Tips for Tenants

  • Smarter Tenant Tip #1:

    Did you know that Landlords annually have to pay interest on your security deposit? Check with the state banking commission for the rate of interest. More

    Smarter Tenant Tip #2:

    Set your rental priorities before you start looking. The rent, desire location, number of bedrooms and whether you want to keep a pet. This will help focus your search. More

    Smarter Tenant Tip #3:

    Be prepared. Get a copy of your credit report, check it for accuracy (press for corrections if necessary) before your prospective landlord lays his eyes on it. More

    Smarter Tenant Tip #4:

    Always inspect the rental unit before you sign a lease or rental agreement. Think carefully before signing-off on a clause that states that the rental is in fine shape. More

    Smarter Tenant Tip #5:

    Before you move out, find out what exactly the landlord expects in the way of cleaning. If you get no answer, announce a cleaning plan of your own. More

    Smarter Tenant Tip #6:

    It's common for landlords to limit overnight guests, such as allowing a guest for no more than ten days in any six-month period with written approval required for longer stays. More

    Smarter Tenant Tip #7:

    Landlords typically want all adults (18 years of age and older) who will live in the rental unit, including both members of a couple, to sign the lease or rental agreement. More

Tips for Landlords

  • Smarter Landlord Tip #1:

    When you are ready to find a tenant for your vacancy, you must select a tenant with whom you can maintain a professional relationship throughout the tenancy. More

    Smarter Landlord Tip #2:

    Application fees are common practice today. If you feel uncomfortable about this, you may offer to refund the fee only if the applicant becomes your next tenant. More

    Smarter Landlord Tip #3:

    If you are renting a property that was built before 1978, you are required to provide a disclosure notice and booklet from the EPA regarding lead and the hazards of lead. More

    Smarter Landlord Tip #4:

    A month-by-month lease can be written or oral. Rent is payable monthly and the lease can be changed or ended by either the landlord or the tenant after giving some notice. More

    Smarter Landlord Tip #5:

    Whenever you advertise a rental, you are subject to the fair housing laws which state that you cannot refuse to show a rental nor can you refuse to rent to someone. More

Landlord Tips and Tools

Smarter renting Tip #1:

You have an empty unit and want to find the right tenant for your vacancy: proceed with caution. You must select a tenant who is responsible, financially stable, and one with whom you can maintain a professional relationship throughout the tenancy. After all, if you choose well, this tenant may be with you for years to come.

Smarter renting Tip #2:

Application fees are common practice today. If you feel uncomfortable about this, you may offer to refund the fee only if the applicant becomes your next tenant. If the prospective tenant complains about this BEWARE he/she maybe hiding something. If the background check comes back negative then it hasn't cost you anything. A normal fee runs between $25.00 to $50.00 depending how expensive it is. Always check out each applicant over the age of 18 years.

Smarter renting Tip #3:

Don't be misled about lead...

If you are renting a property that was built before 1978, you are required to provide a disclosure notice and booklet from the EPA regarding lead and the hazards of lead- even if you don't know about the presence of lead in the property. You can download the required disclosure form and booklets from www.fransland.com.

Smarter renting Tip #4:

What is the difference between a month-by-month lease and fixed-term lease?

A month-by-month lease can be written or oral. Rent is payable monthly and the lease can be changed or ended by either the landlord or the tenant after giving some notice. Usually, notice must be given thirty days in advance. In the notice, the landlord could ask the tenant to leave or pay more rent, or the tenant could inform the landlord of a move. The advantage of a month-by-month lease to tenants is that they can give notice, move, and stop paying rent. Since about 20 percent of all tenants move each year, the ease of mobility can be important. The disadvantage to tenants is that the landlord can raise the rent otherwise change the rental conditions, such as refusing to allow pets in the future, on short notice. The landlord does not usually have to state any reason for the decision to end the lease or to make changes.

When the lease is for a fixed term, neither the landlord nor the tenant can end or modify the lease before the end of the term without the permission of the other. Fixed-term leases protect landlords from the vagaries of tenants' decisions to move (so long as the lease is supplemented by adequate security deposits) and protect tenants from rent increases during the term of the lease. But month-to month agreements are better for parties who want flexibility.

Smarter renting Tip #5: Antidiscrimination Laws

Whenever you advertise a rental, you are subject to the fair housing laws. Although there may be additional, state, and federal ordinances that affect you, the federal Fair Housing Act of 1988 provides that you cannot refuse to show a rental, cannot refuse to rent to someone, and cannot advertise indicating a preference on the basis of the following:

  • Age
  • Ancestry
  • Color
  • Familial status (in housing)
  • Lawful source of income
  • Learning disability
  • Marital status
  • Mental disability
  • Mental retardation
  • National origin
  • Physical disability, including chronic alcoholism, AIDS, AIDS-related complex, hearing/visual impairment and chronic mental illness.
  • Race
  • Religion
  • Sex
  • Sexual orientation
  • Use of a guide dog

The law is quite clear. It provides that you cannot set different terms, conditions, or privileges for rental; cannot provide different housing services or facilities; cannot falsely deny that a rental is available for inspection or renting; cannot refuse to make housing available; cannot deny dwelling unit; and other similar conditions.

If you deny pets to tenants, you must be sure that doing so does not violate the federal Americans with Disabilities Act, which states that landlords cannot limit or discourage occupancy to tenants who have a companion animal required by a medical prescription. Note that this includes guide dogs but may also include other animals that have been medically prescribed for a variety of physical and emotional conditions.