Archive for June, 2015

Landlords Screen Your Prospective Tenants – Accurate Credit Bureau

Don’t rent to anyone before checking credit history, references, and background. Haphazard screening and tenant selection too often results in problems — a tenant who pays the rent late or not at all, trashes your place, or lets undesirable friends move in. Use a written rental application to properly screen your tenants. For more information, see Accurate Credit Bureau.

Tenant Screening Rental Agreements Credit Reports – Accurate Credit Bureau

Your first interaction with possible tenants will be the background check that includes a financial review and calling references. Overall, you must perform background checks fairly. You should not do the check on one person and not on the other as this favoritism, or “trusting your gut feeling,” is a disservice to all involved. You owe it to yourself, possible tenants and current tenants to perform fair background checks. For yourself, you can avoid headaches with tenants that don’t pay the rent or have caused problems, such as costly repairs, in the past. For possible tenants, you may be providing that reality check – can they really afford your rental? For your current tenants, consistent background checks let them know you are looking after your investment giving them a sense of security. Landlord comprehensive; at $39.95 is an investment well worth the cost.

Clear, Consistent Communication: To avoid any misunderstandings, make sure all your interactions with tenants are clear.

Use a rental application. Make sure you supply the tenant with a copy of the contract so they may reference it if any questions arise. Review the contract with a renewing tenant and discuss any questions they may have over the language or meaning.

Collect rent on a schedule. Keeping consistency with your tenants is imperative. If you are too lax one month, you may have a hard time collecting rent the next month. Or, if you are lax with one renter and not another you can create tension or even a legal issue.

Always provide written notice before entering a tenants space. This varies from state to state. However, for good business practice and common courtesey, let the tenant know when you need to enter the property they call home.

Use signs, flyers or other WRITTEN communication to inform tenants of policies and policy changes. Provide all tenants with copies and/or make clear postings around the complex.

Serve notices and warnings in writing. Verbal notices will not protect you if a situation deteriorates. Make certain to give your notices in writing and make yourself available for questions or discussion. Serving a notice and then disappearing from sight does not offer clear communication and can aggravate a situation!
For tenant screening services see Accurate Credit Bureau

Landlord – Tenant growing weed in the rental house – Accurate Credit Bureau

We’ve had our fair share of landlord tenant stories and here is one…Landlord rented out his house to what seemed like a nice family. Both parents, kids, stable job. They paid their rent on time and never caused any issues. After a year or so, landlord wanted to drop by to see how things were going. You need to give notice before an inspection, and the landlord couldn’t get them on the phone, so they left a note on the door.

The next day, the guy shows up at the landlords house and hands them a check for next month’s rent. They told the landlord they were leaving, so long, good bye. Apparently they bought a new house in a much nicer neighborhood. The landlords thought this was a little odd, so they went to see the rented house, thinking that there’s a lot of damage.

The place was empty and clean. The only sign that anything was wrong was that there were some weird 7″ wide circular burns on the carpet downstairs, some steel tubing left against the wall, and a teeny little weed sapling, forgotten in the corner.

For tenant screening services see Accurate Credit Bureau

TV Land Landlords – Accurate Credit Bureau

Fred and Ethel Mertz, I Love Lucy (1951–1957)
I Love Lucy would never have been the same without Lucy and Ricky’s best friends, neighbors, and landlords, Fred and Ethel Mertz (William Frawley and Vivian Vance). These famous New York City landlords were just as much a part of the storyline as the show’s namesake. Fred was notoriously stingy with money and would stall as long as he could with repairs. Ethel, meanwhile, was content to get into all sorts of mischief with Lucy, including one classic episode in which they try to wallpaper Lucy’s apartment and end up covered in wallpaper and glue themselves.

Stanley Roper, Three’s Company (1977–1984)
No fan of ‘70s sitcoms can forget Stanley Roper (Norman Fell), the cheap, henpecked husband of the popular ‘70s show, Three’s Company. Many of the early episodes revolved around the attempts of Jack, Chrissy, and Janet to convince Mr. Roper that Jack was gay, and that therefore there was nothing “sinful” about the three of them living together in the same apartment. It seems likely that he was never fully convinced.

Ralph Furley, Three’s Company (1977–1984)
When Mr. Roper moved on, Ralph Furley, played by the unforgettable Don Knotts, took over duties as landlord for the mismatched Santa Monica, CA trio of roommates. Furley was much less concerned with Jack’s sexual orientation as he was with his own distorted self-image as a hip, sexy ladies man, while his tell-tale snorts and garish leisure suits revealed him as anything but.

Edna Babish, Laverne and Shirley (1976–1983)
Another classic from the ‘70s was landlady Mrs. Babish (Betty Garrett), on Laverne and Shirley. As two ahead-of-their-time forward-thinking career girls working in a Milwaukee brewery, Laverne and Shirley gave Mrs. Babish all she could handle, but she still became part of the family, literally, when she married Laverne’s dad.

Henry Rush, Too Close for Comfort (1980–1938)
Henry Rush, portrayed by sitcom star Ted Knight, had double trouble when he had to deal with two tenants who were not only capable of getting into lots of trouble, but were also his daughters. In the ‘80s sitcom Too Close for Comfort, it was all Henry could do to keep up with his girls while maintaining a career as a famous cartoonist.

Michael Mancini, Melrose Place (1992–1999)
A much less humorous television landlord was Dr. Michael Mancini of the ‘90s series Melrose Place. Although Mancini, played by Thomas Calabro, began as a responsible family man who ran the building for the owner in order to help support his family while he began his medical career, he eventually became a schemer who everyone in the building learned to watch out for.

Amanda Woodward, Melrose Place (1992–1999)
As bad as Michael was, many of the residents of Melrose Place thought Amanda, played by soap queen Heather Locklear, was worse. Amanda made no bones about her greed and power, and joyfully used the residents of the Melrose Place apartments that gave the show its name for her own ends.

Mr. Heckles, Friends (1994–2004)
In the early episodes of Friends, Monica, Rachel, Joey, and Chandler have several humorous, if not cantankerous, run-ins with their landlord Mr. Heckles—a strange, scruffy, bathrobe-wearing curmudgeon. He lived directly beneath the girls’ apartment and constantly complained about how loud their footsteps were (even when they weren’t walking around) to the point of using a broom handle to bang on his ceiling out of frustration—a habit that led to his unfortunate demise: one day he keeled over, broomstick in hand. In the episode that marks the end of this secondary character, the friends “inherit” all of Mr. Heckles’ earthly possessions, meaning they have to clean out the landlord/pack rat’s apartment, and they keep a seashell lamp, a hula girl clock, a TV screen magnifier, and Mr. Heckles’ yearbook.

– See more at Accurate Credit Bureau

Landlord Security Deposit How Much Can You Charge – Accurate Credit Bureau

Deciding on the amount of security deposit is a fine balancing act – On one hand, you don’t want to scare away potential tenants with unreasonable demands. On the other hand, you will want to collect enough so you can sleep well at night.

First of all, you need to find out how much security deposit amount you’re allowed to charge – Most jurisdictions set the maximum deposit amount at 1 to 2 months of rent.

In most cases, the standard security deposit amount is equal to 1 month’s rent. 1 month’s rent works well for most landlords – Most renters find this amount to be acceptable (meaning more potential tenants) and it won’t run afoul of any security deposit laws.

In certain cases, you can and should ask for more than the standard security deposit amount:

1. The tenant is keeping pets on the rental property.

2. The property is well furnished.

3. There is a large number of occupants listed in the lease (more people staying on the property).

4. You give the tenant permission to sublet or assign the lease to someone else.

Do You Have to Pay Interest on Security Deposit?
Many landlords neglect the issue of security deposit interest… only to find themselves in trouble later on. Let’s clear up this issue once and for all today.

Some U.S. states do not have law text related to deposit interest – That means two things:

1. You’re not required to pay your tenant any interest on security deposit.

2. As long you return the security deposit (minus any allowed deductions) at the end of the lease, it doesn’t matter how or where you hold the security deposit money.

Other U.S. states have specific laws on where to hold the security deposit money, how to calculate security deposit interest and under what conditions must the landlord pay interest.

These other states include: Alaska, Connecticut, Illinois, Kentucky, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Washington

– See more at Accurate Credit Bureau

Landlord Tenant Rights Accurate Credit Bureau

Your Tenant’s Abuse or Neglect Causes Property Damage

While it is the your responsibility as a landlord to maintain the property in a habitable condition, the tenant also has a part to play when it comes to property damage and repairs. Whenever there’s property damage, the most important question to ask is, “should the landlord or tenant repair that?

If repairs are needed for normal wear and tear, then it’s up to the landlord to get the property in shape. If the property was damaged by the tenant’s improper use or recklessness, then he or she has to fork out money for the repairs.

If your tenant agrees to pay for the damages and make repairs, then all is fine and good.

How to handle problem tenants who refuse to make amends: You’re allowed to deduct money from his or her security deposit to pay for the repairs. Whenever making security deposit deductions, always remember to take close-up photos evidence (of the damage) and ask the repairman for receipts.

Your Tenant Houses Illegal Squatters without Permission

Squatters are people who are not listed as occupants in the rental agreement… and yet end up staying on your rental property for a prolonged period of time. By housing squatters, your tenant has violated the terms of the rental agreement and created a landlord tenant problem.

Even if the lease agreement does not state it, your tenant still has to inform you and seek your permission before they are allowed to let someone else live on your rental property. This is one of the basic rights of a landlord.

Before you confront this landlord tenant issue, you’ll have to first recognize important difference between a guest and a squatter. Your tenants have the right to invite people over to the property for short visits. These short term visitors are considered to be guests and not squatters.

To resolve this landlord tenant problem, You can either demand that the squatter leave the rental property immediately or you can negotiate with the tenant to include the squatter as an additional tenant or occupant under the lease agreement. Of course, you’re always free to ask for more rent and security deposit at this point.

Screen all new squatters as carefully as you would do with a new tenant. Interview the person face to face and run a tenant background check on him or her. If anything doesn’t check out, then we suggest that you reject squatter and ask him or her to leave your rental property.

– See more at Accurate Credit Bureau

Landlord Questions for Tenant Screening Process Accurate Credit Bureau

Why are you moving?

At first, it may seem like this is none of your business. Listen to the answers, however, as these can surface some scary red flags. You want to watch out for tenants who are moving because of an eviction or a bad relationship with their prior landlord. Be wary of tenants who complain about their current living situation as bad tenants often bring their problems with them. Instead, you want to look for legitimate reasons like needing a larger place for a family or changing jobs.

When do you plan on moving in?

If a tenant says something like “tomorrow” or “next week”, it likely means they aren’t good planners. A responsible tenant starts her search well in advance and plans accordingly. In fact, most landlords require 30 days notice from their tenants if they plan on moving out. You don’t want to be their next landlord who only gets last minute notice and has to scramble to find a new tenant. A tenant who is looking 90+ days in advance is equally bad, however. If they’ve just started their search, they are likely to not be ready to commit since they haven’t seen enough places to make a decision. The timing may also not work out if your property will be available sooner. There’s no need to take the time to show your property if you know the timing won’t work.

What is your monthly income?

The standard here is to make sure that your tenant has income that is 2.5 to 3 times the asking rent amount. This is just basic math for you – you’re trying to make sure the tenant can afford the rent for your place. Although any monthly debt payments may affect the affordability as well, you’ll be able to validate this later with a credit report. For now, you can assume they’re telling the truth. You can follow this up by asking them if they’ll have the security deposit and first month’s rent available upon rental lease signing. Knowing this combined with their income gives a great indication of their financial health. Be wary of any tenant that asks to pay the security deposit monthly or installments. A “half now, half later” scenario is typically bad.

Can I ask for references from your former landlords and employer?

With the exception of someone moving straight out of their parent’s house for the first time, if the tenant can’t provide references or makes excuses, you should move on. Always require references. Here’s a quick tip from rental experts. Ask for a former landlord as a reference rather than their current landlord. If the current landlord has issues with the tenant or is going through an eviction, he’ll be thrilled at the opportunity to get this tenant off his hands and say anything to do so. A former landlord, however, will likely remember a bad tenant and be happy to give you an honest answer. You should ask former landlords simple things like “Did they pay rent on time”, “Did they respect the property and neighbors” and “Why did they move out?”

Will you submit a rental application and consent to a credit and background check?

The answer here is fairly straightforward. Disqualify anyone that refuses an application and credit check immediately. If they won’t consent, it typically means they have something to hide or they know their credit isn’t good enough. If you’re following your screening process, let them know this is a requirement of all applicants and that you treat all applicants equally. You can’t make exceptions. Plus, you’re just following fair housing laws by holding all applicants to the same set of standards. You should also consider asking them directly at this point if they’ve had any evictions. If you have to go through an eviction yourself, it’s a six to nine month nightmare. Their credit report will show whether they have credit issues.

How many people will be living in the apartment?

More people simply means more wear-and-tear. You’ll either want to adjust the rent, security deposit or restrict the number of people. In fact, in many states the law dictates that a residence cannot have a lease with more than 2 people per bedroom. Now is also a good time to find out if they have any pets that will be living in the apartment. If you have a “no pet” policy, you may mutually disqualify each other and won’t have to do a showing that was never going anywhere anyway.

How to Respond to Questions Regarding the Application Process

If you ask these questions via phone ahead of time, write down the answers and compare them to what the prospect actually puts in her rental application later. Often, discrepancies are quite revealing about whether they are suitable for your property.

Sometimes tenants will ask for you to be more lenient on them due to whatever special circumstances. This is not a good idea. It can be difficult standing your ground and therefore we’ve provided some language below that will help you explain all the requirements.

“You’ll need to submit a rental application and authorize a credit and background check. The application fee is $40 (Landlord Comprehensive which includes Criminal Record Search, Sex Offender Search, Social Security Verification, Eviction Report, Previous Name and Address Verification, Birth Date, Employment History and Verification*, Public Records and Civil Judgments, Liens, Bankruptcy, Foreclosures, Consumer trades, Previous Rental History, Previous and Current Credit Information, and Previous Inquiries.) I’ll also need references from your prior landlords. You should also know that I will need to verify income and whoever is paying/living in the apartment will also need to be on the application and lease.”

Although sometimes you may hear responses that seem like pleas or sob stories, you should make sure to follow the same process with every applicant. Require a rental application, credit check, criminal check and references from each and every prospective tenant. It’s easy to get swayed by an emotional story or unfortunate situation a tenant is in, but you have to remember that your rental business is at stake. Here are the four things that professional property managers do that a do-it-yourself landlord often gets trapped by:

They never make a decision during the interview/meeting
They don’t make exceptions for sob stories
They don’t make decisions based on sob stories
They always ask for a credit report

Remember a good screening process starts even at the point of first contact with a potential renter. By asking these questions and listening to their responses, you can prequalify tenants and set their expectations and set requirements. You’ve then created a good starting foundation for screening your tenants that you can carry through when showing the property, requesting a rental application, going through your approval process and ultimately creating and signing the rental lease. If you still want to learn more about screening tenants, check out Accurate Credit Bureau.