Monthly Archives: February 2017

Hawaii Tenant Screening

Lots of people want to live in Hawaii, making it a great opportunity for landlords that own rental property. However, getting the right tenant into your rental can keep you in paradise or else cause lots of problems and cost lots of money. Landlords should know all about Hawaii tenant screening laws to make the best of it.

It’s never too late to get educated on the detailed information on such rules and regulations, such as:

  • Hawaii tenant screening laws
  • Free resources
  • Overview of the screening process
  • Properly Screen Tenants
  • Pick a tenant screening service

Hawaii Tenant Screening Laws

Hawaii laws on tenant screening procedures can be a little bit different than laws in other states on the mainland. It’s best for landlords to get familiar with what they should and should not do for screening.

For example, as a Hawaii landlord, you should know:

  • There’s no limit for landlords in the amount of application fee that you can charge.
  • Application fees are not refundable in Hawaii.
  • Security deposits are definitely separate from application fees.

There’s always time to learn more about Hawaii tenant screening in order to find the ideal tenant. Learn more about Hawaii’s landlord-tenant laws here.

Don’t Make This Common Screening Mistake

Did you know that you can only run a background check on applicants that have given you written consent?

If your rental application form doesn’t have space for a signature line, you need to create on or find a new document that does. Only then can you run a background check.

This is the form used here at RentPrep.

 

hawaii-tenant-screening-services

 

That top red arrow emphasizes that the application fee is not refundable, because most applicants will ask about this.

The bottom red arrow shows where the applicants must sign to give you consent on running a background check.

Resources for Tenant Screening in Hawaii:

These free forms and guides are valuable resources that can assist you in finding the best possible tenant for your rental property.

*Try a “No Blank Space” policy with all your rental applications so that you universally deny anyone with an incomplete application. It’s a good way to eliminate applicants with things to hide and eliminate potential trouble makers right away.

Hawaii Tenant Screening Process

Hawaii landlords might want to create a list of tenant screening criteria for each one of your real estate investments. This means you draw up a list with criteria that can help you sort applications as you look for the best tenant out there.

Here are some common criteria you could include:

  • No smoking
  • Limited pet ownership
  • Earn 3 times the amount of monthly rent
  • Above average credit score
  • No history of violent crimes
  • No previous evictions

Of course, your list cannot include any characteristics of discrimination. The federal government has more information on protected classes at hud.gov.

Did you know that you need to be consistent when you screen applicants? If you start making exceptions to your list you will regret it in the long run because even the best intuition is not going to be better than a thorough background check.

The tenant screening process in Hawaii requires:

  • Hawaii landlords can charge an application fee to process an application.
  • There’s no limit to the amount of application fee landlords can charge.
  • Application feels in Hawaii are not refundable.

Remember, this guide provides lots of details on Hawaii landlord tenant topics.

Find Your Perfect Renter

Finding the right tenant can be a headache if you don’t know what you’re doing.

That is why we’ve created a tenant screening guide for you to find the perfect renter.

Check out our free tenant screening guide and learn how to find the perfect renter.

Picking the Best Screening Service

Using your screening criteria to sort applications, you can now run a background check on them.

A top tenant screening service ought to include this:

  • Evictions
  • Bankruptcies
  • Judgments/liens
  • Previous addresses

You’ll never know what an applicant is truly like as a tenant without a background check. Please visit us and see how we can help.

Check out our tenant screening packages to get a better idea about all the services we offer.

Our FCRA-certified screeners will deliver the best tenant screening report available, every time.

The post Hawaii Tenant Screening appeared first on RentPrep.

10 Eviction Mistakes to Avoid at All Costs

Evictions can be tricky: One wrong move, and you can wind up making embarrassing or costly mistakes that delay the eviction and disrupt your income stream. Unfortunately, landlords and property managers tend to make the same mistakes–and pay the price–time and time again.

Here are the ten most common mistakes that rookie landlords (and even some veterans) make, to their chagrin.

The 10 Most Common Eviction Mistakes

Eviction Mistake #1:

Skipping the Lease

Small landlords often make the mistake of renting on a handshake. This is always a mistake. We’ve yet to see a situation play out where any reasonable observer could say, “Well, thank god there wasn’t a formal lease in place!” Always, always have a professionally written lease agreement that spells out the following elements of the contract in detail:

  • How much the rent is and when it’s due
  • What happens if the rent is not paid by the due date
  • Late fees and what happens if they’re not paid
  • When the lease expires and what happens at renewal/expiration time
  • How much move-out notice is required
  • What happens if the tenant moves out before the lease expires

Eviction Mistake #2:

Getting Emotional

Because landlords are so personally invested in their properties–it’s their money at stake, after all–small landlords are particularly prone to verbal spats with problem tenants. The problem is that it’s too easy to say something in the heat of the moment that could be construed as evidence of housing discrimination. A tenant can call you every name in the book; but legally, it doesn’t change a thing. If a landlord or property manager does the same thing, it can bring state or federal housing regulators down on your head so fast it would make your head spin–and cost you big time in legal fees, fines, or settlement costs. Meanwhile, you’re still stuck with the problem tenant!

This is a great reason to hire a property manager: To provide a professional buffer between an excitable tenant and an equally excitable landlord.

Eviction Mistake #3:

Playing Favorites

If you own or manage multiple properties, it’s important that you establish a formal and consistent set of criteria to govern eviction procedures. The more dwellings that you control, whether as a landlord or as a property manager, the more critical it is to have this criteria written down–ideally in the lease signed by each tenant–and to stick to the criteria that you set. If you don’t, you could be accused of favoritism at best, and illegal housing discrimination at worst.

Remember that tenants’ lawyers are likely just as good as your lawyers; expect them to be skilled at sniffing out the slightest whiff of discrimination, and using it to stonewall an eviction procedure for weeks or months.

Eviction Mistake #4:

Shutting Off Utilities

Yes, it can be tempting–but even if your tenant has not been paying the rent, this amounts to constructive eviction, which is illegal in all 50 states. If you choose to evict, you have to do it properly–by convincing the tenant to leave via the normal process, or by winning your case in court.

Eviction Mistake #5:

Accepting Partial Payments

When you accept any other rent payment than the full amount, you may be unintentionally giving up certain rights that could forestall the eviction process. Nice landlords might be tempted; smart ones usually won’t be. You might grant an exception to a proven tenant who’s been renting from you for years and who takes great care of your property. Even then, however, it’s problematic for owners and managers of multi-family properties; if you cut a deal for one tenant, word will get around, and others will expect the same treatment.

Eviction Mistake #6:

Improper Entry

Each state has laws that govern when and under which conditions a landlord or property manager may enter a dwelling that they own or operate. While the specifics vary by state, in a non-emergency setting, you must provide written notice (a note on the door usually works) before you enter to inspect the unit.

Furthermore, just because you suspect that the tenant has abandoned the property, or because eviction proceedings are already underway, doesn’t mean that you’re exempt from your state’s notice of entry requirements.

If a unit is occupied by someone you’re trying to evict, it may make sense to arrange for a law enforcement officer to accompany you.

Eviction Mistake #7:

Failing to Hire an Eviction Attorney

Few landlords are truly qualified to handle their own evictions. There are just too many small mistakes that could come back to bite you, in delays and in lost rent. Furthermore, judges secretly hate laypeople coming in and making a mess of the procedure that they then have to clean up. Worse, tenants’ lawyers will openly celebrate when the landlord shows up without an attorney. If and when you lose, it’s back to the drawing board for you, as you face weeks or even months of additional delays as you redo your whole eviction process. Don’t get duped–get an attorney.

Eviction Mistake #8:

Failing to Offer Cash for Keys

No, you shouldn’t have to–but eviction isn’t free, and vandalism is common during the eviction process. When an eviction is inevitable, a reasonable ‘cash for keys’ program gets both sides on the same side of the table, with the departing tenants looking to maximize their interests by quitting the dwelling.

You could go for the nuclear option, but so could the tenant: They could ruin the walls, steal the appliances, and destroy the carpet on the way out the door. Sure, you could sue and get a judgment–but if they were the kind of people that you could collect a judgment on, you probably wouldn’t be evicting them.

Make an offer in exchange for a graceful exit. It will pay for itself when you can get a new tenant in the building almost immediately. It’s a lot less of a headache than an eviction and a clean-up after a tenant who, at best, didn’t care about you or your property; and at worst, actively sought to destroy it.

Eviction Mistake #9:

Blowing Your Notification Protocol

In the course of an eviction, it doesn’t actually matter who’s right. It usually comes down to who best followed procedures. If the tenant broke the lease, and you follow the eviction procedure in your state, you’ll likely win. If you get sloppy, you give the tenant’s lawyer a chance to gum up the works and buy time for his or her client–at your expense. When someone’s late with the rent, present them with a formal notice–with lawyer-approved language–to pay their debt in full or to vacate the premises within X days, or you will file for eviction. (Here’s a handy list of how many days you must give the tenant to comply, by law, in each ) Don’t get into a conversation with the tenant; if they have questions, refer them to the instructions in the letter and the terms of their lease.

Eviction Mistake #10:

Threatening to Withhold the Security Deposit

This is generally a bad idea because security deposits are supposed to be held separate from rent. Rent payments that you receive are your money; security deposits that you receive are the tenant’s. You’re holding it in trust on their behalf, so you have a legal duty to safeguard it. You can only withhold it under very specific circumstances: to compensate you for damage to the property.

The Essentials to Styling Your Home to Sell Quickly

By Patti Stern, PJ & Company Staging and Interior Decorating It’s hard to believe the early spring selling season is already upon us! This means that homeowners who haven’t prepared their homes to list now should implement some of the following PJ & Co go-to styling tips if they want to get their listing noticed […]

Idaho Tenant Screening

If you are a landlord in Idaho and want to be more successful in your real estate business, it’s a good idea to look at how you find applicants and choose tenants. Becoming more familiar with the Idaho tenant screening processes can help you do just that.

From Boise and Idaho Falls to Coeur d’Alene and Nampa, the tenant screening laws in Idaho are unique. This post will take you through each topic related to tenant screening in your state.

Discover what you need to know about:

  • Idaho tenant screening laws
  • Helpful free resources
  • Screening process overview
  • All about tenant screening services

Idaho Tenant Screening Laws

Each state has a different approach to tenant screening, and Idaho is no exception. Idaho tenant screening laws are designed to protect both landlords and applicants during the process

You ought to know Idaho tenant screening laws like:

  • Idaho places no limits on how much landlords charge for application fees
  • There’s no maximum security deposit limit in Idaho either
  • Landlords must obtain written permission for credit checks
  • If the applicant is denied because of poor credit, Idaho landlords must provide the applicant with the information from the reporting agency

Remember that Idaho tenant screening fees are not refundable and is a separate charge from a security deposit, which is refundable.

Need more information? Read through this helpful Idaho landlord-tenant guide.

Are You Making This Screening Mistake?

Are you one of those landlords that constantly makes the same screening mistake? Landlords cannot run a background check on an applicant unless they have a signed consent form from them. If your application papers don’t ask for a signature, you are making a costly mistake.

Your rental application forms must have somewhere for the applicant to sign, otherwise you miss out on the important opportunity to find out about their past experiences as a tenant and how they will pay for the rent in the future. If your papers don’t have a signature line, make the changes right away.

Here is what we use at RentPrep.

 

idaho-tenant-screening-services

 

Top arrow: This shows applicants that their application fee is non-refundable.

Bottom arrow: This shows applicants where to sign to consent to a background check.

Now, are you ready for some free stuff? Great!

Resources for Idaho Tenant Screening:

These free resources include articles, guides and forms so that you can find the best possible tenant for your rental.

*Do you use a “No Blank Space” policy in your screening? If you want to weed out any applicants that may have something to hide, just try it. When you get an application, look for any blank spaces instead of answers. If the application has blanks, you can reject it. Way too many applicants leave blanks when they don’t want landlords digging into their past. If you refuse all applications with blank spaces, you can avoid potential bad tenants right away.

Idaho Tenant Screening Process

Do you have an Idaho tenant screening criteria list yet? It’s the best way to make it easy and fair when sorting out applications. By writing down the criteria for the ideal tenant in list form, you can compare your applications and sort them accordingly.

Of course, as you are creating your screening criteria list, make sure it is reasonable and not so narrow that you won’t find any applicant that matches.

This is an example of a typical list:

  • No evictions
  • Smoking only on porch or patio
  • No pets
  • Income to rent ratio must be 3:1
  • No previous convictions
  • No recent bankruptcies (within 3 years)

Never include criteria that would discriminate against applicants.  If you need to review the information about housing discrimination and protected classes, look at the hud.gov website.

You’ll never lose a discrimination lawsuit if you use this screening criteria list and stay consistent when sorting applications. If you start to make exceptions, that’s when it looks like you are discriminating. Avoid legal trouble and create a good list that helps you, not hinders you..

Remember as you sort through applications, Idaho tenant screening laws still apply:

  • There’s no limit on application fees or security deposits
  • Landlords must provide applicants with credit information if they are denied
  • Application fees are not refundable

More details about landlord/tenant laws for Idaho are located here.

Find Your Perfect Renter

Finding the right tenant can be a headache if you don’t know what you’re doing.

That is why we’ve created a tenant screening guide for you to find the perfect renter.

Check out our free tenant screening guide and learn how to find the perfect renter.

A Tenant Screening Guide Worth Reading

There are two types of landlords.

The first is one that complains about their tenants and all the drama they create.

The second landlord learns from these situations and understands that a proper tenant screening process will fix most issues.

The Best Tenant Screening Services

If you have two or three applications that have passed all your tests, it’s time to run a full background check on them. So where do you find the best tenant screening services?

With a reasonable fee and timely turnaround, the best tenant screening services should give you this information:

  • Past evictions
  • All bankruptcies
  • Any judgments or liens
  • Address history

The best tenant screening companies will give you the information you need to make that final decision. Real facts are always better than instinct when choosing your next tenant.

Your landlord needs will be taken care of here at RentPrep, and we’ve worked with over 21,000 landlords over the past 10 years who trust us.

Check out our tenant screening packages to see the services we offer.

Our FCRA certified screeners will always work hard to provide you with the best New York tenant screening report available.

The post Idaho Tenant Screening appeared first on RentPrep.

Senior Housing Provides Major Opportunities for Property Managers

Property managers: Do you want to distinguish yourself from the competition, while gaining an advantage in a growing niche? If so, you may want to consider the senior housing market.

A recent survey from Lancaster Pollard, an investment banking firm focused on senior housing developments, found that 75 percent of senior housing executives were ‘extremely likely’ or ‘somewhat likely’ to pursue a new construction project within the next year. Even though surging construction costs are beginning to have an impact, this number is even higher than it was in 2015, when 70 percent of senior housing executives said they were likely to construct new facilities.

What does this mean for you? Well, someone is going to have to manage all of these properties–so it might as well be you!

The Senior Housing Market

The senior housing market represents a spectrum of housing types:

  • Independent living
  • Affordable housing
  • Continuing care retirement communities
  • Assisted living
  • Alzheimer’s/memory care
  • Home health services
  • Skilled nursing facilities
  • Hospice

While some of these niches require staff to have special licensure and clinical knowledge, many are accessible to?conventional property managers who are willing to invest in marketing efforts to pursue these opportunities.

As it stands, occupancy rates among existing senior housing facilities have been at 90 percent for some time, and are trending even higher–as anyone who has tried to find senior housing for an aging relative in recent years can attest.

Senior Housing Market

Source: Lancaster Pollard, 2017 Senior Housing and Care Survey

As of December 2016, 72 percent of senior housing executives reported that their buildings’ average occupancy rate was at or above 90 percent. Another 24 percent reported occupancy rates of between 80 and 89 percent. Only a small handful were below 80 percent, and many of these facilities reported low rates because they were newly built or undergoing renovations.

Senior Housing Growth Segments

A strong majority of those executives polled–62 percent–reported that affordable housing would be leading senior housing market growth over the next year, while another 45 percent expect major growth in more specialized Alzheimer’s and memory care facilities. Assisted and independent living were close to tied (42 percent and 40 percent, respectively), followed by continuing care retirement communities at 36 percent.

However, 44 percent of them have actual assisted living construction projects planned, and another 40 percent have Alzheimer’s/memory care facility construction projects in the works for the next twelve months. Independent living facilities are next at 31 percent. Only 11 percent have actual shovels in the earth building affordable senior housing projects. Managers looking for clients–and who have the ability to staff up quickly–should be looking at assisted living facilities, who should have a bunch of projects nearing completion over the next 48 to 36 months. Landlords might consider building or converting to affordable senior housing spaces if they want to tap an underserved market with high demand.

Senior Housing Amenities

If you’ve ever visited a loved one in a cold, clinical senior care setting and have a bad taste in your mouth because of it, forget what you know. Today’s seniors and their families are demanding better options, and apartment managers are meeting their needs, distinguishing themselves from the competition with a variety of imaginative amenities.

Some complexes, for example, figured out that men in their communities really missed having the ability to tinker on projects in their garages–so they built a community workshop facility.

Some facilities have kitchens and offer meal plans for residents who have trouble cooking for themselves.

Other in-demand amenities include:

  • Grocery delivery services or transportation to grocery stores
  • Concierge services
  • Fitness centers & low-impact exercise classes
  • Parks & community gardens
  • Transportation to hospitals & clinics
  • On-site ATMs & banking facilities
  • Courses on art, technology & more

Emerging Niche Markets in Senior Housing

As the senior housing market develops, we are seeing the formation of increasingly specialized communities. Many property managers in the senior housing industry are positioning themselves to attract special interest and niche communities.

One facility, Aegis Gardens in Fremont, CA, largely caters to Asian residents. Staff members speak English and Chinese; architecture reflects the Chinese feng shui tradition; and the facility sponsors on-site activities like tai chi and calligraphy.

ShantiNiketan in Tavares, FL is a specialized retirement community for Indian residents, marketed as an affordable alternative to retirement back in India. It’s currently expanding to other cities across the United States.

Burbank Senior Artists Colony brings aging artists and writers together to cultivate their creative passions in their golden years. The facility has a 40-seat theater, a library, studio space, classrooms, and galleries.

Other senior housing facilities are now differentiating themselves by marketing to the LGBTQ community, RV enthusiasts, and more.

With Baby Boomers now reaching their retirement years–and doing so as the healthiest and most active generation in history–property managers willing to take on the challenge have limitless opportunities to discover new and rewarding markets within the senior housing industry.

West Virginia Tenant Screening

Did you know that West Virginia tenant screening can help you find the most qualified applicants out there to rent your property? Without tenant screening, you’re just dependent on your instincts alone to find good applicants to trust with your investment.

Landlords in West Virginia cities like Charleston, Morgantown, Huntington and Beckley have the opportunity to educate themselves about the ins and outs of tenant screening, like:

  • WV Tenant screening laws
  • Screening process overview
  • Free resources for landlords
  • Locating tenant screening services

West Virginia Tenant Screening Laws

Every state has its own unique tenant screening laws, and West Virginia is no different. Landlords need to know everything they can to make sure they are compliant and that they are protecting themselves and their investments.

Here are just a few facts about West Virginia tenant screening laws:

  • When it comes to application fees, the state doesn’t limit how much landlords can charge
  • The laws of West Virginia also don’t place a limit on what landlords charge for security deposits
  • All application fees are non-refundable in West Virginia
  • Application fees are separate from a security deposit

West Virginia landlords need to study up on the laws of the state and then make sure they apply them to their business practices.

Landlords can check out this helpful state guide here.

Avoid This Common Screening Mistake

Far too many West Virginia landlords make a huge mistake in gathering applications for a vacancy. Without a signature from the applicant that gives consent, landlords cannot run a background check. In other words, every rental application needs to have a place for the applicant to sign. Without a signature, a West Virginia landlord won’t be able to find out important details about the applicant.

If a landlord’s rental application doesn’t already ask for a signature they should make changes to the document immediately. Before the next vacancy, West Virginia landlords should use a new and improved application.

This is the application from RentPrep’s documents:

west-virginia-tenant-screening-services

 

The upper red arrow indicates information about the application fee being non-refundable. The lower red arrow indicates where applicants should sign to give their consent for a background check.

Resources for West Virginia Tenant Screening:

We’ve gathered some of the best forms and resources to help landlords like you find the best possible tenant for your rental.

*Make sorting applications easier by implementing a no blank space policy. Any application that is submitted with blanks instead of real answers gets discarded. Of course, the reason is that when people refuse to provide information for background checks, they usually have something to hide. A no blank space policy helps landlords sort out the completed applicants from the ones that aren’t forthcoming about their history.

West Virginia Tenant Screening Process

Successful landlords usually have a tenant screening criteria list they’ve compiled to help them sort out applications from interested people. A tenant screening criteria list reveals the type of tenant that the landlord wants to rent to. However, the criteria should be broad enough to include a range of applicants but maintain high enough standards to narrow things down.

Here’s an example of a typical screening criteria list:

  • One small pet allowed with extra deposit
  • No prior evictions
  • Minimum credit score at 620
  • No smoking
  • Income to rent ratio is 2:1
  • No criminal history
  • No prior evictions

Landlords compare their list with the available applications and select the ones that are closest to their ideal. Of course, landlords should never include criteria in their list that would discriminate against protected classes. Learn more about housing discrimination at the hud.gov website.

Landlords need to combine their knowledge of federal housing laws and West Virginia tenant screening laws:

  • No limits on application fee amounts.
  • Application fees are collected when the completed application is turned in.
  • West Virginia application fees are not refundable, even if the application is denied.
  • Application fees are always separate from the security deposit.
  • Landlords need a signature of consent to perform a background check.

Landlords can always reference this landlord/tenant guide here.

Fun Times With Tenant Screening Guides

At RentPrep, we want to make landlord lives easier, we’ve come up with a funny video to take you through all the steps to consider.

You can click the image below and see how we used Guess Who to create a tenant screening board game.

tenant-screening-guide

Finding the Best Tenant Screening Service

After narrowing things down to a few promising applications, it’s time for landlords to locate a good tenant screening service. There are all kinds of companies out there that make promises of thorough background checks, but many don’t deliver on it. The best tenant screening services provide landlords with reasonably fast service for a moderate fee.

The best tenant screening services include:

  • Past evictions
  • Bankruptcies
  • Judgments/liens
  • Previous addresses

When landlords receive the reports on each applicant, they have what they need to pick the best one. Tenant screening services help landlords sort out the high-risk applicants from the ones that show the most promise.

At RentPrep, we know what it takes to succeed, because we’ve worked with over 21,000 landlords over the past 10 years. Of course, our FCRA certified screeners will put your mind at ease by providing the best tenant screening report available.

Check out our tenant screening packages to see the services we offer.

The post West Virginia Tenant Screening appeared first on RentPrep.

Ep. 143: Junk Mail & Collecting Rent – Round 2 of Landlord Balderdash

This is our second round of “Landlord Balderdash” and Eric is up 1-0 on Steve.

Steve listens to two stories and has to guess which story is real and which story is landlord balderdash.

First Story:

A tenant who is needy and has issues with their junk mail…

Second Story:

A landlord who had trouble collecting rent…

Interesting takeaways from this episode:

Remove the emotional element of being a landlord. Have a process and professional way of going about your business.

Be safe and make sure you have a process for everything.

Open houses can save you time and create urgency with the tenant applicants.

 

 

 

The post Ep. 143: Junk Mail & Collecting Rent – Round 2 of Landlord Balderdash appeared first on RentPrep.

Buyers Will Pay More for Smart Homes, New Reports Reveal

The latest data from a Coldwell Banker Real Estate survey has us wondering where to dig up cash for our next big property updates.

According to the survey of more than 1200 people, a majority of Americans (57%) are ready and willing to pay more for properties that have been updated with the latest technology. Furthermore, 61% of Millennials said they’d prefer a home with smart features, even if it cost more money.

This is supported by a second survey from the John Burns Real Estate Consulting group (with a sample size of more than 20,000 home buyers), which reports that 65% of people would pay more for a smart home. That includes interior and exterior security cameras, network-connected appliances, phone alerts for security anomalies, and smart air filtration vents.

Still not convinced? Here are a few more stats from the surveys:

  • 54% of shoppers say that if they had to choose between nearly identical homes, they’d choose the one with smart technology already installed (Coldwell Banker).
  • 71% said they want a move-in ready home, and 57% of those people consider smart technology part of the ‘move-in ready’ package (Coldwell Banker).
  • 65% of home buyers said they’d pay more for smart home technology ‘packages’ (John Burns).

Some experts are even saying that shoppers aren’t just asking for smart home technology–they expect it.

Do you think it’s time to invest in updates at your properties? We certainly do. But we’re not going to tackle these updates on our own: A property management company is better equipped to oversee a project of this size, from start to finish. In fact, they’re already busy researching the best deal on Nest home thermostats?

Ready to hire a property manager of your own to oversee your next big renovation? Just click here to find one in your area.

Nebraska Tenant Screening

Nebraska tenant screening is one of the best ways for landlords in the state to identify the best applicants. Of course, Nebraska laws are a little different than others when it comes to landlord tenant regulations.

Our article will give you all the tips, suggestions and free forms you will need to properly screen tenants in Nebraska. Landlords that want to make the most profit from their business and keep the best tenants in their rentals should participate in tenant screening.

Nebraska Tenant Screening Laws

It’s no secret that Nebraska laws tend to differ from other states. These are just a few things that landlords need to know:

  • The state places no limits on how much landlords can charge for application fees
  • Landlords in Nebraska can only charge the equivalent of one month’s rent for the security deposit
  • Application fees are different than security deposits
  • Security deposits are refundable, but application fees are not refundable in Nebraska

Of course, landlords should follow the law when going through the tenant screening process. For more details on laws involved with Nebraska tenant screening, click here.

Don’t Make This Screening Mistake

In Nebraska, landlords can only run a background check on an applicant if they have signed consent from them. If a rental application does not include a signature line, it doesn’t grant permission to the landlord. Landlords should look at their paperwork for applications right now and make changes if needed to get consent.

This is what we use here at RentPrep:
nebraska-tenant-screening-services
See how the first red arrow shows the application fee is non-refundable? Many applicants aren’t clear on that, so pointing it out clears up misunderstandings. See how the second red arrow indicates where the applicant should sign? That gives consent to landlords to run a background check.

Resources for Tenant Screening in Nebraska

Here are some free forms and resources to help you find the best possible tenant for your rental.

*An excellent screening tactic is to use a “No Blank Space” policy for all rental applications. This means that applicants with something to hide often leave blank spaces to questions they don’t want landlords to look closely at. If landlords see a blank space for an answer, they don’t accept rental application.

Nebraska Tenant Screening Process

Landlords should create a screening criteria list for each of rental property and write them down for future reference. Their criteria usually include things such as the following:

  • No smoking
  • Pet limits s
  • 3:1 income to rent ratio
  • No violent crimes
  • Absolutely no previous evictions
  • At least 6 months at current job or at prior job with a move

Landlords should take great care that their criteria, marketing, or screening process ever discriminates against any of the protected classes. Learn more about this at hud.gov.

It’s important for landlords in Nebraska to always be consistent in screening applicants. If they are always making exceptions or changing their mind on a case-by-case basis, it could be seen as discrimination and therefore start up legal trouble.

Any landlord that wants to get up to speed on Nebraska landlord tenant law should read this for more details.

Find Your Perfect Renter

Finding the right tenant can be a headache if you don’t know what you’re doing.

That is why we’ve created a tenant screening guide for you to find the perfect renter.

Check out our free tenant screening guide and learn how to find the perfect renter.

Picking the Best Screening Service

When landlords have narrowed the choice down to the final few applicants, it’s time to run a background check on each one. Doing a thorough background check includes the following items:

  • Eviction history
  • Prior bankruptcies
  • Judgements or liens
  • Prior address history

Landlords should trust a tenant screening company instead of a gut feeling for the best results.

Here at RentPrep, we’ve worked with over 21,000 landlords over the past 10 years. Check out our tenant screening packages to see the services we offer. Our FCRA certified screeners will put your mind at ease by providing the best tenant screening report available.

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Ask an Expert: Are Real Estate IRAs a Scam?

My real estate agent has been telling me I can use IRA money to buy a small apartment building. It’s a solid investment, but can I use IRA money to buy it? I would have to mortgage about half of it, but I thought it was illegal to borrow money using an IRA. I don’t want to make a mistake and pay a penalty to the IRS for using my IRA improperly. Am I missing something?

–Hayden, Monrovia, California

Dear Hayden,

If it’s an investment you want to make, then I have good news: It is quite possible to take direct ownership of real estate within an IRA. In fact, there are people across the country who are doing just that, using a strategy called ‘self-direction.’

Here’s how it works:
All of us are familiar with IRAs that own stocks, mutual funds, money markets, and other paper assets. But the IRA platform, as defined in the Employee Retirement Security Act of 1974, actually allows you to hold almost anything you want in your IRA, including real estate. In fact, the only asset classes that are closed to you within an IRA are life insurance, gems, jewelry, collectibles, alcoholic beverages, and certain kinds of gold and bullion of insufficient or inconsistent purity.

Outside of that, all that is not forbidden is permissible. So, yes, you can indeed take direct ownership of rental real estate within an IRA, including an apartment building of any size you can afford.

Real estate IRAs have some tax ramifications, of course:

  • Rental income is generally tax deferred
  • No capital gains are due when you sell property held in an IRA
  • You can’t take a depreciation expense
  • You can’t take a deduction on interest income (since it’s not taxed in the current year within an IRA)
  • You can’t deduct repairs (since rental income isn’t taxable, there’s nothing to deduct against)

You can also hold real estate within a Roth IRA, in which case the rental income is generally tax-free, as is capital growth.

Mortgages Within IRAs

It’s also quite possible for your IRA to borrow money in the form of a mortgage. However, there’s an important caveat: It’s your IRA borrowing the money, not you personally. You cannot sign a personal guarantee, and the only allowable collateral must come from within the IRA itself. The loan must be on a non-recourse basis. That is, if the loan goes into default, the lender must not have any recourse against you. They can only foreclose on the collateral, which must be from within the IRA.

There are a few finance companies that specialize in this kind of lending. It’s all underwritten based on the value of the asset. Most won’t lend more than 65 percent on a property–less if the property is out of state, is located in certain states, or is otherwise considered high risk.

Entities

Just as most real estate investors wisely hold their properties in separate entities outside of an IRA, you can also own entities within the IRA. In fact, it’s probably a good idea to hold each property within its own C corporation or LLC (IRAs can’t own S corporations). That way, if a tenant sues your property, they can’t collect on the rest of the IRA–only property within the IRA.

Note that when you draw up the title and other ownership documents, it’s critical that they do not list you personally as the owner. They should say, ‘IRA, for the benefit of John Q. Public’ or similar language.

Beware of UDIT

Note that if you do choose to own real estate within an IRA or a Roth IRA, then you will become subject to a little-known special tax called the ‘unrelated debt-financed income tax,’ or alternatively, the ‘unrelated business income tax.’

In a nutshell, assets you buy with your own money in an IRA get the benefit of tax deferral or tax-free growth–but not assets that you buy with other people’s money. So if you have a mortgage out for 50 percent of the value of the property, then 50 percent of the income from that property and 50 percent of the gains (if you sell it that particular year) is taxable.

To avoid UDIT, consider owning your property within a self-directed solo 401(k) account. A quirk in the law exempts 401(k) plans from UDIT/UBIT.

Be Aware of Prohibited Transactions

Other than contributions and distributions, your IRA cannot do business directly with you, your spouse, or your descendants or ascendants (parents and grandparents); nor can it do business directly with any entity they control. Furthermore, it cannot transact directly with anyone who advises you on your IRA in a fiduciary capacity.

That means you can’t use your IRA to buy your vacation house, nor can you stay in the property your IRA owns–even if you pay a market rent.

You cannot personally lend money to your IRA–and though your IRA can lend money to others, neither you nor anyone else on that prohibited list can borrow money from it.

You cannot hire yourself, your child, your spouse, or your mother-in-law as property manager–that would violate the prohibited transaction rule. However, you can hire your cousin or your brother.

You must also fund all repairs, marketing, renovations, staff, and other expenses from within the IRA, or with a non-recourse loan. Your new contributions, though, are limited to $5500 per year (plus another $1000 if you are over age 50) or whatever you can roll over into the account. So make sure you have a plan to replace that roof when it goes, without running into a cash crunch.

First Steps

If you decide that you want to go ahead and begin self-directed IRA investing and buy a property, the first thing to do is find the property.

Next, find an IRA custodian or third-party administrator with specific experience in self-directed IRAs or real estate IRAs, and open up an IRA account with them.

Third, execute a rollover by transferring funds from your existing conventional IRA into your new self-directed IRA.

Direct your custodian or third-party administrator in writing to purchase the property on your behalf.

Confirm that the transaction went through and the title is correctly written.

Is It for You?

That said, is investing in real estate using your retirement money for everyone? No. Many times, individuals already have healthy exposure to real estate just from owning their own home and a couple of rental properties. So if you are an experienced real estate investor, by all means, carry on; but be sure to understand how real estate IRAs work in your overall portfolio.