Landlord forms are the mainstay of any rental business. Make your rental forms work harder by following these easy strategies:
1. Make Your Rental Ad Do Double-Duty
Landlords may not think of an ad as a rental form, but it can be an effective tool when it comes to tenant screening. Bad tenants have admitted to targeting inexperienced or small landlord businesses because those landlords are more likely to make mistakes — like failing to run tenant background checks. Problem tenants are scouring ads looking for a landlord who comes across as easygoing or appears lax on the rules. The fix: make the ad scream “I am not a sucker!”
Before posting a rental ad, take some time to become proficient with the ad platform to avoid any telltale signs of inexperience like typos or photos that are not formatted correctly. And always include the phrase Tenant Background Check Required. That signals to rental applicants that you mean business.
2. Preview the Rental Application
The rental application packs a powerful punch when it comes to exposing fraud, but that may not be apparent to an applicant until it’s too late. The trick is to prevent the fraud in the first place by warning the applicant of the legal ramifications of their answers. One of the best ways to do this is to include a cover letter with the application that parrots the provisions found in the declaration at the end of the application. Preferably, address the cover letter to the tenant personally. That will erase anonymity and create a sense of accountability. Applicants will take the document more seriously and provide better answers. Better yet, problem tenants might drop off before they have a chance to cause income loss.
3. Dramatize the Lease
As with the rental application, a cover letter on the lease agreement can work wonders when it comes to the tenant’s understanding of the requirements. Highlight key provisions and addenda, like the Notice to Tenant that the landlord will Report Rent Payments to a credit bureau. Individualize the letter with the tenant’s name. Consider a header or footer with the tenant’s name on each page of the lease to make the legal obligation appear more real and immediate. Also, suggest that the tenant seek the advice of an attorney before signing the lease. Drive home the point that the lease is a legal contract, not some random form that the tenant can ignore.
4. Allow Tenants to Update the Move-In Condition Report
Leave the completed move-in condition report with the tenant for a week to 10 days after move-in. Instruct the tenant to add any items they discover and sign off on the form. This accomplishes three things:
It reveals any damage the previous tenant caused that wasn’t discovered at move-out;
It flags whether workers botched or passed over any repairs before further damage occurs and while the work is still under warranty; and,
The new tenant can’t come back later and say the property was already damaged.
Chances are the process of allowing the tenant to add comments to the condition report will eliminate any future disputes over security deposit deductions — the main reason that tenants sue their landlords.
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).
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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.