Having been landlords for several years, my husband and I find ourselves fortunate to have had tenants who have taken care of our home as if it were their own. We are hopeful, like many homeowners, that our investment property will appreciate in value. Each year we get a bit anxious around the time our tenants’ lease is almost up and the idea of having to find a new tenant may be a reality. In anticipation of such an event, I began to put together information that would help if such a situation should arise.
Looking back, I owe much of my experience in property management – working with tenants, maintenance staff, managing budgets, upholding policies – to my experience working in Housing and Residential Life. As an undergraduate at the University of San Francisco, I was a Resident Adviser running a living & learning community with a $40K budget. During my graduate studies at the University of Minnesota, I participated in the College Student Personnel Administration Program. In addition to a full academic load, my grad assistantship included being a Faculty Adviser, a Residence Director of 735 residents during my first year and 141 residents the following year. Let’s just say I didn’t get much sleep when I was in grad school.
Little did I know that my experience in Housing & Residential Life would help prepare me as a homeowner and landlord. In this week’s blog post, we’ll take a look at preparing for a new tenant. I discovered a number of SmartDraw templates to help in the process.
#1 LIST THE PROPERTY
In addition to posting photos of the property on the appropriate sites, you may also choose to include a floor plan or layout of the home. As the original owner of the home, I was able to reference the brochure of the unit to create this particular floor plan.
If an applicant expresses concerns about safety and security, you may also choose to provide a detailed emergency evacuation plan.Protect Your Family: Create a Family Emergency Plan, Do You Have an Emergency Evacuation Plan?, and HAZMAT Response Team Harnesses the Power of SmartDraw.
#2 SCREEN POTENTIAL TENTANTS
It’s important to be consistent and treat each potential tenant or applicant the same so that you’re not in violation of any of the fair housing laws. At minimum, you should have every potential tenant submit a rental application and a credit report & criminal history check authorization form.
Prior to showing the property, it’s important to find out how serious a potential tenant is about renting and if it’s worth your time scheduling an on-site visit. Here are a series of questions to consider asking the applicant:
- Why are you planning on moving?
- When would you like to move?
- What is your monthly income?
- Can you provide me with references from your former landlord and employer?
- Will you complete a rental application and a credit & background check form?
- How many people will be living in the home?
#3 REVIEW LEASE AGREEMENT WITH TENANT
Review the lease agreement with the tenant(s) section by section so that they completely understand what they are agreeing to. Once you have gone over the entire agreement with the tenant and answered any questions, you and the tenant should sign and date the lease.
#4 COLLECT FIRST MONTH’S RENT AND SECURITY DEPOSIT
You should always collect the first month’s rent and the entire security deposit before the tenant moves into the unit. If the tenant does not pay on time the first month, it increases the likelihood that they will be late with their rental payments the following months.
#5 COMPLETE MOVE-IN CHECK LIST
Upon receipt of the keys to the property or the actual move-in day, you should go over the move-in checklist with the tenant. The checklist describes the condition of the property as a whole and of each room in detail. Both you and your tenant should sign and date this checklist.
The move-in checklist is important as it allows you to compare the condition of the property when the tenant moves in to the property’s condition when the tenant. The Rental Property Condition Form, found in SmartDraw, is similar to the move-in checklist I had originally created.
#6 PROVIDE YOUR CONTACT INFORMATION
Finally, you should provide the tenant with your contact information. This will be the method of communication which allows them to reach you if they have a question or complaint. Ensure they know if you prefer to have them contact you during normal business hours, 9 A.M. to 5 P.M., unless it is an emergency. It is at this early stage in the tenant-landlord relationship that you are able to establish a healthy working relationship.