10 Things to Ask Your Next Tenant

by Chris on October 9, 2017

In order to properly qualify a rental applicant, a landlord needs to have the right information. That means asking the right questions.

Here’s what every landlord needs to know about a rental applicant:

1. When are you planning to move? Don’t waste your time showing the property to an applicant who will not be available at the beginning of the vacancy. One exception: the unit came available unexpectedly, and the rental applicant needs time to provide notice to the current landlord. The tenant who expects a landlord to hold a vacancy open for days or weeks without compensation is not being respectful of the relationship, and that could be a problem in the future.

2. Have you given notice to the current landlord? It is important to note the response that this question solicits. A tenant who asks that the current landlord not be contacted may have something to hide.

3. Why are you moving? This question can reveal a tenant with a bad rental history. Be wary of a tenant who uses this question to bad-mouth the current or previous landlords. If that happens, be sure to hear the landlord’s side of the story before making any decisions.

4. Is your income sufficient for the rent? Red flags to watch for here include an applicant who asks to reduce the rent before even seeing the property, or inflates their income in order to get a showing, and then asks for a rent concession.

5. How can I verify your income? A tenant’s source of income generally is not important, so long as it is legal. What is important is the applicant’s ability to prove it. The landlord must be certain that the person is not simply making it up. By asking this question, a landlord can discourage a scammer who can’t come up with credible documentation.

6. How many other adults will be occupying the unit? At this time, the landlord should explain that all adults must undergo a tenant background check and sign the lease agreement before moving in. This prevents a bad tenant from gaining access to a property by hiding behind someone with a better rental history.

7. Can you comply with the rules? Of course, the landlord first will need to spell out the house rules, like parking restrictions, non-smoking and pet policies, and maintenance requirements before the tenant can answer. It is crucial to discuss those rules during tenant screening, long before the tenant sees these rules in the tenancy agreement.

Landlord Tip: Don’t create any house rules such as maintenance requirements which require special skills or a high degree of physical strength so that some applicants would be disqualified.

8. Have you been evicted? Once the landlord has explained that answers on the rental application must be truthful in order to avoid a claim of fraud, it is possible that the tenant will answer this question honestly. If the applicant admits to a prior eviction, ask about the circumstances, including how long ago, whether there were multiple evictions, and what the applicant has done to rehabilitate. The fact that the applicant is forthcoming is a good sign. Speak with the previous landlord to get both sides of the story.

9. Will you agree to undergo a tenant background check? Explain the scope of the tenant screening policy. For instance, the landlord will verify income, speak with the references, and then run a tenant credit check. The applicant undoubtedly will answer yes, but this is more about warning applicants that the information they provide will be scrutinized. Bad tenants may be discouraged from pursuing the application, while the better tenants will be forthcoming about any problems that might come out.

Tenant screening is all about due diligence — flagging potential issues that can be discussed further with the applicant. Not all applicants will have a perfect record, but many still are good tenants. An applicant who flags an issue and shows a willingness to accommodate the landlord could be a great tenant.

10. Can you provide references? Review the scope of the questions that might be asked of the previous landlord, and then watch for any hesitation — or excuses — about previous landlords. That’s often a sign of a bad rental history.

Be prepared with a list of approved questions before speaking to applicants. Avoid going off script. Casual conversation with a rental applicant can lead to a claim of discrimination, so avoid probing questions like “Are you married?” or “Where are you from?” that solicit irrelevant information.

This post is provided by Tenant Verification Service, Inc., helping landlords reduce the risks of renting with fraud prevention tools that include Tenant Screening, Tenant Background Checks, (U.S. and Canada), as well as Criminal Background Checks, and Eviction Reports (U.S. only).

Click Here to Receive Landlord Credit Reports.

Disclaimer: The information provided in this post is not intended to be construed as legal advice, nor should it be considered a substitute for obtaining individual legal counsel or consulting your local, state, federal or provincial tenancy laws.

{ 0 comments }

Move-Out Tips That Save Landlords Money

by Chris on October 9, 2017

Ever had a good tenant move out and leave a mess? No matter how well you screen your tenants or manage the property, the move-out process can break down, and the landlord has to scramble to restore the unit and get it back into service to avoid income loss.

One successful strategy for reducing losses is to understand that the move-out doesn’t occur on the last day of the tenancy — that process begins much earlier.

Here are some tips that can help prevent last-minute losses:

Did you write down the date that the lease ends? Double-check that date on the tenancy agreement. Memory can be unreliable, especially if months or years have passed since the tenant moved in.

Speak with the tenant at least 30 days before the end of the lease to remind them that the lease is ending. If the tenant objects and you are not going to renew, or if the tenancy agreement says so, it may be necessary to serve a notice on the tenant.

Determine if the property will be leased out again immediately or whether this is a good time to plan a short vacancy in order to make any needed repairs or upgrades. Advertise the vacancy a month ahead so that prospective tenants can give notice to their landlords.

Provide a move-out cleaning checklist to the exiting tenant. The move-in inspection report may suffice, but if the tenant has a list of what needs to be cleaned, it’s more likely that the unit will be returned in good condition. Offer to do a preliminary walk-through and explain what the tenant has to do in order to get the full deposit back and avoid any liability.

Prequalify all interested prospects responding to the rental ad. Only show the property to qualified applicants. Be respectful of the current tenant’s privacy and stay with any prospect touring the property.

Provide the exiting tenant with resources that can streamline the move. Helpful tips include how to switch utilities, reputable carpet or apartment cleaning services, how to dispose of large items, and where to place trash.

Conduct a move-out inspection and write up a move-out condition report once all of the tenant’s belongings have been removed. The inspection report form may be available from your local residential tenancies office. Ask the tenant to make any notes and sign the condition report. Obtain the tenant’s new address.

Discuss any deficiencies with the tenant and attempt to resolve any disputes over security deposit deductions before either party files a claim for dispute resolution.

Determine what rules must be followed in order to deduct any damages from the security deposit. For instance, it may be necessary to file a claim for dispute resolution and receive an order before taking deductions. Return any undisputed portions of the security deposit within the time provided by local law or the tenancy agreement, whichever is sooner.

Begin the new tenancy by providing a move-in condition report. Leave that report with the new tenant and ask them to note any additions within a week to ten days — while there is still time to pursue damages against the previous tenant.

This post is provided by Tenant Verification Service, Inc., helping landlords reduce the risks of renting with fraud prevention tools that include Tenant Screening, Tenant Background Checks, (U.S. and Canada), as well as Criminal Background Checks, and Eviction Reports (U.S. only).

Click Here to Receive Landlord Credit Reports.

Disclaimer: The information provided in this post is not intended to be construed as legal advice, nor should it be considered a substitute for obtaining individual legal counsel or consulting your local, state, federal or provincial tenancy laws.

{ 3 comments }

Tenancy Goes From Bad to Worse: What Went Wrong?

October 9, 2017

A landlord reports that her nightmare tenancy ended with the city ordering her to tear down her rental unit, and a lawsuit for failing to return the security deposit to the tenant. According to the landlord, the tenant moved in and then almost immediately began to make demands — everything from a different cable service […]

Read the full article →

Manitoba Announces 2018 Rent Increase Guideline, Ontario’s Rent Control Expansion Impacts Supply

October 9, 2017

Manitoba 2018 Rent Increase Guideline Set Manitoba Rental Branch has announced that the rent increase guideline for 2018 is set at 1.3 percent. That guideline applies to rent increases throughout 2018. The figure is down slightly from the 2017 cap of 1.5 percent. Tenants must be provided notice of rent increases at least three months […]

Read the full article →

What You Need to Ask Your Next Tenant

September 25, 2017

Asking the right questions is key to finding the right tenants. Those questions need to be targeted so the information is helpful in evaluating qualifications. Collecting irrelevant information not only increases the risk of a discrimination claim, but also makes it harder to determine if the applicant is qualified. Landlords should INCLUDE these questions: When […]

Read the full article →

Landlords: How to Minimize Losses After a Natural Disaster

September 25, 2017

After watching the fury of hurricanes Harvey and Irma, no one doubts the brute force of nature. Yet few people outside of those immediately affected may realize the colossal toll that recovery takes on families and individual lives. Some people lost loved ones. Many more are rendered homeless. Even those fortunate enough to have a […]

Read the full article →

3 Ways to Keep Your Tenants Safe This Winter

September 25, 2017

It’s officially autumn, and the chill in the air reminds us that winter is not far off. Landlords face special liabilities in the winter months, so now is a good time to prepare: 1. Winter can increase the likelihood of carbon monoxide poisoning as tenants are more likely to run the gas furnace, dryer, fireplace […]

Read the full article →

Landlord Sues City for Defamation

September 25, 2017

A Seattle landlord is suing the city for defamation for referring to him as a slumlord and linking his name to anti-slumlord legislation. According to reports, the landlord is considering expanding the lawsuit to include an individual councilmember. The case arose amid a slew of rental regulations debated recently in Seattle, mainly designed to cap […]

Read the full article →

How to Spot Applicants with Bad Rental History

September 11, 2017

Multiple evictions for failure to pay rent or causing property damage is as bad as it gets when it comes to rental applicants. Unfortunately, landlords can’t easily access prior eviction information or court records. So, landlords have to read between the lines and watch for red flags to uncover an applicant’s rental history: Know the […]

Read the full article →

Commissioner Challenges Tenant Screening Practices

September 11, 2017

Do landlords ask too many questions? In a public statement entitled “Privacy Commissioner launches investigation into over-collection of personal information by landlords”, B.C.’s Acting Information and Privacy Commissioner announced that he is reviewing tenant screening practices of landlords across the province. The Commissioner says that the move is based on an uptick in complaints from […]

Read the full article →