StarPoint Tenant Screening

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Earn Extra Cash by Renting your House During Events

Earn MoneyIf you have a vacant property, then there is a way that you can get some use of out it in the short term. By renting out your property when events like festivals and fairs are in progress, you can make your property work for you and gain you some much-needed income. Hotels, cabins, and campgrounds often fill up ahead of large events, so there are always people looking to find a place to stay who were not lucky enough to book accommodations in advance. If you advertise your property for rent during large local events, then you can cash in on some of the money that travelers already plan to spend in your area.

Experts recommend that if you own a rental property that you always screen your guests, even if they are only staying for a short period. The reason behind the advice is that screening temporary tenants helps prevent costly damages and repairs. It is always important to make sure that any renter is a responsible group instead of a possible threat to your rental property.

Some of the most popular events that people look to attend include air shows, trade exhibitions, and large festivals like Strawberry Festivals and popular music events. When a large event is happening in your town, you can do a quick background check online for the intended renters and ask for a deposit that is refunded when the property is left clean and undamaged. Offering cleaning services, use of appliances, extra beds like cots and roll-out beds are excellent ways to entice people to rent your property when they come to town.

When you offer services that other businesses do not have like complimentary breakfasts, hot tub access, or garage access, it helps make your rental property more appealing. The better appeal makes people want to come back the next time a large event is in town, and you can begin booking people in advance. Some renters may even ask to book for the next years event, so they never have to worry about finding a place to stay at the last minute again.

5 Tips for Purchasing a Rental Property

Female real estate agent giving house keys to a man

5 Tips for Purchasing Rental Property

Buying at the Right Price

Finding the right price is of paramount concern when it comes to closing the deal on an investment property. Properties that offer greater value will ensure that owners are better able to withstand fluctuations within the market that might otherwise result in diminishing returns. While larger properties that have the potential to provide superior rental income may be an attractive option, taking advantage of purchase costs that offer greater value means that even smaller properties can provide the best investment opportunities.

Selecting the Best Neighborhoods and Locations

Ensuring that neighbors will be more accepting of your rental property is not a concern that should escape notice. Residents of working-class neighborhoods and those found in lower income areas are often more understanding of neighbors who choose to rent their home rather than owning their property outright. The right location is also a key concern when it comes to attracting renters.

Selecting Properties That Offer Ample Parking

Growing families often require plenty of parking in order to accommodate their household. Unlike other issues and limitations may be easily addressed through renovation projects or upgrades, limited parking can be very difficult to address. A garage, driveway or ample curbside parking can make a world in ensuring the needs of tenants can be met.

Quality Construction and Simple Design

Lavish homes and locations that showcase sophisticated construction and design can be a nightmare in terms of maintenance and upkeep. Owners may find themselves faced with considerable expense should they elect to invest in a rental property that is not easily maintained. A simple layout and proven construction quality are never considerations that should go overlooked when selecting a rental property that can be maintained with a minimum of effort and expense.

Purchasing a Rental Property Close to Home

Meeting the needs of your tenants is far more difficult for those who purchase a rental property too far from home. The additional costs needed to employ a property management service or contractor will be easier to avoid for owners who can more easily and conveniently provide maintenance services and make themselves available to tenants.

 

Using Smart Home Technology in Your Rental Property

Using-Smart-Home-TechnologySmart home technology has advanced to a degree that makes it functional, reliable, and affordable. Many homeowners now expect homes to be ready for smart home tech integration. When it comes to rental properties however, many homeowners are missing out on an incredible opportunity to increase the visibility and value of their rental property.

Rental home technology immediately gives your home an advantage in rental listings since many rental properties do not feature smart home technology. Even a mediocre looking property can look sophisticated and modern with smart home technology featured prominently in the listing. For vacation property rentals, every feature and perk can bump your rental property up in value and visibility.

Rental home technology also provides property owners greater control, ease of access, and management tools. With rental home technology your tenants can download an app and you give them access to everything from lights, locks and a/c to television and stereo controls. For example, your tenants left the heat on in your winter cottage? What would normally require a visit can now be easily remedied directly from your smart phone. Tenants locked themselves out? You can open the door for them remotely from your phone. Smart home technology also allows your tenants to have greater control and comfort in the property itself. Many tenants spend lots of time looking for light switches, remotes, or calling you to solve small problems like turning on the TV or watching a DVD. Smart home technology can supplant all of these problems easily and quickly, making your property much more valuable and a place to which your tenants will return over and over. In a highly competitive rental property market, a small perk can make the difference between a tenant choosing your rental property or someone else’s.

Smart home technology can increase the ease of management, make your property more appealing, and increase the value of your property. With so many options of smart home technology integration at an extremely reasonable cost, it makes all the sense in the world to invest in smart home technology.

 

The Importance of Tenant Screening

The Importance of Tenant Screening

The Importance of Tenant Screening

Tenant screening is a vital step that all landlords should take before renting a property out. In a perfect world, a landlord could trust all people who wish to rent from them. However, the world is not perfect and not all tenants are created equal. Screening potential tenants will lower the risk of losing money on a rental property.

There are three main reasons to screen tenants. These reasons for screening tenants are easy to recall if you can remember the Three P’s.

Profit: When a landlord is renting out a property the main goal is to make a profit on the rental. This means that the tenants need to be responsible, dependable and will pay the full amount of the rent punctually. Not only is it important to find a tenant that will pay the rent on time every month, but obtaining tenants who will fulfill the term of the lease is also imperative.

It can be difficult to predict what tenants will be financially responsible. One way to do so is to run a credit check on potential tenants. A credit check will give the tenants’ financial history and it will show whether they have a tendency to miss or make payments late.

Property: A landlord needs to make sure that they protect their property. This can be done by renting to people who have a history of taking care of past rentals. It’s impossible to tell by a person’s appearance whether or not they take care of their possessions or will take care of a property that doesn’t belong to them. The tenant screening process will help the landlord get a picture of whether or not the tenants will protect the rental. Contact former landlords to get an idea of how they took care their past rentals. Be cautious when renting to a first time renter. Contacting references is a way to obtain information on the tenants.

People: It is not just the landlord’s job to protect their profit and property, but it is also important to protect the other people living near the property. This may be other tenants or residents of the apartment complex or neighborhood surrounding the rental. References can help paint a picture of the type of people the potential tenants are. Some jurisdictions allow a background screening to be done in order to make sure that the tenants do not have criminal proceedings against them.

Landlords should set standards for desired tenants prior to starting the tenant screening process. It is important to have clear standards of what is acceptable for in order to avoid discrimination or other violations of the Fair Housing Act. Don’t rush through the process to just rent the property. Instead, take your time in order to protect your three P’s: profit, property, and people.

Termite Management

Termite Management in your Rental Property

Termite Management in your Rental Property

Termites are serious pests that can have a major impact on the quality of life of tenants, and represent a costly risk to landlords and property managers. The control of termites is a job that is best left to be handled by professionals, but there are some steps you can take to prevent infestations altogether and there are also some useful bits of knowledge that will help you identify infestations early.

Knowing how to identify termite infestations is critical. If a tenant suspects that termites are present on the property, do not waste any time in confirming an infestation and subsequently having it removed. Termites are often confused with ants, which can be a costly mistake in itself, especially since both tend to swarm during spring weather and wet conditions. Termites have straight antennae, thick waists, and wings of equal size, where ants have crooked antennae, slim waists, and wings of several sizes. The presence of termites indoors is almost always a sign that an infestation has happened, and warrants immediate action. Termites are drawn to the light, so doors and windows are places to check. The presence of termites at foundation walls, porches, and patios is a cause for serious concern. Termites leave behind mud tubes about a half-inch in diameter, commonly on foundation walls. Termite infections can remain hidden for years, as they will often leave no visible damage, so periodic inspection may be prudent in areas where infestations are common.

There are several practices for preventing termite infestations. Termites are attracted to moist environments. To keep humidity down, it is a good idea to repair all leaking water sources both in and out of doors, such as sprinklers, faucets, water lines, etc. Leaky roofs and gutters should also be attended to as soon as possible. Ventilate crawl spaces and attics to reduce their humidity, as well as any other cavernous but uninhabited rooms and structures. Eliminate clutter and structural conditions that are attractive to termites. Trim all plant life away from the foundations of buildings, and make sure that no mulch or leaves are left to accumulate at the foundations. If possible, give the soil a grade so that all water drains away from the buildings. Wood sidings, stucco, and foam board should start at least half a foot from the ground, and the foundations should be regularly inspected for cracks and holes that need to be filled. If any of the plant life on the grounds becomes infested, remove them, including tree stumps and trees. The general rules all aim to minimize moisture, remove wood to soil contact, and minimize clutter at the foundations.

If you have or suspect a termite infestation, there is no method for safely treating it on your own. You must have the infestation removed by professionals, both for the health and safety of your tenants and the value of the property. Choosing the appropriate termite control company can be difficult. Make sure they are properly licensed, and check their references and reviews as compared to two or three other companies. Getting inspections and estimations from multiple companies will give you a good idea of the extent of the infestation and the current market for services. Termites damage wood slowly, so you have weeks or a month to deal with it, so take your time, but do not ignore the problem; it will become serious.

Termite infestations are serious business. They can be avoided with proper planning and management practices, but sometimes fate throws curveballs that can’t be prevented. Knowing how to identify possible infestations and contract the appropriate professionals will prevent complete financial disasters

Why Landlord Insurance is a Good Idea

Insurance for Landlords is a Good Idea

Insurance for Landlords is a Good Idea

Insurance for landlords provides protection against property damage and liability claims. It also can pay repair or replacement costs and income loss for property owners who rent out one or more homes, apartments or condominiums more than a few weeks per year. It is not required by law but does cover things homeowner insurance policies does not.

What Types of Insurances are Available
Insurance for landlords usually is divided into three types: DP-1, DP-2 and DP-3. D-1 is a basic policy that covers things such as vandalism and fire. DP-2 covers a broader range of perils, such as hail and windstorms, and some even include a vehicle running into your rental unit. DP-3 is known as a “special form policy” or “open peril policy.” Unless something is explicitly excluded, it is covered. DP-3 also covers replacement cost, what something costs to replace now, versus cash value, what you paid for it when you bought it. “Landlord protective polices” cover things such as equipment breakdown.

What Should Be Covered by Most Policies
Rental property insurance typically covers damage to buildings and personal property caused by theft, vandalism, fire and storm damage. Some policies also cover tenant damage. It also covers liability claims and lawsuits if a tenant, visitor or even a trespasser, is injured on your property. Such costs can include judgment or settlement costs, legal fees, medical expenses and funeral costs.
You can buy additional landlord insurance for protecting your rental property. These policies include landlord contents insurance, employer liability insurance, natural disaster insurance (earthquakes and floods typically aren’t included in standard severe weather coverage) and rent guarantee insurance, if the building must be vacant for repairs due to a covered loss.

What Can Happen If You Don’t Purchase Insurance
Protecting your rental property is essential. If you don’t purchase rental property insurance you could suffer financial loss from a fire, break-in or severe weather. You also could get sued by a tenant or visitor who gets injured on your property. You also could lose income if your rental unit becomes unusable because of circumstances that are beyond your control.

Fire Safety for Your Tenants and your Property

Protecting your Tenants from Fire

Fire Safety for your Tenants and Rental Property

A fire can take everything away from you in an instant. As a property owner, fire should be one of the biggest concerns on your mind. As a landlord, a single fire can not only destroy your property, but leave you liable for damages that might put your property-owning career in danger. If you want to make sure that you keep both your property and your tenants safe, you need to make sure that you concentrate on fire safety.

First and foremost, you need to take responsibility for your property. Make sure that you have a whole-home monitoring system in place for both carbon monoxide and smoke – it’s the easiest way to alert your tenants to danger and to get the fire department to your property in a timely manner. You should also make sure that you conduct regular checks of the property for any kind of fire hazards (a property manager will be helpful here). Finally, make sure that you keep your home’s electrical wiring and appliances up to fire code standards at all time.

On the tenant side, make sure that you set specific rules in your rental contract. Don’t let your tenants bring in outside appliances other than a washer or dryer, and make sure that you keep some sort of clause active about cleanliness. While you might not always consider it, a dirty apartment is also a fire hazard – make sure that your property is never so dirty that a tenant can be trapped by a fire.

You have a responsibility to your tenants to make sure that any property that you own is safe. If you can do your part, you must make sure that your tenants do the same. With a little bit of extra work, you can make sure that the likelihood of a fire occurring on your property is greatly diminished. You may not be able to completely control every circumstance in which a fire may be started, but you can always go above and beyond to make sure that your liability in such a matter is never in question.

Smartphone Apps for Landlords or Property Managers

10 smartphone apps for Landlords

Smartphone apps for Landlords and Property Mangers

Most professionals, including landlords and property managers, have smartphones these days. The next step is getting the most you can out of these devices by installing these apps.

  1. The first one you will need, which many people don’t think about is Google Maps. You know where your properties are located but you also need to know where the latest break-ins, fires or car wrecks occurred relative to them. This app also will help when you are scouting new properties and giving directions.
  2. The next app you need is Facebook. It’s good for more than just cat videos. Use it to promote your business, your properties. You might need to use cat videos to get people to your page but one billion users is a lot of eyeballs.
  3. YouTube is another apps for landlords. Use YouTube one to show off your properties and yourself. Make sure to leave your potential clients wanting more but use videos to gain your clients interest in your properties.
  4. Onavo Extend is a free app that automatically compresses the data you receive and send, extending your monthly data plan by as much as fivefold. It also tells which apps are using the most of your monthly data plan.
  5. Skype is another of those overlooked apps but it is essential if you want to make sure you can make phone calls, plus video calls and texts, from anywhere to anywhere on your smartphone.
  6. Given the proliferation of smartphone apps for property managers and other professionals, security is essential. Lookout Mobile Security keeps your smartphone safe from and viruses and spyware.
  7. Flashlight LED HD lets you control your camera’s flash and screen brightness. It also turns your smartphone into an impromptu flashlight for late night property inspections. It does all this without stealing information off your smartphone, although it does drain your battery.
  8. Evernote is a perfect way to remember addresses, messages for vendors and first impressions of properties. Notes can be saved as websites, pictures and audio files as well as text and filed into notebooks for future reference.
  9. QuickOffice lets you view, edit and exchange PowerPoint, Excel and Word documents along with sending and receiving files efficiently and quickly from the cloud.

What are your favorite smartphone apps?

How to Increase the Value of Your Rental Property

rental-property-valueLike most rental property owners, you probably often try to find ways to increase the value of that property to keep good tenants happy and to continually improve your real estate investment. Many times, though, the cost of making improvements can prevent you from taking on a project that you know would make an immediate change for the better in your property.

There are ways that you can make improvements to your real estate investment that don’t cost as much as you might think. Sometimes a small change or two can make a big difference, so take a look at a few of the ways you can please good tenants and give your rental property a lift.

  • Work From the Outside-In and Add Some Curb Appeal. By simply adding a new mail box or planting some flowers, you can increase the beauty and curb appeal of your apartment complex and each of the rental properties within the complex. Other effective changes you can make include adding new shutters or installing new outdoor lights for safety and to give your tenants the chance to do more outside entertaining in the evenings. The beauty of this project is that you can add a few items at a time and see big changes.
  • Floor Your Tenants. If your rental property features older flooring, especially old carpeting, new floors can instantly open up a rental property and make it feel exciting and new. Price hardwood floors and laminate hardwood floors to see which one is within your budget. Either one will make a remarkable change in the property’s appearance.
  • Switch Out the Fixtures. Another small and affordable way to make a strong impact in an apartment is to switch out the light fixtures. Add floor lamps, track lighting or a new chandelier.
  • Soundproof for Peace and Tranquility. Many apartment dwellers frequently complain about the noise coming from their neighbors’ apartments. You can turn any insulation and soundproofing you install into your property into a strong selling point. You will keep current tenants happy, and you can feel confident that future tenants will love this feature.

Top 4 Landlord Mistakes to Avoid

Choosing the Right way instead of the Wrong one.

Landlord Mistakes to Avoid

There are many benefits for you to consider being a landlord. There is the lure of the steadily escalating rents, or you may just be interested in renting out your old place. Whatever the reason that is driving you, becoming a landlord can be profitable. However, learning the game requires effort. It is easy to take a misstep that may jeopardize your position. But when you play it right, you will have nothing to regret. Here are several mistakes that some landlords make and how to avoid them.

1. Don’t underestimate costs

It is easy to account for your taxes, insurance and mortgage (if you have one). But you may miss on expenses such as garbage, gardening, water and regular upkeep and repair tasks. Even riskier is failing to set aside money for big-ticket items and unexpected expenditures. Thus, for a realistic estimate, arrange for your annual costs (excluding your mortgage) to run at least between 35 and 45 percent of your annual rental income. A good rule of thumb when calculating your future income is to include only 10 or 11 months of the annual payments. This is because when a tenant moves out, you will still have expenses.

2. Never break the law

Landlord and tenant laws vary depending on the state or city you are in. For instance, you can require a month-to-month tenant to vacate the building within 15 days in one area while, in others, you must give a 60-days notice. One way to avoid such a problem is to avoid buying generic lease or other tenant forms that don’t reflect the local laws. To get an idea of what is permitted in your area, talk to a local or state apartment owners or landlord association. Such groups are not expensive to join, and may cost about $50.

You must also know that according to the federal law, you are prohibited from denying rental to someone based on gender, religion or race.

3. Don’t skimp on tenant screening and vetting prospective tenants

When looking for a good tenant, don’t just trust your instincts, or even depend on a friend’s referral. Landlords often get into trouble when they rush to find tenants or when they pity someone. Never rent your property to someone without carrying out a tenant screening. You need to do a background check on the prospective tenant’s credit, confirm their source and amount of income, and also check with their current and previous landlords. A good rule is to ensure their income runs at least two and a half times their annual rent. You can get their background and credit information from sites such as MySmartMove.com and E-Renter.com for about $25.

4. Don’t ignore the renter’s insurance policy

As a landlord, your policy covers the structure of the home, liability in case of property damage or injuries, and your appliances. It does not include the tenant’s stuff. You may imagine this is not your problem, but renting to tenants who lack an insurance policy may cause big trouble for you in case something goes wrong. Tenants sometimes lash out when it dawns on them they are not being compensated.

It is therefore recommended that in areas where it is legal, for instance, California, ensure that your tenants purchase a policy. This may reduce the number of your potential tenants, but it increases the chances of ending up with a responsible person. If it is not possible, explain to your tenants that you are not covering their stuff and suggest to them to buy their insurance.

The real estate business is of a profitable kind. But you need to understand some fundamental principles for you to be a successful player in this field. Don’t skimp on tenant screening, follow the law, and ensure that your tenants have an insurance policy. When all this is in place, you will have less to worry about.

Contact Us
StarPoint Tenant Screening
520 East Zaragoza
Pensacola, FL 32502

Ph: 850-262-0002
Toll Free: 877-330-2444
Fax: 877-349-2175

info@starpointscreening.com