How to be the best landlord
Landlords and tenants alike want a cordial relationship so that each can live in peace. No landlord should ever allow a tenant to move into their rental property without first requiring the prospective tenant to complete a rental application. Among the critical questions that should be answered on the application are:
– Place of current employment?
– Length of employment?
– Name of a bank?
– Social Security number?
– Do they have pets? If so, what kind?
– Number of vehicles?
– How many occupants will live on the property?
– Ages of occupants?
– Name and address of current and prior landlords?
– Have you been convicted of a felony?
– Have you ever been evicted?
– Are you currently engaged in criminal activity?
– Have you been arrested and charged with a crime but not yet convicted?
– Are you in bankruptcy or plan to file for bankruptcy?
A bold notice on your rental application form should read: Falsification of this information is grounds for a ten-day Notice to Move if discovered later by the landlord or management.
The landlord can begin the screening process with the information on the rental application; it is the landlord’s responsibility to be sure the tenant is the right person to occupy the home or apartment… and that the house or apartment is suitable for the applicant.
A qualified tenant can afford the rent and has the characteristics necessary to coexist with the neighbors or other tenants. On the other hand, a landlord should not rent a one-bedroom unit to a four-member family.
The screening process includes checking the tenant’s credit rating. Someone with a long list of late payments and unpaid debts could immediately become a problem tenant. Solve that problem before it begins by forthrightly explaining to the prospect why they are not eligible to occupy the property. The best eviction is one that occurs before occupancy.
Along with a good credit history, you must check your prior rent history and search public criminal records for indications of behavior problems. You can ask the tenant’s previous landlord to fill out and return a written questionnaire on the tenant’s length of tenancy, payment history, violations of lease terms, etc. Yes, you can ask, but a few landlords will answer. If they do reply, they will avoid any negative report for fear the tenant might see the information and bring legal action against them. More practically, you might call the present or prior landlord and learn what you can verbally.
Many people with criminal records have reformed and are leading exemplary lives. However, even for a sympathetic landlord to rent to a felon is playing with fire. If the prisoner shoots a neighbor or another tenant… and it comes out in the police report that the landlord was aware of the criminal record, someone will probably sue the landlord.
Please make no mistake about it… fair housing laws require you to treat all prospective residents the same. Make sure you have your rental criteria in place and that it is reasonable.