Being a landlord isn’t always easy. Problems with tenants can result in loss of time and money as well as unnecessary hassles. If you don’t want to deal with rent collection, maintenance and tenant screening, consider using a Property Management Company to manage your rental properties. However, if you do handle things on your own, the following guidelines may help ensure a good relationship with your tenants, maintain your rental home and make your life as a landlord much easier.
- Check references. Request at least three references (preferably previous landlords) and take the time to follow up on them.
- Keep records. To protect your interests and the interests of your tenants, document everything in writing and keep the paperwork throughout the entire rental agreement.
- Run a credit check. It’s always wise to check an applicant’s income, employment and credit history to verify they can afford to pay rent each month. However, make sure you obtain your prospective tenant’s written consent before doing so.
- Prepare a clearly-defined lease. Develop an appropriate set of rules and have them reviewed by a real estate attorney. Provide all prospective tenants with a copy of the rules and have them initial each page and sign an acknowledgement.
Important information to consider in a lease agreement
Be sure your lease agreement outlines the specific obligations of each party and is written clearly enough for the tenant to understand what they must or must not do. Standard items to consider include:
- Rent. Be specific about when the rent is due and when it’s considered late.
- Deposit information. Outline the amount of deposit required and what circumstances may result in a loss of deposit money.
- Prohibited activities. Create a concise list of the types of activities you will not allow, such as grilling on porches or decks, use of portable space heaters, renovations or remodeling without landlord consent.
- Maintenance and repairs. Document who is responsible for routine maintenance and repairs and provide the amount of time you will be allowed to respond to requests.
- Responsibility for utilities and waste removal. Clearly define who is responsible for each utility and service.
- Your right of entry to the premises. It’s a good idea to include circumstances in which you have the right to enter.
- Pet restrictions and policies. Specifically list any pets or breeds you will not allow in addition to any regulations that need to be followed.
- What stays and what goes when the tenant vacates. If your home provides any removable items, be sure to note that they need to stay in the home when the tenant leaves.
- Length of notice to vacate. Provide how many days notice you will need when a tenant decides to move out.
- Renter’s insurance policy. Require that your tenant have an insurance policy in the event of a fire, theft or liability issue.
The information in this article does not constitute legal advice. For a complete list of the specific landlord and tenant laws in Ohio, visit http://codes.ohio.gov/orc/5321, or for legal advice, speak with a real estate attorney.
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