Why You Should Run a Credit Check on Potential Renters

bigstock-House-And-Keys-42686932It’s not uncommon for property owners to feel bad about running credit checks on their potential renters — especially with the economy in a downward spiral these past few years. But, a credit check does a lot more than tell you the score of your potential — it also tells you information about how that future tenant will impact your property. With a credit check, you can uncover any missing information (especially information left out purposely on the application); therefore, it’s important to run a credit check on every potential renter.

Verify the Basics

With a credit check, you can verify the basic information about your potential renter, such as their name, address, birth date, and social security number. Many times, you can use the information from the credit check instead of running a background check, which saves you time and money. You can also see what previous places they’ve rented and if any of those previous landlords have reported them to the credit bureaus for non-payment. It isn’t uncommon for potential renters to hide previous rental information, especially if they skipped out on paying for their last property.

Payment History and Reliability

One of the most important things a credit check will do is tell you how reliable a tenant is at making his payments. Credit checks tell you if a potential renter is frequently late on his bills, how often he is late, if he has accounts in collections, etc. You can see how long ago some credit issues occurred — in some cases these late payments could be over seven years old. Also, you can see if they’re keeping current on their payments now, the number of closed accounts they have and their total debt.

Debt Issues

When a potential renter gives you his employment information, you use that income to verify whether or not a renter could pay your rent amount. A credit check can also tell you how much your potential renter pays each month in debts, which can help you determine if he can really afford your rental payment. For example, you have a renter who makes $800 per month and the rent is $200 per month. So on paper he looks like he can afford it, but if you calculate in the fact that he has $400 per month in debt, he is now pushing the limit on his income.

Credit checks might be a hassle and force you to turn down a tenant you grew fond of in an interview, but these checks are necessary to protect your property. Credit checks give you information that lets you decide whether or not a tenant will actually pay, his history for making payments, and his past rental history. You can always discuss the findings with your potential renter to see if they have a viable explanation. However, in the end, not running a credit check could mean you’re renting to a person that doesn’t intend to pay for his rental contract.

Dec 2013
POSTED IN Legal Tips

Searching for Your First Apartment? Tips for First Time Renters

bigstock-Giving-Away-The-Keys-1867201Apartment hunting for your first time can certainly be daunting. From finding the right apartment in your price range to calculating how long it will take to get to work from each potential location, you have your work cut out for you. But before you get serious about a particular property, you need to do your renter due diligence. By taking your time, you can end up with a great apartment that is affordable and worthwhile to park yourself at.

Set Your Personal Budget

Only you know how much you can really afford each month. Most apartments will conduct a credit and employment check to verify your income, but even if you qualify for $500 per month, it doesn’t necessarily mean that is what you can afford. Take a look at your income and expenses without rent. Then calculate how much you could easily afford — while still having funds left over for emergencies.

Also, don’t forget to calculate the extras that come with apartment living, such as:

  • Transportation costs
  • Utilities
  • Groceries
  • Renter’s Insurance
  • Laundry costs — if you have to pay to use a Laundromat

Some apartments include certain utilities (like gas or water), while others require you to pay them all. It’s best to budget for all utilities regardless.

Check Your Credit Report

Most landlords check your credit before renting an apartment to you. To avoid any surprises, check your credit report and see if there are any negative items that can interfere with your application. If you can, correct those items before applying to your new apartment. If you’re in a hurry, let the landlord know there is an error and provide any supporting documentation you have just in case.

Walk Through the Property

Do a thorough walkthrough of the apartment and property before you rent it. That means inspecting the rooms, bathrooms, kitchen, etc. You’ll want to note anything that needs repair. It’s always best to see an apartment in-person so that you know what you’re renting. If you live in another state but know someone locally, ask them to do a walk-through for you. You will want to make sure everything works, including the appliances.

Before you sign your rental agreement, note any damages or imperfections you see that could impact your security deposit. For example, if you notice scratched or dented appliances, note that on your walk-through.

Get It in Writing

Individual property owners might not be as diligent about lease agreements as larger complexes, but as a tenant, you want everything in writing. Never rely on a handshake for a property agreement — even if you know the landlord. Find out the terms of your lease, how your security deposit works and when you’ll receive it back, and what you’re responsible for fixing when you are ready to leave the apartment.

By taking your time and picking the right property, you can avoid a lot of headaches in the future. There are plenty of great apartments out there and by taking these steps, you can find the right one that suits your needs and budget.

Dec 2013

Tips for Hiding Unwrapped Gifts This Holiday Season in Your Apartment

giftsIt’s the season to start shopping, which means it’s also the year to get creative and find places to hide those Christmas presents. When you get home from the store, you’re likely to have mounds of gifts, unwrapped, that need to be kept from curious eyes (adults included). While you might find it impossible to locate a good hiding spot in your apartment, you’d be surprised at how many options there are for keeping those gifts out of sight.

The Trunk of Your Car Works

The trunk or cargo area of your car is a good hiding spot for those unwrapped gifts. If your gift recipients have frequent access to those areas, try stuffing them under the seats where they won’t be seen. Use the trunk or cargo area just for temporary storage — until your recipients are away long enough for you to sneak them out and wrap them up.

Try Under the Bed

Most people don’t look under their beds, which is why they’re an ideal spot for hiding gifts. If you have little ones, hide them under your bed where they’re unlikely to find them. For your spouse or partner, hide the gifts under your side of the bed or the kid or guest room beds. If your couch or sofa chair has enough clearance, tuck them under far enough where they can’t be seen, but where you can still reach them for wrapping later.

Under the Sink is an Idea

Under the sink is a good hiding spot if you’re the only one that goes in there. You can always disguise it by covering it with a few (clean) cleaning towels and putting other items in front of it. Just store it in a back corner where it won’t get wet — just in case your sink decides to leak that day.

Gift Wrap at the Store

If there just isn’t any space to hide your gifts in your unit, there’s always gift wrapping at the store. These days stores make gift wrapping affordable — sometimes less than $5 per gift! To save money don’t have the gift wrapped with all of the bells and whistles. Just have the gift wrapped with paper and add the bows yourself at home. Some stores, like Toys R’ Us, have self-serving gift wrap stations. While the wrapping paper is branded, it’s free to use and lets you wrap the gift right there in the store. You can always wrap it with another layer of Christmas paper once you get it home.

Get creative with there you hide your gifts and look around your house for ideas. Before you know it you’ll have plenty of spaces to stuff a gift until you can wrap it. If you’re the only one who cooks, put a few gifts inside the oven or in with the mixing bowls until you can get them wrapped. It doesn’t matter how small your unit is, there are always places to keep those gifts hidden until wrapping day.

Dec 2013