4 Mistakes to Avoid if You Are a Landlord

Being a landlord can be a very lucrative and rewarding business, but in order to make a profit, you have to make smart choices. On top of making a profit, you also want to ensure you bring in quality tenants so that you have a less stressful experience and they have a positive one. Even if you already have strategies and systems in place, here are a few common mistakes that are made by landlords so you can avoid them, or stop doing them, so you see the return on your investment.

#1: Not Getting Maintenance Issues Resolved Quickly

If you want to get quality tenants, you are going to have work on building a solid reputation, and the fastest way to get poor reviews and for people to spread negative things about the properties you lease is to ignore maintenance trouble. Make sure that you are proactive when it comes to these issues because not only will tenants appreciate it, but you will save money when you take care of small repairs and keep them from turning into larger issues.

#2: Not Doing a Professional Tenant Screening

Having one good referral or looking at the social media page of a potential tenant is not going to give you the information that will lead to making a wise choice when it comes to selecting tenants. Getting background data such as criminal records, credit scores, sex offender searches, and employee summaries will be leave you confident when leasing. You can even go one step further and get a nationwide eviction report to learn even more about the tenant and if they will be a good fit for you.

#3: Not Focusing on the Bottom Line

When you are renting out a space, you need to focus on the bottom line. Being a landlord is an investment both financially and in terms of time, and can be turned into a lucrative career if you focus on the right things. Make sure you are setting rent at a rate that makes sense for the neighborhood and property, but also generates cash flow. When you set the rent too high, you will find yourself sitting on a vacancy for some time, but when you set it too low, you will not be making as much of a profit, if any. You will need to adjust your numbers depending on the market and reevaluate every so often, so make sure you are crunching those numbers and keeping your bottom line in mind.

#4: Not Taking Location into Consideration

Whether you are deciding to add more homes to your rental portfolio or you are just getting started on your journey, make sure you take into account the location because it will be a significant factor in your success. Find a location that is in-demand and you will have a larger pool of potential tenants to pull from. Find areas that have a draw for renters such as close proximity to public transportation, amenities like shopping and dining, and if you are near colleges and universities, this can also provide a big group of people that are looking for a rental space to live.

Five Ways to Attract (and Keep) Quality Tenants

When you're a landlord, you know that there are those dream tenants that treat the space with respect, pay on time, and don't break the lease, and you want more people like this renting from you. However, finding them can be easier said than done. Luckily, there are a few ways that you can attract quality tenants and keep your apartments and homes filled with them. Here are a few tips that you can start applying today!

#1: Thorough and Quick Tenant Screenings

While some landlords will want to conduct interviews, you may not get all of the information you need from these. Be quick and thorough when it comes to tenant screenings so that you don't waste any time because this will show that you have ethical and professional systems in place. If you want to meet the potential tenants before you sign the papers, then have everyone that is interested in renting come by at the same time to view the space. This will give you a chance to meet everyone, as well as provide a sense of urgency that comes with a little competition.

#2: Be Straightforward with Expectations

One thing that quality tenants love is when you explain everything with clarity because no one likes a gray area when renting. Remember, you're not the only one with a checklist of expectations! The best renters will know what they want and will ask about the rules that apply to them. If you don't have on-site laundry or your pool can't be used for private birthday parties, don't try to sugar coat it. Be straightforward and you'll find that you and your tenant will get off on the right foot.

#3: Set the Rent at a Reasonable Rate

You don't want to go too low with rates and attract people that only want a short term-solution for their renting needs. However, you also don't want to be at such a high rental rate that you turn responsible people away because they know that they can get a better deal in the same location. Set the rate at a fair price that makes sense for the amount of space that you're offering, and factor in the location and amenities that can cause that number to be raised or lowered.

#4: Make Yourself Easy to Find

If you aren't advertising, on social media, have a website, and are just tough for quality renters to find, then it's time to put yourself out there. Trust that you want to be control of your online presence so that people find you, and not a review from a disgruntled tenant of the past.

#5: Show Your Appreciation

Whether you pair up with another business like a local pizza place and give away a super deal to new tenants or you have fun events for people to participate in, show renters that you appreciate them. A few simple gestures will go a long way when it comes to referrals and keeping everyone happy so you have a low turnover rate.

Should Landlords Pursue Military Members as Tenants?

Savvy landlords are proactive in choosing and purchasing the right properties for their clients. In order to do that, they must have a particular client in mind. One such group is made up of military members and their dependents who can offer a steady stream of rental occupancy in the vicinity of every military base in the country. But is soliciting their tenancy a good business plan?

A 2012 military demographic study military demographic study points out that almost half of the American military forces who reside in the US live in one of five states: California, Texas, Virginia, North Carolina and Georgia. Active military personnel in these states (not including dependents) is estimated to be about 591,000. The other side of that comparison includes the states of Iowa, Maine and Vermont, which represent a combined number of 436 active duty members. Obviously, the presence of the military in the state where your properties are located will be a major factor in deciding to attract military tenants.

The military hierarchy always advises its members to ensure there is a clause in any lease that allows for early exit from the contract without penalty when the military member is reassigned to another location. If landlords are operating in a military community, they can expect to have many leases terminated prior to fulfillment. That can be a negative because of time invested in re-renting properties as well as the cost of cleaning and preparing them for new tenants.

On the other hand, if military members are being shipped elsewhere, that also means new members are being shipped in. It follows that new prospects would be plentiful and, if the landlord has a high reputation among its military tenants, referral business would almost be a lock. By doing a cost analysis of average tenancy, cost of preparing for new tenants, etc., the landlord could build a revenue factor into the rent to cover leases that terminate early along with associated costs.

Will having access to the military member's commanding officer ensure prompt and full rent payment? Be careful with this one. There was a time that reporting a delinquent service member to his/her superior officer had more teeth to 'encourage' financial responsibility. However, this may be base-dependent regarding how those matters are handled. Some will argue that commanding officers are less willing to get involved in such disputes. Also, according to military.com, the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act "...Expands current law that protects servicemembers and their families from eviction from housing while on active duty due to nonpayment of rents that are $3,329.84 per month or less for 2015. This amount changes every year. (http://www.military.com/benefits/military-legal-matters/scra/servicemembers-civil-relief-act-overview.html).

Probably the most consistent method for ensuring good tenants remains an accurate and diligent background check prior to moving forward with the rental. The stock market always proclaims, "Past performance is not a guarantee of future results." In the rental business, the opposite is often true. Just as savvy landlords research and strategically purchase their properties, they also know that the best way to protect their investments is to investigate their clients' backgrounds prior to signing on the dotted line, no matter what their tenants' profession.

Four Steps to Take When a Tenant Won’t Pay Rent - Tenant Screening Blog

Even if you're making a concerted effort to engage in tenant screening, all landlords, at some point in their careers, will likely face tenants who avoid paying rent. While there are many reasons this can occur (some legit and others not so much), when you know the proper steps to take, you'll be able to get the situation resolved in a prompt and efficient manner so you can put it behind you. Here are five steps to take when a tenant is refusing to pay rent.

Step 1: Talk to the tenant about the issue.

The first step when a tenant isn't willing to pay rent is to speak to them about the reasons. While some will have financial issues, others may be withholding rent for reasons such as their roof is leaking or their toilet needs to be fixed. There may also be a problem with a roommate moving out, so the renter can only make a partial payment.

Whatever the reason you're given, it's up to you as to what actions you want to take next. If someone doesn't wish to pay because they want something fixed first, you can let them know the repair date and show them it's on the calendar.

Step 2: Find out your state laws.

Each state is different in how they handle tenants who don't pay their rent. The more knowledge you have about landlord rights in your state, the more prepared you'll be when you approach a tenant who isn't paying. You'll also be better equipped to handle any legal threats they make towards you because you'll already be aware of your rights.

Step 3: Decide if legal action is required.

If a resolution isn't happening between you and the tenant, the next step is to decide if it's time to bring in your lawyer. He or she will be able to offer guidance, as well as a solution for closure in this situation.

Step 4: Protect yourself with a plan.

Even though you try to weed out these individuals in your tenant screening process, people still exist who try to get out of paying the bill. The best action you can take as a landlord is to have a proactive plan in place, ideally before you're even faced with this situation. While each tenant is unique and can be dealt with on a case-by-case basis, it's still going to be crucial that you know exactly what steps to take when faced with an unpaid bill. Knowing the laws of your state and involving your lawyer at the right time will help prevent past due months, as well as give you peace of mind that you'll be ready when it does happen.

No matter how the tenant acts, be sure that you remain calm and professional throughout the entire process. It's important that you keep a cool head, so you can make smart decisions during this time. In some cases, your tenant will react in a positive way to your professionalism, and you'll be able to resolve the issues in a single conversation because they were treated with respect.

Thankfully, these issues are becoming more and more rare thanks to the tenant screening solutions that Tenant Background Search offers, starting at just $19.95

Social Media: Five Benefits for Landlords

In addition to tenant screening information, we also try to occasionally provide marketing tips for landlords. The following blog post is about how landlords can leverage social media:

It's become apparent to almost all business owners that social media is here to stay. And even more importantly than that, when using social media correctly in your marketing plan, you can see some pretty fantastic results. Here are five benefits that social media offers landlords, and a few tips on how to get started.

#1: More Exposure than Traditional Marketing

Sometimes the hardest part of getting new people to rent is getting the word out that you have space available. When you have a room, apartment, or other property available, write an engaging call to action and post the images of the space on your social media account. Many people will know one or two people who are looking for a place to live, and they'll share it on their page for everyone to see or send the link to their friend. This will provide you with brand exposure and is an incredibility easy way to get the word out.

#2: People Get To Know You

When you invest the time to make your social media outlets full of images and add your personality into the mix, the places that you rent will seem more appealing and you will come across as more approachable. Social media is a great way to create a casual and stress-free relationship with your current and future tenants. Take the time to post events you have by the pool or showcase your freshly landscaped lawns, and choose welcoming images of yourself and the staff to post.

#3: You Get People Involved

Don't just think that when you run a social media account for your rental property that all you can talk about is rental issues. If you offer studio apartments, post articles about how to make the most of your space. If you find that the majority of people living in your apartments are singles, have weekly recipes that cater to meals for one. The more you focus on the tenants that actually live in your place of business, the more people will get involved in liking and sharing what you put out there.

#4: You Reach a Larger Audience

It might surprise you to know that some people go to social media for almost all of their information, and you should take advantage of this. Not only will an active social media account give you an edge over your competition, but you'll reach an entirely new group of people that you haven't marketed to before.

#5: You Stay in Front of People

Even if you're at full capacity, it's a good idea to stay in front of an audience and keep your name on their minds. It's crucial that when you sign up for a social media account for your business that you're ready to invest the time in it. A stale social media account is almost worse than not having one at all. You want to show people that you're fresh and available, and you do that by sticking to a regular posting schedule and adjusting posts based on what your audience is most engaged in.

In addition to regular tenant screening, social media can be a great way to monetize and protect your investment.

Finding the Best Tenants with Tenant Screening

As you're looking to fill vacant rooms, you want to make sure that you're finding the best potential tenants you can. You want to avoid tenants who may not pay or who won't be kind and courteous to you or to your other tenants. If you don't find the right tenants for your apartments, you may end up driving away loyal, paying tenants while keeping non-loyal tenants who consistently forget to pay rent.

Tenant screening can help you to identify better candidates for your apartment so that you can avoid certain tenants that are not ideal for you, your apartments, or your other tenants.


Request Information
In order to thoroughly complete a tenant screening process, you will need certain information from the potential tenant. Information that you will need includes their full name, social security number, current address, existing landlord's name (and phone number), employer (and phone number), income, addresses they have lived at, and the names of all individuals who are planning to occupy the apartment space.

More or less information may be required depending on the tenant screening process you choose. You will need written and signed consent from applicants in order to do a thorough background search.


Tenant Screening
Without tenant screening, you are taking a chance and shooting into the dark. You could try to take the tenant's word for their ability to make payments, their lack of a criminal history, or any other claims they make. With tenant screening you can know for certain whether or not what they are saying is true.

Tenant screening will provide you with a comprehensive list of information to help you make the most informed decision. There should never be any reason that a potential tenant does not go through your tenant screening process.


Online Background Searches
Online tenant screening, like those at Tenant Background Search, are fast, easy, and affordable. Without an online service to do background searches, you will be stuck trying to do all the background checks yourself on your own time, and you will need to make sure you're doing them correctly in order to get all the pertinent information.

We recommend an online background search as this will save you time and searches can be completed much more quickly. Otherwise it is up to you to do all of the searches locally on your own, and you may forget to search certain data or information.


Filter the Results
Once you have enough information, you can begin to filter out the results based on certain criteria. First, you may choose to look at the potential tenants' criminal history nationwide. After that, you might begin looking at a tenant's financial history. Have they been able to make payments and have consistent income to support themselves and make consistent payments? You can filter the results however you see fit, based on what criteria is most important to you. Once you've filtered the results, you should be left with some great tenant options to lease your space to.

Are you ready to get started with tenant screening? Stop by Tenant Background Search today to get started. We will help you find better tenants by searching across the nation for important, relevant information of your potential tenants.

Tenant Screening Helps Tenants Feel Safe

As a landlord, you want to ensure that all of your tenants feel safe and comfortable. They know that they have little or no control over who their fellow neighbors will be, whether they're living above, below, next to, or down the street from them. New tenants are moving in and out all the time. Dealing with having new neighbors on a consistent basis is to be expected among apartment-living individuals and families.

Tenant screening can help your loyal tenants feel safe when they know that their neighbors have been thoroughly screened. Your tenants will feel safer, more comfortable and more likely to pay on time when they don't feel stressed or in danger from other neighboring tenants.

See how tenant screening can help you, your apartment, and your tenants feel safer and more comfortable as you bring in new tenants.


Nationwide Records and Reports
At Tenant Background Search, you will be able to search for criminal records and eviction reports on a national level, rather than a state level. This provides you with even more information and a comprehensive search on a potential tenant's past.


No Invasive Inspections
With an online tenant screening, all of the background searches are done online or behind the scenes. There are no invasive inspections that would make a tenant feel uncomfortable. Other companies' searches may require a more invasive inspection which can result in turning away kind and loyal tenants.


Avoid Sex Offenders
Tenant screening will help you to identify any sex offenders in the area. Some existing tenants, including those with families, will feel uncomfortable if a sex offender moves in without proper notification. Knowing that all of your background searches will look for this will help your existing tenants feel a little more comfortable.


Discover Financial History
With tenant screening, you can look back into the past of a potential tenant's financial history. More advanced tenant screening can help you to look into even more information, such as any bankruptcies, foreclosures, employment summaries, and more. By using tenant screening, you can identify individuals who are more likely to pay and less likely to claim bankruptcy to avoid having to pay rent.


Advanced Criminal Searches
Tenant screening allows you to do advanced criminal searches to dig into the criminal past of an individual. From eviction histories to nationwide eviction reports (including judgments and non-judgments), you can make a calculated and well-informed decision on whether or not he or she is morally sound to live in your apartments with other tenants.


And More!
These are just a handful of the benefits of tenant screening that help your existing and future tenants feel safer and more comfortable living in your apartments.

Ready to get started with tenant screening? Stop by today and get started! Send us a message if you have any questions or need assistance. With tenant screening we will help you to make the best decisions when filling your apartments with tenants.

How Landlords Keep Great Tenants

The first and most important step to finding a responsible individual to rent your property is to obtain a tenant background check on your applicant. A written document perfectly outlining an individual's credit history, criminal history, eviction history, and rental history is the only way to guarantee that you are choosing someone suitable to maintain your property and honor their rental agreement.

In today's society, it can be difficult to find such tenants and, unfortunately, proof of reliability needs to be on paper. That is why it is essential to also perform tenant screening on the potential tenant. If you are fortunate to find a tenant who has good credit and a history of following rental agreements, then it is best to make every effort to keep that tenant. Keeping a tenant is easier than you may think! Here are some tips on how landlords keep great tenants around.


Tip #1: Maintain the Home
Many tenants choose to rent property instead of purchasing a home of their own so that they are not responsible for maintenance or replacement of things that break. Inevitably, something will need to be maintained, fixed, or replaced during a lease. If it is your responsibility as the landlord to fix anything within the home, and to do so quickly and efficiently. If you want a good tenant to stay, take their requests seriously and have the work done at the same pace that you would want it done if you were residing in that home. By showing that you care about your tenant's needs and the quality of the property, your tenants are much more likely to sign a new lease at the end of their current rental term.


Tip #2: Consider Keeping Rent Costs the Same
If you have a tenant that stays through their lease and follows all lease agreements, offer them a new lease at the same cost. Raising rent costs encourages tenants to look elsewhere, but offering the same rate as before encourages them to stay with you. A few months before your tenant's rental terms expires, offer the tenant a new lease at the same rate.


Tip #3: Offer Cash Back for a Longer Lease Term
As many landlords know, there will be times that your home will sit without a tenant. Ideally, you will have a new tenant lined up to move in as soon as another tenant moves out; however, this is not always the case. When you find a responsible tenant to live in your home, consider using an end-of-term bonus as an incentive to sign an extended lease. You may write in your lease agreements that upon completing a two-year lease, the tenant will receive a certain amount of cash back. Be sure to write in your lease agreement that this is not part of the deposit paid and any damages to the house will still be deducted from the deposit.

Keeping a good tenant is always more ideal than finding a new tenant, but when it does come time to find a new tenant, be sure to use Tenant Background Search to assist you. We are here to make sure that you choose someone who will care for your home the same way you do. Remember, when you find your perfect tenant, use these simple steps to keep them!

Investing in Student Housing

Are you considering purchasing a property near a college or university with the intention of marketing your property as student housing? This can be a great investment and there are benefits of owning a property near a campus, but it is accompanied with some factors that are different from that of a regular rental property. Before you invest in a property for student housing, be sure you have educated yourself on the unique factors of owning a property that is to be occupied by college students, and make sure it is an investment you are ready to make.


Marketing Your Property
Among the best factors of owning a rental used for student housing is that there is little to no marketing involved in finding a tenant. When you own a property near a campus, potential tenants will come in crowds. If you post an ad announcing you have a rental space available, you are guaranteed to have applicants lining up to try to occupy your vacant rental.


Finding Applicants
By owning a property near a campus, you will always have a high supply of future tenants. With this being the case, you have the control of being pickier about who you choose to occupy your space. You don't have the pressure of choosing the first candidate that shows interest in your property since there will be many potential tenants enquiring. This also allows you some peace of mind knowing if one tenant breaks a lease, you can quickly have a new tenant in place.

Protecting Your Investment
College students often get a reputation for destroying homes, but a college student can in fact be just as responsible as any adult or family occupying your home. Many college students are enrolled in school solely for the education and hold jobs in addition to attending school in order to make an income. Housing college students is not necessarily a risk in and of itself, but you should make sure you are prepared for any incidents that could occur while students are living on your property. Your rental agreements should be written to protect you from any damages should an incident occur. You should also consider a larger security deposit than you would typically collect to be confident that you have a deposit that will supplement any potential damages. You will also want to do some tenant screening to ensure they are being totally honest with you.


Selecting a Lease Term
Typically a lease agreement lasts for a year. Unfortunately, when renting to students, a one-year lease is not always going to meet the needs of the market you are reaching. You will need to adjust your lease period to match the school year being followed by the nearby college.


Summer Vacancies
Your tenant's lease term is likely to end at the beginning of summer when college students return to their hometowns. This could mean that your property will sit vacant throughout the summer months. Take the possibility of summer vacancies into account when you are setting your monthly rental rate to ensure that you are making a profit off of your property all year round. You should also consider renting to those enrolled in summer school. If you choose to market to summer students, make sure you have a written rental agreement specific to summer tenants.

Owning a student housing property is unique and should be treated so. If you are unwilling to waver from the typical rental lease agreements, then student housing may not be an investment you should make. On the other hand, if you are able to be flexible with your rental agreements, you may experience great success investing in a student housing property!

Understanding Landlord Security Deposits

One common mistake many landlords make is not learning enough about security deposits. We often think that the process goes like this: name a price suitable to cover potential damages, include the price agreement in the lease, and have the tenant sign the lease and pay the deposit. Once the tenant's lease has ended, assess damages to the property, decide what amount is needed to cover damage expenses, and refund remaining amount to the tenant. The problem in this process lies in the damage withholdings. Many states require landlords to itemize the amounts withheld and do so in a specific timeframe. In these states, any amount of money retained in poor judgment by the landlord can result in penalties against the landlord. Here are a few tips to help landlords with security deposits.


Security Deposit Tip #1:
It is common for a landlord to keep an entire security deposit when a tenant breaks their lease. A landlord feels that it is justifiable to keep the deposit since the tenant did not fulfill the lease agreement. In many cases, this is illegal. A landlord is often required to make multiple attempts at re-renting the property to a new tenant. If the landlord is successful in the attempt to find a new tenant, a pro-rated amount based on the time that has passed should be reimbursed to the tenant who broke his or her lease.


Security Deposit Tip #2:
Any landlord should consider a partially deferred security deposit. A deferred security deposit simply means that a renter is given the option to pay their security deposit in installments over an established timeframe. Typically, the deposit would be collected in three to six monthly payments of the same amount each month. A partially deferred security deposit makes most sense when you have a potential tenant with good credit that lacks the finances to pay a full deposit up front. This can also help the landlord collect a higher deposit by allowing a tenant the freedom to pay in installments.


Security Deposit Tip #3:
A landlord must understand the tenant-landlord laws specific to his or her state. These laws provide clarity pertaining to the rental and residential dwellings and the rights and obligations of the tenant and landlord. These laws will cover maintenance requirements, landlord security deposits, and occupancy and access guidelines. It is in a landlord's interest and protection to know these laws, but they are often difficult to understand. To assist a landlord in comprehending the laws, it is beneficial to find a real estate attorney that is familiar with tenant-landlord laws in your state.


Landlord Security Deposit Tip #4:
Make certain you understand the complexity of the laws pertaining to the following:

• Whether or not the tenant accumulates any interest income on security deposits preserved by the landlord
• Any limitations on amounts that can be charged as a security deposit
• Whether or not a landlord is required to keep security deposits in a trust account until funds are returned to the tenant

It is the best practice to always choose a tenant that you believe will care for your property. It reduces the hassle when your property has limited or no damages and most or all of the tenant security deposit can be returned to the tenant. By processing a tenant screening with Tenant Background Search, you will learn the history of the tenant you are choosing and will have the comfort of knowing you have chosen someone who will be responsible with your property.

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