Legal Documents to Update Every Year

Renting property is a great way to make money, but there are plenty of legalities that landlords must follow.

As the laws change, you may need to update your documents.

Make sure you check for updates on these four types of documents.

If you don’t, you could unintentionally break the law or give up some of your rights.

Rental Lease Applications
As your business grows, you may want to make changes to your rental lease agreement application.

Doing so can help you choose tenants who match the evolving needs of your business.

It is also possible that changes to the Fair Housing Act could affect the questions that you ask on the application.

It is currently a violation of civil rights, for instance, to deny an application because of race, national origin, disabilities, familial status, and several other factors.

Avoiding questions about these and related issues could help protect you from discrimination charges.

If you do not update your application, you could be asking questions that are no longer appropriate.

Tenant Consent to Background and Reference Checks
Most landlords use background and reference check forms so they are authorized to gather information about the criminal and credit histories of potential tenants.

Since you cannot get this information without the applicant’s permission, it is an essential step to protect yourself legally.

While it is unlikely that your state’s form will change very often, governments do make occasional changes that require your attention.

For instance, residents of California, Minnesota, and Oklahoma can request copies of their background check reports.

Any state could make this or a similar change at any time.

If you do not have the most recent version, you may not have legal permission to access an applicant’s information.

Tax Forms
Tax forms change from year to year, so it is important to make sure you are using the latest version.

The specific tax forms that you use will likely depend on how you organize your business.

Most landlords will need IRS Form 88225, Rental Real Estate Income and Expenses of a Partnership or an S Corporation.

This form makes it simple to list your expenses and gross rents.

If you have an old version, you probably will not meet current laws.

Eviction Notifications
Although you own your properties and can generally do what you want with them, your tenants have rights that prevent you from terminating their leases under some circumstances.

For instance, you must give tenants plenty of warning before evicting them, even if you need them to move because they haven’t paid rent.

Tenants usually have anywhere from a week to one month to move out of the property.

If you already have some experience as a landlord, then you probably already know some of the basic requirements for evicting tenants.

Those requirements, however, are subject to change at any time.

Updating them at least once a year will help ensure that you follow the law so you can remove unwanted tenants as quickly as possible.

Eviction laws and tenant rights also vary from state to state.

This makes it important for you to get updated forms for every state where you have rental properties.

Updating your documents may seem like a hassle, but using the most current versions will help protect your rights as a landlord.

If you aren’t using the most recent updates, you may open yourself up to lawsuits or fines.

 

Avoiding Discrimination as a Landlord

How to Gather Information When Screening Rental Applicants Without Appearing to Discriminate

Landlords are not allowed to discriminate against applicants based on gender, age, race, religion, and other criteria.

You are also not allowed to ask questions about those subjects.

A seemingly harmless “How old are you?” could be taken the wrong way and land you in trouble.

Many landlords fear that the appearance of discrimination may prevent them from getting enough information in the screening process to ensure a good tenant.

While you must be careful about the questions you ask, you can find ways to ensure you have everything you need to make a solid decision.

Be Detailed in the Application
First, start with the application.

Create a written application if you don’t already have one, and ask plenty of detailed questions about the applicant’s employment and previous living history.

Ask for references and other information that you will need in the screening process.

When you use a standard written application that you present to every applicant, you are not being discriminatory.

You should also let an attorney look at it if you are concerned about any of the questions.

You should also include any other forms and a document that details the process for any applicants.

For example, you would include a form requesting permission for a credit check that all applicants must sign.

Pre-screen Over the Phone
Let any prospective tenants know your requirements during the first phone call.

If they don’t meet the criteria, it saves you time and research determining if they qualify.

You can also ask open-ended questions, such as “How did you hear about this unit?” and “What are you looking for?” to allow the person to begin talking.

Have your requirements in front of you when speaking to potential applicants.

This allows them to eliminate themselves if they don’t qualify.

For instance, if you have a maximum number of people allowed because of the number of bedrooms, state that upfront.

Review Essential Information
When going over the application, begin verifying or reviewing the basic information.

If someone does not meet your minimum income requirement, this is a legitimate reason to disqualify him or her.

Go over the credit and background checks to see if the person continues to qualify.

Make sure that if you deny someone based on a criminal record or credit history, that you follow that same standard for all applicants.

For example, you can determine not to rent to someone with a felony in the past five years, but you cannot make an exception without appearing to discriminate.

Check References
To ensure that you get the most accurate information, ask for specific references.

Otherwise, you will end up talking to Aunt Mary or someone’s best friend, and you’ll learn very little information of value.

Instead, request employment references or previous landlords’ contact information.

These are objective people who know what information they can provide and are more apt to be honest.

It is also important to know what questions you can and cannot ask of the references.

For example, you can ask if a person is employed or when he or she was hired.

You can’t ask if he or she shows up on time or how often he or she is absent from work.

What you can do is ask if there is any other information the person can provide.

If you create a formal application packet that you provide to all applicants, you can get the information you need without worrying about being accused of discrimination if you reject an application.

How to Lower the Cost of Managing Your Rentals

Using a LandlordStation Membership to Ease the Burden and Cost of Managing Your Properties

 

No matter how many rental properties you own, managing your houses and apartments can take a lot of work and money.

Using a LandlordStation membership, however, can ease the burden and cost of managing your properties.

If you would like to make your job easier, here’s how membership makes a difference.

Screen Tenants Easily
You invest a lot of money in your rental properties, so you want to make sure you avoid tenants who might cause damage or attract unwanted activities.

Screening tenants is one of the best ways to learn about criminal backgrounds and financial problems.

When you have this information, you can avoid applicants who have problems paying their debts and staying on the right side of the law.

Screening tenants is a sound way to avoid problems, but it’s also a somewhat difficult for process, especially for new landlords who don’t have much experience in this area.

A LandlordStation membership gives you access to comprehensive reports that include:

  • Credit scores
  • Criminal records
  • Bankruptcies
  • Foreclosures
  • Employment history
  • Past addresses
  • Eviction records

A Tenant Screening Report will even list an applicant’s known aliases.

Without this service, you never know who you’re letting into your property.

It could easily be someone who will not pay rent on time.

Even worse, it could be someone who will conduct illegal activities on your property.

Always Have Access to Your Documents
A LandlordStation membership includes online storage where you can keep your important documents and photos.

This will make it easier for you to access the information you need no matter where you are.

If you’re meeting with a tenant outside of your office, you can just use your smartphone to access the necessary documents and answer any questions.

LandlordStation has three membership options that give you different amounts of storage space.

The Pay As You Go membership includes 5 GB of space.

The Starter membership includes 10 GB.

If you choose an Unlimited membership, then you get unlimited space for all of your images and documents.

Sign Documents Online
Your LandlordStation membership also makes it quick and easy to sign documents electronically without worrying about any security issues.

This will help you fill your empty properties and ensure that you have a steady flow of income.

E-signatures can also make it easier for you to manage properties outside of your area.

It’s a great option for landlords who own properties in several cities or states.

Simplify Rent Collection
Ideally, collecting rent shouldn’t take much time.

The reality, though, is that rent collection takes up a lot of time.

It’s difficult to keep track of who sends in their payments on time and who pays late.

You also have to consider how much time you spend taking depositing checks to the bank and keeping tax records.

It doesn’t take many tenants before rent collection becomes more complicated than you once thought.

LandlordStation simplifies the process by putting everything online.

The system accepts online payments that you can electronically deposit in the bank.

It also sends your tenants email reminders, notifies you when rent has been paid, and documents everything so you can complete your taxes without worry.

You can also use the system to collect other payments like late fees, application fees, security deposits and pet fees.

Landlords and property managers will always face challenges.

That’s part of the job.

With a LandlordStation membership, though, managing your properties becomes easier and more affordable.

 

Negative tradelines and what to watch out for on a credit report

A tradeline is any item on a credit report, whether positive or negative.

Negative tradelines indicate credit-harming behavior such as paying bills late or having debts in collection.

When you’re screening potential tenants, negative tradelines on a credit report are a bad thing, but some are worse than others.

What Goes on a Credit Report?
Many landlords only look at the FICO score when they’re screening tenants, and that may be all you need.

A FICO score is effectively an overview of a potential tenant’s credit history.

But if a tenant’s application is marginal, and you want more information, you may want to dig into the credit report line by line, in search of negative tradelines.

When looking at a credit report, keep in mind that most bills factor into a person’s credit report.

However, while paying a bill late damages credit, most billing agencies do not regularly report on-time payments to agencies.

As a result, you see bad behavior in credit reports, but not good behavior.

Even when looking at individual tradelines, you may not be getting the full story about your applicant’s financial history.

Late Bill Payments
While late bill payments aren’t a good thing, they’re perhaps one of the more benign negative tradelines, and they likely only take the credit score down a few points.

Even the most responsible people sometimes pay the power bill a few days late.

However, if you see habitually late payments or extremely delayed payments, it could indicate irresponsibility, carelessness, spotty income or a period of unemployment.

Be sure to check back several months in the credit report to determine if it’s a one-off or a pattern and if the problem has been resolved.

Nonpayments of Bills
Nonpayment of bills are worse tradelines than late payments.

Check your local laws, but in general, you’re within your rights to stop processing an application if the applicant has outstanding utility bills or bills that have gone to collections.

You can, if you want, resume processing once the tenant has paid these, and you’ve confirmed payment.

Bankruptcies
A bankruptcy remains on a credit report for seven years in the event of a Chapter 13, and 10 years from the date of filing for Chapter 7.

This is a very serious mark against a prospective tenant, but keep in mind that seven to 10 years is plenty of time for your renters to turn things around.

They may have made bad decisions in the past, or found themselves in a tight spot, and have since worked their way out of it.

When you see old bankruptcies on the credit report, take the time to examine the rest of the application more carefully so you can come to a fully informed decision about the tenant.

Collections
If prospective tenants have an account open at a collections agency, this is reflected on the credit report.

Even if they’ve paid off the debt and closed the account, it often shows up as a negative tradeline for many months after the account’s been closed.

Depending on how strict you are, and the range of applicants you have to choose from, you may choose to take that very seriously.

Or you may give the tenants a pass because they’ve done everything they can to clear their debt.

When weighing the severity of this kind of tradeline, it’s a good idea to look at the rest of the application so you can get the complete story.

Collections information is often confidential, and collections agencies won’t likely give you many details about your applicants, but talking to your prospective tenants may reveal things.

If it’s a utility bill or a medical bill, you may be willing to let that slide, especially if they’ve been making payments.

However, if there’s outstanding rent that’s gone to collections, especially if it’s still unpaid, be very wary.

There’s no guarantee the tenants won’t do the same thing to you.

Negative Tradelines and the Length of Credit History
When looking at negative tradelines, take into account the length of the applicant’s credit history.

Just because people don’t have many negative tradelines on their credit reports doesn’t mean they’re model tenants.

If they don’t have a very long credit history, especially if they’re older, having good credit isn’t worth much.

When you’re screening a tenant, not all negative tradelines in a credit report are created equal.

Go through the report line by line to see why the potential tenant’s credit is the way it is and to figure out patterns of behavior.

Some negative tradelines might be acceptable to you; others should be avoided because they present too much risk.

A credit report isn’t the only thing to look at when screening a tenant.

Even if people have mediocre credit, they may make up for it with a good income and an excellent rental history.

If you don’t have a stellar pool of applicants, look at a tenant’s whole history, rather than just part of it, to make sure you understand who your prospective tenants really are.

 

Things to watch out for if your rental unit is part of an HOA

A homeowners’ association (HOA) is an organization responsible for handling upkeep of common areas and amenities, and sometimes governing community covenants.

The HOA may only be responsible for handling common area landscaping and cleaning, or it may include covenants regarding acceptable use of your home or even the color it can be painted.

If your rental unit is part of an HOA, or you’re considering buying investment property governed by an HOA, you need to watch out for a few things.

Are You Allowed to Rent the Property?
HOAs have the power to ban or limit rentals within the community.

Some HOAs refuse rentals entirely, as it wants control over the people moving in and out of the community.

Other HOAs place limitations on rental units, only allowing a set number within the governed area at a time.

Talk with the HOA and confirm you can rent out your property prior to making the investment.

You can avoid hassle for your tenants, fines from the HOA and potential legal action when you get clarification upfront.

Who Pays HOA Fees and Fines?
The HOA has monthly fees that go to maintaining common areas, amenities and buildings, and other costs incurred by the community.

You need to detail who pays the HOA fees in the lease agreement.

Due to the fines associated with being late on HOA fees, most landlords opt to pay for the fees directly and adjust the monthly rent price to accommodate for this cost.

You also want to establish a set procedure for HOA fines incurred by the tenant.

If the tenant is responsible for all fines, write the notification and payment procedure within the lease.

Also make sure to include a copy of the HOA covenants with the lease, and go over it with tenants prior to the lease signing.

You don’t want tenants pulling out of a lease within the first month because they aren’t comfortable living under specific HOA covenants.

What Happens If the HOA and Tenants Have a Dispute?
If the tenants break an HOA covenant or the HOA decides it isn’t a big fan of renters, the two could end up having a dispute.

Create clear communication channels between yourself, the tenants and the HOA to head off major problems before they lead to fines, eviction or legal action.

Write the penalties for breaking HOA rules into the lease so your tenants are aware of the consequences.

What Happens If the HOA Changes the Rules?
The HOA board may decide to change rules, which includes whether rental properties are allowed within the building or community.

If you’re worried about the HOA’s feelings toward renters, attend board meetings and make your opinions known.

Even if they don’t listen to what you have to say, attending the meetings gives you a heads up on major changes coming down the pipeline.

You won’t be caught unawares if major rule changes prevent or restrict renters from living in your HOA property.

An HOA can be a great selling point for a rental when it comes to well-maintained common areas and amenities.

However, an HOA also has the potential to be your worst nightmare when it comes to making money off your investment property.

Keep these considerations in mind when you’re dealing with an HOA-governed community to weigh the risks versus the rewards.

 

Reasons why an eviction may not show up on a tenant’s report

Evictions are major red flags on your tenant’s credit and background reports, but they don’t always appear on these reports.

Most rental applications ask tenants about previous evictions, but it’s rare for a previously evicted tenant to admit this information willingly.

An eviction on record makes it more difficult to receive a rental application approval, so many tenants avoid disclosing this information upfront.

You rely on your tenant reports to tell you whether there has been a previous eviction, but you should know why eviction records may fail to appear on a report.

You Only Pulled One Report
If you only pull a single credit report, or you fail to look at a background check alongside the credit report, you may not get the full picture of your prospective tenant.

Credit reporting accuracy is not always 100 percent.

Credit reporting bureaus look at different information sources, and some bureaus may access and report information quicker than others.

The nature of the eviction ruling also dictates whether it shows up on your tenant’s credit report at all.

If the previous landlord filed for an order of possession, but was not seeking any monetary damages associated with the eviction suit, this record will not appear on the credit report.

If there’s a monetary judgment, it appears in the public record section of the report.

A background check would have information on an eviction case without a monetary judgment.

However, court clerks in smaller jurisdictions may not have the resources on hand to post the public record quickly.

If the court doesn’t get around to handling the paperwork or it slips through the cracks, you would have to physically go to the courthouse to find eviction proof.

Recent Evictions
It takes time for a public record or a judgment to get recorded and sent to credit reporting bureaus and other reporting agencies.

In this time span, the tenant may try to get a rental prior to the eviction showing up on reports.

This time span could be over the course of a few months, depending on the speed of the specific courthouse, which leaves plenty of time for the tenant to find another place to live without this eviction red flag popping up.

If a tenant has a significant gap in landlord references without a reasonable explanation, or the explanation seems implausible, it could be a red flag indicating a hidden eviction.

False Identity
You won’t see a tenant’s eviction if he gives you falsified information, such as an incorrect Social Security Number stolen from someone else, or if he uses a family member’s SSN.

One way to mitigate the risk of a falsified identity is to double check information for anything that’s out of place.

Does the address on the tenant’s photo ID match previous address records on his credit report?

Are the birth dates indicated on reports mismatched to other identification provided?

Information discrepancies could indicate identity theft or accuracy errors from the credit reporting bureau.

Not all tenants with eviction records end up being bad tenants, but you want the choice to make that decision for yourself.

Evictions don’t always show up on all tenant reports for several reasons, so understanding these circumstances can help you look deeper into a tenant’s history and make an educated decision.

How to Handle Threats from Tenants

Bad tenants are a fact of landlord life.

You do what you can to minimize the risk of bad tenants through credit checks and screening services, but a great tenant on paper may be a nightmare to deal with in person.

Tenants may threaten you for several reasons, such as attempting to avoid an eviction, stopping you from realizing they’re breaking their lease clauses, and attempting to intimidate you.

How you handle threats from tenants depends on the situation and the consequences for taking action.

Violent Threats
If a tenant is physically threatening you, you have a few judgment calls to make.

Your safety and well-being are your top priority in any situation.

If you’re in the same physical location with the tenant while he’s making these threats and you’re unable to defuse the situation, leave the property.

The tenant may need some time and space to cool off after you delivered an eviction notice, is having a bad day in general, or has anger management issues.

By removing yourself from the situation, you reduce the risk of physical harm to yourself.

You do run the risk of your property being damaged, so consider involving the police department if the tenant seems likely to take his anger out on your rental unit, or he has tried to physically harm you.

If the tenant is making threats over the phone, make a record of what he said to start a paper trail.

Save emails or texts if the tenant communicates with you through those channels.

Documentation is important if you have to take your tenant to court due to the threats.

Legal Threats
Tenants may make legal threats for discrimination, eviction protection, or constructive eviction.

If a tenant is threatening legal action and states she’s involving a lawyer, cease the conversation unless it’s through a lawyer.

If the tenant is bluffing, you stopped the conversation from continuing in an unproductive fashion.

If the tenant isn’t bluffing, you have a heads up to prepare for a potential court case and retain your own legal counsel if necessary.

You want to be prepared in case your tenant goes through with a legal threat and takes you to court.

Threats Against Other Tenants
A tenant may threaten other tenants instead of communicating calmly about problems.

While it’s ideal when tenants can work out internal disputes with each other, especially those sharing rental units or common areas, the conversations don’t always work out nicely.

You don’t want a tenant feeling unsafe due to an angry tenant, so it’s important to mediate if the conversation goes badly.

A tenant who is creating an unsafe environment for your other tenants may need to be evicted from the property, or may need a strong conversation on how to properly communicate issues with other tenants.

While stress and anger can lead to harsh words, there’s a difference between a tenant having a bad day and one who is making your other tenants feel unsafe.

Bad tenants who threaten you or other tenants need dealt with appropriately.

In some situations, you can let the tenant cool down before addressing the problem.

In other cases, you need to involve a lawyer or the police.

Knowing when to use each option is important for handling a threatening situation appropriately.

What legal situations as a landlord require you to hire a lawyer?

You run into many legal situations as a landlord, from creating a rental contract to evicting tenants.

Throughout the course of your property management career, you may run into complex legal situations that require you to hire a lawyer.

While some of these situations could be handled without lawyer intervention, bringing in a lawyer makes it much more possible to receive a quick, positive outcome as opposed to handling it on your own.

“Professional” Tenants
These tenants have been through several evictions and similar legal situations in the past, and they know every trick in the landlord-tenant legal book to delay eviction.

Obscure loopholes and technicalities in paperwork are two ways “professional” tenants delay or completely derail the eviction process.

A lawyer can help you stay one step ahead of these tenants, avoiding many of the pitfalls that can draw out the eviction process.

Filing for Bankruptcy
A bankruptcy filing makes an eviction process more complicated, as the tenant receives an automatic stay from creditor action as part of bankruptcy.

You can’t start bankruptcy proceedings or continue with eviction already in progress while the automatic stay in place.

You need to file a relief from the automatic stay to continue with the case, or to file the eviction.

If you’re unfamiliar with the process, a lawyer can help you file the paperwork with the bankruptcy court.

Constructive Eviction Lawsuits
If a tenant feels you are forcing him out of the property by creating an uninhabitable situation, he may choose to file a constructive eviction lawsuit.

The tenant can argue for constructive eviction if you failed to fix a problem after proper notification, interfered with the tenant using the property by coming over constantly or harassing the tenant, or failed to meet the legal requirements of a habitable home.

You need to prove that you did not create conditions to constructively evict a tenant, which can be a complex legal situation.

If you try to do it on your own, you may fail to provide enough evidence to dispute the tenant’s allegation, resulting in a judgment against you.

Tenant with a Lawyer
If a tenant retains a lawyer for a lawsuit, it’s a good idea to retain your own to increase your chances of successfully winning the suit.

Bringing a lawyer to the table is a more expensive prospect than handling everything yourself, but arguing against the tenant’s lawyer in court will be difficult if you don’t know the eviction process inside and out.

Highly experienced landlords with many evictions under their belt may consider going up against a tenant’s lawyer, but, in most cases, it makes sense to retain legal counsel to avoid major problems.

Discrimination Lawsuit
The Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination based on protected classes, such as race, disability, and sex.

If a tenant files a discrimination lawsuit against you, retain a lawyer to help you prove no discrimination occurred.

The civil penalties for rental discrimination are substantial, and may total over $100,000 if the Justice Department gets involved in the case.

You don’t need a lawyer for a basic eviction against a tenant, but with more complicated legal situations benefit, you could greatly and save yourself a lot of grief with professional legal counsel.

You want to spend your time managing your properties, not defending yourself against tenants in court.

Bring in a lawyer to help you avoid the legal pitfalls and loopholes in complex lawsuit situations.

10 Options to Encourage Good Tenants to Stay

Lease-signing incentives are common, especially in competitive rental markets.

However, incentives shouldn’t just be used to get tenants into your properties; they should also be used to keep them there.

Tenant turnover can result in thousands of dollars in lost rent, marketing expenses and make-ready fees per month, according to Multi-Family Executive.

Retaining good tenants is good business any way you look at it. Incentives that appeal to your tenants’ personal tastes, wants and needs may encourage them to sign new leases.

1. Carpet Cleaning
Wear and tear on a carpet can make it look run down even with normal use.

Hire a carpet cleaning service every six months to one year to refresh the carpets in your rental units.

If you have longer-term tenants, consider replacing the carpet every five years.

Refinishing the floors or offering areas rugs are good incentives if you own rental properties with hardwood floors.

If you usually replace the carpet after tenants move out, consider letting new tenants choose the carpet color or style that best suits them, even if it’s not the most marketable option for future renters.

Since you’ll replace the carpeting after they leave, allowing them to choose their carpeting is a win – win situation that will help them feel welcome.

2. Maid Service
Your tenants might like to relax after a hectic week rather than spend their free time cleaning their homes.

Bring in a maid service, and let your tenants enjoy a day off while the service does all the work.

A standard cleaning is relatively inexpensive, while a more costly deep cleaning is a great perk that can make long-term tenants feel appreciated.

Establishing an ongoing relationship with a maid service can be very valuable when you need quick move-in and move-out clean up services.

The company’s employees will already be familiar with your property layouts and locations, and you’ll know you can count on their reliability.

3. Household Goods or Electronic Gifts
These items work well for lease-signing incentives and don’t lose their appeal once the tenants live in your property for some time.

Household goods can include fans, lamps, electric heaters and other items.

Electronic items, such as televisions and tablets, are popular options.

If you don’t have a close relationship with your tenants, poll them for their preferences.

You’ll want to offer an appreciation gift they actually want and will use.

Spending few hundred dollars on items your tenants want but won’t buy themselves helps establish a strong landlord-tenant relationship.

4. Gym Membership
Don’t have a fitness center in your rental property?

Partner with a local gym to offer memberships for your tenants.

You’ll build local business connections while providing a valuable amenity for your long-term tenants.

5. Rent Discount
The Rent Roll found 52 percent of tenants value monetary incentives the highest, with rental discounts coming in at the top of the requested list.

Although a gift is nice, a rent discount gives your tenants extra money to spend on anything they choose.

In most cases, the rent discount you provide costs much less than the costs associated with carrying a vacant unit.

6. Appliance Upgrades
Stainless steel kitchen appliances are a big draw for both new renters and long-term renters.

These appliances may also be an upgrade if the original appliances in a long-term tenant’s unit are older.

Plus, you’ll already have updated kitchen appliances installed if you do need to show the unit again.

7. Programmable Thermostat
Not all smart home technology is appropriate for a rental unit, but programmable thermostats are a great quality-of-life improvement for tenants.

They’re easy to install and allow your tenants to control temperatures throughout the day, whether they’re at home or at work.

Energy-efficient thermostats decrease tenant utility bills and may also be easier on your heating and air-conditioning systems.

8. Included Utilities
Free utility service, such as cable or Internet, is another possible financial incentive.

These utilities are sometimes bundled into rental pricing as a new rental incentive, but your long-term tenants will certainly appreciate them too.

9. Covered Parking
Parking, especially in urban areas, is a major tenant pain point.

Consider including a covered parking spot or a parking space in a nearby parking garage for long-term tenants.

Safe, secure parking can be a very valuable incentive.

If creating parking spaces isn’t an option in a city, partner with a nearby parking garage to serve your tenants’ needs.

10. Grocery Delivery Service
Between friends, family, school, work and social outings, it’s hard for many people to find the time for mundane errands like going to the grocery store.

If your area has a grocery delivery service, consider picking up the delivery costs for your tenants’ orders to allow them to enjoy more time in your rental property.

Good tenants are worth their weight in gold.

Spending money for incentives to keep them happy is well worth the expense.

When signing incentives prompt tenants to renew their leases, you’ll avoid the costs associated with renting out an empty unit and will keep high-quality tenants in your properties.

 

Should You Ever Accept an Applicant with a Past Eviction?

An eviction raises a big red flag for any landlord.

A prospective tenants that has already broken one lease might be more likely to break another.

In most circumstances, an eviction on record is enough to warrant an automatic rejection of an application.

That doesn’t mean that you should always turn down applicants with an eviction.

If you have trouble keeping your vacancy rates low, you might need to accept tenants with less than perfect records.

When that happens, you should know when it might be acceptable to accept an eviction, and when it would be best to keep looking.

Here are seven questions you should ask:

When was the eviction?
The first and possibly most important question you should ask about any eviction is when it happened.

A recent eviction might warrant that instinctive ‘no,’ but one that happened seven years ago might not.

After all, a person can change a lot in seven years.

Also, keep in mind that very recent evictions may not show up on an application at all.

This means you may have rented to several tenants with prior evictions without even knowing it.

How many evictions are there?
A single eviction can happen to anyone.

When prospective tenants have multiple evictions on record, it is probably best to move on to other candidates.

A pattern of behavior makes it likely that you will be forced to go through the same legal process with these prospects as their previous landlords.

Who was responsible?
Evictions may not be as cut and dry as they first appear.

If a couple rents an apartment, a change in relationship status can cause an eviction.

What a couple can afford in rent, an individual might not be able to meet. Another issue might involve a specific roommate.

If one person consistently fails to pay his or her portion of the rent, all of the tenants in the unit can face eviction.

This could leave people who always pay on time with that negative dragging down their rental prospects.

Why was he or she evicted?
Keep in mind that not all evictions are a result of non-payment.

Any violation of lease terms can result in an eviction.

If a tenant obtains a pet that is prohibited, he or she might be evicted.

If a tenant fails to meet sanitation standards or has the electricity turned off, he or she might be evicted.

While none of these are ideal, they may not be instant negatives.

For example, you might allow pets, so the issue of a large dog or a cat might not affect your decision.

Did he or she have a change of life?
Life happens. A layoff or injury might affect a tenant’s ability to make rental payments for a time.

When he or she is reemployed or fully healed, he or she might be an ideal tenant.

The circumstances surrounding any evictions can help you decide on the level of risk associated with prospective tenants.

If they are frequently unemployed, that could be a problem, but if they have a strong employment history, you might consider renting to them.

How long is his or her rental history?
If a prospective tenant has been renting for many years, a single eviction may not be the same red flag it would be for someone with only a year or two as a tenant.

If a tenant can provide several good references from previous landlords, he or she may have simply had a problem with a specific property.

For example, some states allow tenants to make repairs directly and deduct the remainder from their rent.

If the prospective tenant chose not to fight an eviction or deal with a legal dispute, he or she could wind up with an eviction on record.

Look at his or her total rental history, not just the black mark or red flag.

Can I charge a higher security deposit?
If a tenant has an eviction on record that was due to non-payment, you might want to charge a higher security deposit.

If he or she pays two months or more as a security deposit, you won’t face a major loss if he or she defaults on the lease.

Of course, do keep in mind that you will need to refund any of the security deposit left after re-renting the apartment.

For example, if the tenant defaults with a two-month security deposit and your re-rent the apartment after a single month, you will need to send him or her one month of the security deposit.

Remember that many states require you to immediately begin looking for a tenant for the vacant property.

You can not leave the property empty and let the time run. With these caveats, a larger security deposit may not seem as attractive, but it can be a way to encourage tenants to stick to their lease terms.

An eviction is not an instant denial
The circumstances surrounding an eviction could make it understandable.

While a tenant without an eviction on record is usually a better option, an eviction alone should not automatically deter you.

Ultimately, you should base your decision on the prospective tenant’s total history, employment, circumstances and ability to meet the lease agreement.

Even collecting on a few months is often better than a vacancy, provided the tenant takes care of the property.