Friday, May 30, 2014

Rental Property Maintenance

How do I make sure the tenant will take good care of my property?

One of the biggest concerns landlords have is how the tenant will treat the property. We all hear horror stories of what tenants can do to a rental. Many of us have lived through the horror of having our beautiful rental property destroyed by a bad tenant. The fact that we have invested great expense plus gallons of blood, sweat, and paint in the property only to see it trashed and desecrated by a tenant makes it even worse.

Some landlords still believe that finding a good tenant is a matter of luck, while more and more of us are taking steps to make our own luck. Have you heard the old adage, “Luck = Labor Under Correct Knowledge”?

So how do we protect your rental property from getting trashed by a tenant? There are a few very important steps to follow.

  • Complete tenant screening. It sounds like a no brainer, but how often do you do complete tenant screening? Part of your standard screening is to try your best to actually verify the past landlord’s reference. Call him and talk about the tenant. Ask questions. The Landlord Reference Qualifier form can make it easier to do this.
  • Drive By. Another important part of the screening process is to actually visit or at the very least, drive by the property the tenant is about to vacate and assess the condition. Chances are the tenant will treat your property the same way he treats the one he’s currently in.
  • Photographs & Video Before conveying possession to the tenant, maybe even at the lease signing, mention or show the tenant that you have dated pictures and a video of the property condition before occupancy. Having this supports you on the next powerful step in making sure the tenant takes care of your property.
  • Property Condition Report & Checklist Before turning your rental over to the tenant, I suggest you prepare a complete Property Condition Report to document the undamaged condition of the property. By having the tenant agree and sign this inventory and condition checklist, the tenant realizes he is now on record, not only by signing the lease, but also for signing this additional legal document, the Property Condition Report.
  • Security Deposit It is crucial that you take a substantial security deposit from the tenant before you turn over possession of the rental. Remember, the tenant will be in control and your property will be a hostage unless you have something substantial like a security deposit from the tenant.

By following these steps along with your normal screening process, you will become a landlord who has better luck with how tenants take care of your property. Remember, “Luck = Labor Under Correct Knowledge”.

Legal Disclaimer

Monday, May 26, 2014

Landlord Wants to be Paid

What do I do when the tenant doesn't pay?

Nonpayment of rent is obviously one of the biggest problems facing landlords. It always was and probably will continue to be. But for now, we can take steps to minimize losses when rent isn't paid.

Nonpayment of rent doesn't always mean the rent was not paid. A partial rent payment creates an unpaid portion. In many leases, including The LPA Lease, past due charges such as unpaid late fees are deemed payable as "added rent". Unpaid Added Rent is the same as unpaid Rent, valid grounds for eviction.

If you need to collect unpaid rent, there is a legal process that must be followed.

When rent is not paid on time, the landlord should be prepared to take action like an automated robot, to collect before too much time passes. Don't be strung along by the tenant waiting for some windfall that may never come.

  1. Urgent Late Notice includes space for Past Due Charges to Tenant at Essential landlord rental forms page with Apartment Lease rental agreement, rental application, eviction notices, lease form, lease purchase option, furnished lease, apartment lease, pay rent or quit, notice to vacate, notice to terminate tenancyThe Urgent Late Notice includes many features: Late Rent Notice - Be prompt in issuing your tenant a late notice when the rent is not paid by the end of the rent grace period. (That is the date rent becomes late - in my lease it is after the 5th day after due date). I always recommend using a late notice that informs the tenant of late fees. (As long as your lease provides for late fees) I also think it's a good idea to let the tenant know that you or your management company operate on a schedule and the clock is always ticking each month.

  2. Phone call- If after you haven't received the rent or a response from the tenant within a reasonable time (2-4 days after sending/delivering the Late Notice), give the tenant a call to find out what is wrong. This can be done before the late notice is sent if you like. Give the tenant a "heads up" that the late fees can build daily. Also inform the tenant that on ____, 20__ the account automatically goes to the attorney's office for eviction procedings plus the attorneys fee will be added to the balance owed (if your lease provides for attorney fees like mine does.)

  3. Eviction Notice / Attorneys Letter - I prefer to send an attorney's warning letter (optional) instructing the tenant to pay all rent and late fees before actually commencing eviction in court. (Ask your attorney to prepare a warning letter for pre-eviction situations.) I send it along with a Notice to Pay Rent or Quit, Demand for Payment. I also warn the tenants in the notice that we are about to make a negative impact on their credit record.
    I'd also recommend giving the tenant an Eviction Ramifications Notice (PDF Format)

  4. Eviction Process - If the cure time in your eviction notice expires and the tenant has not paid, you must be ready to go forward with a court eviction. If you are unfamiliar with the process of evicting a tenant, I highly recommend you use a lawyer who is experienced in landlord tenant eviction cases. Unless you are an attorney or an expert at landlord tenant law, it is not a good idea to do it yourself the first time.

  5. Credit Bureau Reporting - If the tenant owes me money, whether we've gone to court or not, I have the ability to report a Bad Debt* onto the tenant's credit record which will stay there for 7 years.

    * The LPA offers the ability for landlords to report delinquent rent onto the tenant's credit report.

When the tenant doesn't pay the rent, it is a serious matter not to be ignored. Many of us prefer to give the tenant another day and keep hoping that nothing is wrong because we don't want to believe anything is wrong. Just remember that the longer we give the tenant before trying to collect, the easier and more comfortable we make it for them to steal from us.

Copyright © 2004 - 2014 The Landlord Protection Agency, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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Permission is granted to use this Landlord Protection Agency article upon the following terms:
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Sunday, May 18, 2014

Abilities of a Good Landlord

What Makes YOU a Good Landlord?

1. Understanding the need for quality tenant screening

"It is far better to have no tenant than to have a bad tenant."

  • Rental Application forms
    A crucial aspect of screening tenants involves using a good rental application and other forms that focus on determining how qualified the applicant is while legally protecting the landlord. Forms such as the Tenant Finder Worksheet and the Tenant Finder Qualifying Chart can be very helpful after you have verified the information given to you on the rental application.

  • Actually Verifying References
    I'm surprised at how many landlords don't actually make calls to check the references on the rental application! Once I had a landlord reference start laughing when I called. I asked what was so funny. He said, "I can't believe this guy was stupid enough to list me as a reference! He is being evicted as we speak." I highly recommend the Landlord Reference Qualifier as a tool for determining the integrity of the landlord reference the tenant gives you. A 2 minute phone call can save you thousands!

  • Access to pull instant credit reports
    The next step in verifying the references on the signed application that also includes authorization to verify the applicant's credit is to order a credit report. Landlords without access to pull instant credit reports are at a disadvantage when it comes to making timely decisions on accepting tenants. If you do not have access to instant credit reports, I recommend The LPA's credit report agency, Quick Check Credit Reports.

  • Recognizing "Danger Signs".
    After a while in the landlord business, showing rental properties to many tenants, you tend to hear some of the same questions and statements again and again. The screening process is alive from the moment you first speak with your new prospects until the leases are signed and the money is paid, so you must keep your eyes and ears open for clues and telltale signs of whether your prospect is the right tenant for your rental.
    Click for more about tenant red flags

  • Rental Advertising
    I use a basic little chart on my internet rental ads that has made quite a difference in setting up appointments. I used to advertise in local newspapers, and spend thousands on rental ads, but websites like Craigslist and The LPA Rentals Available section have been a helpful way to save advertising dollars!

    Just imagine receiving e-mails from prospective tenants with the pre-screening information you want before even talking to them. (With Craigslist, the customer doesn't even have to see your real e-mail address or phone number!) Call prospective tenants to set up appointments only if they meet your pre-screening qualifications! It has never been easier. It saves time, advertising money and helps you zero in on the tenant you're looking for...

    Click to for your Free HTML code and also Free Download of the printable Prospect Card

  • Knowing how to reject unqualified applicants properly
    Tenant Rejection! Many of us have had difficulty in rejecting interested rental applicants for our properties. Without a system to save you from legal entanglements, wasted time and aggravation, hurt feelings and embarrassment, you are going to be one unhappy and unsuccessful person.

    Having a legal and effective approval and denial system for your rental application process is essential if you are going to last in the landlord business.
    Click for more about rejecting unqualified applicants

    2. Preparing Qualified Tenants with a Good Lease Agreement

  • Starting your new tenants off on the right foot by guiding them through your lease agreement.
    A quality lease agreement outlines in detail what is expected from tenant who will treat the property with pride and respect.

    If possible, the lease should be read and explained to the tenant in person. It is more effective that way. After all, the lease agreement is an instruction manual for how to be your tenant in your rental property.

    Before turning over a valuable asset for a mere 1 or 2 month security deposit, make sure the tenants understand and agree to all your terms. You'd be surprised at how many people are so eager to just sign the lease without bothering to read it. You can get a real idea of what these people will be like as tenants by how they respond to the terms in your lease.

    Click for more about signing the lease agreement

  • Use important supporting forms with your lease.
    • Credit Reporting Disclosure Notice to Tenant
    • Mold Addendum
    • Lead Paint Disclosure

    3. Providing a Quality Rental

  • Would you be proud to live in your rental property?
    That is usually an indicator of what your standards of quality are for your tenants. Simply put: If you want to attract good tenants, you need to provide a quality rental.

    4. Lease Enforcement

  • Tenants never forget their responsibilities, right?
    Maybe in the Twilight Zone, but in reality a good landlord is equipped to enforce the lease agreement.

    It is common for tenants to forget all that stuff they agreed to in the lease. Many tenants misplace or file away the lease the same day they signed it without giving it a second thought. That is why a good landlord is ready to nip potential tenant problems in the bud with good lease enforcement forms. Many of the LPA's Essential Forms were written to focus on that exact purpose: "Lease Enforcement".

    5. A Good Landlord is Not Greedy

  • Nobody likes Mr. Potter!
    The stereotypical bad landlord is usually depicted as a greedy, mean old slumlord like Mr. Potter from "It's a Wonderful Life". Be generous whenever possible. "What goes around comes around". You'll retain good tenants longer if you price your rentals competitively.

    About the author:
    As a Real Estate broker / investor in New York, John Nuzzolese has been involved with rentals and investment property since 1979. Besides owning and operating two real estate businesses, he is president and founder of The Landlord Protection Agency, Inc. , an organization specializing in helping landlords and property managers avoid the hurdles and pitfalls and expensive blunders common when dealing with tenants.

    Copyright © 2011 - 2014 The Landlord Protection Agency, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

    Would you like to re-print this article on your website or publication?
    Permission is granted to use this Landlord Protection Agency article upon the following terms:
    1. Full credit for the article is given to the author and The Landlord Protection Agency,
    2. You display a link on your website to The Landlord Protection Agency. (

  • Monday, May 12, 2014

    Ask John Reno The Eviction Attorney

    Ask the Attorney

    The Landlord Protection AgencyThe Landlord Protection Agency® presents John Reno, Esq., a highly experienced Landlord - Tenant attorney based on Long Island, NY.

    John Reno also does Mortgage Loan Modifications (Nationwide).
    (Mention The LPA for a 10% discount!)

    Dear Mr. Reno:
    My tenant installed wall to wall carpet over my hardwood floors I clearly told her I was not funding carpets. She is being evicted for non payment of rent. She is refusing to pay now because she says take the cost of carpets out of what is owed. I am afraid of damage if she rips them out. What are my rights as landlord?

    A: The question is "what are my rights as landlord" Answer, same as any landlord. You can evict for nonpayment. You can deduct damages to the floor from the security. Any questions?

    If you have a landlord tenant problem you'd like to ask a question about, please feel free to e-mail me your question.
    Submit a landlord / tenant question for Mr. Reno
    Please try to keep your questions as short and to the point as possible.

    Read more from John Reno, Eviction Attorney

    Sunday, May 11, 2014

    Finding Good Tenants Means Eliminating the Unqualified

    15 Reasons I Disqualify Prospective Tenants
    By John Nuzzolese

    One of the essential abilities a landlord needs in tenant screening is the ability to spot potential problems and disqualify prospective tenants as early in the screening process as possible. This can be a difficult process for many landlords, but after hundreds of rentals and years of trial and error experience you develop an evaluation system and a preference of what works best for you in your rentals.

    Below, I'll share with you my 15 reasons I would prefer not to engage in a rental with certain interested rental prospects.

    1. I require a few pre-screening questions in my ad. If the prospect can't answer a simple request like that, they're history.
    The questions are not invasive and are very easy to answer. Click here for my Pre-screening Tenant Prospect Card.

    2. I usually do not consider tenants who have pets.
    My landlord mentor, Nick Koon used to say "No dog ever improved a rental property", and boy was he right! If I do consider accepting a pet, and it is a great tenant- I mean a really GREAT tenant that you really want and they have a dog, before making up your mind, go see the place they are coming from first. I look at the yard. How does the home smell? Then I decide.
    To help enforce our No Smoking policy, we use the No Smoking Notice & Reminder

    3. I usually do not consider tenants who smoke.
    When tenants do smoke, to help enforce our No Smoking policy, we use the No Smoking Notice & Reminder

    4. I disqualify prospects who have bad credit.
    If they are honest on the pre-screening prospect card, and tell us they have bad credit, it saves them and us a lot of time. For promising prospects, we get our credit checks from our own Quick Check Credit Reports!

    5. I disqualify prospects who are late for their appointment without calling with a good reason.
    If they can't even make their first meeting with you as agreed, what can you expect in the future from them? Jeez!

    6. I will not accept a deposit without a fully completed application authorizing a credit check.
    The LPA Rental Application when completed and signed by the applicant provides authorization to verify credit, employment and any other financial qualifying factors in connection with the rental. Serious qualified prospects are more than happy to share their good story with you.

    7. I disqualify prospects who can't prove they have a dependable income adequate to easily pay the rent.
    Let's not play games. Can they afford your place or not? Part of the screening process is to verify they actually have the means to pay the rent. That means you may have to see certain forms of proof of their income. You may need to see copies of bank statements, pay stubs, employment verification letter and sometimes income tax returns before making an approval decision.

    8. I disqualify prospects who argue about authorizing a credit check.
    Most tenants know that you need their written approval before being allowed to pull a credit report. If a prospect has a problem with checking his credit, what does that tell you? They may tell you they have excellent credit, but do not want unnecessary inquiries harming their credit. Unnecessary? Isn't the place they want to move into important enough for a credit check?? Their car loan is obvious important enough to them.

    9. I disqualify prospects who leave their social security number or driver's license # out of the rental application.
    An incomplete application is a disqualified application. It says so on the form.

    10. I disqualify prospects who leave their income out of the rental application.
    Was their income that private when they applied low money down for their car loan?

    11. I disqualify prospects who lie on the rental application.
    Lying on a rental application is a fraudulent act and a criminal offense. It should not be taken lightly. Not the kind of tenants you want to rent to, so investigate applications thoroughly before accepting tenants!

    12. I disqualify prospects who are disrespectful to any of our employees
    We don't want to enter into any long term relationships with jerks.

    13. I disqualify prospects who have been evicted in the past.
    As shocking as it may be, some tenants make evictions a way of life by living for free as long as they can going from landlord to landlord. I won't be one of their victims.

    14. I disqualify prospects who have had a bankruptcy within the last 10 years
    How afraid do think a tenant who has been through bankruptcy will be if I threaten to damage their credit if they don't pay the rent? Yes, they will laugh at me (on the inside).

    15. I disqualify prospects who argue about anything.
    I don't like to argue.

    Everyone's situation is different, just as rentals are also different. You may be a smoker or a serious dog or cat lover and prefer tenants who smoke and have pets. That's for you to decide. I hope some of these ideas will be found helpful in your tenant screening!