First, make sure you understand fair housing. There is a list of categories you need to know because you cannot discriminate against certain groups of people. Some of them are obvious – you know you cannot discriminate based on race, religion, creed or marital status. Other categories are not so obvious. For example, you cannot discriminate against someone with an assistance animal. This is not just a Seeing Eye dog but a companion animal. Someone who needs comfort from a dog and has a note from a doctor is protected by fair housing. You cannot charge an extra deposit for that animal. That’s an area that most landlords are unfamiliar with but should understand.
The fair housing laws make it essential for you to have written screening criteria. Provide that to any applicants and make it very clear to them what is expected once you do a background check. Look at credit information and any collections activity. You’ll want to see if they have any landlord collections and if they were ever evicted. When checking criminal information, don’t just look at the local area but anywhere they lived. We do nationwide searches. When you’re verifying employment, get recent pay stubs. Ask for rental references. For single family homes, we require at least two years of verifiable rental history. That’s because there’s a little more care involved in taking care of a single family home.
Always have funds on hand for those unexpected expenses. If a water heater goes out, make sure you can replace it quickly and promptly. We recommend having at least one month of rent on hand for those expenses. If your tenant decides to not pay rent or can’t pay rent, you’ll need that extra cash to cover insurance, your mortgage and other expenses.
Our final tip today is to consistently perform inspections. You can tell quite a bit when you go for that inspection. You might do a great job up front when screening, but changes can happen. A tenant can lose a job or a new, unauthorized tenant can move in, or they may add a pet. Sometimes tenants are unfamiliar with needed repairs. They might not recognize a running toilet as a maintenance need. Your inspection can save you from future expenses.
These inspections can also be helpful when you are deciding whether you should offer a lease renewal. You’ll have the opportunity to find out if they are taking care of the property and the yard. If you have any questions or need help with property management, please contact us at Fox Management.