Top Landlord concerns and what to do about it.
We recently did a survey to figure out the Top Landlord concerns in the Greenville and Spartanburg areas. Here is an overview of the top 7 concerns Landlords have when they rent out their property:
1. Will not pay rent (or not on time)
The Top Landlord concern is Tenants not paying their rent. If you need to pay your mortgage and there is no rent income that can cause some major issues.
Tip: Make sure you have enough cash on hand
One of the best ways to lessen the risk of non-payment is to conduct a credit check on tenants. A credit check gives insight to an applicant’s financial history and whether they have a track record of financial responsibility.
At Above Property Management we screen all our Tenants for credit history, we also make sure that their income is at least 3 times the rent, so they can afford the property without problems.
If you as owner want to run a credit check yourself there are services that provide that at a cost per transaction. Make sure that the applicant gives proper permission so you don’t violate the law.
Ask for employer or past landlord references. Verify references to confirm prompt payment in the past.
Request a larger deposit. A larger security deposit can cover the owner’s losses in case of damages or lost income.
Online payments. You can use an automatic rent payment system. An auto-pay service offers the convenience of direct deposit, and also provides more assurance of getting paid on-time each month if payments are set up to recur.
2. Need to file an eviction
The number 2 Top Landlord concern is that they might need to file an eviction. When you take care of making sure your Tenant has good credit the chance that you have to evict for non-payment reduces significantly. But the chance is always there and the key with an eviction process is to have a good lease and great documentation so you can prove that the lease was broken. The typical time-frame to evict a tenant in the Greenville and Spartanburg courts is about 4 to 6 weeks. If you represent yourself and the Tenant is not contesting the eviction it will cost you around $100.
3. Criminal Behavior Disturbing others
Imagine you accept a Tenant, who, as soon as they move in start threatening the neighbors, having wild parties with lots of guests every night or dealing drugs. That is another major Landlord Concern.
Similar as with the credit history check you can do a criminal check. However with some recent law changes it is no longer allowed to automatically deny any Tenant with a criminal history. There are even cities that forbid you to deny a Tenant because of a criminal background. For example the Seattle City Council signed an ordinance on Monday August 14, 2017 that it is illegal for Landlords to screen tenants based on criminal history. In South Carolina we have to make sure we have good practices and policies on what type of Criminal behavior will not be accepted. Besides that you need to look at convictions, not arrests and take into account how long ago it happened.
Besides the criminal background check you also should make sure that your lease states that illegal activity on the premises will break the lease so you can evict the Tenant. You do need to be able to prove that illegal activity occurred at your property.
4. Tenant is a sex offender
This one is easy to screen out by going to the South Carolina Sex Offender Registry and go to name search when they are a SC resident. You can also find this out by running a criminal background check.
Sex Offenders are not protected and can be refused.
5. Repairs because of damage
The first thing you should do is to call previous Landlords and Property Managers. Ask them if the full security deposit was returned and if there was any damage when the Tenant moved out. That could be an indication on how they will treat your property.
The best thing you can do is to perform a detailed move-in inspection with photo’s and videos, signed and acknowledged by the Tenant and then after a month or so do a follow up inspection to see if everything with the property is still OK. If you see signs of damage send a notice to the Tenant to repair this damage in 14 days. Perform a followup inspection and start eviction proceedings if the Tenant did not make the repairs. It is a good idea to perform regular inspections to make sure there is no excessive damage.
6. Dirty house and bugs
Same as with the damage actions in point 5. Make sure there is a clause in the rental agreement regarding the requirement of keeping and maintaining the cleanliness of your rental unit. Something like:
Keep your rental unit clean and free from infestations, the repercussions can include eviction from the rental unit
Tenants who do not keep their house clean can cause infestation and pest problems. Many people do not realize that there is a fine line between being messy and being filthy. Typically neighbors will complain about an unclean tenant, and the landlord may opt to do a spontaneous tenant inspection with 24 hour notice. An inspection enables the landlord to see exactly where the root of any problems may be regarding infestations, rodent problems, mold, mildew, and a host of other issues.
The Landlord should give the tenant a warning to clean up the house within 14 days. Then you can serve an eviction notice. A good Property Manager should be able to do the rental inspections for you.
7. Will move out early or break lease
The last Landlord concern is that Tenants will leave early. So make sure you do a good background check and verify how long the Tenant stayed at previous rentals. That could be a good indication of how long they intend to stay at your rental.
Also make sure you have enough security deposit to cover any rent loss.
Tenants typically don’t realize that they are responsible to pay rent for the full lease. If they want to move early try to come to an agreement with your Tenant. See if you can work together to place a new Tenant. Meaning the Tenant will allow for showings and keep the property clean.
Follow these solid guidelines so you can rest assured that your rental is well taken care of.