Tips to Screen Potential Tenants and Avoid Problems

Whether you are experienced in property management or new to it, there are a few things about tenant screening that need to be improved. For new property managers, it takes time to find an effective and solid routine for screening potential tenants and sadly, it can become a process of trials and error that can be extremely frustrating and time consuming. For experienced property managers, there are a number of reasons why tenant screenings fail.

No matter how long or why you are in the business, tenant screening is a make-or-break step that is a part of the process. In this article, you will learn 12 tips for screening potential tenants to avoid any problems or to certainly reduce the changes of their being any problems.

Online Research
Screening tenants has become easy, thanks to modern technology. You can simply do a Google on them or log on to social media to find out what you need to.

Get a Complete Application
Always make sure that every document has been signed by your potential client, including verification documents (background check, employment, credit check, etc.). Ensure that you are protected by adhering to the laws in your state. Request all the required verification documents and ask questions that abide by Fair Housing Laws.

Call Each Reference
Calling every reference provided by a potential tenant is important as it gives you valuable insights. What kind of a person are they? How long have they known the applicant? Ask for a characteristic.

Conduct Criminal Background Checks
Conduct as many checks as possible to make sure that you cover all bases. Include criminal background checks, credit checks, sex offender checks, terrorist checks, bankruptcies and national evictions of each potential tenant. It is OK to profile too. Profiling is human nature and it is the reason humans beings still exist on this planet – well, it is one of the reasons.

Look at Past Rent Checks
You can learn a lot about a potential tenant when you check their cleared rent checks from the past. You can learn how much their current rent is, if they are running late on rent, and who they are making payments to.

Ask them Why they are Moving
Check out the potential tenant’s housing history and find out why they are moving. Do they move every year? If so, do you want a short-term tenant? Did they leave their previous landlord on good terms?

Act Fast
Answer all questions that your potential tenant has quickly and try to provide applications, paperwork, etc. as fast as possible. Ask them to do the same.

Obtain a Driver’s License Copy
It is important to get a positive identification to make sure that identity theft and other malicious actions are not involved. The information can also be used to cross-check social media.

Send Term Verifications
It is important to ensure that the potential tenant fully understands the terms of the rental agreement. To help them and make sure you are covered, send them an email or letter with a summary of all your terms.

Verify Employment
To make sure that your potential tenant is employed and find out more what their employer’s opinion of them is, call to verify their employment.  

Collect Application Fees
You should make sure that you collected your listed application fees and get them processed as quickly as possible.

Ask for Pet Photos
If you have a restriction on breed or weight, ask for pet photos so that you can eliminate applicants who may attempt to break the rules and find out which potential tenants will follow them.

With these tips, you can make sure that you find a tenant that will make timely payments, maintain the property, and stay for a long term.

Landlords vs. Tenants: Who should Take Care of Maintenance?

When it comes to maintenance, landlords and tenants often find that the rules are rather vague. Many tenants have no problem performing small maintenance work like changing air filters, but they are not certain what exactly they need to do. On the other hand, landlords may prefer it if their tenants do not perform maintenance duties for different reasons. When it comes down to it, who actually has maintenance responsibilities?

Maintenance for Tenants

Generally speaking, keeping rental properties clean and sanitary is the tenants’ responsibility. This can mean that they should handle bug infestations that occurred after they moved in. Tenants are also generally expected to fix anything that they break. However, normal wear and tear is not included in this category. But if they break a window, paying the bill is their duty.

When it comes to general maintenance, ensuring that rental properties are in clean working order is the tenants’ responsibility. The landlord should be notified immediately if any problem is spotted. Plumbing fixtures should be kept as clean as possible to make sure they work properly at all times. When it comes to general maintenance, tenants are responsible only if they cause the damage, such as broken fixtures, tiles or windows, holes in the walls, etc.

Maintenance for Landlords

Landlords are generally responsible for maintenance. Some maintenance items can be included in a lease, but necessary maintenance should be performed by the landlords.

Before a new tenant moves in, the landlord should perform maintenance so that the rental is in habitable condition and the property has enough heat, power, and water. It must be clean and in solid structural shape as well.

Landlords should also ensure that their properties correlate with the legal guidelines. Additional laws are put into place in many states to ensure tenant safety. For instance, in many states, landlords are required to ensure that doors and windows can lock securely. Landlords are also accountable for lighting and ventilation.

Sometimes, tenants may offer doing maintenance in exchange for rent reduction. The landlord can accept or decline this offer. If the job is not done properly, the landlord has the right to rescind their part of the deal. When this happens, the landlord has to complete the maintenance.

State laws vary, but maintenance should be done on time. If the tenant is forced to hire a maintenance contractor, the responsibility for the bill generally goes to the landlord. Of course, this does not apply if the maintenance is due to the tenant’s mistake.

As you can see, the maintenance roles of the landlord and tenant are fairly simple. The law requires tenants to keep their rental properties clean and in good condition and take responsibility for the bills if they cause any damage.

Landlords should keep their properties habitable, which means maintenance must be performed on time. In between tenants, they should inspect properties to make sure that they are clean, habitable, in good order, and up to code.

Some maintenance items can be included in the lease, but the landlord is ultimately responsible.  

4 Upgrades that You should Give Your Rental Property

If you own a rental property, it is time to give it a few upgrades, so that you can get more monthly income. These upgrades can increase the value of the property and also make it more attractive to prospective tenants.

1.     Landscape Your Garden
It is always easy to go overboard while landscaping the garden of your rental property. However, refrain from it. Remember tenants want to visualize themselves living in the place. So, if you go overboard and make the garden too showy and decorative, it may frighten or push away some tenants.

They may not like the amount of maintenance that the garden requires. Hire a professional landscaper to prune and trim the trees and shrubs and mow the lawn. You also can get the landscaper to plant a few low-maintenance plants in the flower beds. Hang a few flowering plants in baskets at the front entrance. Also, place a few potted plants near the doorway. These few landscaping tricks will make your property appear more welcoming.

2.     Install a New Front Door
The door will be the first thing in the house that prospective tenants will see and interact with. So, it pays to get a new door fixed. It gives an impression that you maintain your property well. If you think it is too much of an expense, then replace the handle of the existing door and repaint it to look new and shiny.

3.     Upgrade the Appliances
After your tenants move out, you may find problems with the appliances. Some problems could be due to misuse and others due to normal wear and tear. Instead of holding onto these appliances, get new ones or repair the ones that can be salvaged. Prospective tenants will love new appliances that are energy efficient and make their lives easier in the kitchen and home. It also shows you go out to ensure your tenants are comfortable. This speaks volumes about you as a landlord.

If your appliances were already remarkable and the previous tenants only lived in the property for six months or even two years, you may not have to do this. Now if they lived in the property for several years, then perhaps you may or want to go this route.

4.     Change the Lighting
Not only does a well-lit room look bright and cheerful, it also helps highlight the aesthetics of the room. So, if you have dull and dim lighting in your property, it is time to give it a makeover. Install bright lighting in the kitchen, family room, dining room, and living room. If some fixtures are broken, replace them. In the bedroom, stick with soft, warm lighting. Make sure the garden too is well-lit.

These are a few upgrades that will help increase the value of your rental property. Speak to your property manager to find out other ways to make your property more tenant-friendly and attractive.

Tenant Retention Programs: Tips for Keeping the “Good Tenants”

Property managers know that it is highly important to keep fantastic tenants around, but sometimes it can be a real challenge. You might already be offering a referral program for potential new tenants, but have you thought about offering programs to retain the wonderful tenants that you already have? If you are looking for a way to give your outstanding tenants a reward, there are a few ideas that you will find really handy!

Tranquility and Happiness
First, it is important to know the importance of tenant retention. Tenant retention means keeping good tenants for the long term in your property, which in turn means that there are people living in your property and it is being taken care of. Most importantly, you are getting the payment on time. Tenant turnover can result in lost rents, marketing time and repairs that are required after a tenant moves out, all of which can cost anywhere between $3,000 and $5,000 (sometimes even more). Good tenants give you a steady income and look after your property, and thereby, make your life easier.

You can use many strategies to analyze tenants, but the best tactics are perhaps the ones that make your tenants stay and that is exactly what a tenant retention program does. When you reward marvelous tenants, you are keeping a steady and uninterrupted stream of income.

However, remember that apart from rewards, other factors play a role in keeping tenants, such as your property’s location, rent payment amount, benefits and services you offer and other circumstances that are beyond your control. A tenant retention program is your way of showing your gratitude and appreciation and that will strengthen the connection between you and your tenant.

Given the right circumstances, your tenant retention can be boosted with strategic implementations of tenant retention programs. Anything that helps you keep tenants is a wonderful thing. But what exactly is a tenant retention program?

These strategies are a creative way to reward tenants and make them want to stay. What are some of these clever and creative strategies?

Knowing more about Tenant Retention
These strategies are usually based on a couple of platforms. For example, a reward program is one way to say “thank you” to your tenants for making timely payments. A gift certificate or gift card for a year is a popular form of this program. Offering a credit to their account is also a sagacious idea.

Offering a referral program is another astute way to make your tenants want to stay. These reward programs allow your tenants to earn cash every time they refer another tenant. Remember to stipulate that the tenant they refer must meet the rental criteria as well as sign a lease.

The Clearest Reward
Like you, tenants love a little extra cash! With rewards and referral programs, you offer tenants an opportunity to earn extra money and show that you care about them at the same time.

When setting out referral and rewards program guidelines, remember to include all criteria in a disclosure. Let your tenants have fun, and make sure you cover all the bases. These programs will keep your tenants happy. When you boost your tenant retention rate, you receive a steady stream of income and peace of mind with the knowledge that there are valued tenants living in your property!

How Rental Property Software can Help Property Managers Handle Security Deposits

As a property management company, you will be handling properties of different clients. This involves a lot of paperwork that is time consuming and labor intensive. At the same time, you also have to ensure the properties you are managing function smoothly and tenants and landlords are happy with your services. One part of property management is taking care of security deposits. Since you are legally bound to return the security deposit, there is no room for mistakes.

Understanding the Laws Related to Security Deposits

The security deposit is meant to cover any damage the tenant may cause during their stay. Some states in the country mandate the landlord does not take more than a month or two of the rent but the amount depends on the state where the rental property is located. It also is important to note that many states in the US make it necessary for a security deposit to be placed in a separate account, and there are some states that require landlords to pay an interest on the amount.

So, as a property manager, you should be aware of the state laws pertaining to security deposits and keep the landlord apprised of them. Also, make sure the landlord knows the amount can be used just to cover unpaid rent and repairs and/or cleaning that occur over and above normal use.

Using Rental Property Software to Keep Track of Security Deposits

It is important you realize states and local communities have their own laws regarding security deposits. Hence, if you have clients spread over different cities, it can be tough to manage these deposits, as the laws change from city to city. A rental property software program can not only help you keep track of the various properties, you also can use it to obtain details of the security deposits and the deadlines for returning it to different tenants.

The property management company and landlord have a legal obligation to return the deposit within a stipulated period of time after the tenant vacates. The software allows you to keep track of this timeline, so that you don’t have to keep referring to your notes and planner. You will be sent, well, it is automatic, an alert a few days before the deadline to remind you when it is time to return the deposit.

You also can use the software to figure out trends when inflow and outflow of tenants increase. Usually, this happens during specific periods, such as when the new school year begins. By keeping an eye on these trends through the software, you will be prepared to manage the security deposits of multiple tenants seamlessly.

A Sagacious Purchase

As a property manager, if you are not using rental property software, you may be struggling with your work, particularly when it comes to processing security deposits. Obtain some outstanding and impressive software today and make your work and life easier.

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