Landlord Property Management Tips

Landlord Responsibilities: 9 Things You Need to Know As A Homeowner

There are many landlord responsibilities to be aware of when deciding to rent out rental properties – here is what you should know. 

Many people choose to invest in a rental property and become landlords with the idea of earning income without actually having to work. So you buy a rental property, let tenants move in, and sit back collecting rent. Simple, right? Wrong.

While the idea sounds fantastic, the actuality of it is not. The truth is that there are a handful of landlord responsibilities – and they take on a lot of work. It does not take much time for those new to the industry to feel overwhelmed and stressed.

Understanding Your Landlord Responsibilities

If you are considering investing in a rental property or you are currently a landlord who is feeling the struggle, putting a few practices in place can help you tremendously. When it comes to landlord responsibilities, here are nine things you should know.

1. Perfect the Art of Tenant Screening 

Before new tenants move into your rental property, they need to be properly screened. You are looking for high-quality tenants with steady employment, a positive rental history, and a good credit score. Of course, the specifics of what you require will vary on your own preferences or the tenant’s personal situation. The idea is to thoroughly screen your tenants to weed through those that may cause problems or not be able to afford the rent. Watching out for scammers is essential, too.

Having a screening process in place helps reduce risk and brings you peace of mind.

2. Maintain Open Communication with Your Tenants

Communication is key when it comes to your landlord-tenant relationship. They need to know that they can count on you to respond when they reach out – and you need to know the same. You must be available for your tenants and share your preferred method of communication. Knowing they can count on you increases the chance that they will properly care for your property.

3. Address Repair Requests ASAP

As a landlord, you do not want to hear that a repair is needed at one of your properties. It is just one more thing you have to take care of. However, you must address these repair requests as soon as possible. Not only does it mean they will call you next time something else breaks, but it also keeps you from facing major repair bills.

Minor repairs, such as a leaky faucet, can be an easy fix. However, if left alone, this small plumbing issue could turn into a major, more expensive repair down the road. Not to mention, this lack of action may be disheartening to the tenants – who may not call you the next time a repair is needed – which can cost you big time. 

4. Keep Yourself Organized

With so many responsibilities, landlords need to be organized. This is even more important if you have multiple properties. Tenant applications, signed lease agreements, repair orders, move-in / move-out reports, rent payments and receipt, and so on all need to be maintained and organized for each tenant at each property.

It may be overwhelming at first, but finding a system of organization will help ease the burden a bit.

5. Make Sure Your Lease is Legal, Effective, and Thorough

Many new landlords jump online and print off a generic lease agreement. If you want to protect yourself and your rental property, you want to make sure you have a well-written, thorough, and legal lease. Consider speaking to an attorney or a professional within the field who can guide you with this process.

Your lease is a contractual agreement between you and the person(s) living in your rental – and it is there to protect you.

6. Be Proactive with Property Maintenance

Maintaining your properties regularly can help reduce the need for major repairs. And it can help you stay focused without having to worry about additional issues arising. Have a set schedule throughout the year when preventative and/or routine inspections is to be performed.

7. Stay on Top of Market Trends

You are a landlord, but you are also an investor. Therefore, you need to stay on top of market trends to ensure that your property is set at the right rental amount to reduce vacancy while also keeping you from selling yourself short.

8. Have a Clear Understanding of Applicable Laws 

There are laws that landlords are to know and have a clear understanding of, such as fair housing laws and landlord-tenant laws. Unless you want to find yourself in hot water, do your due diligence and know the law as it applies to you at the federal, state, and local levels. This also includes understanding eviction laws, as well as when and how to use them.

9. Be Respectful and Courteous

Most importantly, tenants want a landlord who is respectful and courteous. They are renting a property from you, but they do not need to be made to feel less than you. Speak kindly. In addition, respect your tenant’s right to privacy while residing in your property.

How a Property Manager Can Help

Renting properties is a lot of work with many landlord responsibilities. Even the most well-seasoned landlords can get overwhelmed with the stress that owning rental property brings.

The best solution? Hiring a property manager. After attempting to handle everything independently for a while, many landlords decide that hiring a property manager can bring a sense of relief.

A property management team professionally handles rental properties, which means they have everything down to a science. Thorough tenant screening, repairs and routine maintenance, rent collection, an effective lease agreement, and more follow and tried-and-true process to gain and keep high-quality tenants – while keeping landlords happy and free.

At Real Property Management Evolve, we are the best property management team in the greater Phoenix area. We make it our job to know the laws, the current market and strive to reach nothing but the best for your rental properties.

If you are a landlord who is new to the arena or find yourself feeling overwhelmed from all of your landlord responsibilities, a property manager can help. It is what we do.

Landlord Property Management Tips

5 Warning Signs That May Appear On Your Tenant Screening Report

Tenant screening is an important aspect of finding the perfect residents for your rental home. Here are 5 warning signs that may appear on your tenant screening report, and what you should do if you see them.

Your rental properties are an investment – which is exactly why you do not want to let just anyone sign the lease agreement. You are looking for high-quality tenants that you can count on to be respectful, communicative, and on-time with the rent. This is precisely why a thorough tenant screening report is crucial.

Sadly, tenant scams are becoming a major issue in the rental world. And certain past behaviors can predict future behaviors. Before you rent out your investment to a new tenant, be sure to carefully review the screening. Taking precautions rather than accepting the report at face value may save you a huge headache and a lot of money down the road.

Here are 5 warning signs to look out for in a tenant screening report.

1. Employment History And Verifiable Income

You should always review a tenant’s employment history. After all, a tenant with a steady work history shows reliability and responsibility. There is a good chance this tenant will pay rent on time. But, what about the tenant who changes jobs frequently? This is a red flag. If he or she does not often maintain regular employment, how can you be assured rent will be paid?

Another thing to consider is double-checking employment. Tenants often try to scam landlords by putting down a friend or family member as a supervisor – even giving a personal number as a business contact. Do your due diligence by looking up the company’s info online and calling the number listed on the website to confirm employment.

COVID-19 added another important layer of employment verification. At Real Property Management we require potential tenants to provide proof of income. We verify the ability to pay rent by requiring a minimum of two pay check stubs from the employer. Unfortunately, those who were hit hardest with COVID were those making cash tips. Often, cash tips are not reported through pay check stubs and are not considered verifiable income. This is important to require and review from potential tenants in order to reduce the risk of non-payment due to COVID-19 hardships.

2. Credit Checks

Nearly everyone has some debt. Things like student loans, car loans, credit cards, and even medical bills are quite common. Too much debt – and too many open accounts – may mean there will be a lot of people out looking for money from your tenant. Will your rent get paid?

While reviewing the credit report, look at negative marks, such as late payments, foreclosures, and auto repossessions. These are warning signs that could form a picture of the tenant and his or her ability (or lack thereof) to be financially responsible.

3. Criminal History

A tenant with a criminal history should not always be an automatic no. A history of minor incidents years ago in the past may not be worth denying someone who otherwise seems like a perfect fit. Those early adulthood years were a struggle for many high-functioning adults today. However, the red flags on a tenant screening report that you should pay attention to are whether there is a consistent pattern of crimes over time – or whether there is a serious crime listed on the report.

Use your judgment and determine whether the crime committed could potentially leave you, your property, or other tenants in a vulnerable situation.

4. Rental History

On the tenant screening report, the applicant will have to list prior addresses with landlord references. Depending on your procedure, it may go back any number of years. Look at the most recent landlord/s and follow up to discuss the renter.

You will want to know if payments were made on time, if notice was given before leaving, if the property was well-cared for, and so forth. Consider asking the landlord if he or she would rent to the tenant again in the future.

5. Blanks on the Application

When the tenant filled out his or her application, were there any blanks? Not only could this interfere with a thorough tenant screening process, but it could also mean that something is being hidden. Never assume that a blank is a simple oversight.

Your tenant screening report could be missing information if it was not included on the application – so be sure it is completed in its entirety so that you can have a solid report.

What to Do if You See Red Flags on Your Tenant Screening Report

To find new, long-term tenants, you need to make sure your screening process is exhaustive. However, you also need to take into consideration that your gut has a lot to say. Sometimes you can learn more from talking to and interacting with the tenants than you would with just a formal application.

For instance, you should see a red flag flying high if you encounter any of the following:

  • A tenant who needs to move in right now. He or she does not care what the property looks like or which unit you have available. The amenities or terms of the lease are not a concern at all. This should prompt you to wonder why are they so hurried?
  • A tenant who is trying to talk themselves up. They will talk about all their good traits and the kind acts they have done. They will compliment you and even agree with everything you have to say. Your gut may tell you that they are wanting you to see all the good in hopes it may counteract the bad you may find on the tenant screening report.
  • Does the tenant stumble over words? When you ask a question, an honest answer should easily follow. If it is not the truth, though, sometimes words can get a little jumbled and stories may begin to not line up.

When you meet with the tenant, always ask to see ID. Make sure that it matches the person you are talking to – and make sure it is a legitimate ID. Too many fake ID’s are circulating and that can lead to an entirely different situation that you would be better off avoiding.

Hiring a Property Manager

Are you feeling a little overwhelmed right about now? It is understandable. As careful as you would like to be with your tenant screening, sometimes you just don’t have it in you the discernment to find high-quality tenants. Or, perhaps you have better, more effective ways of using your time.

Hiring a property manager means hiring experts familiar with a tenant screening report. You can rest easy knowing that your investment is being filled by excellent tenants who have gone through a rigorous background check by those who know all the ins and outs of the business. Of course, it also means you have more time to do what you do best – invest!

Do not risk your leaving your property in the wrong hands. Look for the warning signs, trust your gut, or simply hire a property manager.

Landlord Property Management Tips

How To Spot Fake Landlord References

When you are looking over tenant applications for your rental property, you hope that the applicants have provided real and honest answers. You care about the property that you are lending out, and you don’t want just anyone living there. However, sometimes people will use their friends or family as references because of one reason or another. So, here are a few tips on how to spot fake landlord references on an application:

Ask the references about available properties
One thing that most fake references do not think about is anything other than the “approval call.” Fake references are simply looking to help their friend and move on. However, a good way to test the waters is to call and ask the reference if they have any available properties. If they act confused or seem like they don’t know what’s going on, these are red flags. A real landlord will simply give a “yes” or a “no.” However, you can also avoid any awkward confrontation by just looking them up online. Most landlord names are listed on their property management websites. If the name isn’t connected to anything property management related, you know that the reference might be fake.

Ask for specifics.
Ask simple but specific questions relevant to tenant payment history and property condition. If they cannot give you specific information related to your questions, they may not be legit.

Turn to Facebook
If you notice that the “landlord” is tagged with the potential tenant, the reference is probably not valid. Most landlords are not hanging out with their tenants. You can also cross-reference the provided phone number for more info. You can either google the phone number to find the attached website and property management name, or check the address the tenant listed, and see if the numbers match up.

In some situations, you just can’t be sure, especially with landlords who only managed a few tenants. However, you can get a good idea of what’s going on by putting in a little work.

If you want to take the guesswork out of tenant screening, contact RPMEvolve today and find out why we are the #1 most trusted property management company in Phoenix. We only place highly qualified tenants in our rental properties. Every application receives careful screening, with background & financial checks. Contact us online or call (602) 368-5730 today!