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What to Look for When Screening Potential Tenants

Your investment property is an important part of your income and long-term financial success. When it comes to leasing it out, the last thing you need is a tenant that causes you any sort of stress. Unfortunately, there are plenty of renters out there that can make things very difficult for landlords.

To avoid problem tenants, it’s crucial that you, as a landlord, follow a thorough and complete screening process each time you look for potential tenants. If you are a new landlord, you can expect that this can be a learning process that takes time to master. Once you get a screening system that works well for you, you’ll want to be sure to stick to it each time you are looking for new renters.

Here are a few important things to look for as you begin screening tenants for your rental property:

Why Are They Moving?

There’s quite a bit that can be learned about a potential tenant by asking about their current living situation and why they are making a change. Relocating for a new job, moving into a bigger home because of an expanding family or retirement  – these are just a few examples of the types of tenants you want. Be careful if a potential tenant divulges that they are moving because things didn’t work out with a previous landlord or because they couldn’t afford the rent. If this is the case, you may want to consider a different tenant.

Are They Willing to Give Permission for a Background Check?

Background and credit checks are very common these days when it comes to screening a potential renter. By performing a background check, you can find and avoid tenants with criminal backgrounds or a history of evictions. If the potential tenant hesitates or avoids questions about a background check, this should send up a red flag for you, the landlord.

Can You Contact a Previous Landlord?

Here’s another question that is sure to tell you much about a potential renter just by the way it is answered. You want to find a tenant that has no problem at all with you contacting a previous landlord. Often times tenants with nothing to hide and no unresolved conflicts will have no reservations in you contacting their landlord. On the other hand, if a potential tenant seems reluctant to provide information that would allow you contact a previous landlord, it may be a sign that there is an issue that might impact your decision on whether you allow this person to rent from you or not. 

These are just a few of the things to look for as you consider tenants for your rental property. The more screenings you do, the more comfortable you feel asking these types of questions and the better you will become at picking up on possible issues.

This is one reason why so many people choose to work with RPM East Valley when it’s time to find a new renter. Using a property management company such as RPM also helps to remove any personal or emotional influence that may impact your decision as we have the experience and knowledge to help spot a good tenant.

To find out more about our services, give us a call today at (480) 981-7000.

How Can I Rent My Home Faster?

As a rental property owner, it should be your goal to get your home rented as quickly as possible and to avoid long gaps in between tenants. An empty rental property is not helping you and can actually create expensive problems for you down the road.

We understand the urgency of getting your rental property under contract as quickly as possible. But we also understand that there are certain circumstances that can slow the renting process down. Here are just a few areas you can examine when you want to rent your home faster:

The Condition of Your Property

These days, potential renters have plenty of options to consider. If you want them to choose your house, you need to make sure your property is looking good. Take a close look at the appearance of your rental home. What will a potential renter see when they first pull up in front of the property? Is the landscape in good shape? Is there chipping paint on the outside of the home? These are the types of things that can turn renters off in a hurry.

Many property owners spend most of their money sprucing up the inside of a home without considering the way it looks from the outside. It’s important to keep in mind how crucial curb appeal is.

Asking Price

Another common reason why a rental home sits empty is because the rent is just too high. You have to remember that you are in competition with other rentals nearby. If the rent you are charging is much higher than other rentals in the neighborhood, chances are potential tenants will opt for a cheaper payment.

Take the time to do some research and find out what other rentals in the community are going for.

Timing is Everything

There are some months of the year when the rental market simply slows down for a while. We typically see this in December around the holidays and right around the time when school starts again. Many parents want to avoid switching schools once the school year has officially begun.

In other situations, the rental market in general may be in a rut. When mortgage interest rates take a nosedive, rental properties can sit empty while people opt for buying a home rather than renting. These scenarios often require that the property owner just wait it out until the market comes back again.

If you have more specific questions or concerns about why your rental property is not renting, please give RPM East Valley a call. We are currently working with hundreds of rental properties across the Phoenix area and are happy to provide our services to you.

What Repairs Are Landlords Responsible For?

When a rental property becomes damaged, there is often a debate over who is responsible for the cost of the repair. Should the cost of the repair be deducted from the security deposit? Is the landlord required to make certain repairs?

One of the best precautions any landlord can take is to have a very clear and strong lease agreement ready for every new tenant.  A good lease agreement will help clarify what repair expenses a landlord and a tenant are responsible for and how those repairs will be made. Lease agreements should address who is in charge of landscaping, pool maintenance and any other general repairs.

Tenant Responsibility

In most lease agreements, tenants are not responsible for major repair costs unless the damage occurred because of the tenants blatant misbehavior or purposeful actions. If there are specific repairs that you as the landlord feel very strongly that the tenant should be responsible for, be sure to include that in your lease agreement. This gives your tenant an opportunity to agree or disagree to the terms before signing a lease.

Health and Habitability Repairs

There are certain repair costs that a landlord must cover no matter what. These costs often fall under health and safety repairs. As the property owner and as a landlord, you are responsible by law for any repairs that might impact the health or well being of your tenants. Some of the more common repairs that fall into this category include the following:

  •      Air Conditioning Repair or Replacement
  •      Heating
  •      Hot Water Heaters
  •      Stove and Oven
  •      Water Supply to the Home

These are all owner responsibilities and should not be paid by a tenant.

Normal Wear and Tear

In most cases, any repair costs that result from the normal wear and tear that takes place during a lease period should be covered by the property owner. Wear and tear includes all of the reasonable damage that may occur when someone lives in the property. Examples of normal wear and tear include scuffs on baseboards, small nail holes in walls where artwork was hung and dead plants outside as the result of an overnight freeze.

At the same time, it is important that landlords keep an eye open for damage that may have been caused by excessive force or abusive use of their property. The cost of repairing excessive damage caused at the hands of the person occupying the rental home is definitely the responsibility of the tenant. In the end, it’s important to remember that, as the property owner, you have a much bigger vested interest in keeping your rental property looking good than your tenant.

For questions about property management services offered by RPM East Valley, be sure to give us a call. We are currently managing hundreds of properties across the Phoenix-metro area and are ready to put our expertise to work for you.

When You Should Reject a Tenant Application

The tenant screening process is crucial in finding and selecting the best possible renter for your property. This screening process allows you, the landlord, to get a clearer idea of the potential tenant’s background and financial position.

As you go through this process, there are instances when you should absolutely reject an application. This can be difficult – it’s not always easy to know when to turn someone down. Here are a few scenarios when you should reject an application:

When an Applicant Provides False Information

If you find that the applicant provided false or misleading information on their application or to you in person, you should reject the application and move on to the next tenant. It’s important to remember that, when a lease is signed, you are entering into a professional agreement with the tenant. You need to be sure it is someone who is honest and trustworthy. If you let the false information slide, you may find yourself in an awkward situation down the road.

Poor Employment History

You should be able to get an idea of potential tenant’s work history by having them complete an application. When reviewing this application, if you notice that the renter changes jobs on a frequent basis, you might consider choosing someone else. An unstable or inconsistent employment history could lead to that tenant’s inability to pay their rent on time. Look for a tenant with a solid employment record to avoid any late or unpaid rent.

Bad Credit or Criminal History

A credit check should be a part of every screening you do when looking for a new tenant. A poor credit history is often an indication of someone who has a bad record of paying their bills on time or is currently in collections for outstanding debt. If they already have a poor credit history, what’s to stop them from not paying you when they get in a pinch?

You should also be wary of an application with an extensive criminal history. The last thing you want to do is hand the keys to your rental property over to someone with a history of committing crime. At least take the time to find out what types of crimes the person was convicted of. If their crimes include theft or vandalism, you should probably steer clear of that tenant.

RPM East Valley can help you find the best tenants with our extensive and professional screening service. We help you avoid problem tenants and choose solid renters that you can count on. To learn more about the services we provide, give us a call at  480-981-7000.