Property Managers

florida eviction laws

Florida’s Eviction Laws & What Property Managers Need to Know

By some estimates, 15.6% of renters in Florida could be facing eviction very soon. This number is the second-highest in the country behind South Carolina. 

20.2% of renters in the state of Florida are behind on their rent. A shocking 77.5% of late-paying renters are expected to be evicted in the next few months. 

If you’re a property manager struggling with renters, you need to know the Florida eviction laws so you don’t break any rules protecting the rights of the tenants. 

While it might be frustrating when a tenant isn’t doing what they agreed to in a lease, they are protected through the eviction laws in Florida.

If it’s necessary to get rid of a bad tenant, then you want to follow the laws explicitly so you can get through the process more quickly.

Read on to learn the eviction laws in Florida so you know what to do.

Florida Eviction Laws

Eviction laws in Florida spell out what you can and can’t evict a tenant for. 

You can’t just decide you can get more rent money from a different tenant and kick out the current one, for example. 

You can, however, move through the eviction process if a tenant isn’t paying their rent or is not following the rules listed in the lease agreement. If you don’t like cats and said no to cats, they must abide by the written lease rules. 

Florida tenants must also maintain the conditions of a dwelling to certain standards or risk eviction.

Yet, there are some things you as a landlord can’t do to move the eviction process along. You can’t:

  • Remove doors from the property
  • Change locks so the tenant can’t enter
  • Take away basic utilities to the property

While you might be motivated to get rid of the tenant, Florida is going to make you follow the rules like the tenant.

Eviction Notice Laws

The eviction laws break down whether you can evict a tenant with or without cause. 

Your reasons for wanting to remove the tenant will help you to know which set of rules to follow.

This helps you to define the eviction notice laws you’ll follow and how long the process will take, too.

Termination With Cause

The first option for eviction is if as the landlord you have a cause for eviction. This means the tenant has done something that gives you a legitimate reason to evict them from the rental unit. 

This might include:

  • Not paying rent
  • Violating the lease or rental agreement
  • Committing an illegal act

If you feel like you have cause, here are the steps you should follow.

Three-Day Notice 

In many cases, the desire for eviction stems from the tenant not paying rent. If the tenant has not paid rent, then the landlord can issue what’s called a three-day notice to pay rent or quit.

This acts as official notice that the tenant has three days to either pay the rent up to date or move out. If they don’t do one of those two things, the landlord can start the eviction process. 

If the tenant doesn’t pay the rent, at the end of the three-day notice, the landlord can file an eviction lawsuit. 

It should be noted that when counting the days, it’s only weekdays, also excluding holidays.

Seven-Day Notice to Cure

With the seven-day notice to cure, the tenant is given seven days to fix a problem. If they aren’t following a lead, they get seven days to cure the issue or face eviction.

At the end of the seven days, if the tenant has cured whatever the problem was, then the landlord can file an eviction lawsuit.

Seven-Day Unconditional Quit Notice 

Florida also allows landlords to use a seven-day unconditional quit notice. This means the landlord isn’t giving the tenant time to cure the issue. At the end of the seven days, the eviction lawsuit will be filed. 

You can only use an unconditional quit notice for certain things like the tenant: 

  • Intentionally destroys the rental property 
  • Creates unreasonable disturbances
  • Repeats the same lease violation within a 12-month period

At the end of the seven-day period, if the tenant has not moved out, then the eviction lawsuit should be filed. 

Termination Without Cause

The Florida lease laws also allow a landlord or property manager to terminate a lease without cause. How to do this depends on whether the tenant has a month-to-month agreement or a set lease. 

Month-to-Month Rental Agreement

In a month-to-month agreement, the landlord can opt to terminate the tenancy of the renter without cause. They must provide written notice informing the tenant they are terminating. 

The landlord must give the tenant 15 days to vacate and should expect that they will be out at the end of the 15 days.

Fixed-Term Lease

If you have a tenant who has a signed lease, you can’t remove them until the end of the lease agreement without cause. 

As the landlord, you must wait until the end of the lease agreement to end the tenancy. You don’t have to provide notice. If a new lease isn’t in place, you should expect the tenant to be out by the end of the lease term.

Tenant Removal Rules

The eviction rules then spell out how you can actually remove a tenant. Simply, the landlord can’t remove a tenant. 

They must file an eviction lawsuit and then work to get the tenant out. The landlord can’t do anything to force them out, either. 

Only law enforcement has the authority to remove a tenant after the correct procedures have been followed in an eviction lawsuit.

Sometimes a tenant will leave, but will also leave a bunch of their property behind. The landlord must provide written notice to remove the property. Depending on how the notice gets delivered, they must wait between 10 and 15 days before removing their belongings.

The landlord is entitled to charge the tenant because their property remains in the rental unit.

Avoid the Need for Evictions

As a landlord, your goal is to never get to the point of needing an eviction. You want to use property management tools to make sure you get the best tenants who won’t make evictions necessary.

Property manager help can provide you with the tools needed to screen for the best tenants. It can also create a professional dashboard where you can collect rents and communicate effectively with your tenants.

You can also use these tools to market available properties and share information online.

Know Florida Eviction Laws to Avoid Your Own Trouble With the Law

If you’re faced with a challenging tenant who isn’t paying rent or abiding by the terms of their lease, you need to know the Florida eviction laws.

Let us help you market your properties and find the best tenants for your property. Contact us today to learn about how we can help you manage your properties.

maryland eviction laws during covid-19

Maryland Eviction Laws During Covid-19: What’s Relevant in 2022?

Landlords and tenants alike struggled during the worst of the COVID pandemic. Quarantines led to job losses, which led to getting behind on rent, which normally would have led to eviction.

But lawmakers stepped in at the federal and state levels to enact eviction moratoriums to keep people from ending up homeless. Frequent extensions made it tough to keep up with the situation, and court closings kept filings from being ruled on at all. Legal changes often left the entire eviction process looking different by the time the moratoriums were lifted.

What changed with the Maryland eviction laws during COVID-19? Let’s take a look at the current situation in the state and what new things landlords and property managers need to be aware of going forward.

Eviction Moratorium Timeline

The halt on eviction proceedings started with the CARES act, which applied to federally backed properties and expired in July 2020. The CDC picked up the cause then, saying it considered evictions a health crisis as it would put potentially sick people on the street.

The CDC moratorium required that tenants meet certain criteria and generally only protected tenants from being evicted for the inability to pay their rent. The CDC extended the ban five times with the last extension primarily for areas that had high levels of COVID transmissions. That extension was struck down by the Supreme Court in August 2021.

During all that, most states implemented some form of eviction moratorium as well. Most were lifted by September 2020, though. Maryland’s eviction order expired on August 15, 2021.

Evictions in Maryland

Maryland landlords filed more than 600,000 evictions on average every year before the pandemic hit, and the state had a much higher share of renters who fell behind on rent.

But failure to pay was the only kind of eviction filing that fell under the moratorium, and the numbers on the other three types rose during the pandemic. They include:

  • Tenant holding over
  • Breach of lease
  • Wrongful detainer

The state currently has no ban on evictions and had allowed filings for evictions even during the pandemic for reasons other than failure to pay. However, the Maryland courts weren’t always open to hear those cases. By the time the courts returned to normal operations this year, the period between filing and hearing had reached up to nine months in some jurisdictions.

The general eviction process remains the same despite the increase in time to process claims, which landlords should prepare for. The steps include:

  • Post notice to tenant
  • File with the court
  • Court appearance
  • Issue of eviction notice
  • Eviction scheduled with Sheriff
  • Property returned

Some jurisdictions continue to make efforts to provide rent assistance to help renters who have still not recovered lost income from the pandemic.

Changes to Maryland Eviction Laws During COVID-19

While the eviction moratorium in Maryland is over, several changes were made to the Landlord/Tenant laws to try to provide support for tenants. The changes sought to remedy the overwhelming number of eviction filings in Maryland every year and improve tenant rights.

Most of the changes came into effect in October 2021.

Failure to Pay Filing

Landlords now have to provide a 10-day notice to tenants to pay the amount owed or seek legal advice before filing for eviction. The notice has to be sent via first-class, certified mail and attached to the door of the dwelling. If you have the tenant’s agreement, it can also be sent via email, text, or through a tenant portal.

The previous rule did not require landlords to provide any kind of notice before beginning eviction proceedings. By allowing the tenant time to resolve the issue, the state hopes to reduce the overall number of filings.

Right to Counsel

An amendment to the state’s real property code now offers legal counsel to low-income renters at risk of eviction. While 96 percent of landlords come to eviction court with a lawyer, 99 percent of renters attend without one.

Landlords are required to inform their tenants of their right to counsel in the eviction notice. It’s important to catch that one, as failure to do so can result in your filing being dismissed.

Length of Notice

The law also changed the length of notice requirements for non-renewal or termination of a lease. It still varies based on the type of lease and is as follows:

  • Week to week – 7 days
  • Month to month – 60 days
  • Year to year – 90 days
  • No lease – 21 days

Tenants have to provide 30 days’ notice to cancel a week-to-week lease and 90 days for a month-to-month lease.

Other Considerations

In the wings sit two other potential changes to the laws. Senate Bill 384 would delay eviction proceedings if there is a pending application for rent assistance. A judge will also be allowed to delay aneviction for up to 35 days even after ruling for the landlord.

Also under consideration is a requirement for just cause to terminate a lease at any time, even when the lease ends.

Stay On Top of Eviction Law Changes

Maryland has always had a surprisingly high number of eviction filings, and changes to the Maryland eviction laws during COVID-19 aimed to address that as much as the pandemic. New rules related to notifications attempt to give tenants more time to resolve the situation before the eviction process starts with the first filing. Good property management software should help you stay on top of all the changes to ensure you execute the steps correctly.

Looking to reduce your eviction numbers with online tenant screening software? Contact us to learn how you can improve your screening process to find solid tenants.

Eviction Records

How to Search for Tenant Eviction Records

Only about one million Americans undergo the eviction process in a single year. This is a relatively low number, which means that it’s easy for landlords to find renters with no prior eviction history.

As a property manager, it’s important that you settle for no less than the best tenants available. But how can you screen eviction records to ensure that potential renters have a good history of rent payments? Read on to learn some ways that you can access sealed eviction records and rent to the right people.

Why Look Up Tenant Eviction Records?

Before learning how to search for eviction records, you may be wondering why it’s important to undergo this process. If you’re a new landlord, this may not seem like a pressing thing to look into, but it’s important to understand patterns of behavior.

If a tenant has previously been evicted, it’s more likely that they will face eviction with you. Whether they were kicked out of another property for failing to pay rent or for breaking rules outlined in the lease, you want to avoid these behavioral patterns.

While many tenants do turn their lives around and should be offered housing, others who have been evicted multiple times are definitely tenants to avoid. Eviction only takes place in serious cases, so it is a sign that your property may be at risk when you rent to these individuals.

Even if you do choose to rent to those with eviction records, it’s best that you know all of the facts before signing a lease. This will let you know which renters to watch and what to expect from them.

Talk to Possible Renters

The first step toward getting tenant eviction records is to have a conversation with prospective tenants. You want to meet with them anyway to make sure that they are a good fit for your property. It’s important to talk to them over a video chat or in-person to make sure that they seem normal and are who they say they are.

Ask about prior evictions when you talk to these potential renters. Most people will say that they have no past evictions, and this is true in most cases. If you do a background check and find out later that they lied, this isn’t just a sign that they will be a bad tenant- it also shows that they are untruthful.

If someone does say that they have prior eviction records, you have your answer. However, you also will know that the potential tenant is open and honest. This paints them in a good light and also opens a conversation about why they were evicted.

If they are honest and have good reasons for their prior eviction, you may still want to give them a chance. However, if their reasons are bad or they lie at any point, that’s a definite red flag.

Know Your Potential Tenant’s Information

Regardless of what prospective renters say when talking to you, screening tenants is an essential part of the leasing process. You’ll need to first collect all of the information that you have about them. Look at their application to learn their full name, credit scores, birthdate, income, and more.

This information is critical because it lets you know what to enter into the screening software. Make sure that all of it is accurate before you proceed with the screening process.

You also want to make sure that applicants meet your minimum tenant criteria. Even someone with no past eviction history will be a poor renter if they don’t meet a minimum income threshold. You want them to make at least double their rent.

At this point, it’s also critical that you get consent for the screening process. Tenants are legally allowed to refuse to be part of this process. Of course, you likely will not offer them a lease if they refuse, but you legally must get written consent before proceeding,

Use the Right Screening Software

At this point, you’ll need to access the right tools for tenant screening. You’ll need a complete and comprehensive toolkit that shows all relevant renter information on a single easy-to-read dashboard.

RentSafe’s tool is easy to use and offers one-click potential renter submissions for applications. This makes it extremely transparent and provides you with fast and accurate results. It also is easy to add and screen co-applicants and co-signers so that you have all the facts before sending anyone a lease to sign.

One of the best things about our software is that it provides you with real-time results. Because tenant histories are constantly changing, it’s important that you see the most recent information possible. You’ll be able to see the current status for past evictions as well as real-time credit reports and criminal histories.

Set Up Your Application

When you choose the best tenant screening tool on the market, you can link your application portal directly to your screening software. Create custom specifications for each listing, specify the documents needed, and mark required application fields for potential renters prior to proceeding.

You can then share the link to the application so that interested renters can click on it easily. This will immediately link to a portal that’s connected to your screening software. Once tenant hopefuls fill out the forms, you’ll get real-time alerts about applications so that you know what’s going on with each property.

The screening process begins the moment that the prospective tenant hits “submit.” You’ll be able to see eviction history with just one click (in addition to other screening information). The data that you see is collected from reliable online sources across the web so that you can have a clear picture of your applicant.

Start Screening Tenants the Right Way

While screening tenant eviction records may sound like a challenge, it’s a fairly easy process once you access the right tools. Now that you know how to make sure that you’re finding a tenant with no prior eviction history, it’s time to get started.

We’re committed to providing you with a customized dashboard to help you view tenant information on a transparent forum. That’s why we’re excited to hear from you and discuss how we can set you up with our easy-to-use screening software. Contact us to learn more about our tool and how we can help you find amazing new tenants.

Alabama Eviction Laws

Alabama Eviction Laws: What Property Managers Ought to Know

Nearly three million tenants find themselves kicked out of their homes each year, evicted for not paying their rent or violating their leases. With inflation and housing costs on the rise, more and more landlords might find themselves in the tough situation of having to serve notice on their tenants.

While the eviction process is pretty similar from state to state, Alabama is considered a landlord-friendly state. The rules – including Alabama eviction laws – tend to favor them compared to tenants making it a little easier to work your way through the process when you do have to evict a renter.

Let’s take a look at how the process works in the state of Alabama, eviction laws you should know, and tips on avoiding eviction through good screening.

Permitted Reasons Under Alabama Eviction Laws

While landlords have broad power in Alabama to evict someone, you still have to have a proper reason to start the process. The law provides for three basic reasons for eviction:

  • Non-payment of rent or late payment
  • Lease violations
  • Illegal activities

Alabama law considers rent late the day after it’s due unless the lease provides for a grace period. That means that come 12:01 am on the second of the month, you can legally serve notice for eviction for late rent.

Lease violations cover a host of reasons depending on what you have included in your lease. This could be anything from having a pet without permission to failing to mow the lawn.

If you rent without a lease, you can just have them leave with notice equal to one pay period. That means a seven-day notice for week-to-week rentals or 30 days for month-to-month. If they have a fixed-term lease, you have to wait out the lease unless they give you cause to serve notice.

Landlords can’t threaten to evict renters for exercising their tenant rights by filing a safe housing complaint or joining a tenant union. The law also prohibits “self-help” evictions where landlords take action like changing locks or turning off power to try to force a tenant to leave. 

Know the Eviction Process in Alabama

Evicting a tenant in Alabama isn’t an overly complicated process, but there are certain timing points and deadlines you need to be very aware of to ensure the eviction is valid. Missing a step or deadline can result in starting over from the beginning.

The steps for eviction include:

  • Serve notice to correct or vacate
  • File complaint
  • Court hearing and judgment
  • Writ of execution posted
  • Possession of property returned to the landlord

Notice

An eviction notice in Alabama is also called an unlawful detainer and varies a bit depending on the reason for the eviction.

For non-payment of rent or a lease violation, the notice gives them the option to remedy the issue or move out. If rent is paid or the problem fixed, the eviction process stops. If the tenant doesn’t fix the issue or move out, the landlord terminates the lease and files for eviction.

The required notice is seven days for non-payment or late rent and 14 days for lease violations.

An unconditional quit notice offers no opportunity to remedy the situation and usually applies when there has been some illegal activity on the property. It also applies if a lease violation occurs again within six months as the landlord is not required to provide the tenant the opportunity to remedy the situation before filing for eviction in that case.

Notices must be delivered in person to the tenant or given to any adult living at the property. If you’re unable to deliver it to a person, you can post the notice on the premises.

You should keep a copy of the notice and a record of when you served it and to whom. You’ll need that documentation if the eviction makes it to a court hearing.

Complaint Filed and Answered

If the tenant does move or remedy the situation, you can file your eviction complaint with the appropriate court. A summons will be sent to the tenant and served by the sheriff, constable, or a professional process server.

After the tenant receives the summons and complaint, they can file an answer with the court. They have seven days to respond if there is no money involved, e.g. a lease violation, or 14 days if the claim is for past-due rent or other monies.

If the tenant doesn’t respond, the court may automatically rule for the landlord.

Court Hearing and Execution

The law provides no specifics for when to hold the hearing, although most courts prioritize eviction hearings over other civil matters. The court mails notice to the tenant and landlord when it has been scheduled. If the tenant fails to show up for the hearing or submit an answer, the court assumes they deny the claim and proceeds without them.

The tenant or landlord may appeal the ruling made by the court within seven days and expect a ruling on the appeal within 60 days from when the appeal is filed.

If the court rules in the landlord’s favor, the writ of execution is issued, which returns their property to their possession. The writ serves as the tenant’s final notice to leave, and they have seven days to do so before the sheriff or constable comes to forcibly remove them.

Better Tenant Screening Means Better Tenants

Even the best tenants can fall behind on rent when inflation hits or a job is lost. But good tenant screening cuts the risk of ending up in a situation that leads to eviction.

For every property, start with setting your minimum requirements for tenants, including income level and credit score. Your application should collect all the details you need to conduct background checks and verify income while ensuring you get the same information from every potential tenant.

The formal tenant screening should include pulling their credit report and conducting a background check. This step allows you to examine their past rental history and review financial stability to determine what kind of tenant they might be. The goal here is to avoid high-risk candidates that turn into problem tenants who need to be evicted down the road.

Manage Your Eviction Risk

While Alabama is considered a landlord-friendly state, navigating the eviction laws in Alabama can still be a tricky business. You need to know all the procedures laid out in the Alabama eviction laws to ensure your eviction is valid. Missing steps or deadlines restarts the process, resulting in more time where you see no rental income.

Looking for ways to avoid evictions? Contact us to learn how our customizable tenant screening can reduce your risk when selecting tenants for the properties you manage in Alabama.

rental property inspection

How to Perform A Rental Property Inspection

As a landlord or a property manager, you’re responsible for making sure your rental property stays in good condition before, during, and after a tenant’s stay there. You need to repair major systems when they break down, perform routine maintenance, and make sure no damage comes to the property.

Rental property inspections are an important way to find out about and address these needs as they come up. 

There are a few do’s and don’ts property managers need to know about before they dive into the inspection process. Read on to learn more about how to conduct a rental property inspection and when it should be done.

What Is a Rental Property Inspection?

Before we dive into the details of how to do a rental property inspection, let’s talk about what it is and why you should conduct one. During a rental property inspection, you take a look at the inside and outside of your property and make sure everything is in good working order.

Not only can this be a great way to make sure tenants aren’t damaging your property, but it’s also important for routine maintenance.

Your tenant also has a right to inspect your rental property, particularly at the time of move-in. This gives them a chance to make sure there aren’t any problems with or damage to the property before they move in. In most cases, it’s a good idea for you or your property manager to be present during move-in inspections.

Why They’re Important

We mentioned that inspections can be a great way to make sure tenants aren’t damaging your property. No matter how good your tenant screening process is, a few bad apples may slip through from time to time. You need to know about any damage as soon as possible so you can address it and prevent continuing expenses.

Rental property inspections are also important for keeping your property well-maintained. You won’t know that the bushes need to be trimmed and the window screens need to be replaced unless you take a look at the property.

You may also notice signs that a major system is about to go out so you can prepare to replace that when the time comes. 

There are four primary types of rental property inspections: move-in inspections, move-out inspections, routine inspections, and drive-by inspections.

Move-In Inspection

As you might guess from the name, move-in inspections happen when a new tenant moves into the property. Although your tenant has the right to conduct their own move-in inspection, we’ll be focusing on the landlord side.

During a move-in inspection, your primary focus should be making sure that there is no existing damage to the property. As we’ll discuss in a moment, most damage from previous tenants should have been caught during your move-out inspection.

The move-in inspection is your chance to make sure those problems got resolved and to take stock of the property before the new tenant moves in.

Move-Out Inspection

A move-out inspection happens the day or two after a previous tenant vacates the property. This will be an important part of your security deposit assessment process since it will be your chance to see what damage, if any, was done to the property during that tenant’s stay.

You can use that information to figure out how much of the previous tenant’s security deposit they’ll be getting back. 

During a move-out inspection, you’ll want to look for any new damage that the tenant might have caused. This may include broken windows or doors, dented walls, stained carpet, and so on. Make arrangements to fix these problems before your next tenant is scheduled to move in.

Routine Inspection 

A routine inspection happens during a tenant’s stay at your property. As we’ll discuss more later, you’ll need to give your tenants notice before you conduct these inspections. The purpose of these inspections is two-fold: to look for damage and to assess maintenance needs.

During your routine inspection, it’s a good idea to keep an eye out for any damage or breaches of the lease. However, your primary focus should be checking the major systems of the apartment to make sure none of them are close to failing.

Ask your tenants about the HVAC and water heater function, make sure the fridge and freezer are in good working order, and make sure air filters are getting changed as needed.

Drive-By Inspection

A drive-by inspection is the quickest of the four rental property inspections. You won’t have to notify your tenants about these inspections, because they likely won’t even know they’re happening. A drive-by inspection simply involves going by and taking a quick look at the outside of the property to make sure everything is in good working order.

During a drive-by inspection, you’ll want to focus on maintenance needs on the outside of the house. How is the landscaping looking, and do you see any signs of ants, wasps, or other pests that need to be dealt with? Look for screens that are ripped or fraying, gutters that may be sagging, roof damage, and poor sidewalk condition.

Give Prior Notice

When you’re getting ready to conduct a routine inspection, it’s important that you give your tenants prior notice. It may be tempting to spring surprise inspections, especially on tenants who you suspect may be breaking the lease. But you may be legally obligated to provide advance notice, and in any case, it fosters a better landlord-tenant relationship. 

Check with your lawyer about what you’re required to do in terms of providing your tenants with notice of inspections. It’s a good idea to send written notice at least twenty-four hours ahead of time, and a week’s notice isn’t unreasonable. You may also want to confirm with your tenant that they received the notice before you show up for the inspection. 

Encourage Your Tenant to Be Present 

If possible, it’s a good idea to encourage your tenant to be present for move-in, move-out, and routine inspections. For one thing, this can help to build trust, since your tenants will be able to see that you aren’t digging through their personal belongings.

But it can also give you a better sense of what’s actually happening since you’ll be able to talk to them about any problems you do find. 

It is important to note that, if you find out or suspect that your tenant is damaging your property or violating the lease, this is not the time to confront them about it.

These incidents can be upsetting, and you may not handle things perfectly in the heat of the moment. Instead, write down any problems you notice and send a note to your tenant later on through the proper channels. 

Explain Why the Inspection Is Happening

When you send your tenant notice of an inspection, it’s a good idea to let them know why it’s happening. As we mentioned, maintaining a good landlord-tenant relationship is helpful, and surprise inspections can feel suspicious to tenants who don’t know the reason behind them.

Letting your tenants know the reason for the inspection can also help them better prepare the space to accommodate your inspection.

Start by letting your tenants know at the beginning of your lease agreement that there will be routine inspections and why they happen. During these inspections, let them know if there’s anything in particular you’ll be looking at: HVAC systems, hot water heaters, kitchens, bathrooms, and so on.

This is also a good opportunity to let them know about any preparations you need them to make before the inspection.

Don’t Photograph Personal Items

While routine inspections are a normal part of property management, they can make tenants feel very vulnerable. Someone they don’t know well is coming into their personal space and – to many tenants’ minds – judging them on what they find. As a landlord or property manager, it’s a good idea to ease this worry.

Taking photos may be important for documenting damage or maintenance problems, but avoid taking pictures of tenants’ personal items. This should include personal décor, pets, clothing, or other identifying items.

If your tenant is present and a personal item of theirs is in the way of your photo, ask if they would mind moving it for you to protect their privacy.

Inspect Doors and Windows 

During move-in and move-out inspections, it’s a good idea to start with a look at the doors and windows. Check the doors for peeling paint, damaged door frames, broken peepholes, and loose hinges. It’s also a good idea to make sure all doors latch properly and that the ones with locks on them can lock and unlock correctly. 

Start your inspection of the windows outside, looking at the screens and window frames to make sure there isn’t any damage. Check for glass that’s broken or cracked, and make sure all window sills and blinds are in good shape. You’ll also need to make sure all windows can open, close, and latch as designed. 

Check the Electrical Systems

With the doors and windows out of the way, it will be time to turn your attention to the electrical systems. Start by making sure all outlet covers are in place and aren’t cracked or damaged. Then use a proximity tester or corded device to make sure all outlets are still functional, and check breakers for any outlets that don’t work.

Next, you’ll need to take a look at lights, fans, and other hard-wired electrical elements in the apartment. Look for any broken light fixtures, and make sure all switches and lights work as they’re supposed to. Make note of any bulbs that appear burned out, especially during a move-out inspection, so you can have them replaced. 

Check Ceilings and Floors

As you move through the apartment during move-in, move-out, and routine inspections, keep an eye on the ceilings and floors. On the ceiling, look for any signs of water damage, including mildew or mold in the bathrooms and water stains. If you find these, take a picture so you can monitor how they change over time and then get the roof inspected. 

It’s also a good idea to look for any damage to the flooring, including scratches, stains, or tears. On wood or laminate floors, keep an eye out around furniture legs for gouges or scratches, as well as warping or cracking. On carpet, watch for stains, tears, or normal wear that indicates the carpet will need to be replaced soon.

Examine the Kitchen 

The kitchen should be one of your biggest areas of focus during your inspections. Start by testing the smoke alarm and making sure its batteries are good and it’s still functional. Then check the refrigerator and freezer to make sure they’re cooling appropriately and that any ice makers or water dispensers are working. 

Next, turn on the oven and all the stove burners and make sure they’re heating up appropriately. Run the microwave for a short cycle to make sure it’s working normally, and run a quick rinse cycle on the dishwasher to make sure it’s functional and not leaking. While those are running, run water in the sink to check for leaks and make sure the disposal is working properly.

Find More Tools for Property Managers 

Conducting rental property inspections is a normal part of the job for property managers and landlords. Let your tenants know when and why these inspections are happening, and encourage them to be there during the inspection. Keep an eye out for damage or maintenance issues, and test major systems to make sure they’re in good working order.

If you’d like to find more tools for property managers, check out the rest of our site at RentSafe. We are the tenant screening platform that gets vacancies filled faster. Check out our property manager solutions today and start screening tenants the easy way.

move-in checklist

The Ultimate Tenant Move-In Checklist

Moving into a new apartment is an exciting process, but it can be a major undertaking. You have to pack, move out of your current place, and find a new spot that fits your needs. It can be easy to lose track of everything you need to do as you prepare to settle into your new apartment.

Keeping a move-in checklist can help you to make sure everything gets handled on time and in order. Read on to learn what you need to do during your move-in to start life in your new home on the right foot.

Arrange Movers

One of the first things you’ll need to do on your apartment move-in checklist is to set up movers. Depending on your budget and the scale of your move, you may want to consider hiring professional movers. Hiring professionals may cost you between $1,000 and $2,000, depending on how far you’re moving.

If your budget is more limited, talk to friends and family who may be able to help you move. If you plan to go this route, consider getting your helpers a gift or paying them what you can afford to. Also, make sure everything is ready to load up the day before you move to keep the workload as light as possible.

Talk to Your Landlord

Once you’ve arranged your moving help, you’ll need to have a conversation with your landlord about coordinating your move-in. They’ll need to turn over keys and schedule cleaners before your move, as well as giving you access to any amenities the apartment offers. And you may need to sign some official paperwork or do a walkthrough with your landlord before you start moving in.

Let your landlord know what day you plan to move in and ask about where you can park a moving truck. You may also need to ask if there’s a service elevator you can use and how to access it if so. And it’s a good idea to double-check which utilities you’ll be responsible for setting up and which your landlord handles.

Pick Out New Furniture

In many cases, moving to a new place means getting new furniture. If this is your first apartment, you may not have even the basics, such as a bed, dining table, couch, and so on. Even if you do have furniture, your current setup may not fit in the new space.

Next on your tenant move-in checklist, make a list of the furniture you’ll need to get for your new apartment and figure out your budget for getting these pieces. If you’re on a tight budget, look for options at thrift stores, yard sales, estate sales, and resale stores. You can also check local online listings, although make sure you use appropriate safety measures during those transactions. 

Set Up New Utilities 

A few days before you’re set to move in, you’ll need to make arrangements to set up your new utilities. Depending on how far you’re moving, you may not need to set up a new account at all – just update your address. Your new landlord may also cover different utilities than your previous landlord did.

If you have to set up new accounts, be prepared to pay a deposit to cover utility bills. Ask about when bills are due and how you can pay them, as well as what their policy on late payments is. And if your landlord is covering things like cable, be sure to find out how you can access those services.

Do a Move-In Inspection

Your moving day is finally here, and while we know you’re ready to start getting stuff in your new place, pause. Before any of your belongings cross the threshold of your new apartment, you need to do a move-in inspection. This will ensure that you don’t wind up on the hook for any damage or problems you didn’t cause. 

Start with a basic walkthrough looking for stained or torn carpet, scratched floors, dented walls, broken door handles, cracked windows, and so on. Check all lights and outlets to make sure they work, and run the hot water to check that your hot water heater is functional. Test all the appliances in the kitchen, including the stove, oven, microwave, fridge, and freezer, and make sure the toilets and shower function with no problems.

Explore Your New Neighborhood

Once everything is moved in, you’ll be ready for the fun part of the process – living in your new apartment! Over the next few months, you’ll find all your favorite restaurants and coffee shops, as well as the perfect spot to get your late-night snack fix. You’ll get to know your neighbors and make a whole new set of memories in your new home.

During these first few days, it’s a good idea to find the practical amenities in your neighborhood. Figure out where the nearest police station is, and locate your complex’s dumpster, as well as any amenities, such as the gym or the pool. Figure out the best route to work and look for bus stops or walking trails near you.

Complete Your Move-In Checklist

Moving into a new spot is very exciting, but there’s a lot to think about. Make sure to arrange for help with your move, and let your landlord know when you plan to move in. Pick out your new furniture, set up your utilities, conduct your walkthrough inspection, and start exploring your new neighborhood!

If you’d like to take the next step on your move-in checklist, check out the rest of our site at Rent Safe. We provide user-friendly rental application software designed with the renter in mind. Create an account with us today and start discovering a streamlined and transparent application process.

Property Managers

8 Tenant Screening Red Flags for Property Managers

One of the most challenging parts of renting out a property is deciding who to choose as a tenant. We all want tenants who are clean, punctual, and who treat our property like it was their own. But it can be hard to find that person based just on an application and meeting them for a few minutes during the property tour.

Luckily, there are some solid red flags you can look out for that will help you weed out the troublesome tenants. Read on to learn what property managers to look for during the tenant screening process so you get the best renter for your property.

Negative Experiences with a Previous Property Managers

One of the biggest red flags you should look out for when trying to find good tenants is a negative experience with a previous landlord. Of course, there are two sides to every story, and it’s possible your prospective tenant wound up with one of the rare bad apples in terms of propProperty Managererty managers. But it’s much more likely that they were the source of at least some of the trouble and that those problems will continue into your relationship with them. 

Obviously, previous evictions should be a serious mark against any previous tenant unless they can show a good reason why it wasn’t their fault. And while negative landlord references can be a red flag, you should also double-check ultra-positive landlord references. Your potential tenant may have enlisted a friend to pretend to be a previous landlord and write them a glowing letter of recommendation. 

Showing Up with a Crowd in Tow

While most people prefer to bring at least one other person with them apartment hunting, be wary of people who show up with a crowd. If nothing else, this can make it hard for you to figure out who’s actually going to be living in the apartment. But it can also indicate that your potential tenant either isn’t independent or has a potentially troublesome circle of friends or family.

When a potential tenant shows up with a crowd in tow, ask who will actually be signing the lease. This will help you direct questions and discussions toward the actual tenant. You can also start to get a sense for if this potential tenant will have non-renters crashing at their place four or five nights a week or more.

Showing Up Late

As with any interview, showing up late is never a good sign for the quality of your potential tenant. You want a tenant who’s excited to rent your property and eager to prove to you that they’ll be a good renter. And, of course, punctuality will be important when it comes to paying rent and moving out on time.

If your potential tenant shows up late for your appointment, pay close attention to how they react to the situation. If they seem stressed, apologize for their tardiness, and have a good reason (even if it’s relatively vague) for being late, proceed with a cautious, but open, mind. If they seem unbothered by being late, you may want to go ahead and cross this person off your list.

Hard to Communicate With

In many ways, the application, interview, and tour process are a glimpse into what you can expect renting to this tenant to be like. You want to make sure your tenants are easy to reach when questions or problems come up with the property. This will be especially important when the tenant is moving out of your property. 

Pay attention to how easy it is to communicate with your applicants during the screening process. Do they respond to your messages promptly and with reasonable answers? If they take forever to respond or communicating with them gives you a headache, you may want to look for another tenant.

Rushing to Move In 

Another red flag to watch out for is an applicant who seems desperate to move into your property as soon as possible. Of course, they may have a perfectly legitimate reason for moving quickly – maybe they just moved to town for a new job or they’re trying to escape an abusive situation. But it may be an indication that they’re bad tenants skipping out on a previous landlord or similar.

Pay close attention to applicants who are asking to move in within a week or two. Don’t write them off completely, but take stock of the rest of the impression they give off, and look for other red or green flags. If they have a history of evictions, their reference letters are a little too good to be true, and they’re hard to communicate with, put them at the bottom of your list.

Lying on the Application

Of course, lying on the rental application is a major red flag for any tenant, and some lies are easy to spot. We’ve already discussed fake landlord recommendations, but you may run into a few other common lies from applicants. It’s a good idea to start by double-checking their references and listed employer to make sure they’re legitimate.

When the potential applicant shows up for their tour, pay attention to whether they have animal hair on their clothes. If they claimed not to have a pet on their application, ask if they live with a friend or family member who has an animal. If they say no, it could be a sign that they’re lying about other things, too.

Learn More About Tenant Screening

The tenant screening process can be tricky as you try to weed out the bad apples from the good people who are looking for a fresh start. In general, keep an eye out for people who seem dishonest, apathetic, or hard to communicate with. Previous evictions are, of course, a bad sign, and lying on the application doesn’t bode well for the future.

If you’d like to learn more about tenant screening, check out the rest of our site at RentSafe. We are the tenant screening platform that gets vacancies filled faster. Check out our solutions for property managers today and start screening tenants the easy way.

rental property costs

How to Estimate Your Rental Property Costs

As we’ve all witnessed, the real estate market has experienced an unprecedented boom in recent years. In fact, the median home price in 2021 across the United States was approximately $350,000!

Before prices continue to climb even higher, many people are looking to secure a rental property that helps them generate passive income. Many people are unsure of how to accurately estimate rental property costs, though.

Doing so is essential when it comes to getting the highest return on your investment. Let’s take a look at some of the key details you should keep in mind when calculating rental property expenses.

Property Taxes

Tax rates on rental properties can vary greatly from city to city.

In order to estimate your property taxes, you’ll need to know the assessed value of your rental home. You will need to check your local laws and regulations to determine this number. There can also be a large difference between homes located in different states.

This means that those who are looking to purchase a rental property in a different state should not assume that tax rates are similar to their home state.

Property Maintenance and Repairs

Rental homes require regular maintenance just like any other property. In order to budget for repairs, you should anticipate spending 1-2% of the rental’s value each year.

Some of the most common issues include plumbing complications and electrical problems. You may also encounter miscellaneous damages like broken windows. Put simply, you can’t assume that you will never have to pay for maintenance or repairs.

This is true even if you have stellar tenants in your home. Regardless, you should always conduct proper tenant screening to ensure that you get the best tenants possible. This will help minimize the chances of these complications occurring.

Factors to consider when screening tenants include work history, rental history, and whether or not they have a criminal record.

Home Insurance

Your rental property will always need its own home insurance policy.

The cost of this policy will depend on the size and value of your rental, as well as your deductible amount. It’s also worth noting that you will have to purchase private mortgage insurance if you own less than 20% equity in your rental property.

To help put this into context, let’s assume that you purchase a home for $500,000.

A down payment that is 20% of this total amount would be $50,000. If you only put for the down payment of $25,000, you will need to purchase private mortgage insurance. This is simply done to protect the lender from borrowers who may not be able to make their mortgage payments over time.

The good news is that you no longer need private mortgage insurance once you reach 20% equity. This can allow you to generate higher profits in the future.

Management Fees

If you’re not going to be managing the rental property yourself, you’ll need to budget for management fees. These fees will vary depending on the property managers you work with.

More often than not, they are negligible compared to the amount of work you would need to do if you handled your property on your own. Hiring a reputable rental property management company will ensure that you make the most money while minimizing your burden.

This is one of the key elements that you need to consider when looking to accurately estimate expenses for rental properties — be sure you don’t overlook it.

Vacancy Rates and Losses

All rental properties experience vacancies at some point. In order to account for this, you should assume that your rental will be vacant for at least 10% of the year.

This means that you will need to cover all costs during this period, such as your mortgage payment and utility fees.

Ongoing vacancies can quickly eat into your profits. In fact, it’s often a rental property owner’s worst nightmare to have a vacancy that lasts for months. So, it’s in your best interest to do all that you can to minimize them.

As previously mentioned, working with a property manager can help you do so. They achieve this by marketing your property and securing tenants as quickly as possible.

It’s not uncommon for top-tier property management companies to find tenants within a month of a vacancy occurring. In some cases, you might find that you never deal with a vacancy longer than 30 days throughout the entire year.

Keep the 50% Rule in Mind

So, what is the 50% rule? In essence, it’s a helpful guideline to use when estimating rental property costs.

This rule suggests that your annual mortgage and interest payments, as well as insurance and property taxes, should not exceed 50% of your rental income.

In order to estimate your rental’s monthly operating expenses, you’ll need to factor in vacancy rates, repairs, management fees, and utilities. Once you have all of these numbers, add them up and divide by 12 to get your monthly estimate.

Having a rental property with expenses that exceed 50% of your income often isn’t worth the investment. Even if minor contingencies arise, you might find yourself barely breaking even. So, it’s in your best interest to minimize expenses as much as possible.

Estimating Accurate Rental Property Costs Is Essential

By following these tips, you can ensure that you’re calculating rental property costs accurately and making the most prudent financial decisions for your investment. From here, you will be able to maximize your returns and minimize your risks.

Want to learn more about what we have to offer? Feel free to get in touch with us at Rent Safe today and see how we can help with your tenant screening needs.

Is hiring property managers worth the cost?

Hiring Property Managers: Cost-Benefit Analysis & Breakdown

For those who are looking to increase their wealth, owning real estate, and renting out your properties, is one of the best ways to do so. However, it’s often impractical for people to manage their own rental units.

Obligations related to your job, family, and social life often get in the way, so the need to hire outside help often arises. But, are property managers worth hiring to run your rental property? Let’s take a look at what you should know about the costs you can expect hiring a property management firm.

Setup Fees

Under most circumstances, property managers will charge their clients a setup fee. This allows them to cover the costs involved with getting your property ready for rent.

These often include initial inspections, welcome materials for your tenants, and the labor associated with setting up your account with the property management company. You should be wary of property management companies that charge exorbitant setup fees. In general, this expense shouldn’t be more than a few hundred dollars.

If you find that a property manager attempts to charge you well over this amount, they are highly likely a predatory company that you should avoid at all costs. 

When searching for one to work with, you should consider the past reviews the property management company has. This will provide insight into the type and quality of service that you can expect from them.

Management Fees

The ongoing management fees property managers charge will vary depending on the size and scope of your property.

Generally, they’ll take a percentage of your rent revenue in exchange for managing everything from finding tenants to handling monthly bookkeeping. This fee will vary depending on who you work with, making it imperative that you take the time to screen multiple property management companies.

Finding the right company can save you a great deal of money in the long run, and you can then reinvest this money into your property to make it more valuable.

Marketing and Advertising Fees

As you might guess, you won’t get very far when it comes to renting out your property if you don’t let people know that this space is available. In order to find the best tenants for your property, many property managers will charge a marketing and advertising fee.

This covers all of the costs associated with putting your property on websites, in print publications, and even sending mailers out to potential renters. This could also involve hiring a real estate agent. Many rental property management firms also leverage online advertising to help find tenants as quickly as possible.

This also goes a long way toward minimizing (or even eliminating) vacancies. Again, this expense can vary widely depending on the company you work with, making it important that you compare rates before making a decision.

budgeting for leasing fees

Leasing Fees

Renting out your property is not as easy as simply showing it to prospective tenants. You need to ensure that their information (including credit scores, proof of income, rental history, and employment status) checks out before you have them sign an agreement. If a tenant decides to break his or her lease early for any reason, you’ll need to find someone else who’s willing to take over the space immediately.

This process will often involve advertising fees once again along with the administrative costs associated with re-renting your property quickly. Vacancies can cause a large number of additional headaches, and they often lead to significant losses for property owners.

Having the capability to minimize tenant churn rate is something that simply cannot be overlooked.

Maintenance Costs

In addition to the fees mentioned above, you can also expect to pay for things like repairs and maintenance.

Many property managers have preferred vendors they work with when it comes to these services. It’s important that you ask your property manager about this before anything goes wrong with your property. Otherwise, you could be on the hook for a hefty repair bill.

This is a situation you want to avoid, as home repairs are often notably expensive. This is particularly true involving issues related to wiring or plumbing.

Property maintenance is a necessary component that comes with owning rental property. However, hiring a property manager can take some of this burden off your shoulders.

Eviction Charges

One of the last situations you want to be able to address as a property owner is evicting a problem tenant. It can be a stressful and expensive process under most circumstances.

In some instances, you may be required to evict a tenant who doesn’t pay his or her rent. If this happens, your property manager will handle the labor associated with the eviction.

This is a key part of their service, as this obligation can be complex and potentially overwhelming for those who attempt to manage their own properties. 

In many cases, your property manager will also be responsible for finding a new tenant to take over the space. This is something that is handled under advertising and leasing costs, though, so you likely won’t encounter unexpected expenses.

So, Are Property Managers Worth It?

Under the vast majority of circumstances, yes.

Property managers will allow you to simultaneously alleviate stress and handle your property more efficiently. This, in turn, can lead to increased profits and a more relaxed lifestyle. Make sure you compare rates before making your choice. It will likely be one of the best decisions that you make as a property owner.

Want to learn more about what we have to offer? Feel free to get in touch with RentSafe today and see how we can help.

Property Management 101: Tips and Tricks for Success

Property Management 101: Tips and Tricks for Success

The property management industry alone amasses a whopping $88.4 billion each year. If you want to contribute to this overall revenue, it’s essential you learn some valuable tips to improve your property management skills.

Educating yourself is the first step to becoming the best property manager you want to be.

Read on for these must-know tricks to increase your success.

Have a Deep Understanding of the Law

Being ignorant of the law is not an excuse when any laws are breached. As a property manager, you need to have a deep understanding of the laws in your area.

This is to ensure you, landlords, and tenants are aware of the guidelines everyone must remain within.

There are several laws that cover everything you will handle as a landlord. This includes maintenance repairs and the methods you use to resolve issues with your properties.

From time to time, you need to refresh yourself on any new changes that will affect tenancy contracts or the process of eviction.

If you outsource certain parts of your property, such as maintenance, to an outside contractor, take the extra steps to check for licensing. Without the proper licensing and insurance, if a mistake is made, you will face the consequences as the property manager.

It’s because it’s your job to screen everyone before hiring them to perform any type of job at your property sites.

Screen Your Tenants

Evicting a tenant from your property can cost on average $10,000. This is precisely why you need to take the time to screen tenants and find the right ones to lease each property.

Finding the right tenant will help to set you up for success, because it means you won’t have to deal with issues like:

  • Unpaid rent
  • Property damage

Before you approve a person to move into your property, take time to check their previous renter history thoroughly. When you screen a potential tenant, you’ll find information on their standings with previous landlords.

This includes any missing or late payments and any other concerning disputes between themselves and the landlord.

You should also require the potential tenant to provide a deposit you can use to conduct a thorough background screening. Your screening process should also assess the tenant’s credit history.

After all, if the tenant isn’t able to pay their rent, you don’t want to rent your property to them because it will leave you without a source of income.

property management tip: be personable with tenants

Be Personable

As you market your properties and work with potential landlords, you must be personable yet professional. The last thing people looking for a place to rent want to deal with is someone who doesn’t know how to provide quality customer service.

Whenever you contact someone concerning your property, be confident in the information you’re sharing. And always show respect to the person you’re speaking to.

If you’ve hired a landlord, be a good boss and determine their needs before having them.

If they have issues with the screening software needed to fill the properties, upgrade your current package. Or find one that makes the overall screening process more manageable.

If tenants have issues with the property because things are breaking, ensure you take the necessary steps to upgrade each property.

In the long run, doing these things will help you remain successful and keep people occupying your properties year-round.

Know Your Stuff

Real property management means doing more than sitting behind a desk and answering the phones. You’ve got to be willing to get your hands dirty and jump in to help whenever it’s needed.

Take some time to learn different trades in areas such as maintenance or sales. This way, you can monitor your assets and spot when someone’s trying to take advantage of you.

Becoming a jack of all trades will also help you reduce some costs because you can jump in and complete tasks rather than calling someone to do it for you.

Set the Policies & Stick to Them

If you change your policy for one tenant or property employee, you’ll have to make the change for everyone. Before you begin onboarding people and accepting property tenants, create policies and procedures you expect to follow and abide by.

For example, if a tenant has something in their apartment break, they need to know the process of submitting a maintenance request and the timeframe it will take to have their message answered. With a procedure like this in place, it reduces the number of calls to the office, which can deter the repairs from being completed in a timely manner.

You should also have routines for things like paying rent. Instead of speaking with each tenant to collect their rent payments, find ways to streamline the process.

For example, you can provide an online payment system for tenants to submit their rent and set up an account to send notifications before rent is due.

As the commercial property management provider, this is another way to foster the relationships between yourself and the tenants.

Property Management 101: Setting Property Management Companies Up for Success

When you work in property management, it’s crucial that everything you do helps to improve your property standings. With the tips and tricks we’ve provided, you’ll increase your occupancy rate by taking the time to understand the property laws in your area and find the right tenants.

Speaking of finding the right tenants, do you have a screening process yet? There’s no need to worry, contact RentSafe and let us help you find the right tenant every time.

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