Note: This article was originally posted on Trulia Blog (www.trulia.com/corp) on Sept 18, 2014 by Chris Brasher http://www.trulia.com/pro/rentals/5-must-know-tips-best-renter-relationships/
The relationship between a landlord and a resident can be difficult to master. Even as a property manager with repeated opportunities, the initial interaction can be stressful. The reality is, everyone benefits when renters are educated up-front, even if it’s just the very basics.
If you really want your resident to enjoy the time they spend under your roof, feel at home, and also keep yourself protected, there are a few things every property manager should mention to prospective residents:
1. Everyone Wins When You Read Your Lease
This sounds so simple and basic, but you wouldn’t believe how many renters have never actually read their entire lease agreement. Upon first glance, it’s an unending list of paragraphs and industry jumble put together by a property manager. But within all those pages, renters can learn not only what is expected of them, but also what is expected of you. Knowing their rights and the rules helps them avoid issues before they become problems. Renters need to understand the specific guidelines for every category: rent payments, late penalties, utility responsibilities, noise issues, additional occupants policy, proper notice for vacating, procedure for repair requests, etc. If they understand the lease, then you’ll be protected when assigning a financial penalty or worse… eviction. Sit down and take 15 minutes with your potential resident to read the lease — it is a win/win for everyone.
2. No One Wants to Charge Late Fees or Returned Check Fees
Although there might be a short-lived incentive fee, do you really think that all those late fees and other charges are worth it? They aren’t. It’s a hassle to manage the accounting each month, so a bounced check or adjusting for a late payment is truly inconvenient. Plus, communicating a late payment with a property owner is not a conversation you want, either. Every renter should know that no matter how much more they are paying, it is not worth the hassle of chasing them down for the overdue rent and bounced funds. It costs you more in time spent than it’s worth. For the renters’ benefit, consistently racking up those fees can cost them an enormous amount of money each year. And it can set them up for eviction proceedings, which will then also affect their credit score and their ability to rent elsewhere.
3. Pet Stains Will Cost More Than Anyone Could Imagine
We love our dogs and cats, and we still want to allow the same enjoyment to our renters. However, the big shocker always comes when a renter moves out and is hit with a huge repair bill. Why? Well, that little stain on the wall-to-wall carpet may seem pretty small to them. However, pet urine seeps deep into carpet and into the padding below. You can’t rent that apartment to the next renter with pet-stained carpet. Unfortunately for both parties, sometimes the entire room of wall-to-wall carpet and padding will have to be replaced. So whether you have carpet or hardwood, inform your renter early about the cost if sweet little Fido has one too many accidents.
4. The Deposit Is Not The Last Month’s Rent
Asking for first month’s rent, last month’s rent, and a security deposit is a lot for a renter. In most cases, renters are able to pay for only the first month’s rent and the security deposit up front. But this is where renters need a little reminder. Many assume that their deposit money can be used as their last month’s rent. Wrong.
It is a security-damage deposit. Something completely separate, meant to pay for damages once they’ve moved. Make sure renters understand that they’ll need the deposit at their next apartment and will also need to repair any damages. Ask them to plan ahead, so they have enough for the upfront fees for their next place, as well as enough to cover their current obligations.
5. If You Are a Good Renter, We Don’t Want You To Move
We all love the quiet, nice, clean, and pay-on-time renter. Good renters are valuable. One of the biggest costs associated with being a landlord or property manager is the turn-over process — lost rent, cleaning costs, improvements, etc. Yes, property managers need to continually raise rents to keep up with the increased costs of running the building, taxes, insurance, etc., but if you do some homework and determine that you are charging close to the current market rent, you may be able to make a case to forgo a rent increase this year or at least come to a compromise. You may be able to ask to split the difference or give advanced notice.
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