The Basics of Eviction Processing: What Every Landlord Must Know!

The eviction process is tricky, to say the least!

Yes you are the landlord, but you can’t just tell someone to leave the home on so and so date. Law mandates a procedure that must be followed and one wrong step can cost you a delay of another month or so until the eviction really happens. Notices have to be given, fair housing components that must be recognized and the timing for all application and notices has to be just right.

If it sounds like a difficult job, trust us, it is! But you can rely on a rental management company to handle the paper work for you. These rental property management companies take care of all the administrative issues related to eviction, represent the landlord at eviction hearings and do everything required to process the move-out in an efficient manner.

Serve That Notice!

The first step is to legally terminate the tenancy. This means that you will have to serve your tenants with a written legal notice to get their act together or move-out by the given date. You may want them to pay up the rent, stop abusing the furnishings or relocate their dog. If there isn’t a reform in the tenant’s behavior, you are free to file for an eviction lawsuit, finally.

Each state has a very detailed set of requirements that lead to the end of a tenancy. There are also different procedures for how notices and eviction papers must be written and delivered. But these are the different types of termination notices; each is given in a different type of situation. The terminology may vary from state to state but these types are applicable all over the country.

1. Pay Rent or Quit: As evident from the title, these types of notices are usually used when the tenant is behind on their rent payments. The notice details the time the tenant has to pay u, this can be up to 5 days depending on where you are. If payment isn’t made by then, they have to quit or move out.

2. Cure or Quit: These are sent after a tenant transgresses a term or condition of the rental agreement. For example they violate the no-pets clause or the demand to refrain from making too much noise. The tenant gets an amount of time in which to cure this violation or they need to leave. In case they don’t leave, the eviction lawsuits come into full swing.

3. Unconditional Quit Notices: These are made to hit the tenant pretty hard. Use these notices when there is nothing you want the tenant to do except leave. But most states allow unconditional quit notices only when the renter has:

• frequently desecrated a lease or rental agreement clause,

• forgotten to pay the rent on time way too many times,

• caused serious damage to the premises and its furnishings,

• Partaken in illegal activity, while on your property.

These Rules Were made To Be Followed!

Landlords usually don’t like the inordinately huge number of rules that must be followed before an eviction takes place. But there are reasons that states mandate strict compliance with these laws. The first major reason is your reputation as a good landlord. When you let the law run its course, all facts become clear and your reputation is ensured.

Secondly, a tenant’s home is at stake here. They might have to uproot their families and face stress while also experiencing financial difficulties. Therefore, legislators carefully see to it that the tenant gets satisfactory notice period as well as the opportunity to respond.

Do You Rent to Pet Owners?

This is a guest post from our friends at Rocket Lease. They provide online rental applications and credit checks for landlords.

Do you rent to pet owners?

This is a question that I’ve seen come up a lot lately, both in the circle of landlords that I know personally and online. I myself rent to tenants with pets and think that it has a number of excellent benefits.

The benefits of renting to pet owners, as I have experienced them, are as follows:

More Applicants – Since I have started allowing pets in my rental units, I have received at least ten to twenty-five more responses per rental listing that I put out. Simply put, more tenants than ever before have pets, but few landlords are willing to rent to them.

More Quality Tenants – When you don’t allow pets in your rental units, you are actually limiting the number of quality tenants that you can choose from. You see, both pet owners and non-pet owners can be great tenants. When you allow pets in your units, you’ll open up the doors to a whole new realm of great renters.

Lower Turn-Around – I have experienced a much lower turn-around rate since I began renting to pet owners. My tenants that own pets tend to stick around longer – a lot longer – than tenants without pets. Part of the reason for this is that there just aren’t that many other apartments in town that are pet friendly. Another reason is that pets tend to grow comfortable with a particular living area and have a hard time (much harder than humans) adjusting to new digs.

But a lot of landlords still feel that the negatives of allowing pets in their properties outweigh the positives. They claim that pets are messy, noisy, and potentially dangerous. Many landlords feel that pets will cost more money (in damages and cleaning fees) in the long-run.

I don’t think so. If you follow the tips below, these negatives will be evened out in just about every circumstance.

Tenant Screening – Screening each and every one of your tenants (whether they own a pet or not) is a great way of weeding out the bad ones from the good ones. The tenant screening process can help you find a responsible and reliable tenant that will take good care of your rental property.

Pet Screening – If a tenant with a pet passed your tenant screening process, it’s time to screen their pet. The best way to do this is with a letter of reference from one of their previous landlords. Another surefire way is to meet the pet in person, take note of its breed and size, and get a feel for its personality and the way that the owner handles it. There are no laws regarding pet discrimination so if something doesn’t feel right you can always say no. In fact, many landlords that do allow pets also have a list of specific breeds that they will not allow (pit bulls, for example) or a specific size limit (say, 50 pounds).

Require a Deposit – The best way to cover your backside when renting to a pet owner is by requiring an additional pet deposit. I generally make this non-refundable and I tend to make it the amount of a single month’s rent. Yeah, it’s a lot but most responsible pet owners will have no problem paying it. You can use this to cover any damages that a pet might cause to your unit and for deep cleaning the unit when the tenant eventually moves out.

So what do you think? After hearing about my experiences and taking in my tips, is there any chance that you might rent to a pet owner in the future? Or if you are already pet friendly, do you have any other advice to add?

Outsourcing Real Estate Management: What To Expect From A Property Manager!

As a landlord, there is only one thing you fear more than a bad tenant. That is not having a tenant at all!

If you have already done it all or just don’t have the time to do anything, try outsourcing the job. Real estate management, when done right, enhances the value of your property. Whether you choose to get help from the professionals or have a more DIY attitude to managing your rentals, you can easily guarantee the health of your property as well as the happiness of your tenants with a bit of good management.

Being responsible about the quality of your space and ensuring good tenant relationship can guarantee your reputation as a good landlord. All these things together are called rental management.

But if property management sounds like too much work, then you can always hand over the stewardship of your properties to the professionals. Property managers can help you achieve all your property ownership related goals with cautious planning and consideration. They have a carefully chosen team of engineers, contract administrators and service staff working with them to ensure your success as a landlord.

Here are the three things that a competent property manager should be able to do for you!

1. Take Full Stewardship of Your Rental Space

Whenever your rental property needs attention, these guys are on it! Whether you have a whole building or a single family residential unit, a good property manager should be able to attend to its needs in real-time. Doing this would take a lot of time and effort on your part but your property manager should know how to coordinate a large number of contractors and vendors. They’ll also advise homeowners whether repair or replacement will be a good cure for recurring issues. Property managers work with both tenants and landlords and respond to their concerns.

2. Enhance Tenant Relationships

Experienced landlords know that a rental property is only as good as the tenants residing in it. Good property managers also recognize this fact and ensure that the tenants and their families have everything they need to make their stay comfortable. A property manager will work pro-actively to ensure camaraderie and cooperation among the tenants. It is also a part of their job to manage leases that have or are about to be expired, ensure their renewal and be an active part of future leasing efforts. This means that they become important contributors to the property marketing endeavors as well.

3. Build A Brand Around Your Rental Business

A good property manager will ensure great reputation of your properties among prospective tenants. They also know your competition very well and strive to enhance your image and brand as an amazing landlord. Every property has some “first impression” points that make an impact upon the visitors and become the main reasons for a sealed deal. These can be anything from brand new floors to an ocean view for your house. Property managers take good care of these aspects and use their knowledge to help your property stand apart from the competition.

Yes, good property managers may cost a lot. But will they be more expensive than the costs associated with retenancy and the loss of monthly fees incurred in the meanwhile? You decide!

Don’t Be A Lamenting Landlord! Let Rental Property Management Companies Help You!

Tired of Being Without Rental Income for Long Periods of Time?

Yes? Then maybe it’s time for some change. It’s time to go looking for a rental management company that will return all your calls on time, find you some great tenants and then keep them happy, and above all, send you monthly income and expense statements that will make complete sense.

You will come across many duds on this search. They will promise you many things but deliver only excuses in place of solid results. Steer clear away from them. Remember, if it sounds too good to be true, then it probably is. A competent real estate and property management team will listen to you and try to understand your needs and expectations from them as a property owner.

What Do These Real Estate Management Companies Offer?

Simply put, they can give landlords the skills and services needed to maximize the returns from their investment properties. They can do all the work that can help secure the rental income stream. The right company can bring any landlord some peace of mind by doing everything from property marketing to tenant screening as well as carrying out routine or requested maintenance and repairs. Here are a few other advantages of working with such a company:

Specialized Management for Certain Types of Properties

Not all property management organizations are the same. Some of them work exclusively with certain types of homes or buildings. Their services include single family property management to condo and apartment management while others concentrate solely on working with commercial and community associations.

Facilities For On-Site and Off-Site Property Management

Would you like a rental management company to only help with finding the tenants along with some of the paperwork, or do you want them to have managers visit the site regularly to help with the maintenance and ensure full occupancy? The off-site rental management companies can help you find out feasible rents for the area, as well as screen the tenants while an on-site manager can be hired through the rental management companies in your locale. They can assist you in maintaining your property and ensure a smooth rental process for all parties involved.

Still Not Sure?

Rental property management companies are a good choice if:

  • You are a brand new landlord without much personal experience,
  • You lack the desire to do the landlord-like tasks yourself and would rather have someone else do them,
  • You have several properties all over the state or even in a different state and it is becoming impossible to keep up with the DIY attitude.

Management companies can also advise you about the income potential for any new properties that you might be considering investing in. Engage a rental manager to visit new investments with you, to get a professional perspective that is more objective than anyone else’s. These guys have one thing on mind, i.e. your cash flow. If that is your type of thinking, then it’s about time you started looking for one!

Beef Up Your Tenant Screening Process With These Three Helpful Tips

This guest post was written and submitted by RocketLease.

Tenant screening is a very basic practice that most of us (hopefully all of us) know about and use already. However, it can be all too easy to skip over it when the times are tough and the rental market is slow.

No matter how many bites you are getting on your empty rental units, you should never rent to a tenant unless you screen them first. The reason for this is that tenant screening ensures that us, as landlords, will be paid rent on time and that our properties won’t be damaged. Below are three easy ways that you can beef up your tenant screening process to make it even more effective than it already is.

1. Use a solid application form. A poorly crafted rental application form just won’t cut it. You need to get the right information on an application to be able to thoroughly screen your tenants. You should include sections for information regarding their identity, employment history, rental history, and references. While it is easy to find a great standard rental application form online, you might also consider checking out RocketLease’s online rental applications.

2. Use a credit check service. The credit history portion of the tenant screening process is one of the most important. It is key to see that the tenant has good credit, isn’t in overwhelming debt, and that they have a history of making past payments on time. Using a credit check service – several can be found online at prices ranging from $15 – $30 (RocketLease offers a built-in one as well) – will ensure that the information is accurate and up-to-date.

3. Look into references yourself. The absolute best way to get a feel for a tenant and how they will treat you and your rental unit is by looking into their references yourself. Call up their previous landlords and ask how they were as a renter. Be sure to call at least their two most previous landlords – sometimes the current landlord of a terrible tenant will give them a glowing review just to get rid of them more quickly.

So, there you have it! Three easy ways to beef up your tenant screening process. If you’re not already using these tips, then you should be. They don’t take much time to incorporate into the overall process and they could just save you from signing the lease with a tenant who doesn’t pay or damages your unit.

What are the Differences Between Renter’s Insurance and Landlord Insurance?

The answer to this question has escaped many renters and property owners alike. Rental Choice (.com) can clear this up for many of our daily visitors. It is a common misconception for tenants that they do not need to purchase renters insurance because their landlord already has insurance. We will address this question and more.

Let’s start with landlord insurance, which seems to be a confusing subject, especially for renters. Landlords insurance protects a rental property owner from losing money due to property damage. It normally covers the structure itself and anything inside the building that belongs to the landlord, such as refrigerators and other appliances. These items are usually protected against natural disasters like fire, flood, storms, etc., but are also protected against theft and malicious damage. As with other types of insurance policies, each one is different, but this is the average landlord insurance policy. To sum it up, if it belongs to the renter, it’s not covered under landlord’s insurance policy.

Now, let’s consider renter’s insurance. Renter’s insurance provides protection which is similar to the benefits associated with homeowners insurance. The policy protects the renter and his property from the kinds of peril listed above. The major exception to this is that renters insurance doesn’t usually have anything to do with the building itself, just the contents belonging to the tenant. Renters insurance usually comes with a deductible, meaning that any damages must add up to a specific dollar amount before your policy covers any loss. Renter’s insurance deductibles vary from case to case, but are usually in the $500 range.

Here’s another common mistake renters make with regard to insurance: “My stuff’s not nice enough to insure, anyway.” What these renters fail to understand is that nearly every single renters insurance policy includes replacement cost coverage. This means that that if your 20 year-old mattress is lost in a fire, you will receive enough money to replace it with a brand new one. Or better yet, your old 24” tube TV will be replaced by a modern equivalent of the same thing. Since tube TV’s aren’t in production anymore, you will be getting a new flat screen TV. Although you might get the idea that renters insurance is supposed to get you nicer things than you have, the goal is to return you to the same condition you were in before you lost your property.

Now that you know the difference between renter’s and landlord insurance, and the purpose for each, you can make an informed decision as to the type of insurance you need. If you own rental property, we very strongly recommend purchasing landlord insurance to protect your investment. As a renter, why would you not protect your assets? For less than $20 a month (in some cases as little as $100 a year!) you can rest easy knowing that all of your earthly possessions are covered in the event of a loss. This one is a no-brainer, don’t take the risk of not having the right insurance policy in place to provide you with protection and peace of mind.

5 Simple Steps to Becoming a Great Landlord in 2013

Being a landlord is a tough business, there’s no doubt about it. Unlike the picture ingrained in the minds of so many renters, being a landlord consists of much more than just lounging around while you watch the money roll in. In reality, rental property owners have responsibilities very similar to those of a small business owner.

While no one article can truly teach you how to master the art of renting, we hope to lay out the basic ground rules for being a landlord that tenants want to rent from. Always remember, your attitude is everything. Being a good landlord involves enforcing you lease right down to the letter while at the same time keeping a positive, professional temperament.

1. The first ground rule sounds a lot like another famous rule: Treat your tenant the way you’d want to be treated as a renter. The relationship between a tenant and their landlord is a business relationship and should be treated as such. Always remember to ask yourself if you would treat your accountant or your broker in the same manner you’re treating your tenant. If you have a negative demeanor or you aren’t a “people person”, then chances are that you will struggle as a landlord.

2. As with any other relationship, communication is key. You should always be able to maintain an open line of communication between yourself and your tenants. Your renters will have greater peace of mind if they know they can reach you when needed. We recommend giving your tenant not only your phone number, but your email address, too (if you check your email). Providing an email address can reduce the number of phone calls you receive in the evenings or during personal time. As an added bonus, you will have an electronic “paper trail” of these exchanges for your record.

3. Repair any maintenance issues right away. This is a major complaint of renters and also one of the top reasons why they don’t renew their lease. Of course you’ll want to fix something major like a water leak as soon as possible. However, the smaller issues still need attention. It can be very frustrating when you pay rent on time each month and you can’t the landlord to insulate those drafty windows, or fix that loose door knob. The faster you can get these issues resolved, the greater your chances of renewing the lease. What’s one of the secrets to accomplishing this rule?

4. Create a great vendor list. With a single phone call, you should be able to contact your service provider and have the reassurance that your issue will be resolved that day. Unfortunately, a true list of vendors you can trust cannot be purchased. It must be compiled through due diligence. In this case, you’ll need to connect with other investors and simply ask them who they use for a certain issue. This networking will pay dividends when you urgently need a plumber, electrician, or HVAC company.

5. Know and comply with the tenant laws in your area. This is the last point on our list, but it’s certainly not the least. Tenant laws vary from state to state, but they are the authority on everything from the rights of you and your tenant to security deposits, evictions process, etc. Because you could wind up in civil court for violating these laws, it’s imperative that you understand them and are compliant with them. Fortunately, these can be easily obtained online from the Department of Housing website. Once there, use the site’s search function and type in “local tenant rights (your state).” From there you can open or download (recommended) your landlord-tenant laws. 

Does this sound like a lot to take in? Any experienced landlord will tell you that this is just scratching the surface of owning a rental home. If you’re not sure you’re up for such a large challenge, or if you’re not the type to get your hands dirty, there’s hope yet! Professional property management companies were designed for property owners just like you. A good property management company basically does all the needed “footwork” such as screening tenants, collecting rent, handling evictions, and all of the other fun tasks that you’d probably rather not do yourself. We invite you to search our database of the nation’s leading property management companies to find one that suits your needs. You can contact as many companies as you like 100% free of charge. Whether you manage your property yourself or hire a management company to do it for you, we wish you the best of luck in the new year.

What Happens If My Tenant Passes Away During A Lease Term

Unfortunately there are times when a tenant is renting a property and they pass away during the term of the lease. The situation is one that most landlords hope to avoid; however knowing what to do next is something every landlord should know. If you own a Minnesota rental property and this situation arises the below statute applies. If you have hired a Minnesota property manager to manage your rental property, they can help you with this unfortunate situation.

Minnesota statute 504B.265 states:

Subdivision 1.Termination of lease.

Any party to a lease of residential premises other than a lease at will may terminate the lease prior to its expiration date in the manner provided in subdivision 2 upon the death of the tenant or, if there is more than one tenant, upon the death of all tenants.

Subd. 2.Notice.

Either the landlord or the personal representative of the tenant’s estate may terminate the lease upon at least two months’ written notice, to be effective on the last day of a calendar month, and hand delivered or mailed by postage prepaid, first class United States mail, to the address of the other party. The landlord may comply with the notice requirement of this subdivision by delivering or mailing the notice to the premises formerly occupied by the tenant. The termination of a lease under this section shall not relieve the tenant’s estate from liability either for the payment of rent or other sums owed prior to or during the notice period, or for the payment of amounts necessary to restore the premises to their condition at the commencement of the tenancy, ordinary wear and tear excepted.

Subd. 3.Waiver prohibited.

Any attempted waiver by a landlord and tenant or tenant’s personal representative, by contract or otherwise, of the right of termination provided by this section, and any lease provision or agreement requiring a longer notice period than that provided by this section, shall be void and unenforceable; provided, however, that the landlord and tenant or tenant’s personal representative may agree to otherwise modify the specific provisions of this section.

Tenant Appreciation This Holiday Season

The holidays are rapidly approaching and whether you are a condo property management company, industrial property management company, retail property management company, or really any type of property management company, you are probably wondering what you can get your tenants as a holiday gift. Showing appreciation for your tenants is always a good gesture to keep tenants happy, so the small gift is well worth it. Here are a few ideas:

1- Decorate: Why not bring a little holiday cheer to your rental properties and surprise your tenants with holiday decorations. No need to go overboard, but a simple strand of beautiful outdoor lights could make for a very simple way to show your tenants that you appreciate them and want to help them celebrate the holidays.

2- Holiday Cards: A simple holiday greeting card is a great way to show your tenants you appreciate them this holiday season. If your property management company has a logo and branding a holiday card would be a great way to incorporate that in. Why not get a little marketing involved!

3- Gift Cards
: A gift card is another great gift for tenants during the holidays. Who wouldn’t enjoy a gift card to a restaurant or store? Whether it’s a gift card for Jewel, Target, or the local pizza place, almost everyone can find a use for a gift card. For a property management company, gift cards are an easy gift to give to tenants.

4- Rent Discount: Consider giving your tenants a slight rent discount during the holiday season. A rent discount is another easy gift idea for any property management company. This is something all tenants are sure to appreciate during the holiday season.

5- Upgrades: Perhaps you are a property management company with only a few rental properties under your belt, then perhaps giving your tenants an upgrade is a good option. It doesn’t have to be an extravagant upgrade, it can be something as simple as new window treatments or a new ceiling fan. Something more expensive such as a dishwasher, stove or refrigerator could be a good gift if you have found yourself having to repair those appliances for multiple tenants.

Are you a property management company looking for more gift ideas for tenants? Feel free to leave us a comment or contact us.