'3D Realty Handshake' photo (c) 2007, Scott Maxwell - license: //creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/

January 15, 2013
When it comes to crafting a lease agreement, every landlord or property management firm has to write it in terms that protect the real estate investment. But the smart landlord or property management firm must also make sure the document accommodates the interests of the new tenant. This is vital if a strong relationship is to be built with the new client.

Of course, there are the basic considerations any savvy property owner must take into consideration before drafting the lease agreement. These include understanding: the Fair Housing Act and how it applies to your rental; proper screening of the tenant so as to avoid deadbeat tenants; state rental laws; and the eviction process.

However, other not so obvious considerations exist that are important towards clarifying the relationship with the tenant. Here are three such points:

  1. Write in a Moving In and Moving Out Procedure: Devising a clearly defined moving in and moving out procedure will help make the whole process easier for both you and the tenant. Be sure to mention that the state of the rental unit both before and after the tenancy will be checked against a comprehensive walk-through checklist. This consists of a document that will be used by the landlord or property management firm to walk through the rental unit with the tenant and document the state of the unit upon move-in and move-out.
  2. Include Performance Incentives: It is standard practice to link a fee to tardy rent payments. However, property managers can encourage timely rents by offering a reward for early rent payment, renewing for a longer term period, and/or any other tenant behavior you want to incentivize. Rewards can range from simple rent discounts to a more complex point system where tenants earn points that can be exchanged for rebates, updates to the rental unit, gift cards, etc.
  3. Continually Work with At Least Two Good Contractors: Landlords and property managers need to establish a relationship with at least one licensed contractor who can manage large jobs, and one inexpensive handyman who can affordably take care of minor jobs.  Don’t wait until a tenants’ air conditioning system stops working in July, or the ceiling collapses, to start moving on finding a contractor. The time it takes for a property owner to find and hire a reliable contractor will undoubtedly cost the rental unit owner money. To avoid this, be smart and establish and test contractor relationships before you actually need their services so that when the time comes, all you have to do is make a phone call to have the problem worked on immediately.