BY: HOUSERIE 05/31/2018
You want to make sure you have the best tenant possible for your property, and you can’t just rely on word of mouth. Instead, you need an extensive tenant background check conducted. Here are some good reasons why that’s necessary:
BY: HOUSERIE 05/08/2018
Property Management is undoubtedly a booming industry generating billions of dollars annually. An increasing number of people are using this as a way to earn some extra cash through investments. With the higher demand for Real Estate, property prices steadily increase. Renting out your investment property can be a risky business. Finding a tenant for your property might be easy, however, finding a good tenant is not. Bad tenants can cause damage to the property or legal issues for a landlord. The results can be devastating and damages could cause you to end up with less than what you started off with! Hence, protecting your investment is crucial. Be proactive and fully screen your tenants.
Finding that perfect tenant is easy with Houserie tenant screening services. We provide fast and reliable comprehensive screening report packages at competitive prices. Generate your report within hours, it’s that easy! Our support team is devoted in helping you to make an informed decision in securing the best tenant possible. We believe that Customer Service is key to making a confident decision. In addition, our paperless process saves you time by quickly providing a credit scorecard, eviction history, criminal record check, and identity verification.
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BY: HOUSERIE 11/08/2017
Running credit and criminal background checks, as well as following up on references, can help you determine who could be a responsible renter. While these checks are essential parts of the tenant screening process, there is another component you should not take for forget: the tenant interview. (more…)
BY: HOUSERIE 10/27/2017
A tenant credit check gives landlords information about a prospective tenant’s borrowing history and indicators of their financial responsibility. Depending on the agency that runs one for you, it will show you a person’s outstanding debt, loan requests, payment patterns, and public records. It could even inform you about other parties that have recently requested credit checks on that person. (more…)
BY: HOUSERIE 09/13/2017
Renting can be a lucrative business, but only if the tenants are financially capable to pay the rent on time and will be respectful of your property. A tenant credit and background check should be your first priority. The results of such screenings will give you a good indication if the prospective tenant will pay their rent on time and has the means to afford the rent.
BY: HOUSERIE 08/30/2017
When you want to be certain that you’ve got the best tenant possible for your property, you can’t simply rely on your gut instinct. Instead, the more sensible thing to do is to have an extensive tenant background check conducted. Here are some good reasons why that’s necessary:
BY: HOUSERIE 08/16/2017
Property owners looking to rent out their places have a lot of work to do before their property can be listed. There are logistics and administrative matters to handle, as well as making sure that the property itself is up to par with standard building codes. In addition, the property should be marketed and advertised at the right places so people looking for a rental property can apply as prospective tenants.
BY: HOUSERIE 08/02/2017
Opening up your property for rent to other people can be a lucrative business. While that may be the case, it is also the type of business that can be very risky, especially because you are entrusting your property to people you don’t necessarily know.
BY: HOUSERIE 08/01/2017
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).
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.
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 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.
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.
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
BY: HOUSERIE 06/23/2016
Buying or renting a home is one of the biggest investments you can make in your lifetime. With the average cost of buying a home in the United States being around $379,800, it is very important to research the different neighborhoods before selecting the neighborhood that fits your lifestyle, will make you happy and will be a financially sound investment. In a growing number of cities, a significant portion of the population spends between 40% and 50% of their income on rent alone.
Nothing affects the value and enjoyment of your home as much as the surrounding neighborhood. When you and your family are moving into a new neighborhood, you need to ensure that it is safe and child friendly.
Here are the top 8 tips to find out if a neighborhood is safe:
1. Check the neighborhood crime statistics before moving
You can access local crime reports and statistics through various websites. Knowing what crimes are being committed in the neighborhood you are planning to move is the best way to protect yourself, loved ones and your possessions. Thankfully, there are a number of online tools that can help you find out if the crime rate in the neighborhood is low and acceptable. The following are some of the best crime mapping websites to find a safe neighborhood.
2. Check the National Sex Offender Public Website
The United States Department of Justice maintains a database of convicted sex offenders (https://www.nsopw.gov/). The NSOPW is an esteemed tool to identify the safety of a potential neighborhood. Like more general crime mapping services, the NSOPW allows you to enter an address to see how many sex offenders live nearby.
3. Look for clues in the neighborhood
The number of homes for sale in an area can be an indication of its safety. In certain cases, a large number of homes being unoccupied or vacated may be a sign of residents fleeing the area to escape a seriously rising crime rate. However, people might also be leaving the neighborhood because of a downturn in the market. Always try picturing yourself and your family living in the neighborhood. For example, ask yourself the following questions: Is it safe for my kids to walk to school? Can I go for a run or a walk in my neighborhood early in the morning? Is there a club or bar nearby that might get annoying at 2 a.m.? The answers to questions like that will give you a good idea if this neighborhood is for you.
4. Talk to people who already live in the neighborhood and who live in adjoining neighborhoods
Talking to the people in your potential neighborhood and asking their opinion about the neighborhood is a great way to learn about the safety of the neighborhood. After all, who knows better about the neighborhood than the neighbors who are already living there? You will also want to talk to some people in adjoining neighborhoods to get their perspective on the neighborhood you are checking out. Small talk will give you lots of information and the more information you get the better.
5. Visit the neighborhood several times at different times of the day before moving
With no doubt, you should get to know the neighborhood before moving into it. Visiting your potential neighborhood at different times of the day and/or in the evening and weekends will provide some insight into whether or not an area seems safe, child friendly and theft free. It will also show you if a neighborhood is very crowded, noisy and so on.
6. Pay attention to the neighborhood conditions
The general state of repair can say a lot about the neighborhood and its overall safety. A safe neighborhood is usually well kept, with residents who care about how their neighborhood looks and will put some effort into making it look presentable. When touring a potential neighborhood, look for signs like broken window, overgrown yards, run-down homes and broken fences. Drive through the neighborhood and then through the town and carefully look for clues that indicate that the city might be having financial trouble. Are the streets clean? Are the parks well maintained? Trimmed lawns, pruned bushes, nice flowerbeds, and absence of litter on the sidewalk/streets means that people in the area are responsible of their surroundings and take pride in maintaining it.
7. Sign up for safety alerts from authorities
Local law enforcement and fire departments can provide information about a neighborhood’s safety through public safety alerts. Some departments keep residents up-to-date on crimes via text message, e-mails or automated phone calls. This relatively new form of alerting residents might not be available in every city. Check your local police and fire department’s website or call to ask for automatic safety alerts. You must sign up to receive alerts and although the service is usually free, you may incur text message fees from your phone provider.
8. Research neighborhood organizations, groups and regular meetings
Neighborhood meetings and groups are usually a sign of a tight knit community. If you find a neighborhood group, attend a meeting or two to meet people and ask questions. Find out what the topics of the meetings are to get to know what is important in the neighborhood and what concerns people have.
Making sure a neighborhood is safe before moving there or investing in it, will make your family happier and will secure your investment.
BY: HOUSERIE 06/03/2016
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:
Here are some tips to improve your preventative property maintenance procedures:
We also suggest to add the following to your checklist:
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.
BY: HOUSERIE 05/12/2016
Pleasanton, California (May 12, 2016) – Houserie Inc., simplifies the tenant screening process for individual landlords and large property management companies by offering three convenient packages. Assessing prospective tenants by investigating their history and background is important for a plethora of reasons. For instance, an in depth tenant background check can help determine the trustworthiness of a potential tenant, lower risks of evictions or issues of misconduct, and even make the process of rental application easier. (more…)
BY: HOUSERIE 04/18/2016
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BY: HOUSERIE 03/15/2016
Pets are a gateway to handling responsibility, a parenting precursor of sorts. There is a long tradition of parents asking their children to raise pets in order to cultivate the habit of assuming responsibility. Many people see pets as their companions so it is only natural for tenants to expect pet friendly environments from their landlords. Like everything in renting, accepting pets comes with its fair share of risks and irks.
Why should you rent to a pet owner?
If you are the sort of landlord who is not fond of pets, your preference for keeping your property pet free should not deter you from accepting that perfect tenant who is fond of cats. Just make sure he/she uses a litter box for that cat. A pro-pet attitude widens your tenant pool. Statistically,
trust able pet owners end up being very responsible long term tenants.
The importance of being thorough
Well begun is half done and you can definitely improve your odds of landing responsible pet owners as tenants by following these tips during your tenant screening process:
• Take into consideration every type of pet a tenant can possibly keep; be decisive on how many in numbers they can keep, their size, threat indicators like sharp nails, teeth, etc. and exclude those which you believe are a strict no-no. Being confused about saying yes or no to a pet during tenant screening only amplifies issues later.
• Check with the potential tenants whether they own pets before you sign the lease and if they do, whether they have the necessary licenses and documents needed to keep them. Please note that several pets such as primates are not recognized as service animals by the Americans with Disabilities Act that was passed in 2010.
• State your pet policies clearly and in detail in your lease and tenant agreement. Make sure to include cautionary pet damage deposits as a part of the lease to be proactive about any potential damage from pets to your building or housing units.
• References are always useful. Make sure you get references from a previous landlord and/or a veterinarian about the pet’s health. This will provide a lot of information about the tenant’s tendencies about pet care.
After renting out to a pet owner
Once you have made the decision to rent to pet owners, things can easily get out of hand if you don’t act swiftly when pet related problems start.
• Make sure that pet owners always clean up after their pets especially in the common areas. Posting signs and providing free disposal bags will be helpful.
• Respond to complaints about barking and other loud pet noises immediately. Talk to the pet owner and ensure that they are trying to resolve the issues right away. Always, keep written warnings documented in case of repeat problems which will help in the eviction process if things don’t improve.
• Make it a priority to house your tenants who are pet-allergic as far away as possible from tenants with pets.
• Always inform potential tenants about the presence of pets in your housing units. They may be allergic to pets and will need this information to make their decision.
There is no middle ground when it comes to pets. As a landlord one can’t claim he/she is neutral about pets. Everyone has a preference– they either love pets or hate them. Irrespective of their choices, making informed decisions, being proactive, and staying on top of things certainly eases the pressure on landlords when it comes to accepting pets.
We hope you enjoyed our blog on pets. Stay tuned for more exciting articles from Houserie.com
BY: HOUSERIE 03/02/2016
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
• 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
It 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
So 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
Finally 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!
BY: HOUSERIE 01/18/2016
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 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!
BY: HOUSERIE 12/21/2015
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.
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.
BY: HOUSERIE 05/29/2014
Tenant Screening In a Galaxy Far Far Away
Even if you are in a galaxy far far away you should still be performing tenant’s screenings on any potential tenant. We wondered how some of the most popular Star Wars characters would fare in a tenant screening. Here are the results. Would you rent your space property to them?
Obi-Wan is one of the most popular Jedi’s in the galaxy. No matter his popularity you will still need to run a tenant screening on him. Here is what you most likely will find on Obi-Wan’s tenant screening report.
Social Security Number Trace – Obi-Wan’s trace should bring up some of his other aliases, Ben Kenobi and old Ben. The trace should show Obi-Wan’s previous place of residence, a small isolated hut in the mountains of Tatooine.
Criminal Background – Obi-Wan has a very clean background. The only thing that could possibly show up on his criminal record is a charge of breaking and entering when he snuck onto the Death Star.
Eviction Search – He currently lives in a deserted area of Tatooine by himself. We don’t know if he pays rent or owns his hut. He has been out there a long time so some may say he owns the property due to “Squatters rights.”
Quick Tenant Credit Score Card – Obi-Wan didn’t have any credit issues before he went into hiding. His credit score may be low due to inactivity.
Boba Fett is known as one of the most ruthless bounty hunters in the galaxy. No matter how ruthless he still needs a place to live.
Social Security Number Trace – A social security number trace would be a must for Mr. Fett as he does come from a batch of clones. You would see that Boba’s only known residence is located in his home town Kamino.
Criminal Background – Boba Fett may have a long criminal record depending on the state you’re in. Performing bounty hunting duties is not a crime in some states.
Eviction Search – Boba Fett can be described as a bit of a workaholic. He is usually just flying around from place to place fetching bounties. He has no prior evictions.
Quick Tenant Credit Score Card – Boba has a low credit score due to the fact he only uses cash. A lot of the bounties he’s collecting are for some not so trustworthy people like Jabba Da Hutt. No surprise he only deals in cash.
Princess Leia is a Senator of Alderaan and heir to the Alderaanian throne. No matter the royal ties she still needs a tenant screening.
Social Security Number Trace – There is nothing to worry about when Leia gets her social security number trace. She has no other aliases and has lived in a home with senators her whole life.
Criminal Background – Princess Leia’s criminal background is very clean. If you’re a part of the evil empire you may see her as a thief for stealing plans to the death star.
Eviction Search – Princess Leia has no prior evictions on her record. She has lived in a palace on Alderaan her whole life.
Quick Tenant Credit Score Card – Princess Leia has an outstanding credit score card. She is a member of a royal family, so don’t expect to see any red flags here.
Han Solo is known as one of the most wanted smugglers in the galaxy.
Social Security Number Search – Hans Solo’s trace may not reveal many previous residences. He is constantly on the run and can be found on the Millennium Falcon with Chewbacca.
Criminal Background – Han Solo is going to have a very long criminal background. Most of Han’s clientele are mobsters and gangsters. He is usually not smuggling legal cargo. Solo may also be wanted for the murder of Creedo, depending on who you think shot first.
Eviction Search – Han has no previous evictions due to the fact that he has no previous residences. He is usually just found flying around in his only known residence the Millennium Falcon.
Quick Tenant Credit Score Card – Han has a very low credit score. Han is paid mostly in cash and pays mostly in cash. Han wouldn’t want to leave a paper trail that bounty hunters could pick up.
Luke Skywalker is a young farm boy from Tatooine. He will later become one of the most well known Jedi knights.
Social Security Number Search – Luke Skywalker’s social security number trace will not reveal very much. His only known residence is with Uncle Owen and Aunt Beru.
Criminal Background – Luke has no criminal background.
Eviction Search – Luke has no evictions on his record. Luke’s only known previous residence is in Tatooine.
Quick Tenant Credit Score Card – Luke is young so he may still be in the process of building up his credit. A big thing that works against him is that he doesn’t have a paying job.
Darth Vader is known as the biggest villain in the galaxy. He is a well known Sith Lord and the right hand to the emperor.
Social Security Number Search – Darth Vader’s social security scan should include his alias, Anakin Skywalker.
Criminal Background – Vader has a very long criminal background. He has murdered over 200 people and assaulted many co-workers. He has also ordered the destructions of entire planets.
Eviction Search – Darth Vader has traveled all over the galaxy, but has just one residence, the Death Star. He has no former evictions.
Quick Tenant Credit Score Card – Darth has a very low credit score card. He usually doesn’t use any type of money, he takes everything by force.
Now that you have the screening reports on some of the most popular characters in the Star Wars galaxy, you can decide if you would take them on as tenants. Who would you want as your new tenant?
BY: HARINI V 02/24/2014
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.
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.
BY: HOUSERIE 12/18/2013
With the downturn in the economy, numerous homes have gone into foreclosure. This is mainly because people have defaulted on their mortgage payments, and can’t refinance due to underwater homes. Since last year the foreclosure rate has declined. It is not only the homeowners who face the consequences of foreclosure, but the tenants as well. The tenants are the ones who actually get evicted when the homeowner defaults on the loan. So, aren’t there any rights for the tenants, in the event a property gets foreclosed on? There are, but the rights differ based on the situation.
What can happen to the renter during a foreclosure?
The laws and rights of the tenants vary depending on the residential or the rental agreement and the local laws. Some laws specify that the tenants should not suffer simply because the landlord couldn’t make the timely mortgage payments and thus could not manage to retain the property. In fact, a new law was passed a few months back in Illinois to protect tenants in the event of foreclosure. Illinois State Senator Jacqueline Collins stated that “Tenants should not suffer for the financial troubles of their landlords,” and “this legislation extends our foreclosure relief efforts to renters, who make up 40% of households affected by foreclosure.” This law requires the new owner to either provide a 90 day notice to the tenant prior to eviction or to evict the tenant only after the end of the rental lease.
A similar law was enacted in 2009 in the US. This law is known as the Protecting Tenants at Foreclosure Act (PTFA). According to this law, the tenants have the right to remain in the property until the lease ends. Furthermore, the owner will also have to provide a 90 day notice period before evicting the tenants.
Another great thing about PTFA is that it does not preempt state and local laws. This means tenants will be able to enjoy the protection of the state and local laws if those are stronger than the PTFA.
Limitations on PTFA are:
Renters have rights in the event of foreclosure and in most cases cannot be evicted right away. However it is crucial for the tenant to be informed about the local and state laws as well as the Protecting Tenants at Foreclosure Act (PTFA) so they can protect themselves from being evicted.
Sam works as an article writer for an Illinois based mortgage community called Mortgagefit. For more information visit here http://www.mortgagefit.com/
BY: HOUSERIE 11/18/2013
Considering whether to buy or rent a home will be one of the biggest decisions in your adult life. However, how will you know which one is best? For many, this decision is based largely on external factors such as credit score, other financial commitments, and desired location. Adding personal touches to your home will probably also play a role as to whether you are buying or renting. And what about your little pooch? Certainly you’ll need to take into account accommodating your pets. There are multiple pros and cons both for renting a home, or buying a home. Ultimately, the final decision will be yours, and should be based on what will benefit you both in the short term, as well as the long term. If you need a bit of help in deciding, take a look at this infographic for a comprehensive overview of reasons for renting vs. buying.
Buying a home, especially if it’s your first time, is an exceptionally rewarding experience. Some of the benefits are pride of ownership, all the mortgage interest and property tax deductions, and appreciation you will be getting from owning your own home. For many, these reasons are more than enough to convince them that buying a home is the right choice for them. For others, the perks and amenities that renting has to offer, as well as the appeal of affordability is more than enough to select renting.
Whichever path you choose, take comfort in the fact that soon you’ll be relaxing and enjoying your own personal space!
BY: HARINI V 11/16/2013
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.
BY: HARINI V 11/07/2013
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.
BY: HARINI V 10/27/2013
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:
BY: HARINI V 09/26/2013
Most landlords know that screening potential tenants will reduce the likelihood of renting to a “problem tenant.” What they may not know is that it also helps to reduce and prevent crime in the entire neighborhood. By doing complete tenant screenings, landlords can weed out those tenants who have a criminal background, a history of violence, have bad credit history, or have a background of loud and noisy behavior – all of which can be predictors for future crime. Here is how your neighborhood will benefit from screening tenants:
BY: HOUSERIE 08/20/2013
There are various rights and responsibilities that come with being a tenant. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), provides and list of topics you should be knowledge about when renting.
The rights of the tenant are broken down into three categories, involving your apartment, resident organizations, and nondiscrimination.
Involving your Apartment
-The apartment must consist of a clean and safe environment, free of hazardous chemicals.
-Necessary repairs must be completed in a timely fashion.
-Property mangers and/or landlords must notify residents reasonable ahead of time for non-emergency inspections or entries into the dwelling.
Involving Resident Organizations
-The ability for residents for organize without retaliation or backlash from the Property Owners and/or Management.
-The right to post informational material in the forms of leaflets, etc. in common areas.
-The right to meet with the Property Management and/or Property Owner present. As well as the ability to use common space or facilities (with reasonable HUD-approved fee).
“The right to equal and fair treatment and use of your building’s services and facilities, without regard to race, color, religion, gender, disability, familial status (children under 18), national origin (ethnicity or language), or in some circumstances, age.”
A tenant of HUD-assisted housing as responsibilities to their property manger and owner as well as to the project and fellow residents.
To Your Property Owners or Management Agent
-Following the rules and guidelines outlined in the lease agreement.
-Paying the correct amount of monthly rent on time.
-Providing accurate information to the owner, including changes in the family income.
To the Project and Your Fellow Residents
-Not disturbing your neighbors.
-Not littering in the common areas as well as keep your unit clean.
-Not engaging in criminal activity.
-Keeping the apartment in the same physical condition as when you moved in.
-Reporting any environmental hazards present in your unit or within the property.
BY: HARINI V 08/12/2013
Landlords need to be respectful of their tenant’s privacy regardless of any state laws that give them permission to enter the unit. Respecting your tenant’s privacy not only keeps the relationship on good terms, but it may also earn the tenant’s trust, thereby giving you a long-term tenant for your property. Here are four easy and effective ways to respect their privacy, while still keeping up-to-date on the condition of your rental space.
BY: HARINI V 08/07/2013
One of the most important steps for a landlord to take when renting their unit is to screen each and every potential tenant. Doing so will hopefully prevent renting to a problem tenant, thereby saving the landlord a lot of stress arising from rental issues. Here are the five main reasons why landlords need to screen all of their prospective tenants:
BY: HARINI V 07/29/2013
It’s common knowledge that your credit score is one of the most important things that can adversely affect so many events in life. From buying a house (or renting an apartment) to purchasing a new car to being approved for a credit card, your credit score will directly affect all of these major decisions. Here are four easy ways to improve your credit score for your future tenant screening, some of which you can even start doing now.
BY: HARINI V 07/18/2013
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.
BY: HARINI V 07/10/2013
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:
BY: HARINI V 07/03/2013
All tenants want to leave a good impression on their landlords and, more importantly, maintain an excellent relationship with the person who owns the home they live in. Knowing how to be a good tenant will not only make your life with your landlord better, but it will also give you great references later when you move.
BY: HARINI V 06/25/2013
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.
BY: HARINI V 06/11/2013
The 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.
BY: HARINI V
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:
BY: HARINI V 05/11/2013
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.)
BY: HARINI V 05/06/2013
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.
BY: HARINI V 04/18/2013
Although 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.
BY: HARINI V
Both experienced and amateur landlords know that renter’s insurance can prevent a tenant from becoming angry or even leave the property because of damage to the property itself or their personal belongings. Fires, floods, and even natural disasters like hurricanes or tornadoes can create a lot of loss, and having renter’s insurance can save a lot of money, headache, and heartache for the tenant and the landlord.
BY: HARINI V
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.
BY: HARINI V 04/17/2013
All 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:
BY: HARINI V
Once 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.
BY: HARINI V
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.
BY: HARINI V
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.
BY: HARINI V
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.
BY: HARINI V 04/11/2013
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:
BY: HARINI V 04/10/2013
Using a rental agent to list and show your vacant property can be a huge time and money saving step. While a rental agent does generally take a certain percentage of the rental income, the time saved by letting them handle the process of choosing a tenant, marketing, and other duties will definitely offset the cost. Here is a breakdown of why it might be advantageous for you to hire a rental agent:
BY: HARINI V
Renting 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!