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Leasing 101: A Comprehensive Guide for Property Investors

Landlord and Tenant Discussing Lease AgreementBuying and owning single-family rental properties in Cave Springs can be a thrilling and rewarding investment. But unlike other types of investments, there are several things you need to know to go from a property owner to a landlord successfully. Suppose you are a Cave Springs rental property owner getting ready to lease for the first time. In that case, it is important to first fully know the basics of leasing strategies and, even more importantly, the laws that now apply to you and your tenant. To get you started on leasing your first property, we’ve put up a list of comprehensive guide covering the basics. By following a few easy guidelines, you are more likely to make your first experience a positive one.

Screening Process Basics

The first and most important step in leasing your rental property is looking for the right renter. And the way to do that is to have a good screening process for each applicant. You’ll need to gather some information from your prospective tenant to help you determine whether they are the ones you’re looking for. At least, request that they fill out an application that includes the names and birth dates for all intended occupants of the home, including those under 18, five years of employment history, and at least three references. You’ll also want to gather Social Security numbers for all adult tenants and run a background check on each one. After, call and verify the information on their application. If possible, contact any previous landlords and get details on their renting history. It may take some time, but the more research you do before you sign that lease, the less likely you are to come across unpleasant surprises in the future.

Avoiding Discrimination

As you advertise for and screen renters, it’s important to avoid discriminating against potential tenants, even unintentionally. It is illegal to discriminate against a tenant depending on variables like race, sex, color, national origin, religion, handicap, and familial status; note there may be other protected classes dependant on your state’s laws. As you create your rental ads, be careful to avoid using language that might qualify as discrimination, such as stating you will not rent to people with children or those who live on government assistance. Then, as you collect applications and screen tenants, fairly assess your applicants based on the information they provide and not on other criteria. By maintaining professionalism and using an unbiased screening system, you can stay clear of discriminating against any potential renters.

Understanding Reasonable Accommodations

Similarly, it is important not to undertake that someone with a disability is automatically not a good candidate for your rental property. Under the Federal Fair Housing Act, property owners are required to make “reasonable accommodations” for their tenants, should they be required. By definition, a reasonable accommodation is “a change, exception, or adjustment to a rule, policy, practice, or service that may be necessary for a person with a disability to have an equal opportunity to use and enjoy a dwelling.” If your prospective tenant otherwise meets the criteria for renting your property, accommodation should not be a reason to turn them down. In some cases, the accommodation a tenant requests may be something they will install and pay for themselves, with the understanding that they will return the property to its original condition upon move-out. In other situations, the tenant may request an accommodation from you that, if deemed reasonable, you will need to allow. This includes allowing service and emotional support animals in the rental property, even if you have a strict policy forbidding pets.

Finally, it’s important to know that there may be different and additional Landlord/Tenant laws that apply in other cities or neighborhoods. Before leasing your property, you should take the time to research all applicable laws in your area and craft your processes in line with them.

Understanding all the laws and best practices of leasing rental properties can be a challenge. Why not entrust this important task to a Cave Springs property manager? At Real Property Management First Choice, we offer clear and anti-discriminatory screening and leasing services that help our rental property owners find the best possible tenants for their properties. Contact us today or give us a call at 479-242-0791 to learn more.

We are pledged to the letter and spirit of U.S. policy for the achievement of equal housing opportunity throughout the Nation. See Equal Housing Opportunity Statement for more information.

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