Tag Archives: rental forms

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.

Landlords Get Help with Managing Rentals

Many landlords love the income they get from their rentals but hate the business of managing their properties. Meanwhile, other people are interested in becoming a landlord but are concerned that it’s too much work. That’s where Rentometer (a free service to compare rent rates) and its advanced product, RentometerPro (an automated rental management system) are helping ease the work load for landlords.

“We’re essentially acting as an impartial third party for both people [landlord and tenant] to interact in a really convenient way that is up to date with the times,” says Allison Atsiknoudas, CEO of Rentometer.

Atsiknoudas says people who are interested in becoming landlords but also have some fear about the expense and cost of managing a property should note that there are simplified ways to manage your rental. “Now, there are options,” says Atsiknoudas. “It’s only been recently that there have been management solutions for people who own just a few units.” That’s good news for the approximately 90 percent of United States rental owners who each manage only a few rental properties.

“The tool Rentometer itself is a way to compare actual active rental rates for the market in a specific area. One of the things that we focus on is being able to present rent comparables in a very close proximity,” says Atsiknoudas. For tenants, it allows them to compare how their current rent rate compares in their local neighborhood. They enter an address on the website and a free report is instantly generated by Rentometer.com.

“If you’re an owner or a real estate professional and you wanted to find out what you might be charging these days for a vacancy, you enter the unit information and find out,” says Atsiknoudas.

“A majority of our clients are individuals or small partnerships and those folks really own a majority of the rental property in the United States. Most of the people who fall in that category are people who are in an industry other than real estate and they’re just managing some properties on the side—their own properties as long-term or mid-term investments for additional income,” says Atsiknoudas. The Rentometer tool and the rental management service that is provided by the company help landlords manage their properties easier and without all the loads of paperwork that often accompanies rentals. “The one thing that these people have in common is that typically they’re managing small portfolios. … between two and 35 units,” says Atsiknoudas.

She says that most of these properties owner are in situations where they don’t have large staffs (if any) to manage their rentals. So, they seek ways to simplify the process. “We have about 22 units in Northwestern Pennsylvania. The process of managing the rent and collecting the rent checks became pretty cumbersome,” says landlord Matt Angerer.

He uses Rentometer’s services to help manage his properties. “My tenants can now send their rent either directly to the processing facility that RentometerPro owns and operates in Rhode Island and, in turn, they will actually cash the checks and deposit them into my account, or my tenants can pay online via electronic fund transfer or they can pay with a credit card,” explains Angerer. Here are a few other services offered by the company.

Creating rental forms. Rentometer and EZLandlordForms.com provide a way for landlords to use a forms builder to create their own documents for their rental properties. Landlords can find forms such as lease agreements, lease renewals, rental applications and even eviction notices on Rentometer.com.

(Note by Help for Landlords!  The AAOA for any level of membership, provides a 15% discount to EZLandlordforms.com!)

Simplifying rent processing. “We do everything from the monthly invoicing of tenants, (both electronic and snail mail), to the acceptance of rents,” she says. Atsiknoudas emphasizes that the company accepts all forms of payments from credit cards to paper checks.

Automated late reminders. The payments are automatically posted to the landlords accounting ledger and to the tenants account. “Part of our automated system is that if you have late payments, [it] automatically sends out friendly reminders to people to pay their rent,” says Atsiknoudas.

Pricing starts at $7.99 per month for up to five units and increases for additional units with $50 a month buying unlimited access. “We’d like to be able to simplify management on every level,” says Atsiknoudas.

I found this article on Yahoo.  It was by Phoebe Chongchua and dated Fri, Apr 9, 2010
http://realestate.yahoo.com/info/news/landlords-get-help-with-managing-rentals

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.

http://www.american-apartment-owners-association.org/blog/2009/10/12/fha-bailout-imminent-chief-says-no-way/

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. 

Patch Those Plaster Cracks

Tips for lath-and-plaster repairs

by Bill and Kevin Burnett, Inman News

Q: We are getting ready to repaint our home office. The walls and ceiling were cracked during an earthquake and poorly patched before we moved in. We had the roof redone last summer, and the banging and hammering seriously re-cracked the plaster. In two areas there is a large “plate” of plaster that is loose. You can press it and it moves closer to the wall.

My questions are: Can this be glued back into place, or must we remove all the loose stuff and replaster? How does one handle the bubbles (like an air pocket) that occur in the plaster? Any suggestions for a proper repair would be greatly appreciated. I can handle small holes and cracks pretty well.

A: Old plaster is the bane of old houses. Most often when we’ve been presented with old plaster walls we’ve opted to strip them and apply drywall rather than engage in the seemingly constant battle of repairing them. We also had an ulterior motive.

With the stud bays open, it is an opportune time to reconfigure lighting and electrical outlets to our liking and to add insulation to exterior walls.

But tearing out the plaster and drywalling a room is a ton of work, and we can appreciate your wanting to avoid it.

You’re on the right track when you ask if you can simply reglue the detached plaster. To understand how, it helps to understand the guts of lath-and-plaster walls. The 1 1/4-by-1-inch-thick wood, called lath, is nailed horizontally to the 2-by-4-inch wall studs. The lath is installed with 1/4-inch spaces between each piece. Plaster is applied in three coats and built up to a thickness of 3/4-inch to make the finished wall.

The plasterer forces the first coat of plaster — the brown coat — through the grooves between the laths. The plaster droops on the backside of the laths and dries, forming “keys.” These keys keep the plaster tight to the wall. Over time, with movement the keys break and the plaster becomes loose, forming what you call bubbles.

Reattaching loose plaster bubbles is a multi-step process. You’ll need a cordless drill, a 3/16-inch masonry drill bit, a wet/dry vacuum, adhesive and some drywall screws with plastic washers.

The first order of business is to protect the floors of the work area with drop cloths. Old plaster is composed in part of coarse sand and will destroy the finish of a wood floor or bore deeply into carpet.

Start by using the 3/16-inch carbide-tipped masonry drill bit to bore holes through the plaster. The masonry bit does well moving through the plaster and will not perforate the wooden lath. Drill evenly spaced holes — about every 3 inches — around the damaged wall area.

If you happen to hit one of the gaps between the lath, mark it with a pencil. Remember lath runs horizontally, so when you hit a gap, drill the next hole a little higher or lower. Clean dust from the holes with a wet/dry vacuum.

Be sure to purchase adhesive that will bond the plaster to the lath. Adhesive should come in a tube to be applied with a caulking gun. Check out the local paint store for their recommendation and follow the manufacturer’s instructions.

Trim the adhesive tube’s nozzle to the size of the holes in the plaster with a utility knife. Then inject the adhesive into each hole by giving the caulking gun’s trigger one full squeeze.

Immediately after squeezing adhesive into the holes, use the drill equipped with a Phillips head bit to screw drywall screws with a plastic washer into as many holes as necessary to pull the plaster tight against the lath. Wipe away any adhesive that oozes out of the holes.

Allow the adhesive to dry and remove all the screws and plastic washers. If necessary, scrape the rings from the wall with a putty knife. Scrape off any high points of adhesive off the wall with the 6-inch putty knife.

Apply a thin coat of joint compound to fill the holes. Let the compound dry overnight and sand the surface lightly with 120-grit sandpaper. Apply a second compound coat, let dry and sand. Now you have a solid wall, ready for paint or paper.

By the way, this is a topic that we saw Tom Silva cover years ago on the “This Old House” franchise. We nosed around the Web for a while and were able to find this video: http://www.thisoldhouse.com/toh/video/0,,20210037,00.html.
Copyright 2009 Bill and Kevin Burnett

See Bill and Kevin Burnett’s feature Do-it-Yourself Fix for Squeaky Floors.

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.

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.