Screening tenants is the most important aspect of your rental business. Know how to get and evaluate credit and background reports, including criminal histories. Be sure you know the rules prohibiting housing discrimination.
Federal and state antidiscrimination laws limit what you can say and do in the tenant selection process. You need to know the rules before you create a rental application, check an applicant's credit and references, or reject a tenant. If you don't, you can find yourself at the wrong end of a fair housing complaint. To avoid trouble when choosing tenants, keep in mind the following best practices.
Questions Are landlords or property managers allowed to pull a prospective tenant's credit report? Are landlords required to use written rental applications? What types of discrimination are illegal when choosing a tenant? What kinds of subtle actions might be illegal discrimination by the landlord?
You've probably heard rental property owners refer to their lawyers as if these professionals were but a phone call -- or a shout -- away. But unless you own or manage many rental properties, you're not likely to have a lawyer on staff or even "on retainer" (where you pay a lawyer in advance to handle routine questions and issues). Fortunately, you shouldn't need to constantly consult a lawyer or even keep one in the wings, "just in case." You do have to be able to recognize those situations when expert help is needed -- even if it's just for some advice and coaching.
You can advertise your rental property in many different ways. The kind of advertising that will work best depends on a number of factors, including the characteristics of the particular property, its location, your budget, and whether you are in a hurry to rent. Many landlords and property managers choose a combination of the following advertising methods to get the best results.
Finding and choosing tenants is the most critical decision any landlord or property manager makes, and to do it well you need a reliable system. Savvy landlords follow specific steps to maximize their chances of selecting tenants who will pay their rent on time, keep their rentals in good condition, and not cause any legal or practical problems later. Your first step is to define all of the terms of the rental so that you can properly advertise the space.
A landlord website is an increasingly popular tool for attracting prospective renters and serving tenants. Creating an online presence may seem fun and exciting, but running a business website is a serious endeavor that comes with some risks. If you don't put much thought into the features you include or the text you write, your landlord website might not prove to be helpful. Worse, a quickly or poorly constructed website may even harm your business.