It is the 7th… things are starting to calm down. The beginning of the month is always the busiest time in the rental business. For 5 or 6 days you are running non stop.. then from about the 15th to the 25th you are looking for stuff to do. Late notices went out in yesterday’s mail and it is time to see if I can catch my breath.
However, I won’t be doing it for long. I noticed that with the spring rains and the almost summer-like sunshine, that grass is really starting to grow again. It looks like the first round of lawn mowing is coming up next week already… so time to get the blades sharpened and buy extra bottles of allergy pills.
As things calm down, I also hope to get back to my “norm” of 2-3 blog posts a week. There was a blog post yesterday that I assume only a handful a people saw… it was a highly controversial stance on a highly controversial subject. Somewhat out of character for me… and as such, it was pulled off this side within a few hours.
However, it is back to the same old same old talking about landlord tenant stuff in anticipation of tonight’s Dr Rent Radio Show on 93.3 FM, WNRB-LP at 5 PM. We are going to start off by finishing my Top Ten List of bad things that landlords do to themselves. Last week we hit #5 through #3. This week we start with #2, Carpet Cleaning. We finish with the much anticipated #1 thing landlords do to cause trouble for themselves.
Here is a summary of last week’s items from the list.
#5 – 14 Day Notice (or not) – For a landlord to kick a tenant out, there are 6 different notices they can use. Which notice depends on the reason you are kicking the tenant out, and what kind of rental agreement you have. Some of these notices have a right to cure, which means the tenant has the option of staying if they fix the problem. A 14-Day notice does not have this right attached to it. It basically gives the tenant 2 weeks to pack up their stuff and be gone. A problem comes in if a landlord issues this kind of notice, and then allows the tenant to cure. If the landlord makes a habit of this, the 14-Day notice may be difficult to defend in court. Because, even though the notice has no right to cure, if the tenant had the expectation that a right to cure was there based on future incidents, the court may decide that allowing a tenant to cure in the past does allow for the tenant to expect a right to cure in the future.
So, in other words, a 14-Day notice is a pretty serious tool in your tool box… Only use it if you intend to stick to it.
#4 – “Do It Yourself” Leases and Forms – There are so many good forms out there put out by companies that have had lawyers review the forms, there really is no reason for a home-made form. With inexpensive forms available from Wisconsin Legal Blank, the National Apartment Association, the Wisconsin Apartment Association, the Wisconsin Realtors Association and others, why risk it with your own forms?
This error is most often done by landlords new to the business who have not yet had to defend those forms in court, only to lose their case. Or very small landlords with just a few properties. The error they both make is that they create home-made rental agreements that take into consideration common sense type policies. However, if you think of policies that are common sense being in one circle, and policies that comply with Wisconsin’s Landlord-Tenant laws in a second circle… the overlap of these two circles is really not that big. Some common sense items are actually illegal in Wisconsin, and some laws defy all common sense.
The same is true of the “one-size-fits all” lease forms you can get at big box stores. Again, they may not have been reviewed by attorneys familiar with some of Wisconsin’s unit rental laws. When you consider the minimal cost of just going to Janke’s and getting the forms put out by Wisconsin Legal Blank, why would you even risk taking the time to make your own forms?
#3 – Mis-Use of CCAP – CCAP is a wonderful tool, it really is. However, this tool gives people a great amount of power… and with great power comes great responsibility. Almost every legislative session, there are attempts to somehow limit access to CCAP because of abuses of the information contained there. So, any class that I give on tenant underwriting includes a great deal of time on how to property use CCAP.
First, make sure the person whose CCAP record you are looking at is the person you think it is. This is often not very easy. Sometimes people have the same middle initials, and civil cases don’t include birthdates. Even then, it is not completely impossible for two people to have the same name and birth date. You need to compare addresses and if you are not sure if it is the right person, you have to assume it is NOT.
As an example, I have a very common first name with two possible spellings, and a fairly common last name with two possible spellings. So if you only heard my name, you have four possible spellings, and as of this morning, 484 listings on CCAP. Let’s say you do know the actual spelling of my name. Congratulations, you are now down to 259 CCAP listings. I almost always use my middle initial, so if you are lucky enough to know my middle initial, you are now down to 73 listings. Wow.. 73 listings for me. Actually no… in reality… I have only 2 listings on CCAP under my own name. But if you looked and saw 73 and turned me down because of that… that would be a big problem.
The Second mistake is that people are innocent until proven guilty. If someone was arrested for drugs 8 times in the last two years, and every single case had the charges dismissed, then none of that counts, none of that can be used. If they were recently arrested for assault but that case is still working its way through the court system, they are innocent until proven guilty, so that can also not be considered. You can only consider convictions, or civil cases where they lost. Any pending action or dismissed action is off limits… PERIOD.
After we finish the top ten list, I will start on the questions that I have been saving up since the last RENT SMART class a few weeks ago.
Hope you look forward to the radio show and seeing what the #1 thing on the list is… until then .. HAPPY RENTING!