1. I like to think that I am a good judge of character but I’ve been fooled before. Always verify your applicant’s credit, employment and rental history.
2. Look at the applicant’s car to know that your property will be cared for in much the same manner.
3. An applicant who claims to have been a victim of unfair circumstances will often make you a victim of unfair circumstances.
4. Do not rent to friends or friends of friends.
5. Pets cause problems more often than not. If you’re going to accept them you need to be compensated for the extra wear and tear and risks that you will be taking on. A “No Pets” policy is the best policy. [For those who do accept pets, please see the helpful pet screening questions at the end of this article.]
6. Replace water heaters every 10 years whether they need it or not.
7. Keep the gutters clean and the moss on the roof at bay.
8. Do not provide or loan lawn mowers, string trimmers, or power tools of any kind. You’ll get them back broken and if someone gets hurt you might get sued.
9. Don’t let residents do their own painting. They often botch the job.
10. Don’t hand over a signed contract until you have a completed inspection report filled out and returned to you. It’s best to be present when the resident inspects.
11. Take lots of pictures and video before each residency. Include the front page of that day’s newspaper to verify the date.
12. It does no good to prohibit anything in your lease unless you have effective and immediate remedies included in your agreement or available by statute.
13. Require residents to carry renter’s insurance for their protection and yours.
14. Include wording in your lease that limits your liability during periods where the rental is rendered uninhabitable (through no fault of the landlord) to abatement of rent during that period.
15. Include a modest rent escalation clause in your lease (I use 2.9% per year). It gets them used to the idea and prevents you from agonizing about when, whether, and how much to increase the rent.
16. Avoid roommate situations if possible. They are inherently unstable.
17. Get a Lowes’ credit card and you’ll get an automatic 5% discount on your purchases .
18. Get a Home Depot card and ask them to match the Lowes’ discount.
19. If you are ex-military, disregard 18 & 19 and ask for a 10% discount at Lowes and Home Depot.
20. I have had bad experiences with Section 8 situations and recommend that you avoid them.
21. Give your number to the neighbors and ask them to let you know if there are any problems or concerns.
22. I offer well maintained rentals that are very competitively priced but I insist on well-qualified residents. I also ask for two or more year leases whenever possible. Those who rent from me know they are getting a good deal and are usually willing to commit to a longer lease.
23. Make sure that residents understand that if they cause drains to get clogged, they will get the bill. Feminine hygiene products, wet wipes, foreign objects, or even large wads of toilet paper should not be flushed down the toilet.
24. Place battery operated water leak alarms under the sinks — best $10 you can spend.
Five Tips to Screen Pet Owners
Scared of possible property damage from pets? I like how one landlord responded to that concern on LandlordingAdvice.com – “How much rent are you losing while you ‘protect’ those floors?”
Good pet owners make good long-term residents. The same landlord, and regular contributor to MrLandlord.com, who has 100% occupancy, shared the following five screening tips for renting to pet owners – you can tell a good pet owner pretty easily:
1. Is the animal spayed or neutered? (NO flexibility on this one.)
2. Do they have a regular VET and will the owner provide their name and number?
3. Is the animal friendly – absolutely NO aggression?
4. Is the animal clean, on a nice leash (not a piece of rope around the neck, LOL!)
5. Is the animal properly registered with the state, with all shot records updated?
Management tips provided by landlords on www.MrLandlord.com. To receive a free Rental Owner newsletter, call 1-800-950-2250 or visit their web site at www.mrlandlord.com where you can ask landlording questions and seek the advice of other rental owners 24 hours a day.