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After all your hard work meeting prospective tenants, answering their questions, and reviewing rental applications, you finally find the perfect tenant. Now you ask yourself, what’s next? It’s time to review the required landlord forms. But after looking them over, you think wow, they might as well be in another language. Either way, you don’t understand the forms nor do you know how to fill them out. Do I pay someone to do it for me? Do I need an attorney to help me? Can I really do this on my own?
Then, I think about all the other things I need to learn; What do I need to ask the tenants to bring on lease signing day? What should I bring? What am I allowed by law to say?
As the list in your mind grows, you realize there’s so much more you need to know. So, you make a list:
- What should you bring to the signing?
- What do you need to discuss when they fill out the forms?
- Should all tenants be present at the signing?
- What copies of the forms do you give them?
By this point you feel so overwhelmed, you’re tempted to take dangerous shortcuts. If this is how you feel, you’re not alone. There’s no need to worry because I have simple steps you can take to get the job done effectively and in compliance.
Solution: Create a System That You Can Use Each Time You Sign a New Tenant
A solid system helps you protect your assets and build your confidence. Having the correct forms, understanding what the forms mean and how to fill them out will get you off to a positive start. Let’s look at some ways to get you there.
- Write down a list of forms that are required by your city and country. A great place to start is with AOA Form 152, the Move-in Checklist. If you’re unsure, call AOA and ask for advice. They can assist you.
- Have completed forms (with generic information) as samples, so you can use them each time you sign a new tenant.
- Bring two blank copies of each form to the signing. You and your tenant will sign both copies. One of the signed copies will be for you to keep in your records and the other is for the tenant.
- Ask the tenant to bring their driver’s license or ID, social security card, and the total fees required at the signing.
- Do a walk-through of the unit before the applicant’s arrival.
- Greet the tenant and begin signing the documents.
- After the documents are signed, give the tenants their copies, as well as keys, and then welcome them to their new home.
As a bonus, here are some things you can do to keep your tenants happy so they’ll stay:
- Keep rents slightly under market value – If you keep your rent right under market value, the tenants have one less reason to move.
- Consider a discount instead of a late fee – Create a positive relationship with your tenant by offering a discount for rent paid on time instead of charging a late fee. Your chance of getting your rent on time increases. Everyone wants a discount.
- Treat your tenant like the gift that they are – Greet them with a positive attitude when entering their unit and be kind when you call or interact with them. Remember, they’re the ones who are paying the mortgage that allows you to keep that property.
- Promptly take care of problems they bring to you – If they have a stoppage, get the plumber over as soon as you can.
- Do things periodically to let them know how much you value them – Send your tenant a card through the mail to let them know how lucky you are to have them as tenants. You may want to drop off a small gift during the holiday season.
Shiral Torres teaches rental property management classes at local colleges and through her business, Simply Shiral. She believes keeping life simple is the key to success. She and her husband own and manage multiple properties in California and throughout the country. The author of Rental Property Made Simple (available at amazon.com), Shiral is also a volunteer support group facilitator and Walk to End Alzheimer’s committee member for the Alzheimer’s Association. Visit my website at www.simplyshiral.com to view the simple affordable classes I offer that help you gain confidence and profits.