Most landlords enter into a rental relationship with a tenant with good intentions and positive expectations. Like a chef who assembles and cooks a gourmet dish, a landlord also must consider the elements of a rental transaction with a tenant and the rental property.
In order to find a good tenant, we need to first understand the qualities or ingredients that a good tenant is made up from. Once we understand what ingredients we are looking for, we can carefully screen applicants with the right ingredients in mind. The LPA has a few tools that can help you determine if your applicant has the desired qualities you are looking for in your screening process.
So What Are the Trouble Causing Recipes for a Landlord?
- Not Pre-Screening If you have lots of free time and enjoy spending countless hours talking with unqualified tenant prospects and then showing them your rental property, taking rental application after rental application, then don’t pre-screen your applicants.
If you value your time and prefer to focus only on qualified prospects, you need to have a pre-screening system in place that will allow you to easily weed out the unqualified, while still attracting the better possible tenants.
- Incomplete Screening / Lack of Credit Report As a successful landlord, you want to make sure you have done a thorough screening every time you consider accepting a new tenant. If you’re like me, your mission is to find something wrong with the applicant. I try my best to disqualify every applicant based on the information on the rental application, past landlord or employment references until I either find something or don’t find anything that will eliminate the contestant.
Failing to make a thorough screening check can make you kick yourself later and usually will.
- Succumbing to pressure and Overlooking Red Flags Often newbie and experienced landlords are pressured to get a unit rented in order to make the payment. We find ourselves rationalizing red flags we recognize as danger signs, only to accept a sub-qualified tenant. You and I know that we may have bought ourselves a little time, but it almost always comes back to bite us… in spades.
- Lack of a Solid Landlord Lease My real estate attorney told me long ago that in the absence of a good lease agreement the law is written to side with the tenant, so if you want to protect yourself against a particular tenant issue, you’d best address it in the lease. The LPA Lease was written to address a large variety of landlord tenant issues; many of which will never happen- unless you don’t have the clause in your lease- then Murphy’s Law may prevail.
- Fear of or Refusal to Enforce Broken Lease Covenants Having a well screened tenant who signs a good landlord lease is great, but being protected by a good lease, and having a tenant honor that responsibility can be a whole different story.
Often, when issues concerning tenant responsibility or expense arise, the tenant’s first impulse is to call the landlord and ask that the landlord fix the problem. But it’s covered in the lease, you say? Yes, but most tenants have convenient memory loss when it comes to their responsibilities according to the lease agreement. That is one of the reasons I created the LPA form, the Lease Obligation Reminder Notice which allows the landlord to enforce the terms of the lease by politely bringing the tenant’s attention to certain items and covenants in the lease agreement that may have been overlooked or forgotten about. The notice is great as a preventative measure for many issues.
It is also important to be able to nip an issue in the bud and tell the complaining tenant straight out that “That issue is your responsibility. You’ll find it in your lease under paragraph # 8. Thanks for being on top of things. Please let me know when you have it taken care of.”
Good tenants are proud of being good tenants, and enjoy demonstrating it in their care for the property, so I very rarely have a problem with them.
About the author:
As a Real Estate broker / investor in New York, John Nuzzolese has been involved with rentals and investment property since 1979. Besides owning and operating two real estate businesses, he is president and founder of The Landlord Protection Agency, Inc. , an organization specializing in helping landlords and property managers avoid the hurdles and pitfalls and expensive blunders common when dealing with tenants.
More information on The Landlord Protection Agency is available at www.theLPA.com