Jason Cohen Pittsburgh - Best Practices for Landlords

Best Practices for Landlords

No landlord wants to keep a flaky client. Every investment property owner counts on their tenants to pay their rent in full and on time – otherwise, they have no way of making a profit off of owning and renting out the building. A landlord’s choice of tenant matters; no property owner wants to risk bringing on a tenant that will trash place and skip out on rent. Likewise, they can’t afford to lose responsible and reliable tenants as a result of poor communication or subpar landlord-tenant relationships. In order to find and maintain responsible and reliable tenant, landlords must take stock of their own actions and strategies to establish a productive rapport with those living in their investment properties. In this piece, Jason Cohen Pittsburgh provides a few best practices for landlords who want to cultivate mutually-beneficial, long-term relationships with responsible tenants.

Creating the Lease

Standard lease forms are readily available and cover rent, security deposit fees and legal rights. From there, add pet restriction policies, late payment fees, maintenance responsibilities and expected behavior. A detailed lease explaining a landlord’s expectations and requirements reduces the likelihood of misunderstandings in the future.

Be Welcoming

New tenants are often new to the area. As such, landlords might consider creating a printed map that provides directions to frequently visited locations that may include grocery stores, medical clinics, pharmacies, restaurants and perhaps nearby attractions. Leave a welcome card in the residence to start the relationship on a positive note.

Friendly but Professional

Make a good first impression by dressing appropriately. By appearing clean and properly put together, you convey that you expect your tenants to maintain their residence. Follow the guidelines clearly established in the lease to prevent misunderstandings. Go over the lease with them before they move. You can always amend trivial matters along the way if you choose. If a disagreement should arise, it is important that the landlord always remain calm and professional.

Availability

In the event that a problem occurs, tenants must be able to contact the landlord. Supply one or more phone numbers and perhaps an email address. Emails also reduce the number of after hour calls while providing documentation of an issue. Consider tenants as customers. In order to keep customers, property owners must respond as quickly as possible when contacted. When a problem arises, set a time to visit and inspect the problem. Remedy the problem or have the repair completed as quickly as possible.

Respect Their Privacy

Tenants have the right to privacy. Some states require that landlords provide notice before entering the property. Landlords should also schedule visits to business hours or at a time that is convenient for the tenant.

*Originally posted on JasonCohenPittsburgh.net

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How to Rent an Apartment for the First Time

There are certain benefits to renting an apartment instead of buying a home, including free maintenance, access to communal facilities and no long-term commitment. However, it’s important for prospective tenants to choose the right apartment. The following tips can help first-time renters select the best apartment for their needs.

 

Set a Budget

 

Prospective tenants should first set a budget by determining exactly how much they can afford to pay in rent each month. According to Quicken, a good rule of thumb is to pay no more than 25 percent of income before tax on rent. If a tenant earns $3,000 per month, for example, his or her monthly rent should be no higher than $750. However, this estimate is a suggestion, not a hard-and-fast rule; if a tenant has other significant monthly expenses, they might be better off choosing an apartment that costs well under 25% of their total income.

 

Consider Location

 

The location of an apartment will affect the cost of rent, accessibility to other businesses and the tenant’s daily commute. Apartments outside of the city are usually cheaper than those within the city, but this can also make daily commutes longer. Therefore, prospective tenants should choose an apartment that’s within a reasonable driving distance from their place of work.

 

Look at Multiple Apartments

 

When searching for their first apartment, prospective tenants should look at least five properties. Even if one apartment offers all the right amenities and is within the tenant’s budget, others may offers better features at an even lower price. The only way a prospective tenant will know, however, is by considering multiple properties.

 

Consider Security

 

How secure is the apartment complex? Prospective tenants should consider security features like perimeter fencing, gates, video surveillance, patrols and alarm systems.

 

What About a Roommate?

 

To help offset the cost of living in an apartment, prospective tenants should consider getting a roommate. Assuming it’s allowed, this can reduce the cost of reduce the cost of rent by up to 50 percent. If a tenant decided to get a roommate, though, he or she should carefully vet the person to ensure they are capable of paying their share of the rent and utilities.

 

Review the Lease Agreement

 

Arguably, one of the most important steps in renting an apartment for the first time is reviewing the lease agreement. This is the legally binding document that explains the terms of rental. When reviewing the lease agreement, prospective tenants should look at the duration, security deposit and the fee for breaking the lease.

*Originally posted on JasonCohenPittsburgh.net

Common Rental Terms Every Tenant Should Know

Property descriptions can be difficult to muddle through, especially for first-time or young applicants. When it comes to apartment rentals, there are a number of terms that get thrown around; here, I provide a few handy definitions and explanations to help newcomers acclimate to the vocabulary.

 

Utilities Included

Utilities” is a blanket term that typically refers to basics such as electricity, water, and sewer and trash services. However, the term can sometimes include extra expenses such as heat, snow removal, cable, and Internet – although a tenant should never assume that any in the latter list are covered. Often, a landlord will specify which utilities are included in the rent and which are left to the tenant to pay. If the landlord doesn’t specify which expenses are folded into rent and which aren’t, be sure to ask for clarification before signing a lease. Note that in some cases, the landlord will agree to cover a specific bill up to a certain dollar amount and leave the tenant responsible for the remaining balance.

Pet-Friendly

When a landlord lists a home or apartment as “pet-friendly,” they aren’t guaranteeing a home for all types of animals. For example, a landlord might be willing to consider a bird or cat, but turn away someone with a large dog. In all cases, the tenant should assume that only well-behaved pets will be welcome. Check to see if a pet deposit or pet rent is required in addition to the usual security deposit to cover any damage the pet may have caused.

 

Amenities and Amenity Fees

Amenities refer to the perks of residing in the home or apartment – say, a large deck for entertaining, or wood-burning fireplace. Amenity fees generally appear in upscale buildings that offer an unusually high number of benefits to residents, such as a swimming pool or an on-site gym equipment. Check the fine print of your lease for information on what’s included and assess whether the cost is worth the benefits.

 

Application Fee

Landlords will often run a criminal background check on applicants through an online service such as BeenVerified. The fees for these services are then passed on to the applicant. Note that the application fee might also serve as a sort of initial refundable deposit on the property. If so, the landlord might just be holding it until the background check is complete – but you should always  ask the landlord rather than assuming one way or the other.

 

Furnished vs. Unfurnished

If an advertisement lists the space as “furnished,” this could mean only that the rental includes a single bed and a table and chairs, or that every room is fully decked out and complete with curtains. If this is a concern, ask for details and the landlord’s expectations before setting up a time to view the property.

 

*Originally posted on JasonCohenPittsburgh.net