The residential property management field is continually shaped by evolving legislation, and the recent passage of SENATE BILL 23-184 in Colorado is a prime example of such a transformation.
This legislation introduces changes directly affecting how properties are managed, particularly regarding tenant vetting and financial requirements. As a property manager, it is imperative to understand and adapt to these changes to ensure compliance with the law and protect property owners' interests.
This article will delve into the specifics of SENATE BILL 23-184, breaking down its key elements and what they mean for property management. This bill represents a notable shift in the landlord-tenant dynamic, from new restrictions on income and rental history considerations in tenant screening to introducing caps on security deposits.
We will focus on interpreting these changes and exploring how they will influence our day-to-day operations in property management. We will also discuss the strategies and measures we are implementing to stay aligned with the spirit of the bill while continuing to safeguard the interests of our clients.
This article is designed to clearly explain SENATE BILL 23-184 and how it affects our work in property management. Our goal is to stay ahead of these changes and use our expertise to keep everything running smoothly and legally, ensuring we continue to succeed in the Colorado real estate market.
Under the new guidelines set forth by SENATE BILL 23-184, the tenant vetting process in Colorado will undergo notable changes, particularly in rental and credit history evaluation and income considerations.
Property managers and landlords have traditionally relied on rental and credit histories to gauge a tenant's reliability and financial stability. This traditional approach often included scrutinizing years of past financial data. This new bill only allows us to examine the previous seven years of financial data.
This shift represents a significant departure from past practices, where longer historical insights were crucial in making informed tenant selections.
Generally, a seven-year credit history is considered a substantial period to evaluate an individual's financial behavior. This time frame should encompass significant financial events in a person's life, such as debt handling, payment regularity, and major financial setbacks or recoveries.
Most negative items, like bankruptcies (except Chapter 7, which can stay for 10 years), collections, and late payments, fall off the credit report after seven years, which can provide a reasonably current perspective on a tenant's financial stability.
Although checking credit history beyond seven years can make us feel more secure, looking at a tenant's rental history and talking to their previous landlords gives us a clearer idea of what they'll be like as a tenant.
The bill also introduces changes to specific income criteria. The 3X rule has been a standard in the We have traditionally looked for a tenant to earn 300% of their annual rent to qualify. This new bill changes this to 200%
For tenants receiving housing subsidies like Section 8, landlords are now restricted from inquiring about their total income except to verify that it meets a minimum threshold — at least 200% of their portion of the rent.
For non-subsidized tenants, income requirements imposed by landlords cannot exceed 200% of the annual rent.
These provisions mark a big shift from the more open-ended income assessments of the past. This could increase the risk for landlords, as it limits their ability to fully assess a tenant's financial capacity and the risks associated with late or missed rent payments.
However, it's important to note that while these changes might appear to constrain the vetting process, they are designed to promote fairness and prevent discrimination based on income. Violating these new regulations carries significant penalties, including fines and potential legal repercussions.
The penalties for violating the SENATE BILL 23-184 guidelines are significant and designed to enforce compliance strictly. If a landlord violates certain sections of this bill, they face an initial fine of fifty dollars, which must be paid to the person affected by the violation.
If the landlord does not correct this violation promptly, they are then subject to a much larger penalty of two thousand five hundred dollars in addition to the initial fine. This larger penalty also includes any economic damages, court costs, and attorney fees that may be incurred. Furthermore, those seeking to address these violations legally do not need to go through administrative procedures first, indicating the seriousness of these offenses. These substantial penalties highlight the importance of fully understanding and adhering to the bill's requirements to avoid legal and financial consequences.
Our commitment, as always, is to ensure that our vetting processes comply with these new legal requirements and maintain their thoroughness. Although we are now operating within more defined parameters, our vetting process has always been detailed and rigorous. We understand the importance of finding reliable tenants while adhering to legal and ethical standards. As such, we are exploring the most comprehensive methods of tenant vetting that align with the letter and spirit of SENATE BILL 23-184. This approach will safeguard our clients' interests and prospective tenants' rights, ensuring a balanced and fair property management environment in Colorado.
Section 5 of SENATE BILL 23-184 introduces a significant change regarding security deposits, directly impacting property management practices in Colorado. This section of the bill caps security deposits at a maximum of two months' rent, a measure aimed at reducing the upfront financial burden on tenants. This legislative change aligns with the broader intent of the bill to create more equitable and accessible housing opportunities.
Traditionally, in cases where a tenant's application was borderline in meeting our qualification guidelines, our policy has been to ask for a double deposit. This practice served as a risk mitigation strategy, safeguarding against potential financial losses, such as damages or unpaid rent. With the new bill, this approach coincidentally aligns with the imposed cap, meaning our existing policy for borderline cases remains compliant with the new legal framework.
However, the bill's broader implications, particularly the restrictions on tenant vetting, necessitate reassessing our risk management strategies. Given the more limited scope for background checks and financial vetting, requesting the maximum allowable security deposit may be needed more frequently as a form of risk mitigation. This approach would be instead of the more thorough background checks now constrained under the new guidelines.
It is important to note that while this adjustment to our deposit policy helps mitigate some risks associated with the looser vetting requirements, it also adheres to the spirit of the new bill, which seeks to balance tenant protections with the legitimate business interests of landlords and property managers. By implementing this strategy, we can safeguard our clients' properties effectively while complying with the updated legal requirements.
In summary, Section 5's cap on security deposits requires us to be more strategic in our approach to risk management. While we align with this new regulation by default in some instances, we also recognize the need to adapt our policies to maintain our properties' integrity and financial stability in this new legislative environment.
Section 6 deals with discrimination and a tenant's defense during an eviction proceeding. The provision in SENATE BILL 23-184 that allows tenants to assert an affirmative defense based on a landlord's violation of specific housing laws is highly significant in managing tenant relations and protecting landlords from potential legal challenges. This provision empowers tenants with a robust legal tool to defend themselves in eviction proceedings or similar disputes. Understanding and addressing this provision is crucial for several reasons:
Increased Legal Scrutiny for Landlords: This provision places landlords under closer legal scrutiny. If a tenant can successfully prove that a landlord has violated anti-discrimination or housing laws, it can significantly weaken the landlord's position in legal proceedings. Therefore, landlords need to be meticulous in complying with all housing regulations to prevent any potential defensive claims by tenants.
Encouragement of Fair Practices: The provision serves as a strong deterrent against any unfair or discriminatory practices by landlords. By giving tenants this legal leverage, it encourages landlords to engage in fair, ethical, and lawful management practices. This is not only beneficial for maintaining a good reputation but also crucial for avoiding legal complications.
Importance of Documentation and Record Keeping: In light of this provision, landlords should maintain thorough and accurate records of all interactions, transactions, and decisions related to tenants and property management. Good documentation can serve as vital evidence in case a tenant asserts such a defense, helping to prove that the landlord has complied with all relevant laws.
Need for Legal Awareness and Training: Landlords and property managers should be well-informed about the specifics of housing and anti-discrimination laws. Regular training and legal updates can be beneficial to ensure ongoing compliance and understanding of how these laws apply to their day-to-day operations.
Risk Management: This provision highlights the importance of proactive risk management in property dealings. Landlords should assess their policies and practices regularly to ensure they align with legal requirements. This might include revising tenant screening processes, lease agreements, and the handling of tenant complaints or concerns.
Consultation with Legal Experts: Given the complexities and potential legal ramifications, consulting with legal experts specializing in property law is advisable. They can provide guidance on compliance and help in formulating strategies to protect against such defenses by tenants.
In conclusion, this provision underscores the necessity for landlords to operate meticulously within the bounds of the law. It's a reminder that the legal landscape in property management is dynamic and requires continuous attention and adaptation. By prioritizing legal compliance and ethical management practices, landlords can effectively protect themselves against the tenants' potential use of this affirmative defense.
Radon is a radioactive, odorless gas naturally found in soil and groundwater—it has long been a concern for public health. Recognized by authorities such as the U.S. Surgeon General and the World Health Organization, as a carcinogenic toxin, radon is the leading cause of lung cancer among non-smokers. It is responsible for approximately 500 deaths annually in Colorado alone.
Radon is a naturally occurring radioactive gas that comes from the decay of uranium in the soil and rocks beneath the Earth's surface. Here's how it can enter homes:
Think of your home as a vacuum, sucking in radon from the ground. Especially in poorly ventilated homes, radon can accumulate to harmful levels.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommends reducing radon levels in homes with a radon level at or above 4 picocuries per liter (pCi/L) of air. It's worth noting that the EPA does not describe any level of radon exposure as "safe," but the 4 pCi/L level is where the agency recommends taking corrective action.
Given the gravity of the risks, the Colorado State Senate has taken decisive action to protect its residents by enacting SENATE BILL 23-206. This legislation significantly expands the scope of radon disclosure laws, setting rigorous new protections and guidelines that impact tenants and landlords.
Radon experts recommend different testing based on the history of radon in a particular property. Here's a breakdown of recommendations for the State of Colorado:
The recommendation to test regularly exists for a couple of reasons. First, radon levels can fluctuate over time due to changes in soil composition, water tables, or even construction activity nearby. A test a few years ago may not accurately reflect the current situation.
Second, seasonal variations can significantly affect radon levels. For example, radon tends to accumulate in higher concentrations during winter when homes are sealed off from the outside. This can create a false sense of security if a test is conducted during a season when radon levels are typically lower.
Regular testing ensures that you can take timely action if levels rise above the recommended safety limits, thereby protecting the health of all occupants.
SENATE BILL 23-206 is a comprehensive update to Colorado's radon disclosure laws, enhancing transparency and safety in residential property transactions. It's a legislative effort to regulate the presence of radon, an odorless, radioactive gas linked to lung cancer, in homes across Colorado.
This bill mandates that landlords disclose whether a property has been tested for elevated radon levels, among other critical information. The legislation also enforces tenants' rights to know about radon risks before signing a lease.
It introduces the possibility for tenants to void a lease if landlords do not comply with these disclosure requirements. By setting these measures, the bill aims to minimize radon-induced health risks by ensuring that homebuyers and renters are well-informed before making a housing decision.
Before the enactment of SENATE BILL 23-206, Colorado's approach to radon primarily catered to homebuyers rather than tenants. Real estate transactions often included a radon advisory clause that informed potential buyers of the risks associated with radon exposure and recommended that they conduct tests before purchasing a home.
However, no explicit protections were in place for tenants that mandated landlords to disclose information about radon levels in rental properties. While buyers had some safeguards through contractual advisories, renters navigated a more ambiguous landscape with less clarity and protection. SENATE BILL 23-206 aims to change this imbalance by introducing explicit disclosure requirements for landlords, thereby leveling the playing field for buyers and renters.
Inclusion of Tenants: Perhaps the most groundbreaking aspect of this bill is its inclusion of rental properties. Unlike before, landlords must now provide tenants with radon disclosures before signing a lease. This plugs a significant gap, as tenants were largely overlooked in prior radon regulations.
Tenant Rights: If landlords don’t comply with the new radon requirements, tenants can void the lease. This is a powerful incentive for landlords to comply with the new legislation, giving tenants a recourse mechanism.
Warranty of Habitability: The bill integrates the issue of radon into Colorado’s warranty of habitability laws. Non-compliance with the new radon disclosure requirements can result in landlords breaching this warranty, adding another layer of tenant protection.
Real Estate Commission’s Role: The bill tasks the Real Estate Commission with creating rules to implement these new disclosure requirements, thereby involving a regulatory body to oversee and ensure compliance.
Exemptions Clarified: Individuals testing or mitigating radon in their own homes are exempt from these regulations. This provides a clear exemption pathway that was not explicitly stated in prior laws.
Effective Date: The law takes effect 90 days after the general assembly adjourns unless a referendum petition is filed. It applies to contracts and leases entered into after this date, making it a forward-looking regulation.
In summary, SENATE BILL 23-206 considerably updates and expands existing radon laws in Colorado. It shifts from mere advisories to explicit requirements, expands protection to renters, and imposes greater obligations on sellers and landlords, thereby offering a more comprehensive approach to managing radon risks.
Tenants' Right to Know: One of the major shifts with SENATE BILL 23-206 is that tenants now have a legal right to know if a rental property has been tested for radon. This adds a layer of transparency that was previously missing and largely focused on homebuyers.
Landlord Disclosures: The bill mandates landlords provide detailed radon disclosures to prospective tenants if they know of any radon tests and the results before signing a lease. This is significant because landlords are now legally obligated to be transparent about radon risks and any mitigation measures are taken.
Ability to Void Leases: The legislation empowers tenants to void a lease if the landlord fails to meet radon disclosure and mitigation requirements. This is a major leverage point for tenants, allowing them to take decisive action if their safety is compromised.
Integration into Warranty of Habitability: Perhaps the most impactful aspect of this new law is incorporating radon issues into Colorado’s warranty of habitability. If a landlord fails to comply with radon disclosure requirements, they effectively breach this warranty, offering tenants another layer of legal protection.
In summary, SENATE BILL 23-206 greatly enhances protections for tenants while holding landlords more accountable for radon disclosures and mitigation. It closes existing gaps in legislation by extending key features initially designed for homebuyers to the rental market. It's a win for tenant safety and a call for greater responsibility for landlords.
SENATE BILL 23-206 represents a significant milestone in Colorado's approach to radon safety, particularly for tenants. While previous regulations primarily catered to home buyers, this legislation extends crucial protections to renters, making the rental landscape more transparent and accountable.
For landlords, the bill necessitates an update in disclosure practices and incorporation of radon safety into the very fabric of the leasing agreement vis-à-vis the warranty of habitability. To prepare for these changes, landlords should act proactively by conducting radon tests, updating lease agreements with the required disclosures, and familiarizing themselves with tenants' new rights.
On the other hand, tenants should educate themselves on this bill's provisions, ask the right questions before signing any lease, and be aware of their new rights, including the ability to void a lease if landlords fail to comply. Essentially, this bill prompts a paradigm shift, making radon safety a collective responsibility rather than a one-sided affair.
Understanding reasonable accommodations and reasonable modifications is essential for landlords navigating today's multifaceted housing market. These terms describe the changes a landlord or housing provider may be required to make—either to policies or physical features—that make residential spaces more accessible for individuals with disabilities.
Comprehension and compliance with these terms isn't just a moral duty; it's also a legal requirement. Failure to make these adjustments can lead to legal repercussions.
This article serves as a guide to demystifying these important terms, enlightening a property owner or property manager on creating accessible housing while fulfilling their legal obligations.
Reasonable accommodations refer to changes in rules, policies, or services that make a residential property more accessible for individuals with disabilities. Unlike modifications, these adjustments don't involve altering the physical structure of a property but focus on adapting existing practices and services.
Understanding and implementing such accommodations is a legal requirement for landlords and contributes to a more inclusive and equitable living environment for tenants with a disability-related need.
Reasonable modifications are physical or structural changes made to a rental property's living space or common areas to accommodate special conditions or a tenant's disability. Unlike accommodations, which involve changes to rules or policies, modifications require actual changes to the physical structure of the dwelling.
Comprehending and appropriately implementing reasonable modifications is crucial for landlords, not just to adhere to legal obligations under laws like the Federal Fair Housing Act, but also to offer an inclusive and accessible living environment for all tenants.
A Property Manager or Landlord has specific legal obligations to accommodate tenants who make a reasonable accommodation request. If the tenant is disabled under various U.S. laws, primarily the Federal Fair Housing Act (FHA). These obligations serve to level the playing field, ensuring that people with disabilities have equal access to housing opportunities. Failure to meet these obligations can result in legal consequences, including fines and potential lawsuits.
When and How to Comply with Requests for Accommodations or Modifications
Understanding the law and its requirements is essential for any landlord. By knowing when and how to comply with requests for accommodations or modifications, landlords fulfill their legal obligations and contribute to an inclusive living environment.
Understanding the legal framework surrounding federal nondiscrimination laws, reasonable accommodations, and modifications in residential housing involves two major U.S. laws: the Federal Fair Housing Act (FHA) and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
Role in Residential Housing:
The FHA is the cornerstone of anti-discrimination laws in housing. FHA fair housing laws prohibit discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, disability, familial status, and national origin. Under the FHA, landlords are obligated to make reasonable accommodations and modifications to provide equal housing opportunities for individuals with disabilities.
Implications for Accommodations and Modifications:
The FHA mandates that landlords must make, or allow tenants to make, reasonable modifications to their living space or to common use areas at the tenant's expense. Furthermore, landlords must make reasonable accommodations in rules, policies, practices, or services to give people with disabilities equal opportunities to use and enjoy a dwelling.
Relevance to Residential Housing:
While the ADA primarily focuses on common use spaces and public spaces, it does have limited applicability in residential settings. The ADA applies to rental offices or any other places that are open to the public within residential complexes. For example, if a rental office is located within an apartment complex, that office must be ADA-compliant.
Overlap with FHA:
Some aspects of ADA and FHA do overlap, especially when a residential complex offers amenities that are open to the public. For instance, swimming pools or gyms within a residential complex might need to comply with ADA guidelines in addition to FHA requirements.
Both these terms come into play under the FHA, which specifies that landlords must provide reasonable accommodations and allow reasonable modifications. The ADA might also come into the picture if the residential property has public spaces.
In summary, both the FHA and ADA contribute to shaping the landscape for reasonable accommodations and modifications in residential settings. Landlords need to be well-versed in the specifications and requirements of both acts to ensure full compliance and to offer an inclusive and accessible environment.
Various federal and state agencies and local governments enforce compliance with laws surrounding reasonable accommodations and modifications.
Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD):
This is the primary federal agency responsible for enforcing the FHA. HUD would investigate a fair housing complaint, provide guidelines, and initiate lawsuits against landlords or property managers for non-compliance.
In a nutshell, compliance with reasonable accommodation and modification laws is enforced primarily by HUD at the federal level. The stakes for non-compliance are high, involving severe legal and financial consequences including federal court. Therefore, understanding and adhering to these laws are crucial for landlords.
Handling a requested accommodation or modifications requires a careful, systematic approach to ensure compliance with the law and maintain good tenant relationships. The administrative burden for these requests falls on the landlord or property manager.
By implementing robust documentation and record-keeping procedures and effective communication strategies, landlords can handle requests for accommodations and modifications in a manner that respects the law and the tenant's needs. It’s important to maintain the standard for all requests, not on a case-by-case basis.
Understanding real-world cases can offer valuable insights into how to successfully comply with accommodation and modification requests or the consequences of failing to do so.
Example 1: Successful Compliance Situation:
A tenant with a mobility impairment requested that grab bars be installed in the bathroom for safety.
Landlord Action: The landlord approved the request and worked with the tenant to install the grab bars, even going so far as to cover the cost as a goodwill gesture.
Lesson Learned: Prompt and empathetic action can build a strong, positive relationship with tenants, going beyond mere legal compliance. It also fortifies the landlord's reputation as fair and accommodating.
Example 2: Failure to Comply Situation: A tenant required an emotional support animal, but the apartment had a strict "no pets" policy.
Landlord Action: The landlord denied the request, stating that the "no pets" policy was non-negotiable.
Consequence: The tenant filed a complaint with HUD, which led to an investigation and subsequent fines against the landlord for discrimination under the FHA.
Lesson Learned: Rigid policies that aren't adjusted for reasonable accommodations can lead to legal consequences and damage to reputation. It underscores the importance of understanding and complying with laws relating to reasonable accommodations.
In summary, these case studies show that successful compliance benefits both the landlord and the tenant, creating a harmonious living environment. Failure to comply not only invites legal ramifications but can also significantly harm a landlord's reputation and future business prospects.
Conclusion: Key Takeaways and Continued Education
Navigating the terrain of reasonable accommodations and modifications is critical to modern property management. Landlords must comply with federal laws, most notably the FHA and ADA, to provide equal housing opportunities for all tenants, including those with disabilities.
Keeping abreast of legal requirements isn't just about avoiding penalties; it's also about building a more inclusive, equitable environment for all. The benefits extend beyond compliance, improving tenant relations and, by extension, the overall success of your property management efforts.
In an ever-changing world, the laws and regulations governing landlord responsibilities will inevitably evolve. Continuous education, consultation with legal experts, and proactive management are your best tools for staying ahead of the curve and successfully meeting the needs of all tenants.
If you rent your home, following the terms of your lease is one key to a smooth living experience in your rental home. This includes any responsibilities around home maintenance and utilities.
Renting a single-family home generally comes with different responsibilities than renting an apartment. In an apartment setting, the building management usually handles most maintenance tasks. However, when you're in a single-family home, you'll often find that you're responsible for some basic maintenance activities. These can range from yard work to maintenance items around the house.
Many of these tasks require active utilities; for example, you'll need water for lawn care, electricity for power tools, a service for trash collection, and possibly gas for heating systems. It's not just about paying the utility bills; it's also about understanding how utilities play into your broader responsibilities as a renter in a single-family home.
When it comes to utilities, the most straightforward scenario for a tenant is to include all utilities in their monthly rent. However, this is relatively rare, particularly in single-family home rentals, for several reasons that pose potential problems for the landlord.
For these reasons, most landlords require tenants to handle utility payments separately from the monthly rent to protect their financial interests and encourage responsible utility usage.
Many tenants are taken aback by the high utility costs they face and might resort to reducing or shutting off their utilities to save money. However, this can result in property damage. Therefore, it's crucial to read your lease carefully and understand your responsibilities about utilities. Before signing a lease, it's a good idea to research and find out what utility costs you can expect so you're not caught off guard.
One common mistake people make when moving out of a rental unit is turning off the utilities. While it may seem easy to cut expenses, it can lead to several problems, such as water damage, frozen pipes, and an unkempt landscape. If the landlord has to turn the utilities back on, you could be liable for additional costs, including repairs and restoration. Therefore, keeping the utilities on until your lease expires or until you are completely moved out is best.
It's important to avoid the common mistake of moving out while still owing money for utilities. This can create problems for your landlord and delay new prospective tenants' move-in process. Failing to pay your utility bills can damage your rental history and negatively impact your credit score.
So, whether you're a long-standing tenant or someone new to renting, being well-informed about your utility responsibilities ensures a smooth living situation for everyone involved. Always manage your utility expenses according to what your lease agreement stipulates.
Both tenants and landlords need to understand that shutting off utilities can create significant complications, even if it seems like a logical step to take when vacating a property. To avoid issues, tenants should always seek the landlord's permission before requesting a utility company to shut off any utilities. By doing so, tenants can ensure a smooth transition, avoid unnecessary costs, and maintain a positive relationship with their landlord.
Let's review some best practices concerning rental property utilities to guide you in maintaining a great relationship with your landlord and clarify your roles as a tenant. This isn't just about rules; it's about making your renting experience as smooth as possible while being a responsible tenant.
First and foremost, as a tenant, you should never disconnect, cancel, or terminate utility services, be it water, natural gas, or air conditioning. While tenants in most single-family rentals are generally responsible for their own monthly utility payments, it's crucial to understand that you're also accountable for any damage that might occur to the property due to utility disconnection. This applies whether you're going out of town, leaving the rental home early, or breaking the lease.
Utility companies and the property owner rely on consistent utility usage to maintain the rental unit's condition. Interruptions in service can lead to various risks, including damage to the property for which you could be liable. If any damage occurs due to utilities being shut off, the property owner has the right to deduct the cost of repairs from your security deposit. Managing your monthly costs for utilities responsibly not only safeguards you against unexpected expenses but also ensures a smooth living experience for everyone involved.
Understanding the potential damages when utilities are disconnected can help you make informed decisions as a tenant. Here are some key points to consider:
Consistent utility services are crucial for a smooth move and to avoid additional costs and complications.
There will often be a reconnect fee when the landlord has the utilities turned back on. In addition to the damages, this fee can also be taken out of your security deposit.
If you're a tenant having trouble paying your utility bills, you're not alone; help is available. Look into local utility assistance programs that can help you cover costs like electricity and heating. These programs are usually easy to apply for, but you might need to show that you need the help. These programs can save you from late fees and keep your utilities running.
Here are several programs aimed at helping tenants who are struggling to pay their utility bills. These include federal, state, and local government initiatives and programs run by utility companies and nonprofit organizations. Here are a few examples:
Do your research before signing a lease. Falling behind on utility payments can hurt your credit score and relationship with the landlord. Seek help proactively to avoid problems.
If you can't pay your utility bills and don't qualify for assistance programs, talk to your landlord. You both have a shared interest in keeping the property in good shape. Working together on a solution is a smart move.
While the utilities shouldn’t be disconnected, the unfortunate fact is that it still can happen. Tenants cancel the services instead of transferring them, or unpaid utility bills pile up, resulting in the utility company shutting them off. For this reason, landlords should proactively take steps to help protect themselves and their property.
Here’s a look at a few things that landlords can do:
Here is a look at some important lease clauses that should be included in the lease:
In many cases, if there is an outstanding balance on the account, the utility company will not provide services to the next tenant, and in some cases, the landlord, before the balance has been paid. For this reason, any outstanding balances the tenant owes should be pursued.
Note: Just as tenants should avoid turning off the utilities at the rental property, landlords should also. While some landlords may be tempted to shut off a tenant’s utilities due to a violation of the lease or in an attempt to force an eviction, in almost every situation, this is against the law, and doing so could result in the tenant taking legal action against the landlord. Landlords need to ensure that they refer to and abide by the eviction laws in their state.
As a responsible tenant, staying informed about utilities is essential to fulfill your obligations and maintain a positive relationship with your landlord. In case your landlord overlooks providing utility information, you can proactively follow these best practices to ensure a seamless experience.
If you have any questions regarding your rental agreement or concerning your utilities, it’s important that you ask your landlord. Always ask questions about utility services and the billing process before you sign the lease.
Here are a few good questions to ask:
The term utility refers to several different services. Standard utilities include electricity, gas, water, sewer, and garbage. Other services such as phone, cable, and internet –are additional amenities. Tenants are generally responsible for most utilities in single-family rentals. However, in some cases, landlords may cover the cost of utilities that are required but fall outside of the scope of what we would consider standard utilities; this includes things like Internet service or security system subscriptions. It's important to note that each rental agreement varies, so it's crucial to clarify which utilities are your responsibility.
Set Up Your Utility Accounts Promptly
Transfer the utilities into your name as soon as possible upon moving in. In some cases, you may even be able to schedule a utility transfer before you move in. Note that as a tenant, you are only responsible for the utilities you use during your tenancy.
Pay Your Bills on Time
Paying your utilities promptly and on time is important. It’s also a good idea to keep documentation of the payment and any communication between you and the utility company and/or landlord in reference to your bills. By keeping current with your bill, you will reduce your chances of running into problems. Tenants behind on utility payments should contact their utility provider to resolve the issue quickly.
Take Action to Resolve Utility Disputes Quickly
The key to resolving most disputes is documentation. If your utility company has a problem with your payment or lack thereof, having the proper documentation to prove that you did make the payment can help to keep you out of trouble. If you have a problem with your bill, take steps to reconcile this quickly so as not to incur any late fees and to avoid disruptions with your services.
At the end of the day, utilities are usually the tenant’s responsibility, but ultimately, the rental is the landlord's property. Because of this, any damage caused by or expenses incurred from shutting off utilities or failing to pay can usually be taken directly from the security deposit.
Tenants –if you have any questions regarding the utilities for your rental property – don’t hesitate to ask your landlord or property manager. Being well-informed on your rights, as well as your responsibilities as a tenant is vital for ensuring that you abide by the terms of your lease and can help to save you from a tremendous amount of money –and hassle.
Using the correct agreements and documents can make all the difference in residential property management. One essential contract is the lease listing agreement, which connects property owners with real estate brokers to market a property for rent.
This agreement sets clear terms, helping ensure a smooth rental process. Understanding the lease listing agreement is crucial in successful property management for residential or commercial spaces.
This is different than the Property Management Agreement but equally as important. Let’s start with understanding the “Lease Listing Agreement.”
The lease listing agreement is a contract between a property owner and a property manager (or listing broker). This agreement grants the broker the exclusive right or authority to market the property for rent and find suitable tenants.
The lease listing agreement includes information about
The lease listing agreement mainly focuses on giving the broker the right to market the property and find a tenant. It doesn't include the broker's responsibility to check the renter's credit or background. If the broker also manages the property long-term, those duties would be in the Property Management agreement. Often, homeowners who manage their property themselves will use a lease listing agreement with a broker to find a tenant. After the tenant is found, it's up to the owner to do any necessary checks.
In residential real estate, a property management agreement is a legal contract between a property owner (or landlord) and a property management company or individual property manager. This agreement outlines both parties' responsibilities, rights, and expectations, along with any details of the specific tasks the property manager will perform on behalf of the owner.
Here's what a property management agreement typically includes in the context of residential real estate:
The property management agreement is the foundation for the professional relationship between the owner and the property manager in residential real estate. It provides a structured framework for managing the property effectively, ensuring the owner's investment is cared for, and tenants receive appropriate services and support. By clearly defining roles, responsibilities, and expectations, this agreement helps foster trust and cooperation, contributing to a successful long-term partnership.
In the multifaceted realm of residential property management, both the lease listing agreement and the property management agreement play pivotal roles in defining clear responsibilities, setting mutual expectations, and safeguarding the interests of all parties involved. While the lease listing agreement empowers the broker to market the property and secure tenants, the property management agreement extends further to encompass the ongoing care and administration of the property. Working in conjunction, these agreements create a harmonious framework that guides landlords, brokers, and property managers through the complexities of leasing transactions. By meticulously understanding and implementing these contracts, property owners can navigate the leasing process with confidence and efficiency, laying the groundwork for prosperous relationships with tenants and a thriving real estate investment.
Section 8 is a rental housing assistance program, funded by the U.S. Department of Housing (HUD), and administered by local public housing agencies. Sometimes referred to as the housing choice voucher program because it grants vouchers to eligible low-income families, people with disabilities, and seniors in order to help them obtain affordable housing.
Section 8 properties are owned by cooperating private landlords that agree to rent Section 8 approved properties to qualified voucher holders at fair market rents. The gap between fair market value and what the voucher holders pay is subsidized by the U.S. Department of Housing HUD and managed by a local public housing authority or local PHA.
It is important to mention that the responsibility for finding the rental property is up to the voucher holder, not the housing agency. There are States that are implementing regulations that mandate rental properties accept Section 8 voucher holders whether the private landlord wants to or not.
First, a little background: the creation of Section 8 housing dates back to the Great Depression. It was first introduced as part of Franklin Delano Roosevelt's "New Deal" program back in the 1930s, In fact, the term "Section 8" comes from Section 8 of the Housing Act of 1937. As you might expect, it's evolved a lot between then and now.
The most important development came with the Housing and Community Development Act of 1974, which introduced the Housing Choice Voucher Program.
The Housing Choice Voucher Program is what most people mean when they refer to Section 8. It was established in response to criticism of government-owned public housing - people felt the government public housing program at that time, while well-intentioned, was just creating poverty-ridden areas that made the problems faced by low-income individuals and families worse, not better.
You've probably encountered the term "the projects" before. This phrase is shorthand for "public housing projects," i.e., housing that is owned by the public sector (that is, the government). This used to be the only kind of this type of housing available up until the introduction of the Housing Choice Voucher Program.
Nowadays, Section 8 housing can be in any apartment or house which passes inspection - the tenant has a choice when it comes to the type of housing. Section 8 is a private market solution to a public housing problem, and we know it works because section 8 is currently responsible for helping more than two times the number of eligible tenants as public projects.
There are two types of vouchers: project-based vouchers and tenant-based vouchers.
Project-based vouchers, as their name implies, can only be used for specifically approved projects.
These are buildings, or areas that are designated to house eligible low-income families, and accept Housing Choice Vouchers. These tend to be larger multi-family buildings, more like apartment buildings than detached single-family homes.
Tenant-based vouchers, on the other hand, follow the tenant, not the project. These choice vouchers are used to pay property owners who have made their properties available to Section 8 tenants and have passed inspections. These are issued under the Housing Choice Voucher Program.
Let's first take a look at this housing voucher program as it applies to tenants. If you find yourself facing financial difficulties, is applying for Section 8 housing a good idea for you? You may have become discouraged as people tell you it's too difficult to get, or that all the accommodations will be dirty and undesirable.
While the process of qualifying for the housing choice voucher program is certainly not easy, it's not impossible. there are specific steps you will need to take and plenty of paperwork you will need to fill out but at the end of the day, it's certainly worth the work.
As far as living conditions are concerned, the local housing agency inspects each unit and there is a minimum condition requirement the landlord needs to meet in order to be a part of the program. So, while the properties are certainly not brand new or luxury homes, they are clean and safe.
Section 8 won’t cover all of a voucher holder's rent. The housing choice voucher program uses something called payment standards to determine how much housing assistance payment money the public housing agency will pay the owner on behalf of the voucher holder.
A payment standard between 90% and 110% of the Fair Market Rents for a particular area is calculated by the local public housing agency. This represents the cost of leasing a moderately-priced dwelling unit in a particular area. These Fair market Rents are published regularly by HUD
The voucher holder will be required to pay 30% of their monthly adjusted gross income towards rent and utilities. If the rent exceeds the payment standard allocated for this house, the tenant would be required to pay the difference.
The most obvious advantage of Section 8 is that it can help you pay your bills. A lot of people can get to the point where paying for rent is their primary concern - this rental subsidy helps alleviate this rent burden so you can pay for other necessities such as food.
Section 8 affords low-income families the opportunity to improve their situation
One major drawback is that you will most likely be placed on a waiting list - it may take as long as a year or two for Housing and Urban Development to determine if you or your family qualify. However, during this time you will likely be able to use project-based vouchers.
Although you will most likely be placed on a waiting list - the demand for vouchers is greater than the number of accommodations available - Section 8 is not a first-come, first-serve system.
There are certain qualifications that can give you preference when it comes to getting housing. Some of these include:
If any of these conditions apply to your situation, be sure to let the PHA (Public Housing Authority) know as you may be able to get housing faster.
Qualification for housing choice vouchers is based mainly on your income, and the amount of the payment standard HUD is willing to fund varies based on your family size. It also depends on the area you live in: there are income limits, as a rule of thumb, you can not earn more than 50% of the median income of the area in which you live in order to qualify.
The tenant will also need to go through the private landlord’s standard screening process. This usually involves a credit check, a background check including a look at any criminal history, or eviction history.
The tenant will in most cases also be responsible for the security or damage deposit.
Section 8 voucher holders are responsible to report any changes in income or family composition or familial status to your local public housing authorities.
In general, you must be a US citizen in order to qualify for Section 8, though there are certain exceptions.
To start the application process, you will visit a Public Housing Agency office. HUD maintains a list of participating agencies, you can find the list here.
Applications are free and can be filled out in person, sent through the mail, or even submitted online.
You will most likely be placed on a waiting list for 1 to 2 years, during this waiting period, you can choose to accept project-based vouchers.
Once the tenant applicant is approved they can start to search for rental properties that accept Section 8 vouchers. Once they find a property, the local housing agency will need to inspect the housing unit and make sure it meets the section 8 criteria, this also includes a physical inspection to make sure the property is in good condition.
Each local housing authority will have a different process, and different requirements for this rental assistance program, it’s best to start with the local housing agency.
If you are considering becoming a Section 8 landlord, you probably have a lot of questions. First and foremost, you'll be wondering: "should I become a Section 8 landlord?" Well, there are benefits and drawbacks to accepting Section 8 tenants. We'll start with some of the benefits.
If you've been a landlord for any length of time, you'll know that one of the most frustrating things about being a landlord is overdue rent; you've probably heard that rent is guaranteed with a Section 8 tenant, and what could be more appealing than this? Well, it's at least partially true, and one of the biggest advantages of renting out to a Section 8 tenant.
Basically, the government will only pay a certain percentage of the rent - this you can expect to receive every month (although when first starting out with a tenant, it might take a few months to get rent; more on this below)
Given that the whole point of public housing is for the government to guarantee accommodations to those who can't afford it, it might seem strange that they're only paying a portion of the rent, but that's the way it works unless the tenant is making no income in which case they'll probably cover it completely.
As you can see, saying Section 8 means "guaranteed monthly rent" is a bit of a misnomer. As with any tenant, it's your duty to evaluate the Section 8 tenant, looking at things like their credit history.
Since the government will be paying most of the rent, market-based increases on rental units are less traumatic for tenants.
Another benefit of agreeing to accept Section 8 tenants is that you'll be able to fill up vacancies more quickly. Since there is a shortage of landlords who are willing to work with housing voucher clients, these apartments and houses are continuously in short supply and high demand: we don't want to say it's guaranteed that a vacancy will fill up in a few days, but there's a good chance that, in a lot of cases, it will be filled more quickly than if it were being rented out the normal way.
Since a lot of landlords will not accept Section 8 vouchers, this also means tenants are less likely to leave this type of housing (ideally, yours) once they've found it. Section 8 leases are usually for a minimum term of one year.
Above, we mentioned that apartments or houses that wish to become Section 8 housing must pass inspection. As with any federal government program, there can be a lot of red tape!
Once a year, an inspector will visit the property to ensure it meets standards and habitability requirements. You may be required to make changes at your own expense, though there are preventative measures you can take to make sure this doesn't happen.
Of course, although the government pays around 70% of the rent, the other 30% is not guaranteed. If you are an experienced landlord, you should use your standard systems for qualifying section 8 tenants. This should involve a credit check, background check, and a follow up call with any references.
It’s important to be consistent with your qualification standards from tenant to tenant. The fastest way to end up with a fair housing violation is to use different standards for approving or rejecting different tenants.
Another business practice landlords should maintain is the security or damage deposit. When leasing to a Section 8 voucher holder, it’s important to maintain your normal business standards, if you normally charge a security or damage deposit, you should use the same standards with a section 8 applicant.
So, overall, there are advantages and disadvantages to becoming a Section 8 landlord.
Determining whether or not it's right for you can seem like a balancing act of weighing the benefits against the drawbacks and vice versa.
In spite of all the myths you have heard, this is not necessarily a disaster, nor is it a magical, higher-than-average guaranteed rent situation.
We recommend really doing your research, taking your time and especially researching the experiences other landlords have had with Section 8 tenants so you can learn more about the perks but also be on the lookout for any potential problems.
Section 8 is a valuable program that benefits both tenants and landlords. It can help tenants get back on their feet, saving them from homelessness if they can't otherwise afford rent, and it helps landlords have steady access to a large supply of potential tenants.
Whether you are a person who needs cheaper housing, or a landlord who needs more tenants, Section 8 is certainly something worth looking into. If you have any questions regarding this topic, feel free to contact us.
Your rental property is a valuable investment. Perhaps your most valuable (other than the home that you live in), which makes choosing the best property management company an important decision. If you don't know how to find a good property management company, read on...
Many real estate investors opt to work with a property manager to save themselves time and stress— late-night emergency maintenance calls aren’t anyone’s idea of a good time. For others, however, managing a rental is simply impossible, either because their primary residence is out-of-state or because they don’t have the time and expertise.
Property managers can step in and take care of the day-to-day concerns of maintaining the property and finding tenants. The problem is that property management is not a well-regulated industry. If you aren’t careful, you could end up with an incompetent or even dishonest property manager.
You probably spent a lot of time researching and visiting potential rental properties before making a purchase. Taking some time to research and vet prospective property managers is one of the best ways to protect your investment.
It is relatively easy to become a property manager in Colorado. By law, you are only required to have a real estate broker’s license to manage rental properties.
The problem is that not all real estate agents have the expertise to successfully manage properties. Or they may be too busy with other aspects of their business to give property management the time and attention it deserves.
Going through a real estate company that has property management expertise and a dedicated property management team, however, offers distinct benefits. A realtor knows how to effectively advertise properties and will be able to assist if you decide to sell your rental property in the future.
Property management services offered by industry professionals usually include finding the right tenants and in many cases avoiding the dangerous ones, negotiating rental contracts, performing routine maintenance, handling evictions, collecting rent, and everything in between.
Property management fee structures can vary widely between companies. Here at Springs Homes, for example, we charge a small annual administration fee, a monthly fee, a lease fee to cover marketing the property and screening prospective tenants, and a maintenance retainer that is used to keep the property up to snuff. Some companies may also charge fees for things like early termination of a property management contract, handling an eviction, or taking on a property without an existing tenant.
Though services may vary slightly, property management is designed to allow you to enjoy the benefits of an investment property without sacrificing your free time. In addition to saving time, a good property manager will be familiar with relevant laws, such as habitability and eviction laws, and deal with any legal issues that may arise.
A property manager’s job includes vetting potential tenants, running background checks, and marketing the property, so it won’t sit empty for long. The manager is also the main point of contact for tenant issues and is responsible for security deposits and documentation for the property.
Since property managers have such a wide range of responsibilities, it is easy for a bad property manager to take advantage of either rental property owners or tenants through dishonesty and negligence.
So how can you as an investor be sure that you are choosing the right property manager who will work in the best interest of you and your tenants? With a bit of background research and a well-planned interview process, you can enter into a property management relationship with confidence.
A Google search is a good place to start researching a prospective property manager. Online reviews can give you an idea of overall customer satisfaction. Some negative reviews (such as a review by an evicted tenant) may have no bearing on the quality of a company’s work, but you can look for themes, such as multiple people complaining about a manager’s poor communication.
Once you’ve given Google a quick skim, check out the company’s listing on the Better Business Bureau. Have they had any complaints filed against them? A solid online reputation is the first sign that this might be a good company to work with. Here's a great article that digs deeper into the importance of online reviews.
If you are ready to sit down in an interview, ask the manager to provide references from previous property owners and tenants. When you call the property owner, ask about things like communication, timely payments, and transparent policies.
Ask the tenant if they are satisfied with responses to their repair requests and if they would renew their lease.
Before interviewing a candidate, you will want to verify that they are appropriately licensed through the state’s real estate commission. The Colorado Department of Regulatory Agencies offers a license lookup tool. You can search by either the individual’s name or the business name to see the type and status of their license.
You can also ask the company or individual if they have any certifications related to property management. Several trade organizations, such as The National Association of Realtors and The National Association of Residential Property Managers, offer certification programs.
Make sure that any companies that you are considering have the appropriate insurance coverage for their business. As a baseline, property managers should have general liability insurance, errors and omissions (E&O), and commercial insurance that helps cover the properties they manage.
Property managers usually require that both the tenants and landlords be properly insured as well. They may ask you to add them onto your landlord insurance as an additional insured to make sure that they are protected from all angles
If possible, meet your potential property manager in person for an interview. Note your first impressions of the manager. Would you feel comfortable renting from them? Are they personable, polite, and responsive? Was it relatively easy to schedule a meeting with them?
Though property managers have a lot on their plate, their ability to make time to meet with you will likely translate over to how they communicate with you and your tenants in a business relationship. Slow responses or multiple reschedules are red flags that indicate they might be difficult to communicate with when you are actually working together.
You will want to prepare a list of questions to ask in the interview so that you can learn more about the company’s qualifications and policies. We have put together a list of suggested interview questions that you can print out and take with you to the meeting, or you can write your own.
Make sure that the property manager has expertise with the type of property that you own. You probably don’t want to hire a commercial property manager to manage your single-family home. Likewise, a property manager that works primarily with single-family homes may not be ideally positioned to market your commercial space.
Ask about the types of property that they have previously managed and how many years of experience they have. You can also ask about continuing education and what they do to keep up on current industry laws.
In the property manager interview, ask about vacancy rates and size of client base. If they have a decent number of vacant properties, ask about the property types and how long each property has been vacant. Maybe they have filled all of their single-family homes but don’t have the expertise to find tenants for a condo.
The size of the client base can give you an idea of the company’s experience. If they already have a sizable number of satisfied customers, they are probably a good company to work with. At the same time, you will want to make sure that they have the capacity to take on a new property and aren’t stretched too thin.
If everything else checks out, you are ready to examine the company’s property management contract and tenant lease agreement.
You will primarily want to look for transparency and strong policies in their contracts. Are their services clearly outlined? What are you responsible for as a landlord? How long is the contract, and can you terminate early if you aren’t satisfied with the company?
This is also a good time to look at their fee structure. Are their management fees straight-forward, or are there hidden fees? You can also do some comparison research to make sure that their services aren’t under or over-priced. An under-priced property manager may be inexperienced or too good to be true.
When looking at the lease agreement, look for late rent policies, penalties for breaking the lease, tenant responsibilities (such as who is responsible for yard maintenance), and who the tenant should contact with issues or maintenance requests. The more clearly these processes are outlined in the contract, the less likely you are to run into issues down the road.
At this point, you have done your due diligence and have a few potential candidates that are qualified, competent, and well-reviewed. How do you make your final decision?
Great communication will result in a great working relationship, so the right fit may be the manager who is the most responsive or the easiest for you to talk to. You want a qualified professional managing your rental property, but great customer service for you and your tenant is equally important.
Taking some time to compare and contrast your short-listed candidates may offer some additional insight. All of your candidates probably have strengths and weaknesses in some aspect of property management, so create a pros and cons list. Which pros do you value the most highly as an investment property owner, and which cons are you willing to live with?
Though finding the best property manager might seem like a daunting task, there are many qualified real estate professionals in the Colorado Springs area, and if you work your way through this checklist, you can rest easy, knowing that your investment is in good hands.
If you are interested in discussing your investment property with the Springs Homes Property Management team, contact us. We’d love to meet with you and answer your questions.
Since this article was first published, there have been updates in Colorado's property laws. In 2023, the state legislature passed Senate Bill 23-184, which modifies the income-to-rent ratio for tenant qualification. Previously, the standard was that a tenant's income should be at least three times the annual rent (3X rule). However, in Colorado, this has now changed to a 2X rule, meaning landlords can only require a minimum income of 200% of their annual rent to qualify. Here is an article that explains this new law and other aspects of SB 23-184.
If you’ve been renting or looking to rent for a while, you’ve probably come across the “3x rent rule.” The 3x rule is a common way landlords and property managers vet potential tenants. It states that a tenant’s adjusted gross income, or take-home pay, should be 3x the proposed rent on a property.
Adjusted gross income is your total monthly income minus any deductions, like taxes, alimony, interest from student loans, contributions to an IRA or 401k, or a car payment.
If we look at a property with a monthly rent of $2,000, for example, the 3x rent rule states that a tenant must have a gross monthly income of $6,000 or $72,000 annual salary to qualify for that rental. The income itself can come from wages, dividends, capital gains, or retirement accounts.
The rule generally applies to household income, so a couple’s combined annual gross income must be 3x the monthly rent amount. But in many roommate situations, the landlord will require each roommate to meet the 3x rule separately to ensure that they still have a viable tenant if someone decides to move out.
While this can be a headache for prospective tenants, especially in areas where rental rates outpace average income, the 3x rule protects landlords from missed payments and helps prevent evictions.
The 3x rule originated in the Housing Act of 1937, which was part of FDR’s New Deal. The Housing Act offered housing assistance to low and moderate-income families.
The Act was originally proposed in 1934, but wasn’t passed until FDR’s second term. In his second inaugural address, President Roosevelt promised to make adequate housing a priority and signed the act into law in September of 1937.
Section 8 of the Housing Act offers federally-subsidized rent assistance to families in the private market. Section 8 requires families to pay 30% of their adjusted income toward rent. The program then covers the gap between 30% of their income and the actual rent cost.
This eventually became the standard rent-to-income ratio for the housing market.
Section 8 explains where the 3x rule came from, but why do we still use it? What if an individual can afford to spend 40% of their income on housing? Shouldn’t they be able to qualify for a more expensive rental?
Though it can have drawbacks, the 3x rule is an important part of the prequalification process. It is not one-size-fits-all, but if your income is 3x larger than the rent, you are less likely to miss a rent payment or regularly struggle to afford rent.
Evictions are horrible for everyone involved. Tenants are thrown into temporary turmoil at best, and homelessness at worst. The property owner loses money from missed rent and spends time, energy, and resources pursuing an eviction and back rent.
Pre-qualifying tenants can help minimize the likelihood of an eviction, protecting the tenant and landlord from pain and heartache. The 3x rule benefits both parties by ensuring the tenant doesn’t get locked into a lease agreement that they can’t afford, and that the landlord receives their payments on time.
Ideally, landlords and property managers will use the 3x rule as one part of the prequalification process, but also run a credit check, talk to references and previous landlords, and verify employment.
Meeting the income requirement is only one piece of the puzzle.
Gathering proof of income can be a lot of work for an independent landlord. Tracking down income verification documents, bank statements, and making phone calls eats up a lot of time, but again, the goal is to prevent evictions. Finding the right tenant upfront will save you time and money down the road.
We have compiled a list of items to check with different types of tenants—employed, self-employed, and retired—to simplify the verification process for you.
Verifying income for employed applicants is the simplest, but you can also find excellent self-employed and retired tenants. Just be prepared to do a bit more legwork
For employed applicants, ask for pay stubs from the past 3 months. This will give you an accurate picture of their current earnings and cover a long enough period to reveal any fluctuation in income.
W2s show total income from the previous year. W2s can indicate how financially stable an applicant is and if their earnings are consistent. If the applicant has changed jobs, however, this may not be particularly useful.
Lastly, a simple phone call to the applicant’s employer will offer insight into their employment status and character. Consider asking what the applicant is like as an employee. Do they show up on time, work hard, and get along with their coworkers?
This group of applicants includes freelancers, gig workers, and entrepreneurs. We value and admire our freelancers and small business owners, until they want to buy or rent a home.
We often perceive small businesses as more susceptible to market changes—they may not have the financial stability to weather dips in the economy. This perception can make it difficult for self-employed individuals to get approved for a rental or home loan. But it doesn’t have to!
Plenty of industries that provide consistent and stable work to freelancers and gig workers. Just because a business is small, doesn’t necessarily mean it’s vulnerable. Even large companies can go through periods of financial struggle and layoffs.
If you are willing to do a bit of initial research, you may find yourself with an amazing, reliable self-employed tenant.
Bank statements from the applicant’s business account will give you the most comprehensive information about their earnings. Look for consistent deposits, and make sure that expenditures don’t exceed their deposits—this could indicate a lack of profit.
Talk to the applicant. Ask them how long they have been in business and what services they offer. You can also ask about industry stability, or research the industry yourself once you have a bit more information.
Research the business. Are they registered with the state government? Do they have a business license (if one is required)? Colorado Springs, for example, only requires licenses for specific industries, like food and liquor. Also, see if they have a professional website.
Checking the applicant’s credit report will reveal any red flags, such as a history of late payments, or any bankruptcies or foreclosures. You’ll also want to pay attention to balances on loans and credit cards.
Previous landlords are a great resource for any potential tenant, not just self-employed ones, since they can answer questions about payment history. Most importantly, ask if they would rent to the tenant again!
Unemployed or Retired Applicants
It can be difficult for retirees and the unemployed to qualify for rentals, since the same pre-qualification standards are used for all applicants. They may not have a consistent income, or may not have the necessary verification documents. Here are a few examples of documents to ask for in this situation.
Social Security statements are a great place to start, as Social Security provides a steady source of income for retirees that can be easily verified.
Ask for annuity statements. Many retirees rely on annuities to replace their paychecks, and this income can also be used during the verification process.
IRA, 401k, or pension distribution statements can also help verify income.
Bank statements will reveal any consistent deposits that are not listed on the previous types of statements. They may have another way to supplement their income that does not fall into any of the previous categories.
If you have an unemployed applicant, ask them to provide unemployment statements. These statements act as proof of income from the government.
We mentioned at the beginning of the article that the 3x rent rule can make finding a place difficult. In many markets, wages do not keep pace with housing costs. Unfortunately, our own lovely Colorado falls into this category.
In 2019, the Denver Business Journal published an article, saying that the average wage earner in Denver cannot afford to buy a median-priced home. For workers making $65,000-$75,000 a year, over 40% of their income would go toward their mortgage.
Home and rental prices are continuing to climb, leaving prospective tenants without many options. Some will seek out roommates, hoping to pool their incomes to meet the 3x rule. This doesn’t always work. Many landlords and good property managers will expect each tenant to meet the rule separately.
This is an understandable precaution since roommates can move out without notice, but where does that leave you? If you are hoping to rent with roommates, a private landlord may be more flexible with income requirements than a property manager or institutional one.
You can also work to strengthen your rental application in other ways to compensate for your financial situation. Having a good credit score is especially important in these situations since it demonstrates that you pay your bills on time and take your financial commitments seriously. Adding a cosigner or making a larger security deposit can convince a landlord that you are less of a financial risk.
Some rentals don’t require an income check. If you know you can afford a house or apartment, but don’t meet the 3x rule, this may be an ideal situation for you. Just be careful not to overextend yourself financially.
Rely on word of mouth to locate a private landlord that will consider your application. Think about the Kevin Bacon effect. If every actor can be linked to Kevin Bacon in 3 steps or less, someone in your network can put you in touch with a suitable landlord or point you toward an apartment in your price range.
Find a roommate already in a lease, which will eliminate the need for you to pre-qualify. Make sure that you have a written rental agreement with your roommate, laying out terms and financial responsibilities.
Also, if you can’t afford rent in your home city, Section 8 was made for you! In general, your household income cannot exceed 50% of the median income in your area to be eligible. You can check out our blog post, “What is Section 8?” for more information.
The 3x rule is a good general rule of thumb for landlords to protect themselves from missed rent and the messy process of evicting a tenant, but it is not a perfect solution. A tenant may miss payments for reasons other than an inadequate income, or a tenant that wouldn’t normally qualify, may be perfect for your situation.
If you are a private landlord, think about rental costs in your area vs average wages. If it is not a favorable ratio, consider how you might compromise with potential tenants without putting yourself at risk. Maybe you’re okay with roommates pooling their incomes, or would accept someone with a lower income level if they paid a higher deposit?
If you are a prospective tenant with a lower income, focus on strengthening other key parts of your application, such as your credit score. You can also brainstorm people who might be willing to cosign for you, such as a trusted family member.
And, of course, ask around! There are private landlords that are willing to work with a good tenant, even if they don’t meet the 3x rule.
There are a lot of misconceptions and misunderstandings about the Colorado Eviction Process. Because the process is very specific, failure to understand the appropriate steps can add significant time to the eviction.
The pandemic of 2020 and subsequent eviction moratorium has also made the colorado eviction process even more confusing.
If you are involved in residential leasing as a Property Manager, Landlord, Property Owner, or Tenant, you should understand your rights and responsibilities in the State of Colorado.
We will provide a comprehensive overview of what the eviction process within Colorado entails. As an aside, you'll often see eviction referred to as "forcible entry and detainer" (FED) when it comes to Colorado statutes, so keep that in mind.
The statewide moratorium on eviction cases is set to end on June 30th. 2021. The formal legal process should return to normal after this moratorium is lifted.
First of all, if you're going to go through with evicting a tenant via termination of their lease before the end of their lease term, you'll need to have a sound legal reason.
The most obvious and most common reasons for eviction will be for non-payment of rent. Colorado law also allows for the violation of a condition of the lease or rental agreement as a reason for eviction.
Eviction filings based on a lease violation happen when a tenant refuses to follow the guidelines of the lease. For example, they are failing to adhere to the covenants in a community with an HOA. Other situations that can result in eviction are violations related to issues like an unauthorized pet violation or undisclosed roommates. Colorado landlords and property managers do see a lot of lease violations around growing marijuana in a rental property.
In Colorado, the tenant can also be evicted in the case of a public trustee sale. If the tenant commits a violent criminal act or is involved in a drug-related activity (referred to as a substantial violation), this also provides a legal basis for eviction.
Of course, there are also protections for the tenant against unfair eviction.
For example, a landlord or property management company cannot attempt an eviction in response to the tenant filing a complaint about a violation of what's called the implied warranty of habitability. This is laid out in the Colorado Revised Statutes in Section 38-12-509.
What is the implied warranty of habitability? It's simply a fancy term for how livable or unlivable the apartment is. If a tenant complains living conditions are poor, they can't be evicted for this reason, though in this case, the burden of proof is on them.
A federal law, the Federal Fair Housing Act prevents eviction of a tenant on the basis of race or color, religion, national origin, familial status, or sex. When you get into issues involving the Federal Fair Housing Act, it’s a good idea to seek legal advice.
It also covers disabilities: if the person requires a service dog, this need overrides any pet restrictions present in the lease. Colorado state law also provides protection against discrimination on the basis of ancestry or belief systems, marital status, and sexual orientation.
Depending on what city in Colorado the property is in, there may be additional protection.
Colorado eviction laws mandate that you must provide your tenant with 10 days' notice. Previously, the requirement a 3-day notice, but this was changed in May of 2019. Obviously, it's important to take note of this recent change, especially if you have been a landlord for years and are used to the notice requirement being only 3 days.
In the case of a failure to pay rent, you must provide a 10-day notice - a period of 10 days in which the tenant is permitted to pay rent - before you can go forward with the formal eviction procedure.
If the eviction is due to unpaid rent, the first step in the eviction process is to post a 10 Day Notice, usually on the front door of the property. While most leases have language that talks about when rent is due and when it’s late, the notice can be posted as soon as the rent is late. You will deliver or post in a visible location, usually on the entry door, either a Demand of Compliance or Possession Notice (JDF 101) or the Notice to Quit (JDF 97).
These notices should also provide the reason for eviction to the tenant. Both forms can be downloaded at this link: https://www.courts.state.co.us.
Once notice has been served, the ten-day period must elapse. However, if the last day of this ten-day period is either a Saturday or Sunday or a legal holiday, the period will be extended an additional day. This means ten full days are required, not including weekends or holidays, after issuance of either a Demand of Compliance or a Notice to Quit before pursuing an eviction.
If the 10-day period elapses without a resolution, you'll continue the eviction process by filling out the Complaint in Forcible Entry and Detainer (JDF-99) form.
You'll also have to fill out the Summons in Forcible Entry and Unlawful Detainer form (CRCCP Form 1A) and the Answer Under Simplified Civil Procedure form (CRCCP Form 3). Of course, you'll have to pay filing fees of around $97, plus the cost of producing copies for the defendant or defendants along with the court.
Delivering these forms to the court requires some precise timing: make sure the Summons Complaint and Answer to the Defendant(s) are both submitted within one day of when the JDF-99 has been filed. These need to be sent with first-class mail and prepaid postage. Finally, a court date can be scheduled by a court clerk within 1 to 2 weeks.
A summons will be issued to the tenant by a sheriff or private process server or any qualified adult who has no ties to the eviction process. You will have to pay a service fee in the case of a sheriff or private process server, though the amount can vary.
Finally, we get to the actual court hearing. If the tenant fails to respond to the summons, a summary judgment, default judgment, or court order may be issued to the landlord. Expect a bit of a legal battle as the tenant might file a counterclaim (a response to the landlords’ allegations) or even request a trial by jury. Colorado also may require meditation with the tenant and landlord before the hearing.
Should the landlords' case win in court, they must then file for possession of property with a Motion for Entry of Judgement (JDF 104). You'll receive the Order for Entry of Judgement (JDF 107). The tenant must vacate the rental within 48 hours - if they don't, the landlord will need to fill out the caption on the Writ of Restitution (JDF 103) and deliver it to the court. Upon approval, the sheriff's office will forcibly remove the former tenant from the premises.
Should the eviction proceedings go in the landlord’s favor, they'll need to remove all of the belongings with a crew while being supervised by the sheriff’s department. If you don't expect your tenant to comply with an eviction order, it's best to make preparations to have a team ready to move everything out with boxes, tarps, trash bags, etc.
Colorado is unique when it comes to removing a former tenant's belongings when they have to be removed by force: you are not required to store the items. The former tenant has 15 days to retrieve the items and, if they don't, you are legally free to sell or discard them.
The Demand for Compliance is to be issued in cases where you want to give the tenant a chance to rectify the issue. They'll have 10 days in which to, for example, pay outstanding rent or reverse any violation of the lease agreement. Should they fail to make amends, you are then able to proceed with filing the forms necessary for eviction.
The Notice to Quit, on the other hand, can be used if you want the tenant removed as early as possible and don't want to give them the opportunity to rectify. The Notice to Quit is best used, for example, in the case of a tenant violating the law and can get them out in as little as 3 days.
You can expect to wait no longer than 2 weeks for a hearing after the filing process is completed. Of course, the length of it takes for the hearing to occur can be drawn out by appeals or continuances. Usually around one month is enough time for a completed eviction to occur, though it depends on so many factors.
The state of Colorado is a loser pays state: this means that, should you have a solid case and valid reason for evicting your tenant you can expect to pay reasonable court and attorney fees. However. you have to specify this in your lease in order to qualify for recovery.
The Colorado Eviction Process (or in any state for that matter) can be difficult, but they aren't always. We hope we've shed some light on how it all works and what you need to know if you're considering evicting a tenant. If you file forms correctly and have a valid complaint against the tenant, the law should be on your side and the rental vacated as expediently as possible.
Peyton, Colorado is located in the eastern portion of El Paso County just northeast of the Falcon area and west of Calhan, Colorado. Peyton property management is a unique challenge because of the way the eastern plains have developed. While Peyton is for the most part a rural community, there are newer subdivisions in the Falcon area that have a Peyton address. This is because the U.S. Post Office in Peyton provides mail service to homes located in the Falcon area for the entire 80831 zip code. This includes newer suburban neighborhoods like Woodmen Hills, Meridian Ranch, and Paint Brush Hills.
Managing this diverse range of rental property types requires both skill and experience. Since Peyton has everything from custom golf course homes to horse properties on large acreage property managers in this area need an extensive skill set. An effective property management company will need to have years of experience and knowledge of everything from working with an HOA to understanding how to maintain a well and septic system.
Finding great tenants is the key to effectively managing properties, and the first step in finding them is to sell the area. At first glance, Peyton doesn't appear to have a lot to offer prospective tenants, but if you are familiar with the area, this couldn’t be further from the truth. Peyton is home to some great amenities and activities like Homestead Ranch Regional Park, The Rock Island Trail, and a wide range of shopping and restaurants
Schools are another important consideration for many tenants and while the Peyton School District 23jt is a small school district it consistently scores above the state averages on standardized testing scores. The class size and quality of education in the Peyton school district is another advantage when seeking great tenants.
Our area's military bases also provide a great source of quality tenants. While the Peyton area is not close to Fort Carson, it is close to both Peterson Air Force Base as well as Schriever Air Force Base. When it comes to finding great tenants for the rental properties we manage, we have an aggressive marketing campaign for each property we manage. We start with professional photography in order to capture the most desirable qualities of the property and showcase the home in the best possible light. These photos become the basis for our marketing efforts. In our experience, great photos in the right places, generate interest in a property faster than any other marketing tool.
The internet has replaced print media as the best way to find rental properties. We send our rental listings to a wide range of property rental websites in order to generate as much interest as possible. We feel like the deeper the pool of applicants, the more success we have in finding a great tenant.
Once we have our applicants, we begin the screening process. Proper tenant screening is one of the basic aspects of our Peyton property management services. Screening involves processing the application, pulling a credit report, credit reports show us if the applicants have a strong enough positive credit history. We also perform criminal background checks as well as contact employers and former landlords in order to check the applicant's work and rental references
We can’t overstate the importance of great tenants, and screening is the most effective way to stack the odds in our favor when it comes to finding them. This process requires a lot of work but we do this to provide our clients with the highest level of service, it also makes our job easier throughout the term of the lease.
The lease agreement is the next level of protection a good property manager should provide for the property owners. A well-written lease eliminates questions and clearly outlines what is expected from everyone involved with the property. The lease should explain expectations around rent payments when they are due and what the penalties are for late or missing rent.
The signed lease should be accompanied by the security deposit and explain how maintenance requests are handled and which if any maintenance items are the tenant’s responsibility. This becomes especially important when leasing rural Peyton properties with valuable livestock equipment and facilities.
When it comes to maintaining your property, professional property managers should use professional contractors. These vendors also require screening and management but at the end of the day, they reduce the potential of problems due to incompetence.
The lease will also outline the expectations as far as living within an HOA community. This is important in those newer neighborhoods in the nearby unincorporated area of Falcon. These newer subdivisions have homeowners associations as well as restrictive covenants. Failure to adhere to these covenants can cost the homeowners in fines and levies. The lease should make clear that abiding by the neighborhood covenants is the responsibility of the tenant and failure to do so will result in penalties and in some rare cases eviction.
The lease should also outline what the eviction process will look like in the event we need to remove the tenant. The eviction process is difficult and can be messy, the eviction process alone can be worth the price of a good property manager's management fee.
Beyond finding qualified tenants, screening them, executing the lease, and collecting rents there are a number of other services a good management company should provide.
Pricing the property is an essential skill in professional property management. Price the rental rate too low and the owner leaves money on the table every month for the term of the lease. Price the rent too high and the rental could take months to lease, also costing the owner thousands of dollars. We provide a rental market analysis at the end of every lease term. This ensures that we remain relevant with our rental rates.
Financial reporting is an important part of property management. The property owner should receive monthly statements showing where the money is going. The statements should show any fees or expenses associated with the day-to-day management of the property. The manager should also provide year end statements, these are essential when it’s time to prepare your taxes.
Property inspections are another important aspect of good property management. The property manager should perform regular inspections of the property to make sure the tenants are taking care of the property. The manager should also be checking for the appropriate number of tenants, we don’t want anyone living in the property that hasn’t been screened. They should also be on the lookout for any pets that are not supposed to be on the property.
Deposit disputes are a major part of dealing with rental property. A good Peyton property management company will do thorough documentation of the property before and after each occupancy. Our property management company takes hundreds of before and after photos of the property. We also do a 360-degree inspection of the property using a Matterport camera. This allows us to view the entire property on a very detailed level. As an added bonus we can share this tour with the property owner as well as the tenant. Having this level of documentation helps us eliminate a good deal of the drama around deposit disputes. These are also great tools for marketing the property.
Here is an example of our 360 scans of a rental property.
Property Management service should extend to the tenant side of the lease as well. We make every effort to keep our tenants happy. This involves offering flexible payment options like online payment options through our online tenant portal or with a credit card. This is also where the tenants can make us aware of any repairs or maintenance requests they have.
We also provide an online owner portal, this allows you to get any important information you might need regarding the property or your account 24/7.
Residential property management is a serious business with a constantly changing landscape. This is why we are also members of NARPM, the national association of residential property managers. This organization is the gold standard in the real estate industry for property managers. NARPM provides up-to-date information and education for real estate professionals that manage single-family homes and small residential properties.
If you are considering a Peyton property management company to manage your home or investment property, you should look for a professional that offers a wide range of services that will protect your property as well as your investment in your property. If you want to talk to this type of company, please give us a call, we would love to talk to you about your rental property.