want to keep them in your properties as long as possible, since it’s often very hard to find good tenants. Listed below are simple, easy ways to establish a friendly, long-lasting relationship with your tenants, so they will want to renew their contract with you year after year.

  1. “Housewarming” and welcome gifts. When your tenants first move in, gift them with a houseplant, restaurant gift certificate, or even a nice bottle of wine. Place the gift in the foyer or hallway before they move in, so they’ll get a nice surprise on their first night in their new home. For a more personal welcome gift (most appropriate after about a month after they first move in), give them a small home decor piece like a vase or maybe even a gift for the kitchen such as a utensil set or nice towels.
  2. A contract renewal gift. When your tenants renew their rent or lease contract, show your appreciation by giving them a gift certificate or a gift card. Give this gift in person instead of placing in their mailbox to show you truly care.
  3. The holidays. Thanksgiving and Christmas are a great time to show your tenants that you care and are a thoughtful landlord. For Thanksgiving, it would be a gracious gesture to give your tenants a frozen turkey for them to cook for their family meal. You can also give a bottle of wine or a floral holiday centerpiece they can use. For Christmas, you could send a nice card with a personal handwritten note, along with a gift card or restaurant gift certificate.
  4. Property management emergencies. If at all possible, make sure you take care of any maintenance issues as soon as you can; this lets your tenants know that you are responsible and willing to fix any issues promptly.
  5. Long-term tenants. For those tenants who have lived in your property for longer than three or four years, give a larger item of appreciation such as a new carpeting, a new dishwasher, or put in new light fixtures.

Maintaining Good Communication with Tenants

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The tenant-landlord relationship has gotten a bad rap due to the number of dishonest landlords out there. However, with the right communication skills, both tenants and landlords can have a good relationship with each other that will benefit both parties. Here are a few tips and ideas to keep the lines of communication open.

  1. Customize the rent/lease agreement. Although you can purchase a basic lease or rent form from an office supply store like Staples, it’s a better idea to customize your own form using tenant-specific details. For example, make sure you note any pet restrictions, rent dates, late payment fees, or penalties, etc.
  2. Make sure you get more than one contact number from the tenants. It’s good to get more than one phone number and means of contact from your tenant so you can easily keep in touch with them. Ask for a home phone number, cell phone number, and even their e-mail address.
  3. Call or drop by every month or so to check on your tenants. This will let them know you truly care and are open to any issues that might come up. Some landlords never visit their tenants, which could make tenants feel as if the landlord doesn’t care at all and doesn’t want to hear about what’s going on. At the same time, do let the tenants know ahead of time that you’re planning on dropping in, so that they don’t feel like you’re “checking up” on them too often or disrespecting their privacy and space.
  4. Clearly communicate your intentions and expectations of the tenants. Make sure you tell the tenants what you expect of them; this will hopefully keep the lines of communication open and prevent headaches down the road.
  5. If you have a tenant who constantly is late on payments, approach them and ask them what the problem is. Did they lose their job? Do they have other money problems? Getting to the root of why they are always late with their payments will keep your relationship from souring and it might even get your late rent fee.

Pros and Cons of Accepting Pets into Your Property

Tenant Background Screening

One of the biggest issues landlords face is a potential tenant who has a pet. Should they accept pets and impose certain conditions to the rent agreement, or should they not allow any pets at all? It’s a big question for landlords to mull over, and there are both pros and cons to allowing pets in your property.

Pros:

  1. Since there are not many landlords that allow pets, you may get a larger number of potential tenants for your property if you do decide to allow pets. Landlords will have a much larger pool of qualified tenants to choose from.
  2. If your potential tenant has a cat, they are excellent at taking care of rats and mice – a cheap and easy way to exterminate these rodents from your property.
  3. Dogs can help discourage vandals and burglars from your property, especially if it’s a larger dog.
  4. If you do allow pets, your tenants can potentially stay longer since it’s very difficult to find another landlord who will accept pets.
  5. You have the option of only allowing a smaller pet. Cats and small dogs may cause less damage to the property than larger breeds.

Cons:

  1. There are some dog breeds to beware of – not because of any behavioral tendencies, but because some homeowner insurance companies will cancel the policies if there are these types of dogs allowed in the property. These breeds include Dobermans, Rottweilers, Wolf Hybrids, and Pit Bull breeds. Be sure to check with your own insurance policy.
  2. Cats and dogs can both destroy property, such as carpets, stairs, stairwells, walls, doors, and more. Landlords must think about this and really ask the potential tenant if the pet is well-behaved and definitely check references from past landlords. Sometimes the safety deposit just will not cover the costs the damage.
  3. Pets making loud noises, such as whining, barking, howling, or yowling (cats and dogs), can disturb other tenants or neighbors and cause a lot of trouble for the landlord.
  4. Sometimes a tenant may sneak in other pets once the landlord agrees to one. If you do allow pets, be clear and firm that no other pets are allowed without express written consent.

4 Effective Marketing Techniques for Landlords

Tenant Background Screening

Rising vacancy rates in certain cities and the current state of the economy are two good reasons for landlords to invest in an effective marketing plan. Whether you have just a few rental properties or hundreds located across the country, having a marketing plan in place is a sound business decision. Listed below are four effective ideas for marketing your rental properties and your business.

  1. Create a website. If you don’t already have one, create a website for your business. This site can show off your rental properties, tell potential tenants a little about you and your business, and attract tenants all at the same time. If you don’t want to spend a small fortune on a website (for those landlords with only a few properties), search for a site host that is free or very low-cost. For example, Weebly is a good choice for a simple, free website. Or try GoDaddy.com for an easy, low-cost website option.
  2. Social networking sites. Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn are all useful mediums for marketing. Once you have your website up and running, start using these social networking sites to advertise your rental properties by adding relevant posts, articles, and videos for potential tenants to look at. Ask your friends to recommend your site to anyone they might know who are looking for a rental home or apartment.
  3. Online ads. Create nice online ads for your rental properties that are currently vacant. There are many online classified sites that are free or low-cost. Make sure to include pictures of the property and your contact information. A good, safe bet to try is Rentalroost.com. Another one is craigslist, but be careful of putting your email address in your information, because of spam and other unwanted email.
  4. Use a rental property manager. Though it can be expensive, hiring a property manager can definitely pay off in the long run. You can let them handle the marketing plan for you, and they can also complete tenant searches for your vacant properties.

5 Guidelines of Choosing the Right Tenant

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Tenant Screening Made Easy

Because of the current state of the economy, more people are being forced to rent since owning is becoming exceedingly expensive. This creates a situation with most landlords where they have to choose from a pool of extremely qualified tenants. Follow these five guidelines to choose the right tenant for you and your property:

  1. Always check references! This is one of the most important steps you can take when choosing a tenant. Call each reference and have a list of questions handy to ask them about the potential tenant.
  2. Perform a credit check. With this part of choosing a qualified tenant, run a credit check and see their bill-paying history, their income to debt ratio, any past convictions (bad checks, etc.), or if they have ever filed for bankruptcy. Houserie.com allows you to choose from a variety of credit and background check options.
  3. Run a criminal background check. Since a tenant’s criminal information is open to public record, you can search to see if they have any criminal history (theft, violence, etc.) to make sure the tenant is a safe choice. Houserie.com not only offers a national criminal background check, but also an eviction check to see whether a tenant had been previously evicted.
  4. Check out the prospective tenant’s overall lifestyle. On their application, note if they have moved around frequently, or if they change jobs a lot. Steer clear of tenants who do either, since they might break their lease and move after just a few months. Or such a tenant may suddenly become unemployed again, thereby unable to afford their rent payment.
  5. Go over the rental contract with each potential tenant. Doing so will cut down on misunderstandings and miscommunications in the future.

Welcome to Houserie!

HouserieLogoRenting properties can be a daunting task for both tenants and landlords. Houserie.com hopes to remove some of the difficulty by providing the safest, most secure way to obtain tenant background checks.  By verifying both the identity of the landlord as well as ensuring that the tenant’s detailed credit information isn’t revealed in its entirety to the landlord, Houserie.com protects tenants’ privacy. At the same time, by running a thorough background, criminal, and eviction check on tenants and providing a scorecard to landlords, Houserie.com gives landlords the peace of mind, knowing that they are renting out their apartment to a reliable individual who will likely be a good tenant based on his/her history.

Background checks aren’t necessarily the only things on landlords’ and tenants’ minds when entering into this relationship. There are a multitude of other concerns for both parties, including whether pets are allowed, whether a rental agent should be used, and effective communication between the two parties to avoid future issues. We hope to address these areas and more in our blogs!