Monthly Archives: April 2017

Vinyl Flooring Is Stealing the Spotlight

By Melissa Dittmann Tracey, REALTOR® Magazine Vinyl can get a bad rap. Often it’s confused with linoleum and conjures up memories of outdated, cheap 1980s flooring rolled out in sheets. But lately, vinyl is showing itself as anything but “cheap” looking. It can be laid out in planks, tiles, and sheets and it’s getting some […]

Drought Emergency Over

As everyone is aware, this winter produced rivers of water in the sky. On April 7, Governor Brown issued Executive Order B-40-17 ending the drought emergency in all California counties except Fresno, Kings, Tulare, and Tuolumne where groundwater supplies are still at issue.

Permanent Changes.The Order leaves in place numerous conservation measures and additional measures are on the way as explained in “Making Water Conservation a California Way of Life.

Landscape Changes. Even though the drought is mostly over, elements of the emergency legislation will continue. For example, associations cannot prohibit low water-using plants or artificial turf in landscaping design. And, owners who installed water-efficient landscaping cannot be forced to return their landscaping to its original condition. That means owners who installed drip irrigation systems, built rain gardens, planted drought-tolerant plants, installed artificial turf, etc. get to keep what they installed. Associations cannot force owners to tear out everything and go back to grass lawns.

Hearings & Fines. Homeowners who let their grass die and did nothing to install drought-tolerant landscaping can now be required to water their lawns and replace dead turf. Owners who refuse can be called to disciplinary hearings where penalties may be imposed.

RECOMMENDATIONS: Although things are back to normal, I don’t recommend rushing out and fining everyone. That could trigger bad press and bad press generates bad legislation. Work with homeowners and give them time to get their landscaping back into shape. If you get a recalcitrant owner, create a paper trail. You may need to show a judge that you did everything possible to work with the owner before taking disciplinary and/or legal action.

Thank you to Nathan McGuire for providing background information for this article. Anyone wanting to adopt or update their landscape guidelines should contact us.

Harassment #1. In your latest newsletter, you discuss the new harassment rules. You state that boards should take steps to investigate and end harassment. I sit on the board of an HOA with 647 single-family residences in an 55+ community. The only control we have is our age restriction. We could make all the rules we want but we would have no authority to enforce them. -Mike S.

RESPONSE: If you are a 55+ community, you have rulemaking authority. Adopting harassment guidelines will help protect your association from potential liability. It gives you a road map for handling allegations of harassment.

Harassment #2. Your article on harassment was very informative, thank you for that. However, what if a board member is harassing a resident and other board members see it, know it and just won’t get involved? What can be done? -Pam N.

RESPONSE: If it’s harassment that does not fall into a protected category, you can go to court for injunctive relief. If it’s harassment based on a protected category, you can file a complaint with the Department of Fair Employment and Housing.

Harassment #3. In no way, manner, shape, or form is an HOA a housing provider. This is just another ridiculous example of the federal government over-reaching its authority and redefining what a housing provider is to suit its own liberal agenda. An HOA is a governing body, period. The really sad part is there are plenty of liberals in Sacramento, and elsewhere, who will carry on with this kind of insane thinking pattern. -John A.

Harassment #4. This is why I want less government. Seldom does one size fit all. We have people in DC or Sacramento that have no idea what needs to be done and don’t have to live with the laws they pass. Government is harassing the citizens. -Theresa S.

Harassment #5. This is a good example of unintended consequences. However, it will be costly to ALL residents. Which would not make the squabbling parties very popular in their neighborhood. I heard a long time ago of someone moving because of neighbor conflict. Boards should be proactive in informing the community about the cost involved to neighbors and friends when disagreements require outside intervention between the parties. -Betty M.

Harassment #6. The board also needs to raise assessments to cover the legal costs of defending themselves against such lawsuits, especially if you have the community whiner filing the actions. -William C.
Adrian J. Adams, Esq.


Adrian J. Adams, Esq.
ADAMS | STIRLING PLC

We are friendly lawyers. For quality legal service, boards should call (800) 464-2817 or email us.

Tenant Screening Fort Worth

As a cultural, economic and recreation hub, Fort Worth is a fine city that is attracting all kinds of residents from across the country. When landlords with rental property want to find the best tenants, they need to know how to properly screen applicants. Fort Worth tenant screening laws enable landlords and applicants to treat each other fairly and determine if things make a good match. Landlords need to learn all about Fort Worth  tenant screening laws.

This post gives Fort Worth landlords an overview of these topics:

  • Fort Worth tenant screening laws
  • An abundance of free resources
  • Overview of the screening process
  • Finding the best tenant screening services

Tenant Screening Fort Worth Laws

It may come as a surprise, but Fort Worth tenant screening laws are quite strict, even more than some state and federal regulations. If Fort Worth landlords don’t comply with the laws, they can get into significant legal trouble. Landlords should figure out what they need to do to become educated on Fort Worth tenant screening laws.

Here are some important Fort Worth tenant screening laws:

  • The city doesn’t impose a limit on how much landlords can collect for an application fee.
  • Application fees in Fort Worth are non-refundable, even if the application is denied.
  • Security deposits are different than application fees, and are treated as separate financial transactions.

It’s important for landlords to know all about Fort Worth tenant screening laws so they can make sure they are running their real estate business in the best way possible. In doing so, they will attract the best applicants and stay on the right side of the law.

Avoid This All-Too-Common Screening Mistake

The number one mistake that landlords make in tenant screening is to not run a background check. All too often, landlords don’t gather the one thing they need to do so—a signature from the applicant.  Landlords must have the applicant’s signature or they cannot run a background check. The professional background check is the only true way that Fort Worth landlords have to judge whether or not the applicants will make good tenants.

This application from RentPrep is a good example:

fort-worth-tenant-screening-services

 

See where the top red arrow points? It is telling the applicants they have a nonrefundable application fee. See the bottom red arrow? It shows applicants exactly where to sign in order to give consent to a background check.

Resources for Tenant Screening in Forth Worth

RentPrep has gathered a helpful list of links for you to use in your real estate business. There’s no better way to find top tenants than to use the information here.

*If landlords want to adopt a “no blank space policy,” they will be able to discard any application that is not completely filled out. Blank spaces for answers won’t allow anyone to perform a full background check. To make things as easy and thorough as possible, only completed applications should be considered.

Fort Worth Tenant Screening Process

If they haven’t done so already, Fort Worth landlords ought to come up with an individualized tenant screening criteria list. This will enable them to sort through every application easily and consistently. When the Fort Worth landlord has a chance to write down all the top features they would like to see in their ideal tenant, it helps them to focus on what’s important about each applicant.

This is an example of a Fort Worth tenant screening criteria list:

  • Only 1 dog or 1 cat, under 20 lbs
  • No smoking
  • At least a 620 credit score
  • No criminal history
  • A 3:1 income to rent ratio
  • No bankruptcies
  • Prefer at least 6 months at current job

Fort Worth landlords should take every application and compare it to the list. Those applications that contain the most matches will be the top considerations.

Including criteria on the list that discriminates is a bad thing for landlords to do. The city of Fort Worth has strict anti-discrimination laws for housing, as does Texas and the United States of America. To stay fair and equal, landlords should never discriminate when choosing applicants. , There’s more information on discrimination and housing in Fort Worth here. Federal housing discrimination laws can be found on the hud.gov website.

Fort Worth tenant screening laws include:

  • Landlords can charge what they want for application fees because the city puts no limits on them.
  • Fort Worth has additional protected classes, even more than the state or the federal government. It includes sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression and transgender.
  • Any landlord can legally deny an application if it doesn’t meet their personal criteria (barring protected classes).

Landlords can stay up to date on Fort Worth fair housing and tenant screening laws here.

Check Out Your Texas Screening Guide

In many cases cities have their own screening rules and regulations while the state has another set of rules that govern the screening process.

Click here to go to our post on “Texas Tenant Screening Process.”

Choosing the Best Tenant Screening Services

Once they have a few great applicants, landlords need to find a tenant screening service. Only a professional company can get the proper background check needed to get a true picture of what kind of tenant any applicant will be.

Tenant screening service reports should include:

  • Any evictions
  • Past bankruptcies
  • All judgments and liens
  • Prior addresses

Fort Worth landlords will improve their business in many ways when they conduct proper tenant screening and take advantages of the tips and steps in this post. Fort Worth tenant screening laws are in place to make the process smooth and fair.

At RentPrep, we have experience 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.

The post Tenant Screening Fort Worth appeared first on RentPrep.

14 Rookie Landlord Mistakes You’re in Danger of Making

For those who are just starting out, rookie landlord mistakes can be very painful lessons indeed. In this post, we’re sharing some of the more common landlord mistakes we’ve seen. Read carefully to prevent costly missteps that could put you out of business before you know it!

14 Risky Landlord Mistakes to Avoid at All Costs

Landlord Mistake #1:

Undercapitalization

It’s extremely common for enthusiastic new property investors to overextend themselves to acquire property. However, this leaves them without adequate cash reserves to tackle emergency maintenance or survive vacancies. Many landlord mistakes, such as a failure to invest in preemptive repairs, sufficient insurance, or marketing efforts, stem from this basic problem.

Landlord Mistake #2:

Being a Soft Touch

“I let the marginally qualified tenant in because they seemed so sincere and needed someone to give them a chance.” My advice is to get the best tenant you can for the area (even if you have to drop the rent a bit to do it). Run their credit, call their references, and don’t be afraid to say ‘no.’

Landlord Mistake #3:

Missing Move-In Season

Statistically speaking, apartments that are vacant in October could be vacant for months. In most areas, the best time to lease is the summer. People don’t move much during the holidays; so once September comes, it might make more financial sense to cut your rates than to risk a vacancy. If you have a current tenant, don’t let your lease go month-to-month in the fall.

Landlord Mistake #4:

Being Too Lenient

You can generally cut some slack to a tenant who’s already proven him- or herself. However, many landlords report that when their expectations are too lenient early in the lease, tenants come to expect that kind of flexibility in the future.

Landlord Mistake #5:

Going Without a Lease

No veteran landlord will advise you to rent a property on a handshake. Get a professional lease agreement. Have an attorney look it over and identify potential trouble spots, or hire one to write it for you.

Landlord Mistake #6:

Failing to Treat Your Rentals as a Business

This problematic mindset can take many forms. The most dangerous is probably the failure to use entities to protect yourself from potential liability. You’re taking a big risk when you own the property directly, in your own name, instead of via a corporation or limited liability company (LLC). Other dangerous landlord mistakes include commingling personal and real estate operating funds, poor bookkeeping, renting to friends and family, and failing to invest in expert legal and accounting advice when needed.

Landlord Mistake #7:

Getting Cheap with Property Managers

“Cut-rate property management–totally not worth it,” writes one rueful landlord.

Landlord Mistake #8:

Relying on Renovations to Add Value

Every year, Remodeling magazine publishes the Cost Versus Value report, which analyzes common renovations against the value these improvements add to the subsequent expected sales price of the home. Each time, the findings are the same: Improvement projects usually fail to add value net of their costs. This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t renovate your units if they need it–just that you shouldn’t rely on renovations to bring in extra cash.

Landlord Mistake #9:

Failing to Take Pictures on Move-In Day

You’ll want these when the tenant moves out, just in case they dispute a charge against their deposit.

Landlord Mistake #10:

Failing to Screen All Tenants

Get a background check, a credit check, and a signature on the lease from all adults that will be living in the unit. Landlords have been held liable for failing to conduct or heed background checks on individuals living on their property who later commit crimes against other tenants.

Landlord Mistake #11:

Hiring Unlicensed Contractors

Yes, you might save money in the short run… until something happens. For example, a worker could get hurt on the job, but your fly-by-night contractor doesn’t maintain worker’s compensation insurance. Or they accidentally break a power line that causes the restaurant at the end of the block to shut its doors, losing tens of thousands of dollars in volume. Guess who’s liable? You are! You need to hire licensed, bonded, and insured contractors–period.

Landlord Mistake #12:

Failing to Buy Landlord Insurance

Many rookie landlords, renting out their first homes, maintain homeowners insurance coverage. However, homeowners insurance won’t cover you if the insurer finds out you’ve been renting the place out. They also won’t cover you if your tenant’s dog bites a neighbor’s child; the plaintiffs will come looking for you, though. To protect your financial interests, you need to invest in landlord insurance.

Landlord Mistake #13:

Asking Discriminatory Questions

It’s easy for well-meaning landlords to make remarks to tenants and applicants that land them in hot water with federal or state housing regulators. Even routine small talk can mean trouble when you ask certain questions of a current or prospective tenant.

For example, “Do you have children? How old?” may be a perfectly reasonable and welcome question in any other interaction. However, ask this of an applicant, and you could be facing discrimination charges on the basis of familial association. Other landlords have been fined for saying things like, “The upstairs units might be better for you.” Keep things professional, and only ask questions directly related to the application.

Landlord Mistake #14:

Not Getting a Home Inspection

Rookie landlords aren’t exactly known for their home construction and maintenance acumen. Too many of them fall for developers’ assurances that they don’t need to get a rental home inspection. “I’m putting my best supervisor on your home,” they’ll say.

Always get your own eyes and ears on the building, though–at least at the pre-drywall stage. Jay Markanich, a home inspector in the Northern Virginia area, says homeowners report that developers tell them that they don’t need to get an inspection all the time. Markanich details oversights he finds on these very homes:

  • Insulation not stapled
  • Indoor nails used in outdoor settings
  • Shoddy drywall and painting (one landlord we know reported to us that someone painted over the wallpaper rather than removing it first!)
  • Poor flashing on windows and doors, leading to leakage problems
  • Small sections of roof missing (because the roofer promised to come back to finish up and never made it)

These are brand-new homes with some serious problems right of out the gate that are easily identifiable–if you know what to look for. That’s why you need a professional home inspection.

The post 14 Rookie Landlord Mistakes You’re in Danger of Making appeared first on AllPropertyManagement.com.

Tenant Screening Columbus

Columbus is known for its hard-working residents and rich history. Landlords with rental properties in Columbus should take time to improve their business by choosing the best tenants. Good tenants pay rent on time and take care of the unit, so it’s worth it to spend time figuring out how to do it right.  Landlords that follow all the Columbus tenant screening laws have the best chance of good tenants.

Learn more about:

  • Columbus tenant screening laws
  • Free landlord resources
  • Screening process overview
  • Ideal tenant screening services

Tenant Screening Columbus Laws

Many major metro areas across the country have passed tenant screening laws that are even stricter than state or federal laws. That’s because they are dealing with urban populations with high percentages of rental units. Columbus tenant screening laws have been created to protect all landlords and all tenants.

These are just some of the Columbus tenant screening laws:

  • The city places no limit on the amount landlords may collect as an application fee.
  • Application fees in Columbus are not refundable.
  • Security deposits are separate from application fees and they are paid at different parts of the process.

Columbus landlords will definitely have a lot of advantages when they learn everything they can about tenant screening in their city.

This Common Screening Mistake Can Cause Trouble

If there’s one common screening mistake that landlords make it’s not collecting a signature from applicants. Why is this important? If a Columbus landlord does not have the applicant’s signature on file, they won’t be able to run a background check. If a landlord’s current application doesn’t have a signature line, it should be modified right away.

This is how it’s done on a RentPrep form:

columbus-tenant-screening-services

 

Top red arrow: Shows that the application fee is not refundable.

Bottom red arrow: Shows where applicants must sign to give consent for a background check.

Resources for Tenant Screening in Columbus

RentPrep has gathered a helpful list of links for you to use in your real estate business. There’s no better way to find top tenants than to use the information here.

*Many landlords adopt a “no blank space” policy. Whenever they get an application that contains any blank spaces, it is rejected. It’s impossible to do a background check on an applicant when there are no answers to important questions. They only accept completed applications.

Columbus Tenant Screening Process

Once the completed applications are turned in, Columbus landlords should compare them to their tenant screening criteria list. This is a list that includes all the desired components of the ideal tenant. Landlords can write it up so that it is selective but not too exclusive.

This is what a Columbus tenant screening list might look like:

  • No smoking
  • Income to rent ratio at least 2:1
  • Zero previous evictions
  • No pets
  • Definitely no violent criminal history
  • No bankruptcies within the last 7 years

Columbus landlords certainly should see what the market is like for their rental units and be selective but not too much so that their ideal tenant is unrealistic and will never appear. Landlords should also never include factors that discriminate against a protected class. Learn more about fair housing in Columbus here, and go to the hud.gov website for federal standards.

As a review, Columbus tenant screening laws include:

  • There’s no limits on how much landlords can charge as application fees.
  • Landlords are able to deny all applications that don’t meet their criteria.
  • Columbus landlords cannot discriminate against protected classes when reviewing applications.

There’s no doubt that Columbus landlords deserve to be well-educated on how to get the best applicants when they take the time to learn about tenant screening laws.

Check Out Your Ohio Screening Guide

In many cases cities have their own screening rules and regulations while the state has another set of rules that govern the screening process.

Click here to go to our post on “Ohio Tenant Screening Process.”

Finding the Right Tenant Screening Services

Once Columbus landlords have a few applications that they feel good about, it’s time to find the best tenant screening service to run the background check. The best tenant screening services deliver high quality reports and thorough research for a modest fee.

Landlords should make sure their report includes:

  • Past evictions
  • Prior bankruptcies
  • All judgments and liens
  • Address history

Based on the results of the background checks, Columbus landlords can then select the applicant they feel will make the best tenant. Never make a decision based on instinct or a gut feeling. Instead, rely on verified background check information to make the best choice.

At RentPrep, we have experience 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.

The post Tenant Screening Columbus appeared first on RentPrep.

#152 – SmartMove Background Checks For Landlords

For over 10 years we’ve hand-compiled each and every background check for our clients and have included a pass/fail credit check as an available add-on. Now we’re pleased to announce we are offering SmartMove background checks for landlords as well.

The main reason we’re doing this is because some landlords prefer to see the full credit report as opposed to viewing a custom background report.

Which service is better?

Well… the beauty is in the eye of the beholder. We have written extensively on the differences between the two products in our SmartMove review post.

Check out the show notes below and listen in as we discuss everything you should known about the SmartMove product.

 

Discussions in this episode:

Intro – Cheesy opener 🙂
2:00 – SmartMove & Experian Connect white labeled
3:00 – Steve talks about cars and Eric pretends he understands
5:00 – Serving more landlords with tenant screening
7:00 – More than one way to skin a cat (Steve likes animals, don’t worry)
8:00 – Categorize the issue (concern or influence)
9:30 – Tenant involvement with “out of wallet questions”
14:00 – States adopting “pay-to-play”
16:30 – When does it make sense to use SmartMove?
18:00 – The reasons people start screening
20:00 – An eviction happens every __ seconds

Get featured on the podcast by leaving us a review!

 

The post #152 – SmartMove Background Checks For Landlords appeared first on RentPrep.

Cybersecurity for HOAs 101: What Your Association Needs to Know – Part 1

Are you a landlord or a property manager? There’s a special version of this post just for you: Cybersecurity for Landlords 101

Cybersecurity for HOAs: What’s at Stake?

Think for a moment about the data that you store on your association’s residents. If your files were to make it into the wrong hands, an identity thief could instantly have access to owners’ full names, social security numbers, current and former addresses, dates of birth, credit history, contact information, and more. It’s all of the information that they would need to piece together the identities of countless people who trusted you with their information.

Next, think about the financial transactions that pass through your office each month. From owners’ dues to contractors’ paychecks, think about the impact that it would have on your association for the security of those accounts to be compromised. How long would it take for you to get back on your feet?

What about the years’ worth of taxes and records that you keep on file? What kind of havoc could a cybercriminal wreak on your association if they had access to this information?

Why does cybersecurity fail to garner the concern it warrants among homeowners associations? First, there’s the misconception that small businesses (a designation that includes your HOA) can fly under the radar. Second, there’s a fundamental misunderstanding of the value of the data that we possess. Let’s dig into both of these important topics to set the facts straight.

Cybersecurity for HOAs 101:

What Kind of Data Do Hackers Want?

Did you know that email addresses, phone numbers, and billing addresses are all digital currency that’s in high demand among hackers? This type of data–known as personally identifiable information (PII)–is sold between hackers on the “dark web,” the digital black market for stolen identities, fake passports, hitmen, and so, so much more.

Every time there’s a data breach, there are thousands–perhaps millions–of people willing to pay for this leaked information. Once hackers get their hands on your log-in information, they’ll proceed to test it on thousands of websites. They’re not doing this manually, either–they have software that does it for them instantaneously. So by using the same log-in information across countless sites, when one company inevitably has a breach, you’ve given hackers the keys to all of your accounts in one fell swoop. You can find out if your account info has been leaked on the site Have I Been Pwned.

There are also people working to piece together information that they collect about you from multiple online sources into whole identities–from your photo and address to your social security number and date of birth. In the social media era, this information is surprisingly easy to gather–and as you can imagine, it’s extremely attractive to identity thieves. If a breach occurs in your association, everyone whose information you’ve saved is exposed to a great deal of risk–and you’re exposed to a tremendous amount of liability.

So HOAs are already attractive to cybercriminals because of the sums of money they process and the sensitive data they collect–and when that’s combined with a dearth of security measures, it creates a perfect storm.

Keep in mind that cyberattacks aren’t the sole concern here. Just 48% of data breaches in small businesses are perpetrated by malicious hackers–meaning that just over half of all data breaches result from improper storage and handling of sensitive data. We’ll go over what you need to do to prevent a nightmare from happening in the second half of this post.

Cybersecurity for HOAs: Common Attacks

Here are the most common attacks that your association should familiarize itself with and protect itself against:

Common Security Attack #1:

Email Scams

You’ll receive an email inviting you to participate in a scam masquerading as a fantastic deal. You can recognize this type of attack because it’ll require you to provide money or bank account info up-front–and the fact that the offer is coming from a complete stranger with questionable grammar.

Here’s an example that I pulled from my own inbox:

Cybersecurity for HOAs 101 | All Property Management

Common Security Attack #2:

Phishing

You’ll receive a transactional email letting you know that there’s an issue with one of your accounts that requires you to sign in. However, the email is not actually from the company it claims to be from; so when you enter your account details, you’re giving sensitive data directly to a cybercriminal. Keep reading for tips on how to recognize and avert phishing scams in the next installment of this series.

Here’s another example from my inbox:

Cybersecurity for HOAs 101 | All Property Management

Common Security Attack #3:

Viruses

Viruses come in a variety of forms, but they always involve you downloading a file that performs a function on your computer that you didn’t intend. A common one right now will pop up in your browser letting you know that you need to update your Flash player. However, rather than taking you to Adobe’s website to download the latest version, it’ll trick you into downloading a file from a different site (such as flash.com). Once it’s on your computer, it could cause scores of unwanted ads to pop up, steal your personal information, or more potentially dangerous actions.

Common Security Attack #4:

Trojan Horses

Trojan horses, like their namesake, hide within computer program that you’ve installed so you don’t notice that they’ve snuck in. After being embedded into legitimate programs by hackers, these files install themselves onto your computer. They can then steal information, delete files, hijack your webcam, and more.

Common Security Attack #5:

Botnets

Botnets are “software robots” controlled by hackers that can be used to spread malware throughout your network via emails from your device. They can also be leveraged (along with other people’s devices) as part of a distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack–the massive cyberattacks that occasionally take down business or government websites.

Now that you understand the dire importance of cybersecurity for HOAs, which measures can you take to improve? Check back next week for step-by-step instructions on locking down your association’s data, networks, emails, mobile devices, and more.

The post Cybersecurity for HOAs 101: What Your Association Needs to Know – Part 1 appeared first on AllPropertyManagement.com.

Tenant Screening Indianapolis

Are you an Indianapolis landlord that wants to find the best tenants for your rental properties? Indianapolis is home to many renters, but how can landlords find the best tenants from among all the applicants out there? By following Indianapolis tenant screening laws, landlords will be able to sort out the good from the bad.

In this post, you can learn more about the Indianapolis tenant screening process:

  • All about Phoenix tenant screening laws
  • Lots of free landlord resources
  • More about the screening processes
  • Locating the best tenant screening services

Tenant Screening Indianapolis Laws

Its true that Indianapolis tenant screening laws include what is covered in federal and state laws, plus addresses things on a municipal level. There are times when Indianapolis laws are more narrowly focused. If you aren’t familiar with the tenant screening laws in Indianapolis, there’s no time like the present to start learning.

Indianapolis tenant screening laws include:

  • The city puts no limits on the amount of application fee that landlords can collect.
  • Application fees in Indianapolis are not refundable.
  • Security deposits and application fees are separate transactions.

Indianapolis tenant screening laws are designed to protect both landlords and tenants. They are definitely going to ensure a smooth process so everyone saves time and money.

Avoid This Common Screening Mistake

Far too many Indianapolis landlords don’t get the chance to perform a background check on an applicant because of one small detail. Landlords must get a signature from the applicant in order to run a background check. If the application form you are using doesn’t have a signature line, you need to make some changes right away.

Here’s one of the forms from RentPrep:

indianapolis-tenant-screening-services

 

See how the top arrow shows the applicant that their application fee is not refundable. Similarly, the bottom arrow indicates the signature line where the applicant must sign to give consent on a background check.

Resources for Tenant Screening in Indianapolis

RentPrep has gathered a helpful list of links for you to use in your real estate business. There’s no better way to find top tenants than to use the information here.

*You ought to think about using a no blank space policy as you review applications. If you receive one that doesn’t have all the answer completed, you can reject the application. A blank space is impossible to fact check, so it often means the applicant doesn’t want that information found.

Indianapolis Tenant Screening Process

Landlords across the state benefit from a tenant screening criteria list. If you don’t have one, you should take the time to create one before your next vacancy. This list of ideal tenant features makes it easy to sort through applications with consistency and fairness. An Indianapolis tenant screening criteria list might look like this:

  • No pets
  • Zero previous evictions
  • Income to rent ration should be 3:1
  • No smoking
  • At least a 600 credit score
  • No criminal history
  • No bankruptcies in the last 7 years

Your list allows you to compare applications and keep the ones that match the closest. It helps you stay on a solid review path and not deviate because of a gut feeling or a whim. Of course, you can’t discriminate against anyone as you review applications. Anti-discrimination laws in Indianapolis are serious, so don’t get on the wrong side of the law by discriminating. Learn more about Indianapolis laws here and about federal laws at the hud.gov website.

Indianapolis tenant screening laws include:

  • No limit on what Indianapolis landlords can charge as application fees.
  • The city of Indianapolis includes additional protected classes that go beyond the state and federal level, such as Sexual Orientation and Military Service Veteran Status.
  • Landlords are able legally deny any rental applications that don’t meet their personal criteria as long as they aren’t discriminating against protected classes.

Indianapolis landlords can stay up to date here.

Check Out Your Indiana Screening Guide

In many cases cities have their own screening rules and regulations while the state has another set of rules that govern the screening process.

Click here to go to our post on “Indiana Tenant Screening Process.”

Locating the Best Tenant Screening Services

Now that you’ve got a few of the best applications, you need to find a tenant screening service that will deliver fast, thorough and affordable background checks on each one. Only then can you figure out which of the applicants would make the best tenant.

Make sure your report includes:

  • Prior addresses
  • Previous evictions
  • All judgments and liens
  • Every bankruptcy

As an Indianapolis landlord, it will really benefit you to follow the steps in the tenant screening process. To have a truly successful real estate business, you need to know and understand all the laws that govern the industry.

At RentPrep, we have experience 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.

The post Tenant Screening Indianapolis appeared first on RentPrep.

Is 360 Video The Next Big Thing For Marketing Your Rental?

Why would anyone want to go through the hassle of creating a 360 video for their rentals?

Well… once upon a time your marketing consisted of posting tear-off flyers around town, which were eventually replaced by sites like craigslist and zillow.

After awhile simple text only listings became obsolete and you needed to add good photos.

Now we’re starting to see videos in more rental and real estate listings.

Some simple videos are scrolling photos combined with a voiceover. You can have these done for as little as $5 on a site such as fiverr.com.

360 video is starting to trickle in as a new option for landlords who are ahead of the curve.

The Next Big Thing For Marketing Rentals

We decided to try out a 360 video in our office. It’s a new trend for real estate listings and even rental listings.

In the video below we discuss the advantages of 360 video and you can watch as Steve (CEO of RentPrep) watches his first 360 video (just pan to the right to see it!).

A few things to highlight in the video above:

  • 0:48 Adding graphics to video
  • 2:43 Regal Patrick Swayze
  • 3:00 Watch Steve watch a 360 video

You can see Steve looking over every inch of the listing and truly engaging with the video as he moves the phone around to see new vantage points.

In the video we mention how the 360 tour is a lot like a car salesmen getting you to test drive the vehicle. The person watching the video gets a much better idea of what the rental will be like.

Check out some of these virtual tours in action produced by Neil Carroll of Nickel City Graphics.

What’s the purpose of your marketing?

The purpose should be to attract quality applicants to your listing and to discourage bad applicants at the same time.

A bad applicant many times is called a “tire kicker”. Someone who isn’t too serious about your rental but wants to check it out anyways.

A well done 360 video will attract someone who is truly interested in what your rental has to offer and will also help repel (some) tire kickers.

I think back to last year when I was in the home buying process. There were walkthroughs we did that I was 90% sure it wasn’t the right place based on the listing on zillow, but we wanted to see for ourselves.

If my wife and I had a 360 video to watch, we may have realized that property wasn’t the right fit and not wasted a realtors time scheduling a showing.

Any experienced landlord has dealt with no-shows and tire kickers at some point. Perhaps a well done video would convince these people they’re not in the right place.

A 360 video can also help to attract more people to your listing.

If you were scrolling through rental listings, which title would you click on?

3 Bedroom with 2.5 Bath
[360 Video Tour] 3 Bedroom with 2.5 Bath

Add a mention of a 360 video tour in your listing titles (on platforms such as Craigslist) and I’ll bet you get way more eyes on your listing.

Video Equipment:

The KeyMission 360 camera uses two Nikkor lenses and two image sensors to capture 360 views around you as you record. It is essentially two fish eye lenses pointed in opposite directions and those two video files get stitched together.

Nikon KeyMission 360 4K > http://amzn.to/2onWsgc

List of other 360 video cameras > http://amzn.to/2pWLw6a
(the above links are affiliate links)

Closing Thoughts:

It’s hard to predict, with certainty, if a technology will become widely adapted or a passing fad.

A couple years back, hover boards had a moment in the sun including a hilarious Mike Tyson spill. The technology was more of a gimmick than a useful means of transportation.

Uber and Lift, on the other hand, are widely adopted transportation technologies that upgrade the user experience compared to hailing a cab.

I believe that 360 video tours will become widely adopted down the line because of the experience it provides the end user.

New technologies that create an improved experience will gather traction where gimmicks will fade.

The technology and ease of production will continue to become cheaper and more accessible too.

Once upon a time photos were optional on a listing. I believe a few years down the line that video tours will become common place in rental listings.

What do you think? Comment below to weigh in with your thoughts.

 

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