A list of need-to-know and don't-forget items

Checklist

(Click on titles to expand content.)

 

Insure your Property
Before you even begin searching for a tenant, consider purchasing landlord insurance. A landlords insurance policy is the best way to protect your investment and covers you in case renters cause damage or take legal action against you.

Keep in mind, however, it is a good idea for the tenant to also get renters insurance, as landlord insurance does not cover personal belongings.

Advertise/List Your Property
To market your property and find the right tenant, you can try any of the following tactics:

  • Post the listing on rental websites
  • Share property information with followers on social media
  • Place an ad in the local paper
  • Utilize word of mouth
Provide Application Forms
If using an application form, it's a good idea to give a standard application to all prospective tenants. It can cover leasing terms and request all important information, such as:

  • Employment history and income information
  • Social Security number
  • References, including previous landlords
  • Rental history, including evictions
  • Pet information

Once you put together your application forms, it is always smart to have an attorney review them before giving to the tenant.

Collect rent checks through a P.O. box, drop box, electronic transfer, or PayPal, and don't share your home address with your tenant.

Run a Credit Check
If someone has a low credit score and a history of not paying their bills, they may not be the ideal tenant. In some states, landlords are allowed to charge the applicant for the cost of running a credit check. If not, the landlord will have to pay for it—but it might be worth the cost. A credit report can give you insight into important financial information, such as:

  • History of late payments
  • Accounts in collections
  • Bankruptcies
  • Current debt
Conduct a Background Check
Running a background check can give you details about the applicant's past, including:

  • Criminal history
  • Relevant public records, such as legal disputes
  • Eviction history

Please note: Landlords cannot use any background check service available. According to the Fair Credit Reporting Act, you must use a Consumer Reporting Agency.

Sign Rental Agreement
Once you have taken all of the necessary precautions to screen your tenant, schedule some time to review and sign the lease. This is the last chance you have to bring up any concerns or note any disagreements before entering into a contract.
Set Up Payment Methods
Figure out how you want to receive payments (including security deposit and first and last month's rent, if applicable), and try to establish that expectation up front. Aside from getting a check each month, there are a few options for rent collection available:

  • Direct Account Transfers: A simple and free solution if your bank allows it, but you have to give your account and routing number to your tenant.
  • ACH: An automated clearing house allows you to withdraw money directly from the tenant's bank account.
  • PayPal: Collecting rent via PayPal is fairly easy, but is hard to automate and can come with fees, depending on the source of the funds.
  • Rent Collection Services: These systems can automate collection and even late fees, but you usually have to pay monthly for the service.
Conduct a Move-In Inspection
At the end of the move-in process, consider doing an inspection with the tenant to document any issues. By noting any cosmetic problems and making sure everything is functioning properly upon move-in, you will better know if there is additional damage when the tenant moves out of the home.
Provide Tenants with Keys and Rental Property Information
Once you have completed all of the steps above, it's time to give your tenant(s) the keys and copies of all the paperwork. This would also be the time to collect the security, cleaning and pet deposits, as well as first and last month's rent (if applicable).
click to view the landlord lifecycle infographic
The general information contained in Landlord Toolkit is provided as a courtesy, and is for informational and entertainment purposes only. The contents are subject to periodic change without notice. The information and sample forms provided in the Landlord Toolkit are not intended to replace official sources. Although every attempt will be made to ensure that the information is accurate and timely, the information is presented "as is" and without warranties. Information contained in the Landlord Toolkit should not be mistaken for professional advice. Information contained herein should not be considered error-free and should not be used as the exclusive basis for decision-making. Use of website information is strictly voluntary and at the user's sole risk.

Other resources linked from these pages are maintained by independent providers. The Allstate Insurance Company does not monitor all linked resources and cannot guarantee their accuracy. Statements, views and opinions included in an independent provider's material are strictly those of the author(s). These views may not necessarily represent the opinions or policies of the Allstate Insurance Company, its agents, officers or employees

Coverage subject to terms, conditions, and availability. Policy issuance is subject to qualifications. Allstate Insurance Company, Allstate Indemnity Company, Allstate Fire and Casualty Insurance Company, Allstate Property and Casualty Insurance Company, Northbrook, IL. © 2014 Allstate Insurance Company, Northbrook, IL.

Get A Quote

Your location is set for:

Ashburn, VA 20147 Edit
Retrieve a saved quote

Agents Near 20147

Agent finder map
ECC Monitor: OK