Author Archives: Jennifer Maughan

How To Handle Inherited Tenants

When real estate investors purchase a rental property, it often comes with current tenants already in place. These are known as inherited tenants.

Sometimes the transition is smooth and the new landlord inherits organized files on the current tenants. However, there are time when new landlords get little to no information on the inherited tenants.

This video explains more about what new real estate investors and landlords can do with new property as well as new tenants in place:

 

Gather Information on the Inherited Tenants

If there is no information passed along on the current tenants in a newly purchased property, the landlord need to start gathering some. The first place to look is on the purchase contract for the rental property. This and similar purchasing documents should list the tenant’s name, the current rent and some other basic information.

To get more detailed information, the landlord will most likely have to visit the tenants at the rental unit. They can deliver a change of management notice to the tenant. This document informs the inherited tenant about new contact info, where to pay the rent and how to report maintenance issues.

Many landlords make a personal visit to meet the tenant. They take the opportunity to get more detailed paperwork filled in. Follow up questions about total occupants, pets and more can help landlords compare the current household to what is on the lease agreement.

Tips on Handling Inherited Tenants

Many landlords don’t bother with screening inherited tenants. Therefore, they often take the approach of dealing with bad tenants when the lease is up for renewal. If the tenants are doing well, then everyone is happy with the arrangement.

In extreme cases, some tenants push back against new rules and behave badly. As a result, landlords may have to start the eviction process for any tenants that don’t want to conform to the new owner’s updated requirements.

Ultimately, the goal of every landlord is to fill every unit with excellent tenants. Of course, the risk of inherited tenants is that the landlord didn’t choose them. On the other hand, they could inherit some excellent tenants that want to stay for a long time. Only time and communication can reveal which type the inherited tenants will be.

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Why Would an Applicant Freeze Their Credit?

Landlords should always run a background check on an applicant for a vacant rental unit. It’s one of the best ways to find out what kind of tenant they will be. Part of the background check includes a credit check.

However, more and more landlords are running into the situation where an applicant has to freeze their credit reporting. If an applicant has frozen their credit reporting, it’s impossible for a landlord to get any information. Why would an applicant do this and what does it mean for landlords?

Here’s a video of some experts talking about what to do if an applicant has to freeze their credit:

Why a Tenant Might Freeze Their Credit

Identity theft is growing more common every year and large data breaches seem more commonplace than ever. Scammers, thieves and no-good relatives may also try to steal someone’s identity. One of the ways people try to protect their credit is by enacting a freeze with a credit reporting company or third party company.

A freeze on the credit means that no activity is permitted without express permission from the person. Depending on the process used to freeze the credit reporting, nothing is released without special confirmation.

The applicant can make arrangements with the credit reporting companies to release certain information. This allows landlords to get the information they need to complete the application process.

Can Freezing be an Excuse to Hide Poor Credit?

Since, identity theft is a big issue over the last several years, many people are choosing to lock up their credit. However, many people may try to claim this new procedure as a way to avoid having a landlord look into their poor credit history. Applicants may claim their reporting is frozen to try to trick the landlord into renting to them despite bad credit.

 

Landlords should never rent to someone without getting a complete background check. It would be a mistake to make an exception because someone has frozen their credit reporting. Landlords need to ask the applicant to do what it takes to release the information for the rental application. If the applicant claims they cannot, then something may be suspicious.

All in all, landlords should not jump to conclusions that an applicant is trying to get around a background check if they freeze the credit. However, landlords should follow through with the applicant to get the information they need. A legitimate credit freeze does give people the option to grant permission to access that info, including landlords.

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Should Landlords Allow the Tenant to Paint the Rental?

Landlords are always looking for ways to save time and money. Sometimes, it seems like a good idea to allow a tenant to paint the rental. From just one room to several in the rental property, painting may seem like a good idea because it means the tenants bear the cost and do the work.

Before landlords think about giving tenants permission to paint, there are several things they need to consider.

Why Landlords Shouldn’t Allow the Tenant to Paint the Rental

No tenant will care as much about a rental property as the owner or landlord does. This means that most tenants will do just enough to stay out of trouble with the landlord and won’t put in any extra effort to keep the unit nice. As a general rule, this happens with paint privileges.

Painting a room is more difficult than it appears to be. Amateur painters don’t know what it takes to make a paint job look good. This means the rooms they paint in the unit will generally fall short of a landlord’s standards.

Many landlords also discover that tenants usually get paint on areas they didn’t mean to, such as carpet, hardwood floors, windows and counter tops. They may also put paint into the sinks and cause problems with the plumbing.

It’s a good idea for landlords to include language in the lease agreement that prohibits the tenants from painting the unit if that’s how they feel.

Here’s a video of some experts talking about whether or not to allow a tenant to paint the rental:

Alternatives to Letting Tenants Paint the Rental

There are some landlords that recognize that if tenants are allowed to personalize their space, they are more likely to stay. The tenants are also more likely to feel some ownership and take better care of the unit. That’s why some landlords offer a few alternatives instead of allowing tenants to paint the rental.

One option is to allow the tenants to choose from an approved color palette for an accent wall in a bedroom or living room. The landlord makes the arrangements with a professional painter and passes some or all of the cost to the tenant. Some landlords do this as a lease renewal incentive for good tenants.

Another option is for the landlords to approve removable wallpaper. This commercially available decorative adhesive product sticks to the wall like wallpaper but peels off with no damage. With many colors and patterns available, removable wallpaper is a good compromise between landlords that don’t want paint and tenants that want to liven up the decor.

If the tenant paints without landlord permission, the cost to repaint should be taken from the security deposit and counted as damages to the rental property.

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What Should Landlords Be Looking For During a Rental Inspection?

Landlords have the legal right to check out their rental property while they are occupied by tenants. This can be done as long as the proper notification is given and the reasons for the visit conforms to state laws. Some states allow regular inspections while others specify that there must be a certain reason for the inspection.

Many landlords do a regular or at least an annual rental inspection. Landlords should always do a rental inspection when the tenant moves out. But what should landlords be looking for during a rental inspection?

What Landlords Should Be Looking For During a Rental Inspection

The number one priority for landlords when doing a rental inspection is to check for damages. However, a hasty inspection can mean landlords will miss needed repairs.

If the landlord can find problems early on, it’s much easier and less expensive to fix. If landlords discover damages after the tenant has moved, they have the option to deduct from the security deposit to cover the cost of repairs.

For a basic inspection, landlords need to check under sinks, check the smoke detectors, replace furnace filters, look for obvious signs of damage and verify that the unit is being used appropriately.

Here’s a video that gives a lot of detail on rental inspections:

How to Notify Tenants About a Rental Insepection

Too many landlords feel as if they are bothering the tenant when they want to do a rental inspection. They don’t understand that it is their right to do so. Even if tenants don’t want the landlord to enter, the law supports it with proper notice.

Many landlords include wording in the lease agreement that state that they will do regular inspections after a written notice. Other landlords make sure to send tenants a letter informing them of the upcoming inspection. There must be at least a 24-hour notice before a landlord can enter a unit for an inspection.

Successful landlords never worry about what the tenant thinks when it comes to rental inspections. Inspecting a unit is a landlords right and a smart move to protect themselves and the rental. It’s important for the landlord to be efficient, direct and out quickly. Also, it’s important for landlords to check out their rental properties to ensure their real estate investment is being well cared for.

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How to Minimize the Number of Renters Not Showing Up For Appointments

It can be very time-consuming to fill a vacant unit and landlords are always looking for ways to be as efficient as possible. Part of the process is showing the unit to interested people and answering any questions they might have.

What happens when renters don’t show up to appointments, however?  This video shows what one property manager thinks about how to minimize the number of renters not showing up for appointments:

Use Technology to Screen Rental Requests

Landlords don’t have to spend more time than is necessary in setting up appointments. Some choose to do an open house and allow any interested people come all at once. They bring application forms with them and spend a few hours working with potential applicants.

Others use the internet, specifically video services, to show the interior of the rental property. This way, applicants can self-screen and make contact only after they’ve “seen” the property and want more information. Still other landlords utilize apps and other kinds of technology to answer initial questions about the property.

Another option is to use technology to send standard messages to interested applicants, set appointments and launch follow-up texts and emails. There are different services on the market that can help landlords streamline their communication with potential applicants. This reduces the number of renters not showing up for appointments.

When Renters Don’t Show Up It Wastes Time and Money

Whether on purpose or accident, frequently a potential renter doesn’t show up for an appointment to see the vacant unit. This can be a big waste of time and money for the landlord. It also means that the landlord has lost a lead and is no closer to filling the vacancy. Because the rental business is all about getting the best applicants and turning them in to long-term tenants, time and money are quite important.

Successful landlords figure out ways to minimize the number of renters not showing up for appointments using a number of different methods. From technology to pre-screening and several other methods, landlords can put their time to good use instead of waiting for a no-show.

 

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The Best Tenant Excuses For Late Rent

All landlords want are good tenants that pay rent on time. However, getting the occupants of their rental properties to pay what they owe, in full and on time, is no easy task. Landlords have heard just about every excuse in the book, and  to end a lease agreement when its term expires.

Why Tenants Give Excuses for Late Rent

Every landlord has heard one or more of the same old excuses as to why their tenant hasn’t paid the rent. From forgetting the due date to paying another bill first, tenants seem to think that their problems need to become the landlord’s problems, too.

Tenants seem like they can use any number of excuses for not paying rent. They know they can get away with it because the landlord is bound by rules regarding eviction. Ultimately, tenants that deliver excuses instead of rent know there won’t be any immediate severe consequences.

Some landlords are content to give tenants a break with late rent, allowing dangerous habits to form between landlords and tenants.  Other landlords decide it is better to accept late rent than to go through the eviction process. However, many landlord won’t put up with any excuses for late rent and take steps immediately, like sending pay or quit notices and charging late fees.

Landlords Share the Best Tenant Excuses for Late Rent

Most landlords have a ridiculous story or two about tenants they currently have or past tenants. Many of these tales have to do with excuses for late rent.

Lots of excuses have to do with being too busy, such as not being able to swing by the leasing office or not having enough time to buy a stamp. Other excuses center on the money going elsewhere. Examples include paying for a funeral of a distant relative, sending their teen to prom or paying other bills first. A common excuse is that the tenants had to use rent money for something for their children. Tenants often hope landlords will give them a break if kids are involved.

Tenants often expect landlords to give them a break when they want to take a vacation or have other travel needs. Still other tenants give the excuse of problems with paychecks from work or difficulties depositing them at the bank.

Finally, there are always a few silly excuses that landlords have a hard time taking seriously. These include excuses like they were robbed on the way to the leasing office, their dog ate the money order or they didn’t pay because the landlord was on vacation.

RentPrep’s Take On Tenant Excuses for Late Rent

Landlords will hear every excuse for late rent there is, but they should not be swayed from collecting rent. The longer the rent is not paid, the harder it is for the tenants to make up.

Once in a while, tenants have legitimate excuses. Landlords can decide on a case by case basis whether to allow late rent. Mostly, landlords should start the pay or quit process after the grace period for payment has expired.

Landlords can also use social media to figure out whether a tenant is telling the truth. Too often, a tenant gives an excuse for late rent (my hours got cut at work). Then the truth is revealed via photos and content from their social media account (I’m really on a vacation).

What Are Other Landlords Saying About Tenant Excuses for Late Rent

Every landlord must have rent paid on time and in full to make their real estate investment business profitable. Tenant excuses are designed to buy them a little time, hoping the landlord will take it easy on them. However, like all other bills, there needs to be consequences for not paying.

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

tenant excuses for late rent

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

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Do Landlords Need To Give Notice When Ending a One Year Lease?

Sometimes a landlord wants to end a lease agreement when its term expires. Usually this is because they no longer want the tenants in the rental property. Whether this is due to bad behavior, spotty rental payment, or other reason, there’s no reason for landlords to renew.

However, landlords do need to indicate their intentions and give the tenants enough notice when ending a one year lease.

How to Give Notice When Ending a One Year Lease

There are certain steps they must take to notify the tenants of the non-renewal. Most states require the landlord to give some kind of written notice to the tenant. The lease renewal notice period is usually 30 to 60 days, depending on the state. At that time, landlords need to mail or hand-deliver a letter that states that the tenant’s lease will come to an end on a given date.

In that letter, the landlord does not have to provide a reason for the non-renewal of the lease. State laws protect landlords in this way, allowing them to terminate a lease without needing a reason whenever the expiration of a lease happens.

If the tenant fails to vacate the rental property by the time the lease agreement is up, landlords will go ahead with that tenant’s eviction.

Failing to Give Notice When Ending a One Year Lease

If a landlord does not give the written notice that the lease will not be renewed, a one year lease will transition into a month-to-month lease agreement. This means that either the landlord or the tenant can end the lease agreement with a 30-day written notice. Neither party needs to give a reason for the termination.

If the landlord wants to end the lease but the tenants do not, it’s important to communicate with each other. Landlords should explain the process and cite state law as they will likely be more familiar with the process than the tenants.

Under no circumstances should landlords accept rent or agree to any new leasing terms beyond the original lease term if they want the tenants to vacate. The court will interpret either of these actions as being a default extension for the original lease as one that is now month-to-month.

RentPrep’s Take On Giving Notice When Ending a One Year Lease

Landlords need to comply with the laws of their state when it comes to giving notice when ending a one year lease. They need to communicate their intentions and try to give the tenant enough notice so they can vacate.

The state laws try to be fair to both parties. Because both the tenant and the landlord are bound by the contract that is the lease agreement, they are both beholden to it. If there are any complications regarding giving notice when ending a one year lease, landlords should consult with a landlord/tenant attorney.

What Are Other Landlords Saying About Giving Notice When Ending a One Year Lease

Every landlord needs to protect themselves and their rental business. There are many real-life examples of how landlords are dealing with ending lease agreements in the RentPrep Facebook group.

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

notice when ending a one year lease

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

The post Do Landlords Need To Give Notice When Ending a One Year Lease? appeared first on RentPrep.

Is a Phone Answering Service For Rentals Worth It?

Landlords have plenty of responsibilities in their lives and their rental properties are just one aspect. However, when applicants have questions, tenants need maintenance and any other reason why anyone needs to contact the landlord, it can become a constant all-day battle.

Some landlords are turning to answering services to help them with some of the day-to-day tasks they face. But is a phone answering service for rentals worth it?

What is a Phone Answering Service for Rentals?

A phone answering service is a company that provides small businesses with 24-hour capabilities of processing incoming phone calls. It can be the equivalent of a full-time front office clerk or administrative assistant for many landlords at much more affordable rates.

Many landlords worry about lost calls from interested applicants or get frustrated by endless calls from current tenants. They get frustrated when service vendors try to call but because they are busy, the vendors’ message goes right to voicemail. Incoming phone messages can be routed through a phone answering service that can be customized to each landlord’s needs.

With a phone answering service, a virtual receptionist answers every phone call and provides the caller with one-on-one service  individualized attention no matter the time of day or night. The landlord can work out when the receptionist will handle questions themselves, when they call a repair service or when they put the call through to the landlord themselves.

A good phone answering services will have a range of ways to keep landlords informed, such as sending an email summary of weekly calls or sending text messages after every phone call. The good news is that landlords can customize the service to fit what they need.

How Can a Phone Answering Service for Rentals Help?

A phone answering service can handle incoming phone calls so the landlord doesn’t have to. For example, if there is a vacancy, the landlord provides the details about the property and the answering service takes the calls from interested applicants. They can provide the initial information, schedule showings and deliver any eligibility requirements.

If tenants call with plumbing, heating or electric problems, the answering service will contact the service vendors that the landlord has provided. In an emergency, the phone answering service will follow the landlord’s instructions as well.  The virtual receptionist essentially handles all the small tasks associated with managing properties so the landlord doesn’t have to.

RentPrep’s Take On Hiring a Phone Answering Service for Rentals

Landlords can really benefit from a phone answering service. It’s especially helpful if they work full time in addition to their real estate investments. It’s essential for landlords to keep applicants, tenants and service vendors happy. Happy people mean they want to live and work at their rental properties. If nobody can get ahold of the landlord, problems will grow.

Ultimately, price will be a determining factor in whether or not a phone answering service is good for a landlord’s business. Phone answering services can charge by the call or by the minute.

While rates can range, a good service is usually anywhere from $0.75 to $1.00 per minute. Monthly plans use a flat fee for a set number of minutes (anywhere from $40/month up to hundreds of dollars). Plus there’s a certain amount per any additional minutes. For example, a landlord might choose 75 minutes of service for  $100 per month and $1.00 per any minutes over 75 minutes. Of course, costs will vary based on location, volume and other customized features.

Landlords must consider other factors about an answering service, such as how quickly they answer calls, the report process, and how often the services may customize.

What Are Other Landlords Saying About a Phone Answering Service for Rentals

Every landlord needs to do what is best for their rental business. Sometimes, finding a balance between their work and their private life is a priority. Others simply cannot answer the phone all day and night and need assistance. Still other landlords don’t have as many properties and can handle call volume on their own.

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

phone answering service for rentalsYou can see even more comments on that post by checking it out in the group.

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Shower Doors Or Curtains For A Rental?

Water from the shower can cause a lot of damage to a rental property’s bathroom floor. Some landlords choose the option of putting in sliding shower doors, while others stick to the shower curtain.

So what are the advantages or disadvantages to shower doors or curtains for a rental?

Pros and Cons for Shower Doors in a Rental

Sliding shower doors are designed to move from side to side along a track at the bottom. They are often seen as a more secure way to prevent water from spilling out onto the floor. The large safety glass panels and deep-set tracks make it very easy to block water. Many people feel that shower doors give the bathroom a more upscale look.

As a downside, shower doors provide a smaller access to the tub/shower area. This could be seen as a negative to many people, and may make it hard for parents to help out their younger children as they bathe in the tub. It could also hinder a thorough cleaning of the tub area.

One disadvantage for shower doors is that the track where the doors slide can be very difficult to clean. It’s easy for mold and bacteria to thrive there. The tempered glass can also become clouded if there is hard water or if the tenant doesn’t clean them regularly.

Pros and Cons for Shower Curtains in a Rental

Landlords like the simplicity of shower curtains when it comes to cleaning. If the tenant has moved out and left an unclean shower curtain, it can be unhooked and thrown away.

When a shower curtain is used correctly, there is minimal water on the floor. However it is easy for tenants to overlook gaps in the curtain when the shower is in use, which can lead to water on the floor. If it is not taken care of, repeated flooding onto the floor can cause property damage.

Shower curtains also require little to no maintenance and many landlords have their tenants provide the curtain and rings while they provide the tension rod. This means minimal cost to the landlord and zero maintenance, unlike shower doors.

RentPrep’s Take On Shower Doors or Curtains for a Rental

Landlords should choose the best solution for their most pressing bathroom problem. If they want to put in shower doors, they must be prepared for extra cleaning duties. Conversely, shower curtains means a higher risk of water on the floor.

There’s no universal answer on whether shower doors or curtains in a rental is the best choice. Landlords may just need to start with shower curtains to see if they are satisfied. If not, they can install shower doors.

What Are Other Landlords Saying About Shower Doors or Curtains for a Rental

Every landlord needs to protect their rental property, and there are several different ways to do so.  Choosing between shower doors and shower curtains should best reflect how the landlord wants to deal with the tenants and with the rental property.

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

shower doors or curtains in rentals

 

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

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Do I Need to Provide a Receipt for Security Deposit or Rent?

In the age of electronic financial transactions and digital deposits, many landlords wonder about whether or not they are required to provide a receipt for security deposit or rent.

Like most issues that have to do with rental properties, the answer is that it depends on several factors. Landlords should always have written records of transactions, but that doesn’t always mean that they have to generate a receipt themselves.

When Should Landlords Provide a Receipt for Security Deposit or Rent?

Electronic payments are extremely popular now for landlords to collect rent. These kinds of transactions create their own electronic receipts to both the sender and the recipient. Landlords with this kind of setup don’t have to do anything regarding a receipt.

Fewer and fewer landlords actually deal in cash, money orders or checks anymore. However, if a landlord ever accepts cash or a money order, they should always write out a receipt. Landlords that accept checks can treat the cancelled check as the tenant’s receipt.

No matter how the landlord has the payment process structured, there should always be a record of the transaction, regardless of who or what generates the receipt.

State Law May Require Landlords to Provide a Receipt for Security Deposit

Every landlord knows that the security deposit and the rent are two different financial transactions. State laws often stipulate how each one should be handled, from the amount to how it is deposited. It’s always a good idea to treat these two things separately so that there is a bank record of each one.

Some states, like Illinois and Massachusetts, require the landlord to hold the security deposit in an interest bearing account and present the receipt to the tenant. Other states, like Ohio and Texas, have no laws regarding separate accounts.

When it comes down to it, each landlord must know their own state laws about how they are to treat the security deposit, and whether that means they issue a receipt or not.

RentPrep’s Take On Landlords Who Provide a Receipt for Security Deposit or Rent

The landlords we associate with are fairly unanimous about issuing receipts by hand when they are paid by cash or money order. Most treat cancelled checks as the tenant’s receipt.

Issuing a receipt is often a personal preference. Some landlords do so as part of their accounting, and some even have software that creates receipts, either physical or electronically.

Others have a digital payment system set up. When the tenant makes a payment, they have verification that it was done.

Ultimately, landlords need to figure out a system that works best for them, as well as their tenants.

What Are Other Landlords Saying About Whether to Provide a Receipt for Security Deposit or Rent?

Every landlord needs to do what is best for their rental property and their budget. The methods of smoke odor removal vary based on what has and has not worked for them. They share brand names and where to purchase certain products, as well.

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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