Posted by & filed under Uncategorized.

Tips And Best Practices For Virtual Tours

Social distancing is being encouraged throughout most of the country, which means a slow-down in lease signings and tour requests for many landlords and property managers. However, even if you’re not able to meet with prospective tenants in person, you can still show them around your property with a virtual tour. Virtual tours are often quicker and more efficient than an in-person tour, and they’re very affordable. There’s no need for expensive equipment or a videographer.

What you’ll need:

  • A smartphone
  • A video calling app, like FaceTime, WhatsApp, or Skype (if you choose to do live video calls)
  • A 3D home app, like this one from Zillow (optional)

A benefit of meeting prospective tenants virtually is that it gives you an opportunity to learn more about the tenant’s needs, as well as focus on their areas of interest around the property. To make your virtual interactions go smoothly, be sure to show enthusiasm for offering the virtual tour. Once the virtual tour is scheduled, follow up to confirm the appointment via text or email.

Using Zillow 3D Home tours

The Zillow 3D Home tour app lets you capture and send virtual tours for free using an iPhone 7 or later. Potential tenants can click through the images, going room to room as though they were actually walking through the home. It provides an immersive experience allowing renters to clearly see the property’s layout and features. Zillow provides a step by step guide here. After you’ve created your home tour, you can add it to your listing using the Zillow Rental Manager.

Other virtual tour options

If you don’t use Zillow for your listings, there are other ways to provide virtual tours. You can offer video calls, where you walk through the property and answer the renter’s questions in real-time. Another option is to record a video where you walk through the property and talk about its features. You can send this to interested renters and then follow up with a phone or video call for discussion or to address any questions they have.

How to prepare

In many ways, you should prepare for a virtual tour the same way as you would for an in-person tour. Make sure the home is clean, orderly, and well-lit. Turn on all the lights and open doors and the drapes or blinds. Before you start the tour, plot your route. Select a starting point and the order you’ll show each of the rooms. Make sure not to overlook features like kitchen appliances, closet space, and parking. If you have any furniture at the property, you can do some “staging” with it to give renters an idea of what it will look like living there.

Video and live video call tours

Here are a few things you should keep in mind while you’re doing video tours:

  • If you’re pre-recording a tour, you may want to put your phone on airplane mode so the video isn’t disrupted from incoming calls or notifications
  • If you’re going to conduct a live video tour, check your internet connection at the rental property
  • Treat both types of video tours as you would if you were doing an in-person tour. Be professional, friendly, and authentic.
  • Narrate everything you see during video calls. Call out specific things that you know are important to the renter. Voice overs aren’t necessary if you’re making a video to send to renters, but if you do one, create a short script to ensure that all the important features are mentioned and nothing gets overlooked. If you choose not to do a voice-over, be sure to include good written descriptions of the rooms and features on your listing.
  • Don’t keep your phone at eye level. Make sure to pan up and down so the renter can have a complete view of the ceiling fixtures and floors.
  • Try to keep the video as steady as possible. Move slowly and take pauses so the renter can see everything well.
  • Don’t overthink – keep your tours professional, simple, and effective.
  • Ask for feedback at the end of the tour and if there is are any features they would like to see again or in more detail.
  • Follow up with the renters after you’ve sent or conducted the tour to keep them engaged.

Adopting virtual tours during social distancing will benefit your marketing and help speed up the rental process. You may even find that offering virtual tours increases the interest in your properties and decide to continue using them even once social distancing has ended.

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Posted by & filed under Rentals.

April was the first month many tenants were unable to pay their rent due to COVID-19 restrictions. With an estimated 1 in 10 Americans now unemployed, property owners are facing a greater number of rent delinquencies than they’ve seen in recent times. Unfortunately, that trend isn’t likely to change as the federal, state, and local governments continue to take measures to quell the spread of the virus. These measures have also limited the ability of commercial and multifamily property owners to enforce rent, evictions, and other lease clauses. Landlords and tenants alike are facing practical and legal challenges, all of which vary by jurisdiction. While things continue to change rapidly by the day, here’s a look at some important considerations.

Commercial Tenant Challenges

What You Need To Know About Rent Concessions | Lending During Covid 19

Many businesses aren’t able to take advantage of their business interruption insurance during the pandemic. This makes it difficult for commercial tenants to insure against not being able to use their commercial property to run their business and pay rent. Tenants who have received aid under the CARES Act may not be able to use those funds to pay rent either. Not only are they likely to have other pressing expenses, but for small business tenants with payroll forgiveness loans, they’re required to use 75% of the loan funds for payroll expenses in order for the loans to be completely forgiven.

Multi-family and Commercial Landlord Challenges

Landlords across the nation are facing limitations in several ways. Many courts have postponed all non-emergency court hearings including landlord/tenant disputes. The federal government recently issued a 120-day moratorium on evictions involving federally-backed multi-family mortgages. More than 30 states have also placed broader moratoriums on evictions.

What makes this situation even more challenging is there is little to no structure or consistency for aiding landlords during this time. The one exception is for owners who hold mortgages under Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae. Both companies are offering mortgage forbearance for apartment owners if they suspend evictions for tenants who are unable to pay rent due to being impacted by COVID-19. However, choosing to not accept this forbearance doesn’t relieve landlords from the late penalty or eviction moratorium.

Better Lending Support

One important consideration for landlords is that the lending environment now is better than it was in the Great Recession. Early conversations (before a missed payment) with lenders are likely to be more productive than they were over a decade ago. Lenders are being encouraged to be more proactive and being told that the adjustments to loans won’t be subject to the usual penalties. There is essentially more capital available for lenders to utilize.

If you’re considering a buy-in from your lenders, you should be prepared to discuss the measures you’re taking as well as your financial plans. Talk to them about your cash flow, how you plan to keep up with other costs, and the payments you’ll own while rent is at a pause. Tell them which types of concessions you’re considering, including the timeframe and circumstances. The more information you can provide them, the better they’ll understand your circumstances.

Considerations for Rent Concessions

There are many factors you should consider when it comes to rent concessions. First, the lease provisions are still valid. Understand the legal liabilities are for you and your tenants if you don’t allow changes to the arrangements under the lease. Then, you’ll want to think about what types of adjustments you’re willing to make, as well as the circumstances. If you have multiple tenants living at your property, you may want to create a simple questionnaire to assess their circumstances and potential requests. Some questions you should think about are:

  • Have your tenants been impacted? Or are they just anticipating an impact?
  • Is your commercial tenant’s use of the property affected? How about their income stream?
  • Do you need to apply the same concessions across the board to all your tenants? Or can you assess and address requests as you receive them?
  • Are your tenants credit-worthy or “loyalty-worthy”? Is your reputation with them going to affect keeping them as tenants or for the future marketability of your property?

If you decide to offer rent concessions beyond delaying rent enforcement, there are several approaches you can take. You can choose to forgive a month or two of rent in exchange for increasing the length of the time of the lease by the same amount of time. Some landlords are opting to completely write off the cost of rent for a month or two, or until things begin to return to normal. Regardless of the arrangements, make sure to document the agreement as an amendment to your lease so both you and your tenant are on the same page about each party’s expectations during this uncertain time.

Receive Our Email Updates

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Posted by & filed under Property Management.

COVID-19 has had drastic effects on nearly every aspect of society, including the housing market. As millions of Americans have become temporarily furloughed or unemployed, state and local governments have responded to the threat of mass evictions in a variety of ways. Some areas of the country have completely closed their local courts, effectively suspending eviction proceedings, while others have put a moratorium on evictions entirely.

Evictions During Covid 19 | What You Need To Know

With the exception of HUD housing, there are no nationwide guidelines on how landlords and property managers should handle the loss of rent from tenants who are unemployed or working reduced hours. The lack of guidance and consistency can make it difficult to navigate your rental properties at this time, however here’s an overview of the different types of moratoriums in place and the circumstances in which a tenant would qualify.

Currently, eviction moratoriums fall into one of four categories:

  1. Eviction proceedings are suspended or the municipal sheriff’s office isn’t executing evictions or foreclosures
  2. All evictions are banned
  3. Evictions related only to non-payment are banned
  4. Evictions related only to non-payment due to COVID-19 are banned

California, Oregon, and a few other states have barred evictions related to a loss of income caused by COVID-19; the tenant can meet any of these criteria to qualify:

  • The tenant or someone in the household was sick from COVID-19
  • The tenant was laid off, had reduced hours, or had reduced income due to COVID-19
  • The tenant was unable to work due to the order from a government agency to stay at home, self-quarantine, or practice social distancing
  • The tenant missed work due to caring for a household member with COVID-19 or a school-aged child who was unable to go to school

Keep in mind that states and local governments who have adopted eviction moratoriums for categories 2 – 4 likely ban late fees for rent as well.

Most of the eviction moratoriums currently in place strictly follow one of the four categories, but some municipalities have additional restrictions. In Multnomah County, Oregon, tenants who are behind on rent due to a loss of income from COVID-19 will have a six-month grace period to pay back what they owe. In Seattle, Washington, and several other cities, evictions for commercial properties with small businesses have also been halted.

The length of time each eviction moratorium also varies. Some orders have a specific timeframe, while others are indefinite, following the municipality’s state of emergency. Regardless of whether there is a set end date, the moratoriums can – and likely will – be extended. Get more information about your specific state or local eviction moratoriums here.

RECEIVE OUR EMAIL UPDATES

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Posted by & filed under Property Management.

The spread of Covid-19 came on rapidly, bringing with it panic and equally rapid economic contraction. This has created an atmosphere of fear and volatility that’s not typically seen in public markets. With the current situation, you may be wondering what might be in store for the multifamily housing industry. While there’s no way to predict exactly how things will change over the coming months, here’s a look at where things currently stand.

The Pros

Despite market volatility and uncertainty, there are some positive developments right now. The 10-year treasury yields are remarkably low and the Federal Reserve has cut its benchmark interest rate to nearly 0%. In some cases, debt is less expensive than it was a month ago. If these low rates are sustained, it may create pressure to lower cap rates.

The Cons

Many Americans are currently unemployed or have reduced hours due to the Covid-19 restrictions, which means tenants may fall behind on their rent. Lost wages and the drop in equity values create a risk to multifamily property net operating value. This could consequently threaten the security of what’s been typically seen as a recession-proof asset. Although the multifamily asset could remain resilient, the effects of declining occupancy and net operating income directly impact valuations. This could potentially affect capital markets, as fewer owners would qualify for conventional financing and there may be a risk of defaults.

Mortgage agencies like Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are increasing floors and spread to protect against volatility and blowing through their caps due to being inundated with loan applications. As of March 16, 2020, both Fannie and Freddie increased baseline spreads while Fannie held its 90bp treasury floor and Freddie remained at the greater of 75bps or -15 from the treasury. Freddie SBL increased coupons by 25bps across the board as well. 

The uncertainty of the market right now may multifamily property buyers weary, which could create a widening gap between asking prices and bids. This may also lead to a temporary reduction in market liquidity and transaction velocity, potentially leading to price reductions.

The Unknown

Covid 19 | Multifamily Market

The most significant issue is the uncertainty right now. It’s causing an increase in sovereign debt, decreased yield, flight from equities, and pushing out credit spreads. However, this uncertainty will pass and as we become more informed, the panic will be replaced by sensible precaution. That being said, we don’t know exactly what the repercussions of quantitative easing will bring and whether it will be enough to help us through the global economic bottleneck. The 100BP drop from the Fed was likely the last stab to prevent a recession, but what moves will the Fed and U.S. government take if we do slip into a long-term recession?

Final Thoughts

Markets run in cycles and this uncertainty will pass. If you’ve been considering refinancing multifamily or commercial real estate, the rates with mortgage agencies may be higher than they were a couple of months ago and lower with FHA or banks. Or, they may be static. We don’t know for sure how long this situation with Covid-19 will last or the repercussions it may have on capital markets. If you’re thinking about investing in a property but are waiting for a better rate, talk to a variety of different lenders and investment advisers to make the most informed decision. There’s no way to predict at the moment how rates will change in the future. Be responsible, but don’t panic.

RECEIVE OUR EMAIL UPDATES

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Posted by & filed under Housing.

Lawmakers Pause Evictions

In response to Covid-19 outbreaks across the country, many non-essential businesses have shut down in order to slow the spread of the virus. These proactive measures have led to many people being unable to work and in some cases even losing their jobs. Since many people are no longer working, many major U.S. cities have begun enacting temporary bans on evictions or are considering it.

The San Jose City Council recently approved an eviction ban, and San Francisco legislators have put forth a similar proposal. San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo said the eviction ban is necessary during the Covid-19 outbreak. He stated, “We must avoid the creation of a greater public health emergency that would result from subjecting thousands more families to homelessness, and we must protect our residents from the fear of potential eviction resulting from economic dislocation.”

Many state and local lawmakers have begun declaring states of emergency barring the eviction process, including Miami-Dade County in Florida and Baltimore. In Boston, Mayor Martin Walsh has asked the Massachusetts court system to offer leniency on tenants facing non-essential evictions. Consumer advocates, however, are calling for a complete ban on evictions as long as the pandemic continues.

Washington State has been hit harder than other parts of the country with the virus, particularly Seattle. Two housing organizations, the Rental Housing Association of Washington and the Washington Multi-Family Housing Association are recommending a 30-day moratorium on evictions in King County, where Seattle is located. The organizations believe putting physical evictions on hold while allowing court proceedings to continue provides a dual benefit. Residents can stay in their homes while opening a path to emergency rental assistant funds at the state and local levels.

The Rental Housing Association of Washington suggests the 30-day hold be renewed on a month-to-month basis depending on the needs of the community and the status of Covid-19 illnesses. Seattle’s Mayor, Jenny Durkin, has already taken steps to expand the city’s homeless shelter capacity, as well as put a halt to turning off residents’ power or water due to non-payment.

State lawmakers in New York have also proposed a moratorium on evictions and foreclosures, while New York City has enacted a temporary ban. The Real Estate Board of New York has put a three-month moratorium on evictions. Even in cities that haven’t halted evictions, the eviction process may not proceed as normal. Many court systems have either paused operations or scaled them back considerably in an effort to control the spread of the virus.

There are approximately 3.6 million eviction filings annually in the U.S., which averages to about 300,000 filings per month. Many Americans make less than $15 an hour without paid sick leave or the ability to work from home. For millions, the inability to work at this time could be devastating. Many organizations and officials feel that postponing or avoiding evictions during a time when millions of people are losing their income is a matter of public health.

Having a safe place to live is more likely to improve patient outcomes while going through the eviction process could expose more people to the virus. Not only does attending court go against the prescribed social distancing measures, but people being displaced from their homes likely would as well. They may have to move in with friends or family or live in close quarters at a homeless shelter.

These are uncertain times for everyone right now, so it’s important to consider both the individual ramifications of eviction as well as public health concerns. Ensuring family and individual well-being is beneficial for tenants and society as a whole – and could greatly impact the outcomes of the pandemic.

RECEIVE OUR EMAIL UPDATES

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Posted by & filed under Property Management.

Vital Skills For Landlords And Property Managers

Anyone who owns or manages a rental property knows real estate is a competitive industry. To be successful, it’s important to have a wide skillset. A good landlord or property manager is committed to ongoing education and developing a variety of different skills. Not only does this allow you to be adaptable in a fluid market, but it also fosters trust with your tenants. Here’s a look at six essential skills that will give you a competitive edge:

  1. Strong Communication Skills
    Landlords and property managers need to be able to communicate effectively with others. This includes not only tenants but also other real estate professionals and various contractors. Effective communication is essentially about coordination; it requires listening skills and the ability to deliver clear messages to make sure everyone is on the same page. You should also ensure that your tenants have multiple ways to get ahold of you and that you stay responsive to any questions and requests they have.

  2. Organization Skills
    Organization is one of the most vital skills you can develop, especially if you manage multiple properties. From screening applicants to keeping track of rent payments, having well-organized processes in place will help you streamline your workload and multi-task efficiently. Good organization also minimizes stress. By defining your duties and creating organized to-do lists and deadlines, you can ensure you’re not missing anything.

  3. Staying Knowledgeable on Relevant Rental Laws
    Landlords and property managers should familiarize themselves with all relevant rental laws. This includes what is and is not permitted in advertising, tenant selection, and lease agreements. Rental laws are always changing and can vary greatly by location, so it’s crucial to stay on top of the ones that affect your properties. With a firm grasp of the applicable laws, you can eliminate the chance of unintentional violations and potential legal issues.

  4. Marketing Skills
    Many landlords and property managers overlook the importance of marketing but eventually, you’ll need to advertise a vacant rental. Knowing how to write a compelling listing as well as how to reach prospective tenants can make a significant difference in how long it takes to find the right resident for your property.

  5. Think Like an Investor
    Property managers and landlords alike benefit by thinking like investors. This means having a firm understanding of the goal of a rental: to make money. Thinking like an investor and keeping an eye on the market allows you to make informed business decisions. It’s recommended to have an idea of where the local and national market is heading over the next 3-5 years. Consider factors like changing demographics, how much supply is likely to come to the market, and whether your area is likely to see a drop or growth in population.

  6. Become Tech Savvy
    Like most industries, real estate is becoming increasingly digital – especially as younger generations of tenants enter the rental market. This means you should be savvy with the digital tools available to you. Tenants will increasingly expect the ability to communicate through online portals, access important documents like leases digitally, or pay rent online. Embracing these tools not only meets their needs, but many technological tools will streamline your processes, aid organization, and give you a competitive advantage.

While you might feel like some of these abilities don’t come naturally to you, they’re easy to develop and implement into your daily operations. By being adaptable and taking the initiative to evolve your skills, you’ll be setting yourself up for success.

RECEIVE OUR EMAIL UPDATES

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Posted by & filed under Tenant Screening.

Every eviction case is different. They each have their own set of circumstances, court rulings, and resolutions. The laws concerning evictions can vary greatly too, depending on the type of tenancy you’re dealing with. Here’s a look at two unique types of eviction: squatters and at-will tenants.

What’s a Tenancy At-Will?

Evicting at-will tenancies

A tenancy at-will is a resident who lives on the rental property without a lease. Often, they’ve lived at the property for so long that the original lease has either been lost or was never renewed. At-will tenants are typically discovered when landlords are thinking about eviction or lease renewal, or when the property is being managed by a new property management company.  

In most states, an individual who resides at a property and pays rent has rights as a tenant. As long as the landlord or property manager has been accepting their rent payments, they’ll often be considered an “at-will” tenant. If you end up with an at-will tenant, you’ll need to follow your state and local standard eviction laws. Eviction laws vary from state to state, and some cities even have their own ordinances in place, so you’ll want to read up on your state and local laws. For example, in Texas, an at-will tenancy eviction follows the same process as a month-to-month eviction. The landlord must give the tenant a 30-day notice before officially filing for eviction with the courts.

What’s a Squatter?

A squatter differs from an at-will tenant in that they don’t have previous permission to be at the property and the landlord or property manager either hasn’t received rent or hasn’t accepted it. Typically, squatters are a surprise to the landlord or property manager. They can be:

  • Someone who breaks into the property or enters it while vacant and begins living there
  • A roommate or subletter who lives on the property illegally past the agreed rental period
  • Someone who believes they have the right to live at a property that isn’t currently titled to them

Sometimes residents who have stopped paying their rent are referred to as squatters, but they are still legally considered tenants and retain their tenant’s rights.

The process for evicting squatters isn’t as standardized as at-will tenancies. The legal definition of a squatter and squatter’s rights can vary greatly from state to state, county to county, and city to city. In Virginia, for example, a squatter must live on the property for 15 years to claim adverse possession rights to the property. They must also provide proof of residency and retain residency publicly. In contrast, squatters in Texas need to live on a property for 30 years before they have rights to it.

If you have a squatter on your property, it’s essential to review your local laws to make sure you’re taking the appropriate legal steps to have them removed. Checking your local laws will also help you determine whether the individual is considered a trespasser or someone with squatter’s rights. Typically, individuals need to provide a utility bill in their name and addressed to the property to be considered a squatter. Depending on the situation, you may be able to save time and money if the police determine the individual to be a trespasser.

A Well-Written Lease is the Best Protection

Regardless of what type of tenant issue you’re dealing with, a well-written lease is the most important document you have. A good lease will detail everything from rent due dates to damage and security deposit clauses. Leases are useful for day to day rule enforcement as well as when you’re considering an eviction.

After evicting a squatter or at-will tenant, it’s a good idea to review your lease and rental criteria. Make sure you have standardized guidelines that you apply to all applicants, such as income and credit score requirements. You should also review fair housing guidelines to make sure that none of the language in your rental criteria, lease, or advertisements could cause potential liabilities.

Evictions can be a long, drawn-out process that can take a toll on your finances, time, and mental health. By ensuring that you have well-written rental criteria, an iron-clad lease, and a thorough screening of applicants, you’ll be more likely to prevent problems that can occur due to at-will tenants and squatters.

Posted by & filed under Rentals.

One of the toughest things about being a tenant is that they must abide by other’s rules – or they’ll need to find a new place to live. Most of the time, rental rules are reasonable and easy to follow. Some landlords and property managers, however, take things too far with extremely restrictive or nonsensical rules. While it’s their property and they have the right to set the rules, going on a power trip is a sure way to have an ever-revolving door of tenants. Here’s a look at some of the oddest rules we’ve heard of.

No sidewalk chalk

Parents from one apartment complex were upset when a sign was hung at the property prohibiting sidewalk chalk. The sign stated sidewalk chalk was considered graffiti and was no longer allowed. The penalty for breaking this rule? The parents of the children would be charged a minimum of $20 to remove the chalk. According to the property manager the rule had always been in place but wasn’t enforced until there were complaints of “vulgar” drawings. While the property manager justified the decision due to a desire to keep the property up to their strict aesthetic standards, many of the residents thought the rule was ridiculous.

Sharing a single bed with other tenants

It’s probably safe to say that most tenants expect the space they rent to be exclusively theirs. Or at least the bed they sleep in. One landlord didn’t seem to agree. To start this odd listing off, the landlord said the cost of their rental was $123, without a timeframe. Was this for a week? A month? The rental was offered to four tenants, with a single bed. The listing stated the space was ideal for shift workers who could take turns sleeping while the other one was at work. In case the tenants forgot the rules, the landlord had written them on the walls for easy reference. To make this listing even odder, the rules were very specific, like “turn off the lights when not in the room” and “keep cupboard doors closed.”

No overnight guests, no alcohol

odd-bizarre-and-restrictive-rental-rules

One landlord’s listing went viral because of her extreme rules. No loud noise after 9 pm, no laundry during the workweek, no overnight guests, and no drinking… ever. Unsurprisingly, many people questioned her alcohol restrictions, to which she replied, “don’t like the rules, buy a tent.” She continued to say, “drinkers fall down a lot and lose their jobs, so they need tents.”

No guests, period

One listing started with a reasonable set of rules: “must be quiet, clean, and respectful.” This quickly went downhill with a long list of bizarre demands, including:

  • NO GUESTS!!! No one is permitted on the property but those residing at the residence.

  • Rides must stop at the end of the driveway and let you off accordingly. If your ride lingers or comes onto the driveway it is considered trespassing and will be handled as such due to posted signs on the property.

  • No cooking of food during the hours of 9:30 pm to 6:00 am on weekdays and between the hours of 9:30 pm and 9:30 am on weekends.

Thankfully, most landlords and property managers are reasonable people who keep their rules standard and focused on being respectful of the property and community. The best rental situations are built on a balance of mutual respect without going overboard on being overly controlling.

Posted by & filed under Landlords.

Oakland landlords and tenants enter a shifting rental landscape after the City Council passed its Fair Chance Housing ordinance that establishes the East Bay city as the first in California to bar landlords from conducting criminal background checks.

This law, adopted by the City Council on February 4, “bans the box” which stops landlords from directly asking prospective renters if they have been convicted of crimes. There is already a similar law in effect in Seattle, and Berkeley is supposed to vote on a similar measure later this month.

For prospective tenants with criminal histories, the measure is intended to provide opportunities for reintegration into the community. High rents and screening for criminal background, say advocates, have led to homelessness and the inability of people to rebuild lives after serving time for felonies.

After a six-month grace period, landlords face an uncertain future implementing this ban. There are exemptions (discussed below), but the city will be able to issue penalties of up to $1,000 per violation, which include: asking applicants if they’ve been convicted of crimes, asking for permission to run a criminal background check before a tenant is approved, and looking at criminal histories when making rental decisions.

Exemptions include Section 8 vouchers and units funded by the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development. These landlords can conduct limited background checks to prohibit convicted sex offenders and meth manufacturers from Section 8 housing. Also, owners that occupy their unit maintain the right to conduct criminal background checks when they rent out a room in single-family homes or part of their duplex or triplex. There are also exemptions for sexual offenders—once landlords approve renters, they must let them know they’ll be running a check against the lifetime sex offender list.

What Can You Do?

Oakland Ordinance Expanded

How do landlords comply with the ordinance? You have six months to change your rental applications and screening processes if your screening practice currently includes criminal background checks. Though it is not available yet, the city of Oakland is required to publish an information sheet to describe expanded landlord requirements and tenant rights.

Landlords will still have screening criteria available to them, including landlord references, income information, and employment verification. This is exactly the type of reliable data that Tenant Screening Center provides to clients across the nation. We give you trustworthy information so that you clearly understand who you are renting to. By giving you the best chance to choose renters who make consistent on-time payments and treat your property with respect, we’ve earned the trust of our clientele for nearly 35 years!

Interested in getting better renters? Contact Tenant Screening Center online, email us at info@tsci.com or call 1-800-523-2381 today!

Posted by & filed under Uncategorized.

Renting To Friends

As a landlord or property manager, you’re well-aware of how important it is to screen your tenants. This becomes more complicated when you’re considering renting to family or friends. When vetting a stranger, you can rely on the information from the screening to make your decision. Objectivity is more difficult when it comes to vetting a friend or family member. They may be a wonderful person, but what will they be like as a tenant? If you’re considering renting to someone you know personally, it’s essential to weigh the pros and cons.

Depending on who you’re renting to, having a friend for tenant could be a great fit. You’ll have an already established relationship and built-in rapport. You’ll likely feel comfortable approaching them if any issues arise and they’ll likely let you know when there’s something that needs to be addressed at the property. Here are some other benefits of renting to friends or family:

  • Personal Knowledge of Their Background
    One major advantage of renting to someone you know is that you already know them. Unlike renting to a stranger, you won’t have to wonder about their personality or lifestyle. You should have a good idea about their level of trustworthiness, whether they’re reliable, and if they keep their current home relatively clean and maintained. Knowing their personality is also helpful if any disputes or complaints arise.

    Make sure, however, that you stick to your written lease. Giving preferential treatment to someone you know could land you in legal trouble – or at the very least, cause future problems for you. Make sure that you’re not overlooking important rental requirements like income or credit score minimums.

  • Helping Someone in Need
    It feels good to help someone who needs housing. If you have a vacancy and know a friend or family member who’s looking for a place to rent, why not let them know you have a rental available in their price range? Be sure to let them know about your leasing requirements as well. The more they know, the better prepared they’ll be – and with advanced knowledge of the lease, they’re more likely to be a good fit for you as a tenant.

Now that we’ve looked at some of the benefits of renting to friends or family, it’s time to examine some reasons to avoid it.

  • Expectation of Preferential Treatment
    One potential problem you might face is that your friend or family member expects you to give them special treatment. Having someone you know as a tenant blurs the lines between you both. If they have trouble paying their rent on time, they may expect leniency. They may also try to push the boundaries, whether it comes to paying rent, late fees, or even the “no pets” policy. They might expect you to rush over every time they have an issue at the property. Even worse, other tenants might complain your friend or family member is getting preferential treatment. If you plan to rent to a friend or family member, it’s crucial to establish boundaries.

  • Negative Effects on Your Relationship
    Any time you mix family and friends with business, there’s the potential for the relationship can sour. As the landlord or property manager, it’s your job to enforce rules and settle disputes that arise between tenants. Sometimes this might involve going against what your friend or family member wants, which could cause tension between you both. It could also extend far beyond that single person – if you evict your uncle, for example, will your cousins stop talking to you? How could this person renting from you affect your other relationships, particularly if problems arise?

Depending on the friend or family member, renting to them could go either way. They might be the ideal tenant or renting to them could cause serious issues in your business or personal relationships. If you decide to rent to family or friends, have an honest conversation with them. Talk to them about your strict leasing policies, the rules of the property, and how issues that arise could affect your relationship. Set clear expectations from the beginning, and you’ll be less likely to have problems when they become your tenant.