Q: I am a landlord that has been taken advantage of many times. It is shocking how much there is online about landlords taking advantage of tenants while the truth is that the laws that provide and allow for tenants taking advantage of landlords is also shocking, and attributed to the endangerment of my livelihood.
Where can landlords post a more realistic view of what is going on and fight for the law defending both sides equally in the name of justice for all parties instead of so heavily lying on one side or the other? – LandlordTalking.com Reader
In most major cities, renters comprise a significant demographic — as high as 50% of residents. That statistic prompts local politicians to campaign for tenant-friendly laws — and the corresponding tenant votes. One landlord who is publicly chided for neglecting a rental property or taking a tenant’s deposit unfairly only serves to cast aspersions on all landlords.
For that reason, the best thing you can do as a landlord to keep rental laws fair is to know your responsibilities.
For instance, by staying on top of repairs, following the local leasing laws, screening your tenants to avoid neighborhood disruptions, and actively managing your tenants, you can avoid becoming a case study for tenant advocates.
Another important responsibility is to educate your tenants about the rules, and work with them throughout the tenancy to encourage their cooperation.
Happy tenants don’t report their landlords to the news, local building inspectors, or ambitious politicians.
Landlords’ Collective Voice
In addition to meeting landlord responsibilities, active involvement in a local landlord community gives power to individual landlords. With a collective voice, landlord associations can lobby for change, educate, and alert landlords to proposed laws that could negatively impact their rental income. Experienced lawmakers know that private landlords supply the lion’s share of rental housing, and they do take that into account when pressed by an association representing the local landlord community. The result: laws that are fair to both landlords and tenants.
Bad Tenants: The Silent Battle
Bad tenants are out there, but they should be more the exception than the rule. If you are a landlord who has been taken advantage of multiple times, it’s worth taking a look at some of your leasing policies. It actually is possible to attract bad tenants.
For instance, to attract good tenants, the property has to offer some appeal. It may seem counter-intuitive to dress up a property only to have bad tenants knock it down, but there is a significant advantage: appealing properties attract better tenants. Thinking long term means fewer headaches, less chance for income loss.
The best amenities to offer are cleanliness in the units and the common areas, including the outside, and security features such as peepholes, deadbolts, and unobstructed sidewalks. Units don’t have to be new if they are sparkling clean.
Another potential snag is charging rent that is above market. This actually attracts the wrong tenants. The best tenants will look for better deals. The tenants who apply for a bad deal may have been rejected from other properties, or may not be planning to pay rent.
Other strategies include advertising that a tenant background check is required, participating in a Crime-Free Multi Housing certification program, converting to smoke-free housing, and allowing pets. These policies can serve to broaden the rental applicant pool and attract good tenants.
Once you’ve spotted a prospective renter, always conduct a tenant background check that includes running tenant screening reports, verifying the information in the rental application, and speaking with previous and current landlords to determine if the applicant is a high risk.
The landlord-tenant relationship does not need to be acrimonious. Start with good tenants, know your rights and responsibilities, and work with tenants to meet theirs.
This can lead to positive online reviews and ratings, and even new tenant referrals, and that can overcome bad press. In fact, staying out of the news is one of the best way for landlords to shine.
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 in 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.