Tag Archives: rental property forms

Make Life Easy For Your Tenants

make-life-easier-300x133Creating a good, positive relationship with your tenants is very important. Tenants are the backbone of a successful rental property business so building and nurturing that relationship will contribute to a landlord’s success. One of the best ways that I know to help accomplish this is to make your tenant’s life as easy as possible while they live in your property.

When it comes to “who should do what” between tenants and landlords, conflict often arises unless your expectations are clear from the start. Begin with the lease agreement where you can list things like the rent and when it is due, how it is going to be paid, late payment penalties, rules regarding guests, minor repair expectations and utility agreements. Review the lease with the tenant page by page and have them initial that they have read it and understand your rules.

Continue by leaving a tenant binder in each of your properties. The binder can include emergency numbers so that the tenant knows who to call for a gas leak or power outage. It should include yard expectations like lawn mowing and snow removal. It can also include a move out checklist so the tenant knows what you expect in order to receive their security deposit back.

Throughout the tenancy, there are lots of things you can do to make a tenant’s life simpler. Let’s start with the yard. If you want the yard to look nice and you don’t want your house to look like a “rental” – then make the yard very low maintenance. Apart from basic lawn mowing and snow shoveling, most tenant’s will not spend extra time on the yard. Let’s face it – it’s not their yard so there’s no pride of ownership. Not in my experience anyways. If you have to have any plants at all – make them perennials. Surround them with thick black gardening cloth that makes it hard for weeds to peek through and then cover that with rocks. Do the same around any trees. Providing a container of weed killer might inspire a tenant to use it but it’s not likely so try to slow down those weeds on your own. Another thing you can do is have a professional company come once or twice in the summer and spray the lawn with fertilizer and weed control.

Another handy trick to make a tenant’s life easier is to either install a keybox or put keyless entry locks on the outside doors. This will prevent you having to run over in the middle of the night (or ever) for tenant’s who have lost their keys. The code can be changed on the keybox the next day when you return the key and keyless lock codes can be changed with each new tenant.

These are just a few ideas to help you establish and maintain great relationships with your tenants. Do you have any other ideas you’d like to share about how you make your tenant’s lives easier?

Top Ten Best Tips For New Landlords

20130123-10-landlord-tips-corrected2-151x300So, you want to become a new landlord? Haven’t you heard the horror stories? 3:00 a.m. calls for a plugged toilet, tenants that don’t pay their rent, nasty evictions…it’s a minefield out there. But maybe you’ve heard the upside too. That owning a rental property substantially increases your wealth because you have a solid asset that someone else is paying off for you.

So how can you, a would-be new landlord, avoid the pitfalls and reap the rewards? How can you dodge the disasters and turn this into a profitable, hassle-free venture? The key is to start out on the right foot. Putting everything in place and being prepared will ensure that your experience as a new landlord is a positive one. Sure, there might be bumps along the way, but if you’re prepared, you’ll meet these challenges head on and overcome them.

The best way to prepare is to learn from experienced landlords that have come before you. Al Williamson and I met on the Bigger Pockets Real Estate blog and decided to share our own experiences by putting together an infographic called “The Top Ten Best Tips For New Landlords”. We think these tips will be very helpful to someone that is just starting out in the rental property business and I’ll break them down here for you in more detail.

  1. Follow Your Entire Screening Process. We didn’t put the tips in any particular order because we think they are all crucial steps for a new landlord to take – but if pressed, this is #1. Our best advice is don’t EVER take what a prospective tenant tells you at face value and hand them the keys. Be rigorous. Do all of your employment, reference and credit checks EVERY time on EVERY tenant.
  2. Establish Great Tenant Relationships. This is a very important step for new landlords because new tenants = a successful rental property business. Having good tenants, after all, prevents the aforementioned “horror stories”. Establishing these relationships starts before you even meet your prospective tenants through advertising and screening and then carries on through the duration of their tenancy.
  3. Run it Like a Business. Owning a rental property is a business and an organized landlord with systems and processes in place is much more likely to succeed than someone who is just “winging it”. Some examples of these systems would include your forms, your ads, your property information binders as well as filing and accounting systems.
  4. Use Customized Forms. When you’re just getting started with a rental property, it’s important to have your forms ready to go. These would include things like an inspection report, lease agreement and rental application. Many new landlords use generic forms that they find online thinking that one form is as good as the next and often times they don’t even understand everything that is written there. These are huge mistakes which will come to light when a lease needs to be enforced. Use customized forms to lay down your rules and regulations from the outset.
  5. Make Security a Priority. Most new landlords think that the cost of rent is the most important factor for tenants when they are looking for a rental. In actual fact it is security for themselves and their families that is a top priority. Many tenants are actually willing to pay a little more if there is great security in place when they rent and they know it will be ongoing.
  6. Make It Easy For Your Tenants. When it comes to “who should do what” between tenants and landlords, conflict often arises unless it is clear from the start. The easier you make it for your tenants, the easier it will be for both of you in the long run. Putting a reference binder in each property, installing a keybox and making the yard low maintenance are just a few ideas to keep things running smoothly and hassle free.
  7. Use Your Head Not Your Heart. I would venture to say that this might be the hardest obstacle for anyone getting started with a rental property. As a new landlord, you’ll eventually hear a story or promise from your tenants, especially when it comes to late rent payments. Unfortunately, you’ll also figure out that most stories and promises aren’t true. To keep more money in your own pocket, it’s important to separate emotion from business and know your local eviction processes before you have to implement them.
  8. Prepare For Bumps In The Road. Let’s face it, it won’t ALWAYS be smooth sailing, even if you do follow all of our tips. Even with all of your systems in place, challenges will still come along. It’s how you handle these challenges that will determine your success.
  9. Save For A Rainy Day. Rental properties cost money for repairs, maintenance and vacancies. If you don’t have a way to cover these expenses as they arise, your properties will deteriorate and so will your grade of tenant. It’s a slippery slope so it’s always best to expect expenses and plan for them ahead of time.
  10. Keep On Learning. You’re doing a great job of investigating before you become a new landlord. It’s how you ended up here! As your rental property business continues to grow and evolve, so should your education. Keep informed through blogs and online forums for landlords. They are a valuable resource and you will eventually have a lot to contribute as well. Soon YOU will be teaching new landlords how to begin!

Becoming a new landlord might seem like a huge learning curve and in the beginning it really is. Use our inforgraphic “The Top Ten Best Tips For New Landlords” to help you keep all of these points in mind as you start out. Al and I sincerely hope you find it helpful and we wish you all the best with your rental property empire!

Run It Like a Business

My Rental Property Coach - Run it Like a BusinessIn order to be successful in the rental property business, you really do need to be prepared. Putting good systems and processes in place will give you the confidence to get started and also keep things running smoothly as you acquire and manage more properties. This business like mindset is the key to success for a new landlord. On that note, here are a few things you should have in place before you start looking for tenants:

  • Rental property forms. Your basic collection of forms would include an application form, a lease, a walk through checklist and a landlord checklist. Store a few copies of each in a labeled binder and you’re good to go.
  • A prepared ad to attract quality tenants. I advertise exclusively online so I keep a copy of my ad with pictures in a folder so it’s easy to cut and paste on various sites. Later, if a tenant gives me notice, I can have an ad placed immediately to start looking for someone new.
  • A property information binder ready to go. There are a few items that you can personalize later when you find tenants but the bulk of the information can be prepared ahead of time. Once the information is stored on your computer, it’s easy to modify to create new binders for additional properties.
  • A filing system. This will already have some items in it such as mortgage documents, legal documents and insurance information. You can add more sections as you go to include tenant information and other paperwork you receive relating to your rental. This is also easy to replicate as you buy more properties.

As I continued to manage my first property, I added a few more organizational items to keep things in order:

  • A good accounting system. This is easy to set up, just a simple ledger to monitor what is going in and out of the bank account every month and a place to write in all of your rental related expenses. Don’t forget to keep track of all those receipts.
  • A list of reputable people or companies that can fix things. This list takes time to develop as you encounter certain problems that go beyond your own abilities. It’s a great list to have though and will become more valuable as you acquire more and more properties.

If you are just considering buying a rental property, I hope this list will help build your confidence to move forward. They’re fairly small steps to take, they’re easy to do and they set the stage for your future rental property empire.

How to Attract and Keep Good Tenants

Attract-Good-TenantsTalk to any landlord and they’ll have a tenant horror story to tell – myself included! When you get into the rental property business as a new landlord, tenants are one of the most important factors to consider. Not only will they be looking after your property for you, they will also be paying it off and ultimately building your wealth in real estate. Your ability to attract and keep good tenants will determine whether your rental property business will be a success or a failure so it’s important to know the basics.

ADVERTISING

Writing a detailed advertisement has two purposes. It allows you to describe all of the benefits of your property and is also the first step in describing the type of tenant you are looking for. You can be clear about whether you allow smoking, whether you allow pets, the amount of rent and damage deposit expected and the length of lease term you are looking for. With all of this information available in the ad, you have already narrowed the field to prospective tenants that potentially fit your profile.

SCREENING

Screening is your second line of defense and the most important step in weeding out bad tenants. When a prospective tenant calls me, I have a list of questions that I ask immediately. If their answers to these questions are favorable, I set up a viewing time to see the property. If they are interested in renting from me, I take things to the second and most important step; filling out the Application Form. This signed form is invaluable as it covers their personal information, their employment history, their financial status and their rental history. The form also allows you to call previous landlords, call credit references, call personal references, conduct a credit check and a criminal record check. If a prospective tenant is not willing to sign the Application Form and provide me with access to this information, I do not rent to them.

Screening is an important first step for landlords and it also sets the tone for tenants as well. It portrays you as someone who is organized, diligent and someone who takes their business seriously.

RELATIONSHIP

When you have completed your initial screening and decided which tenants will be moving in to your property, the rest of the relationship is up to you. You may have found the best tenants in the world but they won’t stay with you if you don’t live up to being a good landlord. A good landlord/tenant relationship involves many aspects but here are the most important things to remember.

When tenants are moving in, have a landlord checklist ready so that you don’t miss anything. Some examples are signing the Lease, getting the locks changed, going through the Accommodation Inspection Report, getting post dated checks, preparing a Tenant Binder and putting together a Tenant Basket to welcome them to your property.

Throughout the tenancy it is important that you are always available when contacted. If a tenant calls with a request or repair that needs attention, always respond in a timely manner. Keeping your property in good repair let’s the tenant know that you expect the same from them and also gives them a sense of security about where they live. Stopping in at prearranged times gives you peace of mind that the property is being looked after. Giving small gifts at holiday times and lease renewals also goes a long way to making the tenant feel appreciated.

The law of attraction is always at work in every aspect of your life and the landlord/tenant relationship is no different. Be a great landlord and you will attract and keep good tenants!

Essential Rental Property Forms

In this day and age, there is a form to cover every possibility in the rental property Forms2business. From pet leases to utility sharing agreements, everyone will agree “it’s best to always get it in writing”. Making sure that all of the rules are clear before a tenant moves in leads to fewer disagreements and a cooperative landlord/tenant relationship. These signed documents can also protect the landlord if a substandard tenant should slip under their radar and take up residence.

If you are just starting out with one rental property, there are 5 essential rental property forms that you should have on hand before you start to look for a tenant.

RENTAL APPLICATION This is the first form that a prospective tenant will fill out for you during the first meeting if they are interested in renting from you. It covers the personal information of all the people that will be living there including their employment history, credit information and rental history. The best part of the application form is that it allows you to do a credit and criminal background check of a prospective tenant.

INSPECTION REPORT This is filled out before the tenant moves anything into your dwelling and again when they are ready to move out before you return their security deposit. There is a checklist for each room and describes the condition of each item on the list. I always back this form up with dated photos of the property and have the tenant sign both.

LEASE AGREEMENT This is the meat and potatoes of all rental property forms. It outlines the rent, security deposit, length of stay and also lays out all the rules and regulations of living in your property. You can start out with a generic form which can be changed and revised to suit your specific needs or you can use one from an experienced landlord. I like this option because it will already be much more specific based on the landlord’s previous experiences and you can still modify it as required.

DEPOSIT AGAINST RENT Once you have done all of your investigating and decided on a great tenant, it’s time to get a deposit to hold the place until move in day. This form is simply a receipt for that amount and also sets out what is still required as far as security deposit and rent before they take possession.

LANDLORD CHECKLIST Owning rental properties is a business and in order to run a successful business, you need to keep yourself organized. I created a landlord checklist that I use for each new tenant moving in to my properties. It reminds me of all the things I need to do including property fix ups, tenant checks and everything from moving in to moving out. I find this tool invaluable as I never miss a thing and it starts my relationship with my tenant out on the right foot.

These forms will get you started in your rental property business and should be considered your “core package” that you use for everyone. Depending on your needs or as your business continues to grow, you can introduce more forms to your repertoire. These might include utility agreements, garage leases, notices to enter the premises or eviction notices.