The following is a guest post from Houston, Texas real estate developer and entrepreneur Tracy Suttles.
In any given economy, there are always tried and true measures to finding quality renters for a property. Following these easy steps can assist landlords in locating, keeping, and maintaining a long term relationship with a renter.
Advertising Rental Properties
The first step in the rental process is actually figuring out the best way to advertise the rental property. Online ads, websites such as Craigslist.org, newspaper ads, signs, and word of mouth are all excellent tools for finding renters. First, the owner should set aside an advertising budget and then also consider which free tools are available to find a renter.
Once potential renters are found, the next step is to walk them through the rental property and then discuss the rent, the owner’s role in maintenance, and the length of the rental.
Collecting a Deposit and Processing a Credit Check
The first step in the rental process should be a credit check. The owner should create a standard application form that the applicant signs and gives their permission for a credit check. There are many free sites available for landlords to print off applications and process credit checks on renters.
There are also sites that for a small fee will offer credit checks and past rental histories. Sites such as TenantVerification.com, e-renter.com, and the Landlord Protection Agency or thelpa.com are wonderful resources in order to verify employment, credit, and references.
Once the owner is satisfied with the results of the credit and employment verification process then the next step would be to sign a legal rental contract and collect a deposit. An owner can ask for both the first and last month’s rent for a deposit or ask for just the amount of one month’s rent.
Depending on the value of the property and the maintenance costs, the deposit would consist of an amount that the owner is comfortable with and is also not too costly for the potential tenant.
Signing the Contract and Negotiating the Terms of a Rental
The rental property should be ready to move in and all terms should be discussed up front with the potential renters. The owner should either draw up a legal contract from a legal form (either free or one that requires a small fee to copy) or have an attorney or paralegal assist them with a contract.
All the legalities should be in layman’s terms and the owner should allow the potential renter time to read and examine said contract before signing. If the renter wants to add any stipulations to the contract then they should notify the owner in writing. The owner than is able to add the terms to the contract and both parties will sign.
The owner should take detailed pictures of the property before the renter moves in to ensure that the renter cannot claim that any damage was present before their occupation. There should also be a final walk through by both parties and they should both sign a document that verifies the conditions of the property at the time of possession.
This way both the owner and the renter are protected and any damage that occurs due to negligence on either parties behalf can be dealt with.