Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Eeny, Meeny, Miny, Moe

At Rental Services we work with lots of first time investment property owners.  Most have little or no experience when it comes to property management.  This leads to several mistakes that can cost a new property owner time and money.

One of the most common mistakes that many new landlords make is not screening all of the residents that move into the rental property.  Just because one person makes enough money to pay the rent doesn’t mean you don’t need to screen the other occupants.  If you don’t check everyone I guarantee you will eventually have problems with registered sex offenders and convicted felons moving in as occupants.

Another problem is using the wrong lease agreement or not using one at all.  Make sure you have the applicants sign a lease before they move-in.  Just like resident screening, make sure everyone who lives at the property and is over the age of eighteen signs the lease.  Many states have specific laws that govern the lease.  Make sure the lease you’re using covers the specific laws for your state.  If you’re not sure many local apartment associations will provide the agreements for a small fee.

The move-in and move-out check list is often skipped by new landlords.  If you don’t use this form you’re shooting yourself in the foot.  Documenting the condition in writing when your renters move-in and after they move-out makes it easy to calculate damages and if you have to go to court, always impresses the judge.

If you’re new to property management I recommend taking a property management class.  Most states have trade organizations that offer support to property owners.  Local trade associations can help you build a solid foundation for managing your investment properties. 

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Can your applicants apply online?

If the answer is NO, you may want to check this out. Rental Services, Inc. has just rolled out the RSI Quick Application.  

The RSI Quick Application is a new and exciting tool that can be used in place of a standard rental application. RSI Quick App allows your prospective renters to apply online! Once your property is setup, you can send your applicant to www.rsiquickapp.com. They select your property, complete the customizable online application and pay for the screening fee with a credit card. The application is then sent to RSI for processing and you receive an email notification when the report is ready to be viewed.

Quick App can also be setup as part of your company’s website. Applicants can apply online from your website 24/7. We will provide a custom URL that can be added to your website. The URL link will list the properties in your portfolio. 

The RSI Quick App can be setup with a customizable rental application that can even include your company’s specific business forms. You can setup a way to collect the application fee or have us do it for you. RSI Quick App provides a variety of options to meet your needs.

Contact the RSI office or visit www.erentalservicesinc.com for more information.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Renting To Young Adults

I recently read an opinion from a person in the apartment industry that I found to be interesting. He states that he has seen an alarming trend of younger and younger debtors sent to collection by apartment communities. People 18 and 19 years old may legally sign a contract but most won't understand or remember it. If no co-signor or guarantor is on the lease many people of this age are not responsible enough to be given control of an asset valued in the tens of thousands of dollars. I agree on face value. However, if you have strong rental criteria in place the age of the applicant shouldn’t matter. When your tenant screening company conducts the background check they should be verifying income, rental history, credit, evictions and criminal records. Match this information up with your criteria and you increase your odds of getting a good renter regardless of age.

Quality tenant screening and criteria decrease the chances of renting to individuals who can’t pay the rent. 

Friday, September 30, 2011

Social Network Background Checks

I read this online by Lester Rosen, Attorney at Law. I thought is was very eye opening.

Although employers may request that background screening firms perform this function, there are a number of drawbacks. First, a background screening firm does not have the same in-depth knowledge the employer has of the details of the position. In addition, if a social network background check is done by a background screening firm, the search falls under the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) which requires a background screening firm to maintain reasonable procedures for maximum possible accuracy. Because a background screening firm has no way of knowing if the online information is accurate, it is difficult for background screening firms to perform this service consistent with the FCRA. In other words, due to the FCRA, background screening firms may not be best suited to perform these types of ‘social network background check’ searches. 

Would your company make a hiring decision based on someones Facebook profile? Its my opinion that this type of search opens your screening company and you to possible litigation. Whats your thought on social network background checks?

Friday, August 19, 2011

Pink & Blue United Summer Soiree

A special message sent to RSI from one of our clients! It sounds like a great event.

Good morning Friends, Vendors and Associates:

I hope this letter finds you all well!

The reason for contacting you is I'm helping my brother with the marketing of his new foundation which helps people of both genders for expenses and treatment for individuals with breast, ovary, prostate or testicular cancer.

I know this may be late in getting this information to you but would like to ask if you could forward this information to the rest of the company. It would help with others learning about this organization, and having the opportunity to come to the inaugural gala next weekend.

My brother, Dr. Kelly Lennon MD., has two practices, one in Littleton and another in Castle Rock. He has served on the board of both Swedish and Littleton Hospitals.
Please take a moment to read about the benefits of Pink & Blue United below.

Any correspondence of passing the information along will be very helpful in getting the word out of this new organization.

Subject: Pink & Blue United Summer Soiree

Please join us as we celebrate Pink & Blue United's Inaugural Summer Soiree at The Ritz Carlton - Denver, August 27, 2011 at 6:00 p.m. Pink & Blue United (PBU) is a 501(c)3 non-profit foundation dedicated to providing financial support for living expenses and fertility preservation to individuals during their initial treatments for breast, ovary, prostate or testicular cancer.

While there are many great organizations out there to find a cure, Pink & Blue United sets itself apart by not only real time assistance but by Uniting the genders - no more seperation of "his" or "her" cancer. We believe we're all in this together!

PBU will help people struggling with their cancer diagnosis and living paycheck to paycheck with real time financial assistance today; it is structured to help with putting food on the table, help with the mortgage/rent and childcare. Additionally, it will provide funds for fertility preservation for those afflicted at the prime of their reproductive lives.

We have a great evening planned with Savory Food & Spirits, Good Laughs from 'The Comedy Works', Dancing and a Silent & Live Auction! We look forward to seeing you there - guaranteed to be fun & memorable!!

To register, visit www.blacktie-colorado.com/RSVP and enter the event code: PBUgala

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Did you Know?

Dear RSI Client,

On June 25, 2011, the Social Security Administration (SSA) changed the way Social Security Numbers (SSN) are assigned. This change is known as "randomization."

What is Randomization?

The SSA traditionally assigned nine-digit SSNs in a particular pattern. Specifically, the first three digits indicated the state in which the consumer resided at the time the SSN was issued, and digits four - five indicated the year the SSN was issued.

Effective June 25th, the SSA changed its SSN assignment methodology to a randomized process. SSN randomization will affect the SSN assignment process in the following ways:

• Elimination of the geographical significance of the first three digits and any association with specific states.

• Elimination of any association with the number's date of issuance.

• Previously unassigned area numbers will be introduced for assignment, excluding area numbers 000, 666 and 900-999.

Now you know.

Friday, July 1, 2011

NAA Apartment Industry Mobilization Service Grassroots Program

Greetings Apartment Industry Advocates!

This is the second in a series of monthly communications to members of the Apartment Industry Mobilization Service (AIMS) to help you advocate for the apartment industry. This information will focus on our federal policy initiatives, the legislative process, important committees, key members of the House and Senate, and briefing materials. We hope you find this valuable and invite you to suggest other topics to cover.

This month our focus is a call to action! Now is the time to make your voice heard by meeting face to face with your members of Congress when they are in recess in August.

Many NAA members cannot travel to Washington, D.C., in March for the annual Capitol Conference lobby day. This is your opportunity to make your voice heard for nothing more than a little time and the cost of gas.

You may not think that your involvement will make a difference. Or, you may think you don’t have time even to set up a meeting – and even if you get one, what would you say?

NAA Government Affairs wants to make it easy for you. Here’s how:

Your involvement will make a difference. In fact, you have a seat at the head of the table! Among Congressional staff recently surveyed, 46 percent said that an “in-person constituent visit” will have “a lot” of influence on a member of Congress who is undecided on an issue. Another 51 percent said it will have “some” influence.

Information on how to plan and schedule your meeting in the district/state office is available below. Since the meeting will be held during the recess, you should schedule your meeting with the district/state office. At other times, the meeting should be set up through the Washington, D.C., office.

To help you prepare, issue talking points and issue fact sheets will be made available next month. If you still feel you need an “Inside-the-beltway” perspective for your meeting, we will do our best to arrange for a NAA/NMHC policy expert to be on the speaker phone for a two-way conference call.

If you are turned down for a meeting in the district/state office, you are still in luck. In 2010, the House of Representatives’ calendar had five district work periods. This year’s calendar has 13. That means Representatives have more time to participate in town hall meetings and local events – as well as more time to spend conversing with you in those venues.

Almost every member of Congress holds town hall meetings to take the pulse of their constituents. While they are considered an underutilized resource, the same survey reported that 87 percent of Congressional staff said that questions from constituents at town hall meetings had “a lot” or “some” influence on an undecided member of Congress.

To find out the date, time and location, check your local newspaper or the member of Congress’s website. However, it is best to contact your member of Congress’s district/state office. While some town hall meetings are open to everyone, keep in mind that some offices will only contact constituents who have signed up to be notified. Be careful to note if you need to register to attend, send an RSVP, or sign up to ask a question (the latter typically occurs on-site). Always provide your name and home address, telephone number and e-mail address. (This will be used to verify that you are a constituent.)

Events provide a great opportunity for two-way dialogue – especially if you’re the event’s host. Invite your member of Congress to tour your apartment community and meet with residents over an informal barbecue. Or, invite your Senator or Representative to speak at a breakfast with your employees.

Pitch the visit to your local newspapers and television stations. This type of face time with constituents makes for good news media coverage for both the member of Congress and you! (And if you are in an early primary state, you might be lucky enough to piggyback on a Republican presidential hopeful’s visit to town as well.

Always remember that your personal stories trump everything else you say. You don’t need to be an expert on federal issues affecting the industry, but rather a resource on your business and how a particular issue impacts it. Members of Congress want and need to benefit from your expertise and point of view. By doing so, you become a relied-upon source for future multifamily housing issues, and they become more knowledgeable about our industry and the impact of legislation on your livelihood.

Measure your success in increments over time. To oversimplify an arduous process, it can literally take years for most bills to become laws. Added to that, most proposals never pass. Those that do frequently are re-introduced numerous times over different legislative sessions. And that’s not taking into play the growing Election Day turnover in Congress. So celebrate the baby steps, such as when a U.S. Senator finally agrees to meet you after declining your requests for several years.
We’re looking forward to hearing about your plans for your meetings. Again, the recess is between August 8 and September 5 and it is important to schedule meetings as soon as possible. Please keep us posted!

Thank you for your attention to this e-mail. If you have questions or comments on any of the material contained in this message, please contact me at 703-797-0633 or Kathleen@naahq.org.

Good luck!

Kathleen Youngblood
Director, Political Affairs
National Apartment Association

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

You Must Send Out Adverse Action Letters!

Any changes that negatively affect the consumer require an Adverse Action letter to be sent to the applicant. The adverse action or declination letter must contain the following information: the name and address of the consumer reporting agency that issued the report; a statement that the consumer reporting agency did not make the decision to take adverse action; notice of the consumer's rights to obtain a free copy of the report within 60 days of the adverse action and the consumer's rights to dispute the accuracy and completeness of the information with the consumer reporting agency. FCRA Section 603(k). Rental Services, Inc. provides an "adverse action" or “declination letter” by selecting the DISCLOSURES & FORMS option at the bottom of the report results screen. You can also find a generic "adverse action" or consumer “declination letter” on the RSI website that can be modified to fit your needs.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

FCRA Compliance Reminder

I wanted to remind all RSI clients that you have a responsibility to comply with the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). When requesting a background check you are required to have a permissible purpose. For the rental industry, that means that you can only obtain a consumer credit report in connection with screening a prospective applicant. Other permissible purposes exist and can be found in Section 604 of the FCRA.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Help for Joplin, Mo. Tornado Victims

As someone who has family living in Joplin, Missouri I wanted to pass on this email I received from the National Apartment Association.

Apartment residents are among the thousands affected by the widespread devastation in Joplin, Mo., following the recent killer tornados. Hundreds -- if not thousands of residents -- have been left without homes, whether apartments or houses. Many are in survival and recovery modes.

NAA affiliates and member companies have immediately stepped into action. NAA now calls on you for your support. This has been a devastating tornado season for a number of our affiliates – but this is the first request that the apartment industry has received for immediate help.

Becky Weaver, CPM, Vice President of the American Residential Group in Tulsa, Okla., has been in touch with “the few people we have been able to reach” in Joplin. Because they are not sure yet what they need, Becky recommends that NAA members donate to the American Red Cross. It has opened a shelter and is distributing food, clean-up supplies and comfort kits. It is assisting with sending health workers to provide immediate care.

Text "REDCROSS" to 90999 to make a $10 donation, or visit the website to donate, give blood or volunteer.

Additionally, Gary Wilson says that the Missouri Apartment Association (MAA) Board of Directors recommends making donations to Convoy of Hope, a Springfield, Mo.-based organization that is heavily involved in distributing water, food and supplies.

Text "CONVOY" to 50555 to make a $10 donation, or visit the website to donate.

Here are some ways NAA members are already making a difference:

The Springfield Apartment and Housing Association is working to find vacant apartments to help displaced residents.

Properties Plus, Inc., a Tulsa property management company, has closed its properties’ offices and is sending all of its employees along with two trucks filled with supplies to Joplin.

The MAA affiliates are joining forces to help the Red Cross and the Southwest Missouri Rental Housing Association in Joplin, according to Debbie Haukenberry, Associate Executive, Missouri Apartment Association. She reports that Cesar Mendez with Mendez Enterprises has donated trucks to help carry critical supplies. BluSky Restoration in Joplin is seeking out tornado victims to determine what help they need.

Additionally, Debbie says that Oddo Development has donated $1,000 to purchase supplies. Both the Apartment Association of Kansas City and the MAA have already donated or will donate funds. They are also collecting supplies and will begin distributing them this week.

If you have questions about how you can help, contact:
Valerie Hairston, Director of Membership & Affiliate Services

If you are a member of the news media, contact:
Carole Roper, Manager of Public Affairs

Monday, May 23, 2011

What is that strange box?

Your property is up for lease again and you’re looking for a new way to market it. Have you thought about a QR code? If you look around you will see more and more companies using a white box with black symbols in their ads. This new fad is taking off with many in the multi-family housing industry.

What is a QR code? The QR code is a two dimensional bar code that holds information. Using a smart phone with a downloaded scanning app you can open up links to video, maps, photos and more.

The QR code is mystery waiting to be solved by those reading your ad. Imagine someone looking at your ad for an apartment and in the corner is your QR code. If the person looking at your ad is curious enough to pull out their smart phone and scan your code, they could then have access to a video tour of your rental, a coupon for $100 off their first months rent or anything else you can imagine. Once they click on the QR code your prospective renter is now invested in your advertisement. The odds increase greatly of generating traffic to your rental.

Do you like us!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Were Bending Over Backwards

Today I wanted to talk about flexibility in the screening industry. I see lots of companies that offer a one size fits all solution when it comes to background checks. At RSI we work hard to make sure we offer different screening options. More options translate to more flexibility when screening applicants. Make sure your screening company offers a way to customize criteria for different properties in your portfolio. Make sure you have a way to choose your own approval process for applicants. Decisions should based on your customized criteria provided by your screening company or make sure you can receive all the data to make your own in house decisions. You should also make sure your screening company has a seamless integration platform with multiple service partners. This provides you the flexibility you need to use different services and information providers. Finding the right screening company can streamline the screening process.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

This Credit Report Makes No Sense.

At RSI we work with lots of small businesses and property owners and the one question were asked most often is how to read credit. If you need a credit report we can provide you with one. We can also walk you through the credit report over the phone or provide you with a cheat sheet. But what if you didn’t have to analyze the credit? What if you setup specific standards and the credit was matched up to pass or fail those standards?

If that sounds interesting to you, I would recommend talking to someone at our office about Insta-Chek. Rental Services has offered a scoring model for several years with great results. You set credit standards for your applicant. If they meet the criteria we give you a pass recommendation. If they don’t meet your standards we issue a fail recommendation. Insta-Chek can also be setup with a conditional recommendation to give you additional flexibility in screening credit.

The benefits of Insta-Chek are straight forward. No more trying to decipher credit reports. Each applicant is held to the same standards. No more worries about Fair Housing violations. You never run the risk of sensitive credit information falling into the wrong hands.

Remember, at RSI you have options.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Repeal the Expanded Form 1099 Reporting

On Thursday, March 3, the U.S. House of Representatives is expected to vote on the Small Business Paperwork Mandate Elimination Act of 2011 (H.R. 4), which would repeal the expanded IRS Form 1099 reporting requirement.

Under current law, businesses will have to prepare and file 1099 forms for each vendor to which they pay more than $600 during a calendar year, beginning with payments made in 2012.

As members of the U.S. House prepare to vote on this bill, they need to hear from YOU! Tell them to repeal this burdensome tax reporting requirement and vote YES on H.R. 4.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Happy Valentines Day

Everyone at Rental Services would like to wish you a happy Valentines Day. We would also like to thank you for your continued support. Our company tracks all of our marketing and advertising sources and customer referrals continue to be the number one source of new clients. We hope you will follow, share or bookmark us using the link below. Again thank you from everyone at RSI.

Share/Bookmark Rental Services

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

This Has Nothing to Do With Star Trek

Let’s talk about Data and not that robot from Star Trek. If your going to order a background check you need to make sure you have good data. Old or inaccurate data makes it hard to make an informed decision about an applicant. I recommend asking your screening company where they get their data from and what it covers? Do they have access to proprietary databases developed and constantly updated by them and their customers?

I know many of you reading this blog already use Rental Services, so I want you to know the answer to all of the questions listed in this article are YES. We use current and up to date information sources that are reviewed for quality. We update our own proprietary database with records collected manually by RSI. Clients also contribute to our large collection of records.

I Need A What?

If you use credit reports for screening residents or employees you will need a physical onsite inspection of the place used to store your records. Don’t blame Rental Services Inc. or RSI Screening for this new rule. The inspection process was the brain child of Experian, Trans Union and Equifax. Each bureau now requires inspections from an independent third party company as part of the credentialing process. If your company operates from a commercial address the inspection is required once. If you’re operating from a residential address the inspection is required annually. All inspections do require a fee. To pass an inspection you need three key elements. First, you will need a dedicated office space. If working from a residential office the space needs to be separate from living space. Second, you need a way of securing information. A locking filing cabinet, locking desk drawer or safe will meet the requirements. Finally, you will need away to destroy credit information. A shredder works best, but you can also burn documents or use a third party company that destroys documents. Other basic requirement covered during the credentialing process must also be met. If you want more detailed information about the inspection process and credentialing please contact RSI.