Tenant Screening

Collect more Rent with these Property Features

Property features that allow you to collect more rent

Property features that allow you to collect more rent

Purchasing a rental home is a big decision that requires a lot of planning and research. Aside from the big things tenants focus on, such as location, crime rate, job market, and local school district, it is the extra conveniences that make a property stand out. The features and amenities in a rental home create the highest potential return on investment.

Like all houses, there will always be something that someone feels should be replaced, fixed, or updated. While installing high-end molding may be a top priority for the owner, tenants care more about the condition of the appliances. Upgrading the current out-of-style washer and dryer to the newest model can easily increase rent by $100. Even though the performance of the two machines may be about the same, tenants feel more compelled to pay topnotch when the appliances are clean and look brand new.

While security features such as an alarm system, deadbolt, and door chime aren’t normally on the list of must-haves for future residents, they are an added bonus. Offering to pay for the alarm service gives the rental property a competitive advantage over similar homes in the area; this will not only generate more interest in the home, but the high demand will increase rent.

Aside from security and safety, another way to collect more rent is by replacing the carpet with laminate floors. This goes back to the idea that tenants want to live in a home that looks and feels clean. Carpeted floors collect dust, show signs of wear, require more upkeep, and stain easily. A reasonably priced laminate flooring is easy to maintain and gives the home a fresh look.

While all the upgrades and features mentioned above will maximize the rental property’s revenue potential, perhaps the most significant aspect of generating income is through outdoor living. Regardless of the size of the area or the level of privacy, having an outdoor space will add value to the house. A small patio, balcony, yard, or even just a bonfire pit will allow the property owner to collect more rent.

Fall Maintenance Ideas for Your Home

Fall Maintenance for Landlords

Fall Maintenance Ideas

Whether you are an experienced landlord or property manager, or just getting your feet wet in the world of income producing properties, it only takes one cold season to learn the hard way that preparation is your friend. The following are a few suggestions to help you prevent costly repairs.

Exterior Property Attention

Save money and prevent vacancies by taking the time to address these exterior issues for a sound and more attractive exterior.

  • Clean gutters. Trapped leaves hold water and drip causing wood rot under the roof edge.
  • Sprinkler systems. Remove all parts and examine for damage and clean, then open feed valve to allow remaining water to drain off.
  • Outdoor faucets. Search area around the pipe where is comes out of the wall or ground, and caulk around the pipe use Styrofoam cones to block off the wind.
  • Exterior HVAC unit. Remove tree limbs and other debris from around the unit and inspect the inside for infestation nests of insects and windblown debris.

Interior Weatherizing and Rodent Prevention

Due to summer temperatures, the safe bet is to re-examine all entrances for security and weather issues as well as any damage.

  • Windows and door seals. Direct sunlight deteriorate weather stripping, and new caulking prevents drafts and moisture damage.
  • Fireplace maintenance. Examine the ends of chimney pipes for the excess collection of byproducts from the fire, and test existing gas lines for proper operation.
  • Attic safety. Squirrels and other rodents find their way into the attic through eve vents. Search the attic for droppings and other debris and hire an exterminator if necessary to secure the attic from outside intruders.
  • Smoke detectors. Contact the local fire department about smoke detector requirements and ask if they have programs to inspect these devices for you.

When it comes to saving money and increasing your profits on real estate investments, preventive maintenance takes first place on the To-Do list of any landlord or property manager.


Information landlords should keep on rejected rental applicants

Information to Keep on Applicants

Information to Keep on Applicants

If you are someone who rents property out to other people, you know how difficult it can be to run a rental operation. It takes a lot of organization and patience in order to keep things running smoothly and to help preserve the sanity of everyone involved. When renting out to possible tenants, it is important to keep a very organized filing system of information. This helps to store details about the people you may have rented to or will be renting to in the future. Many landlords make the mistake of keeping very little information on their tenants and this can cause several big problems in the future.

Tenant screening should be a very pivotal part of the rental agreement. Knowing who you are going to be renting to and what their habits are can help everyone involved. Knowing a tenant’s renting history can have a profound impact on the place that is being rented out and the people that already live there. If a potential tenant has anything questionable in their background that could cause trouble, it should raise red flags. Tenant screening should also include a check of tenant credit as it can tell a lot about how dependable the tenant may be in the future when it comes to payment.

Past experiences, not only including tenant credit should be taken into account, such as a prior criminal record or eviction history. If a tenant is denied rental, it is also important to keep that information on file in a locking filing cabinet. If you are a landlord or property manager, you know how difficult it can be to find quality tenants. With a proper tenant screening system, you can find and keep the ideal candidates.

What Documents Should I Provide to a Rejected Tenant?

Information You Need to Provide to Rejected Tenants

Information You Need to Provide to Rejected Tenants

Tenant screening is a very important process because it helps you to find the person who is going to take the best care of your rental property. However, many new landlords are surprised to learn that there are many legal rules involved in accepting and denying tenants. Fair Housing Laws will require you to treat all tenants equally and not discriminate while rejecting them. By following a few simple steps, you can protect yourself from any lawsuits and ensure that all prospective tenants are treated fairly.

Are There Legal Reasons to Reject a Tenant?

It is important to note that certain reasons for rejecting a tenant count as discrimination. You cannot reject tenants due to their age, race, gender, or ethnicity. These are all protected classes, and the person will have grounds for a lawsuit if you reject them for belonging to one of these categories. Technically, any reason for rejecting a tenant outside of the classes protected in the Fair Housing Law is legal. The most commonly given reasons for rejecting tenants are that they have insufficient income, a past history of evictions or late rent, a bad credit report, or a history of engaging in illegal activity. It is also legal to reject a potential tenant who has a pet or smokes, since both of these actions can damage a property. There are many other possible reasons to reject a tenant, and you can talk to a lawyer if you are uncertain whether or not a reason is legal.

Are You Required to Give Written Notice?

The Fair Credit Reporting Act requires you to provide an adverse action letter if you are rejecting a tenant because of their credit report. This adverse action letter allows applicants to know which credit reporting agency reported the bad score to you. This is the only time that a written denial letter must be sent to a tenant. You are legally required to include the name, number, and address of the credit reporting agency you used, a statement saying that the reporting agency did not make the decision to reject the tenant, and a notice that the applicant can dispute the information if inaccurate.

What Is the Best Way to Reject a Tenant?
Though you are not required to send a written notice of tenant rejection at any other time, it is a great way to protect yourself against any future lawsuits claiming that discrimination happened during the tenant screening procedure. A denial letter does not need to provide a reason to reject a tenant, instead you can just politely say that you ended up choosing a better qualified applicant. However, some applicants can be pushy and demand more information. Though you are not legally required to, it may be the easiest way to deal with a difficult person.

How to Welcome Your New Tenant

How to Welcome Your New Tenant

How to Welcome Your New Tenant

As a landlord, there are many things that you can do to help solidify a healthy relationship with your tenants. Welcoming them with a fruit basket, welcome sign, or another token is an excellent way to make them feel right at home when they move into the property. By taking the time to start the bond off on the right foot, you can develop a level of communication that will help protect the property and ensure that your tenant reaches out when problems arise.
Leave a beverage or snacks for new residents to enjoy

Moving day is hectic, and trying to find time to eat right is a huge hassle that day. One way you can help your tenant feel welcome is to leave snacks on the counter or pizza in the fridge. For families, you can also put a bottle of sparkling cider or some soda along with it. Couples and individuals may enjoy a bottle of champagne or wine to relax with on their first day in their new home. As a landlord, you can help ease the moving aggravation by being thoughtful.
Handwritten notes go a long way

Place a note on the fridge that lets the renter know that you are happy that they chose to live in your property. Place an inspiring quote, or use beautiful stationery to make it more appealing. You can also add a fresh bouquet of flowers to the counter or bar to make the home feel more welcoming when tenants arrive.
Provide a list of information

A fabulous idea for property owners and managers is to leave a list of local places to visit, shop, dine, and enjoy. People who are new in town will be especially grateful that someone took the time to give them information they need to navigate their new neighborhood. A list of grocery stores, movie theaters, diners, nightclubs, and malls is a great place to start.

Making new renters feel right at home is easy to do. It will go a long way creating a relationship based on communication, trust, and friendliness. It can help ensure that people who move on at a later date leave your property in good condition. They are also more likely to report problems sooner for fast resolution.

The Summer Leasing Season is Coming to an end

Summer Leasing Season

What Landlords Should do After Summer

The summer rental season will be coming to a close in the next few months, and this has left many landlords wondering what they can do to find the perfect tenants and maximize their rental revenue. Read ahead for a quick look at a few steps you can take to get your property ready for your next tenants.

Contact the Current Tenants

If you are not working with a property management company, then you will need to contact your tenants and make sure everyone is on the same page. Whether they are considering extending their lease or have been having problems with certain appliances, tackling these issues early will limit the amount of time your property is empty.

Take a Fresh Look at Local Real Estate

Determining the value of one’s property can be extremely difficult. This is why many landlords utilize real estate firms or property management companies to help them come up with a fair rent rate. Even if the market has not changed, you should still think about raising the rent slightly to keep up with inflation.

The Walk-Through

You must do a walk-through with your current tenants and immediately after they leave. During both of these walk-throughs, you should keep a running list of updates and renovations that need to be made. Once you have a complete list, you can then decide what the tenants will be responsible for and what you will take care of yourself.

Key Upgrades

Carrying out major upgrades every year is completely impractical for most landlords. Instead, you might want to do a few key additions that will help you get new tenants as quickly as possible. Options such as new appliances and safety features tend to have a great return on investment in practically any economic climate.

Applications and Background Checks

Customizable rental applications can found Free at StarPoint Tenant Screening, and in most states tenant screening can be covered by an application fee. While it might seem like another annoying expenditure, you must also conduct background and credit checks on all potential tenants. Spending a little extra money upfront could save you from losing thousands on legal services later on.

Tips for Marketing Your Property To Millennials

Marketing Rentals to Millenials

Marketing to Millenials

Are you looking to sell or rent your property? Millennials are a great demographic to target, especially as more of them enter the market and begin to live on their own. Here are some things to help you grab their attention and make your property more attraction than other possible options.

Highlight Convenient Commutes

Unlike older demographics, millennials may not be concerned about how quiet the neighborhood is or what the local schools are like. But whether they’re still in school or employed, they’ll have to travel to work or college every day. If your place is conveniently located, highlight that fact. Advertise your close proximity to major highways, colleges, and business areas of town.

Advertise Technology

Mobile devices and technology are often a huge part of the younger generation’s lifestyle. More than just a luxury, many millennials ability to work or socialize will be handicapped if they don’t have access to phone or internet service. Check service provider’s coverage maps to see if your location is well-covered, and if it is, highlight that fact. Do you live in an area with fiber optic internet? Make sure you mention that to those who look at your property.

Be A Trustworthy Landlord

Many times, millennials choose to rent because they simply don’t have the time or desire to care for their own home. If you’re trying to get them interested in your rental property, it can be helpful to assure them that you’ll be a reliable landlord who will help out if they encounter problems. This reassurance may help them choose your property over another.

Another way to set your rental property apart from others is to allow pets. This isn’t a great idea for everyone, but it can help attract the large amount of millennials who own a dog or cat and want to find a place when their pet is allowed.

Nearby Attractions

Take a look around your neighborhood for attractions to let people who are looking at your place know about. These can range from coffee shops to movie theaters to nature trails, and can play a big role in making your property seem like home to millennials. Knowing and relaying what’s available in the area can help you sell to someone who might not be totally committed.

Millennial-Friendly Price

Even if your place is smaller or lacks some conveniences, a low price may be the key to attracting millennials. Many may be dealing with student loan debt, lower-paying jobs, or simply a desire to live frugally and save for the future. Your place might be less-than perfect, but they’re a great demographic to target if you can offer a good deal.

In the end, it’s also important to remember that not all millennials fit stereotypes. Each is an individual with unique tastes and desires, so don’t despair if you’re not able to accomplish some of the items on this list.

Why do I need a site inspection to order a full credit report?

Why do I need a site inspection

Why do I need a site inspection?

The credit bureaus began requiring site inspections in 2003 to ensure the protection of consumer data as a provision of the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act.

Rest assured, a site inspection is a very simple process.  We simply have a contracted site inspector meet you at your office/home office at a time that is convenient for you. During the site inspection visit, the site inspector

  • Verify there is a physical office or home office which is a secure environment that does not allow public access to your computer
  • Look to see that you have the ability to secure or dispose of any printed credit reports properly by way of a paper shredder and a locking filing cabinet
  • Verify that credit reports will be used for tenant screening only and for no other business purpose
  • Take pictures of the location

As soon as the site inspection is completed and we receive the results, you will have access to the full Tenant Credit Report including the FICO score.

While you wait for the site inspection to be completed, as long as we’ve received your other required items you can order and view the Tenant Credit Report Card so you don’t have to wait to evaluate the applicants you need to screen right now. And with our service any Credit Report Cards you order now will automatically be converted into the full Tenant Credit Report format at no charge once the site inspection is completed.

What Happens When a Tenant Vacates Early

What happens when a Tenant Vacates early

What happens when a tenant leaves early?

Landlords have significant risks they must deal with when they lease rental property that they own. Landlords normally own the building they are leasing out and pay the mortgage payments using proceeds from the collected rents. In order to better protect themselves, a majority of landlords draft carefully worded leases in which the terms of the agreement, the amount of the security deposit and the duration of the lease are all outlined. When a tenant breaks a lease by leaving early, it is important for landlords to understand what their rights are and then to proceed accordingly.

What happens if a tenant breaks a lease and leaves early?

If you are a landlord who rents multiple properties, it is only a matter of time before one of your tenants will break a lease. While they may do this by violating any of the stipulations contained in the document, the most common way tenants break a lease is by leaving early. Some may do so without notice, disappearing without a forwarding address. Others may have job transfers that require them to move. There are several things you must do after the tenant leaves before the lease expiration date.

1. How soon can you re-rent?

As soon as you know that your tenant has broken their lease, you not only can start looking for a new tenant but in many states, it is your duty to take reasonable steps to find a suitable replacement tenant. This does not mean that you have to go out of your way to re-rent the property. You should advertise the space and take the time to show it. If you find a new tenant who meets your credit and background requirements, you are free to lease it to them. If you are unable to find a new tenant who is suitable, you have the right to file a lawsuit against the tenant who broke the lease for the remaining rent. You are also able to require them to pay rent until you find a replacement tenant as well as the costs you incur for advertising the space. If you do not take reasonable steps, you will likely be unable to recover the amount owed by your former tenant.

2. Can you use a security deposit to cover the remainder of the lease term?

In a majority of states, unless your lease states otherwise, the security deposit your tenant pays may be used to pay for damages he or she causes to the property. You will have a set period of time, ranging from 10 to 30 days, to provide your tenant with an itemized listing of damages and their costs that you are subtracting from the security deposit. If you contain a clause in your lease that the security deposit may be held to pay unpaid rent, you can keep all or part of it, depending on the amount that is owed to you and when you re-rent the property.

Because the states recognize the risk that landlords take when they rent out their property, protections are in place to protect them when tenants violate their lease agreements. Making sure that you take reasonable steps to re-lease the property and send an itemized list of damages that will be deducted from their security deposits is important. You may also want to include a clause in your lease that security deposits may be applied to unpaid portions of rent if they leave early. If you are unable to find a suitable tenant to replace your former one, you have the right to file a lawsuit and seek the balance of the contract.


Accepting Cash Rent and Security Deposit Checks

Accepting Rental Payments

Accepting Rental Payments

There are multiple ways landlords can choose to accept rent from their tenants. Some do not really care how they get paid as long as they are paid. Others insist on only being paid by personal checks, cashier’s checks or money orders. Still others use online payment portals allowing tenants to submit payments to them via their credit or debit cards, and other landlords do so via online payment portal sites. It is best for landlords to take steps to protect themselves against the potential for fraud, no matter how they prefer to accept their rent and security deposit payments.


While the convenience of accepting cash for rent or security deposits is tempting, it’s best for landlords to avoid doing this, especially if they let tenants leave envelopes of money in a drop box. Tenants can easily claim later that they placed more cash in an envelope than they did, leaving landlords unable to prove that they were not paid what they were owed. If a landlord does want to accept cash payments, they need to do so only in person. They should also provide a receipt for the money, count it with the tenant and make the tenant also sign the receipt acknowledging the amount they paid. Landlords should keep a photocopy of the receipt they provided to the tenants in their files.

Personal checks

Many landlords do accept rent and security deposit payments via personal check. The danger of this is that there is no guarantee that the funds are in the tenant’s account when they write the check. Landlords may have to pay fees for returned checks, and they might have difficulty with collecting what they are owed if the checks bounce. Landlords should make photocopies of the checks they receive and only provide receipts once they clear.

Cashier’s checks

Cashier’s checks are one of the most secure forms of payment. The bank signs on as a guarantor of the face value of the check. This removes the worry of the funds not being available when the check is presented to the bank for payment. Landlords should still make photocopies of cashier’s checks and provide receipts to the tenants.

Money orders

Money orders are also a good way for tenants to pay rent. They can get these at banks, post offices or convenience stores. Since they pay cash for the face value of the money order, landlords simply need to deposit or cash them. They should, of course, photocopy the money orders as well as the receipts they provide.

Credit cards

It’s best for landlords to avoid accepting credit card payments. Tenants can challenge the charges made to their cards. Accepting credit cards for rent payments also means the landlord will have to pay transaction costs for each payment.

Online payment portals

This is a very secure way to accept rent payments. Tenants log in to the site and make their rent payment via an ACH transaction. This is then immediately withdrawn from their bank accounts. Landlords can keep copies of receipts, and the systems send copies electronically to the tenants as well.

While there are a variety of different ways landlords can accept rent or security deposit payments from their tenants, it is best to do so using one of the most secure forms, such as via cashier’s checks, money orders or online payment portals. No matter how rent is accepted, landlords should always photocopy the payment instrument and the receipt they give to their tenants, maintaining them in files in the event they are later needed in court.