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Leasing 101: A Comprehensive Guide For Property Investors

Landlord and Tenant Discussing Lease AgreementBuying and owning single-family rental properties in Hanover County is a good and rewarding investment. But unlike other types of investments, there are many things to consider in investing your property in the leasing business. Suppose you are a Hanover County rental property owner preparing to lease for the first time. In that case, it is important to first fully understand the basics of leasing strategies and, even more importantly, the laws related that will apply to you and your tenant. To easily understand the principles and techniques of leasing, we’ve put together a comprehensive guide covering the basics. By following a few simple guidelines, you are more likely to make your first experience in this business easier.

Screening Process Basics

The most important step in leasing your rental property is finding a suitable renter. And the way to do that is to have a good screening process for each applicant. You’ll need to gather useful information from your prospective tenant to help you determine whether they are the ones you’re looking for. In gathering information for a possible tenant, you may request that they fill out an application that contains the names, birthdates for all intended occupants, including those under 18, five years of employment history, at least three references, Social Security numbers for all adult tenants and other important details about them. It is also advised to run a background check on each one of them, or call and verify the information of their application. If possible, contact any previous landlords and get details on their renting history. It may take some time, but the more research you do before you sign that lease, the less likely you will encounter unpleasant surprises in the future.

Avoiding Discrimination

As you advertise for and screen renters, it’s important to avoid discriminating against potential tenants, even unintentionally. It is illegal to discriminate against a tenant based on factors like race, sex, color, national origin, religion, handicap, and familial status; note there may be other protected classes dependant on your state’s laws. As you create your rental ads, be careful to avoid using language that might qualify as discrimination, such as stating you will not rent to people with children or those who live on government assistance. Then, as you collect applications and screen tenants, fairly assess your applicants based on the information they provide and not on other criteria. By maintaining professionalism and using an unbiased screening system, you can stay clear of discriminating against any potential renters.

Understanding Reasonable Accommodations

Similarly, it is important not to assume that someone with a disability is automatically not a good candidate for your rental property. Under the Federal Fair Housing Act, property owners are required to make “reasonable accommodations” for their tenants, should they be required. By definition, a reasonable accommodation is “a change, exception, or adjustment to a rule, policy, practice, or service that may be necessary for a person with a disability to have an equal opportunity to use and enjoy a dwelling.” If your prospective tenant otherwise meets the criteria for renting your property, accommodation should not be a reason to turn them down. In some cases, the accommodation a tenant requests may be something they will install and pay for themselves, with the understanding that they will return the property to its original condition upon move-out. In other situations, the tenant may request an accommodation from you that, if deemed reasonable, you will need to allow. This includes allowing service and emotional support animals in the rental property, even if you have a strict policy forbidding pets.

Finally, it’s important to know that there may be different and additional Landlord/Tenant laws that apply in other cities or neighborhoods. Before leasing your property, you should take the time to research all applicable laws in your area and craft your processes in line with them.

Knowing all the laws and best practices of leasing rental properties can be a challenge. Why not entrust this important task to a Hanover County property manager? At Real Property Management Richmond Metro, we offer clear and anti-discriminatory screening and leasing services that help our rental property owners find the best possible tenants for their properties. Contact us today or give us a call at 804-417-7005 to learn more.

We are pledged to the letter and spirit of U.S. policy for the achievement of equal housing opportunity throughout the Nation. See Equal Housing Opportunity Statement for more information.

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