One of the best reasons to hire a professional property management company is to protect yourself from the liability that’s involved any time you rent out a property to tenants. There are a lot of legal requirements that pertain to landlords and a property management company can make sure you are compliant.
A qualified tenant will greatly reduce your liability and that’s why tenant screening is so important. You need to take a careful look at credit history, past payments for mortgages or rent, criminal backgrounds and employment history. Property managers will help you establish consistent rental criteria and make it available to prospective tenants before they submit an application. The same criteria must be consistently applied to all applicants. Tenants will know whether they are qualified before they apply and everyone will save themselves time and money. Property managers have the tools and resources available to conduct thorough background checks, and the process goes a lot faster.
You need to know how much of a security deposit to collect. It should be a reasonable amount and affordable for tenants, and it also needs to be sufficient to cover any normal costs or damages at the time a tenant vacates the property. Your property manager can help you determine what is reasonable. Many property owners are not familiar with the laws regarding how security deposits are held. Washington State law requires that security deposits are kept in a separate trust account. Property management companies will keep that money separate and ensure a proper move-in inspection is conducted and signed by the tenant.
Regular inspections will also help you reduce the liability at your rental property. A good property manager will schedule inspections and do a thorough job of checking out the inside and outside of the property. There might be minor maintenance issues that need attention and if the tenant isn’t aware of them or hasn’t reported them, they can grow into larger problems. At Brink Property Management, we recommend inspections every six months. This is frequent enough to keep our eyes on the property but not invasive to your tenant’s privacy. The goal is to make sure the home is being maintained well.
Fair Housing Laws
Federal, state and local fair housing laws must be followed from the point of advertising your property until the moment that your tenant moves out and the security deposit is returned. If you do not understand the laws, you can get into trouble. A professional property manager understands the laws and stays updated on any changes and applications of those laws.