Archive for February, 2011

Eviction Attorney – How Do You Find a Good One?

If you are serious about managing rental property, you will need a good eviction attorney on your team.  This article will give you some tips on just how to find a good eviction attorney. In a previous article we posed the question:  How do you collect rent?  And the answer was three things; !Get a Good Eviction Attorney, 2. Get a Good Eviction Attorney and 3. Get a good Eviction Attorney!  Gee, that is all well and good but how do you find a good eviction attorney?  Let’s start there.

We recommend that, if at all possible, you need to go from personal reference; from a friend or your local Board of Realtors or Apartment Association.   If that isn’t a possibility for you then check your local yellow pages or search the web in your area.  Once you have the names there are three things you will want to make sure of: 1. That they only do evictions (unlawful detainers) or at least it is a regular part of their business.  You don’t want a family law attorney who will do one for you “this time”. 

Your eviction attorney should be well versed at the ins and outs of evictions, changes in the law and so on.  if they are not, when pitted against a “professional Tenant” (a Tenant who know the laws and how to navigate between them) they will lose you valuable time in getting your property back.  Next, check their references.  You want to make sure that they have done a good job for others they have done work for.  Remember, you aren’t necessarily looking for a “nice” eviction attorney…they need to be tough and assertive.  Our eviction attorney wasn’t particularly nice to us…but he was good at his craft!  Finally the third thing is to have your eviction attorney in place BEFORE you even rent your property . . . or at lease before you need them.  As we discussed in our article “Collecting Rent” having the eviction attorney is essential in collecting rent if you have a Tenant that is slow to pay…he will help to back up any threats (promises)  you have to make to your Tenants.

In summary: when looking for an eviction attorney, just you would in any trade; you want to find the best expert you can to be on your team.  Be sure they are well versed in evictions (or unlawful detainers).

To view a short video on this same subject go to:


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Rental Property – Collecting Rent

Collecting rent is really the “Ground Zero” of managing your rental property.  If you are not receiving rent from your Tenant, then you can’t pay your mortgage, do maintenance (at lease not from your rent revenues) . . . . it can put quite a strain on the whole rental property system.

 Collecting rent is really one of the main focuses of managing rental properties.  After all, if you are not collecting rent, then a whole other set of actions have to come into play, like evictions and so on.  But before you get to that point, when your tenants are not paying their rent on time, many times, they need some prodding or “encouragement”.  The form of this “encouragement” that I recommend is issuing a “Three Day Notice to Pay Rent or Quit” which, essentially is a threat.  I am telling my tenant that if you don’t pay rent within three days, I am going to evict you. 

 First of all, let’s talk about what the three day notice to pay rent or quit really is; as I said before, it is a threat.  I like to think of it more like a promise . . . here is my resolve . . . this is the hill that I am willing to die on.  This is my business, and I am sorry if you are having problems paying rent but if you don’t, then I will have to start the eviction process.  The Three Day Notice is really much more than a threat or a promise; in many states, it is a legal requirement.  In many states you cannot start the eviction process unless you can prove that you have served the Three Day Notice AND three business days have passed since you did serve the notice.

 We are all familiar with the mother who makes the ever-familiar threat to her kids: “I’m counting to three . . . don’t let me get to three!”.  She is threatening them with who knows what if she should ever get from 2-1/2  to 2-3/4 all the way to three!  Just like that mom, we have to be prepared to act on our threat or just save ourselves the effort and let the Tenant be in charge of paying rent whenever they please.  This is why I strongly recommend that you have a good relationship with a reputable eviction attorney . . . to back up your threat should you need to.

 We have initiated the eviction process many times but followed through all the way to a full eviction very few times.  Again, having that relationship with a good eviction attorney is worth it’s weight in gold when it comes to showing your resolve to your Tenants.   Keep in mind, now that we have started the process, we have incurred some attorney fees and the Tenant will have to pay his rent, any late fees AND whatever the attorney fees at that time in order to be reinstated and stop the eviction process.

 In summary, you will have to show your resolve to your Tenants when it comes to collecting rent.  Having a good eviction attorney on your team is a good way to show them you mean business!

 To view a short video on this same subject go to:

 The subjects of collecting rent, three day notices and eviction are covered extensively in the new Property Management Training Program; Manage to Make Money . . . . the Real Estate Series.  This new series has been developed around the book: “Manage to make Money . . . Your Guide to Profitably Managing Rental Properties – 2nd Edition” written by Pat and Kris Larkin.

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Few of us would ever allow our Tenants to move in before their lease begins but . . . many of us do unwittingly!

 Would you ever knowingly allow your Tenant to move into your property early?  Perhaps unwittingly.

Think about this scenario for a minute:  You have rented your property and the lease begins on the 1st of the month which is a Sunday.  For our convenience, many times, we may be inclined to give the Tenants the keys on a Friday or Saturday, so that we don’t have to do it early Sunday morning.  What happens so many times is that the Tenant is excited about their new place and now that they have the keys they go by just for a look . . . just to “breathe it in”.  When they get there, they remember those two boxes in the back of the car . . . “Gee, if I get those out, then I can start with an empty car on moving day.” Once those boxes go from their car to the house or condo, technically, they have “moved in”!

Now, let me ask you, what is the effective for their renter’s insurance?  Chances are, it doesn’t take effect until the 1st.  why would it start sooner?  Without that date (the now NEW move in date) being covered in their lease or their renter’s insurance being in effect . . . you, the Landlord, are liable for any damage, or injuries they may occur during that time between when they moved the boxes in until the lease start date on the lease!

To solve this issue, we always wrote the lease to begin on the day we gave them the keys and, required the Tenant to have their renter’s insurance effective on that date also.  You don’t necessarily need to charge them for the extra days rent . . . just cover yourself legally and from a liability perspective.

In summary, think through the date relating to move in dates and “possible” move in dates.  You might just save yourself some heartache.

 To view a video on this same subject click on this link:

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Screening prospective Tenants can be difficult but here are a couple of tips that will help you to minimize your risk of getting a bad Tenant.

 One of the main elements in screening your Tenants is to get a credit report. There are many other ways to check out your tenants but a credit report will do the best job of surfacing potential issues in their ability to pay rent and in general will help you to sort through your applicants. You can get a credit report in a couple of different ways; First, is to have your prospective Tenants run their own credit report. But be careful, free credit reports are available but rarely have a credit score. A credit score is key. Without the credit score you are subjected to reading through reams of credit information… some good and some not so good and having to figure out if this applicant is a good risk or not. The credit score will do all of that for you. Secondly, you can find many companies on the web that you can sign up with to run credit reports for your applicants. These companies will of course check you out first to be sure that you are trustworthy enough to be dealing with such sensitive information and that you will get the proper authorizations from your applicants.

 As to what credit scores are good and bad; that depends on your market but I can give you some very rough ideas: a stellar credit score is 800+ and a score in the 500 range is going to be due to a lot of late payments, possibly judgments or even a bankruptcy.  If you are renting high-end properties, you probably would not want a Tenant with a credit score below 700.  If you are renting blue collar properties or low income properties scores in the 600’s would be “golden”!

 In summary, a credit report will “tell the tale” about your Tenants. Be careful though not to be too restrictive; these are tough economic times we live in and you need to hear everyone’s “story”.

 To view a short video on this subject go to:

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What do you do when need to access your rental property but are unable to coordinate schedules with your Tenants?  There are times when you need to get into your property to make repairs, show it to prospective Tenants, show it to prospective buyers or just to inspect the property and you can’t get a hold of your Tenants. We suggest that you go by the property and post it with a “24 Hour Notice of Entry” This is a legal document which tells the Tenant that in approximately 24 hours, you will be coming into the property to; and then you state your purpose.

 Now you have to be judicious with the use of the 24 hour notice and not use it every week to go into your property. Your Tenant is entitled to the quiet use and enjoyment of the property. If you are using the notice to have repairs done… always accompany your workmen into the property. Also, it is a best practice that if/when you enter a Tenant’s property, that you have someone accompany you. In our our litigious world, this is for your own protection. It is also a good idea to try to contact your Tenant “one more time” before you enter the property. Also, document all the attempts you made to reach them or access the property.

 You will be amazed at how when your Tenant receives their 24 Hour notice, they are miraculously available to meet you there!

 In conclusion If you can’t reach your Tenant for access to the property, post a 24-Hour Notice of Entry, document all attempts to communicate with them and be sure that you accompany your workers when you/they go in.

 For our 24 Hour Notice of Entry form or more down-to-earth tips on how to effectively manage your rental property, visit our web site at: or call at 949-689-4344.

 To view a short video on this same subject go to:

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I remember the first time I heard the statement “The only thing in life that is constant is change it was quite an epiphany for me.  After all, in many cases, we would all love to keep things the way they are and in managing rental properties it is no different.

We all know that changes will also come along when it comes to our rental properties . . . changing of Tenants (typically in a roommate situation), extending the lease, allowing a pet and requiring a pet deposit or changing the amount of rent (typically along with the extension of the lease.)  What about taking care of the legal side of these changes?  Do you have to completely re-write the lease and all the documents that go with it (gee, I hope not!)?  Well, the answer is NO!  In fact, we strongly recommend that all of the original documents stay just exactly as they were when they were first executed.  Changing everything only increases your chance of making an error or an omission . . . there are simply too many little check boxes and blanks to fill in to hope to get them all exactly as they were on the original.  So what to do?  We have found a document that makes dealing with all of these changes literally a “piece of cake” and it is a “Change of Terms”.

The Change of Terms actually relies on and embraces the original lease documents and it’s language is very simple.  The Change of Terms state: “All terms and conditions of the lease for the property: 123 Change Street, Beautiful California, (your property’s address),  Dated January 1, 2020 (original date of your lease document)remain unchanged except for the following: (this is where you spell out the change): The term of the lease has been extended until December 31, 2022, and the rent amount effective January 1, 2021 will be $2,050.00 per month.”  Everyone signs and dates and life is great!

In summary: Change is nothing to be feared with your rental property.  With the “Change of Terms” you can deal with the change handily and focus your efforts on something more productive like . . . looking for that next property!

If this tip has been helpful to you, please visit our website at: where you may find the “Change of Terms” I spoke of as well as many more tools, tips and techniques for managing your rental property profitably.

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When Kris and I were traveling and staying with some friends, we walked into the room they had prepared for us and on the lamp was an antique looking sign which read:  “Our guest bring us great joy . . . some when they arrive  . . . and others when they leave!”   I felt that way about our Tenants . . . it’s the waiting for the joy at the end!

In the meantime, we are all challenging people to live with . . . some more than most!  We categorize our challenging Tenants into three primary categories: 1.) Students 2.) Entitled Tenants and 3.) Those Tenants who upset the neighbors around them.  In a way, they all have similar attributes . . . they want to live their lives . . . regardless how disruptive to others around them . . . any way they choose.  Many of these Tenants “bully” their way through life . . . pushing their way through.  Our tip for dealing with all types of challenging Tenants is to show respect to them, but also show your resolve.  Be assertive in requiring that they go by the same rules that most others on the planet go by.  One strategy we have developed is our “No” letter.  Very basically it just says very respectfully: “Thank you mister Tenant for sharing your concern with us.  At this time however, we will not be able to meet your expectation due to (and state your practical or legal reason from their lease).  Another approach if they are disturbing their neighbors or causing damage to the property is to threaten them with a notice to comply with their lease or move and I can promise you that they won’t like either approach.  But with your resolve . . . you will get this challenging situation under control.

If this posting has been helpful to you, please visit our website at: where you can find our “No” letter as well as  many more tools, tips and techniques for managing your rental property profitably.

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We recommend that you include a “pet clause” (pun intended!) in every lease or rental agreement you enter into. It doesn’t matter whether or not you allow pets in your property . . . always include language concerning conditions for having a pet. If you don’t allow pets and you lease it with that condition, Tenants have been known to bring pets in anyway (say it isn’t true!). Seriously, a Tenant may get the emotional tug at their heart strings by a cute, sad-eyed puppy and they simply can’t resist. They buy the dog and decide to hide it from you. If that dog . . . especially if it is a puppy, causes damage to your rental property, and you have no terms and conditions the Tenants have agreed to, recouping costs for repairing damage caused by the animal can become fuzzy at best. If you allow pets and your Tenant signs your agreement regarding pets all the better!

For our lease addendum form including a pet clause with “teeth” (sorry, I couldn’t resist) or more tips on how to effectively manage your investment property, visit our web site at: or call 949-689-4344.

See the Video:

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ALWAYS Collect Move in Funds in “Real Money”

Always collect move-in monies from your Tenant in “Real Money” When you have a Tenant getting ready to move into your property, typically you will trade them the keys to the property for their final balances due; deposits and first month’s rent.  Always collect these funds in what we call “real money” . . . cashier’s check or money order.  Unscrupulous Tenants have been known to pay their move-in funds with a personal check, get their keys and stop payment on their check.  Then the Landlord (you) have given possession to the Tenant, have no money, no income and a couple of months of legal wrangling to look forward to before you can get your property back.  And don’t forget about the make ready costs to market your property again!

See the video:

 For more tips and forms and educational tools to help you to effectively manage your rental property, visit our web site at: or call 949-689-4344.

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