Property Managers

A property with a “For Rent” sign on the front.

Rental Listing Website Trends 101: Hip or Hype?

The advancement of technology and the rise of the sharing economy are spurring property managers and landlords to leverage rental listing websites to expose their properties to a wider audience. 

Classified ads in the local newspaper or word-of-mouth were the primary means of marketing a rental property, once upon a time. Today’s property managers have the advantage of many online tools at their disposal to reach potential tenants.

Finding a rental property has also changed dramatically, with potential tenants using rental listing websites as their primary search tool. These sites offer several advantages for tenants and property managers, including greater exposure, screening tools, and detailed listings.

Not all rental property listing websites are created equal, though. Some sites offer greater exposure and more features than others, and with new sites popping up, it can be hard to keep track of the latest trends. 

Let’s take a look, then, at the top property rental websites and what makes them the best choice for property managers. This comprehensive guide will walk you through these sites, their benefits, and the best ones to use.

What Are Rental Listing Websites, and How Do They Work?

These sites are online platforms that allow property managers and landlords to list their rental properties to target a wider audience of potential tenants. The landlord or property owner will create an account on the site and post detailed information about their rental property, including:

  • Monthly rent price
  • Square footage
  • Photos of the interior and exterior
  • Number of bedrooms and bathrooms
  • Special features or amenities
  • Pet policy
  • Contact information

The listing will go live on the site once it’s verified, and potential tenants can browse properties that match their needs, budget, and location. The rental listing company will notify the landlord or property manager when a potential tenant is interested in their rental property and provide them with the interested party’s contact information.

Benefits of Rental Listing Property Websites

Landlords are always highly motivated to fill their rental units as quickly as possible to minimize vacancy loss, given the 46.9% average turnover rate. What better way to do that than by listing your rental property on a rental listing website? Here are some of the top benefits of these sites:

1. Increased Exposure

These sites give you access to a wider pool of potential tenants, which means your rental property will get more exposure than if you were to list it on classified ads or through word-of-mouth.

2. 24/7 Availability

Rental listing sites are available online 24/7, making it easier for potential tenants to browse rental properties at their convenience.

3. Detailed Listings

Most of these sites allow landlords to include detailed information about their rental properties, which helps potential tenants learn more about the property and decide if it’s a good fit for their needs.

4. Saves Time and Money

Leveraging a listing site is a more efficient and cost-effective way to find tenants than traditional methods like classified ads or word-of-mouth. It’s also free to list your rental property on most of these websites, saving you time and money you can channel to other areas of your business.

5. Access to Tenant Screening Tools

Many rental listing websites offer tenant screening tools, which landlords can use to run background checks on potential tenants, including their rental history, and weed out any unsavory characters. This helps landlords save time and money by only interviewing qualified candidates. Lack of proper tenant screening can cost landlords thousands of dollars in damages and lost rent.

The benefits of these sites ultimately serve to improve both landlord and renter experience, saving them time, effort, and potential headaches down the road. It is also important for both parties to use the top websites available, as this will play a role in finding the ideal tenant-landlord partnership. 

The Best Rental Listing Websites

Choosing the right website is essential to the success of your rental property business. All of these websites have different features, sizes, listing categories, ease of use, and pricing plans, so selecting the one that best suits your needs is important. Below is a comprehensive list of some of the best listing sites available, complete with their key features and pricing:

1. Zillow

One of the most popular rental listing sites is Zillow and its unrivaled breadth and depth of data. It boasts the largest inventory with over 135 million homes and apartments for rent or sale, most site traffic, and built-in tenant screening tools. 

Zillow offers a first free listing for landlords but charges $9.99 weekly for additional listings. Landlords and property managers can upload 3-D view virtual tours, high-quality photos, and video walkthroughs to increase the visibility of their rental listings. Listing on Zillow is a relatively easy process and can be completed in minutes:

  • Create an account on Zillow
  • Add a detailed description of your rental property, including high-quality photos and virtual tours
  • Set your monthly rental price
  • Add your contact information
  • Publish your listing

Zillow’s mobile app allows landlords and property managers to add, edit, update, screen tenants, and communicate with applicants on the go. Renters pay a monthly fee of $29 to access unlimited listings for 30 days. 

Zillow offers many great features for landlords such as collecting rent, but managing security deposits and pet fees is a hassle and the property can’t be categorized to a specific neighborhood.

2. Apartments.com 

The rental listing site Apartments.com has been touted as the best website to attract qualified tenants. It has over 1 million listings, detailed property descriptions with high-quality photos, and is a go-to website for renters looking for apartments, condos, and homes. 

Apartments.com has a network of seven sister sites, including ForRent.com, Apartmenthomeliving.com, and ApartmentFinder.com, giving landlords more exposure to their rental listings. Features that make Apartments.com stand out include:

  • Tenant screening for credit and background checks
  • Online tour scheduling
  • Lease signing
  • Rent collection

Property owners can capture renter attention by:

  • Tagging their rental listing by neighborhood, allowing renters to search for rental listings in their desired area
  • Completing the amenities list to let renters know what’s included in the rental unit
  • Including high-quality photos and videos to give renters a realistic view of the rental unit

The site charges renters a small fee to apply for a rental listing, ensuring landlords are attracting the right applicants. Only those serious about renting the property will apply, saving landlords time and money.

3. Avail

Relative new kid on the block Avail is one of the more recent rental listing sites, and it is quickly making a name for itself as a go-to site for landlords and property managers. Avail offers a free rental listing for landlords and property managers and a suite of powerful tools to streamline the rental process. 

Avail offers an applicant’s eviction records, advanced criminal checks, national sex offender registry checks, and global watchlist checks, turning the usual protocol of standard credit history and criminal background checks on its head. 

Avail syndicates newly created listings to other top rental listing sites like Zillow, Apartments.com, PadMapper, HotPads, Zumper, and Realtor.com, enabling property owners to reach a wider audience. Landlords can also share their listings on social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram.

Avail’s intuitive interface makes it easy for landlords to keep track of rental applications, communication, and documents. A significant downside is that Avail offers a limited list of filters potential applicants can use to search for rental listings.

Avail has a free unlimited plan for landlords, which charges tenants $2.50 per bank transfer, and an Unlimited Plus, which costs a property owner $5 per month. Nationwide criminal background and credit history checks cost $30 each or $55 as a bundle, which the renter pays.

The top choices for rental listing sites and the benefits they offer can help guide both landlords and renters to find their perfect match, but landlords would be wise to add to their peace of mind by working with the professionals.

Streamline Your Rental Business with RentSafe

Juggling between rental property management, finding and screening tenants, and collecting rent can be a handful for property owners. RentSafe offers a suite of powerful tools to help landlords streamline their rental business by allowing property managers to add unlimited properties, screen tenants, and collect rent payments, all in one place.

Creating a listing on RentSafe takes one click of a button, allowing you to send a link to an applicant so they can create their account. Real-time alerts allow you to view the whole process on the Property Manager dashboard and get notified when an applicant starts the application, completes it, or if there is any activity on a file. 

Give us a call today to speak to one of our experts about how we can help you manage your rental business more efficiently.

A hand holding a magnet attracting money from a family home.

Top 7 Signs You Need to Start Using Rent Collection Services

Ask any landlord and they’ll tell you that rent collection is one of the most challenging and time-consuming aspects of property management. Tracking down late payments, sending out reminder notices, and dealing with the occasional tenant who doesn’t pay can make a landlord’s job even more difficult, so, it’s easy to see why so many property managers dread rent day.

Rent collection services can offer you major relief if you’re one of the many landlords finding that rent collection has become almost a full-time job. These services make it easy for tenants to pay rent online and help landlords keep track of payments, late fees, and evictions. 

Online rent collection services offer a range of features to help landlords with their rent collection needs, including online payments, tenant screening, and rent history checks.  Read on to learn what rent collection services are and delve into the 7 signs you should start using rent collection services for landlords.

What Are Rent Collection Services?

The term rent collection services may lead to think of a company that specializes in collecting late or unpaid rent. That’s certainly one aspect of rent collection services, but there’s much more to it. 

Companies that offer rent collection services provide a wide range of rent-related services to landlords, including online rent payments, automatic late fees, and rent debt collection services.

These services make it easy for tenants to pay rent online and offer landlords a host of features to help them manage their rental properties. Many rent collection services also provide screening services, so landlords can run background checks on potential tenants before they move in.

The best online rent collection services offer a wide range of features to landlords and tenants alike. RentSafe, for example, has an intuitive online platform that’s easy to use for both landlords and tenants. The results are real-time, so you always have the most up-to-date information. 

A tenant screening toolkit can get you access to detailed reports on each applicant, including criminal and eviction checks, full credit reports, income verification, and pet documentation, among other vital information.

Top 7 Signs You Need Rent Collection Services

Efficient and timely rent collection is vital to the success of any rental property business. It can be challenging to keep track of everything, though, especially if you have multiple properties. Here are 7 signs you need to start using rent collection services:

1. You’re Constantly Chasing Down Late Payments

Let’s face it. One of the most frustrating things about being a landlord is chasing down late payments. It’s time-consuming, nerve-wracking, and can take away from the time you spend on other aspects of your business.

Rent collection services can help if you find yourself constantly chasing down late payments. Online rent collection services allow your tenants to easily pay their rent and you can set up automatic late fees if rent is not remitted on time. 

Many collection services also offer rent debt collection services to help you recoup any unpaid rent, allowing you to focus on other aspects of your business and leave the rent collection to the professionals. 

2. You Don’t Have Time to Screen Tenants Properly

Tenant screening is a critical component of rental management. Properly vetting tenants before they move in is vital to ensure they’re responsible and will take care of your property. 

Screening tenants can be time-consuming, though. You have to run background checks, verify income, and follow all tenant screening laws – and that’s just for starters. Ignoring these important steps could cause you to end up with a bad tenant who doesn’t pay rent on time or who causes damage to your property.

Rent collection services can help take the hassle out of tenant screening. Many of these services offer complete tenant screening services, so you can access detailed reports on each applicant with just a few clicks. This ensures you’re only renting to responsible, qualified tenants.

3. You’re Losing Money on Late Fees

Landlords often have to rely on tenants to remember to pay rent on time if they don’t have a rent collection service working for them. Life happens. Tenants might forget to pay rent or they might not have the money when rent is due. Landlords often lose money as a result.

Late fees help landlords recoup some of the money they lose when tenants don’t pay rent on time. Tracking down late payments and collecting late fees can be a hassle, though, with so many other tasks already competing for your attention. 

Rent collection services can help by automatically charging late fees when payments are not received on time. You can also set up automatic rent reminders so your tenants always know when rent is due.

4. You Have Multiple Properties

Managing one rental property can be a full-time job, but managing multiple properties is a whole other beast. Those managing multiple properties need to keep track of rent payments, tenant screening, maintenance requests, among countless other responsibilities. This can quickly become overwhelming and make it difficult to keep track of all there is to do.

You can manage all of your properties in one place with the help of online rent collection services for landlords. RentSafe’s intuitive interface, for instance, lets you add and manage all your properties in a centralized location, so you can quickly and easily keep track of rent payments, maintenance requests, and more. Talk about convenience!

5. You’re Dealing with Troublesome Tenants

Most tenants are responsible and respectful, but there are always a few bad apples. Problematic tenants can cause all sorts of problems, from not paying rent on time to damaging your property or otherwise violating the terms of their lease. Dealing with these tenants can be a real headache and take up too much of your time and energy.

Partnering with a rent collection service can relieve some of the stress of dealing with problematic tenants, including helping to streamline eviction. The rent collection service can automatically charge a late fee if a tenant doesn’t pay rent on time, and if they violate the terms of their lease, you can quickly and easily start the eviction process.

6. You’re Sick of Dealing with Paperwork

Fewer and fewer people are using paper checks anymore, as so many of us have realized what a hassle they are compared to paying online. You must keep track of all the checks, deposit them on time, and ensure they don’t get lost. This is a huge and unnecessary waste of time and energy!

Thankfully, you can say goodbye to paper checks with online rent collection services. Online rent collection allows tenants to pay rent with a credit, debit card, or an Automated Clearing House (ACH) transfer. The best part? The rent is automatically deposited into your account, so you don’t have to worry about losing any rent checks.

7. You Want to Save Time

It takes a great deal of time and effort to manage a rental property, from screening tenants to collecting rent to dealing with maintenance requests. There’s always something that needs to be done, and things like dealing with problematic tenants and those who have defaulted on their rent can push you over the edge.

Rent collection services can help by automating time-consuming tasks, including setting up automatic rent reminders and late fees. You can also use online rent payment and paperless rent collection to save even more time.

Renter statistics show that 83% of tenants say they would pay rent online if their landlord offered it as an option. This, coupled with their ease and convenience, should make the decision to use an online rent collection service the obvious choice. 

Contact RentSafe for Professional and Reliable Rent Collection Services

Managing your rental property can be overwhelming, especially when you have so many other things to focus on. Rent collection can be a breeze with the right professionals by your side!

RentSafe offers reliable and professional rent collection services that take the hassle out of rent collection. With online rent payment, automatic rent reminders and late fees, and paperless rent collection, we make it easy for landlords to collect rent and manage their properties. If you’re looking for a rent collection service that can help save you time and money, contact RentSafe today to speak to an expert.

Smart Background Checks

What Are Smart Background Checks and How Can Landlords Take Advantage of Them?

You know that there are a ton of expenses that come with renting out your property. The last thing you want to deal with is evicting a tenant for breaching the lease. That’s why solid tenant screening tools are critical.

If you haven’t yet taken advantage of smart background checks, you’re missing out on great tools to screen potential tenants. What are smart background checks, though, and how can they help you weed out bad tenants?

In this article, we’ll cover everything you need to know about them, including whether potential tenants can opt out of a smart background check. Read on to learn all about smart background checks!

What are Smart Background Checks?

Smart Background Checks is run by an online data broker that retains and distributes sensitive information about individuals online. The company sells that information to any individual who asks for it, but they have also sold information for advertising or data in order to net a profit. 

The company that runs Smart Background Check has a database with nearly a billion records pulled from around 2,000 sources. All you need to run a Smart Background Check is a name or cell phone number. In return, you’ll receive information about an individual’s location history, employment history, and whether they have any public records or aliases.

Benefits of Smart Background Checks for Landlords

As a landlord, you know that you need to post ads in order to generate interest in your property. Unfortunately, those ads also come with a lot of wasted time when people who aren’t serious or qualified inquire. One of the biggest benefits of Smart Background Checks for landlords is that you can screen people before they ever come in to see the property. 

You don’t have to stop contact with potential tenants based on the results of your background check. It can help you steer conversations, however. Lead with information about how to qualify for the apartment, and ask if they meet that criteria before they see the property.

How Can Landlords Take Advantage of Them?

All you need to utilize Smart Background Checks is to navigate to the Smart Background Checks website. The website consists of a simple form that allows you to put in as little or as much information as you have. You can put in the person’s full name, phone number, or address, and then select search. 

After you hit search, it’ll take you to a listing of results, the majority of which contain free background reports. You’ll select the person you’re searching for, and you’ll have access to a host of information about them. 

Why Should Landlords Use Them?

One of the biggest reasons landlords should consider using Smart Background Checks is because it’s one of the only types of background checks that won’t cost you a dime. In fact, they can actually help you save money in the long term.

Why?

They’re a great way to pre-screen tenants to determine whether you want to spend time on them. Imagine if you received a phone call or email from a potential tenant, ran a Smart Background Check on them, and determined that they were unlikely to be a qualified tenant. You could use your time to work with qualified tenants, instead.

What Are the Limitations of Smart Background Checks?

The company behind Smart Background Checks collects data from a variety of sources, but they don’t do any work to verify that the data is completely accurate. Information from other people with similar names might get mixed into the results of the person you’re searching for. 

The dates are estimated, as well as the things like education and employment history. You also won’t be able to obtain information about their credit history or verify their income through Smart Background Checks. For this reason, you shouldn’t rely on Smart Background Checks to make decisions about approving tenants for rentals.

Can People Opt Out of a Smart Background Check?

In short, yes. 

Many people consider the information available on a Smart Background Check to be a security risk. After all, much of the information obtained might lead to things like identity theft if it falls into the wrong hands. For that reason, people can and do frequent opt out of Smart Background Checks. 

The owner of the service makes the opt-out process quick and straightforward to complete. Expect many of your tenants to have opted out of the service if they’re aware of it. For this reason, it’s important not to immediately discount your applicants if you aren’t able to pull up their information through the service.

What Other Ways Can Landlords Screen Tenants?

Smart Background Checks is a publicly available service that literally anyone can use. It’s a great way to get a feel for who your potential tenants are, but it won’t give you the whole picture. It also won’t give you the peace of mind that comes with using a professional tenant screening service.  

Reliable tenant screening services give you all of the information that Smart Background Checks gives you, but with more reliable results. This is primarily because tenant screening services have the consent of the tenant to check their background, giving you access to more information, including their credit report and income verification. 

You can also check to see if a tenant has been evicted in the past or has criminal charges. It’s a custom set of data created to help you determine whether a potential tenant is a good fit for your property.

Use Smart Background Checks to Find the Perfect Tenants!

Smart Background Checks are a great way to get started with the tenant screening process when you’re trying to rent out your properties. It does have its limitations, however, as a tenant can opt out of a smart background check. Be sure to buff your screening process with additional screening tools to ensure that you find the perfect renters for your property!

Do you want to learn about more great ways you can make your life as a landlord easier? That’s what we’re here for. Contact us today to learn how we can help you! 

Property Management

Real Estate Property Management: The Screening Tools You Need to Know

It might surprise you to learn that houses in the United States now cost over $350,000 on average. As a result, it’s become more difficult than ever before for first-time homebuyers to find a place of their own.

Those who currently own property, though, will likely find that their home is worth exponentially more than what they purchased it for. For this reason, many people are now choosing to rent out houses they own to tenants.

Every property manager needs to know about the available screening tools, but not everybody knows where to start.

We’ve created a brief guide that can help you avoid common issues. Let’s dive into everything you need to know about the management screening process.

Eviction History Screening

One of the most important aspects of screening your tenants is checking their eviction history. This will give you a good idea of whether or not they are likely to cause problems in the future. Even a single incident where you neglect this information could cost you a lot of money in the long run, so make sure you prioritize it!

Credit Screening

Another important element of screening tenants is checking their credit scores. This will give you an idea of their financial stability and whether or not they are likely to make timely rent payments.

Credit scores are often used in combination with other factors to determine a tenant’s eligibility. Regardless, it’s crucial that you take it into consideration.

This could go a long way toward determining how financially reliable your renters will be.

Criminal Background Check

You’ll also want to run a background check on your potential tenants. This will help you verify their identity and ensure that they don’t have any criminal convictions in their past.

While this information is public, it can be difficult to track down on your own. Although not everyone with a past conviction will prove to be an issue, it’s often recommended to disqualify tenants who do not pass a background check. Not only could this cause a problem for you as a landlord, but it could also put the surrounding community at risk.

Fortunately, there are plenty of services that can help you with this due to how essential this type of screening is.

Integrated Property Management Software

As you might guess, it’s crucial that you use software that allows you to seamlessly manage all of your properties and tenants.

This software should have a centralized database where you can input all of your data and access it easily. By using comprehensive software like this, you will be able to see all of the essential tenant information in a single location. For instance, high-quality software should have a dashboard that allows you to view which checks your tenants passed.

You can then make your decision based on this data, allowing you to save plenty of time during the process. Additionally, the best property management software will offer features like online applications and payments, automatic rent collection, and maintenance requests.

These features will make your life as a property manager much easier and will help you keep your properties in top condition. Be sure that you keep this in mind when moving forward.

What Are Common Tenant Screening Mistakes Landlords Make?

One of the most common mistakes is failing to check the above criteria. Foregoing even one of these factors could leave you with a suboptimal tenant experience.

However, many landlords also neglect to use the ideal software for tenant screening. When searching for a program to use, be sure to consider the reputation of the developer. A quick Google search can provide insight into how past customers feel about a particular software.

Additionally, make sure that the software offers a centralized database and user-friendly interface. If the software is not intuitive, you will not be able to get the most out of it.

What Red Flags Should I Watch Out For?

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that you should avoid software that has a negative reputation.

However, you should also be wary of programs that do not have features that are able to meet your needs. For instance, there may be screening software out there that offers credit check capabilities but is not able to run a comprehensive background check.

A situation you want to avoid is paying for software only to discover that you aren’t able to get your money’s worth.

Customer service is another attribute that you need to be aware of. Inevitably, you will likely encounter situations where you need guidance from the software provider.

If it is not easy for you to get in touch with them, you’ll need to resolve the problems on your own. Depending on the situation, this could be difficult or impossible. Regardless, it will cost you extra time to do so without help from a professional.

What Are Other Key Features I Should Consider?

In addition to the above, you should also look for software that allows you to create and provide rental applications through tenants. This will help make the renting process much easier for everyone involved.

Of course, you should only ever use software that has a sufficient level of security. Unfortunately, the cybercrime industry is projected to be worth over $10 trillion by the beginning of 2030.

Some of the most lucrative targets for hackers are individuals and businesses that deal with tenant data. Even a single data breach could cause a large number of issues, and you could face legal complications in the future if you do not go out of your way to protect this sensitive information.

Every Property Manager Needs the Above Tools

It might seem difficult at first to integrate these property manager tools, but it’s easier than you might expect it to be. Ensure that you keep the above guidelines in mind so you can avoid problems you may have encountered.

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

tenant screening for realtors

Tenant Screening for Realtors: Top Opportunities and Services

When a property investor works with a realtor to buy a rental property, it’s a logical step to have that same realty company serve as property managers for the rental.

As an add-on service for clients, it makes a nice side revenue stream. Many investors see the benefit of listing their rentals with their realtor since that person is on location, knows the market, and has access to local resources to take care of problems.

One resource you might be subscribed to is a service to do tenant screening for realtors. Whether you take care of everything related to the rental or only run the occasional tenant background check, such a service makes the process fast and efficient.

But you have a lot of options for realtor tenant screening. Let’s look at some of the top services you might choose among.

What to Consider When Assessing Tenant Screening Services

Ideally, a service will handle everything for you from the application to a detailed report to compliance with housing laws. It makes it easy to get up to speed on how to screen tenants as well.

As you consider services, keep these features in mind:

  • Online application
  • Screening fee
  • Customizable criteria
  • Credit score
  • Credit report
  • Criminal background check
  • Address history
  • Eviction history
  • Turnaround time

Take note of how much the screening fee is and whether the service expects you or the applicant to pay for it. You should also confirm that the criminal background check is being done with a national search and not just a local one. And with all of these, the turnaround time to get the data should only be a few hours so you can quickly make your tenant selection.

Listing and Application

Screening starts with getting potential tenants interested in your property with a great listing. You can then direct them to fill out an application from there. Some services like RentSafe and Apartments.com are attached to property listings, while others are separate and require you to send the application manually.

In either case, you want there to be an online application option, which reduces the risk of errors and saves you time. It also makes it easy to ensure you gather the same information and do the same checks on every potential tenant. Note that some services like MyRental have you fill in all the information rather than the applicant.

Services like RentSafe allow you to customize the entire application process to set screening requirements by property. This includes required credit scores or your pet policy. You can also require documentation to be uploaded with the application, such as reference letters or vet records.

Most screening services require the tenant to pay the screening fee when they submit their application. Some like RentPrep and American Apartment Owners Association only offer the option to have the tenant pay the fee with certain higher-level packages.

Approval of the application can vary between services as well. RentSafe and MyRental offer one-click approval from the dashboard, and RentSpree includes an approve/deny ability in its free package. 

Report Breakdown

You’ll find a wide variety when it comes to the reports you can get on each applicant. The three basic types cover finances, rental background, and criminal history. But even within those basics, you’ll find differences among the various screening services.

Financial reports cover credit score, credit report, and income verification. Most services like RentSafe pull this information from Transunion. MyRental only states that it gets the data from one of the big three credit reporting agencies.

RentPrep and MyRental have their own scoring systems that combine outside factors with credit factors to predict who would make a good tenant. The concept is meant to help landlords look past the credit score in evaluating potential renters.

When it comes to background checks, you want them to be as thorough as possible. This means eviction history along with criminal history. The best searches will also be pulled from national databases rather than state or county.

RentSafe’s report covers national criminal and eviction searches along with a residency report with all previous addresses. All this comes in a summary report that allows you to make a quick yes/no decision or to click through for more detail. RentSpree has access to national criminal records including the sex offender registry and state databases.

RentPrep’s background check package includes an eviction report, address history, and bankruptcies at a lower cost. You can add on to that package separately priced items like a national criminal search or income verification.

The AAOA has a similar situation where criminal checks are only available for some packages. The lower-priced ones only include records searches for a single state rather than a national search. You also only get national eviction history and sex offender searches with the highest-priced packages.

Additional Features

Several services offer add-on reports and checks to supplement the standard ones. But extra features on the platform serve to make screening and management easier.

One such is the ability to access all the information through a mobile app or interface. Services like RentSafe make it easy to send a link to the application through email or text so the tenants can apply on their phones.

Apartments.com offers features you might want for property management like leases and rent collection. The AAOA has an underwriting function that lets you get special approval that eliminates the need to get permission from applicants to run credit checks.

Find Great Tenant Screening for Realtors

Realtors across the country have expanded their services to include managing client properties and finding tenants for them. A key piece of that is fielding applications and conducting tenant screening, including criminal, background, and credit checks. With so many services to choose from, it’s important to compare the ease of use, workflow, and available options.

Interested in learning more about how our platform handles tenant screening for realtors? Contact us to schedule a live demo with our co-founder to see it in action.

Louisiana eviction laws

Louisiana Eviction Laws 2021 vs 2022, What’s Changed?

Louisiana has always been a tough place to be a renter as rents rose 49 percent in the past 20 years at the same time incomes took an 8 percent cut. In New Orleans, the overall eviction rate is almost double the national rate, while some neighborhoods hit closer to four times the rate.

The rental laws there have always favored landlords, but more tenant activism is leading to changes, including to the Louisiana eviction laws. While the changes are small and slow, the upheaval of the past two years has shone a bright light on the laws and actions of landlords.

Let’s take a look at what’s changed recently and how the process works today.

Changes to Louisiana Eviction Laws

Louisiana eviction laws in 2021 had no changes made, but two big events did influence changes to come. The end of the CDC eviction moratoriums in August meant more eviction cases would hit the courts. Hurricane Ida hit land a few weeks later and highlighted an issue with renters being kicked out of their homes after they evacuated.

One real change to the Louisiana eviction laws in 2022 comes in House Bill 160, which passed both houses and is awaiting the governor’s signature. The bill was the direct result of landlords pushing tenants out of liveable apartments after Hurricane Ida. Many of these tenants evacuated and returned home to find their belongings tossed and locks changed.

HB 160 would prevent eviction for those tenants who are forced to leave their homes for up to 30 days. It applies to areas that receive a federal disaster declaration.

The bill also adds a new penalty for landlords who try to skip the court eviction process. Illegal evictions would result in a payment of the greater of $500 or twice the amount of monthly rent.

While rental assistance programs took a while to get off the ground, they provided relief for landlords and tenants alike. Louisiana was one of six states that passed rules to govern the behavior of landlords who accept funds from the program. These landlords agree to:

  • Not evict for past due rent from before April 2020
  • Not evict for at least 60 days after assistance ends
  • Forgive rent-related penalties, interest, and court costs incurred between April 2020 and when they got rental assistance

On the Horizon

Looking ahead, efforts continue to make further changes to the eviction laws in Louisiana. Various groups championing tenant rights push for reforms that would bring the state laws more in line with other states.

Chief among the requests are the following:

  • Default 10-day grace period for late rent payments
  • Prohibit inclusion of a clause in lease that waives the five-day notice for eviction
  • Give judges more flexibility on delaying evictions for tenants with serious hardships

Permitted Reasons for Eviction in Louisiana

The state laws generally favor landlords, who hold broad authority to evict. Most evictions fall into three categories, however:

  • Non-payment of rent
  • Violation of lease
  • End of lease/No lease

There is no legally required grace period, so rent is late the day after it’s due. The landlord has to provide a five-day notice to pay if they want to pursue eviction. The process stops if the tenant gets the rent paid, although the landlord is not required to allow them to give them the chance to pay past-due rent in full to avoid eviction.

For lease violations, the notice requirement is a five-day notice to quit. The landlord doesn’t have to provide an opportunity for the tenant to correct the violation.

Tenant-at-will situations come up at the end of a lease when the landlord doesn’t want to renew or if there is no governing lease. In these cases, the time given in the notice to quit depends on the type of tenancy.

Know the Louisiana Eviction Process

The minimal change in Louisiana eviction laws means the eviction process remains largely the same as in previous years. The process can take two-to-five weeks depending on the reason for the eviction and whether or not there is a written lease. If the tenant files an appeal, you can expect it to take much longer.

The process starts by posting notice for the tenant that the landlord will be pursuing eviction for one of the three reasons listed above. Louisiana does permit a written lease to include a waiver of the notice requirement.

Once notice is given, the landlord files a complaint with the appropriate court, which issues a rule for possession ordering the tenant to appear for an eviction hearing. The summons is served by the sheriff or constable at least two days before the hearing.

If the tenant fails to appear at the hearing, the process continues, often resulting in a default judgment for the landlord. The tenant can file an appeal of the ruling, although they still have to move out until the case is decided unless they filed a written answer to the complaint.

Once the writ of possession is issued, tenants are allowed to remove their belongings before they would be forcibly removed from the property. They typically get 24 hours to move, although the judge can extend that time.

Manage Eviction Risks With Good Screening

Getting good tenants starts with good screening, which can reduce the risk that you’ll end up in court pursuing an eviction. It starts by setting your specific criteria for tenants like credit score and income level.

Once you get the rental application, you should have all the details you need to run background and criminal checks as well as verify income. Using an application ensures you follow the same steps with every potential tenant.

Formal screening should include pulling a credit report and running a background check. These allow you to see past rental history and see what kind of tenant they might be. You want to avoid high-risk applicants who might become problem tenants that eventually require eviction.

Need Help With Screening Louisiana Tenants?

The new Louisiana eviction laws show a desire to provide better protection for tenants caught out by disasters and hold landlords accountable when they accept assistance money. The laws may continue to evolve to include further protections, which landlords need to be aware of to ensure they follow the eviction steps properly.

Looking for ways to manage your eviction risks? Our tenant screening service makes it easy for you to customize your criteria and conduct credit and background checks all from a single dashboard.

rental background checks

How Long Do Rental Background Checks Take? Exploring the Process

Most landlords in the US screen an average of 2 tenants per vacancy. If you’re a property manager taking care of multiple units, that can take a lot of time if you do it manually. There are better options to shorten the tenant screening process.

As a property manager, tenant screening is essential for finding qualified tenants for your rentals. Here are some of the steps involved in rental background checks and ideas to help you streamline the process.

Background Check Basics

Rental background checks are essentially a screening test for suitability. A landlord or property manager performs this screening to decide if a tenant is a right fit for a rental unit. The process can be complex, and it’s important not to miss any of the details.

You want to find the best tenant for your property. Tenant screening allows landlords and property managers to avoid potentially risky renters. It can take a bit of time to perform the checks, but it will save you money in the long run by preventing hassles with rent collection or damages to your unit.

You can speed things up by automating as many of these steps as possible. The rules around background checks vary in different states and municipalities. Some locations have question restrictions, and others prohibit your ability to perform a criminal records check.

It’s essential to understand what you’re allowed to ask for. Avoid violating any Fair Housing laws by performing the same background checks for all applicants, regardless of their race, nationality, sex, or other differences. You don’t want to be accused of discrimination.

Before you perform a check, the tenant must authorize it. Here are the basics of a background check.

Credit Report

An applicant’s detailed credit history may reveal amounts owed to a previous landlord. That would be a major red flag against a prospective applicant.

You can request a credit report from a reputable agency such as TransUnion or Equifax. The report will show their credit use, credit score, specific payment histories, and other account information.

Reading a credit report involves understanding the five basic components.

  1. ID information includes their name, current address, and recent employment history
  2. Fraud indicators are red flags to review carefully
  3. Tradeline summary shows active credit accounts, loans, and debt
  4. Credit score 
  5. Inquires from other companies during the past two years

A credit score is a number between 350 and 850, and it indicates someone’s credit behavior. The higher the number, the better the applicant’s credit history. 

Income Verification

This step allows a property manager to see if the applicant earns enough money to pay their rent. Most managers use a measurement standard such as a rent-to-income ratio. This ratio says someone should earn three times their monthly rent to afford to make their payment. 

Managers ask applicants to show proof of their current income level. They can provide a recent paystub or their income tax return. They may request contact information for their current employer or their previous employer if they’ve just changed jobs.

When an applicant’s income level is too low to qualify, it’s possible to allow a co-signer to guarantee the rent. Always perform a complete screening on any co-signers if you consider this step.

Resident Score

Some tenant screening reports add a resident score tailored to landlords and property managers. It assesses the reliability and level of risk for the applicant. Resident scores use these items.

  • Payment track record
  • Credit being currently used
  • Credit currently available 
  • Credit performance or history
  • Current inquiries on their record

Screeners use these five components to create a resident score which may indicate if the applicant will need eviction in the future. Generally, a resident score of over 560 is a better candidate for tenancy, although a slightly lower score is possible.

Eviction Report

Ask applicants if they have ever been evicted. There are some circumstances when the tenant may not be the one at fault, so it’s crucial to discover what caused the eviction. Document their explanation to ensure you meet local fair housing guidelines or laws.

Criminal Background Check

If you find a tenant with a criminal history, it’s best to allow them to explain the circumstances. The criminal checkreport will list any convictions, whether they were felonies or misdemeanors, and it will give details of the criminal behavior. 

You can take their explanation into account when preparing your report. Again, documentation shows that you followed the guidelines. 

Streamline the Process

If you’re asking “how long do rental background checks take,” the answer is it might be several hours or several days. The amount of time it takes depends on when an applicant gives their approval. It also depends on how organized you are and whether you try to do the steps yourself.

Prepare a checklist to help you keep on track. Use a spreadsheet or other method to track the results and update it as the data comes in. Include websites and additional information so you can request the records using each applicant’s data.

Another option is to find a service that will take care of these details for you. Some providers allow prospective tenants to submit applications online. If you use a screening service, they have the tools required to speed things up.

The online dashboard gives tenants a way to provide preliminary credit information during the application process. A property manager can add a rental listing with their specific criteria, then direct applicants to fill out their information online. 

Property managers can view applications online. Updated results are available in real time. This system keeps track of applicants, and you can mark them for follow-up or categorize them as you make your initial decisions. 

Rental Background Checks

We streamline the entire tenant application and screening process with our easy-to-use online system. Rental background checks are available in real time. You’ll be able to respond to the tenant and homeowner with results ASAP.

Contact RentSafe for the best solution to your tenant screening needs. We can help you make educated decisions on prospective renters’ qualifications.

tenant evaluation checklist

Rent Safe’s Tenant Evaluation Checklist for Property Managers

Back in 2017, the average landlord only got two applicants for a vacant rental, making it relatively easy to screen people and choose a new tenant.

With the current tight rental market, you’re likely to get twice as many in the first hour after your listing goes live. The competitive house-buying market has spilled over to create a more competitive rental market as well, particularly when rents go up and people have to move to more affordable digs.

A tenant evaluation checklist helps you manage the tide of applicants and whittle down the list to the best one for you and your property. While you might have a few unique aspects to your rental, most landlords can work from a basic list.

Let’s take a look at what you should check off when doing tenant screening.

Decide What You’re Looking For

Before you list your vacancy, start by establishing your specific tenant requirements. Some of these will allow prospective renters to self-filter because they don’t meet the minimum standards. Others give you a set of guidelines to help you filter out non-starters yourself.

These should be objective criteria such as minimum credit score or income requirements. Lifestyle factors like pets or smoking can also weed out unsuitable candidates. The more information you provide upfront, the easier it is for the right renter to find you.

Keep in mind that whatever you set at this point, you should be consistent in applying the standard across all applicants.

Tenant Screening Checklist

What should go on your checklist? The basics should help you get information about the applicant’s current situation as well as details on their history. Some of your to-do items will be to collect the information while others will be about verifying it.

Current Situation

The average rent for a one-bedroom has gone up by more than 17 percent in the last two years, which has led many to look for new places to live. As a result, you definitely want to be making sure any new tenants can afford to live in your property.

This part of your checklist should get you information about

  • Current employment
  • Income level
  • Current living situation
  • Reason for moving

Some of that can be part of the application, but you can also develop a list of pre-screening questions to use in a phone interview or during a showing of the property.

Given the competition for rentals, it’s wise to ensure every interested person fills out an application form and pays the fee. Depending on your location, the fee might be limited to the cost of running background checks.

Rent History

While past performance might not be a good indicator on Wall Street, it can help you screen renters. Some details will come up in a credit or background check, but many things might be missed if you don’t pursue the information. This part of your checklist is about finding a great tenant, not just one who meets the minimums.

With rental history, you’re looking for information on the following:

  • Positive rent payment history
  • Past evictions
  • Lease violations
  • General issues like noise complaints or property damage

Your best source for these is going to be past landlords if you can connect with them. Ask applicants for references and require at least one to be a previous landlord. When you talk to them, ask questions such as

  • Why did they leave
  • Would you rent to them again
  • How long were they there
  • Did you have any complaints
  • Were they consistent with rent
  • Did you ever start eviction proceedings

In particular, pay attention to why the landlord would or would not rent to the person again. This is where you will find the most honest and subjective impressions that go far beyond what you’ll find in a check.

Background Checks

The formal legal checks on your list should go far beyond a basic background check. You want to be confirming all the information they provided on the application, such as whether they’re really employed and how much they make.

Because not everything shows up on every report, you’ll want to look at running four different kinds of checks. These include:

  • Credit check
  • Background check
  • Criminal background check
  • Eviction check

Evictions might show up in a credit check or on the background report, but you might have to go digging for them. This is especially true when tenants are served notice but manage to remedy the issue before the eviction hearing or judgment.

It’s worth noting as well that while you can run all these checks, some locales have begun restricting the use of the information in making leasing decisions. For example, you might be able to run a criminal background check but not be allowed to consider a past conviction in making your decision about that applicant.

Landlord Tips For Screening

Whatever pieces of information you put on your checklist, it’s important to avoid some common issues that can complicate your rental business.

The most important tip is to be consistent with your screening. That means requiring the application from everyone and running the same checks on each applicant. Your questions and interview routine should also be the same each time.

Arm Yourself With a Tenant Evaluation Checklist

For any landlord, the first step to reaching good steady cash flow is to have quality tenants in your property. A thorough tenant evaluation checklist saves you time and ensures you check every piece of information needed to properly assess a potential tenant. It’ll also keep you on the right side of the fair housing laws by adding consistency to your process.

Need a better way to screen tenants for your rental property? Contact us to learn more about our user-friendly online tenant screening services and application process.

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.

What type of RentSafe account do you have?

Book a demo with our co-founder:

Or send us a message and
we'll reply within 24 hours:

Speed up your screening process by 25% or more:

Book a demo with our co-founder: