Helping Landlords in the For Rent By Owner Industry

Zero Commission Real Estate Today features MoveIn.Space in their article, “MoveIn.Space: Helping Landlords in the For Rent By Owner Industry“.

For Rent By Owner Industry

Zero Commission Real Estate Today helps landlords in Australia find tenants by listing the property for rent on the country’s largest website, until the vacancy is filled.

Thinking of getting into the For Rent by Owner market? Renting out your house or apartment privately can provide you with sizable extra income. And thanks to the digital age we live in, managing rental properties privately is easier today than ever before.

Social media and certain websites help homeowners who want to rent a property privately find the perfect tenant. And there’s MoveIn.Space (www.Movein.Space), a site that provides a revolutionary way for landlords and tenants to avoid future conflict. With a mission to “create peace between landlords and tenants by adding visibility to a crucial, but often overlooked and unorganized process”, MoveIn.Space comes with a walkthrough feature that turns their goal in reality.

Continue reading Helping Landlords in the For Rent By Owner Industry

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.


  • 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!

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!

Handling Disputes With Billing

The desire of money is the root of all evil, so expect it to mess up a good tenant-landlord relationship. Rudeness will surface, and harsh words shall be exchanged. But thankfully, there’s always a workaround to these things and it can be prevented.

US News & World Report recently produced a very detailed article about handling disputes when it comes to billing. If you’re a tenant, read up, because you’ll get plenty of tips on how to stop yourself from blowing your top.

Your landlord may have been very lovely to you before you handed over the deposit, but remember that they could be a wolf in sheep’s clothing. If you burst out without thinking, it may backfire on you. Also, going to court may be effective but it could take a lot of time and money from your end before you get the results that you may not want. It is much better to communicate first before bringing the big guns out.

It doesn’t matter if you win or lose the dispute; either way, you’d be walking out of your landlord’s property with experience in your arsenal.

Have you ever had any experience with billing disputes with your landlord? How did you handle it and how did they react? Share your experience in the comments!

Should You Turn Your Residence Into a Rental?

When presenting decisions that a landlord should take when asking themselves “Should You Turn Your Residence Into a Rental?“,  Susan Johnston Taylor wrote about MoveIn.Space in U.S. News & World Report.

. . . MoveIn.Space . . . is designed to help landlords and tenants document each property’s condition. While renting units to young professionals, . . . “you definitely get people who are very delicate with the property, but sometimes they can be a little more boisterous,” . . . “It was like that when I moved in’ seems to be the biggest line,”

Letting Ex-Cons Rent: Should you or shouldn’t you?

People with criminal records (ex-cons) become automatically treated as social pariahs once they get out of jail regardless of their offense. Landlords could be extra meticulous with this, or they could be particularly lenient.

The LA Times had an interesting editorial pertaining to helping former inmates secure housing without compromising the safety of landlords and their fellow tenants.

It’s quite a tricky subject, considering that a simple rejection made by a landlord could become grounds for a lawsuit. Yes, ex-convicts have the right to be treated the same as every other citizen, but landlords have a duty to fulfill. They have to protect their property and protect their tenants.

So, is it fair to look into a person’s criminal history before letting them sign the lease? Eh, 50/50. It’s definitely concerning if their offense, for example, is arson. Or maybe they’re a registered sex offender and you’re a landlord who has families as tenants. So, yes. It could be a factor. However, if their offense isn’t as serious as you’d expect, then maybe giving them a chance won’t be too bad.

Again, as a landlord, it’s still your call. If you were faced with the decision, what would you do? Share it with us in the comments below!


Walkthrough Inspection: Why It’s Beneficial

The dreaded “inspection”– it’s done before move-in and move-out and causes a ton of headaches for both parties, especially upon the end of a lease. You built a relationship and then things start going downhill just because the inspection revealed a ton of deductions from the security deposit. Is it really that important? Is the extra legwork for doing inspections worth it? Well, here are some things that you should find out about walkthrough inspections.

What exactly is a “walkthrough inspection”?

It’s when both landlord and tenant go around the rental unit to check for any damages or unauthorized modifications. Landlords usually look for damages that are beyond the normal wear and tear of a unit or any changes made to it by the tenant without prior approval, usually involves  painting/decorating the walls. They compare the condition of the unit before move-in day versus the current condition of it.

When do landlords conduct these inspections?

It’s done before move-in and during move-out. There are state laws that determine when these inspections will take place, it could on the exact date of when the tenant is supposed to move out, or could be two or three days after. Regardless, inspections are best done when all of the tenant’s possessions are out of the unit so the damages incurred can be easily seen by the landlord.

For landlords, using websites such as MoveIn.Space can lessen the headache of determining what kind of damages were caused. Some issues may not seem obvious immediately, so it’s best if the landlord has proper documentation of what the unit looked like before the tenant moved in. MoveIn.Space helps keep these things in one convenient place and minimize potential disputes.

What are the benefits of walkthrough inspections?

Even if not all states require landlords to do so, it’s still beneficial for both parties to conduct walkthrough inspections.

For landlords

  • Avoid conflicts with the tenants – If the landlord discovers the damages early on, they can make the tenant aware of the possible deductions that will be made on their security deposits.
  • Prepare for repair fees – Walkthrough inspections lets landlords anticipate the repairs that need to be done and how much they’ll cost.
  • Gives the tenant the chance to fix the unit – If the inspection was conducted before the tenant’s move-out day, the landlord can give them some leeway and fix the damages to keep their security deposit intact.

For tenants

  • Full security deposit – If the tenant manages to leave the place in immaculate condition, then they don’t have to worry about deductions on their security deposits. Alternatively, if they fix the damages noted by the landlord, then they can rest easy knowing that they’ll be getting their money back.
  • Gives them a chance to fix damages – the walkthrough inspection can put focus on damages that they didn’t notice immediately.
  • Avoid getting shorthanded by their landlord – Contrary to popular belief, there are still landlords out there who will pretend you have incurred damages and deduct from your security deposit. By doing the walkthrough inspection together, the tenant can make a dispute if the landlord points out some “damage”.

Are there different kinds of walkthrough inspections?

Yes, there’s actually four different kinds of inspections.

  1. Move-in inspection – Conducted during the process of moving in. For transparency’s sake, it’s best if both the landlord and tenant are present. Why? So that both parties can’t say the old school excuse of, “It was/wasn’t like that when I moved in!” They can take photos of every nook and cranny of the rental unit so they can make comparisons once move-out inspection day rolls in. If there are already pre-existing damages prior to a potential’s tenant move in, it must be noted as well.
  2. Routine inspections for safety and cleanliness – Just a standard inspection made by landlords to ensure that their tenants are living in a habitable environment. It’s usually done every 3-6 months because if a landlord waits for a longer period of time, the condition of the property might deteriorate. As with any other inspections, it should be well documented. If a landlord finds any sort of damage to the unit, they can schedule a follow-up inspection to confirm that a tenant has fixed the issues. Sometimes, these routine inspections can actually cause tenants to get kicked out of a unit.
  3. Drive-by inspections – No, a landlord doesn’t have to be in the unit to conduct this. This is mostly a “discreet” inspection conducted by driving around the perimeter of the property to check for any violations of the rules. A landlord must inform their tenants if they’re planning on conducting one in the future. Usually, unauthorized pets get discovered during these kinds of inspections.
  4. Move-out inspection – The king of all inspections. This determines if a tenant will be walking away with their full deposit or if the landlord is gonna have to shell money out of his or her pocket to fix the damages. To avoid playing the blame game, both parties must be present during the final inspection– no more telling who caused what. As always, technology is your best friend. It’s wise to have a camera handy (with timestamps!) to take photographs of any damages–for what? Well, sometimes tenants get a little too happy when it comes to suing landlords over security deposits… So, make sure that before suing, tenants should be 100% sure that what their landlord did was illegal and in violation of their rights.

Now that the basics of walkthrough inspections have been explained, tell us in the comments how yours were conducted and how the issues were resolved!

Tenant Rights: Knowing the Illegal Things That Landlords Do

As a tenant, you usually no longer care about what your landlord has to deal with. You sign a lease, and so long as they let you stay in the property and respect you, you’re good. This is especially true for those newbie renters. However, you have to know your rights as a tenant. Something as harmless as asking a question can be enough to sue a landlord. Are you a landlord? Well, you better read up as well! You never know what could land you in hot water.

Not allowing families in the property

You’re a tenant and you’re in love with your unit. Then suddenly, you decide to start a family and want to stay in said unit. You got married and then finally have a child of your own! All of a sudden, your landlord gives you an eviction notice, saying that families aren’t allowed on his property. Heck, some landlords would try to make it sound nicer by saying that their place isn’t “kid-friendly”. You have to know that that’s not legal.

There’s a federal Fair Housing Act that makes it illegal to discriminate against families with children. Yes, there are exceptions to the rule, such as for retirement communities and occupancy limits for certain units. But contact your lawyer ASAP if you have solid evidence that your landlord is violating your rights to fair housing.

Making false promises

It’s no surprise that landlords will say anything and everything that will make tenants hand over their deposits immediately.  Those promises made during the walkthrough? Well, they can become binding if the applicants used them as a factor for signing the lease. If a landlord promises that you’ll have your own parking space or that he’ll give you discounts on the rent during the holidays, he has to fulfill it.

If you’re a tenant who feels ripped off because of those unfulfilled promises, it’s within your rights to wiggle out of your lease legally. Alternatively, you can decide to just sue instead for the difference in the value of the promise that your landlord made and what he provided to you.

Wrong questions during tenant screening

You’d think answering questions would be easy, but tenant screening is a whole different monster. Sure, there might be wrong answers coming from your end, but did you know that there are wrong questions from the landlord too? Yep, that’s right. You may think their questions mean well, but they could border into discrimination territory. They’re not allowed to ask about a potential tenant’s disability, sexual orientation, or even marital status.

Security deposits being used for unrelated expenses

Landlords almost always lose cases in small claims court if it involves security deposits. It’s not unheard of for landlords to use the money for cosmetic upgrades to the property or to purchase new appliances for the units. If the money wasn’t used for repairs, cleaning, or unpaid rent, then you have the right to file a case against your landlord. Remember, just because a tenant benefited/will benefit from the improvement doesn’t mean their security deposit should be used.

Not returning security deposits

Since we’re on the subject, landlords will sometimes not only use your security deposit improperly, they also tend to refuse to hand it over to you. Yes, people like that exist, and there are numerous states that impose deadlines on when landlords should give you an itemized list of how your deposit was used and give back your balance. It’s not surprising to find out that security deposits and property damages are common causes of landlord vs. tenant disputes.

Better yet, using services like the ones that MoveIn.Space offers can help determine if your security deposits were indeed used for the right expenses. No more pointing fingers; you have proof of what the place looked like during move-in and move-out day. It could take weeks, sometimes months, for the landlord to deliver what needs to be delivered, but you MUST get your money back, even, at least, some of it.

Landlord didn’t return any money to you? Check your state laws. More often than not, they can get penalized for it and they can get ordered to pay you back two to three times the amount of your security deposit.

Exorbitant late fees

Ah, late fees — the landlord’s secret tool in motivating his tenants to pay on or before the deadline. Sure, they can charge as high as they want, but there’s always a limit. If the fees resemble the actual monetary hit that they take when a tenant pays late, then that fee could get invalidated in court. It’s much better to just find a new place to rent if you think the late fees are a little too extravagant for your liking.

Violating your privacy

You don’t technically own the place, but that doesn’t mean you don’t have the right to your own privacy. Most state laws indicate some very detailed rules when it comes to tenant privacy. Yet still, there are landlords who think they have the right to drop by your unit without notice. They could just be checking things, or showing it off to potential tenants. If they make a habit out of barging in unannounced, or at least, make one HUGE violation of your privacy, you have the right to break your lease.


Got other examples of surprisingly illegal things that landlords commit? Or maybe a story of how you brought your landlord to court because of something that they thought they had a right to do but didn’t? We’d love to hear about it!