Monthly Archives: August 2017

#170 ESA Troubles? Meet Jaime Michelle Cain

Emotional Support Animals are all the rage these days for landlord or perhaps we should say that they enrage landlords.

It’s a tough subject and we’ve found a great ally to help push back on bogus ESA claims.

Jaime Michelle Cain is an attorney with the Boylan Code Law Firm and she specializes in Landlord-Tenant law.

She has some tremendous insights on what a landlord can do to protect themselves from ESAs that are a potential hazard.

Show Notes for Emotional Emotional Support Animals

0:00 – Introductions

4:00 – Why are ESAs such a big topic right now? It mostly started in 2013 as HUD Guidance issued on the issue of Emotional Support Animals. This has taken a few years for word to spread but many tenants are aware of how to manipulate this.

6:20 – A personal story on ESAs and an airline snafu.

13:20 – If you can’t confirm that a Doctor wrote the note you can deny the accommodation. But keep the tenant in the loop because tenants file for housing discrimination claims because one they don’t feel heard or two they feel they’re not getting the answer they want.

14:40 – Jaime teaches the ABCDEs of landlording. Always Be Consistent Document Everything.

17:00 – When you’re getting a new tenant in Jaime would suggest an “animal responsibility addendum” and stop referring to animals as “pets”. With this addendum it states your rules and regulations for the animals being on the property. The upkeep of the animal, nuisance laws whether or not it is a pet or animal addendum. As long as you have a standardized form that speaks to the same terms for pets and ESAs you are ensuring that there is no discrimination based on the animal being an ESA. With this addendum in place it gives you the breach of lease terms you can use in your lease.

19:20 – It is false that ESA animals are untouchable. Jaime lists a bunch of reasons how an ESA can be a breach of a lease under your animal addendum in your lease. It doesn’t mean you can evict the tenant but you can have the animal removed from the property.

20:30 – Can you have more than one emotional support animal on the property? Jaime explains that it is possible but the animal must be for a different purpose than the existing ESA. One ESA might be for fetching while another would be for anxiety. 

23:00 – A no pet policy or one pet policy doesn’t stop an ESA from being denied.

26:20 – Be careful over the phone and say, “We are absolutely Fair Housing compliant and we follow all laws.” Then encourage the caller to come in person to apply. If you can’t tell if they have a disability you just let them know you require a doctor’s note to describe a nexus between the disability and the animal.

29:30 – Testers will call and also show up to your property. Direct testers to your office or the landlord.

31:00 – Always add that you’re fair housing compliant and reasonable accommodation requests are reviewed on a case by case basis.

32:00 – Leave open in your lease that on 30 day notice you can change any part of the lease that tenant is use to.

37:30 – Assistance Animal Pitfalls … restricting breed, size or weight, charging a pet deposit, charging a monthly pet fee, requiring tenants who require an ESA to sign a pet or animal addendum containing restrictions that don’t apply to ESA such as requiring them to be in a crate, limiting residents to only one emotional support animal are all pitfalls landlords fall into. Telling a person your insurance won’t allow certain breeds is not compliant. You should make your insurance aware that they should be making reasonable accomodations.

40:00 What point should bring up the ESA? Any animal can be an emotional support animal but you can deny an animal if they present undue hardship (health code violations). One of the things you should always ask for is veterinarian records to make sure they have shots. Also ask if the animal has ever bitten someone because a landlord who has been put on notice about an animal that has bit someone can be liable for future bites.

42:43 What if a tenant in my building has an allergy can I deny an emotional support animal? Unfortunately you need to make a reasonable accommodation for the person with the ESA.

45:00 – Get away from using the term pet in your lease. If you’re prescreening a tenant they don’t have to tell you about an ESA when you have a no pet policy, that is why you want to have an animal responsibility addendum.

47:20 – The term “assistance animal” is all encompassing it covers service animals, therapy animals, and emotional support animals. A service animal is a guide dog or a seeing eye dog. They’re very specifically trained from the time they’re a puppy to a certain person. There is no training for emotional support animals and that is where you start getting into people using the system. If they say the animal is trained or certified as an emotional support animal the person is using terminology that is untrue. This person should raise a red flag.

 

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Should I Run a Background Check on a Co-Signer?

Landlords know that when renting their property, they should run a background check on qualified applicants. Sometimes, applicants want to include a co-signer, or someone who is responsible for the rent if the tenant fails to pay.

Many landlords aren’t sure of the answer to the question, “Should I run a background check on a co-signer?”

Why Some Applicants Need a Co-Signer

Having a co-signer is like insurance for landlords that are considering applicants that do not meet the minimum income level, credit score or background check.

For applicants that have poor credit or no credit, a co-signer can help them to qualify for rental properties that they would otherwise not get. College students that haven’t had much time to build up credit commonly have co-signers that are their parents or other relatives. Other people that might need co-signers include those with recent bankruptcies, divorce, a brand new job, or a previous eviction.

Sometimes, landlords allow a co-signer to be part of the lease agreement as long as they pass a background check. Other landlords simply don’t allow co-signers. There’s no law that states landlords have to accept applicants with co-signers.

Why Landlords Should Run a Background Check on a Co-Signer

The best way to find out what kind of tenant and applicant will be is to run a full background check on them. In the same way, landlords should definitely do a background check on a co-signer.

If the co-signer meets all the requirements for employment and financial stability that the applicant lacks, the landlord could go ahead and approve the application.

In the event that the tenant does not pay rent on time, is evicted or damages the property, the landlord has the legal right to charge the co-signer for the money. By being a co-signer, they agree to be financially responsible in the event that the tenant is not.

RentPrep’s Take On Whether to Run a Background Check on a Co-Signer

The landlords we associate with agree that everyone should run a background check on a co-signer. That’s because they feel that if the applicant is not strong enough to get approval on their own, it may be a sign that they won’t be a good tenant.

However, there are many cases where applicants have poor credit or employment history that are otherwise good choices. Circumstances like being a college student, medical bills, recent divorce, single parents, and unemployment can throw otherwise excellent tenants into a real mess. A co-signer can be that bridge the person needs to get back on their feet.

Landlords always need to determine what works best for them. They must make sure their rental properties are full of good tenants that pay rent and take care of the place. If they do allow it, they definitely need to run a background check on a co-signer.

What Are Other Landlords Saying About Whether to Run a Background Check on a Co-Signer?

Every landlord needs to do what is best for their rental property and their budget. Co-signers are just as financially responsible as the tenant, giving landlords lots of options in the event something goes wrong.

Here’s a screenshot of landlords discussing this question in our private Facebook group for Landlords.

run a background check on a co-signer

You can see even more comments on that post by checking it out in the group.

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How To Do A Move In Inspection – A Landlord’s Guide

A smart landlord will read this entire post because you want to learn how to do a move in inspection the right way.

You understand how important it is.

You probably wouldn’t be surprised to hear what the #1 issue in landlord-tenant court is

… you’ll find out in the first minute of watching the video below (I’m such a tease).

If you want to win that court court battle you have to learn how to do a move in inspection the right way.

To be honest, I’m not the most experience to speak on this subject… but I can hold a camera for someone who is.

Andrew Schultz is a Property Manager of about 120 doors (as of writing this post) here in the Western New York area and he was kind of enough to show us how he does a move in inspection.

DISCLAIMER: Yes, this video is long but Steve and I explain in the first few minutes why it’s important and how you can avoid losing a court battle by following Andrew’s advice.

How To Do A Move In Inspection – Intro And Kitchen Shoot

Good photos are so important when doing a move in inspection.

Here are a bunch of the highlights (from the video above) that I really appreciated from Andrew’s advice.

1:30 – Cellphones have great cameras now. You’ll just want to get an app that can timestamp all of your photos. Below are a few apps that can do this a couple of them also allow you to put your location of your rental property and take timestamp videos too.

Android Timestamp Apps:

iPhone Timestamp Apps:

2:00 – Create a frame of reference for each photo and stitch photos together using that reference
3:45 – Document floors and ceilings to show how clean they are. Tenants might spill around the stove, sink, and fridge
4:25 – If you think you forgot a photo, shoot it right away and don’t try to remember at the end of the photo shoot
4:54 – Shoot cabinets starting at the top and go left to right. Then move to the bottom.
5:45 – A stupid stove knob can cost $28! Document everything!
6:35 – Take a picture of product manuals to show the tenant was shown how to take care of appliances
7:45 – Countertops can be sources of damage when tenants cut directly on the counter
8:10 – Use your thumb to show the sink draining and disposal working (might be a good use of timestamp video too)
9:30 – Appliances are very expensive so take plenty of photos (Andrew shares how he learned an expensive lesson)
10:50 – Get a photo of the serial and model number sticker. This is helpful if you need replacement parts
12:00 – Technique police use to document a crime scene is what you should be using to document your rental and any damages you see
14:00 – Dishwasher tips
15:45 – Refrigerator tips and documenting dent damages
17:30 – Check the seal of the fridge
17:45 – Check your room one more time to see if you forgot anything
18:15 – Tips for shooting windows and screens

I wasn’t lying when I say Andrew is a wealth of knowledge.

Here’s what the video above didn’t cover.

Have Your Tenant Sign Off On The Move In Inspection Form

Photos are your proof in court that damages happened while the tenant lived in the rental.

You’ll also want to fill out a Move In Move Out inspection form and have your tenant sign off on it.

We have that form for you as part of our Landlord Starter kit. You can get it for free by clicking here.

Just make sure you’re making a written documentation of any damages that are present before a tenant moves in.

You’re protecting your security deposit when you have this form signed and you also have good photos.

How To Do A Move-in Inspection | Bedroom Shoot

In this video Andrew shows how he does a move-in inspection for a bedroom. Below are some of the highlights of this video.

0:00 – Make sure you take good photos of the doors
1:00 – Stitch together your photos
1:25 – When you have bright contrast (shooting a window) tap on something like an outlet on your screen to focus there
1:53 – On a move out inspection take photos of dirt and grime
2:10 – A good example of “wear and tear” item that you wouldn’t charge a tenant for
2:40 – Take good photos of the closet but understand a lot of closet scuffs can be considered wear and tear as well

Wear and tear is important to understand so you’re not charging a tenant for something that shouldn’t be deducted.

How To Do A Move In Inspection | Bathroom Shoot

Here are the highlights from this video:

0:00 – Start with shooting the door
0:30 – Shoot extra photos to stitch together the corners because it’s a small room
0:45 – Adjust camera brightness when shooting a window
1:15 – Take good floor shots because this is an area that a lot of damage can occur
2:05 – Eric being a ham
2:25 – Use your hand to show the sink is flowing well
3:00 – Take photos of damage to the blind and screen
3:30 – Use a quarter for reference of damage size on tub

A bathroom can definitely be a problem area for your rental. It might be a good idea to take a timestamp video of the fan, shower head, tub drain, and sink drain all working well. You could take that in one shoot too.

Final Thoughts On Move In Inspections For Rental Properties

Highlights of this video:

0:00 – Take as many photos as possible and don’t worry about bad photos
0:40 – Give a thumbs or thumbs down of smoke detectors
1:15 – Sign off on a move in condition form
1:25 – Consider a 7 day grace period for your tenant to report any additional damages
2:00 – Make sure you get your security deposit upfront
2:15 – Do a quarterly inspection of your apartments to look for maintenance concerns
2:50 – Reach out with questions in our Facebook Group

Here’s a link to see all of the photos Andrew took of the Kitchen, Bathroom, and Bedroom in the videos above.

If you have questions the best way to ask is to join our Facebook group where you can connect with Andrew, Steve, or Myself and plenty of other landlords as well.

The post How To Do A Move In Inspection – A Landlord’s Guide appeared first on RentPrep.

Private Showing vs Open House for Rentals

It’s never a good idea for landlords to have a vacancy for long. Trying to fill a rental unit with the right applicant is a real challenge because they want to do it quickly but also carefully. Many landlords hold private showings and open houses to entice people to apply.

There are definite advantages and disadvantages for a private showing vs open house for rentals, and landlords ultimately need to decide which is best for themselves and their property.

The Difference Between a Private Showing vs Open House for Rentals

A private showing is when the landlord schedules individual appointments with interested parties. They will meet at the rental property at an appointed time. The landlord lets them take a tour and answers all questions they might have.

An open house is when the landlord sets a specific time frame and invites all interested parties to visit the rental property at the same time.

When deciding which method is best, landlords must consider issues like time, urgency and the current rental market.

Pros and Cons of a Private Showing vs Open House for Rentals

One of the pros of private showings is that the landlord has an opportunity to spend one-on-one time with the interested party. They can pay attention to every question and go into detail about the lease agreement and rental rules.

The most common downside for private showings is that it is very common for interested parties to not show up, wasting the landlord’s time and effort. Several private showings scattered over several days can also take up a large amount of the landlord’s time.

The best part about an open house is that the landlord only spends a set amount of time on it. Another advantage is that interested parties are all together, creating a sense of urgency. Landlords can tell people all the rental information at once instead of repeating themselves each time.

The downside of an open house is that the landlord may not get to spend as much time on individuals to get a sense of their level of commitment or interest.

RentPrep’s Take On a Private Showing vs Open House for Rentals

The landlords we associate varied on whether to hold a private showing vs open house for rentals. One of the key factors in deciding depends on the amount of responses. Vacancies with lots of responses usually leads to an open house, whereas low response rates mean individual showings.

There’s no single method that works for every landlord. A lot depends on the demand for rentals in their city, the type of rental they are offering and their own personal time commitments.

When it comes to private showings, we recommend scheduling several at a time, anywhere from 15 to 30 minutes apart. This way, if there is a no-show, landlords are not wasting too much of their time. We also advise that landlords have pre-screening questionnaires as well as application materials at the showing for interested parties to apply right away.

With open houses, landlords should let all interested parties know of the set time range they will be at the rental. Landlords should also prepare plenty of pre-screening and application papers.

Here are the results of an informal poll conducted by RentPrep on the topic of a private showing vs open house for rentals:

private showing vs open house for rentals

What Are Other Landlords Saying About a Private Showing vs Open House for Rentals?

Every landlord soon discovers what is best for themselves and their rental properties. However, it’s nice to learn from others about what works best for them. It can spark ideas and help landlords tailor showings and open houses to fit their needs.

Here’s a screenshot of landlords discussing this question in our private Facebook group for Landlords.

open house vs private showing for rentals

You can see even more comments on that post by checking it out in the group.

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Save Money by Investing in Home Energy Improvements

It’s easy for landlords and property managers to get wrapped up in the day-to-day: Have rents been paid? Are leases set to expire? When will the next showing be? Will that unit need to be renovated before I can re-lease it? Why hasn’t the landscaping company shown up yet?!

With so many pressing tasks at hand, it can be easy to put long-term, big-picture items on the back burner–such as home energy improvements.

Utilities are usually one of the biggest expenses that a landlord faces. These costs are generally passed on to residents in one form or another. Some landlords will meter each unit separately and ask residents to register utilities in their own names. Other landlords will bake the cost of heat, hot water, and other utilities into the rent. Residents are often overwhelmed at the idea of the former, preferring to pay a set rate each month for utilities. However, landlords and property managers often underestimate costs when proceeding with the latter, which can cost the owner hundreds of dollars each year.

One way to offset these costs is by investing in home energy improvements. Improving your property’s energy efficiency can reduce utilities by more than half.

Energy efficiency can seem daunting, especially if your mind automatically jumps to investing in solar panels or replacing all of your hot water heaters with tankless systems. Sure, those improvements will lower your utility bills–but they carry large up-front costs. There are plenty of other steps that you can take on an interim basis to improve your property’s energy efficiency.

How Does Your Home’s Energy Efficiency Compare to Others’?

In order to determine where your money is best spent, start with a home energy audit. This is the best way to understand where your rental is losing money and where you can save. It’s possible for landlords and property managers to do a DIY energy audit. This usually entails a thorough walk-through of the property to locate air leaks, inspect HVAC equipment, and inventory appliances and lighting.

However, a DIY home energy audit only gets you so far. What it doesn’t tell you is how you stack up against other properties in your area.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has another tool that landlords and property managers will find useful: the Home Energy Yardstick. The Home Energy Yardstick is a simple assessment of the home’s annual energy use compared to other homes. It considers information like the property’s location, square footage, number of full-time residents, and types of fuel used. For instance, an electrically heated building will perform differently than an oil-fueled property; so it’s important to benchmark like-kind properties against one another. The Home Energy Yardstick also evaluates the home’s utility bills for the past 12 months.

The Home Energy Yardstick then grades your home’s energy efficiency based on a scale of 0 to 10. The EPA will send you a resource guide to help you understand how to improve the property’s energy efficiency.

Home Energy Improvements That Pay for Themselves

As we mentioned, home energy improvements can take many forms. Some improvements are much more expensive than others. Don’t let that stop you from investing in home energy improvements. No matter what your budget is, you can take small steps to lower your utility bills today. Alternatively, you can consider more expensive upgrades that may cost a lot today, but will be worth it in the long run.

Here’s a sample of home energy improvements at all price points that pay for themselves over time:

  • Low-flow shower heads: Nowadays, you can buy high-quality, low-flow shower heads for as little as $40. For example, Evolve says that its Roadrunner II showerhead will save owners an estimated $250 each year. Of course, how much you save depends on your actual usage. In any event, however, this low-cost, water-saving improvement packs a punch.
  • Smart thermostats: Learning thermostats like Nest and Honeybee have grown in popularity over the years; and as a result, they’ve come down dramatically in cost. Some utilities providers offer them for as little as $100. These thermostats learn residents’ behavior and set the temperature accordingly. Nest estimates that users save up to 12% on heating and 15% on cooling each year. On average, this equates to $131 to $145 in energy savings per year.
  • New windows: Replacing old, drafty windows isn’t cheap. It can cost upwards of $4000 to install 8 mid-level windows. However, the good news is that Energy Star forecasts big savings on replacement windows. Not only will you save up to $465 per year on a 2000 square foot home, but you’ll increase your home’s value if you decide to sell it.
  • Solar panels: An array of state and federal subsidies have made it more cost-effective than ever for owners to install solar panels on their properties. The system usually carries a hefty up-front cost (approximately $18,000 for a single family home), but owners can recover these costs in as little as four years through a combination of tax credits, write-offs, and lowered utility bills.

Looking for other ways to save money? Consider hiring a property manager, whose expertise and assistance will be invaluable to you as you weigh various cost-saving mechanisms. When you’re ready to get free quotes from property managers in your area, All Property Management will be here to help.

The post Save Money by Investing in Home Energy Improvements appeared first on APM.

#169 Community Member Shares Her Landlord Journey

Stephanie DeLeo is an active landlord in our Facebook group and she asked plenty of great questions.

We reached out to her and asked if she would be willing to talk about her journey of being a landlord.

In this episode she gives a great perspective on some of the things that can trip up a new landlord. She also shares how she has learned from her experiences.

Here’s a snapshot of some of the questions she’s asked in the group that are brought up in this podcast.

new landlord

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How Much Should I Charge for a Pet Deposit?

It can be difficult for pet owners to find rental properties that will allow their pets. Many are happy to pay extra to live in a nice place with their dogs or cats. Landlords can tap into a huge source of highly qualified applicants if they allow pets in their properties. However, they need to ask themselves, “How much should I charge for a pet deposit?”

Location Affects What to Charge for a Pet Deposit

Each state has laws that allow landlords to collect security deposits to hold against damages. Some of these laws are very strict in the maximum amount while other states have no set limits.

When it comes to setting pet deposits, once again the state law determines whether or not landlords can charge a pet deposit. Some places, like North Dakota, allow landlords to charge a pet deposit as well as a security deposit.

Other states, like California, only allow landlords to collect up to two month’s rent as a deposit and anything over that is illegal. No matter how many different deposits a landlord charges, the total cannot exceed that limit.

Some states, like Florida, have no limits on what landlords can charge in deposits. This gives landlords a lot of flexibility when it comes to setting pet deposits.

In order to establish how much to charge for a pet deposit, landlords must find out the laws in their state.

Different Options on What to Charge for a Pet Deposit

 

For those landlords that don’t restrict on pet deposits, it can be difficult to figure out how to best set a policy for their rental.

Some landlords choose a one-time non-refundable deposit per pet up to two pets. Others might ask for different amounts for dogs vs. cats. Still other landlords set up a refundable pet deposit that is separate from the security deposit. There’s no wrong way to determine what to charge for a pet deposit.

In states that set limits, many landlords charge pet rent. This means they add an amount to the monthly rent for pets. For example, if the rent is $550 per month and the applicant wants to bring in their dog, the landlord would charge an extra amount for that, such as $50. The total rent would be $600 per month.

RentPrep’s Take On What to Charge for a Pet Deposit

The landlords we associate with have plenty to share about how to know what to charge for a pet deposit.

 

It goes without saying that landlords absolutely must learn everything they can about security deposit limits in their state. Pet deposits are legal in some states and illegal in others.

Landlords also need to determine what method works best for them in making sure there is adequate coverage for the damage that pets can do to a rental property. Whether as a deposit or as extra rent, any pet details must be clear and included in the lease agreement wording.

What Are Other Landlords Saying About What to Charge for a Pet Deposit?

Every landlord needs to do what is best for their rental property and their budget. Pets are an important part of their owner’s lives so qualified applicants will certainly pass on rentals that restrict them.

Here’s a screenshot of landlords discussing this question in our private Facebook group for Landlords.

You can see even more comments on that post by checking it out in the group.

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Standard Lease Agreements: Why Landlords Should Be Wary

How to Use a Standard Lease Agreement to Your Benefit

Whether you’re a first-time landlord or a newly minted member of a homeowners’ association, it’s tempting to default to using a standard lease agreement. Most states issue a standard lease agreement for landlords to use as a guide. The National Association of Realtors and other industry groups have form templates as well.

The standard lease agreement will include the basics: name and contact information for the lessor and lessee, property address, term of the lease, rental rate, security deposits, etc. These forms are a great reminder of what must be in a valid lease… but that’s where they stop.

That’s why a standard lease agreement should only be used as a guide–not as your final lease agreement. Instead, refer to a standard lease agreement as a starting point, and build off of it from there.

There are a number of additional lease clauses that you can leverage to protect you as a property owner or manager. Here are 5 suggested lease clauses that you should consider including.

5 Smart Lease Clauses to Add ASAP

  1. Severability. This is one of the most important lease clauses. Basically, this clause states that if one part of the lease is deemed to be illegal for some reason, the rest of the contract is still legally binding.
  2. Subleasing. Decide whether you’re comfortable with residents subleasing the apartment; and if so, under which conditions. Be sure to detail those as part of the initial contract (e.g. screening process for new resident, inclusion on new lease, one-time fees associated with sublease). Don’t wait until the resident contacts you to tell you they’ve already moved out and subleased the unit to someone else–at that point, you have little recourse.
  3. Joint & several liability. This is one of the more common lease clauses. Essentially, it means that each party to the lease is jointly and individually responsible for fulfilling the contract. This allows you to go after all residents in the event of default, and prevents roommates from finger-pointing and trying to blame each other. For example, even if just one person is responsible for damages, all are held liable. This encourages roommates to resolve issues amongst each other so they don’t get stuck footing the bill.
  4. Renewal. Detail how the lease will be automatically renewed, if at all. Some lease clauses require the landlord and/or residents to give at least 60 days’ notice if they don’t plan to renew the lease at the end of its term; some don’t. This clause can also be used to add an escalator (or percent increase) that the lease will go up upon renewal (say, 2% per year). Including the escalator helps residents to anticipate rent increases so they aren’t caught off-guard.
  5. Use of premises. This clause details who can use the unit (e.g. only the residents listed on the initial lease) and for which purposes. The language might stipulate that any person staying in the property for more than 2 weeks in any 6-month period will be considered a tenant, rather than a guest; and that the landlord reserves the right to add that person to the lease agreement. Also, be clear about whether the unit is to be used solely for residential purposes, or whether it can be used for short-term stays (Airbnb) or commercial uses (like a resident who bakes goods to sell at a local farmers’ market). Be sure to check local regulations, as there might be laws regarding how residential units in specific zones can be used.

It’s always worth having a lawyer prepare an initial lease agreement for you. It might cost a few hundred dollars, but it will be well worth it in the long run. That lease will be tailored to your specific property and circumstances, and it can be used for years to come.

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How to Set Occupancy Limits for Apartments

Landlords need to decide about occupancy limits for apartments before they start to advertise for a vacancy. That’s because they will get  a number of applicants with families or groups of different sizes. They need to know occupancy limits so they ensure the property is the right fit for the right applicants.

Why Are Occupancy Limits for Apartments Important?

Landlords obviously need to limit the number of occupants when renting their rental units. Without restricting the number of occupants, the property will get too much wear and tear. Too many people in one space can also lead to health issues with overcrowding.

It’s true that landlords can set a maximum occupancy limit for a rental property, but they must be careful not to cross over into discrimination for familial status.

Occupancy limits are also in the landlord’s best interest to prevent additional people from moving in that are not on the lease agreement and have not been screened. It’s a common problem that strict occupancy limits outlined in the lease can help prevent.

What’s the Law on Occupancy Limits for Apartments?

As expected, the laws concerning occupancy limits for apartments can vary depending on state and city.

Fair housing regulations state that two people per bedroom is a reasonable standard that landlords can follow. This would be interpreted to mean two occupants of any age. However, there can always be exceptions, so landlords need to look at their local laws.

Many state and municipal building codes recommend following a ratio of square footage to occupants. An example of this would be making sure there is a certain number of square feet of living space for each occupant. Some codes identify what rooms can be considered bedrooms via square feet.

A good rule of thumb is to allow two people per each bedroom that is at least 70 square feet. Landlords should also be very clear to applicants about the number of adults allowed as permanent residents.

Before setting any occupancy limits, every landlord must contact their city’s local code enforcement agency. They must find out what the occupancy regulations and ordinances are for apartments. Then, landlords can base their limits accordingly. With proper research and a good lease, landlords can maintain control of the occupancy limits for apartments.

RentPrep’s Take On Occupancy Limits for Apartments

When it comes to occupancy numbers, landlords can get into trouble with discrimination against familial status. In other words, landlords cannot reject an applicant because they have children. That would violate the Fair Housing Act.

However, landlords can set a reasonable occupancy limit. Therefore, if the total number of adults and children on an application exceeds that reasonable occupancy limit, landlords are fully justified to turn down that application.

Every landlord should know that the lease agreement must be very clear on who can live in the apartment. It should also have a clause about how long visitors can stay in the unit before they would be considered in violation of the lease.

A landlord should always limit total occupancy to lease signatories and any minor dependents. Or in a roommate situation, the lease should list every adult. Full background checks must be done on every adult.

What Are Other Landlords Saying About Occupancy Limits for Apartments?

Of course, each individual landlord should set up occupancy limits that are best for their rental property and compliant with the law.

Here’s a screenshot of landlords discussing this question in our private Facebook group for Landlords.

 

occupancy limits for apartments

You can see even more comments on that post by checking it out in the group.

 

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