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5 Scams That Trick Landlords Into Accepting Less-Than-Stellar Tenants

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Tenant screening scams are everywhere. If you don’t believe that applicants will come to your table looking to scam their way into a home or apartment that they have no intention of treating reasonably, you haven’t been a landlord for very long. Here are a few common ways we’ve seen other landlords get taken in.

The False Credit Report

It can seem like a nice gesture — the tenant brings their application, a tidy little pile of supporting paperwork, and a copy of their credit report. You just saved yourself the credit report fee! Right? Hell no.

Here’s the deal: this is the era of technology. Any slacker with a $200 refurbished 2005 computer and a free afternoon can whip out a pirated copy of Photoshop and edit literally any document they have. If it gets a roof over their head, why wouldn’t they? After all, it only takes one edit and you can give the faked document to dozens or hundreds of landlords — it just takes one mistake (or a lazy landlord!) to get into a home knowing full well you can’t pay for it.

 


4 Frequently Asked Questions on Evicting a Tenant

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Evictions are annoying, but they are part of doing business as a landlord. Don’t panic when you need to do an eviction—just move forward with confidence and take care of the problem. Once again, we do recommend you contact an attorney to help you with your eviction, at least until you are confident that you can complete it correctly yourself.

4 Frequently Asked Questions on Evicting a Tenant

1. How long does an eviction take?

In most states, as long as everything goes as planned, an eviction takes about a month. However, in some “tenant-friendly” states, evictions can take up to six months.

Should I Work With a Late-Paying Tenant or Evict Them?

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Many tenants will request that you “work with them” when their rent is late.

Deciding to work with them is a bit of an art form, and there is a strategy for doing so that won’t leave you in the lurch if something goes wrong. Before we get there, let’s talk about the two most common reasons why rent is usually late.

1. Priorities

There is a common pattern we see with late rent, and it’s caused by the fact that there are more than four weeks in a month. In other words, in April the tenant might get paid on the 3rd and 17th, then in May their paychecks would land on May 1st, 15th, and 29th. June would be the 12th and 26th, and July would be 10th and 24th. As you can see, for those who are paid every other week, paydays come MORE often than twice a month, and tenants sometimes have a hard time getting used to that. In the dates above, the tenant would likely use their May 1st paycheck for rent for May. Then they hopefully would use the paycheck from the 29th of May to pay their June rent.

But then that check on June 26th comes around, and the tenant realizes they still have a full week until rent is due, and they really need that money for something else, so they say, “I’ll just spend this paycheck and use the next one for rent.” But the next one doesn’t come until July 10th, so the tenant calls on the 5th of July and says, “My rent is going to be late because my paycheck doesn’t come until Friday,” as if some freak occurrence caused their paycheck to be delayed. Not placing their rent as a priority in their life is the number one reason why your tenant cannot make their rent payment on time.

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Landlord Knowledge Base

If you’ve ever considered investing in a few rental properties in Philadelphia or Bucks County, PA now might be a good time. Prices are still low in Philadelphia, but have been on the upswing. According to the National Association of Realtors, the median price of an existing home in a US metropolitan area grew 13.7% between July 2012 and July 2013, the latest in a 17-month streak of year-over-year price increases. 

New landlords can choose from properties that are likely to appreciate and a large pool of potential renters.Licensed realtor Pat Mueller cites a few reasons for this trend: “Many families have lost their homes to foreclosure and are entering the rentals market for the first time in years. Mortgages are also harder to get now, so fewer people are qualifying for a new one.”The more skills you bring to the table to get into Houses for Rent in Philadelphia Philadelphia or Bucks County, PA and the more time you have to devote to your properties, the faster you can make a return on your investment. 

But investing in rentals can also be disastrous (or too stressful to be worthwhile) without expertise. Here are three professionals you may consult about your new rental properties, and what you can do to mitigate how much they cost you:Handyman:  You may need to hire a specialist for some work on your rental. If you need new outlets or new pipes, for example, hire an electrician, plumber or licensed contractor. Handymen usually tackle smaller, more manageable tasks, like:

  • Painting and paint removal
  • Drywall repair
  • Minor appliance repairs (fixing a leaky toilet or faucet, among others)
  • Installing tiling or flooring, moldings, windows, doors
  • Refinishing decks, cabinets and other wood items

When You Could Skip It: You could do any (or all) of these projects yourself if you have the time and interest in learning. Of course, this only works if you live relatively close to your rentals and are flexible enough to service them on short notice. And if you’re willing to respond to the occasional 5 AM basement flooding.

Average Savings: Any base rates or costs-per-hour vary from location to location in Philadelphia or Bucks County, PA , but nationally, you can expect to spend an average of $60 to $85 per hour for repair costs. It general costs less to hire an individual handyman than a handyman employed by a company. Expect an additional charge if your job requires a trip to the store for materials.

Resident Property Manager As the owner of a handful of rental properties, you may be able to manage them yourself, but if you want help, a single resident manager would probably be more cost efficient than a property management company. Resident managers may:

  • Serve as a handyman
  • Advertise vacancies in your units
  • Show apartments to prospective tenants
  • Review rental applications
  • Collect rents

When You Could Skip It: Again, the closer you live to your properties and the more spare time you have, the less likely you are to need a manager. The obligations of being a boss will also cut into the time you save on maintenance.

Average Savings: The national median wage for residential managers is just over $25 per hour. Research the wages in your community and adjust according to how much responsibility your manager will take on. 

Real Estate Agent: Once you’ve gotten your financials in order and done your own research on the neighborhood(s) you’re considering, you might contact a realtor to show you potential properties. You can also arrange for a realtor in Philadelphia or Bucks County, PA to show rentals once they’re ready to rent.

When You Could Skip It: It depends. Even if you’re a local, or have thoroughly researched the neighborhood(s) you’re considering, a realtor is a great resource for a first-time rental buyer. Realtors have access to data and statistics not necessarily available to the general public and first-time buyers may not know all the right questions to ask. Using a realtor to fill your Houses for Rent vacancies is less of a no-brainer, depending on your other time commitments or whether you plan to hire a resident manager who could do the same thing.

Average Savings: As a buyer of rental properties, as when buying your own home, sellers typically pay most, if not all, of the buyer’s realtor fees. In this case, Mueller points out there’s little reason not to work with a realtor. For help in filling your units in Philadelphia or Bucks County, PA, the services of a realtor would set you back between 10-20% of the unit’s rent per month.  Mueller recommends interviewing with several brokers before making your final decision to invest into Houses for Rent .

The Bottom Line: As a new landlord, you can’t necessarily control the flexibility of your schedule or the amount (and cost) of unexpected repairs to your properties. Rentals are a long-term investment. However, to maximize profits from your Houses for Rent, new rentals, you can buy close to home and start small. It is best to begin with just one or two properties. This will allow you to maximize the time you spend on your properties’ needs, and minimize the amount you’ll have to pay anyone else.

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