You can tell things are starting to pick up a bit in Dr Rent’s world. As far as blogging goes, Thursday morning is when I do the post that provides readers with a preview of that evening’s radio show.
Once or twice during the week, I also try to post things. Sometimes they are interesting stories that happen in the course of my profession… Sometimes they are an introspective look at myself, sharing personal thoughts and views on life in general (I hope the turning 40 post was as entertaining to read as it was to write)… Sometimes they are just goofy. However, this last week no such posts made their way from my mind to my fingers to my keyboard – it’s just been that kind of week.
Things don’t slow down much this week. Today is the last day of the month so it is turn-over time again. However, I am grateful that it is a slow month. I have two apartments, one townhome, and one garage that I will need to get checked out as the keys come in. This weekend, the weather looks like it will finally cooperate and allow me to pull the boat out of storage, however before I can do that, I need to de-gravel some lawns. Some of my driveways and parking areas are gravel, and because of winter snow plowing, a lot of that is now on the lawn.
One property is REALLY BAD. So, first I need to put the blade back on the John Deere lawn tractor and push the majority of it back on the parking lot. Then, the blade comes off and the sweeper goes on. I used to spend DAYS raking the stones and gravel back on the driveway… but by putting the sweeper broom on its lowest speed setting, and being very careful with the hydraulics so the broom just barely touches the lawn, “sweeping” the gravel back onto the parking area now is a job that takes a few minutes. The longest thing is then to re-spread it evenly over the driveway.
So, enough with the excuses. Last week, after answering a few questions, I got back to my top ten list. Again, I have dedicated a couple of shows toward addressing bad things that good landlords do to themselves, as I am a firm believer that although it is good to learn from your mistakes, it is better to learn from the mistakes of others. So, last week, we were able to address #7 and #6.
#7 – Not Asking the Right People: I am always amazed at how very few calls we get in our office for rental references. If I had to estimate, I would say that for every tenant that moves out, we get calls from landlords checking their housing reference less than 1 out of 4 times. This is just sad. It is even more sad when you look at CCAP, filter it for evictions only, and see how often you will have multiple eviction actions against the same people, sometimes as many as three times in a year.
The truth is that when you get applications, 20% of them are “no-brainers”… half have perfect credit, good income, etc; half are just awful… recent drug convictions, just evicted, etc. The other 80%, the vast majority, are “border-line”. When I am looking at these applications, the single most important thing to me is the housing reference. What are their personal priorities? I know of people who have perfect credit. Car loan paid on time, credit cards paid on time, all of the toys paid on time… however, they don’t have enough money to make ends meet, and the cost of having the perfect credit was not having enough money left over to pay rent. One in my profession would hope that keeping a roof over your head would be more of a priority. Basically, in these tough economic times when choices need to be made, those who rob Peter to pay Paul will always gain the support of Paul. If they didn’t pay the last landlord, or if they trashed the last apartment, what makes you think they won’t do that to you? And if you don’t ask the last landlord, how will you ever learn this information?
#6 – Auto-Renewing Leases: In Wisconsin, in a residential rental, there are some things you need to do before a lease with some type of automatic renewal becomes enforceable.
You will sometimes see language in a lease that says that if the tenant doesn’t notify the landlord 30 days or 60 days out, that the lease will automatically renew. Sometimes it will auto-renew for another year, sometimes it will auto-renew on a month-to-month basis. However, in order for this to be enforceable against a residential tenant, the landlord MUST remind the tenant of this renewal. That reminder has to be IN WRITING, and has to be 15-30 days prior to the tenant’s deadline.
Two things to remember with this rule: first, this rule does NOT apply to non-residential leases. The theory is that if two businesses enter into a lease contract, both businesses should understand what they are getting into. However, in residential tenancies, the landlord normally understands rental contracts much better than the tenant, so the landlord has to go out of their way to explain things, such as the automatic renewal.
The other thing to keep in mind, if the landlord neglects to remind the tenant of the auto-renewal, the renewal is not enforceable against the tenant… HOWEVER, the tenant MAY enforce it against the landlord. For example, a year lease auto-renews for another year. No notice from landlord. Six months in, the landlord is going to sell the property and because no notice was given, they know the tenant can treat it as a month-to-month. The landlord gives proper notice under a month-to-month agreement, however the tenant actually wanted to be there another year. The tenant can hold the landlord to the year term of the renewal… the landlord should not be able to gain some type of benefit from their mistake.
On tonight’s show (5 – 6 PM, 93.3 FM, WNRB-LP), we are going to hit a great question that came in this week about allowing animals in a no-pet building when the tenant has a disability. There is a difference between a service animal and a comfort animal and the law does treat them differently. I do have a bunch of questions from the Rent Smart class that was offered by the UW Extension earlier this week, enough to fill an entire show or two, but we will cover those after I have had the chance to get through this top ten list.
As for the top ten list, we are half-way done and will pick up things this week starting with #5 – 14-Day Notice, Really?
So again, sorry for not blogging much this last week. Until the show tonight, HAPPY RENTING!