If you intend, as you should, to do a background search and/or check tenant credit for your prospective tenants, you’ll need to be sure to obtain their written consent for release of that information.
If you are using a rental application you purchased or found online, check to be sure such a consent is included. If not, you may either find a form or create one yourself. Your tenant screening company may also be able to provide such a form to you.
No, if you want to be sure who you are renting from, you should request both a rental application and photo identification from any tenant you are seriously considering. Unfortunately, many people will apply for rental property and provide false information on an application.
Good forms of photo identification include:
- Current Driver’sLicense
- Instruction Permit
- Other State-Issued Identification Card
- If one of the above isn’t available, get two other documents showing full name and date of birth. It’s best if at least one of the documents has a photo so that you know it is the same person.
- An excellent form of ID is always a passport.
If names don’t match between documents, be sure they provide some proof of change, such as a marriage certificate. Be sure to check spelling on all documents, and compare the information with their rental application. If there are differences, request an explanation.
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In addition to the services of a good tenant screening service, owners can substantially reduce risk by asking potential commercial real estate tenants these questions, and requesting additional information:
- Who is the tenant, and who will guarantee the lease?
- Is it guaranteed by the legal business entity, or also by an individual?
- Who are the expected customers (target market) of the business?
- If this is a new business, request a copy of a business plan that shows a history of the business, the ownership and management and their resumes, target market, operating budget (where is the rent coming from?).
- If this is an established business, ask for proof of financial success over the last three to five years in the form of financial statements and/or tax returns.
- Perform a business credit check.
- Get personal financial statements for those parties who are be guaranteeing the lease.
This information will give a much clearer picture of the health of any business who wants to occupy space in one of your properties!
Obviously, the lease form is an important document, and one you want to make sure reflects correctly your situation, property, and the kinds of rules you want to enforce.
Although you can find many examples of leases available at little or no cost, this is one place you may want to consult an attorney to make sure it covers everything you need to consider. It can be simple or complex in structure and language, but be sure that you have covered everything that you need to protect your property, your investment, and your relationship with all tenants.
There are many factors to consider in the decision of when to start eviction process. There will be a cost to you in time and actual expenses to complete the legal steps to evict a tenant. The costs in relationship with your tenants is not as easy to measure, but can be quite large.
Even the best tenants can occasionally find themselves in a situation where they need a few extra days to pay the rent. How you handle the situation affects your relationship with that tenant, of course, but also with all your tenants. Your goal should be to treat all your tenants fairly, and with some understanding.
Protecting Rental Income
You do want, at the same time, to protect yourself, your income, and your ability to evict tenants when it does become necessary. It’s important to be understanding of occasional late payments, but it is equally important to make it clear to all tenants that it won’t be tolerated if they are continually behind in their rent.
Written Eviction Policy
You should have written policy that clearly states your policy for late payments. Do you have a grace period? Is there a fee that will be charged if they are more than a certain number of days late? How many months late can they be before you will start the eviction process?
If a Tenant Does Become Late
When a tenant does fall behind, it’s important to speak to them immediately about their plans for payment, and reach an agreement with them. Be sure to keep a written log of all late payments, and your communications with tenants about those late payments. That documentation will be important if you do need to follow through with eviction.
Spending money on repairs might seem like you are just spending your profits, but there are many reasons to do maintenance and repairs promptly.
- Small problems can turn into big problems quickly if not repaired (such as a leak).
- Taking care of these kinds of repairs promptly will encourage tenants to let you know when something needs attention.
- Tenants will stay longer if things work properly and they feel like you are providing value for their rental dollar.
- Being truly negligent about repairs opens you to lawsuits if a tenant suffers injuries or to vacancies if they leave unexpectedly.
- Taking care of repairs also protects your investment and the value of your property.
Effective tenant screening
is another important tool for landlords. Visit E-Renter USA
for tenant screening and background check services.
You can find many kinds and lengths of rental applications both printed and online. The choice of which to use depends on a few factors.
- A primary consideration is how much and what kind of data you need to know about your prospective tenants.
- If you intend to check previous landlords and references, confirm employment, check credit, etc., then you’ll want to be sure your application requests all the needed information to do those things.
- Additionally, if you will be conducting any kind of background search and check tenant credit, you’ll need a signed consent from the tenant, either on the rental application itself, or as a separate form.
The required steps, forms to use, and time limits to eviction depend on the regulations where your property is located. In general the eviction process includes:
- Written eviction notice delivered to the tenant.
- Tenant has opportunity to correct problem within a set time.
- Lawsuit to evict filed.
- Legal documents delivered to tenant.
- Tenant has chance to respond within set time limit.
- Court rules whether tenant can be evicted.
- Landlord takes court order to sheriff, who posts notice to tenant (usually on their door) explaining they must move and the date by when that must happen.
- Sheriff can remove belongings if tenant does not move (only the sheriff can do this!).
Annual inspections of your rental property are important for several reasons.
- Checking structural items, such as leaking pipes and windows, can prevent far more costly repairs involving dry rot and mold.
- Relying on tenants to advise you of needed repairs will often result in cosmetic items being done rather than the structural items.
- Annual inspections provided an added bonus of tenants knowing you are actively involved with the property, so they take better care of the premises and know they won’t be able to sneak in the unauthorized occupant or pet!
Since you must change smoke alarm batteries (and perhaps fire extinguishers) annually, you can accomplish an inspection easily at the same time.
In addition to standard rental documents like a lease, move-in checklist, etc., you might want to consider having one place where you record communications with your tenants. This can be something quite simple like a notebook, that you keep as a sort of journal.
What to Include in Communication Log
Simply make entries showing:
- type of communication (face-to-face conversation, phone conversation or message, note delivered to the unit, mailed letter, etc.)
- general content of the communication.
A simple entry such as “Tenant requested XXX. Response was XXX.” or “Notified tenant of XXX” can be very important in the event of a dispute, or even a lawsuit.
When you can show that you always note all conversations, such a journal is generally considered carefully in determining what happened between a landlord and tenant.
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