Archive for March, 2015

Accurate Credit Bureau Landlord Tenant Rental History Free Rental Applications

Landlord and Tenant

An association between two individuals arising from an agreement by which one individual occupies the other’s real property with permission, subject to a rental fee.

The term landlord refers to a person who owns property and allows another person to use it for a fee. The person using the property is called a tenant. The agreement between a landlord and a tenant is called a lease or rental agreement.

The landlord and tenant relationship has its roots in Feudalism, a system of land use and ownership that flourished in Europe between the tenth and thirteenth centuries. Under feudalism land was owned and controlled by a military or political sovereign ruler. This ruler gave portions of land he or she owned to another person, called a lord. The lord, in turn, could allow another person, called a vassal, to use smaller portions of the lord’s land. The vassal pledged allegiance and military or other service to the lord in exchange for the right to live and work on the land.

In 1066, the Normans of France conquered England, and William the Conqueror installed himself as king. King William used the feudal framework of land control to retain political power in faraway lands. Feudalism as a means of political control became obsolete by the fourteenth century, but the hierarchical system of land use and ownership remained.

The contemporary landlord and tenant relationship derives from the relationship between the lord and the vassal. However, today the landlord is the owner of the property—not, like the feudal lord, merely the manager. The tenant is similar to the vassal because the tenant does not own the property but is allowed to use it for a fee.

The landlord and tenant relationship usually refers to a living arrangement. In this respect landlord and tenant law differs from the law regarding leases. In a landlord and tenant relationship, the parties are often referred to as lessor (landlord) and lessee (tenant). Indeed, a lease is a contract that creates the same relationship as exists between a landlord and tenant: the lessor owns property and allows the lessee to use it for a fee. However, the law of leases does not necessarily concern itself with living arrangements. A lease agreement may, for example, relate to the use of a good or service. Because living arrangements are vital to human existence, landlord and tenant relationships are treated differently from lease contracts.

Accurate Credit Bureau What are credit scores (FICO’s) used for?

You know you should check and track your credit scores, but you might still be wondering, “What are they used for anyway?”

Lenders want to engage with people who have a history of being responsible with their debt obligations, so that three-digit number can impact how they decide whether you’re someone they’d like to do business with, how much it will cost to do so and which options they’ll offer you.

Your credit scores are meant to illustrate your creditworthiness and can come into play in several key situations. Read on to learn how your credit score may be used in each of these scenarios.

Applying for Credit Cards

When you apply for credit cards, companies usually review your credit score as one of many factors to help determine whether to approve your application. The formula each company uses is a heavily guarded secret, so the exact impact will depend on which company is reviewing your application. Certain cards have additional perks and a company may decide to offer those benefits based on your credit score. Lastly, companies can use your credit scores in determining the credit limits, interest rates and other credit terms they will offer you. Interest rates, for example, can impact items such as an outstanding balance and cash advances.

Using Financing to Pay for School, a Car or a Home

Most federal loans don’t review your credit score during the application process. However, if you apply for private student loans, banks will likely be very interested in your credit report and credit score, which can impact the approval and cost of your loan(s). Similar to private student loans, auto lenders generally look to your credit score to determine whether they will approve leasing a car or allowing you to borrow money to purchase a car, along with which interest rate and timeframe they will offer for either option.
With mortgages, the approval requirements are typically stricter than most other types of financing. Each lender has their unique set of guidelines, but your credit score is a major factor of your overall financial profile. After the most recent housing crisis, some lenders may prioritize credit scores more than they did in the past.

Other Situations

Your credit score plays a significant role in several other situations that you might not expect:

Insurance companies are increasingly factoring in credit-based scores when reviewing whether to provide coverage, how much they’ll cover and how much they’ll charge for it. This can apply to home insurance and auto insurance.

When renting an apartment, landlords may use your credit score to determine how much they’ll require to be held as a security deposit.

If you need the flexibility of a payment plan to buy a cell phone, companies could use your credit score to determine the type of payment plan options you’ll be offered and whether they’ll require a deposit.
Some utility companies might use your credit score to assess whether they will require a deposit and if so, how much they’ll request.

Accurate Credit Bureau Landlord Rent Payments and Late Rent Fees

Mishandling Rent Payments and Late Rent Fees

When it comes to rent payments, the most common mistake made is not charging the right amount of rent.

Setting the rent is a delicate issue – Ask for too much, and you’re going have a hard time finding tenants… leading to high tenant turnover rates and higher vacancy losses. Ask for too little, and your rental income falls to dangerous levels.

Late rent payments are another common pitfalls for landlords. The biggest landlord mistake that you can make here is not imposing late rent fees. Late rent fees are a highly effective deterrent against shoddy tenants – Even with regular tenants, you will save a lot time from not having to remind them of rent payments every month.

And if your tenants are overdue with rent payment, take firm action as soon as possible. Once the rent has been overdue for 48 hours or more, send your tenants a late rent notice letter to ask for the rent and any late fees. To deal with repeat offenders, you can consider giving them a pay or quit notice (which orders them to pay up 3 days or leave the property).

Download free tenant rental applications and landlord tenant rental leases here

Accurate Credit Bureau Tenant Credit Check What a Landlord should look for…

What to Look for in a Tenant’s Credit Report

A credit report contains a gold mine of information for a prospective landlord. You can find out, for example,

if a particular person has ever filed for bankruptcy or has been:

late or delinquent in paying rent or bills, including student or car loans

involved in another type of lawsuit such as a personal injury claim, or

financially active enough to establish a credit history.

Information in credit reports covers the past seven to ten years.
Depending on the type of report you order, you should charge your prospective tenant an application fee to cover your expense. People with bad credit won’t waste their money or your time.
The SINGLE BUREAU TENANT CREDIT CHECK is just $19.95 from Accurate Credit Bureau and includes a Credit check and analysis which includes Judgments, Liens, Bankruptcies, and Foreclosures.

The LANDLORD PREFERRED Package is $29.95 and includes a Credit check and Background Bureau which includes Last 15 years of Public Records including Property, Landlord Information, and Evictions. Returned to you by fax or email within minutes (Recommended)

The LANDLORD COMPREHENSIVE package is $39.95 and includes a Credit check and Comprehensive Background Bureau which includes an Online Criminal Record check, Last 15 years of Public Records including Property, Landlord Information, and Evictions.

The LANDLORD COMPLETE package includes the Landlord Comprehensive package plus additional Comprehensive Criminal Records which includes FBI most wanted, Terrorist, and Sexual offender database check.

Information Landlords Need to Get a Tenant’s Credit Report
To run a credit check, you’ll need a prospective tenant’s name, address, and Social Security number, which is on the rental application you ask prospects to complete. The application is also the place for applicants to authorize you to run a credit report. Be sure to tell prospective tenants the amount of the application fee you are charging (discussed above). Accurate Credit Bureau Residential Rental Application and Consent to Background Check forms both include sections where the tenant gives consent your to check their credit report.

Accurate Credit Bureau Landlords Don’t Do This!

No. 1: Underestimating costs

You’ll most likely account for your insurance, taxes, and if you have one, mortgage. But you might miss expenses such as water, garbage, gardening, and regular repair and upkeep tasks. Even riskier, you may fail to put aside a large enough pot for unexpected expenses and big-ticket items.
For a realistic estimate, plan for annual costs (not including your mortgage) to run at least 35% to ­ 45% of your yearly rental income. When calculating future income, it’s a good rule of thumb to include only 10 or 11 months of payments per year. After all, whenever a tenant moves out, you’ll still be stuck with expenses.

No. 2: Breaking the law

Tenant and landlord laws vary from state to state and even city to city. For example, in some areas, you can require a month-to-month tenant to move out within 15 days, while in others you must give him 60 days’ notice. One easy way to avoid getting into legal hot water: use a professional tenant rental application and rental lease. You know that federal law prohibits you from denying a rental to someone based on race, religion, or gender. Keep in mind that it also means that you can’t advertise a place as perfect for female roommates or specify no kids. You may, however, include a cap on the total number of occupants or ban pets.

No. 3: Skimping on vetting prospective tenants

Never rent your property without checking the prospective tenant’s credit, confirming the source and amount of income, and checking in with the current and previous landlords. Also run a thorough criminal background check. Look for income to run at least 2½ times annual rent. Sites such as Accurate Credit Bureau provide credit and background details for around $30.

No. 4: Failing to check out the property regularly

Don’t count on your renter to tell you about problems. A tenant will complain about an inconvenience, such as plumbing issues, but not necessarily something like broken rain gutters that can produce major problems down the road. What begins as a dripping pipe or watermark on the ceiling can quickly swell into a multi-­thousand-dollar repair if left unaddressed.

For more Landlord services and tenant screening options see Accurate Credit Bureau.

Accurate Credit Bureau “Don’t be that guy!” Do a Tenant Background Check BEFORE They Move In…

A landlord lets a family rent as he is anxious to have tenants in his empty property and the family say that they are desperate for accommodation. He is not entirely happy about them but feels that letting them in will be better than leaving the property empty. He fails to do a tenant background check on his prospective tenant.

Once in, they proceed to redecorate the property, painting the walls black and all the radiators dark mauve. Numerous complaints are received from neighbours about their behaviour and loud music at night. There are several incidents when the Police are called out and it is suspected that they are taking drugs. The landlord did not process a criminal background check.

They pay one month’s rent in advance but fail to pay any further rent, and the landlord has to issue proceedings for possession to evict them. This  takes four months by which time the rent arrears have risen to several thousand dollars. The landlord failed to process an tenant eviction report

The night before the bailiff is due to come to evict them, they have a party, during the course of which several windows are broken, and other damage is done to the property. It is left in a filthy state with rubbish in all the rooms. Much of the furniture has been either broken or stolen. The landlord did not process a tenent credit report.

The landlord is left with a property which needs several thousand pounds work (including re-decoration throughout and replacement of almost all the furniture) to make it fit for re-letting, a bill from his solicitors for the eviction proceedings, and no chance of recovery from the tenants who have disappeared without trace. The landlord didn’t have his prospective tenant fill out a tenant rental application or rental lease.

Don’t be like this landlord, get tenant screening services from Accurate Credit Bureau.

Accurate Credit Bureau How to Avoid the Bad Apple Landlord Tips and Services

As a landlord, you’re always on the lookout for the best tenant out of your pool of rental applicants. When you haven’t been a landlord for long, it’s important to be aware of some common tricks that desperate applicants try to pull on naïve landlords. These scams are designed to put you off guard and convince you to skip doing a thorough background check on the applicant. Usually, it’s because the applicant has something to hide.

While you should always strictly adhere to the Federal Fair Housing Guidelines and your own standards of tenant screening, there are a few red flags that may alert to you an applicant who is trying to scam you.

Here are four common cons that you should be aware of that may tip you off about the applicant’s ability to pay and how they will treat your property:

Trick #1: The Immediate Cash Offer

An applicant may approach you with an offer that he or she will pay the first month’s rent and the security deposit in cash if you can rush the move-in date to right away. This can seem very attractive—after all, you don’t have the property sitting vacant for very long and you’ll save time on tenant screening all the other applicants.

Another seeming advantage is that with cash, you won’t have to worry about bad checks or the tenant’s inability to pay.

While there can definitely be instances where paying cash and a speedy move-in request are legitimate, it may also signal that the applicant has been asked to leave a previous rental or is being evicted. You may be lulled into a false sense of security by an enthusiastic tenant waving cash and rushing to sign a lease, only to find out that they are running from a bad rental situation.

Trick #2: Challenging the Tenant Screening Process

Whether they complain about all the rental application fees, leave blanks on the application or act hurt that you want to investigate their background, applicants who question your tenant screening process may actually have something to hide. They may even act offended that you don’t trust them or that you are questioning their integrity. A naïve landlord might agree to waive fees or skip the tenant screening process to make up for hurting someone’s feelings.

While this could just signal inexperience in renting, it can also alert you to the possibility that the applicant hasn’t been through any legitimate screening process before or that money is tight because they are worried about the fee. An experienced tenant understands that the background check, employment and landlord verification and the rest of the process takes time and money. They won’t mind waiting because they understand and appreciate what it takes to get good tenants and probably feel confident that their application will look good.

Trick #3: One of Multiple Adult Tenants

When an applicant offers to be the only one on the lease agreement, despite the fact that other adults will be living in the house, it can signal that the applicant may be the only one with a clean background. It’s always wise to run checks on everyone over the age of 18 who will be living in the rental unit, but especially if the applicant is persistent about leaving someone out of the screening process.

Applicants who raise questions about the other adults in the home filling out forms and submitting information for screening may be trying to cover up the fact that someone won’t pass the background check, whether it’s for a previous poor rental history, criminal history or unemployment. Applicants with nothing to hide will have no problem with every adult undergoing screening.

Trick #4: Currently Living With Family

Some applicants will reveal that they are currently living with family members and have no landlord references. While of course this can be a legitimate situation based on personal circumstances, it’s not uncommon for people with poor rental histories or current financial difficulties to stay with family members when they have nowhere else to go.

The applicant may be reluctant to provide contact information for a past landlord or claim that it was long ago and they can’t remember. Without contacting past landlords, you won’t get a neutral reference on what kind of tenant the applicant is. Diligence in contacting a previous landlord is important, and the results will be worth it to get a clearer understanding of what kind of tenant this person was in the past and how that may impact your decision to accept the applicant.
See how Accurate Credit can help you.

What’s the most ridiculous trick you’ve experienced with a rental applicant? Share with us so we can all learn to recognize those red flags!

Accurate Credit Bureau Landlord More Tenant Tips

One key to being a successful landlord is taking the time to pick the best tenants and keeping the rental property maintained. If you do not have the time to keep up a property on your own, or if you own several rental properties, you can quickly become overwhelmed.

The ten tips provided below are the most common ways to ensure your success as a landlord.

1. Always check references. Recurrent problem renters are usually quite accomplished at giving a good impression and can fool even the most jaded landlords. Always ask for references and take the time to follow up on them.

2. Get it in writing. In order to protect your interests and the interests of your tenants, get everything in writing. This means everything from a rental application to a code of conduct. If a tenant needs to have something fixed in their dwelling, ask them to provide the request in writing in addition to telling you on the phone or in person. This will help you with you income tax deductions and create a history for each tenant.

3. Provide a clean and secure residence. Keep the grounds of the property clean and free of debris. This will help you with property liability and keep your rental property looking its best. Depending on the location of the rental property, you may want to provide extra security measures. This can help keep your tenants safe and secure, and may even lower your insurance premiums.

4. Pick your managers carefully. If you do not have the time to personally manage your rental properties, you will need to hire a manager. But your success as a landlord will hinge on your choice. Make sure to hire the absolute best person for the job.

5. Get insured. Make sure that you have the maximum amount of rental insurance, property liability insurance, and any other type of insurance that may be required in your state. This can help protect you from devastating losses.

6. Make repairs promptly. Your tenants deserve to have decent living conditions. In the case of furnaces and other necessary appliances and fixtures, repairs simply cannot be put off. Try to imagine yourself in your renter’s position. Could you live without running water for three days?

7. Respect the privacy of your tenants. Adhere to your state’s guidelines for entry into a rented dwelling. Most states require at least a 24 hour notice before a tenant is required to allow their landlord to enter their rented dwelling.

8. Do not discriminate. Follow the Fair Housing Administration Act when you screen prospective tenants. A discrimination lawsuit is extremely costly and completely avoidable. Give everyone an equal chance to rent your property, regardless of their race, religion, or beliefs.

9. Have a well-drafted lease. It is imperative that the form of lease you use with tenants be well-drafted and pro-landlord-oriented. For a well-drafted form, check out the sample Residential Rental Agreement at the Forms & Agreements Center.

10. Always be fair. In addition to avoiding discrimination, strive to treat all of your tenants fairly. Try to understand their position and keep in mind how they may perceive your actions. While you may not be able to get along with everyone, having a good rapport with your tenants will reduce vacancy problems.

Accurate Credit Bureau Landlord Tips Managing Tenants

1.) Be Knowledgable

To make landlording an easier task, you need to be well equipped to handle the problems that you will face. The best way to do this is through education and a good tenant screening company to do a thorough tenant background check.

2.) Create a Policy – Stick to it

If you are running your rental business off the top of your head, making up the rules as you go – you are opening yourself up for a lot of hassle. Tenants will know if you are making rules up on the spot (no – you cannot pay rent in quarters) so having a written policy – that your tenant has – will make life much easier. Rather than trying to explain why a certain action is not allowed, you simply can refer to the policy. “I’m sorry Joe – our policy states that rent must be paid by a Cashiers Check or Money Order.” People tend to not question “policy” even if you are the one who created that policy. Once that policy is created – don’t deviate from it. Have your prospective tenants fill out a rental lease that states your policy.

3.) Quality Product = Quality Tenants

While this isn’t a hard and fast perfect rule, in general the quality of your tenant will depend largely on the quality of the home you are providing. I’m not suggesting that you offer granite counters in your Section 8 rental – but providing a better-than-average home you will set a standard for the kind of tenant you attract and keep. As a landlord, your product is not only the rental itself. Your business is part of the product, and the way you run your business will affect how your tenant views your product. Fix repairs promptly (hire it or not,) maintain strict professionalism, and stay organized.

4.) Set Office Hours

Do you want to fix repairs at 10:00 at night? How about receiving phone calls at 6:00 am? As a landlord – you get to set your own hours. I publicly let all my tenants know that I am only available between 10am- 4pm on weekdays. Of course, I have a cell phone that will ring anytime. Tenants don’t need to know that though. When they do call outside of office hours – I will always let the call go to voice-mail. If it’s important – they’ll leave a message. If not – it probably wasn’t important. The main exception to this policy is when trying to show a unit. I try to answer calls anytime – but that’s up to you.

5.) Get a Google Voice Number

A neat tip you can also try relating to the previous tip is to sign up for a free “Google Voice” account – which supplies you with a phone number that is forwarded to your own cell phone. Give all your tenants this number and set up a business voice-mail on that line. All business related calls go to that number but your phone (or multiple different phones) will ring and can be answered. On our “business voice-mail” line I include my personal cell phone number for “Emergencies only” but have never had a problem with tenants abusing this. By having a Google Voice number – you can set a schedule of when the phone will ring and when you want it to simply go to voice-mail.

6.) Know When To Outsource

Many repairs can be easily fixed. Many more cannot. If you are extremely handy with construction and tools you may be tempted to do all the repairs yourself. While this might be a good idea – it also may not. Just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should. In order to be a successful landlord – you need to balance cost savings with enjoyment. If you hate fixing things – don’t fix things. Hire it out. There are too many ways to make money in this world than to be trapped doing something you hate.

7.) Be Organized

Have all the forms you need organized neatly in your file cabinet, have your procedure written down for all common problems (vacancies, repairs, etc.) and keep your maintenance contacts organized neatly for easy retrieval. Keep current with your accounting. Have a clean office. These, and many other organization tools, may seem small and trivial but they are one of the most important ways you can keep your business a business that succeeds. Don’t underestimate organization.

8.) Always Charge a Late Fee

It may seem cruel – but I always charge a late fee – and I make it known ahead of time about this policy. I don’t know how many times I’ve had a tenant call with a claim of not being able to pay the rent on time but as soon as they discover I’m going to charge them a late fee – somehow they always seem to find the money. Most tenants make a lot more money than just what rent is – but not enough money to live each month. As such – they must constantly prioritize what gets paid and what doesn’t. By being strict with late payments – you place “rent” higher on the priority scale than other obligations. Additionally -the extra income when rent is late is a nice compensation for the stress of not getting rent on time.

9.) No Family/Friends

Not a month goes by that I don’t get a call from a friend or family member asking if I have any place available for rent. My answer is always the same: no. As part of my “Seven Deadly Sins of Real Estate Investing,” renting to family or friends is one of the most common but most disastrous mistakes many new landlords make. I didn’t know this when I first began and rented to several close friends and even some family – each time I was faced with a choice: Get screwed over or lose the relationship. Every time I chose to get screwed over in order to preserve the relationship. I finally had enough and “put it in the policy.” No more stress from those relationships.

10.) Don’t Be The Owner

Finally, don’t be the owner. This is especially true for those of you who, like me, are peacemakers and non-confrontational. As a landlord – you are going to face a lot of tough decisions and awkward conversations. When you are the owner – the blame is on you and as a result you will often make decisions based on convenience rather than common sense. (After all – you better not be the owner. The owner should be a business entity that you set up with your attorney.)
Instead, from this moment on, you are no longer the owner. You are simply the property manager. “I can’t move my 200 lb dog into this studio apartment!?” “no, I’m sorry – the owner doesn’t allow dogs here.” Additionally, you can tell the tenant “I need to talk to the owner about this” to buy yourself time to think about odd requests. For more landlord tips see Accurate Credit Bureau.

Accurate Credit Bureau Landlord Rental Tips

First of all, your property must be clean. I didn’t think this needed to be said, but after hearing prospective tenants ooh and ahh over how clean my properties were, I realized that just having a clean property gave me an edge of at least half of my competition.

I keep my wall colors neutral but not stark white. Stark white walls are too cold and institutional. I have found a neutral off-white or light beige is enough color to make people see the property more as a home than a rental unit.

When you are showing a property, open the shades and turn on the lights. The majority of people like places that are light and airy. The people who want to live in dark, windowless places are probably not your best tenant candidates.

Vacancies will kill your cash flow. Keep your rental prices twenty-five or fifty dollars lower than your competition. You want to rent your property fast. It can take you up to a year to make up for the money lost with just one month of vacancy.

For tenant screening rental applications and rental leases see Accurate Credit Bureau