How to Verify That a Renter Is Trustworthy When They Have No Credit History

If you’re only renting units or homes to tenants with an excellent credit history, you might be waiting a while before you get an acceptable application.

While it’s true that a good credit history normally equals timely payments, that’s not always the case.

There are many potential renters out there who haven’t yet had the opportunity to boost their credit score; they’re simply too young or too financially inexperienced to have any credit history worth mentioning.

Others may have flaws on their credit, but they’ve managed to bounce back from a rough patch and will be ideal renters in the future.

But how can you tell these renters apart from the troublesome ones?

There are a few ways to check a person’s trustworthiness, even without a credit history.

1. Ask for old payment records.
Oftentimes, even if a person has no credit history to speak of, they still have some form of past financial obligations that can vouch for their reliability.

You can ask them to provide these records as proof of their timely payment history.

It’s best, of course, to ask for old rent payment history from past landlords, but that’s not always an option.

In that case, any bill payment records will work.

Even a utility bill record will give you a good indication of a potential tenant’s past.

2. Ask for a large down payment.
If you’re still worried about the tenant paying on time each month, ask them for a larger down payment up front.

Because it’s difficult to rent without a credit history, most tenants will gladly put extra money down to secure a rental.

Many landlords use this money as a security deposit or apply it to the last month’s rent in the lease agreement.

Be sure and check local law regarding a large down payment.

3. Ask for references from past employers.
Regardless of credit history, you should always make sure your tenant has verifiable income.

You should verify employment with his or her current company, and you should also ask for references from past employers.

Legally, the questions you may ask employers may be limited, but you can usually ask if the applicant is eligible for rehire, which will give you a good indication of his or her prior work performance.

You don’t want a renter who is fired repeatedly from different jobs.

4. Ask for character references.
Since employers can’t give out much information about the tenant’s character, ask applicants for additional references to vouch for their dependability.

These shouldn’t be family members, though.

If possible, it’s best if references are honest people whose names you recognize in the community.

If that’s not possible, friends, past or present coworkers, teachers, or other professional acquaintances are always good options.

5. Verify their income.
There are several ways to verify a tenant’s income, and you should pursue at least one of them.

You can ask for past pay stubs or old tax records, such as W-2s or 1099s.

You can also request bank statement records.

Of course, their employer can also verify their income through an employment verification request.

Once you’re satisfied that the prospective tenant is honest and reliable, there’s nothing holding you back from extending a lease agreement offer to them.

As long as you verify their history, income and character, you’ll likely have an excellent renter with little to no problems in the future.

How To Get Tenants to Pay Rent on Time

One of the biggest problems that landlords face is getting tenants to pay their rent on time.

You can speak with them every month about making late payments and it doesn’t do any good.

If you’re tired of having your words go in one ear and out the other, then here is how to get a tenant to pay rent on time in a more proactive, strategic manner.

1. Create a Rental Discount.

If you are having tenants consistently pay their rent late, then maybe it’s time to develop a new leasing agreement.

Add $50-$100 to the amount of rent that you plan to charge.

If the tenants pay their rent before the due date or on time, then they get to have this additional amount discounted from their monthly rent.

If they pay late, then they are subjected to this higher rent.

Some landlord/tenant laws require this additional amount to be a late fee, so make sure you structure your leases according to local regulations.

2. Lower Rental Amounts For Renewals.

This might hurt your bottom line a little, but it can also help to promote more on-time payments and better tenants.

Many markets have high rent levels that are a struggle for households to afford.

Consider adding an addendum to your leasing agreements which creates a lower rent after 12 consecutive on-time or early payments.

You’ll keep vacancy rates lower over time as the changes filter on down and though you might have a lower margin, you may wind up with more overall profits.

3. Setup ACH Rental Payments.

Lenders are using automatic payments as a way to guarantee payments and finding great success with it.

You might be able to do this with your tenants as well.

Create a time when the amount for rent will be withdrawn from the tenant’s bank account every month.

If problematic tenants are willing to sign up for this service, consider giving them a 5-10% discount on their rent since they’re doing you a favor.

This will give you a better chance of making sure you get paid.

Now ACH payments are only as good as the amount of money that happens to be in the bank account.

Not every tenant will have the needed rent payment available at the time of withdrawal.

Make sure you have a clear and precise return payment or rejected payment policy so that you can begin the eviction process immediately and have a way to recover the fees that may come when a full payment cannot be made.

4. Offer To Build Up Their Credit Score.

Many renters are in a place where they could use a boost in their credit.

They might be renting because of a foreclosure, a bankruptcy, or because of prolonged unemployment.

Landlords have access to services that will report on-time rental payments to the major credit bureaus and increase a credit score over time.

This also works in the opposite way as well.

You’ll also be reporting payments that were not paid on time and that can negatively affect a tenant’s credit score.

5. Hand Out a Holiday Bonus.

Do you think you can take out $5-$10 from the rent that is getting paid every month?

If you can, then consider putting this cash into an interest bearing account.

When an on-time payment is made, put the amount into this account. You might even consider matching the funds.

At the $10 rate and if you decided to match the funds that are in the account, then up to $240 could be given to a tenant at the end of the year.

They’ll have some extra cash for the holidays and you’ll be getting more on-time payments.

If you don’t want to cut tenants a check, you could put the amount onto a gift card as well.

6. Consider Different Rental Payment Arrangements.

Maybe your tenants struggle to pay their rent on the first of the month.

Some self-employed or contract workers might not know when their outstanding invoices will be filled.

By being flexible with the rental date, you may find tenants are better able to meet their contractual obligations.

That doesn’t mean you should have a floating payment date every month because that would make evictions nearly impossible.

It does mean that your due date doesn’t have to be the 1st of the month.

7. Make It Easier To Pay.

Do you have a slot for tenants to pay with a check at your office?

Is there a website you have that can process payments after hours?

If you can expand your collection areas, methods, and types of payment accepted, then you’ve got a chance to improve the number of on-time payments that you could receive.

If you have a grace period for rental payments, then a tenant isn’t late on rent until that grace period expires.

You can say rent is due on the 1st of the month, but if you have a fee-free grace period up until the 5th of the month, then rent isn’t legally due until then.

If you’re tired of tracking down tenants month after month, then consider removing any grace periods and implementing these ideas to create a proactive environment instead.

It could help you improve the profitability of your rental properties.

Explanation of Tenant’s Rights and Bed Bugs

Bed bugs can be a huge problem in any home.

It is particularly bothersome when they’re found in a rental.

It happens to even the best of rental properties because those pesky bugs can hitch a ride on virtually anything to enter the building.

As a tenant, you must report bed bugs right away.

An inspector will then come into the home to determine if an infestation has occurred.

 

Who Pays For The Bed Bug Removal?

This depends on how the bed bugs were introduced into property in the first place.

If the tenant has brought in the bed bugs, even unintentionally, then the cost of their removal will be their responsibility.

Otherwise landlords are required to provide habitable accommodations and that would make it their responsibility.

Does An Insurance Policy Cover Bed Bug Removal?

Sometimes landlord insurance will cover the cost of bed bug removal.

Although this limits the costs in the short-term to restore the property, any claims on an insurance policy will typically raise the rates of the next premium.

What Kind Of Rental Property Is It?

If tenants are renting a single family home and have been doing so for at least 6 months, then there’s a good chance that it will be the tenant responsibility to remove the bed bug infestation.

It can be more difficult to prove a specific tenant brought in bed bugs in an apartment complex, so in that circumstance it is more likely that the landlord will be stuck with the overall cost.

Can Tenant’s Withhold Rent For a Bed Bug Issue?

The answer to this depends on what the landlord/tenant laws happen to be.

In most instances, you’ll still need to pay rent as a tenant until the landlord has been notified in writing of the problem.

If the problem remains unresolved after a specific amount of time, then the cost of extermination can be paid by the tenant and then the amount of that bill can be deducted from the rent.

In most circumstances, the party responsible for the bed bug infestation is the one that will need to pay for the removal of them.

Make sure you know your rights and responsibilities under your landlord/tenant laws and what your leasing agreement says.

That way you’ll know what steps need to be taken to remove this pest for good.

Are Tenants Protected Against Owner Move-In Evictions

Depending on where you live, you may terminate a lease if you or a family member needs to move into one of your rental properties.

Laws governing these evictions will vary by city, making it pertinent that you check your local regulations.

Read on to learn in which circumstances you may perform an owner move-in eviction (OMI).

Individuals Protected From OMI Evictions
Only certain cities, usually those with rent-controlled apartments, allow for OMI evictions.

Pay close attention to the wording of the law.

Even when these evictions are allowed, there are certain individuals who are protected against them.

One of the primary populations protected against OMI evictions are the elderly.

In most instances, individuals over the age of 60—who have lived in a residence for a certain period—cannot be OMI evicted.

In New York City, for example, an individual over the age of 62 cannot face this type of eviction.

The same holds true for disabled people and those who have been in the apartment for over 20 years.

These rules also usually true for disabled or terminally ill tenants.

Additionally, tenants with children who have lived in a rental property for a set amount of time are also afforded protections.

Looking at San Francisco, families with children who have been in a residence for at least a year are protected.

Always double check your local laws to see the necessary qualifications of protected individuals.

Exceptions
Although the elderly, disabled, and families with young children are often protected, these rules have exceptions in certain circumstances.

For example, San Francisco landlords are allowed to evict families with children as long as the school year has passed.

Again looking at San Francisco, an OMI eviction is permitted against a family with a child if the owner—or their family member—plans on moving in with a child.

This exemption exists for elderly occupants as well. In essence, the party that’s moving in must meet the same requirements that protect the current inhabitants.

These protections are often linked to how long tenants have lived in the rental property.

While an elderly renter may be exempt from OMI evictions after living in a unit for several years, it’s not likely they will have the same protections if they had moved in six months ago.

When OMI Evictions Aren’t Legal
There are also instances where a landlord simply won’t be provided the option to begin an OMI eviction.

In most cases, the landlord must have no other property in which their family member or themselves could move. If the landlord does have another empty rental unit, they must use that one instead of the property that’s occupied.

This is true even if the occupied unit doesn’t have individuals who fall under a protected status.

Additionally, the law often dictates that you must live in the same building as your family member.

If you live in Topeka, for instance, and you’re trying to do an OMI eviction at a property in California, it’s unlikely that the law is on your side.

Undertaking an owner move-in eviction is a difficult process.

When these situations arise, however, there’s a good chance that you or your family member will have a place to stay, so long as you’re undertaking the eviction in good faith.

Can You Deny Prospective Tenants Based on Their Jobs?

Landlords can reject applications for all kinds of reasons.

At the same time, they are not allowed to discriminate based on certain criteria.

These two statements leave a lot of gray area for landlords when it comes time to review the applications of prospective tenants.

Requiring an Applicant to Have a Job
A landlord can require tenants to have jobs and to disclose their employment information.

You are allowed to ensure that the people you rent to can afford to make the monthly rent payments and pay for utilities.

In addition, you can require a minimum income to ensure that your tenants have sufficient funds for renting the apartment.

While a landlord can set the rules, the general rule of thumb is that the rent payment should be no more than one-third of the tenant’s monthly income.

While this isn’t technically the same as turning down an applicant because of their job, it does impact the kind of jobs a tenant can have.

For instance, a landlord who charges $1,000 a month in rent for an apartment wouldn’t accept a person making only $900 per month unless he or she would have a roommate.

This is just common business sense, and won’t get you in trouble.

Another issue that goes back to affordability is job stability.

If the job is seasonal or the person switches jobs often, you may not feel that they are a good risk as a tenant, and you would be within your rights to turn him or her down.

Other Reasons Not to Rent to a Tenant Because of a Job
Other than a lack of sufficient income, you may have other reasons you don’t want to rent to someone because of his or her job.

For example, you may not want the unit to be unoccupied because someone travels for work a lot.

Maybe he or she works odd hours and would disrupt the rest of your tenants when returning home.

Whatever reason you have for not wanting to rent to a tenant because of his or her job must be applied to all applicants. In basic terms, landlords have the right to refuse to rent to anyone as long as they don’t discriminate against someone because of a protected class.

A job doesn’t technically fall into that category, but you have to be careful in case it can be linked to one of those protected criteria.

If you were to turn down an applicant because of his or her job and it had anything to do with their age, color, race, religion, or other protected criteria, the applicant could claim discrimination.

A simple example would be to reject the application of a preacher, priest, or rabbi.

The key to protecting yourself and your property when screening applicants is to set your requirements in writing.

Follow those standards when interviewing all applicants, so that you may be fair in your reasons for rejecting applications. It is also a good idea to show your stated minimum requirements to an attorney who specializes in this area to ensure that you are not breaking any state or federal laws.

Landlords have the right to feel good about the people they rent to.

And they shouldn’t have to worry about their tenants being able to afford the rent.

At the same time, they want to make sure they aren’t breaking any laws and practicing illegal discrimination in rejecting an applicant based on his or her job.

 

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 Extra Measures Can You Take to Make Sure You Are Not Liable for Your Tenants’ Pets?

Many people like to get cats, dogs, or even exotic pets to live in their apartment or other rental.

Some landlords allow these pets to entice more applicants to their properties.

However, you must protect yourself from the liability that comes with animals.

1. Tenant Liability
In most cases, the tenant is responsible for the pet they choose to keep.

For example, you have a tenant with a medium-sized dog named Fluffy. Fluffy is usually friendly and wags her tail at everyone who comes by. One day, Fluffy bites a visitor for seemingly no reason.

The tenant is responsible to pay for any medical costs from the incident and the landlord isn’t likely to be held liable.

2. When the Landlord Becomes Responsible
If Fluffy had been a breed considered dangerous and had a history of aggression, the landlord could be held liable if they knew about it.

If the landlord allows a dog breed banned by a city ordinance, he or she could be liable if an incident occurs.

A landlord could be held responsible if they receive complaints about a dog and no action is taken.

While any pet can be a problem, dogs are most often the animal that causes problems for other tenants or outsiders.

If the renter keeps the pet and it creates an incident while in their care, they could be held responsible.

3. How to Protect Yourself
State laws vary based on what they interpret as a landlord’s responsibility.

It can be helpful to review previous cases involving dogs to learn how they were resolved and who was held responsible.

You can also check with on a potential tenant who has a dog to see if any previous cases have been made against the owner for the animal.

If you find a civil or criminal case involving the dog, you have grounds to refuse the application.

Another way to protect yourself is to require certain paperwork.

You can ask for tag numbers, proof of vaccination and rental insurance that covers dog bites.

By having this information in the tenant’s file, it shows you took reasonable action to ensure the safety of other tenants when you accepted a dog on the property.

If you have a tenant with a dog that has proven to be viscous, unsociable, and a possible menace, you can require the tenant to get rid of the dog or evict the tenant.

Your ability to take this step will depend on local and state laws, so check with an attorney or another expert before taking drastic measures.

You may not want to move right to eviction if you can find other methods of protecting yourself and others.

You can build a fence around the property—either bearing the cost or sharing it with the tenant.

You can post signs warning passersby and visitors of a dog on property.

 

The decision to allow tenants to keep a dog in their rental units can be a difficult one.

There are many aspects to consider, not the least of which is whether the landlord will be held liable if an incident happens with the dog.

Make sure you know your level of responsibility and take any extra measures to protect yourself.

Options for Approaching Tenants With Short-Term Needs

Temporary or short-term tenants have very specific needs, but they can be a gold mine for landlords.

Short-term leases often carry premium pricing and, depending on local laws, the rates can jump significantly at the end of the lease term.

The trick is finding these tenants to keep your short-term vacancy rates as low as possible.

Add these simple amenities and follow these three strategies to help keep all of your short-term rentals full, all year round.

Adding Amenities
Short-term renters might be in town for a season or even six months with a contract job.

The shorter term of their leases often means that they will need a furnished apartment.

Working with a furniture rental company can give you the flexibility to offer an apartment furnished or unfurnished, on demand.

If you want to avoid the added expense, you can always furnish the apartment yourself.

Keep in mind that better furnishings can help draw in higher-end tenants.

Another major amenity to keep in mind is connectivity.

If a tenant is traveling for business, they may be working virtually around the clock. Make sure all temporary units are already wired for Internet service and include the cost in the monthly fee. This helps your tenants avoid wait times for installation.

Consider rolling all monthly expenses into the rental fee for short-term leases. Some companies pay the living costs for temporary housing, so a rental agreement that builds in electricity, heat, hot water, and any other utilities can be worthwhile to business tenants.

How to Attract Temporary Tenants
Once you have the unit ready, it is time to start lining up prospects.

There are many ways to connect with short-term tenants, and here are three that can boost your existing campaigns.

1. Contact companies
Start any search for temporary tenants by touching base with local companies that often use seasonal or contract workers.

You can set up an agreement directly with the company for a specific number of units.

This has several benefits, not the least of which being that even if the unit is not filled, you still collect rent. If something does happen to a unit, it might take longer to collect damages from the business, but you are much more likely to be paid without spending time in court in order to collect.

Other benefits of renting directly to the business is less time and money spent acquiring tenants. You won’t need to run multiple tenant applications or advertise as long, or at all.

2. Add “short term” to your ads
The easiest way to connect with short-term renters is often just adding the keyword to all of your materials.

Make sure that prospects see that you offer these types of leases, so you can leverage all of your advertising toward filling any type of vacancy.

3. Post on job boards
If you don’t want to work with companies directly, you can still take advantage of their hiring practices by advertising in the same places they do. If a local company routinely advertises for jobs on a specific board, add your own materials in the same place.

This will make sure every new contract employee also sees a place where they can go to find temporary housing.

When adding materials designed to attract seasonal or temporary renters, be sure to distinguish between short-term and month-to-month leases.

A month-to-month may not offer enough security for prospective tenants, but they may want to have the option available at the end of their longer term.

Offering both options can be a bonus when working with those who can’t say for sure how long a job will take.

Should You Ever Accept Cash from Tenants?

Many landlords wonder about which types of payment options they should accept from their tenants.

What if your tenant doesn’t have a bank account or use checks?

Is it safe to accept cash from tenants?

Every type of payment option has its benefits and downsides, so it’s critical to assess what’s most important to you, whether it’s transaction fees, security or convenience.

Here’s a look at the pros and cons of different payment options:

Cash
Many landlords prefer cash payments for several reasons.

Unlike a check, you don’t have to wait for it to clear, and there is no risk of a bounced check. While cash is a safe option, it’s extremely important to provide your tenants with a receipt (make sure to keep a copy for yourself) so you have a clear paper trail if any discrepancies arise in the future.

The main drawback to cash is that you or someone who works for you has to meet with the tenant in person to collect the money, a time-consuming task if you have a lot of tenants.

It can take even longer if you’re driving to different properties. Even if you ask your tenants to come to you, they may accidentally or purposefully miss the meeting time.

For all of these reasons, cash typically works best if you have very few tenants, and the tenants live close by.

If time isn’t an issue, however, collecting cash payments gives you a good opportunity to check in with your tenants.

Money Orders
If your tenant does not have a bank account, you may also consider accepting money orders.

These are considered safer than personal checks because they are backed by a third party.

Tenants will have no trouble obtaining one, as they’re available at the post office, big retailers and many drug stores. In addition, money orders can be mailed to you, so you don’t need to waste time and energy personally meeting with all of your tenants every month to collect payment.

The downside is that, even though it’s difficult to cancel a money order, it’s still possible.

Also, your tenants will have to pay for the money order each month, which they may not be happy about.

Money orders are a good option if you have several tenants and want the convenience of having payments mailed to you.

Just make sure your tenants understand that they need to purchase one every month.

Credit Cards
If you’re dealing with tenants without bank accounts, you can also accept credit card payments.

It’s very simple to set up a basic merchant account with PayPal.

The site is completely secure, and you don’t have to worry about checks or money orders getting lost in the mail.

Tenants find it very convenient and easy to use, as most people are already accustomed to paying their bills online. You can also send invoices electronically.

Just be aware that PayPal will charge you a small transaction fee, so this option is best if you don’t mind paying a little extra for convenience.

If your tenants don’t have bank accounts or don’t want to write checks, you can still find a payment option that works for everyone.

Just make sure you carefully consider the benefits and costs of each method before deciding which payment options to accept.

Top 10 Things to Make Sure Your Lease Covers When it Comes to Tenant Responsibility

A good lease is the foundation for your success as a landlord.

When tenants understand your expectations, they are more likely to live up to them.

Furthermore, if tenants disregard some aspect of your agreement, a solidly written lease will give you firm legal ground for pursuing your rights.

Here are 10 elements to include in your lease to ensure that it covers all the essentials:

1. Names of every tenant
If you rent to several people, you should not allow them to decide among themselves whose name will go on the lease.

Every adult in the dwelling, married or not, should be included on the lease.

This is helpful to you because it makes every person on the lease financially responsible for the entire amount owed to you.

It is also helpful to list children’s names, simply as a way of being specific about who is occupying the dwelling.

Occupancy should be limited to those people whose names are on the lease, and the issue of subletting should be specifically addressed.

2. Local landlord-tenant laws
Each state, county, and city has its own set of landlord-tenant laws, so you need to make sure that your lease follows local requirements.

These laws cover many topics, including the amount of notice that you must give before you enter the property, how you must handle security deposits and what rules you must follow if you need to evict a tenant.

If you have purchased a boilerplate lease, it’s essential that you change the parts of it that don’t comply with your local laws.

3. Rent payment expectations
Your lease should spell out exactly when, how, and where your tenants are supposed to pay the rent.

These specifics should include:

  • Amount of rent
  • Due date for rent payment
  • Form of payment: Will you accept cash? Money orders? Checks? Electronic payments? You may have a preference for a certain form of payment — for example, you may not want to accept checks because they can take a long time to clear — and it’s important to let your tenants know what you expect.
  • Place of payment: To avoid disputes related to a tenant’s unsuccessful effort to submit payment, it’s helpful to state the location at which payment must take place.

 

4. Utility responsibilities
This section of the lease is highly variable from one residence to another.

In some cases, tenants may establish their own personal accounts with city utility companies.

In other situations, landlords may set a flat fee for utilities and ask tenants to keep their usage within certain limits.

For example, you may pay the trash removal bill, but limit your tenants to a certain size of trash can.

If your tenants will have responsibilities such as putting trash cans out or calling for a new oil delivery when the heating oil level is low, it is very important to spell these out.

5. Pet Policies
Your lease should cover which types of pets (if any) you allow. It should also specify quantity.

If you allow cats, does that mean you would permit a tenant to keep eight of them? Also, do you allow snakes? Parrots and other exceptionally loud birds?

Be sure to clarify your pet deposit policy, including any situations in which you find out about a pet after the fact.

6. Lease-breaking criteria
If your tenant wants to move out before the lease is expired, will you require them to pay for the full lease period? Or would you ask them to pay until you find a new tenant?

Landlords have various opinions on this matter, so you need to clearly communicate your expectations.

Likewise, you should spell out your right to terminate a tenancy if the renter breaks certain clauses of the lease.

Don’t forget to check your local landlord-tenant laws to see if there are guidelines you’re required to follow.

7. Maintenance responsibilities
What is your tenant responsible for maintaining the property? Are they expected to water the lawn, replace fire alarm batteries, or shovel snow off the sidewalk?

You can’t hold a tenant responsible for doing work that you never put into writing.

Furthermore, you should mention that they must notify you if any household system stops working.

In most cases, you will be responsible for keeping the heat, hot water system, and basic safety elements in functional condition, but you should spell out what manner of collaboration you expect from your tenants.

8. Security deposit details
Security deposits create fertile ground for landlord-tenant disputes.

To head off trouble, spell out exactly what the security deposit may be used for.

Be sure to check your state and local laws before setting the amount of the deposit, and clearly state the fact that your tenant may not use the deposit for the final rent payment.

Likewise, clarify which part of the deposit is refundable, and how soon you will refund it, following tenants’ departure.

9. Tenant alterations
Although a lease cannot foresee every potential alteration a tenant might make on the dwelling, you can create categories of changes that require your permission.

Do you want tenants to be able to paint interior walls as they wish? Can they install shelves, burglar alarms, or overhead light fixtures?

10. Emergency notification procedures
If the washing machine floods the basement, or there is a fire, the tenants need to be able to reach you right away.

Be sure to include your emergency contact number, and describe the nature of emergencies that would give you permission to enter the tenant’s dwelling without notice.