What You Should Know About Property Inspections

TurboTenant aims to be the easiest landlord software to use. They also have a great price for landlords and property managers — 100% free.

TurboTenant Recommends MoveIn.Space

In their article “What You Should Know About Property Inspections“, they say

. . . a condition report can be as simple as a checklist that you and your tenants complete together. Plus, if you choose an online version, you can even upload photos and easily email a copy to your tenant. Websites like MoveIn.Space allow landlords and tenants to easily document the property’s condition online.

Business in the Cloud, at KLAY 1180, on July 8, 2016

Every Friday at 3:00 pm Pacific on KLAY 1180, David Eichner, host of Business on the Cloud, discusses “what’s on the cutting edge of today’s cloud technology and how it can work for you”.

He invited Josh Rosenthal on to the air for a 15-minute discussion of MoveIn.Space and the two ended talking for an hour.

Beta is Born

Please try the private beta of MoveIn.Space/walkthrough and tell us:

  • what do you like?
  • what can be added?

Use the Beta

MoveIn.Space is an easy online walkthrough inspection tool for a landlord and tenant to increase the peace:

  1. create a walkthrough report
  2. get reminded to do it again
  3. compare the move-in and move-out reports

Prove “it was like that at move-in” and reduce security deposit-related conflicts.

It’s Free

MoveIn.Space is free for both landlords and tenants, and will soon include additional features.

Ten Documents You Can’t Afford To Be Without In Your New Apartment

Effective Coverage is an insurance provider dedicated to renters. In their article “Ten Documents You Can’t Afford To Be Without In Your New Apartment” their first suggestion is to do a walkthrough.

#1 Proof Of Your Apartment Walkthrough

Josh Rosenthal of MoveIn.space tells us that a copy of your apartment walkthrough is absolutely one of the ten documents every apartment dweller should have on hand.  The landlord probably has a check sheet, but you should take pictures as well.

Proving “it was like that at move-in” saves landlords and tenants from major headaches. It also helps insurance companies in case of loss.  These reasons are why I founded MoveIn.space – a super-simple means of documenting walkthrough inspections.

The service has launched and you can sign up for MoveIn.space here right now!  It’s quick and painless to use, just log in with your existing Google account and start making notes and adding pictures of the condition of your apartment.  Once you’re done, copies of the walkthrough can be sent to both you and the landlord by email.

Just having a list of things that are broken or missing isn’t enough.  If there’s a dispute between you and your landlord and it ends up in court, you’ll want those pictures to prove the condition of the apartment when you moved into it!

 

 

 

Getting What You Want From Your Landlord

Yes, you can get what you want from your landlord, despite what people say. Even if he’s the stingiest of individuals, there are ways to get through his hard shell so he can soften up enough to give in.

Fox5 Atlanta has a good article on the four ways to get what you want from your landlord. And nope, you won’t be required to do any witchcraft. It provides advice that’s really obvious but uncommonly followed by some tenants like paying the rent in full and on time, to the surprising ones like being an unofficial property monitor for your landlord.

You might find out that it takes some work before your landlord starts to favor you, but hey, nothing in life is free anymore. Just think about the days when you were still in school and you tried your hardest to become the teacher’s pet, even if it meant that the other kids won’t like you. That’s how it is with landlords — you gotta try hard (and maybe make a few enemies with your neighbors) before they attempt to consider any of your requests. Who knows, maybe they’d give you a discount for next month’s rent or let you adopt all the dogs at the shelter if you’re good enough.

Can A Tenant Be Evicted By A New Landlord?

So, you’re a tenant at this wonderful place, then all of a sudden, you get a new landlord. You’re confused because you loved the previous one and now the new one is implementing all these rules. You’re worried that you might get evicted, but did you know that new landlords can’t just evict pre-existing tenants?

That’s right. According to an article on What Mortgage, there are certain laws that protect a tenant from being kicked out of a property by a new landlord. You might say that it only applies to the UK, but if you read the article carefully, it can actually be applied to US properties as well, as the laws between the two countries are quite similar.

If you’re a tenant who suddenly has a new landlord, always know that they’re not legally allowed to kick you out of the place if you still have some time left on your lease. Sure, they’re allowed to increase the rent, but they have to give you a notice beforehand. Also, they’re not allowed to enter your premises without informing you 24 hours prior. Knowing your rights as a tenant might be a bit confusing, but it helps you find out if a landlord is being shady or not.

Withholding A Tenant’s Security Deposit

As a landlord, you have power over your tenants so long as you don’t abuse said power and everything you do is still legal. However, you might have a few questions regarding security deposits and if you should deduct or withhold all of it. So long as they follow the terms of their lease, you should always return their security deposit once it has expired. But if you incurred some expenses during their stay on your property, then you should know about the certain situations when a landlord can legally keep a portion or all of the tenant’s deposit.

When is it acceptable for a landlord to keep the security deposit?

States have different laws about keeping a tenant’s security deposit. It’s quite tricky to determine if the deduction you’re going to do is legal or not, so make sure you check the property laws or the state, county, and city where you’re operating before you pocket that deposit. However, if your tenant commits one of the following offenses, then there’s a good chance that you can keep that money to yourself.

If your tenant terminates their lease early

As a landlord, you can keep all or a portion of their security deposit if they terminate their lease early. The reason for this is because you have to cover the money they’ll be costing you because they breached the contract. So you have to make sure that you include an early termination clause in your lease or else your tenant won’t have the obligation to abide by this rule.

If you chose to take the matter to court, you can charge your tenant with attorney fees and other necessary expenses.

If you tenant didn’t pay the rent

Most states allow a landlord to keep the security deposit when a tenant refuses to pay their rent. Non-payment of monthly rent is considered to be an automatic breach of the lease. As a landlord, you have no other choice because it’s the only way to cover the lost rent.

If they damaged your property

One of the most common reasons why tenants have conflicts (click here to read more reasons why) with their landlords is because of property damage. Fingers will be pointed, deductions will be made to the deposit, and relationships will be ruined. As a landlord, you should know how to determine the difference between normal wear and tear and deliberate damage to your property. Here are a few examples:

Normal wear and tear

  • Mildew in the bathroom tiles
  • Small carpet stains
  • Dirty grout lines within the tiles in the property
  • Tarnishing on metallic fixtures
  • Nail holes on the wall from hanging frames
  • Loose handles or hinges on doors or cabinets

Deliberate damage

  • Multiple or huge holes on the walls
  • Extensive water damage on wooden floors
  • Outlet covers are missing
  • Smoke or carbon monoxide detectors are damaged or missing
  • Cracked countertops
  • Huge stains/holes on the carpet
  • Broken windows and doors
  • Unreturned keys by the end of the tenant’s lease

To cover for cleaning costs

Usually, a landlord isn’t allowed to dip his hands into the security deposit if it’s going to be used for the clean-up of normal wear and tear. You’re expected to clean the unit before your next tenant officially moves in. If the past tenant left extensive damage to the property, then you can definitely keep their money.

Let’s have an example, shall we? If you tenant finally moves out and left a bag of garbage waiting for you outside the door of the unit, you don’t have enough reason to justify a deduction from their security deposit because of the “labor” you’re going to do by throwing it away. However, if they decided to leave their trash all over the apartment, with some of their belongings still left inside the cabinets, then, of course, you can keep a portion of their security deposit. If you allow pets on your property, you can charge a tenant if they let their pet use the carpet as a toilet– but remember to just deduct enough to cover the costs and don’t go over it.

Unpaid utility bills

This one can be quite tricky. If the bills are still under your or your property’s name, you can keep the deposit to cover the utilities that your tenant failed to pay. However, if it was under the tenant’s name, then it’s the responsibility of the utility companies to collect the payment.

Remember:

  • Always have an inventory checklist with the condition of the items included. Use this as a baseline for comparison between your tenant’s move-in and move-out day.
  • Have an itemized receipt of the deductions you’ve made ready. This should be handed over to the tenant along with the check to their remaining security deposit as proof that the deductions were used properly. This can also help if they have any disputes about the deductions.
  • Take plenty of photos of the property before the tenant moves in and do the same thing once you’ve noticed the damages they’ve done. Websites such as MoveIn.Space can help you document these photos properly which makes it easier for you to pull them up as proof.
  • Know your state’s rules and timelines regarding the return of security deposits.

Have you ever had any experience as a landlord with keeping a tenant’s security deposit? Share your story in the comments below!

No Property But Need Income? Be A Passive Landlord via REITs

Yes, you can be a landlord even if you don’t own a property. How is this possible? Real estate investment trusts (REITs) is the answer!

The Motley Fool provides a good explanation about investing in REITs and collecting income as a “landlord” without having to deal with the painful stuff (aka mortgages, tenants, etc.) It sounds amazing and too good to be true, but it’s something that more and more people are investing in.

It’s true that it’s quite difficult to own a property, especially with how finicky the economy is. You can wait for years for the value of your property to increase before you sell or you can choose to invest in REITs now and collect passive income. It’s pretty much letting your money work for you and it may be a better option than risking your money in the stock market.

Depending on your area, REITs have the potential to provide a high income for you because there are some places where the tax for it is low, or sometimes even tax-free. This could be a better option for you if you’re interested in having a property in your portfolio but don’t have the energy nor the patience to deal with tenants, repairs, and mortgages constantly.

Dealing With A Crazy Landlord

This isn’t a perfect world, so a landlord who is lovely and won’t make your head hurt doesn’t exist. If you’re really unlucky, though, you might end up with the landlord described in a letter sent to LA West Media’s Inside Real Estate. The landlord had the audacity to send an email to his tenants (who are all still in college) full of comments about how “stupid” college-aged kids are. Of course, the mother of one of those tenants got upset and asked for advice regarding the rights of her daughter against the landlord.

There’s some pretty good advice in the answer from the article. California is pretty tough when it comes fair housing laws, and what the landlord did might qualify as something that’s discriminatory, considering that he’s male and his tenants are all females.

As for Azita, the mother of one of the tenants, it might really be best if she asked her daughter and her daughter’s roommates to vacate the property before filing any legal actions. The dude seems a little off center, so having physical space may be best.

15 Revealing Questions from a Potential Tenant to a Landlord

For millennials, it’s exciting to finally have a place to call home that isn’t owned by their parents or their university — to be called “tenant” and not someone kid or student. Sometimes, the excitement gets too much that they end up biting more than what they can chew. They pay too much for a place that’s crawling with pests or live in a neighborhood where they can get stabbed if they peek outside. And you have to believe it when people tell you that landlords will say anything you wanna hear just so you could sign the dotted line!

So, if you’re new in the rental game, here are 15 questions that you should ask your landlord before signing that lease.

  1. Can you confirm the rent/deposits/utility costs?

    • Sometimes, listings are outdated and can show a higher price. Asking the landlord to confirm the price can prevent you from overpaying.
    • On the other hand, if the landlord states a higher price than what was advertised, tell them about it. You can usually get the lower price by doing so.
    • Sure, the price of the rent is just right for your budget, but that doesn’t mean that you can actually afford it. Utility bills can affect the total cost of living in your chosen place. Ask early on about it or else you might realize that you can’t afford it until it’s too late.
  2. Am I required to pay for any deposits or non-refundable fees? If so, what are they for?

    • Contrary to what landlords might tell you, but some state laws actually prohibit the implementation of non-refundable fees. And yet some landlords still do it . . ..
    • If they tell you that they do have non-refundable fees, go home and research your state laws. Check if the landlord is legally allowed to ask for non-refundable fees/deposits.
    • Then again, if you really love the place, you already know what kind of money you have to prepare before you sign the lease.
  3. Do you have a tenant application process and screening criteria?

    • Do you really want to just wing it and pray hard that the landlord will accept your application? Go ahead and ask them to lay out the process of their application and screening. This sets your expectations if you really want to get the unit.
    • Also, ask if they require any fees for the process.
    • There’s also a good chance that a credit report might be required by the landlord.
  4. By when do you want the unit to be occupied?

    • This avoids headaches if asked during the start of your conversation with the landlord. There are some instances when a landlord wants the unit to be occupied asap but the prospective tenant won’t be able to move in until a later date.
    • It’s a total waste of time and effort if you and the landlord can’t agree on the move-in date, so it’s better to figure things out earlier.
  5. What payment methods do you prefer for the rent?

    • Landlords have the freedom to designate which form of payments they want to accept, and usually, they have different methods to choose from.
    • However, if your landlord only accepts cash, then be suspicious. Be very, very suspicious.
    • Since it’s the modern age, always opt for online payments. It’s more secure, you can automate it, and it’s convenient for you and your landlord.
  6. Do you have any policies on late fees?

    • Late fees are allowed in almost every state, but there are limits. They should be fair. Your landlord is not allowed to overcharge you.
    • Be wary of landlords who will let you pay whenever you can, because that means they’re dishonoring their own lease agreement.
  7. Are early lease terminations allowed? What are the fees involved?

    • There are times when you just have to break your lease. Life is unpredictable. If your landlord truly knows that he’s doing, then he should have an early termination clause included in the lease.
    • There are instances when a landlord only requires a tenant to pay 2-3 months’ worth of rent, or if he’s a bit cruel, he might require payment until he can find a replacement tenant (which could take months!)
  8. What is your ideal tenant?

    • This is how you can determine if your landlord if discriminatory or not. They have the potential to be unfair if you hear them say anything too specific about this question.
    • Alternatively, this is also one way to find out if you’re the right person to rent the place.
  9. Do you have any policy regarding pets? Would I be required to pay a fee or a deposit?

    • It’s easier to find a vacant property where no pets are allowed, but sometimes, landlords will let exceptions slide depending on your reason (usually, they allow service pets)
    • If they do have a policy regarding pets, ask them if there are any prohibited breeds, fees/deposits, and other rules to follow.
  10. Will I be able to renew the lease once it has ended?

    • There are landlords who already know what they’re going to do to their property once your lease has ended. There are those who want to sell it, or have their own kids move in, or sometimes, they themselves would move in. Better to ask now than be forced to find a new place once your lease ends.
  11. How is the parking in the area?

    • For areas with high populations, they have various requirements for parking permits and licenses. Your landlord should be able to assist you with the things that you have to do. Alternatively, if you do end up signing the lease, a good landlord should include this information on your move-in packet (you’ll know they’re awesome if they do these things to welcome you)
    • If you’re going to have roommates and you all have cars, make sure you have enough parking spaces reserved under your names.
    • If the landlord informs you that the property doesn’t have any available parking, ask them about other options for transportation.
  12. Are there any procedures for submitting a maintenance request? Who’s in charge of making repairs?

    • If the landlord can’t answer this simple question, then there’s a good chance that they don’t really maintain their property properly and your requests might fall on deaf ears.
    • The condition of the property in general should already give you an idea if the landlord properly maintains it.
    • If you’re unlucky enough to find a landlord who sucks at maintenance, make sure you document the state of the property before your move-in and move-out day. Use a website like MoveIn.Space to save the photos and easily pull up the evidence so you can get your security deposit back.
  13. Do you give any notices before you or a representative shows up at the unit?

    • Most states require landlords to provide their tenants with a notice 24 hours before they plan on entering the premises.
    • If the landlord doesn’t follow this rule, then you’re bound to have more issues in the long run.
  14. What’s the crime situation in the neighborhood? Have you had any break-ins or thefts in this property?

    • It’s quite difficult to determine if your landlord is telling the truth when you ask this question. However, sometimes, a quick walk through the neighborhood can give you an idea of what to expect regarding crime rates.
    • Alternatively, you can always check public records at the nearest police station to confirm if the property is safe or not.
  15. If you’re the tenant, would you want to live here?

    • If the landlord doesn’t look like they’re excited to live in the property after you ask this question, then you’ve probably found your new place.
    • However, if he seems like he doesn’t want to live there, then you know he’s hiding something. There are probably a lot of hidden issues with the unit, so do your best to coax the truth out of the landlord.

Do you have any other revealing questions that should be asked to a landlord before signing a lease? Tell us in the comments!