Important Things to Consider Before Evicting a Problem Tenant

Not all tenants are the same. Some pay rents on time, others don’t. Some follow the rules specified in the lease, while others don’t. If you are managing a property as a landlord, you have to patiently deal with all kinds of tenants. But what if a tenant has become too intolerable to keep? Obviously, you will have to evict him or her.

Eviction is considered the last resort for a landlord because it’s a very time consuming and expensive process.  If you too have a problem tenant, here are three steps you can take to avoid the stress that the process of evicting a tenant can otherwise cause:

Find out if you have reasonable grounds to evict a tenant

Keep in mind that tenants have certain legal rights. You should have a just cause before you can evict a tenant. You can’t evict a tenant just because you dislike him or her. There must a reason strong enough to support you legally. If your tenant is in violation of any of the lease’s clauses, then you possibly have the ground to evict him or her. Besides, if the tenant is not paying rent or has caused a serious damage to the property voluntarily, you probably have a just cause to evict that tenant. If a tenant is involved in any illegal activity on your premises, then you should not even think twice before initiating the eviction proceedings against him or her. In most states, a landlord can evict a tenant even when he or she has committed none of the above-mentioned violations, but the landlord has to give a 30 to 60 days eviction notice.

What it means is that before taking any step, you should carefully evaluate if you have reasonable grounds to initiate the legal process of eviction against a tenant.

Find out if there is an amicable solution

Before initiating a legal action like issuing an eviction notice to the tenant, you should try to figure out if you can avoid the legal hassle and find a solution that is mutually acceptable. If the tenant has agreed to pay the outstanding rent or is willing to amend the situation, then you can consider giving him or her a second chance. You can arrange a meeting and give a final warning that you will be forced to take a legal step if the tenant doesn’t correct the situation.

Familiarize yourself with the law

While the US Landlord and Tenant Act applies universally to all landlords and tenants, you have to take into account the state-specific laws also. The tenancy laws vary from state to state, so you need to study the laws that apply particularly in your state. Ignorance about state-specific laws can prove a big mistake, because your tenant can claim that you violated them while initiating an eviction procedure against him or her. You can also consult with an attorney specializing in tenancy laws.

Renting Vs Buying? Buying may be a dream, but renting may be the right choice for you

Homeownership is considered one of the criteria one needs to fulfill to live the American Dream. A survey recently suggested that the majority of prospective first time buyers want to purchase a home because they consider it necessary to lead a good life and improve their social status. Despite that, ‘whether to buy or rent’ has been a chicken-and-egg question in the real estate world for centuries.

It may be confusing to determine which way to go, but frankly speaking, what is right for you depends on your individual circumstances. Homeownership may be a dream for you, but may not a right choice in some cases. If you are a renter and finding it difficult to fulfill your homeownership dream, don’t get disheartened. We hear benefits of homeownership every now and then; here are some great advantages of renting:

You will be spoilt for choice

There is no doubt about the fact that as a renter, you will have more choices as to where you want to live. You can set your budget and then start looking for a rental that suits your lifestyle. If you want to live near a beach, buying a home may be unaffordable, but renting one may be not. So as a renter, you have the freedom of enjoying your life without getting stuck in a place that you don’t like.

You can move easily

You may think that you will live in a place forever, but the reality is life plans can change anytime. Marriage, kids, change in job are some of the circumstances which can throw you off guard and force you to move to a new place. As a renter, you will find moving extremely easy.  Contrary to that, if you own a home, you will have to worry about a lot of things liking finding a buyer for your existing home, buying a new one or whether you’ll lose money on the sale.

Renting is cheaper in most cases

When buying a home, you will ideally need to put 20% of the sales price down. It’s a huge amount. Besides, you will have to look after the property’s upkeep and bear other costs related to homeownership like property taxes, assessments. As a renter, you don’t have to worry about any of them. All you do is pay the monthly rent and utility bills. Even large repairs are handled by the landlord.

You enjoy the amenities without worrying about maintenance

In order to make their rentals appealing, landlords offer a wide range of amenities including pool, playgrounds, private parking, free gym, free Wi-Fi etc. As a renter, you enjoy these amenities free of cost, and that too without worrying about their maintenance. If you try to have the same amenities after buying a home, it can prove to be very expensive.

Lots of opportunities to socialize

Living in an apartment complex comes with a great advantage: you get to meet new people at the pool, the on-site gym or around the grounds. Many property management companies also encourage tenants to socialize by organizing get-together parties occasionally.

Converting Your Home into a Rental? Four Important Tips to Follow

If you are planning to move out of your primary residence – be it a single family home or an apartment – and convert it into a rental, you are likely to assume it’s going to be an easy job. You’ve been living in the property for many years and everything that a prospective renter will want is already in place. Right?

Yes, it’s true. If you’ll buy a new rental property and stage and prepare it for tenants, it’s possibly going to take more efforts and time compared to converting your existing home into a rental. However, there are still several important considerations for you to make before you take the plunge:

Change your insurance coverage

Your first step should be to discuss the implications of your decision of converting your home into a rental with your insurance agent. Rental property insurance is different from homeownership insurance. While homeownership insurance generally covers personal belonging, rental property insurance will cover only structure. You will need additional coverage for large items that you plan to leave at the property. You can also consider increase your personal liability coverage due to higher risks involved with managing a rental property.

Do you need any permits?

Check with the local authorities if you need a permit before you can convert your home into a rental property. Generally, a government inspector will examine the property for security clearances. Make sure that you have secured the permit in order to avoid any potential legal problems in the future.

Know your tax liabilities

Rental income is taxable, but you can deduct the expenses from the income to lower the tax bill. The money spent on maintenance, repairs, property management, insurance, mortgage interest and even travel expenses are deductible. You can also deduct depreciation. You should consult with a tax adviser to know your liabilities and entitlements.

Stage and prepare the property for tenants

Even if you think that you are aware of all possible problems with the property because you have been living in it for years, you should get it inspected by professional home inspector before renting it out. If you come across any problem like roof leaks, clogged gutters, leaky faucets or pipes, or burnt-out light bulbs, get them repaired.

You should also make sure that all safety equipments like fire extinguishers and smoke detectors are in place and in working condition. You should also clean the floors, windows, blinds, and carpets because a dirty place can easily turn potential renters off.

After taking care of the above-mentioned tasks, you will then determine your monthly costs and evaluate comparable rental properties in the area to figure out the list price. You will need to determine if you would need to hire a property management agency to look after various tasks like tenant screening, maintenance, repairs, rent collection etc.

Important Things to Consider When Your Lease is Running Out

If you are living in a rented apartment, your lease will run out eventually. When it expires, you will either have to get the lease renewed or vacate the place. If you are looking to keep your apartment and the landlord agrees to it, you will need to discuss the new lease’s terms and conditions with him.

Though a lot depends on what landlords decide with regard to the lease, smart tenants will try to find out the important aspects of the lease renewal process so that they are able to protect their interests when the time comes to negotiate the new lease’s clauses.

Will you want to continue living in the apartment?

Obviously, this is the first question you should ask yourself. The landlord will have the say whether you can keep the apartment or not, but you should also try to figure out if you are satisfied with the place. Are the amenities good enough? Is the apartment too far from your office? Does the neighborhood suit your lifestyle? Answers to these questions will help you determine if you should get the lease renewed in the first place.

Dust off your existing lease

You may have never had a look at your existing lease once your signed it and moved into the apartment, but at least a couple of months prior to its expiration date, you should evaluate its various clauses. Try to find out the terms and conditions which you think your landlord will try to negotiate. For example, your existing lease may have allowed keeping a pet, but if your pet has caused a dispute with other tenants or neighbors, the landlord may want to put some restrictions in this regard in the new lease. So looking at your existing lease will give you an idea of the changes that your landlord may likely want in the new one.

Research the market

The biggest concern of a tenant is whether the landlord will increase the rent when he will sign a new lease. Though it’s up to the landlord how much rent he will demand, you can strengthen your negotiation power by researching your neighborhood’s rental market. Try to find out at what rate rents are increasing in your area, if at all. The research will help you decide if the increase in rent is too much or unreasonable. If there are lots of vacancies in your area, you can even raise your voice against a rent increase.

Are you on good terms with your landlord?

If you haven’t been on good terms with your landlord, it’s a good time to sort out the differences. Invite the landlord to your place and discuss with him any issues that you might have had in the past.

Have bad credit? Don’t Worry Because You Can Still Rent an Apartment

Bad credit can be detrimental to your chances of renting a decent apartment. Reason: the majority of landlords check a rental applicant’s credit report to ensure if he or she will be able to pay the rent on time, if at all. If you have an eviction or any other serious issues appearing on your credit report, it becomes even more difficult to convince a landlord that you’ve turned over a new leaf.

At Accurental, we come across many applicants who feel helpless when they try to find an apartment just because they have bad credit. It’s true that they are likely to face difficulty getting a rental, but bad credit is not an insurmountable problem.

Below are a few steps you need to take while looking for an apartment with bad credit:

Referrals and co-singer may play an important role

Many landlords will allow your friend or relative to co-sign the rental application with you.  However, you would need to find a very reliable and trusted friend with a good credit score because co-signing a rental application means that if you are in default on your monthly rent payments, it will be responsibility of the co-singer to cover them.

Besides, you should be able to provide a couple of referrals who can vouch for you. They should be able to convince the landlord that you went through a bad phase in life, but now you have your finances in order.

Be upfront about your past

Trying to cover up a bad credit history can be very damaging. You should not wait for the landlord to find out about your bad credit history through a credit check. Instead, be upfront and tell the landlord everything while submitting your rental application. However, you should clearly explain what circumstances caused bad credit. Some landlords may be impressed by your honesty.

Demonstrate your ability to pay rents on time

You might have had a shaky credit history in the past, but you should be prepared to show to the landlord that your financial condition has changed. In order to demonstrate that you would be able to afford the rent, you can increase the amount of security deposit. Besides, you should be able to establish that you now have a steady job and strong income.

Be prepared to compromise

You won’t be in a position to negotiate over various terms and conditions laid down by the landlord due to your bad credit history. The landlord is already giving you leeway by accepting your rental application. So be prepared to compromise a little.

A roommate can solve all your problems

Last, but not the least: you should consider finding a roommate who has a good credit history. Try to find out if the landlord would allow him or her to sign the lease solo. Another advantage of having a roommate is that your expenses related to the rental come down substantially because you share them with your roommate.

Whether to be a DIY Landlord or Hire a Property Manager? Here is How You Can Decide What is Right for You

If you are planning to buy a rental, you need to determine whether you would be a DIY landlord or you would hire an agency to manage the property. Your friend who owns a rental may have hired a property manager, but it may not necessarily be the right choice for you. Actually, which one of the two options you should choose depends on your individual circumstances. Here are a few important considerations for you to make before taking a decision in this regard:

Distance and time

If your primary residence is too far from the location of your rental, then you would definitely find it difficult to respond quickly to possible emergencies and carry out various other tasks like collecting rents and sorting out any issue that the tenants may have from time to time. Commuting to the property from your primary residence will also be time consuming. Needless to say, you can save time and money by hiring a property management agency in such a situation.

Another thing to consider is if you have enough time to manage the property on your own. If you’ve a full time job, it may be difficult for you to deal with various responsibilities related to property management.

Number of units

It’s easier to manage a couple of units. But, if your rental property has multiple units, then it may be difficult for you to cope with day-to-day maintenance and other issues. Moreover, if you have two or more rental properties in different locations, your responsibilities will increase considerably.

Cost of property management

Depending on the number of units in your property, you may need to pay anywhere between 4% and 10% of the monthly rental income to the property manager. For a single family home, the fee may be almost 10%. You would need to determine if you can afford a property manager.


If your property is situated in a place that is not very popular among renters, then you may probably have a high vacancy rate. Hiring a property management agency can be a right choice for you in such a case because the agency can help you market your property on the right platforms and find tenants.

Management skills

If you decided to manage the property on your own, you would need to hire services of professionals like contractors, electricians and plumbers to take care of the maintenance issues. These people should be trustworthy and be able to respond quickly whenever you need their assistance. If you find it hard to deal with these people, then hiring a property management agency may be the right choice for you.

Just because you are new to property investing, you don’t need to panic. Remember, you need to evaluate your individual circumstances. If you’ve a strong desire to learn and like to accept challenges, the chances are you would be able to manage a rental on your own.




Looking For a Rental? Here is How You Can Beat Competition and Get a Better Deal

Shortage of rental properties in America has been one of the primary reasons for the steep rise in rents recently. Furthermore, renters are in a difficult situation because their income is growing at a slower pace. So, finding a rental that is decent and affordable may prove a challenge.

Though it’s almost impossible not to get affected by these market trends, prospective renters can still beat the competition to some extent. If you are looking for a rental, here are some tips which can help you stay ahead of the competition and get a good rental deal:

Act early to beat competition

If you wait till the last moment for sending a rental application, you are likely to end up last in the queue of several other applicants. The best way to beat the competition is to be proactive. It means that you should have your credit and background checked before you start shopping for rentals. You can get credit and background reports from These reports will enable landlords to process your rental application quickly.

You can contact good property management agencies working in the neighborhoods where you are looking for a rental. Get yourself pre-approved from them. So whenever they come up with a rental listing, you will be among the first few applicants.

Know when the competition is most severe

You should know when the competition for rentals is the most severe. For example, lots of college students shop for rentals from spring to summer. You can obviously avoid this period. If you are shopping for a rental, try to find out when you are likely to compete with the least number of rental applicants.

Make your first contact impressive

How you respond to a rental ad can have a great deal of impact on the chances of your rental application’s approval. Many applicants make their first contact with the landlords via email or phone. You should incorporate as much information as possible when you respond to a rental listing. For example, you can include your credit and background check reports. However, you should be careful not to submit personal information more than what is required. Also, if the landlord has any queries, you should answer them promptly and in detail.

Know how to deal with a landlord

If you assume that there is no scope for negotiations due to competition, you are wrong. If you are dealing with a property management agency, then there could little room for negotiations , but if you are in contact with the landlord directly, you may get a chance to negotiate on the amount of rent. Depending on the competition, you may need to make your offer attractive to the landlord. Paying a higher amount of rent in advance can establish you as a serious applicant who is ready to make a long-term commitment.

Why It’s a Good Time to Buy an Owner-occupied Rental Property  

If you are looking to buy a home, but at the same time don’t want to miss out on the benefits of owning a rental property, there is a way you can kill two birds with one stone. An owner-occupied rental property where the owner lives in one of the units, while other units are rented out is probably the best option for you.

In fact, it’s a good time to purchase a rental property in America given the phenomenal increase in rents recently. U.S. renters paid $441 billion in rent in 2014 compared to $420 billion in the previous year, an increase of nearly 5 percent. Some metropolitan areas witnessed even a 30 percent increase in rents.

Apart from earning some passive income from rents which you can use to pay towards your mortgage installment, there are many advantages of buying an owner-occupied rental property.

Lower interest rate

If you’re buying just a rental property, you will need to take out a mortgage for an investment property. These mortgages typically have higher rates and higher credit score requirements than traditional, owner-occupied mortgages. Down payments can also be higher unless you are taking out a Federal Housing Administration (FHA) loan. However if you are going to live on the property, then you can get better rates.

Tenant screening becomes easier

If you are going to live on the property, then only disciplined and well-behaved tenants will prefer to rent it. Undisciplined tenants usually don’t want to live next to their landlord. It will make tenant screening a lot easier for you. However, it doesn’t mean that you should not do your due diligence while screening tenants. You should still conduct credit and background checks.

Cost effectiveness

When you own a rental property, you have many responsibilities as a landlord. They include tenant screening, repairs, maintenance and rent collection. Since these tasks are time consuming, many landlords hire a property management agency. It can reduce the monthly rental income by almost 10%. But as you will be living on the property, you may not find it difficult to manage the property on your own.

Help you reduce ownership expenses

If you own a small owner occupied rental property, then you can surely reduce your homeownership expenses. Landlords can deduct maintenance and repair costs on their rental property from their income when they file tax return. In an owner-occupied rental property, any expense that applies to the tenant occupied units, can be deducted from the rental income. You can also write off depreciation on the tenant-occupied parts of your building.

Needless to say, the benefits of owning an owner-occupied rental property are numerous. However, keep in mind that you would need to buy a multifamily home for enjoying these benefits. It may require a huge investment, undoubtedly much higher than what you need to buy a single family home. Before making the move, you should have your finances in order and take all necessary precautions to minimize the risks factors inherent in such big investments.


Four Important Things to Consider When Screening Tenants

Evicting a tenant is any landlord’s biggest nightmare. It’s a time consuming, expensive and stressful process. If you are a landlord, the best way to avoid this nightmare is to ensure that you don’t let a bad tenant enter your life. Actually, it’s a problem where prevention is better than cure.

At Accurental, we provide an array of services including background and credit checks which help landlords screen rental applications. We have seen that the landlords who do their due diligence are less likely to have problem tenants. While working with landlords over the years, we have also come to realize that how you screen your tenants can make or break your experience as a landlord.

Here are some steps you can take to boost the screening process, so that your property gets rented to only properly qualified tenants:

Ask questions when contacted by prospective renters via email or phone

Many rental applicants make their first contact with landlords via email or phone. While answering their basic questions, you should ask your own. Some of the questions you should ask are:

-          From where are they moving?

-          Why are they moving?

-          What is the nature of their work?

-          What is their experience with the previous landlord?

-          What are their expectations from a rental?

-          Are they likely to have pets?

These questions will help in two ways. One: you would get to know if the applicant qualifies for your rental in the first place. Two: you would get to know if an applicant is serious about renting your place. A serious applicant will answer your queries respectfully and in detail.

First impressions matter a lot

When showing your rental to prospective tenants, you should pay attention to their personality and character. Those who are well-behaved and dressed properly are likely to care about your property’s upkeep.  You should also note how respectfully a particular applicant is expressing his or her legitimate concerns about the property.

Verify details of rental applications

It’s an area where we at Accurental can help you to a great extent. While screening applications, you should verify details provided by the applicants. Carrying out background and credit checks on an applicant can help you determine if he or she would be able to pay rents on time and not cause problems as a tenant. In extreme cases, we have seen that background checks come up with criminal records. You should also verify the employment history and the references who are vouching for the applicant’s character.

Make sure tenant understand their rights and obligations clearly

You should also ensure that the tenants understand all the terms and conditions specified in the lease. It’s an obligation that every landlord should follow, but it also plays a great role in screening tenants. If you have any conditions regarding pets, visitation, parking space etc., you should clearly mention them in the lease. The applicants who have a problem with these conditions obviously won’t rent the property. Those who sign the lease would understand their responsibilities clearly. It will avoid disputes in the future.


Time for You to Be on Your Own? Avoid These Four Most Common Mistakes That First Time Renters Make

When the time comes for you to move away from your parents’ house or college dorm, you look forward to being on your own. Now you just need to find a place where you can enjoy your newfound freedom. But you need to understand that your enthusiasm can cause you to take decisions in a hurry. The first time renters are prone to making costly mistakes while moving into a rental property due to their inexperience.

Below are the most common mistakes that first time renters make. Being informed about these mistakes will help your find the right rental property, so that you can enjoy the freedom to the fullest.

Mistake #1: Not knowing your budget

First of all, you need to know how much rent and other related expenses you can afford. Make a realistic assessment of your finances and only then start apartment hunting. It’s a good practice to keep the amount of rent under 30% of your income. Also factor in the security deposit that you would need to pay to rent a place. Most landlords require tenants to pay a month’s rent for security deposit.

Mistake #2: Not being prepared to compete with other rental applicants

According to the National Association of Realtors, there are nearly 40 million people living in rental properties in America and the number will go up between 5 million and 6 million over the next one decade. Unfortunately, the rental market is tight due to lack of available rental properties. So you need to be prepared before submitting a rental application. Your credit history and background will be under scrutiny, so keep your finances in order and make sure you have good references who can vouch for your character and personality. You will also need your social security number, a photo ID, contact information for your employer and payslips for your rental application to be considered.

Mistake #3: Not paying attention to the lease before signing it

You need to go through all the terms and conditions laid out in the lease carefully. You will be able to protect your rights only when you know what they are. If you have any confusion, clear it with the landlord or his representative before signing the lease. Consider your individual situations and ensure that the clauses in the lease suit your lifestyle. For example, if you want to have a pet, make sure the lease doesn’t prohibit it. It also makes sense to have the knowledge of state-specific tenancy laws, so that you know your rights and obligations.

Mistake #4: Not inspecting the home before moving in

Before moving in, you should carefully inspect each item and appliance. If you find any item damaged or in poor condition, write it down. Discuss it with your landlord and even have him sign a paper containing the information about the condition of each of these items. It will avoid any confusion when you move out. The landlord won’t be able to charge you for damages that you didn’t cause.

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