Every year, about 60 days out from year end, I ask if people are planning to move in the upcoming year. This year only one said yes (he’s leaving the Coast Guard and moving home.) I had his space rented more than 60 days before his lease is up, so that was good!

And this is why I do that:

One tenant said YES – she is staying and wants a new lease. I send it to her. I follow up and she sends a rambling text message about how her boss wants her to move closer to her turf (she’s a cop in another county) and she might buy a house but she’ll keep me posted and should know something by end of May – maybe.

Her lease is up the end of April! SO I say no, unacceptable, I’ll consider her notice given and start showing the place. She tried to whine that’s not enough notice but legally it is. So she will be out end of April.

I know you are going to ask why not go month to month? Because I know she will move after the Summer – she’s a beach person and wants to stay close to the beach for the summer but come Fall she will be outta there. I would rather handle the transition on my terms, thanks. The thing is, if I hadn’t asked (and kept asking) I would have been taken totally by surprise as she had said she was definitely staying.

How to Have Guilt-Free Evictions

Landlords were asked if they would kick out a tenant who was a single grandmother raising her grandkids, in the middle of the winter if she couldn’t afford the rent. One landlord responded by sharing the following statements he keeps posted on his office wall, that has served him well throughout his landlording career

Ten Reasons Why You Should Not Feel Guilty about Evictions!
1. Always start evictions immediately. If the tenants need extra time, the court will give it tothem.
2. You don’t make a profit from evictions. You only cut your loses.
3. You’ve already supplied the “needy” tenant with free housing. You’ve done your charity work,
give someone else a chance.
4. If the tenant doesn’t have a friend or relative to help him out, doesn’t that say a lot about the 
tenant’s character?
5. If someone asks you how you could put someone out on the street, ask them to pay the rent 
and you won’t evict them.
6. The tenant has kept possession of your house and is stealing from you. He has stolen your home, utilities, and your services. The tenant is a thief. Do stores let your tenant go in and take from them?
7. Letting a tenant stay in your house who is not paying rent is like giving your tenant your 
charge card and telling him, “Feel free to spend. I like loaning out money interest free without knowing I’ll be paid back”.
8. How would you feel if you worked all week and your employer said I don’t have a paycheck 
for you? Guess what, your tenant has just told you that! Do you work for nothing?
9. If you want to maintain your apartment and let the occupants live rent free, you should decide 
who the occupants will be, not your tenant. There are lots of people you may find more deserving.
10.Your tenant is taking money, time and energy from you, which you could use to provide for 
your family’s needs. Picture yourself trying to tell your child that you could not buy him or her an item because you had to pay a stranger’s rent so the stranger could buy gifts for his or her child.
(Printed in Mr. Landlord Newsletter December 1992)

Five Tips for Screening Rental Applicants

1. Do not simply give away applications to rental prospects who are not serious to take home and most likely never return. Instead, charge $30 for each application given out. And let them know “processing” the app is Free. They can go ahead and fill it out now or later. Most fill it out right then. A landlord friend of mine started this several years ago. It is amazing how well it works and I have had many who “bought” an application and never returned it. Like getting paid to show the place.

2. Don’t become fixated on one qualification, like getting a certain credit score – look at the whole picture. Real references from real past landlords trump credit scores every time.

3. Someone who is a PAIN at the showing is probably going to be 10 times worse if you actually rent to them. Have written criteria to deal with people who are uncooperative, or can’t seem to follow basic instructions.

4. Take charge in the conversation from the start. You ask the questions, and get the answers you want/need to decide. I use the “interview approach” to keep myself from getting tangled up in “stories.” If someone has to “tell me their story”, 9 times out of 10 that means we’ve got a situation that isn’t going to work out. I used to listen politely and these folks would drone on (for 10 minutes!) about their woes.

5.  I use a different approach than most landlords. We NEVER answer the phone. All go to answering machine with info on the house, our website, and how to apply. The call before the application is pointless to us. I want them to drive by and complete an application before I spend even one minute on them.

Don’t Trust Your Gut Feeling

So I have a prospect – a nice, single guy working for big, fancy company with a good paycheck. I meet him for a showing. At the end of it, he hands me a filled-out application. I go home and do the checking…Oh MY GOSH! I was actually in the apartment alone with – a burglar, sex offender, with a record of battery, domestic violence and you name it, he has done it – FOURTEEN PAGES of criminal records. I would never have guessed just by the way he looks and talks.

Do your homework. Do NOT trust your gut feeling and be careful out there – they look like normal people! 

Best Landlording Changes

A landlord shared that in the last three years he credits several landlording changes he’s made that has lowered his headaches, streamlined systems, and increased profits. Two of the bigger landlording changes include the following:

1) Rent collection – Tenants can pay at my local bank in person six days a week with cash, money order, cashier’s check or a debit card. No charge to them or me for this service. I see the money the minute it hits my account, and the next day I see an online scanned deposit ticket, stamped with the date, with the tenant’s name. No more “I mailed the check last week” – no more bounced checks – no more chasing rent. It’s either paid or it isn’t. Easy cheesy. Did I mention this service is free?  

2) Outsourcing trivial work – cleaning, mowing, trash removal, most small repairs. Pay someone $10 – $15 an hour for unskilled labor or $25 an hour for semi-skilled that is drudgery and removes focus from getting a place rent-ready quickly and stems the flood of vacancy expenses and lost rents. Your hourly rates may vary by location, but when I found that most contractors in my area wanted $40 – $50 just for semi-skilled work, I went shopping and found a LOT of decent folks who had some skill and were willing to moonlight for a lot less money. Church, recommendations from local Realtors, college students, etc. Of course, always screen well and only pay as work is completed. This took my average turnover time from two to three weeks to one to three DAYS. The extra rent more than makes up for the money spent to hire someone to get it done.

The above tips are shared by regular contributors to the popular MrLandlord.com Q&A forum, by real estate authors and by Jeffrey Taylor, Founder@Mrlandlord.com  To receive a free sample of Mr. Landlord newsletter, call 1-800-950-2250 or visit their informative Q&A Forum at www.LandlordingAdvice.com  where you can ask landlording questions and seek the advice of other rental owners 24 hours a day.