Posted on Monday March 01, 2021 at 09:20PM in General
Top 10 Tax Deductions for Landlords
As a landlord, it is essential to understand the expenses you need to pay on your rental income, and the amounts you are able to deduct from your taxes. Taking advantage of the tax deductions available to you can help you reduce your tax burden, avoid overpaying, and maximize the profit of your properties. Rental real estate properties provide more tax benefits than almost any other investment you can make. In order to properly take advantage of these deduction, it is important to know what they are and how to use them.
What qualifies as an expense?There are two types of expenses you should understand: current expenses and capital expenses.
Current expensesCurrent expenses are usually items that keep your property habitable and in working condition, or help you operate your rental business. On your taxes you can deduct the entire expense if it was incurred in the same year (that’s why they are called current expenses). Generally, repairs that restore an item to its previous, working condition are deductible.
Here are some qualifications of current expenses:
- The expense must be ordinary and necessary. Ordinary expenses qualify as those that are common and generally accepted in the rental business. Necessary expenses that you can encounter are those that are deemed appropriate such as advertising, utilities, maintenance, insurance, interest, and taxes.
- They must be current. Current expenses have more of a short-term value, than a long-term value. An example of short vs long term value is fixing a hot water heater (short-term value) or replacing an appliance (long-term value). Fixing an appliance updates and adds value to the property while fixing a hot water heater restores the property back to its original condition.
- It has to be related directly to your rental activity. These expenses must be business related.
- It must be a reasonable amount. You will get audited if you report an unreasonable amount such as a $600 toilet seat.
Capital ExpensesA capital expense can be anything that increases the value or extends the life of your rental property. Anything that increases value is considered an improvement and must be capitalized and depreciated over many years. It is a good idea to deduct any capital expense that costs hundreds of dollars (or even more) to replace. Examples include new appliances and a new roof.
Keep records and stay organizedIt is essential to keep detailed and accurate records of all expenses and payments on your rental properties. It is especially important when you are claiming anything on your taxes. Documents that provide proof of what you are claiming are essential if you ever get audited. As part of Schedule My Rent’s landlord software, you are able to enter all your expenses in an organized, easy to access screen. You can enter an expense, upload an image (so you don't have to keep a shoebox full of receipts), and split the expense across multiple different units. For example, a landscaping company many mow the lawn and trim the trees across all of your 3 properties and send you one bill. You can enter the bill, upload an image, and split the total amount into separate amounts for each unit. At tax time, you can see all of the expenses, by tax category that you assign, for each unit. For more information, visit our Landlord Software.
InterestGenerally, interest is a landlord’s largest deductible expense. It is such an important deduction because you are able to deduct the interest payments on your mortgage loans that were used to acquire or improve your rental. You can’t deduct the mortgage payments themselves, but the interest deduction will save you a lot of money. Another common example of interest deductions is the interest on credit card payments. You can deduct interest on goods or services used in rental activity paid through your credit card. It is important to remember that you can only deduct interest on the money that was used on your rental business.
InsuranceYou are able to deduct premiums for almost any insurance related to your rental activity. This includes accident, causality, flood, theft, health, fire, vehicle, and landlord liability. Along with these, if you have employees involved in the management of your properties, you can deduct the cost of their workers’ compensation insurance, and their health insurance.
TravelLandlords are entitled to tax deductions for certain local and long distance travel expenses relating to their business. This means you can deduct mileage for driving done in order to manage your rental property. For example, if you drive to the rental property for a tenant complaint, or drive to a hardware store for parts to repair your property. However, you are not able to deduct the cost of driving to your properties for the purpose of improving your rental.
For long distance travel, if you don’t live near your rentals you can deduct costs of travel related to business expenses. This includes airline fares, hotels, car rentals, and 50% of meal expenses.
You have two options for deducting vehicle expenses relating to business activity. One option is to deduct your actual expenses (upkeep, repairs, gasoline). The other option is to use the standard mileage rate (check the IRS website for the current rates). In order to qualify for the standard mileage rate, you need to use it during the first year of using the car for your rental activity. If you don’t use your own vehicle, you can deduct the costs of public transportation expended for business purposes.
In order to take advantage of this deduction, it is important to carefully and precisely track your travel. The IRS closely scrutinizes travel deductions (especially those related to overnight travel).
RepairsYou are able to deduct the cost of repairs in the given tax year. Repairs are considered work that is necessary for maintaining the condition of your property, and don’t add significant value to the property. The repairs also must be ordinary, necessary, and in reasonable amounts. Examples of repairs include repainting, plastering, fixing floors, repairing gutters, fixing leaks, replacing broken windows, and air conditioning repairs. It is very important not to deduct costs that are considered improvements. Any work that adds value to the property is considered an improvement. A good general rule, is anything that is a replacement most likely will add value to the property and will not be a repair (for tax deduction purposes).
DepreciationAnother major deductible for landlords is property depreciation. There are three types of costs that you should depreciate: value of the structure (not the land), equipment/laptops/computers, and the value of improvement (appliances, windows, carpets, countertops). Some general rules are that expenses should be expected to last for longer than a year, bring value to your business, and lose its value/wear out over time. These expenses are not able to be deducted in a single year, and they must be spread out (depreciated) over multiple years.
The way in which you will depreciate an asset will depend on what the asset is. Assets such as refrigerators or buildings, will have useful lives different from other assets and could need accelerated depreciation or straight line depreciation. You are able to consult the IRS or your accountant to help determine which type of depreciation to use based on the assets and their useful lives.
Employees and Independent ContractorsWhen you hire someone to do work or perform services for you on your property, you can deduct the wages you pay them as business expenses. The worker can be a full-time employee (such as a property manager) or a part-time employee (such as an independent contractor). Independent contractors can be plumbers or electricians (anyone you hire to do work at the property).
Personal PropertyThe cost of personal property that is used in your rental activity can be deducted in one year. This deduction is possible under the de minimis safe harbor deduction and is applied for property costing up to $2,000. Personal property can include appliances (washing machine, fridge, etc.), furniture in a furnished rental, and gardening equipment.
Home OfficeIf part of your home is used exclusively as an office for your business, landlords are able to deduct their home office expenses from their taxable income. In order to claim the deduction, you must conduct the majority of your business in your home office. The amount of deduction available to you depends on the percentage of your home that the office takes up. When applying this deduction, it is essential that you properly apply it. Home office deductions are the most common type of deduction flagged by the IRS because many businesses abuse it. You should keep accurate records of the time you spend using your home office and subtract any personal usage of the space.
Pass-Through Tax DeductionPass-through tax deduction is an income tax deduction instead of a rental property-specific deduction. Most landlords qualify for this deduction established by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. Depending on the landlord’s income, they can deduct up to 20% of their net rental income or 2.5% of the initial cost of their rental property plus 25% of the cost they pay their employees. This deduction is set to expire after 2025.
Legal and Professional ServicesIf you need to hire a professional such as an attorney, financial advisor, accountant, or tax professional you can deduct these fees as operating expenses as long as the fees are related to work on your rental property. As a landlord you will inevitably be put in a position where you need to evict a tenant. All reasonable court and filing fees relating to the eviction of your tenant can be covered by this deduction.
Posted on Thursday February 25, 2021 at 02:44PM in General
9 Reasons Tenants Could Lose Their Security Deposit
When renting out a property to tenants, it is important to collect a security deposit before they move in. This security deposit is usually one months’ rent and is returned to the tenant under ideal circumstances. It is best to track the security deposit amount in a rental property management software like Schedule My Rent so that both the landlord and the tenant can see what the current balance is throughout the rental term. Your tenants might not always get the full security deposit back. Here are a list of common reasons why landlords will not return part or all of the tenants security deposit.
You didn’t read and understand the leaseAs with any legal agreement, it is essential that you read and understand anything that you are signing. You should go to an open house or showing of the unit before moving in. You must agree with and follow all clauses of the lease and if you do so your landlord will have fewer reasons for keeping your security deposit. Two important phrases in most leases that you should clarify with your landlord are “ordinary wear and tear” and “reasonable effort”. If your interpretations of these phrases differ, then you need to talk to your landlord about it before moving out to avoid losing your security deposit over miscommunication. It is also important to document how the unit looked before moving in to make the moving out process simpler. You can store move-in pictures in Schedule My Rent.
The lease is terminated or broken earlyBefore you move out, you need to give your landlord at least 30 days notice. If you move out before the lease ends and do not give a notice, then your landlord is able to use the security deposit to pay rent that you were financially responsible for. There are some situations in which you are not responsible for paying rent if you leave the property. There are also situations where the tenant may need to continue to pay rent until the property is leased again, for a certain number of months, or until the end of the lease. For these specific scenarios and more detail visit https://www.schedulemyrent.com/blog/.
You owe your landlord rentWhen you sign a lease, you are obligated to pay rent each month. If you do not follow through on your obligation, your landlord is able to keep a portion, or all of your security deposit to pay rent. Nonpayment is considered breaking your lease.
Damage to the propertyDamage to a property is different than normal wear and tear that is expected when living in a unit. For example, if your faucet is leaking, it is important to immediately tell your landlord in order for someone to repair it and so you can be reimbursed. If you wait, the repair can be considered longstanding and turn from a wear and tear situation into a damage that will be paid for out of your security deposit.
Normal wear and tear on a property can include tarnish on bathroom fixtures, small amounts of dirt and dust, dirty grout, or a loose handle. Damages could include multiple or large holes in the walls, missing outlet covers, broken doors/windows, large stains or holes in the carpet, missing or damaged smoke or carbon monoxide detectors, etc.
When you first move into your unit, it is important to document any existing damages that you didn’t cause. You can take photos or videos of any damages or wear and tear and a written record to protect you from liability for existing damages.
Cleaning costsIf you left your rental excessively unclean when you moved out, your landlord will be able to use a portion of your security deposit to cover cleaning costs. You are not expected to leave your unit in pristine condition, but when your landlord has to spend extra effort and money to clean up your unit for someone else to live in that you will be paying for the costs. If you leave one bag of garbage in your unit, it isn’t considered unreasonable. But if you have trash everywhere, stains in the carpet, food in the fridge, and any other unreasonable or expensive cleanups then it is considered excessive.
Unpaid utilitiesIt is important to always know the terms of your lease including any utility bills that you are responsible for paying. You should know about any fees including late payments on utilities, HOA fees, and out of date billing. If you do not pay your utility bills, you landlord is able to use your security deposit to do so.
Some landlords state in the lease that they will pay for utility bills, but not extra charges if the utilities are used excessively. If your landlord is paying for your utilities, it is easy to slip into a habit of using them unreasonably. For example if you keep the thermostat at 83 degrees and raise the electric bill by $100, then that would be considered unreasonable and your deposit could be used to pay for the extra charges.
Repairs without permissionIf you decide to make any unauthorized changes to your unit, your landlord will be able to use your security deposit to return the property to its original state. For example, if you decided to paint the unit without asking your landlord, your security deposit will cover the costs of repainting the unit back to its original color. Even if you believe it’s a great improvement, your landlord might not think the same. It is always best to ask your landlord before making repairs or improvements to your unit and only proceed if you have an approval in writing.
You left things behindWhen you move out of a unit, make sure to throw away or take everything with you. If your landlord has to throw anything away for you, the costs will come out of your security deposit.
On a larger scale, if you are guilty of property abandonment, your landlord will be able to keep all or most of your security deposit to cover any fees. Property abandonment is when you leave furniture and belongings unattended in your unit for more than 15 days. In most states, if your landlord has to pay someone to move out your furniture and clean up, the costs will be covered by your security deposit.
You didn’t do an exit inspectionAlong with your initial inspection and documentation of the property, you should meet with your landlord for an exit inspection. Provide your landlord with the initial documentation as a reference so there are no discrepancies between your landlord’s report and your observations of the unit.
Posted on Tuesday February 16, 2021 at 04:11PM in General
Tips On How To Collect Rent On Time Every Month
When managing a rental property, the task that is most time consuming is collecting late rental payments. Here are some tips on how to manage tenants who pay late and get your rent collected on time.
1. Choose responsible tenants
It is important to set criteria when selecting your potential tenants, but that criteria must be the same for all tenants. A person’s credit score is usually a good place to start to determine if your tenant is responsible with their money.
Credit score: As part of selecting a tenant, you should get an updated consumer credit report (provided by Schedule My Rent). This credit report should include past debts and eviction judgments. From this report, you will be able to see if they have been irresponsible renters in the past.
References: Another document that can help you decide if a potential tenant is responsible is their references. Their past rental experiences can indicate what they might be like as a tenant. You are always able to call their previous landlord and ask if they would rent to that tenant again (although they aren’t required to tell you anything).
Income: If the tenant doesn’t have a steady income, they might not be the best candidate for paying rent on time or at all. Their regular income should be at least three times greater than the rent due for them to be a relatively safe candidate. If they have a history of paying rent on time with past landlords then even better!
2. Collect rent online, automatically
Collecting rent online is a reliable way to help your tenants pay their rent on time. With Schedule My Rent, you can set up reminders for tenants when the due date for rent is approaching, AutoPay to automatically transfer their rent to your account, and late fees that can be automatically added to a tenant’s rent.
When collecting a tenant’s rent online, it is important to use a site designed for rent collection like Schedule My Rent instead of other sites like Venmo, Zelle, and PayPal. Schedule My Rent has a unique landlord dashboard that allows the landlord to view all their properties at once (or select specific ones) and know at a glance who has and hasn’t paid their rent.
Schedule My Rent also gives tenants the unique opportunity to pay in cash. With MoneyGram, tenants can go into a Walmart, CVS, or other MoneyGram location and pay their rent. The landlord will be notified of the amount that was paid, leaving a receipt for the payment. MoneyGram is much more reliable and simple for landlords and tenants than meeting to pay with cash or mailing a check.
3. Communicate with your tenants
Communication about rent with your tenants is essential. Your tenants should know what amount they need to pay every month, where they can pay, what forms of payment you accept, when they need to get their rent in, and any consequences for late rent payments.
If your tenant pays their rent late, ask them: When do you expect to make your rent payment? What amount will you pay? What source of income will you use for your rent payment? What method of payment will you use?
If your tenant has trouble answering these questions or starts to get defensive, it might be time to consider beginning the eviction process. In these situations it is always important to act professional, so don’t cut off your tenant’s utilities or threaten them in any way. These actions won’t be tolerated by a judge in an eviction hearing.
If you have a reliable renter who doesn’t pay on time once, you can consider letting it slide. But in general it is important to set firm expectations for your tenants and let them know what you expect.
4. Appreciate your responsible tenants
As a landlord, it can be easy to get caught up in preventing late payments and other unwanted situations. It is important to appreciate the tenants who consistently pay on time, take good care of your unit, and abide by your rules. Let them know you appreciate them!
Posted on Saturday February 13, 2021 at 03:56PM in General
When managing different types of rental properties it is important to keep in mind the needs of your renters based on what type of rental they are living in. Rental types can include apartments, multi-family homes, condos, townhomes, single-family homes, and mobile homes. Providing your tenants with the most convenient features for their rental will give them a great rental experience and more likely to keep renting your property. Schedule My Rent has features that make renting and rent collection easy and convenient for tenants in any rental type. In this article, we will discuss the best features for landlords and tenants in mobile home properties.
1. Rent payments in cash
Cash rental payments can be the best option for renters in mobile home properties who might not have access to a bank account, or a way to pay their rent online. With Schedule My Rent’s MoneyGram feature tenants can go to any MoneyGram location, such as CVS or Walmart, and safely and securely pay their rent on time. If you are already collecting cash payments from your tenants in person, this feature will save you the time of coordinating and scheduling a meeting with your renter at their property or another location. Additionally, this eliminates the danger of both parties carrying large sums of cash, and provides both you and your tenant with a safe, easy, and secure rent payment option.
2. Credit and background reports
When renting out your rental property you want to make sure you can trust your tenants to pay their rent on time and obey your property rules. In lower income rental environments, such as mobile home properties, a credit report is not as essential. Most of your potential tenants are not in the position to have an excellent credit score, so a low credit score may not disqualify an applicant. It is more important to rely on background checks, interviews, and letters of reference from past landlords and bosses.
3. Customizable rent due dates
When renting to tenants it is important to keep in mind when the best time to collect rent from them is. If your renters are lower income and living paycheck to paycheck then it might be most convenient to collect rent once a week or twice per month. This helps tenants better meet their rental deadlines, because less cumulative saving is involved, and you are more likely to receive rent on time. Schedule My Rent has this feature of collecting rent weekly, twice per month, or monthly on any customizable due date.
4. Late payments
It can be difficult to consistently receive rent payments on time every month, especially in a lower income rental situation. Through Schedule My Rent’s rental property management software, you can customize late fees and chose when you would like to begin collecting late fees and what percentage of the rent or amount your tenants will be charged when a late payment is made. You can also easily add daily late fees. Daily late fees may provide additional incentive for a tenant to pay since additional fees are added every day. If you would like to provide your tenants with some leeway, it is simple to remove or cancel late fees. Tenants are able to receive notifications through the system to remind them when their rental due date is approaching, so they can always be aware of when they need to make a payment.
5. Tracking expenses
A property management software that has an expense tracking feature, such as Schedule My Rent, allows landlords to keep all their property costs in one organized place. Photo uploading is available through Schedule My Rent which allows you to upload documentation of expenses such as receipts to the site. You are also able to categorize your expenses (this helps a lot when reporting expenses for your taxes). Another aspect of expense tracking allows you to split an expense across multiple properties. For example, the cost of landscapers who work on multiple yards can be recorded across different properties.
6. Easily add utility and other bills
The costs of utilities can be included in the cost of a mobile home rental or lot rates, but they might be separate and charged as utility expenses. If you decide to charge your tenants separately for utilities, you can easily add utility payments and other bills to the tenants account through the landlord dashboard.
7. Maintenance Requests
Either you or a tenant can enter a maintenance request into Schedule My Rent, which includes the type of issue, priority, and a picture. Landlords and tenants can then respond to email about the status of the maintenance request and all responses are stored, tracked, and kept together so that you have a complete history of the correspondence if there are questions.
8. Section 8 partial payments
If you are renting to tenants involved in section 8 where the government makes part of their rental payments, you can easily adjust their rent amount to account for that. Landlords can simply manually enter the payments made on behalf of the government into the system.
9. Online customizable applications
When applying online, Schedule My Rent allows landlords to customize their rental application, send an online rental application, stay updated through the application process, and organize the application review. The online application allows potential tenants to write comments and upload images for documentation in many sections. For additional information on our online rental application process visit Online Rental Application.
It is important to know what is most convenient for your tenants in their current rental situation to give them a great rental experience. We hope this information on helpful features for renting to tenants at mobile home properties was helpful! For more information visit https://www.schedulemyrent.com/ or call at (844) 465-3339.
Posted on Wednesday February 10, 2021 at 10:41AM in General
How Should Landlords Approach Winter Maintenance Amidst COVID-19?
During the coronavirus pandemic, many tenants and landlords are now forced to work from home, and in many cases have a more limited income. Landlords have limited time and money because of effects of covid-19, and have less availability to make necessary repairs for the winter season. There are projects that are essential to creating a habitable living space for tenants, and some that can be put off until next year. Here are some tips on which projects to begin along with precautions for landlords for winter maintenance during covid-19.
Essential Winter Maintenance for Your Rentals
While some projects can be pushed to next year because of the pandemic, some are very essential to maintaining your properties, especially in colder winter weather. A great general rule is that maintenance is essential if it impacts the safety of your tenant, property habitability, and could cause more expenses if it isn’t addressed right away. An example of a maintenance issue that could affect a tenants’ safety is heater maintenance and repairs. This repair along with others are essential and should not be put off, even if your tenant has not paid their rent.
- heaters are working properly and an emergency plan is in place in the case that a heater breaks
- smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are working properly
- service your water heater and furnace
- seal and caulk any external gaps
- if necessary, provide snow removal tools or information for tenants
- plastic the windows
- ensure the oil tank is filled (it should never be below ¼ full)
- clean out rain gutters
- keep the temperature in the property above 60 degrees (avoids freezing pipes)
- rake any down branches or excess leaves
- repair all of the air filters, and clean the air ducts
Along with these necessary winter repairs and maintenance, it is important to remind your tenants of the tasks that they are responsible for such as keeping the thermostat at a certain temperature (even when they’re away from the unit). Or if necessary, when services such as snow removal are provided.
Less Essential Winter Maintenance
During the pandemic, if you have winter maintenance that can be put off to a later date, it could help your finances, but it is important to ensure that the maintenance you are putting off does not affect tenant safety and habitability. If this is not the case, you can let your tenants know that because of covid-19, you will not be addressing the repair at the moment.
Some landlords choose to put off repairs such as stove burners that are not operational, a loose doorknob, or windows that stick. Others let the tenants decide the urgency of certain repairs in their property. Some tenants have preferences of what would be most convenient to be repaired first. In order to track maintenance requests, you should use rental property management software so you can prioritize and keep track of maintenance requests, their status, and notes you have. Other features that you might be interested in are in the Property Management Software Guide.
When considering putting off maintenance, it is also important to consider any long-term costs that putting off the repair could cause or any damages that could occur because of the ignored repair. If you conclude that the long term costs and damages are little or none, and the tenants safety and habitability are not affected, then it is okay to put off the maintenance until a later date.
Covid-19 Maintenance Precautions
In addition to maintaining a safe and habitable rental space for your tenants, it is important to take measures to ensure the wellbeing of your tenants and yourself during the pandemic. If you need to enter a property for maintenance it is essential to:
- Ensure both you and your tenants are wearing properly fitted masks.
- Sanitize all surfaces that are touched during maintenance.
- Communicate upcoming maintenance to your tenants and address any concerns they have. It can be helpful to schedule your repairs when your tenant is able to leave the unit.
- If you are hiring a contractor, it is important to communicate the above safety precautions to your tenant and the contractor.
Posted on Wednesday January 13, 2021 at 01:50PM in General
Does the New Coronavirus Stimulus Package Help Landlords and Tenants?
Amidst the coronavirus pandemic, congress and the president have signed off on a second stimulus package to financially aid those struggling because of the pandemic. This package includes $25 billion in rent relief and a one month extension of the nationwide eviction moratorium. Here is a breakdown of what this means for landlords and renters during the coronavirus pandemic.
What is the Eviction Moratorium?
In August, President Donald Trump officially announced the eviction moratorium for renters beginning on September 4th and expiring in December 2020. This order has now been extended to January 31st, 2021. The CDC Eviction Moratorium applies to both renters and homeowners with mortgages, and prevents landlords from evicting their tenants for making rent payments because of reasons related to Covid-19 (such as income reduction or job losses).
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Department of Health and Human Services have used their authority under the moratorium and Public Health Service Act to protect renters from being evicted by landlords and potentially experiencing homelessness because of the coronavirus. Here is a list of qualifications for those in danger of eviction:
- The renter has exhausted all other forms of government aid for making monthly rent payments
- The person has experienced a substantial loss of income, has medical bills that cannot be reimbursed over 7.2% of their annual adjusted gross income, or has been laid-off or fired.
- The renter is not expected to earn more than $99,000 for an individual, or $198,000 if married (and filing joint taxes). If these requirements aren’t met, the person can qualify if they didn’t need to report their 2019 income or if they received an Economic Impact Payment (Covid-19 stimulus check).
- If the renter is evicted, they are likely to become homeless, live with friends or family, or are forced to rent a more expensive apartment.
- The person is trying to make timely rent payments to as close to the required rent amount as possible. This can be done through many small payments throughout the month, payment plans, or one lump sum.
Local and State governments will receive rent relief funds from the U.S. Treasury to distribute to people who qualify for rent relief. The funds are meant to help eligible renters pay utility bills, pay back rent, and other housing costs to help keep landlords and others earning an income through their properties. The following criteria will make you eligible for rent relief:
- One or more members of the household have qualified for unemployment benefits or experienced other financial hardships (caused by the pandemic)
- The renter has a household income or no greater than 80% of their area’s median income per household.
- The person has a demonstrated risk of housing instability (proven through a past-due utility bill, eviction notice, or past-due rent notice), and are likely to move in with friends or family, forced to rent a more expensive apartment, or become homeless.
States and cities who have received funding will prioritize people in the following situations:
- One or more members of their household are unemployed or have been employed for 90 days or more prior to applying for funding
- The household income doesn’t exceed 50% of their area’s median income per household
Entities who are administering the financial aid will assess each household’s income for 2020, or their monthly income at the time that aid was requested. If the household’s income is used, it will have to be recertified every three months for assistance to continue to be provided. Eligible households can receive rental assistance for up to 12 months, along with an additional 3 months if necessary.
The legislation allows the money for eligible renters to be sent directly to their landlord or utility company. If a landlord refuses funds in this way, then they will be sent to the renter directly to make rental payments. Landlords are also able to apply for rental assistance on the behalf of their renters, although they must notify their renters before doing so to receive their consent.
Forbearance and Foreclosure Assistance
In March 2020, the CARES Act Relief established Mortgage forbearance and foreclosure protections that are in effect with the latest bill. This allows homeowners struggling with mortgage payments because of the coronavirus to reduce or pause these payments for six months. After this six month period, they are able to renew for another six months if necessary (for a total of 12 months of assistance).
As part of the new bill, the FHA-insured mortgages will extend relief of forbearance and foreclosure until February 28th, 2021.
Posted on Sunday January 03, 2021 at 09:07PM in General
Trouble with Bed Bugs
To top off all the unexpected news of 2020, my year started with a bedbug infestation so horrific I would have preferred it to be a nightmare. I own several rental properties across town and have had my fair share of horrifying occurrences, but none quite like this one. One of our rental properties has two eight unit buildings separated by a dumpster. In those buildings, we were in the process of removing carpet and installing wood or tile floors in between tenants. Once one of our current tenants moved out of the building, we called a tile guy to install tile floors in the unit. Almost immediately after he entered the unit we received a call from him frantically telling us that he could not go into the unit because there was a bedbug infestation. I was a little shocked by the news, because the tenant had neglected to tell us of any issue at the property. Thinking it probably wasn’t too bad at this stage, I called my property manager to take a look. Once again, I received a frantic phone call and my property manager had gone to buy medical booties because he couldn’t stand to go into the apartment without them. At this point I decided it was best to call an exterminator. When the exterminator arrived he confirmed there was an extensive infestation and suggested inspecting the adjacent apartments to see if the bedbugs had decided to explore. Sure enough, they were in multiple units in the building. I knew exterminators were expensive, so it was horrifying to think of treating the entire building instead of just a single unit. Once that building was inspected and the first round of treatments began, I began to feel a little better about the situation. Then I began to receive complaints from tenants in the next door building. Another wave of shock hit me with each phone call. How in the world did the bedbugs jump buildings? The answer became clear when we discovered the infested mattress of the vacating tenant in the dumpster between the buildings. I was frustrated that the tenant didn’t bother to tell us about the bedbugs problem while it was still contained and manageable. The bedbug inspector discovered that there were indeed bedbugs in many units in the other building. I continued to receive unhappy calls from tenants requesting that we replace their beddings, mattresses, and reduce rent. Once bedbugs are in a mattress, it is almost impossible to get them out. These two buildings went through not one, not two, but five rounds of bedbug spraying. Each time the exterminator sprayed, there were still some parasites who hid and multiplied. Two months later after spending $3,900 on five rounds of spraying every bedbug was dead and the infestation was finally gone. As a property manager, since these are deductible business expenses, make sure you keep images of all receipts on your rental property management software to make tax time easier.
What to do if you’re a tenant with bedbugs in your unit
If you discover you have bedbugs in your unit, it is essential to tell your landlord as soon as possible. The sooner the infestation is discovered, the more likely you are to be able to prevent the spread of bedbugs. As you have seen from my personal encounter with them, bedbugs can be extremely difficult to kill, and it is important to begin the process as soon as you can.
Most states consider bedbugs infested units to be uninhabitable. Landlords are required to provide tenants with habitable housing, so landlords will be responsible for extermination costs to create a habitable unit. The only exception is if tenants have introduced the bedbugs to the unit, in which case the tenant will be responsible for extermination costs.
What do bedbugs look like? Do they look like a cockroach?
In society’s imagination, bedbugs and cockroaches look about the same. In reality, once you see a bedbug you will know that it is not a cockroach. Adult bedbugs are about 5 mm in length and are the size of an apple seed. They are oval shaped and have a reddish-brown color as shown in the picture above. See additional pictures on WebMD. The key differences between bedbugs and cockroaches are that cockroaches have wings and are larger than bedbugs.
What do bedbugs eat?
Bedbugs are parasites and drink the blood of warm-blooded mammals and cockroaches are scavengers and will eat anything. Cockroaches can inhabit a unit because of tenant behavior such as leaving food out or having a messy apartment, but bedbugs aren’t as easily prevented because they only want blood. They prefer to eat when their host is unaware and immobile because of the lower risk that they will be squished. Their favorite hiding spot gives them their name, bedbug. The trouble with bedbugs is not that they aren’t easy to kill, they are very easy to squish compared to cockroaches who are the tanks of the bug world. The real problem with bedbugs is that they are excellent at hiding and catching a ride to different living spaces. All they need is a male-female pair to create an infestation.
How do bedbugs infest a property?
Bedbugs like to hide or hitch a ride. The primary way that they travel from place to place is through catching a ride on something. If you are staying at a hotel with bedbugs, they can stow away in the seams of your luggage or even on your clothes. They can travel through second hand items such as furniture or clothing. In a house or apartment, they can travel through walls to different units or rooms. They also love to hide with the bed being the ideal place. Bedbugs can also hide in chairs, tables, clothing, bedding, pillows, couches, shelves, bed frames, box springs, nail holes in the wall, and in areas where the carpet meets the wall. They aren’t nocturnal like cockroaches and won’t be deterred by bright lights or stop feeding in the daytime.
How to prevent bedbug infestations
From personal experience, I know that bedbugs are a pain to get rid of once they have infested a unit or building. But how do you prevent these infestations? To protect your bed you can use a protective mattress cover. This encases the mattress and box springs and limits hiding spots for bedbugs. A lighter colored cover will make them easier to see, and a high quality fabric will be more resistant to tearing. Another preventative measure is to replace your mattress and box springs every 2 to 3 years. As you may know it is extremely difficult to remove bedbugs from your mattress once they have infiltrated it.
To protect your unit in general, it is important to check secondhand furniture for signs of bedbugs. You can also reduce clutter and vacuum frequently to prevent hiding spots. If you live in a multi-family home, you can ask your landlord if you can install door sweeps under your doors to discourage bedbugs from coming in though the hallways. You could also seal cracks around the baseboards to help prevent them from moving through the walls.
If you are sharing laundry facilities, it is important to be vigilant if you suspect a bedbug problem could arise. You could carry your items in washed plastic bags and fold them at home once they have come out of the dryer. High heat dryers can kill bedbugs, and if you don’t further expose your clothes at the laundromat, then your risk of an infestation will go down.
Does temperature affect bedbugs?
The preferred temperature for bedbugs is 70 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit when they are able to most successfully and quickly reproduce and progress through their growing stage. In temperatures below 0 degrees Fahrenheit, it would take approximately 4 days for them to be killed. In temperatures below 50 degrees Fahrenheit, they might remain in nymphal (youth) stages in the cold. If they are exposed to colder temperatures, they will go dormant into a state of semi-hibernation called diapause which causes their metabolism to slow and they begin interval energy conservation. Like humans, bedbugs prefer to be indoors in cold temperatures. Many people have tried to kill bedbugs by placed them in their freezers, but most freezers don’t reach a temperature cold enough to kill them instead of sending them into hibernation.
What makes the cost of an exterminator so expensive?
Most people know the outrageous costs of exterminating bedbugs in a property. But why are these costs so outrageous? Exterminators use specialized equipment and product, and the process is very lengthy. For heat treatments, they use specialized heaters that heat a room to over 130 degrees Fahrenheit while not causing a fire or other heat related hazards or damage. The product used has to be rated and labeled for living spaces and mattresses, and it is very expensive to create something that has effective kill rates while also being applicable to living spaces.
Another component to the expensive cost is the time the service takes. Bedbug exterminations take longer to walk the customer through the process and make sure they are comfortable with the procedures than other types of extermination. The actual extermination service also takes much longer. Ant and cockroach services usually take only 20 to 30 minutes to complete, while bedbug heat treatments take 6 to 12 hours. Additionally, bedbug heat treatments also require two technicians to be at the site. The high prices are ultimately worth it because the professionals will be able to cease the infestation, unlike home DIY efforts. Exterminators have the professional experience to know where to look for bedbugs and have the essential tools to kill the ones hidden in odd places.
Factors that affect the cost of extermination
The first step of an extermination is the inspection. In most situations only a visual inspection is required. This involves the exterminator looking for physical signs of bedbugs including bedbug excrement, bedbug eggs and eggshells, rusty red stains, live bugs, and shed bedbug exoskeletons. If it is necessary, your property could receive a canine inspection where a trained bug-sniffing dog searches for areas that are infested, this provides greater precision in the inspection process.
Most exterminators charge based on the size of your space. This could be by square footage, room, a flat fee, or by individual visits or a package deal. You should usually expect to pay more for a larger space. There are other factors that can add to the cost of space such as the severity of the infestation and clutter that also needs to be treated. If the infestation is more dense or severe you can expect a higher price for the extra materials and labor.
Location also has an effect on the price of your extermination. Larger cities are more prone to infestation and will have higher prices. Some of the highest prices based on location are in New York City, Seattle, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Phoenix, Philadelphia, Dallas, Chicago, and Atlanta.
Your home type and how your home was constructed could have an influence on your price as well. If the construction of your home offers more hiding places, then the cost will increase. Additionally, if it is necessary to treat the area under your house, it will cost more.
While cleanliness does not decrease the likelihood you will have a bedbug infestation, it does influence how much you would have to pay for extermination. If your home or unit has a lot of clutter it can provide more places for the bedbugs to hide (which increases your cost). You are able to clear some clutter before your treatment to reduce the cost and make it an easier process for your exterminator, but it is essential that you don’t remove anything that could be infested. If you reintroduce infested items into your unit or home, then it will cause another infestation, and you will have to begin another extermination process.
What to do before your exterminator arrives
Prior to a heat treatment, there are some items that you should remove from your unit or home. These items include pets, plants, fire extinguishers, photographs, VHS cassettes, pressurized cans (soda, hairspray, etc.), wax products (crayons, candles, lipstick, etc.), guns and ammunition, vinyl records, and film negatives. Depending on your heat service, you may need to remove portable electronics (phones, charging cables, laptops, etc.) and other electronics (but not appliances) need to be unplugged. You should place medicine and vitamins in the fridge along with other perishable foods (including wine and liquor). Paintings and frames should be taken off the walls and put on the floor, and if necessary you can speak to your exterminator about removing valuable artwork from the unit. You should keep personal items in your home or unit including clothing, diaper bags, computer bags, backpacks, purses (but remove your wallet), and wheelchairs and mobility devices. If it is absolutely necessary for you to have something with you, place these items in a shopping bag and wear freshly laundered clothes when entering the unit to avoid carrying bugs out from the house on you. It is also important to secure loose papers if high powered fans are used during treatment.
How to find the best exterminator
Do your research and verify their certification. It is important to find our if the company is trusted and referred. You wouldn’t want just anyone entering your house and killing bugs with chemicals that could potentially harm you. You should make sure that the company you choose has been reliable and safe in the past. Additionally, your exterminator should be licensed or certified in pest extermination. To be licensed, exterminators need to go through proper training which is essential to ensure that they are qualified to perform the extermination in your home.
Don’t rely on price. It is important to know how credible a company is, and not always settle for the cheapest option. Bedbugs are very difficult to remove, and you don’t want to waste money with a cheap extermination company who won’t do a thorough job the first time. If you discover a company who charges low rates and has great referrals, then it might be a great company! But it is important to know what you should expect.
Ask about treatment methods. It varies based on your particular situation, but it is usually the best option to use a variety of treatment methods. Addition information can be found at the EPA and CDC. You should be able to ask your exterminator if the methods are safe and if they are pet and human friendly.
Posted on Saturday December 05, 2020 at 10:31AM in General
How to Make Your Rental More Appealing to Students with Roommates
As a property management software company, we are often asked how to make rentals more appealing in highly competitive areas.
Purchasing rental property in a college town is a great investment if you’re looking to generate extra income (or even earn a full-time living!). Student housing will always be in demand in any location with a college or university, but the market can be competitive. The CAP rate may be lower in these areas because it is more likely that you will keep your rental occupied and the management effort is often lower. Students are most often living with one or more roommates, and look for rentals that are comfortable for multiple students while offering a degree of privacy.
How do you make your rental more appealing to students and roommates?
Install Safety Features
Many students are venturing out on their own for the first time, and want to feel safe in their newfound freedom. The addition of safety features such as gates, alarm systems, and doorbell cameras can help students feel more secure in your rental.
Remodel For Privacy
While many students or those living with roommates are used to rentals with paper-thin walls, rentals with more privacy are more likely to see higher retention rates. A higher quality drywall, sturdier doors, and proper insulation allows students privacy in their rooms while deadening noise that inevitably comes from roommates.
Simplify Paying the Rent
Investing in property management software that allows for roommates to easily make split rent payments streamlines the process of rental payments for tenants and landlords alike. Schedule My Rent offers the perfect solution for rentals with two or more tenants.
Streamline Your Processes with Property Management Software
You invested in your rental property to make a profit. Simplifying your rental payments and other property management processes reduces the amount of time you spend on bookkeeping, organizing, and paperwork, allowing you more free time to enjoy the benefits of owning a rental property. Call us at (844) 465-3339 for more information about our rental property software today!
Posted on Sunday November 29, 2020 at 09:54AM in General
Should you accept partial payments or late payments?
When owning or managing a property you will inevitably have at least one tenant ask to make a partial rent payment. Sometimes it can be difficult for tenants to pay their full rent amount for various reasons such as losing a job or having large medical bills. In this situation, you would like to be understanding, but not create a habit of always accepting partial payments. As a landlord, it is important to decide when you can accept partial payments from your tenants.
What are partial rent payments?
A partial rent payment is when a tenant asks you if they can pay only a portion of their monthly rent amount. For example, if your monthly rent is $2,500 and your tenant pays you $1,000, then that is a partial payment.
Are partial payments considered late?
As a landlord, you should consider partial payments made after the rent due date plus grace period as late payments.
What do you do if a tenant isn't paying rent on time?
Most landlords establish a set process. Below is an example:
- Talk with the tenant to find out why their rent is late and if there are extenuating circumstances such as losing a job or medical bills
- Consider if this is the first time rent is late
- Most landlords automatically add a late fee after the due date plus grace period expires. If you don’t add late fees to these payments, then there is no consequence for tenants and they may continue to make late partial payments regularly. You can always waive a late fee if there are extenuating circumstances.
- Post a 3-day collection notice, which notifies the tenant that rent must be paid or you will continue the court process resulting in an eviction. State and local laws differ regarding the timing and notification requirements.
- Talk with the tenant again and find out their intentions. While court action is always a potential, it is typically the last choice. It is often much better to work out payment terms or agree upon a move-out schedule directly with the tenant instead of going to court. Remember that you are running a business and it may be better to waive rent/fees or even pay a tenant to move out instead of going through the eviction process which may take longer and result in no additional money being paid by the tenant.
When to allow partial payments
In a situation where a tenant asks to make a partial payment before rent is due and makes the full payment before then, it is okay to allow partial payments. In the case of renting your property to roommates, it is acceptable to accept partial payments from each roommate as long as the total rent amount is collected by the due date plus grace period. If you are using rental property management software, you can allow roommates to make partial payments in order to split the rent amount. You can also decide to not allow partial payments, which means that one tenant has to make a payment for the full amount due.
If you accept a partial rent payment
If you decide to allow your tenant to make a partial rent payment, make sure to acknowledge it in writing. It is important to keep track of the partial amount the tenant has paid and the due date for the remainder of the rent payment. On Schedule My Rent’s landlord dashboard, all of your tenant payments are kept track of and clearly visible on one screen (including any partial payments). If you charge late fees on your lease, specify if you will waive or charge the late fee (and the late fee amount) for the situation.
The disadvantage of accepting partial payments
It is usually not a great idea to routinely accept partial rent payments after the due date plus grace period. If your tenant can’t afford the full rent this month, it is not likely that they will be able to afford the full rent plus the remainder of last month’s rent either. The more you allow that tenant to make late payments, the further behind on rent they will be. As a landlord, you don’t want your tenant to be less concerned about paying their rent or think that not paying the full amount is okay.
Enforcing late fees is a great way to encourage tenants to pay on time. If there is a penalty for paying late, then tenants are less likely to continue to pay late every month. Daily late fees are also a great way to encourage tenants to pay faster. For example, a landlord may charge $50 on the 5th of the month if rent is not fully paid, then charge $10 every day until the rent is paid in full. Schedule My Rent automates late fees and daily late fees so everything is automatically recorded and tenants are sent notices every time a new late fee is added.
Another disadvantage of accepting partial payments is if you allow one renter to make partial payments and not others, you could be accused of discrimination. It is important to keep your rental policies uniform across your properties and units. On the flip side, you don’t want to always allow all your tenants to make partial payments or you might never get rent on time.
In most situations, it is a good habit to not accept partial payments during an eviction. In an eviction process, if a tenant makes partial payments it can extend the eviction process and make it much more difficult to move that tenant out of the property. Schedule My Rent has a feature that allows landlords to stop new payments immediately in an eviction process, helping the landlord move the tenant out quickly. Cash payments at MoneyGram, bank payments, and credit card payments can all be immediately stoped. After the rent due date, it is important to enforce your late fee policies if you don’t receive the full rent amount. Unless you have worked out an alternative solution with your tenant, rent that isn’t paid in full can accumulate late fees.
Use your lease
In your lease you should state when rent is due each month (such as the 1st of every month or the 10th). If your lease has this date, you don’t need to include a clause about partial rent payments. However, if you don’t want to accept partial payments, you should include something in your lease that prohibits renters from making them. The statement should include a consequence for making a late payment such as lease termination, damage to credit, one-time and daily late fees, or eviction.
Run your business
If tenants are having financial troubles, they probably are prioritizing which payments are absolutely necessary that month and which ones have some wiggle room. Between car payments, credit card payments, and rent payments they need to decide which will have the smallest consequence for a late payment. If you allow a tenant to make late payments, or waive their late fees, then you will probably receive late and partial payments from them regularly.
As a landlord, you most likely need rent payments on time each month for your mortgage. Your bank won’t allow partial payments, so a tenant’s partial payment could put you behind as well. But if your tenant makes partial payments throughout the month and pays the full amount by the due date, that is okay because you are getting paid on time. It is important to remember that you are running a business and have to have rules for tenants to abide by. Run your rentals like a business.
Remember the law
In some jurisdictions, if you as a landlord accept partial rent payments, you might not be able to evict that tenant if they don’t ever pay the balance. It is important to know the laws of your jurisdiction and if you are waiving your right to collect a full payment by accepting a partial payment.
The lease should clearly state when late fees and daily late fees are added. Most state laws have limits or restrictions on how late fees can be added, so make sure you follow your local laws.
Encourage on time payments with Schedule My Rent
As a landlord, it is difficult when you receive late or partial rent payments. Schedule My Rent’s property management software has many features to automate rent collect, charge late fees, and remind tenants of when rent is due. And everything is always documented on the landlord dashboard.
Automated rent reminders
Rent reminders for your tenants go out automatically so you don’t have to remind tenants when their rent is due. Reminders increase on-time rent payments by ensuring that your tenant knows when they need to pay their rent.
Late fee setup
As a landlord you can customize:
- Late Fee: how many days after the due date late fees are applied; if late fees are a percentage of the rent or a set amount.
- Daily Late Fee: when the fees start; after how many days late fees stop being applied; a maximum amount of daily late fees that can be collected.
- Stacking: you can stack any combination of late fees and daily late fee in order to match your lease terms.
Documentation and other information
All tenant payments across all your properties are easily documented on the landlord dashboard. For more information, you can watch a property management software video, read the rental property management software guide, or visit www.schedulemyrent.com
Posted on Friday September 11, 2020 at 04:42PM in Software Updates
Online Rental Applications with Schedule My Rent
Using an online rental application through your property management software is simple for both landlords and tenants. Through Schedule My Rent, landlords can save rental applications from multiple prospective tenants all in one organized place. In this article, we will discuss many features within our online rental application designed to streamline your tenant selection process.
- Sending an online rental application: To begin the application process, landlords can easily send their prospective tenants an online rental application link or even post it to social media or their own property owner site. When sending out your link, all you have to do is provide your tenant’s first and last name and their email address and our system will send them an email inviting them to fill out an online application.
- Stay updated: As a landlord, you are always kept up to date on the status of your potential tenants’ applications. You will automatically receive an email when your tenants have completed their online application (along with where to find the completed application).
- Organized application review process:
Once you have received completed applications, you can easily access them all on one screen. Your application list can be sorted by unit, date/time, or by the applicant’s name and filtered by unit, date/time, and applicant’s name. The options of sorting and filtering allow you to organize your list of applicants based on your preferences.
To view a completed application from your list of applicants, simple click “view” next to the tenant’s name. If you would like to hide an application from the list, simply click “hide” to remove the applicant from your list of potential tenants. You can always go back and un-hide an application if you would like to review it again from the rental management software.
If you find an application that you like, you can click “credit and background check” to automatically send your applicant a request to authorize and pay for a full credit and tenant background check. Once the tenant completes this step, you are automatically sent an email to keep you up to date in the process.
Through our site, you are also able to take notes on an application to help with your approval/declination decision. This section is optional and will only be seen by you as the landlord. You are also able to select an approval state (if you approved or declined the application).
Our online application allows you to add custom requirements and disclosures, and custom questions that will be shown on the rental application. You can add one or more custom questions and choose if you would like them to be required for the applicant. Click the box “Is answer required?” next to the question to require applicants to answer in order to continue.
- Online rental application:
- Custom requirements and disclosures You can add a custom section here with any disclosures or requirements that you want your applicants to see. The applicants are required to check the “I agree” box before continuing. An example of a disclosure is listed on our site at Online-Rental-Application. Please note this is only an example, and it is important to consult with your attorney and comply with state and local requirements.
- Personal information: This section asks for your tenant’s legal name, address, date or birth, social security number, and phone number.You can add a custom section here with any disclosures or requirements that you want your applicants to see. The applicants are required to check the “I agree” box before continuing. An example of a disclosure is listen on our site at https://www.schedulemyrent.com/Online-Rental-Application.xhtml. Please note this is only an example, and it is important to consult with your attorney and comply with state and local requirements.
- Employment history:
- Additional income: Along with employment, you applicants are also able to report additional income on their application. They will be asked to provide the source, monthly amount, and any additional comments. The ability to upload additional documents (such as a pay stub or statement) is available here as well to validate your applicant’s additional income.
- Residence History:
- References: In this section, your applicant will be able to report their references. They will provide you with their name, email, and phone number along with their relationship to the applicant, years known, and any additional comments.
- Emergency contacts: In case of emergency, your tenant will provide an emergency contact. Their profile will include their name, email, phone number, relationship, and any comments.
- Other occupants: This section is for other occupants that will be living in the unit with the potential tenant that aren’t on the lease. For example, if your applicant has any children under 18 they would fill out the name of the occupant and any additional comments. For more information on if a guest is considered a tenant visit our site at https://www.schedulemyrent.com/blog/.
- Pets: If you decide to allow pets in your properties, your potential renter will provide the name, type, weight (lbs), description, and comments for their pet in this section. Your renter is able to upload pet information such as a picture of the pet, shot records, service animal papers, etc. These documents can be very useful if you require pets to have certain shots, only allow service animals, etc. If you are unsure if you should allow pets in your properties visit https://www.schedulemyrent.com/blog/ for a landlords guide to renting with pets.
- Other questions: If your potential tenant answers yes to any of the questions in this section, additional information will be requested. These questions include: Do you smoke? Have you filed for bankruptcy in the last 7 years? Have you ever been evicted? Have you ever stopped paying rent when it was due?. You are also able to add additional custom questions to this section to help with your applicant screening process. These questions give you, their potential landlord, additional insight into their past behaviors to help determine if they will be a good fit for renting your property.
- Co-applicants and co-signers: Here is where your applicant will be asked if there will be additional people on the lease. For example, this could be the applicant’s parents who are co-signing but not living in the unit, or the applicant’s roommate who will be a co-applicant on the lease. The applicant will need to provide the name, email, phone number and relationship of the co-signer or co-applicant along with any comments.
- Additional documentation: In this section, your potential renter will be able to upload any additional documents that will be relevant for you to consider.
- Application sharing: Once the applicant has finished filling out their application, they will be able to share it with you as their potential landlord. All they need to do is enter your name, email, and phone. Then they will check the tenant authorization box confirming that they authorize an investigation of their credit, tenant history, banking, employment, income, criminal background, and other information provided regarding their rental application.
In this section, your potential tenant will provide their employer and title along with when they started the job and an end date (if it isn’t their current job). They will also be asked to provide their monthly income (this helps you determine if they will be able to reliably pay their rent each month), address of work, and contact information for their current employer. It is important to have their employer’s name, email, and phone number for contacting them for a reference. Your applicant is also able to write any comments they might have in the comments section.
A very useful feature that we have just added is the ability for your applicant to upload proof of employment history. An example of this could be a pay stub. This feature helps save you time so you don’t have to follow up later in the application process to validate your potential tenant’s employment.
As a landlord, it is important to know if your potential renter was a responsible tenant in the past. In this section, the applicant will provide their move-in date, move-out date, monthly rent amount, and address of their last residence. They will also be asked to provide their previous landlord’s name, address, and phone number. Along with their employer, a potential tenant’s previous landlord will provide an essential reference for understanding if they will be a good fit for your property.
Your applicant will be able to include any additional comments in this section and upload resident history documents. These documents could be utility bills, a lease, etc. This additional step helps you validate your potential renter’s reliability in reporting their previous residence.
Once your applicant has completed their online rental application and has shared it with you as their landlord, you will automatically receive an email that your tenant has shared their application with you. From there you will be able to login to your account and view their application from your list of applications. Online rental applications are easy with Schedule My Rent.
Posted on Thursday August 27, 2020 at 08:55PM in How to use features
How to Use the Landlord Dashboard on Schedule My Rent
Once you set up an account, you will be able to access this dashboard. On this page, you will be able to view the payment status across different units and months.
- Viewing tenants and units On the left side of the screen, you will see a column that contains all of your units. Each row is a separate unit and lease with the name of the property and the tenants living there on the left side of each row. If you would like to view a specific property, you can simply click the button in the top left corner under show and select which company, property, and unit you would like to view on the screen.
- Viewing the specifics on one unit To view all your information on one specific unit, you can click the button titled “switch to unit view” and you will be taken to a page where you can view that unit.
- Due and received payments There is a row for every unit that allows you to see if the tenants in that unit have paid their rent. There are three columns along with the column for your tenants. For each month, the system will tell you how much you have received from your tenants and how much is still due. To make it easier to quickly see which amounts haven’t been paid, the due amounts that are late are highlighted in red. Next to the received column, there is a column for comments such as the total amount due over multiple months.
The landlord dashboard is simple and very easy to use. It allows you to see all the payment details for all of your units, leases, and tenants in one clear and organized place. For a video explaining this dashboard, visit Rental Property Software Demo.
Posted on Wednesday August 19, 2020 at 03:22PM in General
Tips for First Time Landlords
As a first-time landlord it can be very difficult to navigate all the components of renting out a new property. Here are some tips to consider:
- Know the housing laws: Before beginning to rent out a property, it is important to research federal housing laws and the American Apartment Owners Association has a good review of local landlord tenant laws. Knowing the laws will help you practice nondiscriminatory leasing and help you avoid a court hearing.
- Don’t forget about taxes: Keeping track of all your rental expenses is essential when filing taxes. Some property management software programs have features that allow you to save photos of receipts, categorize expenses by property for taxes, and split a single expense between properties. This can be very useful to keep track of all your expenses for personal and tax purposes.
- Screen potential tenants: Many landlords can get into a situation where their tenants weren’t as reliable as they seemed. Screening potential tenants can provide you with a better idea of how reliably your tenant will pay their rent. It is useful to get a criminal background check, credit report, and eviction history to verify that your potential tenant is able to commit to paying their rent. Credit reports are typically provided by one of the credit reporting agencies: TransUnion, Equifax, or Experian. Personal and professional references are also great to have to get a sense of the tenant’s professionalism. Screening tenants will help you as a landlord to avoid late fees and evictions.
- Documentation and organization: Documentation is essential when renting out a property. You should take photos of the unit before and after a tenant has rented it. This will give you evidence of any damages that the tenant may create. It is also important to keep copies of all of your paperwork. You should never give a tenant your only copy of any document in hopes that they will give it back. Schedule My Rent provides rental management software to save and share important documents online.
- Hire a professional when needed: It is important to think about how much time and money you would like to invest in your property. Instead of giving tours of a unit to many potential tenants on different days consider an open house where you can answer everyone’s questions at one time. Since you may have multiple people looking at an open house at the same time, this often prompts prospects to fill out an application right away since they see that other people are also interested and they don't want to miss out. Keep in mind that your property will also require seasonal repairs and consider hiring a handyman to take care of the condition of the unit.
- Collect rent online: Collecting rent online will help you as a landlord save time. You can automate rent collection and send tenants reminders of when their rent is due (which reduces late rent payments). You want to make it easy for tenants to pay rent, so you may want to consider using a software that allows bank account, credit card, and payments using cash at local MoneyGram retailers like Walmart and CVS. With some property management sites, all the information regarding your properties is in one organized place.
Posted on Saturday August 15, 2020 at 04:03PM in General
How to Upgrade your Rental Property
Renovating your rental property can dramatically increase not only the property value but also your rental income. When showing potential tenants a unit, you want them to be able to picture themselves living there. There is no need to change every detail and make the space perfect; you can make small changes to create a more livable unit. The trick for renovation is to minimize costs while maximizing your return on investment. Here are a few tips to help you upgrade your property while not overspending.
- Prioritize kitchens and bathrooms
- Replace fixtures and clean the space often
- Make repairs before replacing
- Bring some light into the space
- Keep a tidy yard
Kitchens and bathrooms are spaces that potential tenants shouldn’t have to question the cleanliness of. No one wants to be wondering if there is mold in their shower or if the stove is too outdated.
These two rooms attract the eye of your potential tenants and an updated kitchen or bathroom will draw tenants to your property. Along with pleasing tenants, you will get about an 80% return on investment with a kitchen or bathroom upgrade (which is much higher than most renovations).
To add to the value of your kitchen, consider adding backsplashes. They add value to your property, and are easy to clean and durable. When choosing a perfect backsplash for your unit, don’t choose trendy colors or a design that won’t be popular next year. Instead choose something like white tiles that are timeless and won’t date your property.
Minor fixture upgrades and replacements can keep your property looking updated and clean without the cost of a remodel. Some examples of fixtures to easily replace are leaky faucets, outdated lighting, door handles that stick, shower heads, toilet seats, blinds missing slats, cabinets that have lost their finish, and toilets that run constantly.
It is essential that you keep the property clean especially between tenants. Hiring a professional service is worth it if you don’t want to clean yourself. To give your property a clean feel all around, you could consider paying for a pressure wash of the outside of the property, or do it yourself.
Remember to repaint your unit. A fresh coat of paint will make your property look cleaner and newer! It is recommended to repaint at least every five years to ensure that your property looks its best.
It is unnecessary and expensive to remodel your entire property between tenants. In most cases, a simple repair of parts of your rental will be much more practical. When making repairs, make sure to keep records of your receipts for tax claim deduction purposes.
When thinking about replacing carpets, remember that it is only necessary to replace them about every seven years. Try hiring professionals or cleaning the carpet yourself to give the room a clean feel without the extra cost. Consider replacing carpet with tile, wood planks, or vinyl planks. The initial cost is typically higher, but these surfaces last longer and are easier to clean.
The ceilings of your property will probably look clean and won’t need to be repainted. Unless your tenants were extra messy or heavy smokers, you can save money with a simple clean instead of a repaint.
Most people will consider replacing the cabinets entirely when sometimes replacing only the doors or giving it some fresh paint will do the trick.
The front door of your unit will be your potential tenant’s welcome into the house. If it is scratched or has a sticky handle, consider mending or replacing it.
A room with good lighting will feel more welcoming and show off the space you are trying to sell. Choose lighting that is appropriate for the space. Soft lighting works better in the bedrooms and bright lighting is best for the kitchen.
The outside of a unit is less important than the living space inside, but it will be the first thing your potential tenant sees. It is important to keep it looking tidy and maintained.
Some suggestions for maintaining your yard: mow the grass, cut back overgrown bushes and trees (especially in a garden), spread some new soil or mulch around flowerbeds and bushes, make sure a good view isn’t obstructed, and secure gates, loose stones, and broken items.
With these tips your property will be ready to show to potential tenants! Making improvements can be simple and easy!
Visit https://www.schedulemyrent.com or call us at (844) 465-3339
Posted on Tuesday April 28, 2020 at 04:42PM in General
Here are 6 reasons why online rent collection is easier and more convenient for both landlords and tenants.
- Ability to Schedule Recurring Payments
By collecting rent online, you can eliminate the need to meet with your tenant to receive a check, waiting for the check to arrive via mail, going to the bank in order to make a deposit, and manually recording your payments. With a property management software program, your tenants can easily pay rent online. Schedule My Rent provides the option to set up autopay. With autopay, tenants can have their rent automatically transferred from their bank account to their landlord’s bank account, worry free.
- Reminders for Tenants Help Decrease Late Rent Payments
Tenants can receive notifications and reminders of when their due date is approaching so they can always be aware of what payments they still need to make. With Schedule My Rent’s customizable late fees, you can choose when you would like to add late fees along with what set amount or percentage of rent you would like your tenants to be charged. It is also very simple to remove or cancel late fees and add daily late fees.
- The Status of Rent Payments Can be Seen in Real- Time
By collecting rent online through property management software, landlords can see all their rent payments across multiple units at any time. On the landlord dashboard, landlords can view all their properties at once, or customize which property they would like to view at a time. On the dashboard, all rent payments are automatically documented and unpaid late rent is highlighted in red. The landlord dashboard allows landlords to have the status of all of the rent payments for their properties in one organized place.
- Rent is Received Faster
Online rent collection gives landlords status updates in real time, and the tenant’s rent is also transferred to you faster. With a check mailed first class it may take two to three days to receive rent from your tenants. Your tenant might say that they mailed the check on time, but you won’t be certain of that until days later when you receive their rent. With online rent collection, you will receive status updates in real time. If you choose a property management software that has the option of QuickPay, rent will be transferred to your account within one business day and you will receive updates immediately.
- Security in Rent Payments
Online rent payments is one of the most secure options for tenants and landlords. It eliminates the concern of a check getting lost in the mail or stolen. If a tenants sends a money order and it gets lost in the mail, it can take weeks for the money to be refunded. With checks, the tenants bank account information is printed onto the check increasing the risk of fraud if it ends up in the wrong hands. Property management software programs keep the tenants’ and landlord’s bank account information secure and neither party can access the bank account numbers after typing them into the system.
- Ability to Pay Rent Through Convenience Stores
Some property management software programs, such as Schedule My Rent, offer the option to pay rent through MoneyGram. Tenants who would prefer to pay their rent in cash can go to Walmart, CVS, or any other MoneyGram location and pay their rent. This allows another option for tenants to safely and securely pay their rent.
Collecting rent online through a property management software program helps landlords save time and stay more organized. It also saves tenants time and ensures that they can pay their rent securely without the worry of fraud and overdue payments.
Posted on Thursday April 16, 2020 at 10:54AM in How to use features
Late fees are a great way to ensure that your tenants pay on time when collecting rent online. But what if you want to give your tenants a break (especially during the corona virus pandemic)? Here are three ways that you can cancel your tenants’ late fees using the Schedule My Rent software.
- Edit the Lease
On the landlord dashboard, it is simple and easy to edit or add a new lease. If you want to remove late fees for any amount of time, you can click “switch to unit view” on the lease you want to remove late fees from. Then you simply click “edit lease” and adjust or remove late fees from the lease and save the lease. The late fees will be deleted until you edit the lease again.
- Waive Late Fees
It is also very simple to remove late fees for a certain month. On the landlord dashboard simply click “switch to unit view” and check the box that says “waive future late fees” for the month you would like to remove late fees from. This will waive the late fees for that specific rent amount. If you would like to remove late fees for several months, click this box for every future month.
- Delete Already Added Fees
If you would like to remove late fees that have already been added, there is a simple way to do that also. All you need to do is click “switch to unit view” on the unit and then click the trash can next to the late fee that you would like to remove. And just like that, the late fee is removed and you will see a credit for the amount that the fee was for.