Top Landlord Mistakes you Must Avoid

Jul 3, 2013 by

Top Landlord Mistakes you Must Avoid

If you are someone who is considering being a landlord, then you should know that this is something which is not easy at all. As a landlord, your duties don’t only entail you to worry about leaky pipes and broken dishwashers, but also to think about the legalities which are involved in the process. Given below are a few of the top landlord mistakes you must avoid making to ensure that you stay out of any unnecessary trouble.

1.     Ask unnecessary Questions

As a landlord, you are to avoid any questions of race, color, religion, national origin, gender, disability as asking these questions is considered to be discriminatory intent, which a illegal in the eyes of the Federal Housing Act. For instance, if you ask someone too many questions about their disability or familial status, expect them to file a law suit again you very soon. However, these strict rules do not mean that you cannot screen your tenants because it is quite okay if you run background checks or ask for credit history reports etc. So, if you want to stay away from trouble, you need to make it a point to avoid unnecessary or discriminatory questions.

2.     Failure to disclose important information

Even though every country and state has its own requirement, you should know that the failure to disclose important information may get you into trouble. Things like knowledge of mold growing somewhere in the house or sex offenders in the area need to be mentioned to the tenant. Also, if the landlord is aware of any deaths, natural or murder in the rental unit, he should make it a point to inform the tenant.

3.     Using illegal terms and conditions in the agreement

One of the most common mistakes that are being made by landlords today is that of using illegal provisions that violate the state of federal laws. A lot of landlords think that they have the right to put in any clause which they like in the agreement but this is in fact a huge mistake. You need to know that putting in things such as to take away the right of refunding the security deposit or suing the landlord will not be tolerated by the law at all.

4.     Failure to offer a safe environment

Depending on the state that you stay in, you have the duty to inform and protect your tenants from any criminal activity in the area. You have to make the proper inspections and tell the tenants about anything that might be dangerous for them. You must take some measures to ensure that your tenants are safe and that no criminal can enter their houses. For this reason, you should provide your tenants with the best locks and lightening. Failure to do this can injure the tenant, who can then sue you or ask for compensation.

5.     Refusal to Fix Things

The most important duty of a landlord is to make the required repairs and fixes. This rule applies even if it is not specified in the rental agreement. Basically, a landlord has the duty to provide the best living condition for the tenants and failure to do so can get you into trouble. All in all, you will have to take care of the flooring and roof and ensure that it is safe, test the heating system, solve any plumbing or gas problems and fix anything else. A lot of law suits have been passed against landlords only because they were unable to provide the necessary things for their tenants.

Other than 5 that are mentioned above, you should also be careful about, disregarding the tenant’s right to privacy, keeping security deposits, getting rid of tenant property in the wrong manner etc.


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Questions You Should Ask Before Signing the Tenancy Agreement

Jun 26, 2013 by

Questions You Should Ask Before Signing the Tenancy Agreement

If you are a first time renter then you are probably overlooking a few of the necessary details in all of the excitement. Prior to signing the document that is going to bound you to the clauses, you should know exactly what you are agreeing to. This is why, it is strongly recommended that you first carefully read and review the lease agreement that you are signing. Apart from reading, there are questions you should ask before signing the tenancy agreement (Lease).

Lease Questions

The first and most crucial set of questions that you need to ask is that of the lease. These questions will make several aspects of the lease clear to you.

I.            The most important lease question is to ask the landlord exactly how long your lease is.

II.            Also, what  are your renewal options once the lease expires? For instance, while many landlords renew the lease for a year, some might make it month to month.

III.            Also, ask the landlord when the lease can be broken and what is the required fees that has to be paid if this ever comes to pass?

IV.            Another important question would be to ask if roommates are allowed in the apartment or property. If you are allowed, then what is the policy for adding someone new to the existing agreement?

Maintenance Questions

The biggest responsibility that your landlord has towards you is that of repairs and maintenance. This is why you need to know when you can freely ask the landlord to come in and repair things for you. Given below are some of the questions that you will want to ask your landlord in regards to repairs and fixes.

I.            Ask him how it will be possible for you to contact him both in case non-urgent and urgent issues.

II.            You can also ask him the kind of cosmetic changes that you can bring to the apartment or property.

III.        If you have rented a house which has a lawn or garden area, ask the landlord who will be taking care of the maintenance.

Payment Questions

Another set of important questions that you need to ask the landlord is that of the payment options that you have. Some of these are mentioned below

I.        Different states or landlords have their own set of rules when it comes to the advance payment that is required when you move in. This is why, you need to ask him how much the advance to be paid is and if you are required to pay it before you move in.

II.            Ask him what the exact security deposit is and how it is to be paid

III.            Depending on your landlord, you will either be required to pay your rent at the end of every month of 15days later etc and so you have to clarify the date when the rent is due.

IV.            Ask him if he needs the rent to be paid by check, credit/debit card or cash

V.            Ask if the rent can be paid individually when tenants are sharing a particular apartment

Other important questions

I.            Are pets allowed inside the building?

II.            Does the rental price include the utilities or do they need to be paid separately?

III.            Is smoking inside the apartment allowed?

IV.            Does the property have proper gas, heating, air conditioning etc?

V.            Are guests allowed to stay overnight?


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Screening out the Best Tenants

Jun 19, 2013 by

Screening out the Best Tenants

If you do not wish to be the victim of bad tenants, it is very important that you run through a carefully chosen screening method which is sure to eliminate the problems. A lot of landlords are in a hurry to fill their rental property and so, they often gloss over this very crucial process of screening. So, let’s look at some of the tips and techniques that you can use in screening out the best tenants.

Tip 1: Ask the right Questions

Even though you might not be aware of this immediately, the truth is that the screening process begins right when you contact the person for the very first time. Even though the first contact that you have with the perspective tenant will be through the phone, there are a lot of questions which can give you the basic idea about the person’s nature or attitude. The list given below will give you tell about the questions that you need to ask. Also, remember that if anyone hesitates or doesn’t want to answer these questions, they should probably be out of your list immediately.

  1. What is the reason for moving in?
  2. Do you have any pets?
  3. What is the date in which you would like to occupy the space?
  4. How many people will be moving in and what is their relationship with you?
  5. What is the credit history that you hold?
  6. Do you have any prior landlord references?

Tip 2: Watch the Body language and Appearance

When you have talked to the person and he wants to come in to view the property or apartment, it’s time for you to start looking at certain telltale signs which will help you in making the final decision.

First of all, you have to ensure that the appearance is that of the top manner. Now even though this doesn’t mean the person has to be wearing branded clothes but he/she does need to be neat and clean. This is necessary because an unkempt and dirty person almost always means a dirty home and lifestyle.

Secondly, you will have to keep a careful look out for the attitude and manners that the prospect has. He/she needs be respective and should have the required manners otherwise you will surely have to face problems when you keep them as a tenant.

Tip 3: Make sure the Approval Process goes through smoothly

Once you have run a background check on the tenants you like, it’s time for you to call them and give them the news. Set up a date and time when you will be signing the agreement and be sure to tell the person if you have overlooked some discrepancies in their credit card report etc.

Tip 4: Make sure the Tenant has Read the agreement

There are thousands of tenants who make the huge mistake of not reading the agreement before signing it. The best way to make sure the tenant does actually read the full lease or agreement is to read it with him. Before signing, ensure that you read the agreement to him and if he asks a lot of questions or wants to change a lot of clauses, it’s time for you to let him go. This is so because if the tenant is having problems with the rules right now, he will without a doubt create many more when he has moved in.

Even though there is no formula which can spot the most perfect tenant for you, the above given tips will help you get started in the process.

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Decorating your Newly Rented Apartment

Jun 12, 2013 by

Decorating your Newly Rented Apartment

You have finally moved into your apartment and love everything about it. However, now that you are inside your apartment, you are flabbergasted as to what you should do about the decor because there are simply too many rules that must be followed.

Almost all landlords ask you not to do anything to the wall otherwise you have to be the one to pay for the repair. Because of this, there are a number of tenants who think that they have no option when it comes to decor. This however is not true in the least because even though there are rules, there is still a lot that can be done decorating your newly rented apartment.

The pointers given below will give you an idea about what you can do to make the apartment your own.

1.       One of the best ideas that apartment renters are using a lot these days is that of putting up wall decals. There are many different kinds of decals now days and you can use them either on large full walls or small concentrated walls which focus the viewer’s attention in one area. However, if you do decide to use wall decals, you should know that little is a lot here, and so, going overboard with this particular decor may make it look very overwhelming and cheap.

2.       Using leaning mirrors and artwork is a great idea when you are not allowed to put in nails in the wall. Just place a simple console behind a sofa or couch and viola; you have a brilliant leaning decor piece. This idea can be used not only for artwork and mirrors but a lot of other things such as lights etc. Although, when you are using this idea, remember to style in a particular manner so it actually does look like you put it there intentionally.

3.       Another great idea would be to use tall furniture when you are not allowed to puncture walls. So, the next time you head on out to find some new furniture for the apartment, ensure that it is tall and varied in shape and size. One recommended item that you must have in an apartment is a bookshelf that you can fill with books or other decor items. The benefit with using tall furniture like bookshelves is that you wouldn’t need to do anything else as the area would have been covered.

4.       One suggestion that the expert apartment decorators give is to use painter’s tape to create different geometric wallpapers.  You can find this sort of tape in special craft and hardware stores and then decorate them according to your own liking. Select the colours that you like and start creating your very own geometric patterns.

5.       Lastly, if you are an absolute art addict and need to get something on those walls, opt for command hooks. People who have used them say that they are blissful to use and can be quite strong. The great thing about command hooks sis that they use an adhesive which doesn’t damage the wall and so your landlord won’t have any problem.


Therefore, you see, there is no need for you to worry about the decor that you are going to be using in your apartment as there are a bunch of options that you can easily and effortlessly use.

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What’s your Rental Market?

Jun 5, 2013 by

What’s your Rental Market?

The dream of every landlord is to find the perfect tenant who pays the rent on time and doesn’t call you a lot when they need repairs. However, a very few new landlords realize that in order for you to attract the right tenant, you also need to know the rental market that you are going to be targeting.

What is the rental market you ask? Well, put in simply terms, the rental market are those people who will want to rent the apartment for its many factors. The people that are coming up to look at the rented property will depend great on the size of the property, the area and the exact location etc. For instance, if you are planning to put an apartment for rent which is in a scruffy area, you will probably not be able to attract families or professional individuals, but students who are looking for quite time will love what you have to offer.

However, if you buy a rental in an area which is good for anyone and everyone, then the rental market you have will depend on the décor or furniture that you are providing with the apartment. Once again, while cheap blank canvases will be loved by students and professionals, some families would prefer that you offer some other trendy furniture options.

Now if you are new in this line of work and don’t know the market that you should be aiming for, let me tell you about the four categories which you can target.

  1. Students
  2. Professionals
  3. Families
  4. Corporate rentals

Before you decide on the market that you want target, it is recommended that you first talk to your leasing agent who will tell you what kind of people the original property can attract. Once you have inquired about this, it’s time for you to start tailoring the apartment according to the tenant’s needs and tastes.

Given below is the list of things that each individual market will be expecting from the rental property that you are offering.

Families: Families will probably look for houses that just have the basic things as they will bring in their own furniture. However, when attracting families, make sure the property is in good presentable and decorative shape as this is what they will be looking for.

Professionals: Because young professionals often don’t have the time or energy to shop for furniture and other amenities, they will be looking for something which can provide them with the basics like a dishwasher, washing machine etc. So, decorate the apartment for this market in a trendy and fashionable manner and watch how they come running to your door.

Students: The one thing that is almost always sure with students is that they share their apartments. So, if you have a three bedroom apartment up for rent, students are the ones who are going to be coming to you. As far as the furniture goes, this market doesn’t need a lot except the very basic as they do their own thing.

Corporate rental: If your targeted market is that of the corporate rental, you will probably be required to have recent and well presented furniture. Everything will need to be in perfect order and functional as they would want something like a hotel which is fully furnished.


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Guide to Renting an Apartment

May 29, 2013 by

Guide to Renting an Apartment

In these times of bad economy and recession, searching for an apartment for rent is probably the only option that is open to you. However, even though moving in into a new apartment can be quite exciting and fun, finding the right one to suit all your needs is a daunting task. If you are someone who is looking for an apartment but are unable to find one yet, then do not fret because the guide to renting an apartment will tell you exactly what you need to do. Follow the steps below and you will rent your ideal apartment soon.


Step 1: Set a Budget

The standard rule to renting is to have one which doesn’t ask for more than 30% of your monthly salary. When searching for the right apartment, focus on your budget and try not to exceed it. However, if you do want to go over that 30%, make sure that the apartment and location is worth spending the extra money. If your budget is low, search for shared apartments but make sure that the people are according to your liking.

Step 2: Start the Search

If you don’t want to spend the extra cost that is needed when you hire a broker, you will want to look at classifieds and the newspaper in general. Also, if you are a student, look at campus bulletin boards as these will have a number of listed apartments that you can check out.  Although, if you can’t seem to find anything you like, you can always try out the internet as this is the place where you will find most variety and may even find a deal.

Step 3: Decide what you need

Once you have decided the medium of your search, you have to start thinking about what your requirements are. How many rooms do you need? What sort of an area or location do you wish to live in? Would you need parking permits? What amenities do you need etc?

Step 4: Make Your Renter’s Resume

As a renter, you must know that because the landlord needs to make sure that you will pay the rent on time, he will ask for a renter’s resume. This resume is much similar to that of a CV for a job application and so, it should contain all the information that is needed to make sure stand out from the rest of the people who wish to rent the apartment. Add references, last addresses along with the phone numbers of landlords, monthly income slips, and credit card reports as well.

Step 5: Inspect the Apartment

You like the apartment, the area and everything fits your needs perfectly, so should you now rent the apartment immediately? No, absolutely not. This is so because even though you might like everything it has, you need to take a closer look at it and ensure that everything is in order. Check the pipes for leaks, sinks and shower faucets for proper functioning, electricity appliance etc.

Step 6: Read before you Sign

Now that you have inspected the apartment and made sure that it is according to your needs, ensure to read the agreement before you sign it. Ideally, you should ask the landlord for a copy of the agreement so that you can read it thoroughly and sign the next day or when you have went through everything.

Follow the tips and steps given above and you will soon be able to find an apartment for yourself or your entire family.


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