Tag Archives: landlord associations

Application to Rent – It’s all in the details

When renting to a tenant or renting to multiple tenants its extremely important to have them fill out a rental application.  Rental application form or application to rent form can sometimes be found at your local stationary store like Staples or Office Depot.  You can also obtain the form from a tenant screening company, find my list here.  Apartment Associations or some may call them landlord associations will also provide the necessary landlord forms.  There are local apartment associations and nationwide associations, you can find my lists for them here.

The Application to Rent is one of the most important pieces of information you can gather from a prospective tenant during the tenant screening process.  Any information they provide assists you with your decision to rent as well as helps you recover lost rent should they skip out (more on this later).

Here is some of the information you should be requesting from your prospective tenant or new renter when they apply for your apartment for rent or home for rent:

  • Tenant full name; include first name, middle name, last name, and any AKA’s
  • Tenant address history; ask for 7-10 years of addresses to assist you in their prior living history
  • Date of Birth; You cannot base your decision to rent on a tenant’s date of birth, however, many tenant screening reports will require this piece of information.  It will also help with the debt collection process should you need to search for them later.  Lastly the tenant’s date of birth also assists should a Jr. vs. Sr. issue ever arise.
  • Social Security Number; This is required to obtain a credit report or tenant screening background report.  The tenant’s social security number can also be used for skip tracing should they leave and owe money.  Many tenant screening companies will also provide Social Security Fraud reports, I recommend you obtain one on your prospective tenant.
  • Phone numbers.  Get their home phone, cell phone, work phone (see below), and any other phone number they will provide.  Why are so many tenant phone numbers needed?  There are 2 main reasons: (1) to let them know you want to rent to them and (2) to chase after them if the tenant leaves owing you money!
  • Work history for 7-10 years.  It’s important to know where your prospective new tenant’s income is coming from.  Do they have a job?  Where is the job?  What is the address of the job?  Their boss’s name?  The phone number to the boss?  The title of their job?  Their previous and current salary?  You want to know all of this information to help in determining if the tenant can afford your rent.  A tenant screening report or tenant background check will provide credit and criminal information as well as insight on their debt/credit,, but their current job should still be verified.  Employment information also will assist in the debt collection process should the tenant skip out owing you money!
  • Banking information is also important.  First you’ll need this information to verify the tenant has the money to pay your rent.  You want to know they can write you a check each month!  (and that it will clear!)  Plus, as I stated with other information above, this will help with the debt collection process.
  • Tenant’s Relatives and Non-Relatives.  This information is helpful for the tenant screening process and the debt collection process.  Relatives will help you confirm the type of person your new tenant is, they will also help you locate the tenant when they leave you owing rent.  Non-relatives are also important because friendships change over years.  Your tenant may list someone that, after moving out, they are no longer friends with.  That person may be more than willing to assist you in your debt collection needs.
  • Additional Occupants in the apartment.  Who else is going to reside in the unit?  What is their name?  What is their social security number and date of birth?  How are they related to your prospective tenant?  Depending on the age of the occupant you may want them to sign the rental lease too.  You should perform a tenant screening background check on every occupant over the age of 18 even if they aren’t signing a lease!
  • Pets.  Do they have any pets?  Do you even want to allow pets?  What kind of pets are they?  Age of pet?  Type of pet?  How big (weight) is the pet?  What’s the name of the pet?  You’d be surprised how often the pet “gets out” and how helpful it can be to know its name.  Or if that dog is parking all night because your tenant is gone and you can yell out to the dog.
  • What type of vehicles does the prospective tenant own or lease?  A tenant screening background check will not always show automobiles.  You should obtain the type of car, color, year, make and model.  Always know whose vehicles are parked on your property.  This includes autos for co-tenants/additional occupants.
  • Ask the hard questions!  Ask the tenant on your rental application form if they have ever been evicted from an apartment or home.  Sure many will lie and you’ll discover an eviction on their tenant screening eviction background check, but others may fear the question and not even apply — saving you time, money, and aggravation.
  • Important:  You must have a signed release from the tenant authorizing you to obtain and investigate information on them such as a tenant screening credit report, criminal background check, eviction records, etc.  The law requires this release, so don’t forget it!
  • Always have the tenant print their name and provide a signature and date.  If the application is more than 1 page, its not a bad idea to have them initial or sign the bottom of each page in the corner.

My apartment association provides rental applications for free.  You can also find landlord forms like the application to rent from some tenant screening companies.  Visit my listings to locate an apartment association by state or visit the American Apartment Owners Association, a nationwide landlord association providing larger discounts than local chapters, for the necessary landlord forms.

A Must-Have Item for Your Move-In Checklist

by David Lowe

Most tenants as with many homeowners don’t pay attention to the amount of energy they are using.

Tenants who are not responsible for paying the utility bills are traditionally least aware of their energy abuses because there is no feedback mechanism, i.e. a utility bill, to keep them honest.

Education can play a large part in changing tenant behavior. I believe if a tenant was given some simple energy saving ideas they would use them:

For instance, the placement of furniture can have a large impact on air flow in the home thus impacting how hot or cold it feels. Tenants should be told to be sure to avoid placing furniture in front of or on top of registers or return vents.

Give your tenants a tour of the appliances in the unit.  Point out how to adjust the settings for energy efficiency.  Explain how to use the programmable thermostat, how to lower the water temperature.
Another large energy waster is lighting.  Many tenants are in the habit of keeping the lights on most of the day and night — even when they are not home. Encourage the use of timers and other energy saving devices.
In vacation homes and short-term rentals, including student housing,  the easiest way to control costs is through the use of a tamper proof thermostat. Limiting how high or low a guest can set the temperature will have a large impact on saving energy usage in a vacation home.  
It is also important to monitor the energy use on the property.  You can start by assessing the current energy use of your building(s) to establish a reference using EPA’s national energy performance rating system, a free online tool that provides many types of facilities with a score on a simple 1-to-100 scale, 1 being the least efficient and 100 being the most)

Also Microsoft just launched a new website site “Hohm” to help homeowners baseline and track their energy usage.
As a long term strategy that involved capital investment, consider variable speed technology to better control fans and pumps.

David Lowe is a property manager and co-founder of ControlTemp Thermostats, providing tamper-proof programmable thermostats. Check out ControlTempThermostats.com for more information.

See our Green Forum for more energy savings tips.

American Apartment Owners Association

FHA Bailout Imminent? Chief Says “No Way!”

Reports of an FHA bailout were widespread this weekend after the House heard testimony from a former Fannie Mae exec that the agency is heading over a cliff, with $40 billion in projected losses that will have to be offset by taxpayer dollars to buffer a flailing mortgage market.

But the current FHA chief dismissed the analysis as unfounded.
At the same time, however he admits that a yet-to-be released audit will show a shortfall in reserves, below the legal limit for the agency.  In related reports, the agency’s loan default rate may be as high as 20%.
Still, the agency chief denies that FHA is in trouble.  He claims that reserves will rise, not fall short over the next two years as home prices continue to rebound. 
Speculation over FHA’s financial soundness is nothing new.  Many experts have predicted that the agency is playing it too risky by allowing low down payments when negative equity is eroding the housing market. One referred to the practice as “pseudo-subprime.”
Expert testimony concluded last week with recommendations that FHA increase down payment requirements to 10%, lower the (recently elevated) cap on loan amounts, and require lenders to co-insure FHA loans.
However, for now, lawmakers appear willing to look the the other way, and remain optimistic in the housing recovery.  As Congresswomen Maxine Waters puts it, “Without the FHA, there would be no mortgage market right now. 
See more on Real Estate Financing at AAOA.
American Apartment Owners Association offers discounts on products and services for landlords related to your real estate investment including REAL ESTATE FORMS, tenant debt collection, tenant background checks, insurance and financing. Find out more at joinaaoa.


New Law Will Stick it to Landlords


So much for property rights.

A councilman in Prince George’s County, Maryland has come up with a way to stick it to landlords, by making them responsible for law enforcement against their tenants. 
The proposed law is part of the county’s new crime reduction program.  Under the rules, landlords, not police, are responsible for dispensing justice on unruly tenants. 
Forced Evictions
The new proposal requires that landlords evict tenants who have been ticketed for noise violations.  This includes any sort of noise that can be heard a short distance outside the rental property.  The evictions are at the landlords’ expense, in a county where the backlog can take several months to complete. 
Landlords who fail to comply will lose their rights to rent in the county.
Once a tenant has been evicted under this new law, they are to be blacklisted from any rentals in the county, possibly for as long as a year.  It is not clear whether the tenant actually has to be convicted of the noise ordinance violations before they are blacklisted. 
Landlords who rent to these black sheep may face penalties, increasing the already difficult burden of screening tenants, and creating possible liability for discrimination.
Opponents to the measure point out that law enforcement is not a landlord’s job, nor their responsibility.  But it appears many local residents feel that it is unruly tenants who are ruining their otherwise tranquil neighborhoods. 
This law is not unlike other measures proposed in small college towns around the country, where council members are experimenting with zoning restrictions that prohibit unrelated roommates, restrict the number of residents per property, limit parking rights, impose curfews, or beef up police patrols around rental properties.  In a neighborhood adjacent to the University of Colorado, a school that rates high on the party meter, the city attempted to discourage the barrage of raucous keggers and outdoor couch fires by prohibiting all residents of the neighborhood from setting any upholstered furniture on their porches, decks or lawns.
If the Maryland law does take effect, there is some controversy over whether it is constitutional to single out rental property owners. 
After all, the homeowner with the chronically barking dog is not being threatened with seizure of their property. 
See AAOA”s feature,  Landlord Too Lax on Noise Enforcement.
American Apartment Owners Association offers discounts on products and services for landlords.

Landlord Quick Tip!

Re-Key- Without the Fee!

Submitted by real estate expert Eleanor Trainor
Re-keying? It’s so expensive— but here’s an awesome new product:

Here in the City of Seattle, it is required that the locks be changed between tenants.

Our local locksmiths often charge at very least a $79 trip fee, plus $12-15 per cylinder to change the locks. Yikes! (My company, Rental Restoration, charges a flat $92.50.)

Kwikset has developed a new secure cylinder that anyone can change with the tool that comes with the cylinder.

This would be great for high-turnover units and multi-family buildings. More information is here: http://www.kwikset.com/SmartKey/
Very cool! 
Eleanor Trainer is with Rental Restoration, the only independent full-service maintenance contracting firm in Puget Sound that focuses solely on serving property managers and rental property owners. 

Bad Economy Turns Renters into Roommates

Recession Has Renters Tripling Up Instead of Doubling Up to Save Money
by Matt DiChiara

San Francisco, CA —Faced with uncertain economic times, renters around the nation are saving money on their monthly housing costs by opting to split a 3-bedroom apartment rather than living alone in more expensive 1-bedroom apartments.

MyNewPlace, one of the largest online apartment listing sites, recently conducted a survey of internal search data, which showed that the share of searches for 3-bedroom apartments made significant gains at the expense of 1-bedroom apartments since the beginning of 2008.
Based on a sample of nearly 10 million searches for 1-, 2-, and 3-bedroom apartments that took place on MyNewPlace.com between January 2008 and June 2009, the percentage of searches for 3-bedroom apartments consistently increased each quarter while searches for 1-bedroom apartments decreased. The share of searches for 2-bedroom apartments meanwhile stayed steady, suggesting that instead of ‘doubling up,’ renters are tripling up for even greater rent savings.

Since monthly rents are often lower per bedroom the more bedrooms an apartment has, the changing search patterns reflect an overall trend of renters looking for more economical housing options without sacrificing ideal locations and amenities.
Top Ten Cities for Roommates Looking to Save on Housing

Where are savvy renters saving money by moving in with roommates? Combining regional search data with average prices for apartments listed on MyNewPlace, MyNewPlace.com put together a list of the top ten cities where renters are saving:

· Washington, DC: Not surprisingly, the cities with the highest rents often offer the highest potential for savings. The share of 3-bedroom searches in the area around the nation’s capital has grown by 87%, with renters saving as much as $800/month by bunking up—nearly $10,000 per year.

· Philadelphia: Faced with high housing costs, renters in the City of Brotherly Love are getting friendlier than ever, with searches for 3-bedroom apartments more than doubling, with average savings of around $490 per month.

· Atlanta: Atlanta saw 1-bedroom searches decline by half and 3-bedroom searches more than double, as eager renters pursued $413/month savings by moving in with roommates.
· San Jose: Silicon Valley renters sought to mitigate the area’s notoriously expensive rents by finding roommates—at a savings of more than $600/month.

· Chicago: Windy City residents braced against the chilly economic climate by cozying up with roommates, doubling up their 3-bedroom searches, to the tune of $560/month savings.

· Denver: Renters are tripling up in the Mile High City at some of the highest rates in the country, and saving nearly $350/month in the process.

· Los Angeles: In the City of Angels, even the beautiful people are moving in together. Three beautiful people under one roof could save more than $525 each.

· Seattle: 3-bedroom search share increased 113% from January 2008 to June 2009, with savings of up to $500/month for each roommate. That’s a lot of cups of coffee.

· Las Vegas: Nevadans aren’t gambling when it comes to their housing costs. Las Vegas has among the highest growth in 3-bedroom searches nationwide, and each roommate could be saving $360/month.

· Boston & Cambridge: Renters in the Boston area aren’t tripling up at quite the rates of the rest of the cities on our list, but they should be—there’s up $880/month to be saved.

For a complete set of graphs, visit http://www.mynewplace.com/press-releases/bad-economy-turns-renters-into-roommates-recession-has-renters-tripling-up-instead-of-doubling-up-to-save-money/.

Matt DiChiara is with MyNewPlace.com is a dynamic online marketplace for apartment rentals, featuring a free-to-use apartment finder to search its database of over six million listings.

American Apartment Owners Association offers discounts on products and services for landlords related to your real estate investment including REAL ESTATE FORMS, tenant debt collection, tenant background checks, insurance and financing. Find out more at joinaaoa.

AC Outage Could Bring Rent Strike

Tenant displaced from unit fights for compensation

by Robert Griswold

Q: Our son is renting a condo in an area where it gets very hot in the summer. Two weeks ago, he came home from work to find that his air conditioning unit was not working. It was after hours on Friday evening and he tried to reach the property management agency to have them check it out, but no one was in so he left a voicemail message on their answering machine. They have no emergency number and the office is open only Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The temperature reached nearly 110 degrees that Saturday and Sunday.

My son was inconvenienced — he couldn’t stay in the rental unit because the heat was unbearable. We watched his dogs for him and he spent the weekend at a friend’s house and went to work from his friend’s house. He was able to reach the property management office on Monday and they came right out to fix the air conditioning unit that same day.

He called them on Tuesday to talk with them about his inconvenience and the disruption to his life. He is trying to get compensated for having to spend time away from the place he was renting, having someone else take care of his dogs, and the physical and emotional strain of not being able to live in a home that he is paying to rent.

The property management company said not having air conditioning did not constitute an emergency, not even when it is 110 degrees. They claim that they actually do have an “on-call” person that regularly checks the answering machine throughout the weekend. But because their air conditioning company charges extra on weekends the earliest his air conditioning unit could have been fixed was on Monday, and that is what they scheduled.

He feels very strongly that he is entitled to significant compensation because his air conditioning unit ran for six hours straight to get the condo down from 96 degrees to 82. What are his legal rights? Can he withhold his rent for next month? Should he hire a lawyer? Maybe he should simply move out?

A: Clearly you and your son are very passionate about this issue and there is no doubt that he was inconvenienced. With temperatures over 100 degrees it can be very uncomfortable without the benefits of air conditioning. However, air conditioning is not automatically a required element of habitability in all areas, including some areas where it can get very hot at certain times of the year. So I would suggest he contact a local landlord-tenant attorney to see if there are some local laws that the attorney feels are applicable.

But let me offer a perspective as a property manager for the last 30 years, including many years in areas that can be very hot especially in the summer. I think your expectations may simply be too high.

The fact is that air conditioning units can and do go out on a Friday evening. Some landlords and property managers think that is when a disproportionate number of these types of problems seem to occur. Most repair personnel work Monday through Friday, and the few that may be willing to work on weekends or evenings will charge 1.5 to two times the usual labor rates, which are already quite high.

Thus, it isn’t reasonable to expect that an air conditioning unit that just happens to go out on a Friday afternoon could not be repaired till Monday. I understand the high temperatures and the impact on his personal living arrangements, but I think the response to this complaint by the landlord was very reasonable.

These things happen and unless you can show that the landlord was negligent and his failure to properly perform maintenance caused the air conditioning unit to break, then you have to understand that it takes time to respond to these situations.

In cases where such an outage constitutes an emergency — such as a threat to health or safety — the landlord may be required to make immediate repairs or to reimburse the tenant for emergency repairs. Again, check with a legal expert on applicable laws.

It may be appropriate for his landlord to offer him a rent credit for his inconvenience for the two or three days that he was without air conditioning. But your ideas of withholding next month’s rent or moving out seem to be overreactions.

We all face these types of inconveniences in daily life. Who hasn’t had a delayed airplane flight that led to missing a connection and completely disrupting one’s plans? But does that mean the passenger is entitled to a full refund? I know with my health insurance plan it can take days to get in to see someone and in the meantime I am in pain and have to limit my activities. But I certainly can’t refuse to pay my next month’s premium just because they couldn’t see me immediately. I can cancel my health insurance policy or vow to never fly on that same airline in the future, but moving out over this incident also seems to be adding to your son’s inconvenience.

I suggest your son sends a polite letter to the property management firm outlining the inconvenience and ask for a rent credit for the two days that he was without air conditioning.

This column on issues confronting tenants and landlords is written by property manager Robert Griswold, author of “Property Management for Dummies” and “Property Management Kit for Dummies” and co-author of “Real Estate Investing for Dummies.” E-mail your questions to Rental Q&A at rgriswold.inman@retodayradio.com. Questions should be brief and cannot be answered individually.
Copyright 2009 Inman News

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American Apartment Owners Association offers discounts for landlords on products and services related to your rental investment, including real estate forms, tenant debt collection, tenant background checks, insurance and financing. Find out more at www.joinaaoa.org.