Widget’s Way featuring Patti “Widget”
Application Process and Screening perspective tenants
Answer your phone “Property Management” when advertising a unit for rent. Deceiving applicants will simply hang up if they think a management company will be reviewing their application, instead of a private owner that they may be able to hide information or be deceiving.
Use google to get work phone numbers and verify employment for an applicant, if you call the phone number that a tenant provides, you have no idea who you are calling. It could be a relative ready to lie and answer all the right questions. Same thing with calling previous landlords. If you use the phone numbers provided by the applicant, then you are only calling, exactly who the applicant wants you to call.
If the applicants want to make payments on the deposit, it is a set up for failure. I don’t care what the story is, (because there always is one), if they don’t have the full rent and deposit then this just shouldn’t happen.
If they want to pay a few months in advance be cautious you may not get another dime and have to start an eviction.
By Having the applicant sign a holding deposit agreement when you take a deposit,(only if you are not collecting the rent deposit and signing the lease all at the same time.) in the event the tenant backs out you can charge daily rent for the time the unit was taken off the market.
Rental Agreement and move in Process
Do not have the tenant sign a rental agreement until you have all the money, have completed the move in inspection and it is signed by all parties and you are ready to hand them the keys the lease starts on that day.
Prorate the 2nd month’s rent and take the full deposit and full month’s rent up front.
The move in walk thru inspection does wonders when the tenant vacates and is one of the best forms of evidence as the tenant signed and agreed to it when they moved in. Do this inspection with the tenant. Hold on to the inspection report as it is worth is weight in gold when needed, do not leave this for the tenant to do , it may never happen.
Also take lots of photos not necessarily of what’s wrong, but also showing what’s right. Stand back in a room and try to get as much of the room in the photo, the carpet, ceiling fan, closet doors, fresh painted walls etc. When they move out you can take photos in the same manner to properly document the difference in conditions.
Use Blue ink to sign all your documents as it is very easy at a quick glance to know which one is the original.
It is very important to keep good records, on maintenance, inspections, repairs, late notices, NSF checks, etc. Somewhere down the line you may need to prove that repairs were done in a timely manner, or there are previous inspections where the damage in question was not noted. Sometimes the best records you have to assist you have already happened and having them all in one place makes them easy to find and refer to.
From time to time a tenant will be late on the rent, life happens to all of us, remember this is a business transaction and you need to keep a balance between your emotions and business. Keep records of when they are late and why they are late. If your tenant’s mother passed away more than three times in the tenancy, I would raise an eyebrow. It will also show a history on the tenant’s character.
Know this as a fact, it is a rather easy process to do a simple rent increase of $50.00 per year vs. a $200.00 increase all at once. When the rent is raised the tenants will tell you about everything that is not working or broken. These two items go hand in hand so be prepared when the rent goes up so do the requests for service and maintenance.
There are several notices that you use however you need to use the one that fits your needs the best. A 30 day, 60 day, 90 day, 3 day, notice of non-renewal of lease. When in doubt contact your legal firm or association for direction. Take note that in cities with ordinances like rent control, ending tenancy can become very costly, very quickly so make sure you are aware of the rules in the city that your income property resides in.
If the tenant gives you a notice to vacate make sure that you are sending them the “right to an initial inspection” notice and acknowledgement of the notice to vacate. If not, it can cause problem in a small claims action where the tenant is trying to get the security deposit refunded. This notice of “right to Initial inspection” also needs to accompany a 30, 60, or 90 day notice to vacate. The only time these notices are not required is during an eviction or when tenant surrenders or abandonees the property.
The tenant owes rent until the end of the notice date or until they turn in keys whichever is later.
You have ONLY 21 days to have the envelope post marked with the disposition of security deposit. Or the tenant can sue you for up to 3 times the amount of the deposit.
If the tenant owes you money this disposition of security deposit also acts as a demand for payment on what is owed to you. And acts as evidence and the basis for a small claims case.
If you do not have all the final invoices ready in the 21 days you must send out an ESTIMATED Disposition within the 21 days and then a FINAL disposition of security deposit, within 14 days of receiving the final invoice.
If you are having trouble understanding wear and tear vs. damages you can also visit the Department of Consumer affairs website regarding security deposit refunds.
Try not to advertise the house until it is rent ready or set up as drive by only. Tenants can be manipulative when there are still repairs to be done and they will try to work a deal. This almost never works out and can cause more problems for you in the long run.
Meet Patti at Apartment Investors Club events and educational workshops! When you become an AIC Member you will also gain access to experts like Patti to answer your questions and provide the practical management advice you’re looking for!
Patti “Widget” | FastEvict.com Law Group
Patti has been highly involved in the property management industry more than 20 years. She is an independent rental owner, a property manager by trade, and has spent many years as a regional property manager. Patti acts as an advisor and expert in the property management industry. Patti actively involved with several different apartment associations, she is a key note speaker at conventions , writes articles for their publications and is an educator in their training classes. She has been an invited as a judge for several different types of industry awards. Patti’s also holds various certifications and licenses on both a state and on a national level.