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Essential Skills for Landlords


Don’t be overwhelmed!   You can find your “landlord legs” — and confidence — by focusing on developing 4 key skills.

Let’s list these skills first and then dive deeper:

  1.  Be an excellent and compliant screener (Move In Phase)
  2. Use a good lease (Move In Phase)
  3. Manage the “Reside Phase” as a business — specifically manage repairs and payments like a business — and follow your lease
  4. Be organized and compliant when it comes to the Move Out Phase

Be an excellent and compliant screener

  • Be educated.  Make sure you market the property according to the Fair Housing Act (FHA) regulations and follow both the FHA and the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) when evaluating applicants.  For more information, refer to our Guides
  • Use good tools.  For example, use a solid application that asks for all the right information and avoids anything discriminatory. A good application should cover many categories such as rental history, employment history, and criminal history, and it should allow applicants to easily attach supporting documentation.
  • Communicate promptly and clearly with your applicants.  For example, share with them your “Applicant Acceptance Standards” so that they are aware of your minimum requirements.  Many companies, including Rent Marketplace, have standard email templates that make it easy to communicate with prospective tenants
  • Keep data secure.  Going paperless is best, and use a screening provider that doesn’t return full applicant SSN’s to you

Use a Good Lease

See our Lease Wizard and content on Lease Best Practices

  • Make sure you are intimate with the details of your lease and that it conveys how you want to manage your property and rental relationship
  • Think through before lease signing all details such as how many days notice you require, for whom, responsibilities around utilities and landscaping
  • Don’t borrow one from your realtor; that lease is designed by nature to protect the realtor and/or agent, and it’s unprofessional.  You want one that protects you as the owner, and conveys to your tenant that you are the consummate profesionnal that knows and understands the details of the lease
  • Use an electronic tool if possible to eliminate unnecessary hassle; meta-data such as signatures and time-stamps will be captured, and you and your resident can easily reference this

Payments & Repairs – Treat it like a business

  • Stay on top of payments and have a system down for how you will handle late payments, non-payments, partial payments etc.  Have your forms and letters ready, document when you send them etc.  No wiggle room here, once you allow slippage it can be hard to defend in court and sends the wrong message to your renter.  Be firm, that’s the fairest policy
  • Making repairs on time is part of the reason we’re in the business — we want to help provide safe and affordable housing.  Build your financial cushion so that financially you’re not setback, and then it’s just down to logistics
  • When property is vacant, improve at least one aspect.  Depending on the class of property and how long you want to hold onto it, the range of possibilities is long — roof, appliances, paint (remember to use eggshell), HVAC, bathroom and so on

Be organized and compliant come renewal and move-out time

  • Use the lease tips above about renewal/move-out
  • When you sign the lease, immediately pull out the calendar and 15 days before notice time, reach out to your renters
  • Even better, when you reach out, use a form outlining the options and dates to take action by.  Be familiar with all the options so you can ask the right questions and answer their questions well.  Document everything in a form or email re-capping the conversation and next steps
  • Get re-acquainted with your state’s rules around entering and marketing the premises, move-out procedures, and security deposit refunds

The 5 Fundamental Steps of Tenant Screening

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Rent Marketplace helps independent landlords, property owners and local property managers save time and money with our integrated one-stop shop solution suite. With online applications, tenant screening, state-specific leases and more, users can move in better residents, faster.

For additional information on Rent Marketplace, please visit our site at www.RentMarketplace or call us at 888-973-0971.  You can also follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.