Interviewing A Rental Property Maintenance Worker

Posted by on August 31, 2006 under Landlord Tips | icon: commentBe the First to Comment

As owners of rental property will vouch for, property maintenance is a time-consuming 24 x 7 job. A burst pipe, a broken washer or non-functioning dryer, or any other problem may strike your place. If, you don’t have the time or the skills to fix these problems, it would be a good idea to hire a professional for rental property maintenance.

Having specialised plumbers, electricians, etc. do repair jobs can prove to be far too expensive, and their exorbitant charges will quickly devour into your profit margin. For a property that has continual, on-going problems, it is far better to hire a full or part-time maintenance person.

Before advertising, it would be a good idea to check if any one of your tenants is qualified to carry out necessary maintenance tasks. In a barter agreement, you could trade work for a knock-down in rent or offer free accommodation, in case you own apartment units. This arrangement, you will find saves considerably on repair costs, over the course of time.

Whether, you hire a tenant or outsource maintenance, be mindful of the following, if you wish to find the most qualified person, who will not only save you trouble, but also extra expense down the road.

  1. Look for an experienced handyman. There is a big difference between fixing a dripping tap and maintaining a large property. The complexity and frequency of problems for big apartment complexes may prove too much for the average handyman to handle. Before hiring, ensure the new recruit is competent and capable of handling the most demanding tasks that may come their way.
  2. Ascertain their skill level. Determine their skill level by checking out, whether the worker is able to handle a wide variety of problems, if he / she is qualified to work as an electrician, or does he / she have certain limitations.
  3. Is his / her expertise level a good match for the maintenance problems? If your building suffers from chronic plumbing problems, hiring a skilled carpenter will not help. This is one situation, where it pays to find a jack of all trades, rather than a master of one.
  4. Where do they live? If the maintenance man / woman you hire do not live on site, find out how far their place of residence is from your property. And, if you have found the perfect maintenance person, who lives much too far from your rental property, snap them up as it would be a good idea to provide him / her housing, either within your rental property or nearby.
  5. Decide on whether you want a full or part-time maintenance person. That can be decided easily, depending on the size of your property and the number of problems anticipated. For a large apartment complex, you may need a full-time maintenance person; however, if you own just a couple of rental houses, a part-time worker would be an economical choice.
  6. Check out their response time. It is essential to know the response time of a maintenance worker who does not live on site. Certain maintenance problems cannot be left to be resolved in the morning. For example, if a furnace goes out in the middle of a cold snap night, it needs to be fixed as quickly as possible. If, the maintenance person cannot make it to your property in as short a time as possible, look for someone whose schedule permits them to be on-call.
  7. References. Before hiring ask for employer and character references. Have applicants’ complete written applications to enable you to follow up on references provided.
  8. How ethical is your new maintenance worker? As you know, an unethical worker will not only prove a big drain on your budget, but may even ruin a landlord’s reputation amongst his / her tenants. Former or current employers should be contacted to check out the work ethic and personality of all new hires.
  9. Can the applicant cope with the demand on his / her time and expertise? If your rental properties are spread over a wide area, one maintenance worker may not be enough to handle maintenance issues. Check the distance between your properties to decide whether you need to hire one or more maintenance workers.
  10. Reasonable rates. If, maintenance problems for your rental properties are fairly infrequent, why take on the added expense of hiring a maintenance worker, when you could simply pay for one-time jobs. Carefully weight this out before making a final decision.

As you know, a well-maintained and clean rental unit means a better class of people will apply to rent your property. As well, careful selection and screening prospective tenants thoroughly will help avoid later problems, if any. For help in suitable tenant selection, visit for tenant screening and background check services, the best and only way to prevent expensive litigation, penalty charges or property damage.

Rent Hikes

Posted by on August 30, 2006 under Landlord Tips | icon: commentBe the First to Comment

Maintaining property is an expensive affair as costs rise continuously over time, which means, it may be necessary for the owner of a rental property to raise his / her rental charges to meet the challenge of costly repairs and property maintenance. But, before raising the rent, several things should be taken into consideration.

The first thing that needs to be done is to check, if tenant leases contain any clause that states there will be no rent increases during the term of the lease. In case, there is such a clause in the lease, it may not be possible for you to raise the rent, unless and until, the lease expires. New landlords taking over ownership of existing rental property, must honour their new tenants’ lease terms, even if the rent they are paying does not cover their expenses.

The best time to negotiate a rental increase with new or old tenants is when their lease comes up for renewal. Some of them may not mind having to pay more, but there is bound to be a percentage of tenants, who baulk at the idea of a rent increase, perhaps, even leading them to move out. A rental property owner should be prepared for this eventuality and should advertise to fill any vacancies arising due to an increase in rent rates.

As well, tenants need to be given adequate notice about rent raises, usually 30-days is sufficient, but the notice period can differ according to state or local laws. Also, a landlord should be aware of the fact that certain states and cities have enacted rent-control measures, in a bid to prevent tenant exploitation, a result of overcharging by landlords. If, the state or city your rental property is located in has rent-control laws, it means you are restricted in the rental amount that can legally be charged from tenants. To avoid getting embroiled in a legal battle, first ascertain whether or not you are complying with all applicable rent-control laws.

Moreover, you need to ensure the rents being charged in the local housing market support your demands. Research rental charges of other properties in your area and base your rent increase on what is being charged by other owners in the rental business. In case, others are charging less than you, your higher rents probably may have a problem attracting new tenants, or even retaining existing ones.

Small rental increases over a period of time are tolerated much better than large one-time raises. For example, if a rent raise of $100 per month is needed to make a profit; such a huge jump may find little support with your existing tenants and keep new tenants away. Instead, a small rental increase of $25, with another $25 raise after six months won’t raise too much of a murmur from your tenants. You may continue to reduce your vacancy rate, as well as, maintain your property’s profitability.

And, if a tenant cannot meet the rental increases, negotiate with a good tenant as they are so hard to come by. Bend a little to keep them by asking them to trade services for the rental increase amount, such as, taking care of the lawn and doing other odd jobs around the property. As making an exception for one tenant, may lead to accusations of favouritism, as protection against such claims, document and keep a record of the trade-off in exchange for a decrease in rent.

And if, a tenant has offered to provide services in exchange for a decrease in rent, ensure they actually do so. Take time out to check on their work so they don’t slide on their rental responsibilities. Even if you have allowed a trade of services in lieu of rent, remember you still need to claim the entire rent amount as income on tax returns. For example, if rent charged by you is $500 a month, but your tenant pays only $450 and cuts the grass for you, the entire $500 amount is to be claimed as income, since you are receiving a service in exchange for $50. However, the $50 can be deducted as a property expense. But, it would be best if you cleared up all tax issues by consulting your tax advisor before taking this step.

In conclusion, what is more important is to avoid problem tenants by carefully selecting them to ensure they are not only models of good behaviour, but will remain with you for many years to come. Screen prospective tenants, renting out to only those who will not only respect and maintain your property, but limit property damage to simple wear and tear. For help in suitable tenant selection, visit www.e-renter.comfor tenant screening and background check services, the best and only way to prevent expensive litigation, penalty charges or property damage.

Showcasing Rental Property For Prospective Tenants

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Showing prospective tenants around rental properties can mean a lot of hard work for landlords, and if you have a number of units, it means each unit has to be kept in pristine condition. However, if all units are identical, it is a good idea to do one up as a showcase unit, just the way builders and developers keep a show-home to show prospective homebuyers, what’s they are offering. This way, you have access to a furnished example without the worry of displacing a current tenant, or whether the inhabited apartment is in a suitable condition to be shown to potential occupants.

If, heavy mortgages or other monetary issues do not allow you to keep one rental unit unoccupied, the following steps should help you to effectively showcase your property to attract quality tenants.

  1. Curb appeal must not be under-estimated. If the exterior of your rental building looks run-down and shabby, chances of attracting new tenants is pretty slim. In order, to draw them in, your rental property should receive a pretty slap of paint ever so often, to make it look more invitingly enticing. Even small and modest buildings need to make a good impression, and nothing does it better than keeping them well maintained and in mint condition.
  2. Do up the interiors. If your property is unoccupied at the moment, then take this opportunity to check it out for any problems that need rectifying e.g. repairing what needs to be fixed and giving the interior walls, doors and windows a lick of paint, as you did the outside. In case, the property is occupied, give notice to the tenant that you need to enter his / her unit for a check out. To avoid any embarrassing situations, such as, a messy apartment or damaged interior, enter it alone before taking a prospective tenant for a viewing.
  3. Give the unit a proper spring cleaning, clean it thoroughly. Nothing is worse than a filthy rental house or unit. In order, to establish your reputation as a responsible landlord, who maintains his / her property and takes pride in its appearance, a reputation that will leave you with no dearth of prospective tenants, ensure unoccupied units are the last word in clean, as well, check occupied properties ahead of time to make sure they meet your exacting standards.
  4. Establish your selling points. You must know what features in your rental unit will go down well e.g. new appliances, a spectacular view, etc. Remember to point them out when showing potential tenants round the property. In other words, in order to be a successful landlord, you must also be a good salesman, one who knows how to sell the place.
  5. Ensure the carpet is clean. As you will find, the carpet is the first thing to suffer in rental units. Have it professionally cleaned and give it sufficient time to dry, before showing the unit to prospective tenants. If the carpet is in bad condition, replace it before showing anyone around.
  6. Depending on circumstances, show your rental unit in furnished or unfurnished condition. Some people prefer to view a vacant property, so as to envision their own belongings in it. However, if it is proving difficult to rent out a vacant property, furnishing it could change your prospects, considerably. Especially, if your property has minus points, such as, the downside of having small rooms. You will find strategically placed furniture will not only open them out, but will also help them appear bigger.
  7. Temperature setting. If, the weather is either hot or cold before an appointment, it is a good idea to go into the unit ahead of a viewing appointment with a prospective tenant, and setting the temperature to the relevant comfort level. People will not want to stay if it is too warm or cold inside on a hot summer or cold winter day, a fact that may cause them to miss the good points of your property. Coming into the cool or warm depths of your rental unit, will make them want to linger inside, giving you sufficient opportunity to list its selling points.
  8. Switch on the lights. If the electricity has been turned off, have it turned on again, before a viewing of your property. Showing them around in the dark may give potential tenants the idea you are trying to hide something. Paying a few extra dollars to have the service switched on in advance is generally a sound investment.
  9. Show the grounds. If you have a pool, a roof deck, or an interesting feature on your property, do make sure your potential tenants are shown all of them. Taking them on a tour of the grounds will give them a fairly good idea of what it will be like to live there.
  10. Come prepared with your rental conditions. You must come prepared with lease and rental application forms, including knowing the amount you will be charging for security, key and pet deposits. Give prospective tenants all the information, have them fill out the rental application form, and show them the lease agreement terms. This will let them know you are an experienced landlord, who knows his / her business well.

A well-maintained and clean rental unit means a better class of people will apply to rent your property. As well, careful selection and screening prospective tenants thoroughly will help avoid later problems, if any. For help in suitable tenant selection, visit for tenant screening and background check services, the best and only way to prevent expensive litigation, penalty charges or property damage.

References Prospective Tenants Should Be Asked To Provide

Posted by on August 23, 2006 under Tenant Credit Checks | icon: commentBe the First to Comment

For a landlord, it is most important to screen and vet all rental applicants thoroughly, before allowing them to move into his / her rental property. Tenant screening is an excellent way to weed out possible problem tenants even before they have a chance to become a problem headache for you.

There are a number of different reference types, a landlord should request all rental applicants to provide. The type of references a landlord asks for is entirely up to him / her, but the following reference guidelines should prove helpful in assisting a landlord to find a suitable tenant for his / her property.

  1. Previous Employers: A rental applicant should be asked to provide at least three references from past employers, specifically, if he / she skipped jobs, working for more than three employers in a given year. If a rental applicant has been through a series of jobs, all within a short span of time, it could be warning sign that he / she is unsuitable and won’t suit as the perfect tenant.You should ask rental applicants to provide addresses, contact information, former employer’s name and the person to be contacted. Applicants should also be asked to provide employment dates, including an explanation why they are no longer employed with their past employer.
  2. Previous Rental History: Ask rental applicants to provide current addresses and phone numbers of past landlords to enable you to complete your follow-up efficiently. You could uncover tenant disputes with past landlords or any other problematic events in an applicant’s rental history.However, it is doubtful rental applicants will disclose contact information about their current landlord. If they are breaching their lease, planning to move out without informing their present landlord, they will not wish to provide you with this information.
  3. Character References: Most rental application forms ask for three character references. These could be from former employers, friends or people your applicant feels comfortable listing. Character references give one pretty good idea of the kind of person one is dealing with.What you must remember though is applicants rarely provide references that do not portray them in a positive light. This issue can be overcome by asking for different types of references e.g. co-workers or supervisors, including friends and family members.
  4. Emergency Contact Information: This bit of information is extremely important and comes in handy, in the event a tenant leaves without paying rent. With an emergency contact on record, you can call them for information on tracking down the absconding tenant.But, getting this information is just the first step, if you do not check it out; the information will not be worth the paper it is written on. In case, you cannot do all the necessary legwork, why hire a professional service with experience in performing reference and background checks. References though important, are just one aspect of a rental applicant’s history and should not be relied on solely. Run a credit or background check for a comprehensive applicant profile, using this information to base your final decision on.

Selecting the right tenant for your property will not only reassure you that your property is in good hands, you will also ensure tenants remain with you for many years to come. Further, getting relevant information on rental application forms assists you in screening prospective tenants, tenants who will respect, maintain and limit property damage to only wear and tear. For help in suitable tenant selection, visit for tenant screening and background check services, the best and only way to prevent expensive litigation, penalty charges or property damage.

Preparing Rental Property For Tenants

Posted by on August 22, 2006 under Tenant Screening & Background Checks | icon: commentBe the First to Comment

As the owner of rental property, a landlord has many responsibilities, including upholding the warranty of implied habitability required by law. What this means is the rental unit should be ready for occupancy, all problems fixed and taken care of.

After your tenants move out, this is a great opportunity to walk through the rental unit to determine what repairs and maintenance need to be performed. The following specific areas should be examined and repaired if need be, before you can consider renting out to a new tenant.

  1. Working fit fixtures and fittings. Check to see if faucets, showers, tubs, toilets, etc. do not leak and consistently operate without any mal-functioning. Leaks and all other problems should be fixed before renting out your property. It may be cheaper to replace faulty fixtures as it will help you avoid future problems. As well, providing tenants with quality fixtures and repairing leaky faucets / showers / tubs / toilets, etc. can also substantially reduce your water bills. If a landlord is responsible for paying the utilities and water bill, it will save him / her a substantial amount of money.
  2. Carpets should undergo thorough cleaning. Mould, mildew, pet stains, etc. are considered as health hazards, problems that should be resolved after a tenant moves out and the new one moves in. Proper cleaning of carpets will ensure tenants have a healthy environment, as diseases, such as, toxoplasmosis, normally found in cat urine stains can prove to be deadly. As for mould or mildew, there is nothing for a landlord to do, but to replace the carpet. Far cheaper than expensive litigation.
  3. Cabinets, closets and storage areas should be completely cleaned out. Leaky fixtures can lead to mould and mildew lurking under cabinets, in which case, if the damage is severe, they may need to be replaced. And, closets are one area tenants frequently neglect to clean out when they leave. Give them a thorough spring cleaning, handling any forgotten property in an appropriate manner by tracking down previous tenants and notifying them of their abandoned property. Give them a reasonable length of time in which to collect their belongings, after which dispose off the discarded property, as you deem fit.
  4. Walls should be chip, mark and hole free. Depending on the length of the tenancy, you may have to repaint the entire rental unit. Any holes in the walls should be fixed and patched, so as not to hold your new tenant liable for damage caused by someone else.
  5. All appliances should operate perfectly. Landlords providing free utilities should consider replacing old appliances, as they consume and waste a lot of energy. Getting newer models in their place will help you save a considerable amount of money, in terms of energy, repairs and maintenance. Not only will your tenants appreciate new mod cons, but you will lower your electric or gas bills, as well.
  6. Remove any evidence of lead paint in the rental unit. If your property was built after 1978, it will not contain any lead paint. In case, it was built much, much earlier, you need to find out if it contains lead paint. In case, it does, make your prospective tenants aware of the fact before they move in.
  7. All doors and windows should operate properly. Ensure all doors and windows of your rental property open and shut, and are in good working order, including cabinets, patio doors and windows.

Further, what is important is the selection of suitable tenants for your property. Getting relevant information on rental application forms will assist you in screening prospective tenants, tenants who will respect, maintain and limit damage to only wear and tear of your property. For help in suitable tenant selection, visit for tenant screening and background check services, the best and only way to prevent expensive litigation, penalty charges or property damage.

Checklist For Tenant Eviction

Posted by on August 21, 2006 under Eviction | icon: commentBe the First to Comment

Tenant eviction is never a pleasant chore; nevertheless, it has to be done, when necessary. If all options have been exhausted and the only one left is to evict a tenant, take the following set of specific steps to ensure everything goes smoothly.

Documentation should be in order. Before you can evict a tenant, there must be enough documentation showing why the eviction is necessary. In case, the tenant contests the eviction, or refuses to leave, or even tries to sue you for discrimination or claims it is retaliatory eviction, you will thank your lucky stars, you chose to keep a record of documentary evidence. What is required is a tenant’s initial rental application, signed rental agreement, as well as, a record of incidents; your decision to evict the tenant is based on. For example, if the tenant repeatedly violated the building rules or breached the lease, you should have recorded proof of each violation. If the tenant does not pay rent on time or stops paying it, completely, all this should be on record.

Clearly state your reason for evicting the tenant in the eviction notice. A landlord must clearly state the reasons that have led him / her to decide to evict the tenant. At least, two copies of the notice should be made i.e. one for the tenant and one for your records.

Inspect your property on a frequent basis. A vindictive tenant may trash the rental unit, simply to get back at a landlord for wanting to evict him / her. Therefore, it is important before the tenant leaves, a walk through the property is scheduled with the tenant. A minimum of 24-hours notice has to be issued before the walk through can be performed. While, doing so take careful notes regarding the condition of the unit and, if possible, take pictures of its current state. This way, if necessary, you can withhold the tenant’s security deposit for damages if any, when a tenant is evicted.

Returning the tenant’s security deposit. If your rental property has been damaged, or a tenant owes back rent, they automatically forfeit their security deposit. Always, include a provision in your rental agreements relating to the fate of security deposits, if any of the above events take place.

Police presence when serving notice to evict. If a landlord feels the situation could turn ugly when serving a tenant an eviction notice, the local police department can be involved at the time of serving it, ensuring both parties feel protected.

Has the required notice time been given before eviction proceedings take place? Varying from state to state, the accepted time period is 30-days from the date of the eviction notice to the last day of occupancy. However, certain states ask only for a 72-hour notice in case of non-payment of rent. State laws should be checked out before serving an eviction notice to ensure you comply with them.

Eviction notices must comply with state and local laws. Draft all notices, including eviction notices as required by law. If the notice doesn’t comply with the state law, it could invalidate your eviction attempt.

Post eviction walk through. Perform a walk through of your property once the tenant has vacated it. Compare notes and match pictures taken to determine the extent of damage, if any, and any other changes to the property since your last walk through.

Ensure all the above information is included in your documentation. Don’t stop keeping records on an evicted tenant. Add a copy of the eviction notice, walkthrough checklists and pictures, including any other pertinent information. All this could prove useful in the event a tenant tries to make a delayed claim for wrongful eviction. Keep this documentation for at least a minimum of three years to play it safe.

If an eviction is organized well, there will be less stress for everyone involved. It may be difficult for you as a landlord, but remember it is just as tough for the tenant. Evicted tenants have been known to react adversely and a landlord must take necessary steps to protect his / her interests and property.

Further, what comes first is the selection of suitable tenants for your property. Getting relevant information on rental application forms will assist you in screening prospective tenants, tenants who will respect, maintain and limit damage to only wear and tear of your property. For help in suitable tenant selection, visit for tenant screening and background check services, the best and only way to prevent expensive litigation, penalty charges or property damage.

Implied Warranty of Habitability

Posted by on August 18, 2006 under Landlord and Tenant FAQs | icon: commentBe the First to Comment

Rental properties can only be rented out, if there is an implied warranty of habitability. Very few landlords are aware of what the term actually means or how they can ascertain their properties meet the criteria.

Simply defined, an implied warranty of habitability means a landlord’s rental property is safe for habitation by human beings. However, certain factors determine habitability, they are as follows:

  1. Known Property Hazards: When a landlord rents out his / her rental property, he / she is implying or certifying the accommodation is safe to live in. If it turns out, there are certain hazards a landlord failed to disclose to his / her tenants, they have sufficient grounds to file a breach of implied warranty of habitability.If, the property has lead paint, or the furnace is known to have a carbon monoxide leak, recurring plumbing issues or a dangerous hot water heater, facts that have not been disclosed to your tenants, then you may be held responsible for any mishaps that occur, as well as, for hiding the truth.
  2. Are fixtures and fittings in proper working order? Most states require landlords to provide working restroom facilities in rental dwellings, which may be extended to fixtures, such as, sinks and bathtubs that work properly. In case, there are issues with your rental property that have not been disclosed or fixed, it may not be considered fit for occupancy.
  3. The building should be structurally sound. If a rental building suffers from termite infestation or has suffered other structural damage, it cannot be considered habitable. A building with holes in exterior walls, or damaged ceilings or floors, or improper protection from weather elements, or a faulty leaking roof, is not to be considered a habitable.
  4. Does the building have recurring problems? Buildings that have frequent issues, such as, plumbing problems posing health hazards may be considered a breach of a landlord’s implied warranty of habitability. Prompt repair or replacement of frequent problems is the best course of action for any landlord, as it will result in considerable cost saving in the long run.

While, so many restrictions may be irksome, they are there for protecting tenants, who otherwise would be the victims of disreputable landlords. In numerous instances, due to landlord negligence, tenants have been forced to live in slum like conditions on properties that should have been condemned.

Landlords, whether reputable or not, should all be aware of the implications of the implied warranty of habitability. The best and only way to protect one from unwarranted claims of habitability violations is by examining and documenting the condition of your rental property, photographing / video-taping and making notes of any existing problems.

In addition, hire an inspector to inspect your rental property. You may have to pay extra for the inspection and to fix any problems that come to light, but it is far better than to force sub-standard living conditions on to unwitting tenants, which may later lead to possible litigation.

Further, what is as important is selecting suitable tenants for your property. Getting relevant information on rental application forms will assist you in screening prospective tenants for your property, tenants who will respect, maintain and limit damage to only wear and tear of your property. For help in suitable tenant selection, visit for tenant screening and background check services, the best and only way to prevent expensive litigation, penalty charges or property damage.

Repair And Maintenance of Occupied Rental Property

Posted by on August 17, 2006 under Tenant Screening & Background Checks | icon: commentBe the First to Comment

The onus lies on a landlord to ensure his / her rental property is perfectly maintained, with all necessary repairs carried out on a timely basis, so that the accommodation is habitable and comfortable for the tenant. While, some states have certain rules and regulations in place that govern maintenance of rental properties by their owners, others simply leave it up to the landlord to determine how his / her property should be cared for.

The care and upkeep of rental property falls under two categories i.e. repairs and maintenance.

Repairs: If, anything on the rental property breaks down, malfunctions, or is inoperable, the landlord is responsible for repairing it as quickly as possible. Running / hot water, heating, air-conditioning, proper ventilation are all considered the necessities of daily life, and if there is a fault in the plumbing, the water heater, air-conditioner, etc., the landlord must have them repaired, up and running, so that his / her tenant does not have to be inconvenienced for a longer period of time than is absolutely necessary.

As a rule, a landlord is responsible for repairs, when the damage is not due to any fault of the tenant. Such damage could be anything from the breaking of a water pipe, or a mechanical fault in the water heating system, faults not caused by any direct action of the tenant. And, if the damage is deliberate, a landlord is still held responsible for repairs, billing the tenant later on for damage repairs. For example, if the water heater is knocked over by a tenant beginning to malfunction as a result, since hot water is considered a daily necessity of life, the repair cannot be put off, and it will need to be fixed, as soon as possible, despite the tenant being unable to pay at the time. At first, a landlord may end up covering repair or replacement costs, but later on, he / she can work out a repayment schedule with the tenant to recover costs. Similarly, if any structural damage is caused to your property, determine who or what caused it, and if it was the tenant, even though they are responsible for paying for the repairs, it is still up to the landlord to coordinate them.

Sometimes, a tenant may attempt to fix a problem, instead of informing you of it right away, and may deduct repair costs from the rent. Whatever, you allow your tenants to do, ensure they are aware you should be notified immediately, if any damage or accidents occur on your property. Obviously, if you are not aware of damage to your rental unit, how else can you meet a landlord’s obligations for providing safe and functional accommodation to his / her tenants?

All appliances provided in rental accommodations, such as, cooking range, refrigerators, microwaves, etc. are typically a landlord’s responsibility. It is for you to ensure they function properly, repairing them when they malfunction or break down. Always, it is a good idea to include a clause in the rental agreement limiting your responsibility to normal repair or replacement, unless of course, a tenant damages the appliance.

Maintenance: The general upkeep and property maintenance is a landlord’s responsibility, solely. Maintenance could be anything from keeping the lawn mowed to replacing the roof. In case, you want your tenants to be actively involved in the up-keep of your property, such as, snow removal or mowing the grass, it should be stated clearly in the tenant’s written rental or lease agreement to avoid later confusion over tenant duties.

If a landlord agrees, some tenants may be prepared to handle general property maintenance in lieu of a reduction in rent, surely, a relatively cheap and efficient way to maintain property, if it is the only one you have. You can go in for this arrangement after weighing the frequency of required property maintenance to determine the rental discount.

In case of several rental properties, if you do not have the time to provide necessary repairs and maintenance, why not outsource these duties. Contact a property management company skilled in providing these services, or hire a maintenance worker. For large apartment complexes, you can also provide living arrangements for the property caretaker or repairman to ensure problems are handled in a timely fashion.

Proper preventive maintenance will ensure your rental property does not require excessive repairs, over time. However, always be prepared to deal with any necessary repairs or maintenance problems.

And, the right questions asked on your rental applications will assist in selecting the best and most suitable applicants for your property, clients who will respect, look after your property and limit the damage to only wear and tear. For suitable tenants, visit for help with tenant screening and background checks, the best and only way to prevent expensive litigation, penalty charges or property damage.

Application Form For Residential Rental Properties

Posted by on August 16, 2006 under Landlord Paperwork and Forms | icon: commentBe the First to Comment

In case, you are not already using a pre-drafted rental application form, perhaps, you would like to draft your own version. Not a bad idea, as there are a number of specific questions you should ask prospective tenants to ensure your rental property is secure in the hands of responsible individuals, who will not damage it or skip away without paying rental or damage charges. These questions will help you to determine the most suitable applicants you should rent your property to. Make certain, the rental application form includes the following questions, and ensure you get the answers in full, as under:

  1. Name in full, as well as, current address. Get the applicant names in full, not just initials or monikers i.e. nicknames. What you need is their legal name, in order to conduct a background check on them or to perform due diligence. In addition, get them to fill in their current address, complete with postal code.
  2. Social Security Number. If, you want to have a background or credit check run on rental applicants, you need their social security number to do so. And, before you can do so, the applicant’s permission will be required. Many landlords use a separate authorisation form for permission for conduction background or credit checks, along with their rental application form. Others include a paragraph in the rental application that states they have the applicant’s permission to conduct various checks. Bring this paragraph to the notice of your applicants and have them initial it as proof, they were informed and made aware of your intentions.Getting social security numbers is important, as they will help avoid confusion, in the event the applicant has a common name, serving to differentiate between two different individuals sharing the same name.
  3. Get the names of co-tenants, roommates or family members, who will share the property. Make sure your rental application form asks for information on roommates if any, or family members who will be living on your property. You should ask the applicant to provide names in full, including the age of co-occupants, and whether they are family or simply roommates.
  4. Get everyone’s rental or residence history. Ensure you have, at least, three of the applicant’s past residential addresses, as well as, the correct address and contact information of previous landlords. Also, there is no harm in asking why they left their previous address, whether the landlord was given proper notice, whose name the utilities were in, dates of residency, and whether they were evicted or asked to vacate the property.
  5. Employment history. Get applicants to list information on past and current employers, including what is their current salary. Employment histories let you know if a prospective tenant is able or unable to hold down a steady job, they indicate strongly, whether the tenant could turn out to be reliable or a bad risk one. Knowing their monthly income lets you know whether they can afford the rental payments. Use the 30% guideline to charge rent, which means if your tenant earns $1,200/- a month, you can safely charge $400/- as rent.
  6. Ask whether they own a vehicle. If your rental property has limited space, knowing upfront whether they own a vehicle can reduce future issues about excessive use of parking spaces. Get the make, model, and licence plate number of all cars owned by tenants and their roommates. Vehicle information will also help in determining if any tenant has sub-let your property without taking permission from you. If you come across strange vehicles parked on your property, you can refer back to this information and check if it could belong to anyone of your tenants or their listed co-occupants, or whether it belongs to a new tenant to whom your property has been sub-let.
  7. Get references and emergency contact addresses / phone numbers. Their references and emergency contacts. Ask applicants to provide a minimum of three references, along with the current address and telephone number of each reference. It is also essential you have an emergency contact name, address and telephone number on record for tracking down a tenant, who has breached his / her lease or has skipped off without paying rent.

As well, your rental application form should have a section for general information. In questionnaire form, you can ask tenants to strike off, whether they have ever been served an eviction notice or a late rent complaint, as well as, any other useful information they may wish to share with you.

The right questions asked on your rental applications will assist in the selection of the best and most suitable applicants for your property. As well, to avoid any mishaps or unwanted tenants, visit for tenant screening and background check services, the best and only way to prevent expensive litigation or penalty charges later on.

FAQs Relating To Tenant Selection

Posted by on August 11, 2006 under Landlord and Tenant FAQs | icon: commentBe the First to Comment

As long as landlords screen and vet their prospective tenants in a competent and thorough manner, they can avoid a lot of legal hassles resulting from improper tenant selection.

Ques. What is the best way to screen prospective tenants?

Ans.A thoroughly savvy landlord will always ask prospective tenants to fill out a rental application form, asking for updated information on the following counts:

  1. Employment, income, credit history,
  2. Social security and driving licence numbers,
  3. Past evictions or declared bankruptcies, and
  4. Past and present employer / landlord references.

Before taking on tenants, it is imperative landlords check out their references including past and present landlords / employers, et al. Everything from income, employment and bank account information must be verified, as well as, getting their credit report. A credit report is extremely essential, as it will show whether the concerned individual has a history of paying rent or bills late, or has gone through bankruptcy, or even been convicted of a crime or been evicted.

Ques. Is it legal for a landlord to answer questions relating to tenant credit?

Ans. Often, a landlord may be asked to provide credit information about a current or former tenant. As long as a landlord sticks to the basic facts, such as, whether the tenant paid the rent on time, he / she is allowed to respond to these inquiries. To play it safe, a landlord should ask a tenant to sign a release form that allows him / her to respond to questions about a tenant’s credit worthiness.

Ques. How best can a landlord avoid discrimination lawsuits when selecting a tenant?

Ans.According to fair housing laws, it is considered illegal to reject an applicant or refuse to rent to a tenant on the basis of race, religion, ethnic background, sex, age or because he / she has children or a physical disability. Landlords are free to select their own tenants as long as they comply with fair housing laws.

However, a landlord can reject with impunity prospective tenants, who have a poor credit history, low income insufficient to cover the rent, past mis-behaviour, such as, damaging rental property, in short anything that makes him / her a bad risk.

As well, if the number of people wishing to rent a landlord’s property exceeds the valid occupancy policy, limiting the number of people per rental unit for health or safety reasons, it can be considered a legitimate and legally approved reason for refusing tenancy.

Again, it all comes down to going through a proper selection procedure for would-be-tenants. To avoid any mishaps or unwanted tenants, visit for tenant screening and background check services, the best and only way to prevent expensive litigation, later on.