Getting Your Security Deposit Back

Landlord Sofware

When moving into a new apartment, there are several move-in related activities to think about. For example, it’s expected that you provide your first month’s rent and a security deposit upon move in. Your lease terms will provide you with details on your security deposit, but by and large security deposits are refundable based on the condition of the apartment when you move-out. Typical lease terms will indicate that the security deposit will be used for damages that go beyond normal wear and tear. But as you can see, there is a lot of room for interpretation with this type of general language. How can you get your security deposit back? We have a few simple steps that will increase the likelihood that you’ll see green upon move out.

When you move in:

#1 Video! Take a video the condition of the apartment.

By taking a video of the apartment upon move-in, you’ll have a record of the current condition of the apartment. Ensure you capture all rooms, and any specific areas of the apartment where the condition isn’t optimal. For example, if there is a stain on the carpet, or a mark on the flooring. Other examples might include a ding in a door, or a mark on a wall. By capturing the move-in condition, you’ll be able to remind your landlord should they attempt to charge you for these less than optimal conditions upon move out.

#2 Walk-through

Prior to moving your personal items into the apartment, ask your landlord to walk through the apartment with you. Ask them to take photos of the property, and to provide you with details on what they expect the condition of the apartment to be upon move out.  Many landlords will provide new tenants with a move-in inventory or checklist, where you are able to note the condition of the property when moving in. If your landlord is completing the checklist, ensure you are there, and have influence on how the checklist is completed.

If you find there are items that are in a state of disrepair, ask your landlord to fix them as soon as possible. Provide your landlord with a written list of items that may need repair, as most landlords are likely to act quickly on these items when you first move in.

The above tips help ensure an accurate account of the apartment when you move-in. To best ensure you get as much as your deposit returned as possible, there are also move-out steps – beyond leaving the apartment clean.

Moving Out

#1 Be out on time.

When giving your notice to vacate your apartment, ensure you are familiar with your lease terms. Most agreements indicate that written notice is required by the last day of the month prior. As you will continue to remain in the apartment through the last month, your rent payment for that last month will still be due. Landlord software, such as Schedule My Rent, enables tenants to pay rent online each month – without the hassle of paper checks and postal processing times.

Why does vacating the apartment on-time help you get your deposit back? Well, your landlord will charge you for any time you remain in the apartment, beyond your move out date. Some leases also charge a premium or fee for late departures.

By moving out on time, your landlord is able to immediately begin any updates or repairs as well.

#2 Move-out walk-through.

Just as you were part of the move-in process, you’ll want to ensure you are present for the move-out walk-through. Once a tenant moves out, the landlord will assess the state of the apartment, look for any damages, and any charges associated with cleaning the apartment. By physically being there for the walk-through, the landlord can share any possible actions you can take to improve the current state of the apartment to potentially get more of your deposit back. For example, if you mounted a large TV onto a wall in your apartment, leaving sizeable holes in the wall, the landlord may allow you to repair the wall and apply touch up paint. This may save the incremental cost that might be associated with the landlord hiring a painter to do the work.

#3 Follow your landlord’s cleaning checklist.

Many landlords provide specific instructions related to cleaning the apartment at move-out time. Follow these instructions to ensure your deposit is returned. If the list of items is important to your landlord, it will impact your deposit.

Some landlords provide very specific move-out cleaning expectations, which help provide clarity on expectations. However, ensure the expectations are reasonable. One of our tenants expressed a situation where the landlord expected quite a list of move-out cleaning activities, beyond what might be expected from another landlord. It’s important to understand your landlord’s interpretation of normal wear and tear, as well as cleaning expectations. Speak with them if you find the expectations aren’t in alignment and determine how to adjust, and document the expectations.

#4 Provide your forwarding address.

While it would be great to receive your security deposit during the move-out walk-through, most state laws allow the landlord between 15-45 days to return the deposit. Check your state laws for specifics. As landlords typically do not return the deposit in person, provide your landlord with your new address, and change it with the USPS to ensure the deposit will make it to your new address.

What else influences the return of your deposit?

#1 Unpaid rent.

Check your lease terms to determine how your landlord might apply your security deposit to any unpaid rent. Many leases indicate that the security deposit can be used to cover any unpaid amounts due to the landlord, including unpaid rent, late fees or bills due. Prior to moving out, ensure you are up-to-date on any amounts due to your landlord. If your landlord is using landlord software to collect rent online, such as Schedule My Rent, having visibility to the status of your payments is easy. With Schedule My Rent, tenants can see automatically any rent due, late fees due, or other payments the landlord is expecting you to pay. Schedule My Rent will also keep you updated, by providing email reminders and receipts for any payments you’ve made.

Collect Rent Online

#2 Cleaning.

If your landlord finds it’s necessary to hire cleaning professionals after you’ve vacated the apartment, you’ll likely be charged for this. By ensuring you’ve left the apartment in move-in ready condition, you’ll receive more of your security deposit back.

#3 Normal Wear and Tear.

While your landlord cannot charge you for normal wear and tear on the apartment, they can charge you for anything that goes above and beyond normal wear and tear. Clarify this with your landlord upon move out. An example might be if you’ve painted a wall a bright color, or if you’ve stained the carpeting.

A few key actions on your part can help you receive more of your security deposit when you move out. By talking with your landlord, and understanding expectations, much of the uncertainty can be avoided. In addition, by having a full picture of your rent payment status, through landlord software such as Schedule My Rent, you can ensure you are paid up, avoiding any late fees that might be deducted from your deposit.

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Benefits of Having Tenants Pay Rent Online

Managing rental properties can be a real balancing act. The biggest headache is your ability to collect rent totally and on-time. Partnering with Schedule My Rent takes away majority of the stresses due to collecting rent in person.

Majority of landlords prefer online rent collection for this reason. At the same time, there are a growing number of tenants who prefer this system as well. Especially younger renters, who are completely out of touch with licking envelopes, writing checks and sending payments through the mail.

Switching tenants to pay rent online has many benefits to both landlords and renters.

Some of these online payment benefits include:

-Setting up recurring or one-time payments

-Property management service for landlords

-Directly deposits rent into your bank accounts

-Tracks rent, bills, and fees for tenants

With payment options and reminders for both landlords and tenants, late rent payments are decreased. This serves the landlord because rent is paid on-time and the renter receives no late fees. Both sides are happy and it is a win-win for renters and landlords. Scheduling rent payments online also minimizes the use of paper and this makes for a greener and more environmentally friendly transaction.

Ultimately, having tenants pay rent online provides greater visibility and tracking of all rent transactions. Increasing the accountability; limits the room for excuses on late payments and no payments by the renter. The benefit of landlords and tenants receiving status updates in real-time minimizes any disagreements between one or two people.

As with any new system, it takes a few times to get used to. Paying rent online with Schedule My Rent is easy to set up and use for both tenants and landlords. We help landlords get paid regularly and on-time and help renters pay their rent on-time.

Contact Schedule My Rent today to learn more about the benefits of having tenants pay online and adopting the new online rent payment system.

Property Management Software Review

Why Use Property Management Software?

Property managers have many responsibilities. Organizing lease applications, when rent payments are due, late payments, maintenance requests, vacancy listings, and many more. Managing this list and on can be difficult at times and requires establishing some method of balanced organization.

An online property management tool provided by Schedule My Rent is an easier way to balance all these tasks and accountabilities. Property management software provided by Schedule My Rent helps organize many of these jobs, freeing up property managers time to focus on more important decisions.

Schedule My Rent helps to automate your to-do list. Our goal at Schedule My Rent is to help our clients concentrate on building profitable real estate management companies. Our tools are efficient. Some benefits and features of property management software provided by Schedule My Rent include:

  • Effective and easy to use system
  • Better communication between renters and property managers
  • One–stop-shop for rent and vendor payments
  • Task Management option

Some of our current clients in property management manage thousands of units, this includes a team of cleaning crews, maintenance workers, office staff, and leasing agents. By adding a task management tool like the one provided by Schedule My Rent, they are able to control day-to-day activities and control projects in and around the properties.

Schedule My Rent also offers powerful tools to help you with:

  • Customizing a lease
  • Increasing or Decreasing Rent
  • Adding or Removing room-mates

Property management software provided by Schedule My Rent is geared to help property managers everywhere to manage hundreds of tenants, a large staff, and several properties. We are here to make your job and life easier!

To learn more about property management software provided by Schedule My Rent visit us & learn more about its features, pricing and demos.

Creating Loyal Tenants

Loyal Tenants

Many tenants are satisfied with their leasing experience, but is satisfied good enough? Satisfied tenants feel that their basic renting expectations are met, such as a working AC and a kept up building. This tenant isn’t looking for anything beyond the status quo. But what if your tenant was truly loyal? What would that look like? A loyal tenant is one that sings your property praises to those they work and socialize with. They encourage others to contact you to see if you have any upcoming apartments available. They promote your services, property and brand to others, through social media and word of mouth. How great is that? As you can imagine, this type of loyal tenant can increase your revenue, save you time, and increase the value of your investments.

Now, how can you turn your satisfied tenants into loyal tenants? A few actions on your part, as a landlord, can increase the likelihood that your tenants will refer others to you.

#1 Spend a Few Minutes

Meet with your tenants at move-in time, spend 20-30 minutes sharing the features of the property, answering questions and making them feel welcome. Do this at move-out as well – ensure tenants are familiar with move-out procedures, and use this time to gain their input.

Many of our landlords with loyal tenants ensure they walk around their property and casually speak with residents who might be outside.  This is an easy way to make a personal connection.Your tenants want to feel valued and appreciated. With a quick “hello”, and a friendly conversation, tenants will feel a personal connection with you and their apartment home.

#2 Survey Your Current Tenants

Survey? Yes. Understanding your current tenant’s loyalty factor is a key step in making improvements. By gauging your tenant’s likes, dislikes, what’s working and what isn’t, you gain an understanding of your opportunities to make the tenant’s experience better. How can you survey? Consider a few options: a quarterly email to tenants asking for areas of improvement, a personal call on a periodic basis, or feedback tools on your website. Some landlords engage online survey tools, such as SurveyMonkey for periodic feedback.

By asking where you can improve, tenants gain a sense that you care and are invested in them.

#3 A Great Response

Now that you have input on what you can do better as a landlord or property manager, ensure you respond quickly with a follow-up email to let your tenant know you’ve received their feedback.  Set a policy that you will respond to feedback or questions within 24 hours. Nothing is worse than asking for feedback and doing nothing with it! So, at minimum, acknowledge the suggested improvements. When possible, share with the tenant your next steps to improve on their recommendations.

What if you can’t make a suggested change? If your tenants are asking for a new pool, and you can’t pull that off – share with the tenants other options. This might include a negotiated discounted rate a nearby gym, or alternative locations closeby to take a swim.

As often as possible, truly consider the suggestions for improvement, and prioritize a few for change.

#4 Make It Easy

The biggest way to create loyalty is to make renting with you as easy as possible.  Providing services that remove any hassles associated with renting is a key step. Landlord software, such as Schedule My Rent, removes the hassles that go along with paper check rent payments.

Many of our landlords share that the biggest source of dissatisfaction with tenants is the rent payment process. When paper checks or money orders are sent, the tenant can’t be sure how long the postal service will take to deliver the payment. This may cause the tenant to incur costly late fees. In some cases, rent payments are lost in the mail, causing concern on both sides, as both parties are unsure what happened to the payment. In this case, the tenant often needs to put a stop payment on the check, again incurring fees.  If you collect rent online with Schedule My Rent, concerns are minimized, as the payment is automatically sent and received.

Collect Rent Online

With Schedule My Rent, your tenants are able to pay rent electronically, saving them time and effort. Schedule My Rent automatically:

  • Reminds tenants that a rent payment is due
  • Allows the tenant to approve payments
  • Provides the tenant with receipt of payment
  • Enables tenants to split payments between roommates

All of these features make it easy for your tenants to pay rent. Schedule My Rent provides them with the assurance that their payment is received on time each month, as the rent payment is pulled from their account on the same day each month. This avoids costly late fees, again improving your tenant’s experience.

Pay Rent Online

Want loyal tenants? A few simple steps can turn your satisfied tenants into loyal tenants. Creating a personal connection with your tenants, seeking feedback and making it easy to rent with you are key elements to creating loyal tenants. A few simple tools, like allowing tenants to pay rent online with Schedule My Rent, save you and your tenants time and effort, and make renting with you, a better experience.

Top 5 Reasons to Collect Rent Online

We know how busy landlords can get and collecting rent in person is often time-consuming and increasingly stressful. The online rent collection service offered by Schedule My Rent is an invaluable tool.

If you are a property owner or landlord we want to help you discover the benefits of collecting rent online.

5 Leading Reasons to Collect Rent Online:

  1. Gives You Your Time Back

Collecting rent in person is tedious. Knocking on doors, driving back and forth to the post office to see if the payment has finally arrived, is inconvenient. Stressing about when payments will be made and when you will make that deposit into your bank account is unnecessary. Partnering with Schedule My Rent is easy to set up and convenient, saving you time to focus your energy elsewhere.

  1. Makes Rent Collection Easier

Collecting rent online makes things easier for landlords and tenants. You can set reminders for yourself and your tenants on when a check is due, and this is all-around more convenient. Another great advantage of online rent collection is that it will keep track of all payments for you.

  1. Safe and Secure Payments

Sending a check in the mail can be a big risk. Checks can be stolen or easily lost. Using Schedule My Rent eliminates that stress. Our rent collection software guarantees a secure online payment. You lessen the risk of identity theft or any personal information getting lost or in the wrong hands.

  1. Increases Business Organization & Overview

Schedule My Rent streamlines the online payment system. The analysis helps you look at the bigger picture of your business and evaluate:

  • Rent due dates
  • Past due charges
  • Record late payments
  • Determine annual profit/loss
  1. Improves Tenant- Landlord Relationship

No one wants to be hassled by their landlord. Scheduling rent payments online is easy to set up for tenants and eliminates the stress of writing a check every month. The monthly reminders and automatic withdrawals helps improve the relationship and lessens any stress between the 2 parties.

There are lots of things to consider when managing properties. Finding a responsible tenant who pays rent on time is one of them. By letting Schedule My Rent collect monthly payments for you, you’re making the process easy on you and your tenants.

If you need an experienced company with online rent scheduling experience, contact Schedule My Rent today!

Key Steps In Collecting a Security Deposit and the First Month’s Rent

Landlord Software

Congratulations! The applicant for your rental property has been screened and approved. As a landlord, there are many things to think about to ensure your tenant is moved in successfully. One of which is how to collect the first month’s rent and the security deposit.  A few steps make this process easy for both you and your new tenant. Let’s cover a few simple tips:

#1 Understand State Laws Regarding Rent Payments and Security Deposits

Landlord-tenant laws are different from state to state. Research the law for your specific state – which will provide rules for how to handle rent payments, security deposits, and move-in fees.

Once you are familiar with the legal side of things, establish lease terms. Your written lease agreement will be based on the laws for your state, and will provide clarity for your tenant on what is expected.  It will also share your responsibilities as a landlord. For example, a very common lease term is around rent payments. Rent payments are typically due on the same day of the month, on a recurring basis, which will be identified in the lease. Grace periods for rent payments will be based on the laws of your state – for many states the grace period is 5 days. This means your tenant will have up to 5 days from the rent due date to pay their rent without incurring a late fee.

When should you collect the first month’s rent? Most landlords will collect rent after the lease is signed, but before the property keys are given to the tenant. Your lease will specify this arrangement, making it easy for both parties to know expectations.

What about the security deposit? Again, your lease terms should stipulate that the first month’s rent and security deposit are required prior to receiving keys to the apartment. Something to note, some state laws require security deposits to be placed in a separate interest-bearing account. Additionally, many state laws indicate that a security deposit cannot be more than one month’s rent, otherwise, the landlord is required to pay interest to the tenant on the security deposit amount. Laws also govern how and when to return security deposits, and valid reasons for keeping part of the deposit.

When collecting the first month’s rent and deposit, make it easy for your new tenant by setting up electronic payments. Landlord software, such as Schedule My Rent, enables landlords to invite new tenants to create an account, and automatically pay rent monthly on the date rent is due. This makes it easy for both landlord and tenant to know that rent is paid, with no need for paper checks, PO boxes, and bank trips.

Can security deposits be paid the same way? Yes. With Schedule My Rent, it’s easy for tenants to pay their security deposit, as well as other payments, such as one-time utility payments, etc.

#2 Discuss Rent and Security Deposit Amounts Before Signing a Lease 

It’s important to ensure your new tenant is aware of the rent amounts and deposit requirements early in the process. Our landlords find that by communicating the rent amount in property marketing sites, such as Zillow, it’s easier to find tenants who can afford the rent payments. However, it still makes sense to communicate the rent and security deposit amounts again before you sign the lease agreement.

First month’s rent and security deposits are typically paid before a tenant moves in. Following are a few steps as you work with your new tenant:

  • Discuss lease terms with your tenant – most landlords have a standard boilerplate lease agreement, which is reviewed with new tenants
  • Sign the lease agreement which will outline the rent and security deposit amount
  • Arrange electronic rent/deposit payments to collect rent online, such as Schedule My Rent
  • Collect the first month’s rent and the security deposit (as separate payments)
  • Provide your tenant with keys
  • Arrange a move-in date

#3 Establish Recurring Online Rent Payments 

Our landlords find the easiest way to collect rent is electronically. Many of our landlords have tried accepting cash and paper checks. Both work, but require more time and energy from both the landlord and the tenant. With cash, landlords take time out of their busy schedule to meet tenants to accept the cash payment in person. This carries a bit of uncertainty with it – has the landlord accurately recorded the amount?  With paper checks, the tenant must write the check, mail the payment, and wait to determine if the check is received and when it is cashed. For the landlord, paper checks typically involve a trip to the PO box to pick up payment envelopes, a trip to the bank to deposit the checks, and manual entry of the payments into a manual tracking tool.

Why not make it easy to take rent payments? With electronic payments, tenants are able to schedule a recurring bank transfer on the day rent is due. When using rental property software, like Schedule My Rent, the tenant receives a receipt of payment via email, and can log-on to the system to see payment receipt. For the landlord, payments are automatically received in their account, no need for trips to the post office and bank. Schedule My Rent provides an industry-leading dashboard, enabling landlords to easily see the status of all rent payments across their full portfolio of properties.

Schedule My Rent easily enables tenants to:

  • Pay directly from their bank account
  • Receive rent reminder emails
  • Set up automatic rent payments, and if desired, approve payments
  • Pay late fees
  • Split payments between roommates

Pay Rent Online

#4What About Pro-Rated Rent Payments?

Prorated rent may be appropriate if a tenant moves into your apartment for a portion the month. For example, if the tenant moves into the apartment on September 15, approximately half of the rent payment is due. Prorated rent may also apply if your tenant leaves the apartment part way through a month, if agreed to in your lease terms.

When the tenant is approved for rental, agree to a move-in date. Once the date is agreed to, provide the tenant with the prorated amount due, and formalize the payment amount and schedule in your lease agreement. Arrange to receive the prorated amount due prior to move-in, as you would with a full rent payment.

By taking a few proactive steps, landlords can simplify the expectations for first rent payments and security deposits. When both tenants and landlords know what to expect, and how to best arrange payment, both parties feel confident in the process. With Schedule My Rent’s landlord software, landlords and tenants save time and effort.

Making Money as a Part-Time Landlord

Are you a part-time landlord, with a traditional job? Or are you a full-time landlord wanting to make more money on your real-estate investments? Either way, there are some smart, time-saving tips to help you make the most of your property investment – and let you get back to having free time.

If you are managing properties ‘on the side’ and have the demands of a typical job, any tools to save you time are great options to consider. Like what? Landlord software, such as Schedule My Rent, which gives you the ability to collect rent online, is an example of a big time saver. We’ll share a few other time saving tips, to enable you to attain a greater return on your investment.

Collect Rent Online

Top 5 Time-saving Tools:

  1. Effective advertising. When listing your property on listing sites such as Zillow, provide pictures of all rooms in the apartment. Why? By giving the prospective tenants the most detailed view of your available property, you save yourself time. The prospective tenant can immediately determine their interest from pictures alone. Only those tenants truly interested in the property will contact you and seek out a showing.

Provide a lot of details in your property description, including the square footage, layout, flooring type, appliances, and a reflective description of the property.

Should you share who pays which bills and the rent amount? Absolutely! Share information on expenses, deposit, and qualification requirements. This again will enable you to spend your valuable time on truly interested tenants, and those that meet your requirements.

  1. Application Process. This is a biggie. Many landlords have an application they ask prospective tenants to fill out. Great. But, how can you use the application to save you time? By identifying the best tenant for your property, you save time in the long-run. How? Ensuring your tenants can make payments, won’t cause problems, and are good to your property – all of these things make your life easier and save you time.

Let’s talk application specifics. What type of questions should your application include? Rental history is important. Ask for two prior landlords to contact to ask specifics on payment history, disruptive behavior, and lease compliance. Current job references can also provide insight into the applicant’s ability to pay rent. You’ll also want to ask if your prospective tenant has a criminal record, if they are a smoker, and pet information. Your landlord policy can help guide your acceptance criteria.

  1. Now that you have an application from a possible tenant, what next? It’s important to verifythe applicant’s background for potential criminal records and evictions. Does your policy allow tenants who have previous evictions? Does it allow for tenants with a felony record? Your policy can help guide your decisions and save you time as you look for the best tenant for your property.
  2. Lease Agreements. Once you’ve approved an applicant, it’s time to formally agree to lease terms. By having a written lease agreement, all parties know the expectations and rules. As a landlord, any specific requirements you have can be part of a standard agreement you share with all current and future tenants. Simple lease terms, such as when rent is due and when late fees are applied are spelled out in your lease agreement. This saves you time in setting common expectations upfront.
  3. Electronic Rent Payments. Now that your tenant is moved in, and your lease is in place, save time and energy by collecting rent payments online. Landlord software, such as Schedule My Rent, enables rent to be automatically deposited into your account. No need to mess with paper checks, trips to the bank and post office. Schedule My Rent’s landlord software makes it easy to invite new tenants to sign up for online rent payments, select a payment date, approve payments, and even provides a receipt of payment – all done electronically.

For landlords with multiple properties, with one sign-in and account, Schedule My Rent shares the status of properties on a single dashboard –saving you time.

What about late fees? Schedule My Rent allows the landlord to determine if a late fee is applied, and will electronically communicate late fees to tenants. e-Mail reminders save you time as well. With Schedule My Rent, there’s no need to call your tenant to remind them that their rent is due.

As a property investor and owner, the objective is to make a profit, and reduce the amount of time doing so. As we’ve described above, a few simple improvements can save you time and money, increasing your profitability.