Every landlord has had the feeling at one time or another that a prospective Northeast Florida tenant may not be a good choice. Call it a hunch, or intuition—but something tells you that this tenant may be trouble down the road. There is more than enough riding on the decision to make you want to pay attention to your instincts, but that’s where being aware of the dos and don’ts of tenant management comes into play. You need to protect your business and property, but in so doing, you also need to heed outside factors.
Chief among those factors is the housing laws and regulations. This is a realm where there’s no shortage of fine print—and since I don’t offer legal advice, we needn’t wade into the technical weeds. But there are some common sense concepts that should shed light on the subject.
One of the key things to remember is that it is frowned upon to arbitrarily accept or reject tenants based on personal preferences or whims. Of course, a landlord does own the property whose use the tenant is asking to borrow, but nevertheless, most people understand why anti-discrimination laws have been created. Some feel they go too far—some, that they don’t go far enough—but at any rate, one fact is indisputable: ignoring the rules can have bad consequences.
One easy-to-follow idea is to prepare your own written standards for accepting prospective Northeast Florida tenants (standards that are certain to not contravene discrimination guidelines). Another that is universally considered good practice is to require every applicant to fill out an application form with the kind of information that state and federal guidelines allow. When everyone is required to complete an application in full, failing to do so becomes grounds for rejection. The kinds of information should be relevant to the landlord’s business needs; and the standards may be high or low, as long as they are evaluated evenly for every applicant. Some common criteria:
- Prospective tenants should never have been evicted from a property.
- Prospective tenants should have a credit score above a certain level
- They should have no record of any judgments having been levied against them for failure to pay utilities.
- They should have proof of employment and enough income to reliably pay rent (the national average income level is 3 times rent).
- Prospective tenants should supply references from previous landlords—references that can be verified over the phone.
Of course, none of this means a landlord is required to rent to just anyone who comes by. The key is to define the ideal tenant, make sure that ideal isn’t based on random discriminatory criteria (like race or sex or religion)—and then to adhere to a consistent evaluation process. And the fact is, the potential financial rewards should more than compensate for heeding the basic ground rules.
If you will be taking a look at the inviting opportunities that Northeast Florida income properties currently offer, I’d like to show you some of the best ones. Give me a call!