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."
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.
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!
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.
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
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...
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
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
- Credit Reporting Disclosure Notice to Tenant
- Mold Addendum
- Lead Paint Disclosure
3. Providing a Quality Rental
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
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
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.
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