I always say a landlord have all the power before the lease. Once you let a tenant inside your place you have lost your power. You have to be very diligent before you rent you home. That new tenant can call you every week with repairs in the place that he or she thinks is necessary. That new tenant can decide to pay you late every month. worst even the tenant might start to damage your place in ways that will cost you money that you don’t have.
So before you select a tenant, you have all the power. You must do your best to select the best tenant you can. If it is the first time you are selecting a tenant this post will help you make the best decision.
While we are looking to get the best tenant, we need to be careful not to break the law. The Fair Housing Act was enacted to protect the population from discrimination. According to The Fair housing Act here comes the basis on which you are not suppose to judge a tenant:
- National origin
- Familial status( having children or not)
- A mental or physical disability
According to Nolo some states Include a few more like:
- Marital status
- sexual orientation
As of August 2015, The state of Georgia does not provide protection for:
- Marital status
- Sexual orientation
1.How old is the person
In metro Atlanta, you can decide you don’t want to rent to a tenant if the tenant is too young. Some young tenants like to stay up late and have parties in the weekend. If you have a multiple unit with a few older and quiet tenants you might need to think twice before renting to a new younger tenant that might create trouble for you with your pre-existing tenants.
2.Have you rented before
First-time tenants have no experience renting, you have no Idea if they will be a good or bad tenant. Other problems with first-time tenants are that they might realize that they can not afford your place and try to move out to a lease expensive place before the end of the lease. renting the first time is like an experiment. I remember the first time I rented a place to realized I could not afford it two months later. So I break my lease to move to a cheaper place.
I once worked with a young lady who wanted to get her own place. She was excited to move out of her parent’s place to be on her own. Just a few months after she moved out, she tells me she is trying to break her lease but the landlord is brethren to take her to court for breach of contract. I ask her what happen why are you living? She tells me she get very lonely living by herself. she misses her brothers and sisters. So she was just experimenting. As a landlord, you don’t want your apartment to be a lab.
3.Do you smoke
We all know by now that smoking is a bad habit. The smell of cigarette is hard to remove from a house or apartment. To really remove the smell, it might require the removal of the carpet and fresh paint in the whole place. Doing all that add expenses you might have been able to avoid.
The more serious problem with a tenant who smoke comes when you have a multi-unit. If some of your tenants smoke and others don’t then you will be dealing with tenants complaining about cigarette smoking come into their place through the vents. You might lose some of your good tenants because you rent to a new person in the same multi-unit who is a heavy smoker.
4.Do you have a dog
Every dog owner will tell you their dog is an angle. Dogs will leave a bad smell. That is a guarantee. It will cost you some money to get rid of that dog smell once the tenant move. Having a dog fee makes good sense. That fee will help cover the expenses you will have after the dog owner move out to get rid of the small.
Some dogs will damage your home. I once had a dog damaged a door. It looks like when the owners leave the dog at home alone, the dog keep scratching on the door trying to get out. These tenants keep that quiet. I find out that the dog hate the door and door panels after they had moved out.
Some dogs can disturb other tenants who live in the other units of a duplex or triplex. Some dogs bark for different reasons. Barking by a dog can be disturbing in the night or days times. Many Hospital employees work at night and sleep in the day. A barking dog can be a big problem.
5.How long have you been in your job
Mortgage companies use different criteria when making a loan. The main focus of a mortgage company is to make sure the person they are making the loan to can afford the payments. Landlords have a lot they can learn from these mortgage bankers.
Someone who just start a new job might not be very stable because of two reasons. The first is that the person might fail to perform at the level the employer expect and get fire.
The second is that Human being are unique. we don’t like everything and we can not tolerate the same things. A new employer might not like his or her job and quit shortly after being hired.
You are better off renting to someone who is well established in their current job. Stability at work is important. No tenant can pay you if they are not making any money.
6.Why are you leaving your current landlord
It’s good to know why a potential tenant is leaving their current place. That might help you understand if your place is the right fit for them. If they are running from a problem that you know they will be facing also in your place maybe your place is not the right place for them.
Ask them questions about their current place. Let them talk and listen, you might hear signs of trouble in the stories they are telling. That can help you decide if you want them as a tenant.
7.How much rent are you paying currently
Knowing what a tenant is paying now give you a sense of the amount they are used to pay. If a person is paying $400 for rent and now they are looking for an $800 apartment, you must get an a good explanation for this big change. You need to make sure there will be a change in this person’s income. You need to know if there is an additional person you will also be responsible to pay this rent. Make sure everyone who is responsible to pay the rent, signs the lease.
You need to know the criminal history of the person you are going to rent to. It’s important for your safety. Someone’s criminal history can give you some insight into they character and the likelihood they might become a delinquent tenant. You need to know if you are going to bring a criminal to the area. They people who live next to that rental property would not be happy to know that you bring a criminal to live next door to them. If you have a multi-unit you need to think about the safety of your other tenants.
Call the references and make a list of key questions to ask them. Job interviews ask for references for good reasons. These references can give you a good Idea on the character of the person you are about to rent to. You need to have the right questions in order to get the answers that will be most helpful in making your decision.
10.Income to rent payment ratio
Like I mentioned above, banks use certain numbers to determine if someone will be able to make certain payments. The reason why we all know that Banker’s greed was responsible to the real estate crisis, is because of all the people that was given loans that the banks knew would not be able to afford the loans. I use to look for tenants whose monthly income was three times the rent.
This is a short list. There are more than only 10 things to consider before you rent your home. One of the very important thing that I did not include is a credit report. I think this is a no brainer. For everything we do in life there is a learning curve. The best way to learn in life is by doing or by experience. After you start dealing with renting to different people you will discover more and more things you need to keep in mind before you select a tenant. I hope this list was helpful. If you see something that you make this list better please mention it in the comment below.