by Marv Steier
Recently, we received these comments from a TVS Member:
“Mr. Steier, I’m a landlord of residential and commercial property that are investment properties.
I subscribed to your site about 6 years ago and refer to it often. I find the site to be most informative and learn something each time I read an article written by you or Chris.
I use all TVS forms and do all the recommended credit and background checks. I do believe that because of following your advice, I have never received a late payment nor have I received an insufficient funds cheque. You are correct — Screen, Screen and Screen some more.
Our properties (in my case anyway) did not come cheap nor handed to me, thus we must have good honest and respectable tenants.
But to all you landlords out there…I jump for my tenants, after all it is still my property and I want it well maintained for obvious reasons.
You treat others the way you would want to be treated, after all if your tenant is doing all that is required of him or her and in my case they do more, why would you not want to keep them happy? Often they choose to extend their lease for another 2, 3, or sometimes even 5 years. This is a win-win situation.
Besides, wouldn’t you be ashamed if you were referred to as a scumlord?
Thanks for your articles. They are paying off for me!”
Benefits of Effectively Managing a Rental Business
I want to point out the importance and the benefits of effectively managing your rental business, and having a system in place to do that. This is as a result of the comments noted above on the TVS Blog from a valued TVS member, and we appreciate her for it.
Taking the time to set up an effective tenant screening system will reduce income loss, save time, stress, and hassles that high risk tenants bring with them, and create peace of mind knowing you are a great landlord with a successful business.
So let’s analyze why this landlord is successful at getting good tenants, why she is a happy landlord and why she has happy tenants. I may make some presumptions along the way, but I offer this analysis for the benefit of all landlords.
First, she screens her tenants methodically and chooses them based on sound criteria, like stable employment or business, good references, whether they are credit-worthy and tenant-worthy.
As she puts it, she “jumps” for her tenants. They obviously appreciate this, which is a credit to her because she has chosen tenants who appreciate a good landlord. Great screening job! How often do you choose a tenant based on how appreciative they are for what they have? I never thought of that, either, until now. Your interview with the tenant should give you some insight into this quality or character about the applicant.
She states that she has never had an NSF cheque or even a late payment — wow! In addition to a good screening format which serves to eliminate high risk tenants, serious landlords should have the tenant read and sign the Notice to Tenant form which can be found in the forms section on the TVS website after you are logged in. Would you dare be late with your payment or write an NSF cheque after reading this? Not me, especially if I had a good credit rating.
If you were advised that you could obtain a Certificate of Satisfactory Tenancy, might that be a good incentive to pay on time? It would for me and it is for most tenants who have good pay habits and a good tenant history.
In addition to establishing credit and tenant worthiness via TVS, this member likely has her own criteria for what she looks for in a good tenant. I suspect that she might be doing a little more, like educating her tenants and talking about expectations. Here are some examples of what she may be saying:
“I will fully comply with my responsibilities as a landlord, and I expect you to do the same as a tenant. Please review your rights and responsibilities by visiting www.tenantsinfo.com and let me know if you have any questions.
“I will treat you with respect; I expect the same from you.”
“I expect rent payments to be made on time as the bank expects me to make mortgage payments on time.”
“We have signed a lease agreement; the terms therein must be strictly adhered to.”
In addition to the tenant screening process, there is much more that you need to do as a landlord to not only be compliant with tenancy laws, but just as importantly, you need to look and act like a professional so that the tenant gets the impression that they, too, must take their responsibilities seriously and perform in a business-like fashion.
Act like a professional from the first contact and throughout the tenant screening process.
A great ad.
A professional-looking rental application that will only be accepted when completed in its entirety.
References from current and previous landlords. Visit www.criminalfraud.com (click landlord fraud) to learn more about references– like how to ask devious questions to get the truth and make sure you are not speaking to the applicant’s friend.
Inquires with or letter from employer to determine stable income.
Request bank statements to prove bi-weekly or regular deposits. Is there a bank account? Black out the dollar amounts if tenant deems that information too personal.
Take into consideration other factors you notice when you meet with the tenant — notice the overall demeanor, vehicle condition, grooming, politeness, and level of cooperation in completing forms.
If an applicant shows up late, refuses to complete the application in its entirety, or acts rudely, this likely is how will they act as a tenant — they won’t pay rent on time, or clean up the property when asked.
After the screening process has been completed, there still is more work to be done:
Have the tenant sign a professionally-worded lease.
Complete Notice to Tenant.
Complete the Move In Inspection Form.
Take photos of the rental unit showing the condition prior to move-in. Have tenant sign the back of each photo acknowledging accuracy of same.
Refer to your applicable landlord tenant laws for other requirements that must be done at leasing or move-in. These are typically available online.
On move in day, if possible, you should:
Take notice of what items the tenant is moving in. Is the furniture in keeping with what was stated on the rental application — for instance, single, no roommates, no pets, doesn’t smoke, no greasy auto parts, or clutter, or home business equipment, or huge heat lamps that quickly grow large green plants?
Check out who his or her friend are. Also, observe how respectful your new tenant is of your rental property.
Periodic Site Inspections
Inspect the property regularly. My recommendation is every 6 weeks-2 months. Don’t leave it any longer.
You must do this!
This is a personal pet peeve of mine and this is the reason why many landlords suffer thousands of dollars in damage to the rental unit. They don’t ever inspect the property! This is one of the biggest mistakes that landlords make during the entire rental process. They never inspect the property to determine if the terms of the lease agreement are being adhered to with respect to pets using carpet as a toilet, roommates not on lease, smoking, maintenance, clutter, holes in the wall, and so on.
Landlords must inspect their property on a regular basis to ensure that it is being maintained!
Please keep reading the TVS Blog, as we will continue to provide you with good information. If you come across something that you think TVS members should know, or you have specific questions you would like us to research, please send it to me at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will do our best to get it out there.
I would like to see more comments on the TVS Blog like those we received from this member. Please share your good landlord habits or bad experiences with us.
Thanks to each and every one of you as you are a valued TVS member.
Remember — as the member above pointed out — treat the tenants the way you want to be treated.
Marv Steier, President
TVS Tenant Verification Service Inc.
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 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.