Archive for April, 2015

Landlord Information Prospective Tenant Screening Accurate Credit Bureau

Under state and federal law, you cannot discriminate against prospective tenants based on race, religion, color, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, age, ancestry, marital status, or because a person is a veteran or a member of the armed forces, blind, hearing impaired, otherwise handicapped, or has children, or because of a person’s source of income.

Discrimination includes refusing to rent, setting different rental terms, providing different services or facilities, stating falsely that an apartment is unavailable, and advertizing or making any statement which indicates a preference based on race, religion, color, etc.

The “source of income” rule sometimes causes confusion. You cannot refuse to rent to a person because that person receives any form of public assistance. But you may refuse to rent to someone because, regardless of source, his or her income is not enough to be able to afford the rent. You must take care to apply the same standard of affordability to everyone, regardless of the source of their income. Here again, careful record-keeping can avoid problems.

Take care what you tell people when you turn them down for an apartment. If you tell them you’re turning them down because you don’t take subsidized tenants, or you don’t take children, you’re asking for a lawsuit. If you apply a neutral standard which applies to all prospective tenants, you can explain that the rent is too high for their income, and you don’t think they can afford the apartment. A common rule of thumb is that no tenant’should be paying more than one-third of his or her monthly income in rent. Verify income. It may come as a surprise to you, but some people lie (Really!) For more landlord information see Accurate Credit Bureau.

Eviction Reports Accurate Credit Bureau Watch out for the Bad Apple

To avoid landlord tenant problems, always enforce your late fees and 3 day notices promptly. After handing my tenant a 3 day notice, give him or her no more than 1 week to pay up or else file an eviction notice.
We made the mistake of allowing an older tenant slide on to his rent payments because he was our renter for several years. He would give us empty promises of rent payment and ended up owing us a ton of money before we finally filed an eviction notice.

One week rule is almost too generous considering how long a tenant is able to stay in your property legally without paying – and good luck collecting on a judgment in your favor! Better off getting them out sooner rather than being sorry later. – See more at Accurate Credit Bureau.

Free Landlord Rental Leases Rental Agreements Rental Applications Accurate Credit Bureau

A rental lease or rental agreement sets out the rules landlords and tenants agree to follow in their rental relationship. It is a legal contract, as well as an immensely practical document full of crucial business details, such as how long the tenant can occupy the property and the amount of rent due each month. Whether the lease or rental agreement is as short as one page or longer than five, typed or handwritten, it needs to cover the basic terms of the tenancy.
Here are some of the most important items to cover in your lease or rental agreement. For specifc details for your state, see the Nolo articles on Preparing a State-Specific Lease or Rental Agreement.

1. Names of all tenants. Every adult who lives in the rental unit, including both members of a married or unmarried couple, should be named as tenants and sign the lease or rental agreement. This makes each tenant legally responsible for all terms, including the full amount of the rent and the proper use of the property. This means that you can legally seek the entire rent from any one of the tenants should the others skip out or be unable to pay; and if one tenant violates an important term of the tenancy, you can terminate the tenancy for all tenants on that lease or rental agreement.

2. Limits on occupancy. Your agreement should clearly specify that the rental unit is the residence of only the tenants who have signed the lease and their minor children. This guarantees your right to determine who lives in your property — ideally, people whom you have screened and approved — and to limit the number of occupants. The value of this clause is that it gives you grounds to evict a tenant who moves in a friend or relative, or sublets the unit, without your permission.

3. Term of the tenancy. Every rental document should state whether it is a rental agreement or a fixed-term lease. Rental agreements usually run from month-to-month and self-renew unless terminated by the landlord or tenant. Leases, on the other hand, typically last a year. Your choice will depend on how long you want the tenant to stay and how much flexibility you want in your arrangement.

4. Rent. Your lease or rental agreement should specify the amount of rent, when it is due (typically, the first of the month), and how it’s to be paid, such as by mail to your office. To avoid confusion and head off disputes with tenants, spell out details such as:
acceptable payment methods (such as personal check only)
whether late fees will be due if rent is not paid on time, the amount of the fee, and whether there’s any grace period, and
any charges if a rent check bounces.

5. Deposits and fees. The use and return of security deposits is a frequent source of friction between landlords and tenants. To avoid confusion and legal hassles, your lease or rental agreement should be clear on the limit, use and return of deposits, including:
the dollar amount of the security deposit (be sure you comply with any state laws setting maximum amounts)
how you may use the deposit (for example, for damage repair) and how the tenant may not use it (such as applying it to last month’s rent)
when and how you will return the deposit and account for deductions after the tenant moves out, and
any legal non-returnable fees, such as for cleaning or pets.
It’s also a good idea (and legally required in a few states and cities) to include details on where the security deposit is being held and whether interest on the security deposit will be paid to the tenant.

6. Repairs and maintenance. Your best defense against rent-withholding hassles and other problems (especially over security deposits) is to clearly set out your and the tenant’s responsibilities for repair and maintenance in your lease or rental agreement, including:
the tenant’s responsibility to keep the rental premises clean and sanitary and to pay for any damage caused by his or her abuse or neglect
a requirement that the tenant alert you to defective or dangerous conditions in the rental property, with specific details on your procedures for handling complaint and repair requests, and
restrictions on tenant repairs and alterations, such as adding a built-in dishwasher, installing a burglar alarm system, or painting walls without your permission.

7. Entry to rental property. To avoid tenant claims of illegal entry or violation of privacy rights, your lease or rental agreement should clarify your legal right of access to the property — for example, to make repairs — and state how much advance notice you will provide the tenant before entering.

8. Restrictions on tenant illegal activity. To avoid trouble among your tenants, prevent property damage, and limit your exposure to lawsuits from residents and neighbors, you should include an explicit lease or rental agreement clause prohibiting disruptive behavior, such as excessive noise, and illegal activity, such as drug dealing.

9. Pets. If you do not allow pets, be sure your lease or rental agreement is clear on the subject. If you do allow pets, you should identify any special restrictions, such as a limit on the size or number of pets or a requirement that the tenant will keep the yard free of all animal waste.

10. Other Restrictions. Be sure your lease or rental agreement complies with all relevant laws including rent control ordinances, health and safety codes, occupancy rules, and anti-discrimination laws. State laws are especially key, setting security deposit limits, notice requirements for entering rental property, tenants’ rights to sublet or bring in additional roommates, rules for changing or ending a tenancy, and specific disclosure requirements such as past flooding in the rental unit.
Any other legal restrictions, such as limits on the type of business a tenant may run from home, should also be spelled out in the lease or rental agreement. Important rules and regulations covering parking and use of common areas should be specifically mentioned in the lease or rental agreement.
For tenant background checks and free rental leases rental agreements rental applications and other helpful landlord forms see Accurate Credit Bureau.

Landlord Tenant Non-Payment of Rent Accurate Credit Bureau

Nonpayment and Late Payment of Rent

When a tenant doesn’t pay rent, you can begin the eviction process by giving the tenant a 14-day Notice to Quit for Nonpayment of Rent in writing. The notice doesn’t actually require the tenant to move, it just allows you to bring a legal action for eviction. Only a judge can order a tenant to move.

Some people believe there is a grace period for payment of rent. Technically, there isn’t. If rent is due on the first of the month, it is legally delinquent if it is not paid by the second, unless the first of the month is a Sunday or a legal holiday. This means that you can send a 14-day notice on the second of the month and start the eviction process 14 days thereafter.

A tenant with a rental lease who gets a 14-day notice can cure the nonpayment and reinstate the tenancy by paying to the you or to your attorney all rent then due, with interest and costs of suit, on or before the day the answer is due in the legal action for eviction. A tenant at will who has not received a similar notice from you within the past twelve months can cure by paying all rent due within ten days of receiving the notice. The 14-day notice must include statutory language notifying the tenant of the right to cure within ten days. If it doesn’t, the tenant’s time to cure is extended to the day the answer is due in the eviction action.

If the nonpayment was caused by a failure or delay by any government agency in sending any subsistence or rental payment, the court is required to continue the hearing for at least seven days in order to furnish notice to the government agency. If all rent due with interest and costs of suit has been tendered to the landlord within that time, the court will treat the tenancy as not having been terminated.

Some leases contain specific provisions for a penalty or surcharge for late payment of rent. Those provisions are illegal unless they apply only to rent which is more than 30 days late.

For more landlord information forms and applications see Accurate Credit Bureau.

Landlord Help – How to write a good tenant ad for your rental properties – Accurate Credit Bureau

How to Write a Good Ad for Your Rental Properties
Knowing how to write a good ad for a rental property is very important. To write a good ad, you should pay attention to these areas:

Ad Title: Every copywriter will tell you that the headline is the most important part of your advertisement. In that limited space (Craigslist has a 70 character limit), you should create a title that is both informative and attractive.

Include the most important information in the title, including the number of bedrooms and specific location of your rental property. Try to weave in an unique benefit as well (e.g. seaside property, 3 minute walk from train station, high floor with great view etc).

Ad Description: List all the important details – The number of bedrooms, the amount of floor space (in sq feet or sq meters), heating and cooling fixtures, cooking facilities and whether pets are allowed.

Include a description of your rental property’s neighborhood as well, giving special attention to nearby amenities and attractions – town centers, malls, train stations, eating places, beaches, parks and schools. Be sure to mention the traveling times to these amenities – e.g. three minute walk to the park or five minute drive to a shopping center.

Make it easy for any interested renter to contact you – Include a disposable mobile number and email address in your ad. Don’t use your primary email address because spam bots are likely to pick it up and fill your inbox with junk mail.

Whenever possible, avoid short forms (e.g. E.I.K, W/D) in your description. You’re finding tenants for rental properties, not real estate professionals. The only exception I would consider are well-known abbreviations in the ad title if you’re out of character space (e.g. BR for Bedroom or APT for apartments).

Images – A must-have. In this age of smart phones and digital cameras, there’s just no excuse not to provide photos of your rental property. It’s best to include at least one decent-sized (640 x 480 pixels) photo for every room in the property.

– See more at Accurate Credit Bureau

Landlord Tenant Rental Law Accurate Credit Bureau

Article 1

The landlord is king of his tenant’s castle in all but a handful of the 50 states. That’s why landlord-tenant “law” has played a key role in reducing the quality and quantity of housing available to the one out of two Americans who rent.

Landlords and tenants in most states today carryon their disputes in a maze of disjointed and contradictory legislation, ordinances, ad­ministrative regulations and court decisions. All of these are based, or overlaid, on a system of “common law” devised to meet the needs of a feudal society in which noble landowners rented out their property to commoner farmers.

Neither the rights -nor the responsibilities – of landlords and tenants are spelled out clearly in those 41 states which have not yet enacted the Uniform Residential Landlord and Tenant Act. Consequently, both sides tend to view each other with suspicion. Misunderstandings fester into accusations and arguments which can, and often do, result in violence.

Most police departments list landlord-tenant problems as second only to “family matters” as a case of violent incidents. This is not sur­prising when we consider that a man’s home usually ranks second only to his family as his most prized possession.

To eliminate some of the frustration and uncertainty, today’s urban renters and landlords are exposed to, the National Conference of Commissioners on. Uniform State Laws* decided in 1969 to try a new approach in drafting state landlord-tenant law. It appointed a special drafting committee of experts in the fields of rental and contract law, and set up goals which the “reform” legislation should meet. The act should:

Equalize the bargaining positions of landlords and tenants.
Force landlords to meet minimum standards for providing safe and habitable housing.
Spell out the responsibilities of tenants for maintaining the quality of their housing units.
Insure tenants the right to occupy a dwelling as long as they fulfill their responsibilities.
How the Conference tried to reach these goals in the Uniform Act com­pleted in 1972 will be detailed in other articles in this series. But the basic approach was to eliminate all elements of outmoded “common law” from the landlord-tenant relationship and base all phases of the rental agreement on contract law.

This meant, for example, that a tenant would not be required to pay rent to a landlord who failed to fulfill his part of the bargain. On the other hand, it also meant that if he didn’t meet his responsibilities to his landlord or fellow tenants, he could be legally evicted.

The common law approach to landlord-tenant agreements developed in the late Middle Ages when land -not housing -was the important part of a rental arrangement. A tenant would rent a property “as is,” but he had the right to improve the dwelling. Since simple carpentry and construction­ skills were part of a farmer’s basic knowledge in that era, it was easy for him to make his house “livable,” according to the standards of the day. He didn’t need to know about plumbing, electricity, elevators, or other modern “necessities.”

This system still works well in agrarian situations. The Conference recognized this when it excluded rental property primarily devoted to farming from the Uniform Act. But cities and apartments present other problems, and a tenant cannot be expected to perform his own wiring, heating or plumbing repairs. Unfortunately, in too many states this situation is not recognized by law

Alaska, Arizona, Kansas, Kentucky, Nebraska, New Mexico, Oregon, Virginia and Washington already have enacted to bring their landlord­ tenant law into the 20th Century through adoption of legislation based on the Uniform Act. Other states which have the act under consideration include Illinois, Wisconsin, Vermont, Indiana and California. The need for reform is obvious.

For more Landlord tips see Accurate Credit Bureau.

Landlord Tenant Responsibilities Rental Agreements Rental Leases Accurate Credit Bureau

Residential landlords are individual property owners or businesses that rent out apartments or houses for money. The renters who pay landlords to live in these properties are called residential tenants. Landlords and tenants each have legal rights and responsibilities.

To prevent misunderstandings between the parties, rental agreements and rental leases should clearly spell out these rights and obligations. Each state has its own laws on residential rentals. Landlords’ rights and duties will differ depending on where the property is located.

Landlord’s Rights and Responsibilities in Leases

A residential lease gives a landlord the right to collect rent from a tenant. The rental amount must be agreed upon by the landlord and tenant in advance. A rental lease may give the landlord the right to charge late fees for overdue rent.

Also, a landlord has the right to negotiate specific terms in a rental lease. For example, a landlord may require a tenant to pay utility bills, cut lawns, or shovel snow from sidewalks and driveways.

Landlord’s Right to Evict Tenants

Tenants who violate the terms of a lease can be evicted from residential rental property. Evictions commonly happen when tenants stop paying rent. In most states, a landlord must go to court to evict a tenant. Judges must give tenants a chance to fight eviction.

If the landlord wins in court, the judge can have the local sheriff remove the tenant’s belongings and change the locks on the property. The landlord can also obtain a judgment against the tenant for back rent and court costs.

Landlord’s Responsibillity to Keep Property Safe

Landlords have a responsibility to keep rental properties in safe condition. For example, a landlord should not rent a house with serious electrical problems that may cause a fire. This does not mean that rental property must be in perfect condition. A tenant usually cannot demand that a landlord replace carpet merely because it is stained or starting to wear out.

Leases often require tenants to assume responsibility for minor maintenance such as changing light bulbs and cleaning carpets.

Landlord’s Responsibility to Avoid Discrimination

Landlords cannot discriminate on factors like race, gender, family status, religion, disability, or national origin. Landlords cannot treat one class of tenants different than another, such as offering “white only” apartment buildings or charging more rent to a minority family. These laws are strict. Landlords who violate discrimination laws can be sued by the victims and may face government fines.
For more Landlord Tips see Accurate Credit Bureau

Accurate Tenant Screening Credit Reports Background Checks Eviction Reports & Criminal History

Good tenant relations starts with your choice of tenants. It’s hard to evict tenants, even for non-payment of rent. It’s much easier not to rent to a problem tenant in the first place.

You should have each tenant fill out a rental application. A simple form is available from Accurate Credit Bureau. Be careful not to ask for irrelevant or unlawful information, such as race, religion, age (other than making sure the tenant is of age), or sex, which could give rise to a discrimination claim. Accurate Credit Bureau can do a credit check and a complete background check.

But beware. Landlords are sometimes hesitant to speak about a problem tenant. The current landlord may have a special incentive to give a glowing recommendation to a tenant he or she wants to get rid of. A more useful reference may be the landlord before the current one, who will have less reason to be untruthful. Ask specific questions. Did the tenant pay all rent due? On time? Did they keep the apartment clean?

Check sex offender registries. If you rent to a registered sex offender, you may be held liable for any injuries which the offender causes to other tenants or neighbors. The rules keep changing and Accurate Credit Bureau gives you access to criminal records, check them as well.

Despite all your efforts, no system is perfect, and some problem tenants may slip through the cracks. One answer is to rent to someone responsible who is known to you or your friends. Lowering the rent to get a responsible tenant can pay off by saving you unpaid rent, broker’s commissions, and legal fees not to mention aggravation. Once you find good tenants, keeping rent increases moderate will help you keep them. Remember this rule about investments: The higher the return, the higher the risk.

Students, especially undergraduates, are a particular problem. At best, they may be in their first apartment and not know how to take care of the place or how to be considerate of neighbors. They may simply not realize that their loud stereo at 3:00 AM disturbs other residents or neighbors. At worst, they may hold weekly keg parties and do extensive damage to your property. Many landlords have found that, in general, undergraduate students and working people simply do not mix in the same building. Police in communities that have large student populations are increasingly active in holding landlords responsible for tenants who disturb neighbors.

Accurate Credit Bureau is a tenant’screening service who provides different tenant screening packages to fit your needs. Background checks, evictions reports, criminal reports and tenant credit reports are available as well as other tenant screening reports. Accurate Credit Bureau also has eviction reports that check court indexes to see if a tenant has been involved in legal proceedings with a prior landlord.

One professional landlord we knew of advised trying to sign a new lease in the tenant’s kitchen. He felt, with some justification, that he could learn valuable information about new prospective tenants by seeing how they kept their kitchen. Seeing a prospective tenant’s current living quarters isn’t a bad idea.

A special problem arises when you buy a building with tenants already there. It’s usually best to try to meet the tenants before you sign an agreement. Then ask the seller for information about them and decide whether you want to buy a building with those tenants in it or find out whether they are moving soon. Any representations by the seller about tenants (or anything else, for that matter) should be written into the purchase and sale agreement. You have good reason to be suspicious about any representations that the seller doesn’t want to put in writing.

Ultimately, the decision on whom you should rent to is up to your own judgment. One landlord we knew had a blanket rule against students. But if he met the students and believed that they would be responsible tenants, he would make an exception. No rule is absolute. Keep your eye on the goal: to have tenants who will take care of your property, get along with their neighbors, and pay the rent on time.

A special word about real estate brokers: Some are competent. Some are honest. Some are both honest and competent. Unfortunately, some are neither. If you list a rental with a broker, make sure you meet with the tenant yourself. Not only do you want your own chance to approve the tenant, but you want to find out what the broker promised in your name. Some of the most intractable landlord-tenant disputes have to do with things the broker promised the tenants but never told the landlord! Others arise because the broker told the tenant that certain lease clauses, such as no pets or no smoking in the apartment, don’t really matter or mean what they say.

For more Landlord tips, help, and free rental applications and rental agreements see Accurate Credit Bureau. Important Decisions Demand Accurate Credit!

Landlord Tenant Rental Agreement Accurate Credit Bureau

A rental agreement is an accord between the landlord and the tenant for the right to use or occupy rental property for a specific period of time. Real estate rental agreements are the most common but rental agreements are used for many items such as vehicles, furniture and equipment. Rental agreements allow landlords to loan property he owns under specific rules and the renter to temporarily use property he may not need for an extended period of time or may not want to own. To download a free rental applicationa see Accurate Credit Bureau.

Accurate Credit Bureau Tenant Utilities Landlord Tips

What Do I Do if the tenant abuses the utilities that I pay for?

We never recommend having your tenant’s utilities in the landlord’s name. BUT, if the tenant is on an lease that allows you to issue a Notice of Change of Terms or a month to month tenancy, you may have the power to do something about it.
When your tenant abuses utilities that are included in the rent, you should alert the tenant that the utility bills have reached excessive levels and the tenant will be billed the overage amounts or the utilities will be paid by the tenant in the future.
A lot of this should already be addressed in the lease. If it isn’t, you left the door open to problems.

We realize that in many cases we are dealing with multiple family homes with split utilities on single electric meters and shared heating systems and water (that’s why you as the landlord have the utilities in your name – right?)- so in that case it is more complicated.

A more and more popular way to handle the splitting of utilities is set up in the tenant rental lease before the unit is rented.

Monthly Utility Rebate in the form of a discount
This is mostly used in 2 family rentals where the utilities are in the main tenant’s name, whose rent is discounted the amount representing the estimation of the other tenant’s utilities. Of course, the landlord has already inflated the rent on the lease in order to compensate for the discount, but the lease must reflect that the tenant receives a $XXX. monthly discount in order to comply with any shared meter laws (if any), or just to show the main tenant that he is being more than fairly compensated. The secondary tenant has the utilities included in the rent.
This rebate method eliminates the squabbling of tenants that commonly occurs when splitting the monthly utility bills.

Again, if you have a month to month rental agreement, you can change any terms you like with a 30 day Notice of Change of Terms.

Warning!
Never turn off any utilities, such as electric, gas, heating oil, water. This is called “Constructive Eviction” and is highly illegal. Landlords who do this to make the tenant leave sooner often end up being arrested. If you want to make the tenant leave, it must be through the legal process.