Landlords: 6 Things to Do Before You Rent

key passed from landlord to tenantThere’s more to owning a rental property than marketing your house or apartment building—especially if you want to avoid legal headaches later. Complete these tasks before your tenant move in day to make the renting process smooth for you and your tenants.

Make repairs.

If you want to prevent future issues, and to attract potential tenants, the property should be in good working order. Before you rent out your apartment, test the major systems to ensure they are functional: heat, air conditioning, plumbing, electrical system. Check any part of the home that involves health and safety, such as smoke detectors, exits, etc.

Make or schedule any repairs that need to be done before the tenant moves in. If the repairs are in progress, let the potential tenants know that the repairs are going to be done and the timeline for completion.

Clean.

Rental properties should be cleaned before the tenants move in, especially areas where repairs have been made. If you don’t have the time, hire a cleaning service to give the home a deep clean, especially the bathroom and kitchen.

Document.

Taking photos and keeping good records is an integral part of renting out a property. After all repairs are made and cleaning is complete, take photos of every room. Keep records of every repair made, such as receipts and inspection forms. Filing away documentation and maintaining proper records is an important part of being a landlord and can save you from many headaches later.

Vet potential tenants.

What the landlord can do varies from state to state, and sometimes from year to year depending on current laws (contact a lawyer for more information). In Wisconsin, landlords can do a background check with the potential tenant’s permission as long as they provide the tenant with the results. If you want to know what vetting procedures you can do legally, contact a lawyer for what current laws specify.

Review the lease.

A lease needs to meet all local legal standards (which varies from state to state) without placing additional undue burdens on the landlord. Be wary of online lease templates that put extra work on your shoulders; instead consult a local lawyer for a lease that fits both criteria. Go through the lease thoroughly with the tenants. When potential tenants have signed the lease, provide them with a copy and file the original with other records.

Collect.

Before move in day, collect the first month’s rent and security deposit (unless the tenant is waiting on government assistance). If you haven’t already, provide the tenant with a copy of the signed lease and a copy of the background check. A little due diligence now, along with expert advice, can save you funds and headaches in the future.

The materials on this website are provided for informational purposes only and do not constitute legal advice. These materials are intended, but not promised or guaranteed to be current, complete, or up-to-date and should in no way be taken as an indication of future results. Transmission of the information is not intended to create, and the receipt does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship between sender and receiver. You should not act or rely on any information contained in this website without first seeking the advice of an attorney.

Time for a Will? 5 Things You Need to Get Started

Estate planning worksheet for writing a willIt’s never too late (or too early) to get a will drafted for the good of you and your family. A will is one of the most important (or the most important) documents in your estate plan, both for asset distribution and as direction during very difficult time. This significant estate planning document can also become a vehicle for organizing your assets in preparation for the next phase of your life (i.e. establishing a trust, etc.) Because of its importance, it’s not a document to procrastinate drafting or to draft using a generic template.

Instead, contact a local lawyer who can produce a legal document in line with local and state regulations and conditions. To make the process extremely efficient, have these key pieces of information ready for the lawyer and for inclusion in your will.

List of assets

Not every asset needs to be included in your will, but you should have major assets listed. Do an inventory of your assets (including bank accounts, lock box contents, items in safe, properties, etc.), and be prepared to give your lawyer a list of major assets.

Beneficiaries

Once you’ve compiled a list of assets, it’s time to decide who gets them when you pass. Your lawyer needs a list of beneficiaries and their personal information (i.e. social security numbers, address, etc.) If you want to be very precise about certain items and who receives them, decide that information before you visit your attorney so you can provide very exact directions in your will.

Executor

An executor is named in your will to carry out your instructions. For that reason, choose your executor carefully; your executor should be a responsible individual (not necessarily a family member) who can follow your instructions and deal with any estate issues that arise.

Guardian

If you have any minors in your care, you’ll need to name a guardian to care for them. Bring the name of the guardian, as well as personal information about the individual, so the person can be named. If you want to leave any assets for your minors’ care, spell out those instructions to your lawyer.

Any other instructions

Specific instructions, even if they don’t fit one of the above categories, should be included in your will. For example, if you don’t want certain family members named as beneficiaries, that should be spelled out so the courts don’t see it as an oversight.

The materials on this website are provided for informational purposes only and do not constitute legal advice. These materials are intended, but not promised or guaranteed to be current, complete, or up-to-date and should in no way be taken as an indication of future results. Transmission of the information is not intended to create, and the receipt does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship between sender and receiver. You should not act or rely on any information contained in this website without first seeking the advice of an attorney.