Rental Agents: A Guide To Understanding Their Roles

rental agents

Going into property management without hiring a rental agent is a mistake. There are far too many responsibilities for one person to manage.

Rental agents take some of the hard and technical work off your shoulders. Most property managers purchase property to invest in their future. With such an important end goal, you must do everything you can to protect that asset.

Learn about the roles of rental agents. Find out how they can help you increase the value of your property.

What are Rental Agents?

The role of a rental agent or leasing agent is wide and varied. Essentially, they perform duties related to assisting the property manager with running their rental property.

They are not required to have a college degree, but they have to have a license to work in most states and a GED

The Responsibilities of Rental Agents

The role of a rental agent depends on what the specific needs of a property manager are. There are some general responsibilities most specialize in.

These are the tasks that would be in your best interest to leave in the hands of an experienced professional.

Screening Tenants

This is perhaps the most important aspect of rental real estate agents. Prospective renters need to be thoroughly vetted. Otherwise, you will go through a lot of hassle to evict them.

Rental agents pre-qualify tenants. Once a prospective tenant expresses interest in the property, the rental agent will perform a credit and background check. This is to make sure that a tenant will be a good fit.

You can screen tenants on your own following this straightforward checklist. With something as important as deciding on renters, you should trust a professional with experience.

Maintenance

Rental property agents take on the responsibility of making the property move-in ready. Basic property maintenance doesn’t mean they have to do repairs themselves. They need to have a plan in place when needed.

Once the tenant moves in, the responsibility of maintenance often transitions to the property manager.

If a tenant reports a problem after they’ve moved in, the property manager decides who to dispatch to fix the issue and when.

Lease Agreements

They are also in charge of lease agreements. This involves documenting the agreement and terms for each renter. It also includes collecting deposits for new rentals. 

Renewing and rewriting lease agreements falls under their responsibilities. When it’s necessary to terminate a lease, you can give a rental agent the authority to carry that out.

It may be wise to relegate these duties. This is because you must be familiar with local real estate laws and federal Fair Housing regulations. A rental agent is familiar with these.

Learn More about Property Management

Rental agents are a great asset to property managers when utilized properly. They can handle a lot of the more tedious responsibilities. You can spend more time dealing with other aspects of your business.

In addition to hiring a rental agent, there are many other ways you can increase the profit from your rental property. For more information, contact us today!

A Quick and Helpful Tenant Screening Checklist

tenant screening

Have you ever had nightmare tenants? This can not only cause tremendous stress but also impact your rental property income and interfere with your life. This is why having a robust tenant screening process is vital and will help you to secure the best tenants for peace of mind and a steady income.

Keep reading for a tenant screening checklist that every property manager should use.

ID Verification & Criminal Background Check

First, you need to make sure that tenants have a valid form of ID to prove that they are who they say they are.

A criminal background check is a vital step in the tenant screening process, which should include checking both national and state records. Many landlords have no issue with renting to someone with a criminal history, but it is important to be aware of their history beforehand.

Credit Check & Bank Statements

A credit check is another important step when it comes to property management. You need to use a credit check to see if they are responsible with their finances, if they have any outstanding debt and whether they are in a financial position to comfortably afford rent and other financial obligations.

You should also ask for 3 months worth of financial records to check that they will be able to afford rent and to gauge their financial responsibility. Money is not everything, but it will play a major role and you need to find tenants that you can rely on to pay rent each month.

Employment Check

It is also a good idea to contact employers when screening a tenant. They will be able to verify their position and you could cross-check financial records with paystubs to confirm income. If the individual is self-employed, you will want to check their tax return and bank statements to get an idea of their financial situation.

Prior Landlords

One of the best ways to determine whether or not the tenant will be reliable is to contact prior landlords. In addition to being able to confirm whether or not there were any issues relating to rent, they will also be able to tell you if they caused any issues during the tenancy agreement. There are questions that you could ask, such as:

  • Did they pay rent on time?
  • What condition did they leave the property in?
  • Were there complaints from neighbors?
  • Did they contact you when there was a problem?
  • Would you recommend them?

Phone Call/Meeting

Picking tenants is an important decision that will impact both your life and finances. It is a good idea to schedule a phone call or meeting so that you can get any questions answered and so that you can get a feel for them – it is important to go with your gut in this situation. A few questions that you could ask include:

  • Why are you moving?
  • How long do you plan on staying?
  • Do you have pets?
  • Do you smoke?
  • What do you do in your spare time?

You may have your own criteria for the rental property and this stage will help you to find the right tenants. Crucially, keep fair housing laws in mind during this stage and avoid any kind of discrimination.

Use Tenant Screening to Secure the Best Tenants

This tenant screening checklist will help you to filter your applicants and find the best tenants for your rental property.

Contact us today to learn more about property management and maximizing your investment.

Rent Increases: How and When to Raise Your Rental Property Rates

rent increases

With the rising cost of living, building materials, wages, and more, rent increases are a normal part of owning or managing a rental property. But how do you increase rent for your tenants? Is there a right and wrong way to go about it?

Keep reading to learn the basics of how and when to raise your rental property rates!

Know the Rules for Rent Increases

Legally, there are rules about when and how you can conduct rent increases. Rent increase laws say that you cannot increase rent for a tenant in the middle of the term of a lease. You must wait until the lease is up before you can give notice of rent increases.

If you have a yearly lease, this means you can increase once a year. If you rent by the month, you can increase at the end of any given month.

In most states, you have to give your tenants at least 30 days’ notice before you raise their rent. However, it is important to check the laws for your state because if you are increasing your rent above a certain percentage, you may need to give your tenants more advance notice.

Research the Rental Market in Your Area

Before you decide how much you want to increase the rent for your property, you should research the average rent increase per year in your area.

Conducting research is a great way to help ease any conversations that you may have with questioning tenants about the increase. You can address their concerns with solid evidence and research. You can also explain that your rent increase is reflective of rising rent costs in the area, as well as a rising cost of living and cost of property management and maintenance.

Raise the Rent a Little At a Time

Raising rent by a large amount every few years is a very unsettling experience for your tenants. The sharp increase could lead to you losing some of your tenants!

The best way to conduct rent increases is to raise a small amount each year. These raises should always be supported by your market research, and the tenants should be alerted with ample notice.

However, increasing rent by small amounts doesn’t cause as much immediate financial strain for your tenants and will increase your chances of having them renew their leases for the following year.

Write the Perfect Notice Letter

If you are planning to raise the rent, then you need to send out a rent increase notice letter to anyone staying at your rental property. This letter should include:

  • Information like the date, address, and name of the tenant
  • Key information about the lease like when it expires and when the new rent cost would take effect
  • Information about the rent, like the current amount, the new amount, and the date that the new amount will be due
  • The date you want to be notified as to whether they are renewing their lease
  • A friendly closing letting them know that you hope they will choose to renew their lease

Your letter should be friendly but professional. Write a welcoming introduction and a familiar closing, but be sure to give all of the necessary information your tenants will need in the body paragraphs of your letter.

Will You Be Raising Rent?

Investing in real estate and managing properties is a worthwhile experience. However, it is good to learn as much as you can about the rules of processes like rent increases so that you can develop the best possible relationship with your tenants.

Are you thinking about getting into real estate investing and property management? Contact us today to learn more!

Property Manager vs Landlord: What’s the Difference?

property manager vs landlord

What does it take to be a good property manager? What about to be a good landlord? Well, it won’t surprise you to learn that the skills for either one are similar. However, their work environment and responsibilities differ. So if you are thinking about getting into property management of any kind you should know the key differences between a property manager vs landlord.

Read below to learn more about each one and whether you would be a good fit.

What Is a Property Manager?

A property manager is an individual that is paid by the building owner to perform certain tasks for the tenants of the building. Property managers usually work in large multi-unit apartment complexes, multi-family buildings, or commercial properties (i.e., an office building). A property manager may also manage several properties owned by the same person or group.

The duties of a property manager may include but are not limited to:

  • Preparing units for new tenants
  • Advertising the property
  • Interviewing prospective tenants
  • Collecting rent
  • Managing tenant complaints/arranging repairs
  • Oversee other employees on the property
  • Handle records for tax purposes
  • Keep building up-to-code at all times

Although they do not own the property, property managers have a lot of responsibility to the building owner and the tenants. When tenants have problems or questions the property manager is the first person they contact.

What Is a Landlord?

A landlord is usually an individual who owns a property and rents to tenants. Landlords manage smaller buildings such as single-family rental properties or small multi-family rental properties. With smaller properties, it makes more sense for a landlord to manage the property instead of hiring a building manager to do it.

Sometimes the landlord will live in one of the units of a multi-unit building so they can better manage the building on-site. The duties of a landlord include but are not limited to:

  • Manage repair requests
  • Collect rent
  • Oversee rent agreements/leases
  • Handle tenants disputes/complaints
  • Screen potential tenants
  • Execute eviction policies

As you can see, the day-to-day responsibilities of a landlord are similar to a property manager. However, the landlord may not have as much financial freedom to hire vendors to help with things like landscaping and repairs.

Property Manager vs. Landlord 

The main difference between a property manager and landlord is the type of building they manage and their ownership status. Property managers manage larger buildings with more tenants and they don’t typically have any ownership in the building. Landlords manage smaller residential buildings and usually own the building or the units they rent out to tenants. 

Keys to Property Management

Now that you understand the differences between a property manager vs landlord, you can decide whether one of these roles is right for you. If you are a highly motivated, organized, people person then property management might be the right choice.

And if you’re looking to get started as a landlord by purchasing a rental property, contact us online. Our agents can help you find the best opportunity for rental properties!

A Landlord’s Guide to the Eviction Process

eviction process

Evicting tenants isn’t easy, especially if you’ve never had to go through it. On top of being a costly process, it can be a stressful one.

Unfortunately, most landlords will find themselves in this situation at least once. If your tenants refuse to play ball, eviction may be your only option. Thorough background checks can alleviate this issue, but some bad tenants can still slip through the cracks.

The good news: you can break the eviction process into four simple steps. Here’s what you should know about this side of property management.

Know Your Laws

Before you can evict a tenant, you need to know your state’s eviction laws. Reviewing them is particularly important if you’ve recently moved.

Knowing the laws can help you with writing lease agreements as well. If you know what to include, you won’t have to spend as much time reviewing the laws later. Alternatively, you can hire a property manager to take care of the tenants for you.

Check for Violations

When it comes to how to evict a tenant, the first thing you’ll need is a valid reason. Here’s a list of common violations of the lease agreement:

• Damaging the property

• Failing to pay rent

• Disrupting other tenants

• Staying after the lease expires

• Using the property for illegal purposes

Make sure to document evidence of violations. This may serve as evidence in court, so be as thorough as possible. These documents can include text conversations with the tenant, photos of damages, and bounced checks.

Issue an Eviction Notice

If you can’t come to terms with the tenant, your next step is to send them an eviction notice. This won’t automatically evict them, but it lets them know what they can do before the case goes to court.

There are three types of eviction notices: a notice to cure or quit, a notice to pay rent or quit, and a notice to quit. The former two give the tenant a chance to remedy the situation. The latter option simply sets a date by which the tenant needs to leave the property.

File for Eviction

If the tenant hasn’t moved out by the time specified in the notice, you’ll need to file for eviction. You can do so in your local housing court.

At the courthouse, you’ll need to prove that the tenant had enough time to respond to the notice. To do so, you can use the tenant’s dated signature or a certified mail receipt. Once you’ve provided proof, you’ll receive a scheduled court date.

If the case gets to trial, your best bet is to let the evidence speak for itself. If you win your case, the judge will give your tenant a time limit to vacate your property.

More on the Eviction Process

Keep in mind that this is just a basic overview of the eviction process. As straightforward as it is, individual circumstances can disrupt it. If you want to make sure you haven’t skipped any steps, hire an eviction lawyer to help you.

Want to avoid going through the tenant eviction process in the future? Check out our tips on how to find the right tenants for your property!