Management Tips from

Warning – Applicant’s Current Landlord may Lie!

The fact that some landlords may lie may not be a revelation to many of you. But just in case, you are new to landlording, this revelation may save you a ton of grief, frustration and money.

Why would a landlord lie? Often times it is because they are hoping to get rid of a problem resident, and so they do not disclose the truth of how bad the resident has been when another landlord calls to ask about an applicant's rental history. The current landlord wants more than anything for their problem resident to move, so the current landlord does not want to say anything to scare the "next" landlord from accepting the applicant.  

Here's one recent story shared on the Q&A. "I called a previous landlord to verify reference on an applicant. She gave all good reviews, said the resident paid on time, was up to date on her payments and took good care of her place. I informed the applicant that she could move into my place and received a security deposit. Then the previous landlord called me back to say she felt guilty and did not want to pass her dead weight off to me. She said the girl was a tenant nightmare and admitted that she lied to me to get her out of her place."

Again, a landlord not telling the truth or full truth regarding a departing resident is not uncommon. What was uncommon, was that the previous landlord in the above story felt guilty and called back the next unsuspecting landlord just in time.

This is why the following advice is given to landlords regarding verifying information on rental applicants:

1) Never depend on a current landlord reference. Go back one or two landlords to get feedback. 

2) Do what you can to actually verify they are landlords and not a family member or friends.

3) Always check with landlords of addresses found on credit reports that are not listed on rental applications.

4) Have a clause in your lease that says if any information provided on rental application is discovered not to be true will be grounds for nullifying acceptance of rental applicant and/or termination of the lease.

 Do You Ask Enough Questions?

Time: 1 pm Today: Landlord shares that he is in the process of giving a vacating tenant the opportunity to let their dogs damage a new landlord's property. He had received a call from a property management company about the soon to be ex-tenant.

The call was less than 30 seconds and other than were they late on the rent, the caller didn't even ask important questions such as how long a tenant?, how many people?, would I re-rent to them again? and do they have any pets? 

Update: 1:30 pm Today: Landlord hears that his vacating tenants will be moving to their new rental managed by the company who had called him. Now their dogs can start the destruction derby with the new landlord.

Screening tip – Employment Verification

I've seen many landlords saying how difficult it is to get verification of an applicant's employment. However, I have 99% success in verifying employment. It's important to know that Pay stubs, in addition to being forged, can also be useless as they might have just been fired. The banks don't just trust your pay stubs for a mortgage; they call your employer! So here are my foolproof steps to get employment verification.

1) If it is a large corporation, you likely have to use the work number. Have tenant pay the fee if you are so inclined.
2) Google the name of the company to find the phone number; don't rely on what the applicant put on the application.
3) If it is a larger company, ask for their human resources or payroll department.
4) If it is mom n pop, likely the person answering phone can help you.
5) Just ask them over the phone that you are calling for a rental application and if they can verify name, position, dates of employment, and salary.
6) If they ask, I fax them the signed consent form. Sometimes they will refuse to verify salary, but that is ok if you know they are still employed because you have paystubs.

The above steps have failed me only ONCE when the employer used an obscure third party verifier that wanted to do a background check on ME!

What to do if Your Applicant is Self-Employed

An often asked question by landlords: "I have an applicant who is self-employed... and want to rent my home. What should I require them to submit with their application?

The following are recommendations from several landlords nationwide.

1) Ask for two months of bank statements.

2) Two years of tax returns (ideally prepared by a CPA).

3) Verifying documentation that the business is registered and/or licensed. 

4) Proof that the business is local and has been around for several years.

5) Do full background/credit check as well. 

Ten Points Before Accepting Dogs

A landlord recently asked the following: "Tenants in a two bedroom house with small yard want a dog. They've been in there two years and are good tenants. I have never accepted dogs before, but are considering it for these tenants. I have really mixed feelings on this. No dogs has been one of our mainstay rules. Any thoughts? "

Several rental owners who currently accept dogs responded with what they considered important points to take into consideration: Here are 10 points they shared:

1) Take carpet out and install laminate flooring. 

2) Accept pets with a one-time registration fee and a monthly pet fee. (check your state laws for any limits) 

3) Require written evidence of current shots.

4) No aggressive animals.  Check your insurance carrier, to see if they have any breeds that they will not cover.

5) Landlord must meet and approve the animal before accepting.

6) The dog must be spayed or neutered!

7) No puppies (the dog must be 12 months or older).

8) No first-time dog owners.

9) Tenant must have renter's insurance with liability coverage.

10) Service dogs are legally not considered pets, so any additional "pet" fees or "no pet" restrictions would not apply.

It’s Not about just Offering the “Right” Renewal Gift

Don't fall into the costly mistake of thinking that simply offering residents the right gift at renewal time will greatly increase their desire to want to renew their lease. Many landlords think the trick to retention is simply figuring out the right renewal gift or incentive to offer.  Although it is nice to offer retention gifts, understand that the real trick/skill to retention is NOT about just offering the right gift or incentive. It is about changing the entire MINDSET of your residents, so that they see themselves as participants in your "customer loyalty" program.

Changing and creating the right loyalty mindset with your customer involves vital points of loyalty program implementation beginning right from the start, at time of application, new resident orientation, and then on anniversary dates and other key points in the rental relationship. 

Landlord Safety/Survival Tips

A few months ago, national news headlines highlighted two different Realtors® (each at separate locations) who were victims of crimes when showing a property. 

Several landlords share security reminders and safety tips below.

This can be a volatile and dangerous business. People become emotional when money is involved or they are losing their home and even otherwise normal people can lose control and do heinous things. Therefore never let your guard down with prospective tenants. And even with long-time tenants if things are "going south" or become contentious, be on guard. 

Realize that you may not even be aware that if a long-time tenant has an anger against you simmering internally, or has unknown drug issues, anything can happen. Be careful around unknown "friends" of tenants I’m not saying you have to look for threats under every bush, but be aware of what is going on in your "world" and avoid putting yourself into compromising situations (i.e. in a back bedroom with two prospects with the door to their back, not yours, hence no escape).

 If you have a contentious situation with a tenant, it may be best to remove yourself from the equation and let an attorney or others handle it. However, you may not be able to do that. You may have a problem tenant in a multi-family. You can't ignore the whole property because of one thug who is acting out.

Some landlords may not have the funding to hire out their eviction processes. A dangerous tenant can always return after the fact to extract revenge. You just never know. In such situations use video, always have a second person. I have a "dash cam" just like the police. I can park my car facing the area I will be operating in, so if I am attacked it will be on video. I recommend this. Quality cams are under $100.

I don't want to get into the pros or cons of firearm defense here, but if you should choose to carry, you must fully understand your laws and you must train to a point well beyond what most people consider they need. Be aware and stay safe.

A second landlord shared the following tips: “I am female. When showing a unit to a male, I never enter the unit. I open the door before they get there. I speed dial my office with record of their license plate number as soon as they arrive. I ask to see their ID and take down their info. I then invite them to go in and look around. I do not enter the unit if I am alone and applicant is alone.” 

A third landlord shared: “People who attack do so often because they see the victim as alone and weak. Don't be alone. Having a second person--handyman, cousin, brother, work buddy, army buddy, etc. with you is probably one of the most effective methods of deterring attack.

Obtain Consent from your Resident to Electronically Serve Eviction Notice

Under a new Michigan law, electronic service of an eviction notice will soon permitted as long as the tenant consents in writing to electronic service. Michigan landlords should seek to obtain consent to serve eviction notices in their lease agreement. Landlords in other states should also consider adding an electronic service lease provision, because it's a good chance other states will/have enact a similar law. 

Cleaning Essentials for Rental Property

(20 products recommended by rental property owners)

1. Mr Clean magic eraser

2. 409 spray (removes nicotine and hard spots)

3. Degreaser

4. OdorXit (for eliminating all types of odors)

5. Zep toilet bowl cleaner

6. Tilex

7. Zep carpet shampoo

8. SOS pads

9. Clorox

10. Mr. Clean or Pinesol

11. Swifer Floor Swipes

12. Scrubbing Bubbles

13. Oven cleaner

14. A medium grit sanding block

15. Zep CONCENTRATED window cleaning solution

16. Gloves

17. Murphy's Oil Soap

18. Kaboom

19. Fantastic

20. The Works toilet cleaner

Give Your Tenants a Map…to Safety

What can be worse than a 2 AM phone call from a tenant reporting a strong odor of gas or a broken water pipe (and not knowing how to stop the problem)? Prevent this disaster from possibly turning into a nightmare by providing each tenant with a list or, better, a hand-drawn map showing the location of the shutoffs or disconnects for the various utilities in the house. It would be even better to add instructions such as which direction to turn a valve handle or which circuit breaker is the main breaker.

Another landlord added the following suggestion: "Tie a BIG TAG on the water shut-off valve giving directions for turning it off. In a panic, it's better than fumbling around. I even have it in my own house!" 

Renting Furnished Homes

A landlord, who was having difficulty renting his unfurnished home, asked other landlords about possibly offering a furnished rental. It is an idea many landlords should consider. Below are a couple of responses from landlords sharing their successful but limited experiences.

Illinois Landlord: "After several comments by other landlords on, I furnished my one bedroom house. I was moving in with my sweetie and, as we know, used furniture sells for next to nothing at a yard sale. 

So we kept the best stuff regarding kitchen, bedding, towels, etc. and fully furnished the house, down to the coffee maker and salt and pepper shakers. I bought new (cheap) bed pillows and a zippered type mattress cover to protect against bed bugs. Mattress had been in our extra bedroom and had been hardly used. 

The house rented immediately to an older man who is in our area as a contractor. Initially, I thought he would be here for 6-9 months, but that was over two years ago! He was staying in one of those extended stay hotels and going crazy being in one room he said. 

So I can't tell you about theft or the like as I haven't had turnover yet. I can tell you that he's definitely made it his home, and anything additional he's brought in (lamps etc.), he's put a tag with his name on, which kinda cracks me up... Forgot to mention I'm getting $150 more a month."

Kentucky Landlord: "I have one rental at $1550 with $697 PITI. I couldn't figure out what to do with all my mediocre furniture and stuff so I packed up a lot into a cubby hole and attic in the house. I advertised it as a "furnished" home for rent and ended up getting more money cause of it and I avoided paying for the ‘dreaded’ storage fees. I love how you can just make stuff up as you go along and get paid more for imagination." 

Befriend your Dealers

Here's another source for finding potentially good real estate deals.

I generate leads from a lot of sources. Two great lead generators I have are a husband and wife team I know. He is a coin dealer and she is an antique dealer. They have referred one house to me before that we did nothing to and flipped and made a good profit.

When I buy houses, I always call my coin guy to come and metal detect the property, that is his favorite hobby and he loves it when I call him for a 150 year old house on a property in the country. He'll come to the property for 3-4 days sometimes. 

The other day he showed up at the current flip house and handed me a 1/10th ounce bullion gold coin. I said "How much?" He said $140, but no rush, I know you've been looking for a while." I said, "Thanks!" I'm a huge bullion guy.

Anyway, today he came running into the flip house unexpectedly. He said with a huge smile, "I've got two houses for you!" He's 68, I'm 34! Ha ha. He said his wife just appraised antiques at this one house in a town 30 minutes away 4/1 two story that needs a lot of work. And another antique dealer they know is selling her house in a town 20 minutes away. $59,000 pretty much redone. OOH YEAHHHH BAAAABBBBBYYYYYY!!!

 Unlisted gems!!! He gave me the info. I told him if I got them I'd call him to detect for coins and he said, “I know you will!!” Love it!!! Make friends with antique dealers, coin dealers and auctioneers. These folks are always dealing with estates! That's money.

Reprinted by Permission. The above tips are shared by regular contributors to the popular Q&A forum, by real estate authors and by Jeffrey Taylor, To receive a free sample of Mr. Landlord newsletter, call 1-800-950-2250 or visit Q&A Forum at, where you can ask landlording questions and seek the advice of other rental owners 24 hours a day.