A landlord was concerned about new renters keeping bad habits from previous rentals. So, he believes, as many landlords do, that everything must be spelled out in the lease. The question then becomes if whether or not the landlord should read the complete lease to the resident prior to move in (at the new resident orientation). That question was asked on our Q&A Forum. Here’s a response:
READ LEASE AT SIGNING?
“EVERY proper job does an orientation and basic training. Why not a landlord before giving residents control over my $100,000 investment? NEVER ASSUME!!!
When I started doing a “Lease Signing Ceremony” approach, my resident problems dropped to almost zero! People started doing good resident things! Like not parking on the grass, taking out their trash, not calling me for a clogged toilet! Key clauses are in bold and many require an initial. Every page gets initialed by all adults.
I have the property inspection report filled out BEFORE they arrive. We do NOT walk through because they start to nitpick and drag out the appointment. I do remind them the lease says they have seven days to report anything we might have missed.
I used to meet at the house but had some people who could not stand very long so I started bringing a card table and chairs. That was cumbersome and looked amateurish. I found it best to meet at McDonalds. I could bribe the kids with some fries and send them to the playground or buy the adults a cup of coffee and look like a great guy.
I hired a person to sign the leases and she was too shy to do “Public speaking” so I made my Talking Lease (a 23-minute audio) to walk them through the lease. Again, this solved a million problems!
With the pandemic we had to adapt. I went to DocuSign. We send the lease and a link to the recording (with a few who were tech challenged. I talked them through the lease over the phone). I call them after they sign and hit a few highlights to reinforce the training.
They deliver the monies to our Walk-In Deposit Only Account #1111 at any Home Federal Bank branch. They write their name on the receipt and text us a photo to prove they paid. If folks are concerned about being scammed, I tell them to call the bank before putting in any money and ask if this is a legitimate account.
For out-of-towners we do a credit card with Square. Once paid and signed, we change the door lockbox to a special code with their new keys, and take 100+ move in photos dated from that day.
This has been working well and people seem to appreciate the “online renting” approach. We still have to talk with them by phone to nail down which house, timing, adding amenities like washer/dryer money, shed money, etc., and talking about PayDayPlan before sending the DocuSign. Many renters comment on how quick and easy it was. Works for me! Rented 3 last week from my desk.” – BRAD, Indiana Landlord
AVOID ARGUMENTS, ESPECIALLY AT EVICTION
I believe most of you know not to get into an argument with your resident, especially during already high-anxiety moments like an eviction. However, as a reminder, a Florida landlord was killed last month following an eviction and a heated discussion with the former renter. Sadly, this is not an isolated incident, because I have read of similar accounts seemingly every month. As one other veteran landlord advises, “If you find yourself in a situation with an irate tenant, the best thing to do is leave and solve it later. Not worth your life.”
MARKETING IDEA – MERCHANT DISCOUNTS
A rental owner recently shared an idea that can provide landlords with an additional marketing selling point to help fill a future vacancy and/or an idea that may help with resident retention.
“I make a deal with a local independent mechanic/garage. I tell the mechanic that I have several customers (renters) and they all have one or more vehicles that need maintenance and repairs on a regular basis. If he (the mechanic) will give my renters a deal, I will steer these renters to his shop. So, maybe he gives them 15 percent off on repairs. He gets a few new customers that puts hundreds of dollars each in his pocket.
I get happy renters when I tell them I’ve made a deal with a repair place and they will get a discount if they take their work there. (Because they are my renters).
You could do this with other services or suppliers your renters use as well (at most anything or any place where you can negotiate a discount).”
The tips in this column are shared by regular contributors to the popular MrLandlord.com Q&A forum, by real estate authors and by Jeffrey Taylor, [email protected]. To receive a free sample of the Mr. Landlord newsletter, call 1-800-950-2250 or visit their informative Q&A Forum at LandlordingAdvice.com, where you can ask landlording questions and seek advice of other landlords 24 hours a day.