Last week on the Dr Rent Radio Show, we started working on a top ten list. There are bad landlords out there, but they are in the minority. The majority of landlords are actually, believe it or not, pretty good people. Sometimes bad things happen to good people. However, sometimes those bad things are caused by things that good people do to themselves. The top ten list was the top ten things that landlords do to themselves.
How far did we get?
#10 – Mailing the 5-Day Notice. If all you did with your 5-Day (or 14-Day) notice was mail it to the tenant, and this tenant is wise in the ways of the court and laws, your case for eviction can get thrown out, as ordinary mail is NOT one of the ways these notices are legally given. Your choices are to personally deliver the notice to the tenant or a member of their family; to personally deliver the notice to someone at the property who thinks they belong there (and also mail a copy first class mail); if you tried to deliver personally and no one answered, then you can post the notice conspicuously and mail a copy first class mail; if you prefer to not try to hand deliver it, your options are registered or certified mail; or hiring a process server and having it served like you would do court paperwork.
#9 – Digging the Hole too Deep. Don’t wait until a tenant is 2-3 months behind in rent before you decide to do something. 5-Day notices do have a right to cure, so just because you deliver one when the tenant is late the first time, doesn’t mean you have to evict, it just gives you the ability to. Remember, if you are evicting, from the day you give the tenant the 5-Day notice to the day the sheriff removes them from the property – anywhere from 5 weeks to 2 months have gone by. That’s right – 2 months. So, if they were already 3 months behind before you did something, you will have gone 5 months without seeing any rent by the time you get them out. Also, if the tenants are only behind a month or two, it is much easier to work out some type of payment plan where they can get caught up. Once the average person gets behind $2,000 or $3,000, they may have gotten to the point where it is easier for them to walk away than try to work out some type of payment plan.
#8 – Incomplete Applications. Too many landlords make their renting decisions based on either their gut or desperation. Some don’t even do an application, let alone having the application filled out completely. The application helps to avoid identity theft, many ask for driver’s license info. It is a good idea to verify this, make sure the picture on the license looks like the person applying, and do the signatures match? An application is more than just a tool for qualifying tenants, it is also your best tool for collections if the rental account turns into a court judgment. Most applications ask for bank account information. The emergency contact information is your #1 best collection tool – these are the people you call to try to find the tenant who has disappeared, etc.
After tonight’s couple of questions, we will continue this list starting with #7 – Not Asking the Right People.
So, the first question I will discuss before the topic of the day gets at the title of this post. A landlord had been watching one of those court shows and based on something that happened there, called me to see if this was something that was legal here. If a tenant owed landlord money, and the landlord happened to own a high-visibility property (a property with a lot of traffic going past it every day), could the landlord put a big sign up listing a tenants name, maybe even a picture, and indicating that they don’t pay their bills?
Another question comes from a landlord whose tenant has found themselves in jail. What do you do now?
I often mention landlord tenant law, and the Wisconsin Way book. Where can you get that book?
And let’s not forget – BIG EVENT ON TUESDAY!! The Rent Smart for Professionals, Law Enforcement and Landlords will be on Tuesday, April 28th from 8:30 to Noon. This is happening at 212 River Drive and has a very low cost, only $8.00! For more information, you can contact the Marathon County UW-Extension office at 261-1231. (That reminds me… I need to stop by there and get signed up before it is too late.)
So, lots of good information on tonight’s show, 5-6 PM on 93.3 FM, WNRB-LP. Hope you tune in! Until then, HAPPY RENTING!