Common Mistakes When Screening Los Angeles Tenants

production-of-keys-buying-a-house-top-view-overhead-closeup-above-steel-copy-space-lock-color_t20_ZVoJda.jpg

As a rental property owner in Los Angeles, it is important to make sure that you have qualified tenants when renting out your available spaces. By screening tenants, you will be able to make sure that you get people who will take good care of the property and make rental payments on time. While most landlords and property owners properly screen tenants, there are some property owners who make mistakes. With these mistakes, they take on difficult tenants and lose a considerable amount of money. For any property owner in Los Angeles who is looking to avoid taking on problem tenants, they will want to keep certain mistakes in mind. (Related: How to Build Your Real Estate Brand)

Not Properly Verifying Income

One of the most common mistakes for property owners when screening tenants in Los Angeles is not properly verifying income. It is very important that any tenant who is looking to rent space will have a sufficient income to pay the rent on a monthly basis. Property owners will need to receive paystubs, copies of paychecks, tax returns and/or a letter from an employer that proves that the prospective tenant makes the required income. This is usually three times the rental rate. Those who make mistakes don’t go over these documents, don’t request them and who rent to someone who has a monthly income that is not at least three times the monthly rental rate.

Not Checking Criminal Records

Another common mistake made by property owners when screening tenants is not checking for any criminal records. While most tenants are law abiding residents, there are some who may have a criminal record. Some of these tenants can have significant convictions such as felonies. They may also have a record or property crime such as vandalism or drug possession. It is important to avoid taking on any tenant that doesn’t have a record of criminal activity that is associated with violence, theft or property damage. Some property owners disregard this and then have a tenant ruin one of their rental units and/or commit crimes on their property. (Make sure to check your state and local laws and regulations to ensure your review of criminal record is not violating any anti-discrimination statutes.)

Not Verifying Employment

Property owners sometimes make the mistake of not verifying employment. When qualifying a tenant, some property owners will not request any information about the applicant’s employer and whether or not they are currently employed. It is important to verify the employment of an applicant to make sure that they have sufficient income to pay the rent on time every month. To avoid this mistake, confirm the applicant’s employment record immediately.

Not Checking References

Not using or checking references is another one of the most common mistakes made by property owners when screening tenants. These property owners do not research the applicant’s rental history. They don’t contact previous landlords, employers or neighbors who have knowledge of a person’s history of renting property units. By not using references, a property owner will likely take on a tenant who is not able to pay rent, damages the property, commits a crime and/or leaves the property without notice. As a result, property owners will need to get references before renting a unit to a tenant.

Not Reviewing Credit History

Some landlords and property owners make the mistake of not checking the credit history of an applicant. The credit history is a record of a person’s payments of debts, bills and rents. It is important to check the credit history to make sure that someone is financially responsible. Property owners who don’t check the credit history of an applicant can end up taking on a tenant that is not reliable in paying rent and can therefore get themselves in trouble such as losing needed rental income.

Not Checking Photo ID

Whenever a property owner looks to rent a unit to a tenant, they will often check for photo identification. This is a way of making sure that the applicant is the actual person who is looking to rent the unit. There are some property owners who don’t check the identification of the applicant and then run into problems. They will often have a situation where the applicant who qualifies for a rental unit will get a problem tenant into the unit through their application. Therefore, it is important to make sure that the applicant will also be the tenant by checking their identification. (Related: How Much House Can You Afford?)

Not Verifying the Rental Application

Owners of property sometimes don’t verify the rental application. This is another major mistake because they don’t verify all of the information on the application. Property owners need to screen tenants by making sure that all of the information on the rental application is true and correct. By not verifying the information on the rental application, they will likely take on a tenant that is unreliable and/or someone who can be dangerous.

Not Using a Rental Application At All

There are some landlords who don’t use a rental application at all. Not using a rental application is one of the biggest mistakes made by property owners. When not using a rental application, these landlords have no way of qualifying a tenant. They are unable to determine their income, their identity, criminal record or credit history. As a result, they are at high risk of getting tenants that they eventually have to remove. Therefore, owners of rental property will need to use a rental application every time they offer a rental unit in order to avoid this situation.

Discriminating

While an overwhelming majority of landlords and property owners don’t do this, there are some who make decisions on tenants through discrimination. Some property owners will reject an applicant based on their race, religion, national origin or gender. This is illegal and violates civil rights laws. Any landlord who does this will likely get into serious legal trouble. They can be subject to a costly lawsuit which can affect their ability to keep the property. Therefore, it is important that property owners never engage in discrimination when qualifying tenants for their rental units in their property.

Why Hiring a Property Management Company Makes Sense, and How to Find a Great One

girl-holding-house-in-hands-sale-concept-money-keys-buy-dollar-property-cash-real-estate-credit-tax_t20_WQaQ8X.jpg

Many a fortune has been made in real estate, but being a landlord is not for the faint of heart. From excuses about late rent checks to repair calls in the middle of the night, the hassles of owning a rental property are never-ending.

If you have been thinking about getting into real estate but fear the landlord blues, you may be able to make your dreams come true. Owning rental real estate can still be a great move - if you find the right property management company.

What is a Property Management Company?

The beauty of a property management is that it allows you to enjoy the advantages of owning rental property, from a steady stream of income to appreciation potential and portfolio diversification, without the downsides, like screening tenants, collecting rent checks and fixing broken toilets. In exchange for these services, the property management company takes a percentage of the rent roll, but that is a small price to pay.

Working with a property management company makes a lot of sense, especially for new real estate investors, but not all property managers are the same. If you want to build a real estate empire without the landlord blues, you need to choose your property management company with care.

Ask Your Real Estate Agent for Referrals

If you are new to real estate investing, start by working with your agent to find a trustworthy property management company. Real estate agents, especially the ones that specialize in rental properties, are typically tuned into this world, and they can provide expert recommendations on which property management companies to hire - and which ones to avoid.

Once you have several referrals in hand, you can start interviewing property management companies. You will still need to do your own due diligence and conduct your own research, but a referral from an experienced real estate agent is always a good place to start.

Research Vacancy Rates

One of the most important jobs of any property management company is finding suitable tenants for the owners they work for. Property management companies have a vested interest in keeping their apartments and houses rented - after all, their compensation is typically a percentage of the total rent.

Even so, some property management companies are more successful than others, and it is important to research vacancy rates carefully. The last thing you want is an empty rental property, so look for a property management company with a proven track record of attracting, screening and serving local tenants.

Talk to Tenants

Property managers do more than just find tenants - they also serve those tenants. Attracting tenants to their rental properties is just the beginning, and once again some companies do a better job than others.

If you really want to know how a property management company is doing, you need to go right to the source. That means talking to the tenants themselves, assessing the level of service those tenants are receiving and how happy they are with the management of the property.

If the tenants are happy, you will be happy, and you cannot afford to neglect this research. As the owner of the rental property, you are ultimately responsible for the tenants you rent to, and you need to make sure the property manager you hire is up to the task.

Owning rental real estate can be a great way to diversify your portfolio and build wealth for the future, but it pays to have expert help in your corner. If you like the idea of a steady stream of rental income but not the hassles of being a landlord, working with a property management company can give you the best of both worlds - if you know what to look for.