How to Report Bad Landlords: A Guide for Tenants and Property Managers

bad landlords

Depending on who you ask, landlords are either contributing to the positive social fabric of a neighborhood or they are social parasites. While it’s not fair to demonize all landlords, many bad landlords have gotten away with crimes for decades without being held accountable. With the help of federal and local authorities, they are held responsible for problems at their properties.

Here are the three best ways to report bad landlords.

1. Try Information or 311

Depending on the severity of your complaint, you may just need to tell someone that your landlord is negligent. Landlords that leave trash around or don’t fix things that they’re supposed to can be reported to local or city authorities.

Often, information lines or 311 calls can ensure that your complaint gets logged and that the local authorities follow up. With the help of 311 or information, you can register a formal complaint and have the city back you up.

When reporting a landlord, authorities will sometimes ask for personal information. Most allow you to complain anonymously. If your landlord is violating a law and you know it, reporting via 311 anonymously can protect you from your landlord’s responses.

2. Seek Out Non-Profits

In most cities and states, there are non-profit tenants’ associations. There might even be one that covers your home that you don’t know about yet.

Go on to a search engine and type “(your city and state) housing association” or “tenants association”. You’ll come up with results that can help you solve the problems you’re dealing with.

Perhaps you don’t want to get the law involved yet. If this is the case, these associations can give you advice on how to report a bad landlord without taking things that far. Often a letter that’s signed by multiple tenants is enough.

If your landlord receives emails, these tenant associations can help you craft the perfect message.

3. Contact HUD

Many people who live in state- or city-controlled housing deal with landlord issues. Sometimes your bad landlord is the city and if this is the case, it can feel like there’s no way out.

Thankfully there is accountability within HUD and other housing authorities. IF you haven’t heard from your landlord or supervisor about a problem that needs to be fixed, contact the housing authority.

If your apartment is controlled by city or state laws or if you’re part of a housing program, you can probably be protected by HUD. A violation from HUD will send the fear of god into your landlord, which might be what it takes when you’re dealing with serious issues.

Bad Landlords Need Accountability

Without accountability, bad landlords get paid to provide unethical living conditions for people who can’t afford to own their home. An unethical landlord must be held accountable so that their tenants can live fairly in healthy and reasonable conditions. Thankfully, there are resources for people being abused by their landlords.

If you want to know more about your landlord, check out our guide for seeking a landlords credit report.

The Renters’ Rights All Tenants Should Know

renters' rights

Even though America is largely a country of homeowners, over 75 million households still live in rented homes. While homeownership offers many freedoms (like you can live with as many pets as the property can accommodate), renting comes with restrictions.

But, when do these renter restrictions cross the line? Did you know that as a renter, you have rights entrenched in law?

This article is all about renters’ rights. A decent understanding of these rights will enable you to make the most of living in a rented property.

The Right to Non-discrimination

The landlord reserves the right to approve or reject a tenant’s application.

You’ve probably come across this statement in your rental or lease application forms. And rightly so, there are legitimate reasons a landlord can deny your application. Common reasons include:

  • Bad credit
  • No verifiable source of income
  • Past evictions
  • Unsatisfactory references
  • Criminal background.

However, it’s illegal for a landlord to reject your application because of your race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, marital status, age, national origin, and disability (physical or mental). This is why if you’re disapproved, you have a right to know the reason, and the reason must be satisfactory.

The Right to a Habitable Home

Are you currently living in a rented home with exposed electrical wires, leaky plumbing, extensive pest infestation or in any other condition that makes the place inhabitable?

If the home ticks any of these characteristics, your right to a habitable home is possibly being violated.

It’s a legal requirement for landlords to ensure the units they are putting up for rent meet the standards of habitability. In the event that a house develops inhabitable conditions after you move in, you have a right to landlord repairs – at no cost to you.

The Right to Privacy

As a homeowner, no one can just storm into your residence and invade your privacy. Even law enforcement officers looking to search your property must have a search warrant– unless probable cause is established.

As a tenant, though, it’s easy to feel that the landlord can barge in at any time. They own the property, after all.

The good news is your right to privacy is spelled out in the Fourth Amendment, as well as in most state and local housing laws. Yes, your landlord can enter your property, but that’s after giving you notice beforehand. Still, they can only enter to inspect the property for structural issues, or when there is a fire or other emergency.

Security Deposits

Many states give landlords the right to ask for a security deposit from tenants. The amount, though, can vary depending on the local laws, length of the lease, and whether you’re moving in with a pet(s).

When you move out, the landlord returns your deposit, less the amount used to fix damages, repaint and clean the house. However, security deposit disputes are very common.

Sometimes landlords won’t return the deposit, other times they return less than a tenant feels justifiable. And other times a tenant parts with more cash, often in cases where the current deposit cannot adequately cover the needed repairs.

As a tenant, know that you have a right to get your deposit back as soon as possible, usually within 30 days. If there’s a dispute, you can take it to a small claims court.

Understanding Renters’ Rights – An Attorney Will Help

While reading this article is a good place to begin in your quest to know your renters’ rights, it’s barely enough. Like most legal issues, landlord-tenant law can be complex.

When you’re looking to rent, or you feel that your rights have been violated, it’s essential to get a landlord-tenant lawyer. This professional will shed more light on your situation.

While at it, here is what you need to know about a landlords credit report.

What You Need to Know About a Landlords Credit Report

landlords credit report

If you are planning on renting property, your landlord may have told you he is going to run a credit check. What a terrifying prospect.

Will he be able to see you didn’t pay your rent on October 1st, 2009? What about your credit cards?

Calm down.

Landlords do this as a means of mitigating risk when renting out properties. There are some things you should be aware of a renter. For example, there are some cases where this may affect your credit score.

Your landlord just wants to make sure you will be able to pay your rent each month. Here we will discuss what you need to know about a landlord’s credit report.

Why Does a Landlord Look at This?

A landlord’s livelihood is dependent on your ability to pay the monthly rent. Legally your landlord can do this, but you must give written permission. This can be written into the rental agreement.

Read the fine print.

This can seem invasive. Understand that you are entering into a legally binding agreement.

What Information Can Be Found?

Depending on the reporting agency your landlord uses, he could receive information from the past seven to ten years. You may see the following:

  • whether you have filed bankruptcy
  • convictions or arrests (depending on the state)
  • recent evictions (depending on the state)
  • late or delinquent bills, including any loans and rent
  • involvements in lawsuits

Your landlord may be able to see your credit score, depending on the reporting agency he chooses. Your landlord can use this in determining whether or not to rent to you. The higher your credit score, the lower the risk you present to him.

How Will He Get a Landlord’s Credit Report?

Your landlord needs your name, address, and either their Individual Taxpayer Identification Number or Social Security Number.

All of this information should be on the rental application.

Make sure you know how much (if any) credit check fees your landlord charges.

Once you have this information and have consent, you can get a credit report from a variety of sources.

Landlord Associations

Some of these organizations will offer landlord’s credit checks for a fee. These will count as hard inquiries that will impact your credit score.

Credit Bureaus

He can receive a report from Equifax, TransUnion, or Experian. These are special reports for landlords and will count as soft inquiries.

Tenant Screening Services

Some of these services will offer credit checks. He will request to know whether or not you, as a renter, meet certain credit requirements. It will count as a soft inquiry.

Being Aware of Landlord-Tenant Law

Before you rent a property, be sure to know some of the basics of landlord-tenant law. You do not need to be a lawyer, but you don’t want to enter into any contracts without proper knowledge.

If you are renting a property and have any questions beyond the landlord’s credit report, feel free to reach out to us.

Should You Hire a Property Manager for Your Airbnb?

airbnb property management

It’s easy to see the potential financial benefits of Airbnb in today’s era of side hustles and gig economies, especially if you live in a tourist destination. But Airbnb property management takes a lot more time and expertise than most people realize.

Whether you renting your own property or an investment one, being a host is far from passive. Managing bookings and cleaning schedules, communicating with guests and prospects, and maintaining your rentals all require time and money.

If you’re doing it all yourself, you could be sabotaging your profitability.

Take a look at why many hosts choose to hire a property management company to handle their Airbnb venture.

What Does an Airbnb Property Management Company Do?

Mastering the short-term rental market is no easy feat. You don’t have the luxury of having guaranteed income for weeks or months at a time, which means you need a continuous supply of renters to maximize your income.

Enter property managers, the real heroes of an Airbnb business.

They do all the heavy lifting for you, from responding to prospective guests to managing listings and cleaning schedules.

Airbnb property managers make it possible for anyone to become an Airbnb host, even if you don’t have the time to personally invest in the business. They take most of the work off your shoulders so you can focus on other things.

And, in many cases, becoming profitable with Airbnb rentals simply isn’t attainable without a good property manager.

Benefits of Hiring a Property Manager

Having the right property manager for your Airbnb rentals can be the difference between a full house or an empty nest.

Property managers specialize in creating listings, sourcing renters, and pricing strategies to attract guests. This gives you an edge over the competition in your area because you benefit from the property manager’s experience.

In addition, leaving all the details to the manager gives you more flexibility. You don’t have to be on-site for every check-in or check-out. You can run other businesses while enjoying an Airbnb revenue stream.

As a result, you can spend less time trying to figure out how to turn a profit and more time enjoying the results.

Downsides to Consider

Hiring a property manager isn’t without its flaws. For starters, it costs money.

Property management fees can vary between companies, but either way, it’s an expense that eats into your overall gains.

Sourcing a reputable company has its challenges, too. This niche market has experienced rapid growth in recent years. With over 4 million Airbnb listings worldwide, there’s much incentive and a low bar to entry for management companies.

If you choose a management company, it’s important you do your research to ensure you can get the best possible ROI.

Final Thoughts: Hire a Company or Do It Yourself?

Doing your own property management isn’t always the cheaper option, especially if you lack experience. The time you spend learning how to market and price your rental can quickly negate any financial benefit of running your business yourself.

Hiring an Airbnb property management company can allow you to maximize your rental for less than what you’d spend doing it yourself. Let eFind Agent help you find the best property management company for your Airbnb rental.

The Property Managers Guide to How to Screen Tenants

how to screen tenants

Investment properties turn sour with the wrong tenants. Those who seemed trustworthy and responsible at first could end up doing a 180 after a couple of months.

You need to know how to screen tenants using methods that’ll provide good decision-making information.

It’s your responsibility to vet tenants but what if finding the info is difficult? In this article, we share four helpful tenant screening tips.

Property Management 101: How to Screen Tenants like a Pro

You lose money the longer a property sits on the market. This puts you in a bind because you need someone in, but you don’t want to rush your judgment. A person can seem wonderful, then become a hellion once you give them keys.

Clients come to property managers to avoid the mess of troubling tenants. If you show a consistent record of picking good tenants, you’ll do great in this industry.

Here are a few ways worth applying:

1. Create a Screening “System”

Using a different process when screening each tenant wastes time. Variable screening could omit important info, too. The screening process is repetitive, so creating a “system” streamlines your efforts.

Your process may include:

  • Screening checklist
  • Tenant criteria
  • Background checks
  • Tenant questions
  • Meetups and tours

The systemization of your process creates renter standards. You’ll use this system for each applicant, offering better organization throughout the process.

2. Adhere to the Law

No good will come from rental bias as it could land you in legal troubles. It’s best to approach every application methodically while understanding current rental laws.

  • Learn and respect the Fair Housing Act
  • Know what makes the lease binding
  • Be mindful of your language
  • Document everything

Use standard applications and documentation to avoid legal omissions. This best practice can protect you from discrimination claims.

3. Get What You Need from the Application

You’re looking for a few items:

  • Contacts
  • Financials
  • Lifestyle

The app should include job and landlord references letting you see if they’re quick to bail. Financials often include a credit check or banking balances ensuring renters cover expenses. Plus, pets and job title could reveal a little more about their lifestyle choices.

These items don’t fully define an applicant but will offer decision-making insights. The information can influence your security deposit pricing, too.

4. Get a Credit and Background Check

Order a credit report through one of the main credit agencies. Review the applicant’s credit history and debt.

Red flags could include:

  • Repeat late payments
  • Too many credit inquiries
  • Defaults or bankruptcy

You may use this time to run background checks with Intelius or Instant Checkmate. These reports aren’t cheap but save money forgoing troubling tenants and potential damages.

Look for:

  • Evictions
  • Criminal records
  • Driving records
  • Licenses

Using social media isn’t uncommon in today’s rental environment, either. A glance at social profiles can reveal a person’s lifestyle rather bluntly.

Know Your Boundaries – But Do Your Due Diligence

Renters have legal rights, making screening difficult if you want to know everything. That’s why knowing how to screen tenants is so important. Use what’s available as noted in this guide, staying within reason.

Also, know you’re not right 100% of the time but research is better than blind trust.

Want more? Get in the head of realty agents and learn what they know to become a better property manager. Browse our real estate blog section for tips and tricks.