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LPA Landlord Tips are helpful information shared among
landlords. Your experiences can be a source of inspiration and
knowledge for other landlords. Some of the tips shared here
are selected from our Landlord Q&A and Tips Forum, others are
submitted by attorneys and our landlord editors. Check out the latest Landlord
If you have a Landlord Tip you'd like to have appear on the LPA site, you can submit the tip or story in our Landlord Q&A / Tips or e-mail it to: Tips@TheLPA.com
How good are you at being a landlord?
Take The Landlord Test - #1 , #2 and #3! This test is designed to score
you based on multiple-choice and true-or-false questions. Some are
easy, some are hard. Keep track of your score and compare them with
our scoring table at the end.
LPA Landlord Quick Tips
- Tenant Screening with Facebook and Google
In addition to the normal tenant screening with my LPA Rental Application, the Landlord Reference Qualifier and Quick Check Credit Reports, I have been able to eliminate a number of potential tenant problems by searching tenant applicants on Facebook and Google. A few minutes of searching Facebook and Google can pay off big-time. I am flabberghasted at what information, pictures and behavior some people post for the world to see! I've even seen pictures of people wrecking their landlord's house! I've also seen pages of the nicest people. I'm glad we have another source to check!
- QUALIFYING PROSPECTS
When qualifying tenant prospects here are some tips to consider.
1. After you ask a question. BE SILENT. If they don’t answer, don’t help them to say something. They may hate the silence and tell you something they had not intended to tell you.
2. Ask open ended questions. The key words are "Who, What, When, Where, Why, and How." No question with these words included in it can be answered yes or no. - Lambert Munz, Arbour Real Estate Management, Inc.
- Painting Tip
Sometimes a good touch-up job is as good as a full paint job.
Tip: Keep a record in each property file of what paint was used and the date of the last paint job.
We prefer to always use the same brand and color paint on all our units. Makes blending touch-ups that much easier!
- Landlord Do's & Don'ts: The Rental Application
- Landlord Do's & Don'ts: The Lease Agreement
- What Do I Do if the Tenant Doesn't Agree to Sign My Lease?
Lease Agreement Cancellation - RIP IT UP!
If the tenant doesn't want to sign your lease, or wants to make unsatisfactory changes in it, rip it up. That's right. RIP UP the lease in front of the tenant and tell him that this is not the right home for him and he is not the right tenant for you.
Then go on to the next qualified tenant. That is the quickest headache relief ever. Faster and more satisfying than 3 Advils! - John@theLPA.com
- Don't Give In to Desperation! by Ann Kaprat of TheLPA.com
It happens all the time for many landlords. You face a vacancy at just the worst possible time of the year. Or your circumstances just aren't right to weather a vacancy. Now is when you must have nerves of steel!
- Lease Renewal Clause
When giving tenant the right to renew the lease, please consider this:
If the tenants are bad or you decide during the tenancy that you do not want to renew the lease, always include the words, "Subject to owner's written approval".
If you did not provide for a rate of rent increase in the lease, this enables you to send a renewal with proper notice with an increase offer the tenant may or may not elect to stay for. - John, theLPA.com
- Automatic Agreement by No Response
Have you ever been frustrated because a tenant failed to return a signed copy of your notice of:
- LPA Lease Renewal
- LPA Rent Increase
- LPA Lease Update - Change of Terms or another notice you needed the tenant to agree to so that important changes affecting the tenancy can commence?
Here is the clause to insert into your LPA Notice of Rent Increase, Lease Update - Change of Terms Notice or Lease Renewal so that when you issue a notice, it will still be enforceable even if the tenants don't return a signed copy to you. Just remember it is best to serve all official notices in person or by certified return receipt mail with the proper notice period according to your lease or state landlord tenant law. Check Lease Clause Inserts by State for your state's minimum notice period to terminate or change terms.
Just copy and paste the above to the bottom of your notice.
Disclaimer: State and local rental contract laws may vary, so The LPA recommends you consult a local attorney to make sure legal notice of this type is enforceable in your local court.
Landlord Screening Tip:
When screening an applicant, ask for a copy of a picture ID or drivers license. Make sure the person in front of you is the same person on the application and credit report. - The LPA
- How to Make it Through Anything:
The Story of the Cliff written by Morton Hunt may inspire you to overcome what you may think are impossible odds. This story was first shared with me by Robert Allen and has helped countless people since!
- Collecting Late Fees
In the past I found it difficult to charge a late fee. The first time I tried to collect one, the tenant refused to pay it. Sometimes tenants will not respect what is in the lease unless you show them that you will stand firm on the agreement. Confrontations as a landlord are inevitable, but make it easier on yourself. Tell the tenants at the lease signing that it imperative that rent be paid on time, and there will be NO exceptions concerning late fees. You will have a lot less trouble enforcing your late charge clause after the tenant has agreed not only in writing at the time of the lease signing, but has also given his word. - John Nuzzolese
- Have proof you have sent written notices.
I have on many occasions seen tenants deny they received written notices from the landlord. One of the best ways to prove a notice was sent by Certified Mail is to include the Certified Mail Article # on the document and also send a copy by regular mail, and also keep a copy for yourself. Having the article # on the document shows that the notice you sent was the same as the notice you say you sent.
Just pick up a pile of cerified mail postcards and receipt slips so you can prepare them before going to the post office. - The LPA
- Beware a Tenant's Lease Agreement
Some tenants come with their own lease agreement already prepared for you - by their attorney in many cases. Watch out! First of all, I have never had good experiences with tenants who are experts on landlord tenant law. Secondly, it is only logical that the tenant's lease will contain more tenant protection than it will have landlord protection. There is usually a good reason the tenant wants to use his own lease agreement. You can bet there are lots of innocent seeming little clauses in there that wouldn't even raise an eyebrow, but can cost the landlord plenty. Just stick with a landlord lease. - John C., BVR Mgmt
- Giving proper legal notice to tenant:
(This applies to month to month tenancies or if your lease allows you to make unilateral changes to the tenancy as the LPA Lease does.)
* It is important to remember that proper notice must also be given by the tenant or the landlord for the Intention of Non - Renewal. Even though the lease has an expiration date, the landlord must still require a written notice to vacate from the tenant.
If it is a 30 or 60 day notice, be sure that the written notice is served before the beginning of the next rent period. That means if the rent is due and payable on the 1st of the month, have the notice served before that date. Serving a notice in the middle of a rent period will not change the fact that the 30 or 60 days notice period starts on the first day of the next rent period.
An official dated notice should be delivered / "served" to the tenant,
John N., NY
- in person (preferable)
- sent by certified mail- return receipt requested
- regular first class mail combined with the above. We recommend getting a certificate of mailing receipt from the post office whenever you mail an official notice by 1st class (regular) mail.
- A Landlord Story by Diane Heinlein
- Your Own Home's Improvement Outline by Dan Auito
- Finding a good Eviction Attorney
Since our Attorney Directory is not yet complete, this might help:
If you are searching for a good landlord attorney, first ask your family attorney (if you have one) for a referral. Then ask a local real estate rental office or property management company who they recommend.
If you are going to interview eviction attorneys, I suggest you ask a few key questions.
An "on the ball" eviction attorney will have the answers to these questions on the spot. Pay attention to # 4- because that should be an easy one to answer if the attorney is familiar with the Landlord Tenant Court schedule.- John@theLPA.com
- Are evictions your specialty?
- How many do you usually do a month?
- How long does the average eviction take from beginning to end?
- How fast can we have these tenants in court?
- Security does NOT = Rent
Let the tenants know at the lease signing that security may not be used as rent. Then ask for their word of honor- that they will not break the agreements in your lease. Point out that if the tenant stops paying rent- even if they are giving notice to vacate asking you to use the security deposit as the rent- that they will be breaking their word of honor sealed this day with their signatures. And if this happens, you (your manager or your lawyer can be the "bad guy") have no choice but to use the security deposit for attorneys fees to swiftly evict them and destroy any good credit they may have because if their word and their signatures are NO GOOD, why should you believe that they'll move out when they say they will? - John N., NY
- OPEN HOUSE saves time
When I'm showing a rental property, I like to arrange it to be a multiple showing, like an open house.
I set aside an hour for a particular day like a Sunday between 1 and 2PM and try to send a dozen or so customers to see the property.
I bring a pile of applications with me and am prepared to answer questions about the rental. The whole time I am scrutinizing the prospects.
There is such a feeling of competition between the prospective tenants, and makes any one of them feel lucky if they are chosen. Most of them are willing to submit their application, screening fee and deposit on the spot.
This has been a great timesaver for me, and makes getting them rented a little more fun. - John N., NY
- EPA Toxic Mold Information
- Quickglance Tenant Chart
Have a chart or calendar to remind you when to send a renewal form to the tenants. Put it where you will see it and refer to it. I suggest making a spreadsheet of your tenants or the Quick Glance Tenant Chart from the Essential forms page. It's so easy to miss those renewal dates.- John N., NY
- When screening an applicant, ask for a copy of a picture ID or drivers license. Make sure the person in front of you is the same person on the application and credit report. - John N., NY
- Make copies of rent checks
If your tenant pays buy check, make a copy of the check for your records. You
may need this information for future collection efforts. In the event that a
judgment is awarded in your favor, the bank account can be restrained and the
money can be taken from the account. - Jan Conte-Dailey N.Y.,yourcollectionsolution.com
- Enforce Late Charges
With new tenants be ready to enforce late charges the first time your tenant pays late. If you set a precedent of waiving your late charge, tenants will be offended when you want to enforce your policies in the future.- Jack K., NY
- RRR: Raise Rents Regularly
One of my biggest mistakes was not raising the rent on a yearly basis. I thought that as long as the rent was being paid, I didn't want to rock the boat. I later realized that my properties were way under rented. I found that when I tried to increase rent, the tenants went crazy. They resented that I "all of a sudden" want to hit them with a rent increase. They felt that as "good tenants" I was punishing them for no reason.- Louis C., NY
- When executing a new lease, remember to staple an Intention to Vacate form on the back of the tenant's lease. Reminding the tenant to give proper notice and proper move-out procedure can make your life a lot easier when it's time to start looking for a new tenant.- Dan A., OH
- Try not to collect rent in person if you can help it. It is an opportunity for the tenant to complain or make demands. Although many landlords like to check on their property under the guise of "collecting rent", the visit often backfires. In some cases, if the landlord fails to immediately make an issue over a lease violation he notices (such as an unauthorized pet), it can be considered as giving implied permission. So, if you collect in person, be ready to confront tenants with violations.
- Don't flash your riches in your tenant's face
Also, if you have a beautiful car that you are proud to be seen in- try not to rub it in the faces of your tenants. Tenants resent the a landlord who arrives in a new Mercedes to collect the hard earned rent that the tenants just scraped together. Do you think they'll feel bad for you if they're forced to pay late or if you are behind on your mortgage? - John N., N.Y.
- Get a signed Property Condition Report
We have found that our properties are better maintained by tenants who have signed a Condition Inspection Report at Move-In. I highly recommend it.- John N., N.Y.
- Don't forget the Landlord Reference
Always, always verify the current and past landlord. Ask the "landlord" to just verify the address of the property the tenants are leaving from. You'd be surprised how many phoney reference "landlords" don't even know their friend's address or how long the tenancy was. (We now have a wonderful Landlord Reference Qualifier Form on the Essential Forms list.) - John N., N.Y.
- Get tenants to show their true colors
Pay special attention to your potential tenant's reaction when you question any red flags on his application. If you strike a nerve, they may reveal their true colors if you have a potential problem tenant on your hands. - John, N.Y.
- Prepare your tenant
To avoid an unprepared tenant at the lease signing, be sure to instruct him on what to bring with him beforehand. We like to always require the tenant to bring a copy of his driver's license, social security card, and the balance due in certified funds, money order or cash. Also, if there are any other adjustments, we'll advise them at that time. - Lou, BVR Management, Inc.
- I've been a landlord for over 25 years and always have had a good relationship with my tenants. Unfortunately, they become my friends soon after they become my tenants and I've always enjoyed their friendship. That can be very costly. How can you raise rent regularly on friends? How can you enforce your lease when they break it if you value the friendship? I'm behind in my payments because my "friend" can't pay the rent! My advice is: try not to become close friends with tenants. - Joan M., Allentown, PA
- Inspect the applicant's current home
I have been able to eliminate a few disasters by making a reason to visit the rental applicant at their current home before signing a lease with them. I get the opportunity to view how they live. Sometimes they even invite me to stay for dinner. - J.N., Naples, FL
- With a tenant bouncing a bad check for rent or deposit:
1. hand deliver a letter and notice stating the check has bounced,
2. providing a photocopy of the bounced check front and back along with the letter,
3. Give the tenant notice of 72 hours to cover the check WITH any bank fee's you have been charged,
4. Demand the payment be paid with either a money order or a cashier's check,
5. Demand the payment be made personally, NOT mailed,
6. Make it clear in the letter that if the bad check is not covered within the time allotted, you will turn it over to the county attorney for prosecution.
7. At the same time you issue the above letter, issue a 3 day to pay or quite
Contact the county/state attorney where the check was written and find out what forms you need to fill out and DO IT!
If the check is not covered in the time given, take action.
Next step is to file for eviction for non-payment of rent/deposit
- G. Michael R. Hickman, Fresno CA
- I have been managing property for decades. I have gotten tired of tenants tearing up the property, after giving me good references from previous landlords.
With the consent of my eviction attorney, I have instituted a policy that cuts down on this problem.
When I hand out an application, I tell the prospect that I will com by to pick up the completed application AND inspect where they are living now. If they object, they are denied. If they live out of town, and we can't go inspect, the deposit is doubled. If they are displaced and living with friends, the deposit is doubled.
If things look good after 6 months, and all is going well, I refund the extra deposit amount.
My attorney has verified that it is not discriminatory if applied evenly to all applicants.
Under this plan I have avoided dozens of undesirable tenants, and on the flip side, have gone to small claims court on occasion, with my tenants, as an expert witness,at no cost to them, to help them get back deposits withheld on a perfectly clean rental they vacated.
Check with your own attorney for the legality of this inspection process in your area.
- Are you a landlord who prefers rent paid on time?
If so, you probably made sure your lease agreement has a solid late fee clause. You are also likely to have good rent enforcement forms when it comes to asking for your rent money and late charges. I know this because landlords who do not want the rent paid on time or at all don't usually have a membership with The Landlord Protection Agency! - John@TheLPA
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