Times are a-changing.  Individuals are losing jobs and struggling to make rents.  Consider the following to keep your rentals occupied.

Broaden Qualifications

Broaden the scope of what is deemed passable on a credit report.  A past medical problem or loss of job can ruin credit.  Have they paid promptly in the last two years?  Did they pay their rent on time and maintain their past rental in good condition?  Have they been at their job for a long period of time?

Allow Pets

My experience is that many pets do less damage than certain residents.  Some breeds are “mellower” than others.   You can look up breed characteristics on websites.  I ask for references on the pet and vet’s verification of temperament and breed.  Meet the pet and determine if you think it would fit into your rental.  You can increase rent and deposits for allowing pets.  But remember, don’t fear them.

Allow Larger Pets

Some small dogs can do more damage than larger ones if they are diggers, scratchers or have small bladders.  Some property owners increase rent by the weight of the dog.

Allow Additional Residents

If the rental can accommodate them, allow additional residents. Pre-screen as you would any new resident but allow them to be added if it can help the rent be consistent.  [Editor’s Note:  Be sure to give any additional tenants a copy of the original rental agreement and sign an Addendum for Additional Tenant.]

Split the Rent Payment

For instance, allow residents to pay on the 1st and the 15th of the month or every two weeks to coincide with their income.  This is especially true if residents are willing to do automatic draft from their checking account every pay date.  Some residents would have an easier time paying the rent if the amount was broken into smaller payments and are less likely to spend the money on something else if it is closer to pay day.  I usually add a small increment (say $10 or $20 per payment) to the rent for the accommodation and for the added time in processing extra payments.

Collect Additional Deposits

You can collect additional deposits for those with marginal credit reports.  I will ask for 1.5 or two times the regular deposit.  [California allows two times the monthly rent as a maximum deposit for unfurnished apartments and three times the monthly rent for furnished units.] 

Ask for a Cosigner

This individual becomes responsible if residents do not fulfill obligations.  [Cosigners should complete the rental application, go through your screening process, receive a copy of the original rental agreement, and sign a Co-Signers Agreement.]

Look at Section 8 or Other Support Programs

If individuals have a good rental history that includes good maintenance of the property, they could be good residents for you.

Split Deposit Payments

Some residents cannot come up with the entire first month’s rent and full deposit at the same time.  You’ll want to make sure the payment plan, [written into the Rental Agreement and/or Lease], specifies dates and amounts.

Get a Reservation Deposit to Hold the Rental

I typically ask for $300 to $500 which goes toward the security deposit if they complete the rental agreement and move in.  [Have the applicant sign a Deposit Receipt and Offer to Lease form which allows you to deduct from that amount should they change their minds.]  This amount should be enough to make someone think twice about walking away and it provides you a cushion until you can re-rent it.  Be sure to comply with the earnest money laws in your state.

[Editor’s Note:  AOA Members can download all of the above mentioned rental forms on www.aoausa.com for FREE.]

 Reprinted with permission of the Wisconsin Apartment Association News.

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