10 Basics Every Landlord Should Know
The dream of owning a property comes with additional responsibility of becoming a landlord which requires you to know the state laws, regulations and rules and also follow them. Here are 10 basics every landlord should know.
1. Check the property condition
It is important that you check the property condition prior to renting it. Many a times, this basic fact is ignored which later creates problems between the landlord and tenants. Check if the electrical, heating and plumbing systems are functioning correctly. Also check the flooring and carpets and if repairs are needed them accordingly fix them. The exterior of property should not be ignored either. A clean house on rent is likely to rent faster and to the kind of tenants you want.
2. Set Reasonable Lease terms
It is a good practice to set reasonable lease terms and explain the same to the tenant prior to leasing the property. Check the state law website for any additional fees that you can charge besides the rent. Ensure that the tenant is aware of the same and has read the agreement prior to signing it. Asking for a reasonable deposit, rent of the 1st month or a pet fee is a standard policy but ensure you do not ask for too much as it can drive away a prospective renter. Ensure you mention the list of things the tenant can or can’t do, his responsibility regarding repairs, what repairs you are responsible, etc. According to most state law, a landlord should provide a proper cooling and heating system and roof and also maintained the same. Failing to maintain the items you are liable to repair, can give your tenant a chance to sue you for violating the lease agreement.
3. Pre-Screening Tenant
Screening a tenant is a best practice and a to-be-followed rule by many landlords or else there are high chances of getting some bad apples. There are many online resources that can help you in the screening process. Most of them do not charge you a membership fee however, you many need to pay a nominal fee for pre-screening checks and credit reports. Provide a rental application which includes space for the date of birth or social security numbers of the possible renters as it becomes easier for the company hired by you to run their credit reports and sufficient background checks. You can charge a nominal fee for this application however it is at your discretion.
4. Ensure you are reachable
As a landlord, you must always be reachable. This basic practice helps you in keeping a 100% occupancy rate for almost all your properties. As a property owner, most rental agreements require you to promptly fix any electrical, appliance, cooling and heating system or plumbing flaws. In case you are unavailable ensure you give your tenant a backup alternative.
5. Payment Options
Give various payment options such cheque, cash, etc to your renters. The same can be mentioned in the pre-screening application. You can also ask them to pay directly to your bank account as the banks do not give any information to non signers. Alternately, you can give them a P.O. Box number or address to mail their rent via cheque.
When your current tenant has moved out ensure you revisit the place and accordingly check if any repairs are required. The repairs done on the property are a tax deduction and operating expense. If you fail to visit the property there is a high chance of not know what repairs needs to be done which, can later hinder your search for a prospect tenant.
7. Additional Services
As a landlord you can offer additional services such as monthly insect and bug exterminator services or move in services like fixing dryers and washers, etc and cover the same in the monthly rent. You can also pop in at time of moving in and check for any assistance required.
8. External Resources
In case your lease agreement does not include cleaning windows or upkeep on grass or landscaping work, you can give your tenant a list of external resources which can lend him a hand.
9. Don’t be too harsh
A good landlord knows what to allow and want not to. Understand the needs of your tenant and if they have a pet, you can allow it for a charge. Also don’t be too harsh when it comes to children. Give them time to paying the rent and ensure the payment date is mentioned in the agreement. On humanitarian grounds, you can always waive of the penalty if the payment is delayed due to unavoidable reasons such as flood, death in family, etc.
10. Returning of Deposits
A good landlord never makes false allegations and returns the deposit on time especially when the renter has left the property in a good condition. Ensure you check the property and if the tenant is liable to pay for any repairs, make the necessary deductions and return the remaining amount to the tenant. This way you have a good chance of getting some good referrals.