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Showing posts from 2013

THE SNOWBALL EFFECT…WHY NOT TO RUN ONLY ONE SCREENING REPORT

This time of year is financially tough on most people. As a landlord, you may be tempted to give possible tenants a break. By screening only one applicant (instead of each adult on the application) the screening fee is greatly reduced, but so then, is your security. This seemingly small moment of generosity quickly turns into an overwhelming problem.

Let’s just look at the facts:
If your possible tenant is having trouble paying a screening fee, they are probably going to have trouble paying you rent. If your tenants get to pick and choose who among them get screened, then it is very easy to hide a criminal record or bad credit.If you are selective about whom you screen and to what degree, you are opening yourself up to a possible Fair Housing lawsuit. At RSI we advise all of our clients to screen each person over the age of 18 who will be residing on the property. That means that on any given application you would screen each person in a married couple, al…

A LANDLORD IS LIABLE FOR FAILING TO PROTECT THEIR TENANT…

Criminal behavior is generally viewed as an unpredictable event, and therefore, outside of a landlord’s control. Courts have consistently ruled that it is unjust to hold a landlord accountable for failing to prevent a crime. However, recently an Ohio Appellate Court did just that when they found a landlord liable for failing to protect their tenant from a violent crime.
In this case, the victim’s complaints against another resident’s un-leased roommate were ongoing and the lack of an appropriate response led to a verdict of negligence. The manager of the apartment complex listened to the victim’s repeated complaints of harassment and advised her to file a report with the police. As the situation escalated, the manager requested that the other resident’s boyfriend, against whom the complaints were being filed, complete a rental application and submit to a background check. The manager did not perform a criminal records search with the information collected on the submitted application, …

How to Create a GOOD Rental Application…

The first step in obtaining a good tenant for your rental property is to procure a good rental application. There are several questions that are, essentially, required on every application in order to perform the most basic background check:

-Full Legal Name (spelled correctly) and any aliases
-Date of Birth
-Social Security Number
-Current Address and Phone number
A good rental application will also cover the following areas:
-Contact information for the applicant’s current and previous landlords. Additionally, they should be asked to include information about when they lived at that address, the rent amount paid and reason for leaving.
-Contact information for the applicant’s current and previous employer. Additionally, they should be asked to include information about dates of employment, salary earned or hourly wage, and whether they were (or are) working full or part-time.
-Information on any other occupants who will reside on the property including their name and age.
-Information on an…

HOME TEST-DRIVES ARE HAPPENING IN THE HOUSING MARKET…COULD THE PATH BE PAVED FOR THE NEXT BIG TREND IN THE RENTAL INDUSTRY?

A new trend in the housing market allows potential home buyers to spend time in a home before buying it…a test drive of sorts. This movement has become increasingly popular; the practice already occurring in markets from New Jersey to Colorado.
The arrangement usually allows for around 12 hours (all day or over-night) in the home without the pressure of a hovering realtor or homeowner. Home buyers are able to relax, listen for noisy neighbors, leaky pipes, air traffic or drafty windows. They seem to love the idea as they are able to make a more informed decision and get a real feel for life in that particular space.
Would the same principal work well for the rental industry? Having the option available may be a powerful draw for potential renters and displays a healthy confidence in the quality of the rental property itself. As a property owner or manager, there may be a few concerns about how to best protect your investment while allowing access to your property. Would any prescreen…

Protect Yourself From Discrimination Lawsuits....

Documented Criteria is Essential when Screening Possible Tenants It is not only fundamentally important to screen possible tenants in order to protect your property, but how you outline your screening criteria can be essential to protecting yourself.
As a landlord, you need only accomplish one easy task, do it consistently, and you can avoid the headache and financial drain of this legal vulnerability.
Document your screening criteria. Though your criteria may vary greatly from another landlord’s criteria, all documented criteria should:
1.)Comply with federal, state and local laws in addition to fair housing requirements. Information specific to Colorado can be found at: http://www.coloradoattorneygeneral.gov/sites/default/files/uploads/identity_theft/CoConsCreditRepAct.pdf.
If you are not certain that your criteria are in compliance with regulations, be sure to have an attorney review the screening document and offer advice.
2.)Depend on quantifiable and verifiable data to effectively e…

Low Income Housing Limits to Be Waived For Colorado Disaster Victims

Issue Number:    IR-2013-79
Inside This Issue:  Low Income Housing Limits to Be Waived For Colorado Disaster Victims
WASHINGTON — The Internal Revenue Service announced today that it is waiving certain limitations for projects financed with low-income housing tax credits or exempt facility bonds so that owners and operators of these facilities anywhere in the nation can provide housing to victims of severe storms, flooding, landslides and mudslides in Colorado that began Sept. 11.
Because of the widespread devastation to housing caused by storms and flooding, the IRS will temporarily suspend certain limitations for qualified low-income housing projects that house people displaced by the storms and flooding. The action will expand the availability of housing for disaster victims and their families. Further details are available in Notice 2013-63 and Notice 2013-64, posted today on IRS.gov.
The IRS recently announced other relief available to affected taxpayers in the presiden…

HOW TO CHOOSE THE RIGHT SCREENING COMPANY….

As with most things, there are many options available when it comes to screening possible tenants. Today landlords have even more options then ever before and the results and effort required can range greatly from a good ol’ gut check to having tenants supply their own credit reports or digging a little deeper and having a screening company verify application information. You may feel overwhelmed and unsure about how to get the best information for the least amount of money.


Having been in the industry for 29 years, RSI employees have seen it all. We have heard countless horror stories about how massively other screening measures have failed a given landlord. And while we always say “go with your gut” the advice is constantly balanced with the addendum “be sure to check the facts”.

Here is a step by step guide to accomplishing exactly that:

1.)Do not put all the power in the tenant’s hands!
Many new screening companies offer tenant driven background screening. The setup process is le…

Boulder Landlord-Tenant Q & A w/ Attorneys

City of Boulder Community Mediation Service sponsors Q&A for landlords and tenants affected by the flood
The City of Boulder Community Mediation Program is hosting a Q&A session with local landlord –tenant attorneys on Thursday, Sept. 26 from 5:30-7:30 p.m. in Council Chambers, 1777 Broadway.
Attorneys will be on hand to answer flood-related questions and explain legal rights under the Colorado landlord tenant law including the warranty of habitability.
The program is free and open to the public.  Flyer is attached.
For more information, contact Community Mediation Service at 303-441-4364.

Trash Receptacles for Flood Debris

Sept. 15, 2013 - City, County to Provide Trash Receptacles for Flood Debris at Various Community Locations Sunday, Sept. 15, 2013
Media Contacts: 720-564-2935 (EOC Media Line) City, county to provide trash receptacles for flood debris at various community locations The City of Boulder and Boulder County have been working collaboratively to place trash receptacles ("roll-off" containers or Dumpsters) at various locations to collect flood-damaged debris. Delivery begins Sunday, Sept. 15 and will take two to three days. Initial locations are listed below. Residents are encouraged to use this resource for safe removal of spoiled food, damaged carpet, household materials and other flood-related debris. The trash receptacles will be emptied daily and will remain in place for a limited period of time, based on need. Materials that CANNOT be placed in the receptacles include: Electronics, such as computers, monitors and televisions. By state law these cannot be disposed i…

Boulder Drinking Water

BARHA Members and residents of Boulder, BE CAREFUL with DRINKING WATER for now, even if they say it is OK. There can be breaches and cracks in sewer pipes after flooding throughout urban areas, even if small, and certain waste-water plants in our area have been compromised, and when that happens, contaminated water can go anywhere, and follow any flow across flooded areas, parks,  on land or into any creeks, ditches, etc. and get into other water.  Be careful with faucet drinking/cooking water for now, even if they say it is okay.
(You can fill 5 gal bottles at El Dorado or Indian Peaks...with El Dorado evacuation, might be easier to get to Indian Peaks on N Broadway across from YellowPine Rd or where N Bld Spruce Cafe is located....across Broadway from that...small funky little office on West side of Broadway, must go there first). Or whatever other way you can do to be safe. They recommend not using tap water for drinking, cooking, brushing teeth, at least.

Here is one e…

COLORADO NOW AN ATTRACTIVE LIMITED LIABILITY STATE

The Colorado Supreme Court recently ruled that owners and managers of limited liability companies (LLC) now have less exposure to personal liability and no fiduciary duty toward creditors should the company become insolvent.
Limited liability companies are primarily governed by each state’s LLC Act and LLC operating agreement. It is in this way that courts across the nation are being asked to determine a standard for LLC accountability. This landmark ruling makes Colorado very attractive to potential owners and managers forming new LLCs and serves as a precedent for other states.
The rental industry in Colorado could stand to benefit greatly because of this appealing reduction to personal liability. Existing property owners operating under LLC can now take a deep breath and new property owners will be drawn to the state for its lower risk investment potential.
-H. Evans

EMPLOYEE BACKGROUND SCREENING STANDS STRONG FOR SAFER COMMUNITIES…

In April, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) updated its approach to employee background screening.
Many anticipated that the EEOC would be implementing restrictions on the amount of information employers are allowed to monitor when hiring. Outright restrictions would have gone so far as to omit screening for a potential employee’s criminal history.
Does an employer have the right to pry into their employees personal lives, in order to establish a pattern of high risk behavior? If a person has a history of theft or violence, do we in the rental community owe it to our residents and staff to be aware of these potential threats and prevent such activity to the best of our ability?
Should the EEOC have moved forward with the restrictions, the safety of residents and staff in rental communities would have been greatly impacted. Instead, they recognized a company’s right to conduct consistent and unbiased, job-related background checks thereby ensuring a foundation for a s…

THESE THINGS ARE NOT AS THEY SEEM…

It is the classic nightmare for rental property owners. You do everything possible to protect yourself and your investment from the unscrupulous renter…dutifully screen the applicant for any criminal history…any eviction history…you take a close look at their credit report…you call their references and verify employment and salary. Everything looks stellar, perfect and wonderful…until it isn’t.
The worst has happened and you ask yourself: HOW did this person get past all of my efforts weed out high risk residents? The answer is simple…criminals are not above stealing. Identity theft paints these criminals as stellar residents gaining them access to your rental property.
Avoid finding yourself mired in nightmare tenancy by following these three simple steps:
1.)Obtain social security verification in all your screening reports
2.)Check for valid photo identification on each applicant
3.)Conduct regular inspections on your rental property to stay on top of any problems before they get out…

Nobody wants to be sued!

Recently HUD issued a Final Ruling on disparate impact, which went into effect March 18, 2013.
If you’re not sure what disparate impact is let’s start at the beginning... Congress enacted the Fair Housing Act-FHA in 1968 and revised it in 1988 "to provide, within constitutional limitations, for fair housing throughout the United States." The key provisions prohibit discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, disability, familial status or national origin in connection with residential real estate transactions.
The courts have recognized two forms of discrimination. The first is Disparate Treatment. This is an intentional discriminatory act. The second is Disparate Impact. This is a practice that is seemingly neutral in its treatment of different groups but may result in one group of people being more harshly treated than another.

HUD’s Final Ruling on disparate impact states that a practice is deemed to have a discriminatory effect “where it actually or predic…