INSTANT LANDLORD: FINDING THE BEST TENANTS IN THE WORLD

IN THE BEGINNING

There was a time, not so long ago, that one could just stick a sign in the yard, a post in the church bulletin or a small ad in the classifieds when needing a new renter. But that is so not the case anymore. If anything, doing what was “norm” would hinder your progress for sure.  When was the last time that you picked up a paper? Much less to read the classified section? Then think–when was the last time you had enough “time” to drive around street after street, collecting numbers from signs, calling on them, leaving messages and being available if and when a phone call was returned? It actually seems crazy to fathom that this was the selection process just a decade ago.

POST, LINK, TWEET AND TALK

This is where you need to get a little tech savvy.  Advertise on at least a few free sites, like Craigslist.org and Lycos.com (but beware of the spam that you may receive when replying to email request and the scam attempts that inevitably ensue). You may consider paying for ads, too. And before you boo-hoo any sites that want to charge you to adveritse your rental, be sure to realize that you are not simply selling a used scarf or a used i-pad, rather you’re trying to find a high-quality tenant to live in your house!

Another suggestion would be to use your Facebook account and link with your friends and family. I’m not suggesting that you rent to friends and family (that ‘s a whole new blog post!), rather tell them about your rental, the price, location and availability date and ask if they can re-post on their Facebook under “Looking for a New Home to Rent?” You can even link a photo or two of the rental.  How genius is that? You’ll make money, but your friends and family will do all of the work for you!

If you’re a tweeter, then tweet about it. Get the word out in a variety of ways. Rent.com, Hot pads.com, Trulia, etc…are all online venues to get the word out…all having their own fees too. Thinking does not hurt either. If the average renter is around 22 to 35, then think…where will they be searching online to find the rental of their dreams? Then just follow the crumbs…

FOUND A TENANT, NOW WHAT?

Here comes the scary part. We all know ourselves and we are basically a group of trusting individuals. If someone tells you they will take care of your place as if it were their very own, you will probably believe them. Especially if they are well dressed and drove up in a newer car. But Landlord beware. “Caveat Emptor”  which means, Let the buyer beware. In this case, the landlord is considered the buyer because he/she is buying the information coming from the tenant. Think about it, you wouldn’t buy a car without collecting some Carfax information regarding it’s gas mileage and warranty,  so why not take some time to verify the information is correct coming from the lips of this prospective tenant. Do not let them rush you. Tell them to fill out your application. Take it with you-along with a copy of their drivers license and two recent pay-stubs-and possibly a cashiers check for the deposit (which you can refund or hand back if you don’t rent to them). Check out their rental references immediately,  see how they paid and for how long. Pay a service online to run the background and credit check needed. Then call the employer and verify their employment. If everything comes back alright, then you can probably proceed with a lease. If not, you are welcome to sit them down and ask questions as to certain blemishes on their reports. However, be aware that you do not want to violate any housing or discrimination laws. Tenants are savvy, and they know what to watch for. Tenants gain many rights as soon as they take possession of the property. Evictions are slow and costly; most can be avoided by doing the work before the lease gets signed.

USE A TENANT FINDER SERVICE

Best thing invented since sliced bread! At our company, http://www.ManageMyRental.net, we offer this service to every landlord that calls our office. For a 100% tenant placement fee (first month’s rent) we will come out to take interior and exterior photos of the property. We will load a nice 1 minute video of the property for our website to use in postings. We will aggressively advertise using over 20 paid search engines and rental sites. With each call, our agents will set an appointment and hand show the property to the prospect. Many times, they show 7 days a week as they make the times convenient tot he prospect.  Once a customer is interested in a property, the agent will immediately receive a binder (first month’s rent) and a deposit (made out to the homeowner) in the form of cashiers checks. He/she will then have the prospective tenant fill out our online application. A background and credit check will be run. A tenant and Employment verification will be done and copies of pay-stubs and drivers licenses will be collected. A lease will be created and all signatures (via an online document) will be received from the landlord and the tenant. Upon move in day, the agent will meet the tenant at the home, remove the lock-box and the yard signage, walk them through and give them a move in condition form-perfect to give the landlord 7 days after move in. We typically leave a little gift with our card thanking them for using our services as well. OUR LANDLORDS LOVE THIS SERVICE! And why would they not? We do all of the work, and they get to sit back and reap the monthly financial rewards.

Christina Starmer

INSTANT TENANT: WHAT YOU SHOULD EXPECT FROM YOUR LANDLORD

If you are a tenant, your landlord has certain obligations. The rules and procedures vary depending on the type of tenancy you have and the state that you live in, but certain basic rules are always the same.

BASIC MOVE IN PROCEDURES

After paying your deposit and first month’s rental payment due, you should be able to move in your rental on the contract start date. Other monies such as a pet fee, prepaid last month’s rent, pro-rated rent, prepaid utilities or anything else that was agreed upon..may be due at this time as well. You should be given one set of keys and the property should be clean of any garbage or debris. The exterior lawn should in good condition (at least in the manner in which the landlord expects you to keep it) and the interior of the home should be clean and move in ready.  Any work that you and the landlord discusses should have been completed upon move in day (unless there was a later completion date that had been agreed upon in advance).
All of your essential appliances such as your water heater, stove and refrigerator should be in good working condition.  The home should be safe and all electrical plugs should be covered.  You can check these out during your walk through with your landlord on move in day to make sure. It may be a good idea to flush the toilet and check the shower and faucets too. A good landlord or Property Manager will provide you with a basic “move-in” sheet that will allow you to write down imperfections based on your first week observations of the rental unit. This will ensure that you are not charged for these imperfections upon move out. A basic example would be “cracked drywall in the closet”.

NOT DISTURBING TENANTS

Landlords may need access to the accommodation to inspect it and do repairs but they must let you live in your home without unnecessary interference. The landlord should give proper notice and arrange a suitable time if they need to visit. The amount of notice they have to give you may be set out in your agreement. It is typically within a 24 hr period.  They should also provide you with a suitable explanation or reason for the visit.  You can ask your landlord to stop entering your home without your permission if he or she is doing so. It may be classified as harassment if they persist. Some occasions are considered emergency situations, and a landlord may not have time to call you before he or she enters. This would include busted water pipes, roof failure, fire, etc.. In these circumstances, it would be reasonable for a landlord to enter without notice.

So to recap: A landlord can enter at a reasonable time after providing a 24 hr notice for things such as “basic” a/c maintenance, changing of an a/c filter and a yearly inspection of the interior.  Yet, by no means should their entry be an ongoing nuisance.

They are typically allowed to enter with a notice posted for a  pre-showing of your apt to a prospective tenant. However the latter is typically only allowed until “after” a tenant has given his/her notice to vacate.

Ultimately, a great landlord is attentive to any repairs or questions that you may have but one that respects your privacy is the best!

WISE UP: GET TO KNOW THE LAW

Sometimes questions arise as to what the basic expectations should be of a Florida Landlord…or in other words: Which party is responsible for what.

Many of the these items should be well described in your lease so there is no confusion when something breaks and as to who is responsible for fixing it. However BASIC items can be found in Chapter 83, Part 11 of the Florida Statutes where procedures are outlined for both the landlord and tenant. This brief summary is not intended for the purpose of legal advise.  For additional information not addressed in the blog, consumers should always refer to Chapter 83, Part II of the Florida Statutes which can be found online.

Section 83.51(2)(a), F.S.
The landlord of a dwelling unit other than a single-family home or duplex (such as an apartment) shall, at all times of the tenancy, make reasonable provisions for extermination of rats, mice, ants and wood destroying organisms and bed bugs; locks and keys; clean and safe conditions of common areas; garbage removal and outside receptacles; and functioning facilities for heat during winter, running water and hot water.
This does not mean that the landlord is obligated to pay for utilities, water, fuel or garbage removal, although he/she may choose to do so.

MAY I MAKE A DEPOSIT PLEASE?

Please know where your money is going and how and when it should be returned to you if it were a deposit being held on a rental unit.  The landlord/management company is supposed to hold your deposit until you vacate and use it towards any damages. The rest should be returned to you. There may be provisions in your lease that allow a landlord to deduct a cleaning fee from your deposit once you leave. Be sure that you understand this before signing. Here are a few other “basic” points that may be of interest to you:

Section 83.49(a), F.S.
Upon vacating of the premises for termination of the lease:
If the landlord does not intend to impose a claim upon the security deposit, he/she must return your deposit within fifteen (15) days or,
Within thirty (30) days, he/she must give the tenant written notice of how much of the deposit will be kept and why. This must be done by certified mail, to the tenant’s last known mailing address.
If this notice is not sent as required within the thirty (30) day period, the landlord forfeits his/her right to impose a claim upon the deposit.

Christina Starmer