Posted by GL - ON on July 30, 2003 at 13:52:56:
I take from your questions, that this is your first rental property? If so here is something you should know.
Get yourself a clipboard. You will find it very handy when checking out properties and planning work on them etc.
Before you buy, you have a right to inspect the property inside and out. If this is your first investment maybe you should get a home inspector to accompany you. If you are an experienced home owner maybe you know what to look for.
In any case, take along your clipboard. Start a nice conversation with the tenant. Ask how long they have lived there, how much rent they pay, whether they paid a security deposit, if they have a lease, how they like the place, if they have any plans of moving. Try to do this in a conversational manner, do not make a big interrogation out of it. But set down the answers on your clipboard and before you leave, ask the tenant to “OK” it. That means sign it.
There is a reason for this. You are going to check the tenants statements against the seller’s statements.
Example: Tenant says they pay $500 a month, the seller says $600. This makes a big difference to the value of the property as an investment, and whether it will cash flow.
Example #2: Tenant says they paid $200 security deposit. Landlord “forgets” to give it to you on closing (you are entitled to this money, as you are responsible to the tenant for it). You remind him, show him the signed statement, and ask if he wants to check with the tenant.
Example #3. Sixteen months from now, the tenant moves out and claims you owe them $200 which they paid the old owner as a security deposit. You check their statement, and the seller’s statement which you kept on file, and there was no security deposit. The tenant is trying to pull a fast one. When you confront her with her signed statement she shuts right up. If you weren’t prepared for this you could have been beat for $200 bucks.
You could even make up a little form and duplicate a few copies.
There are other details. You can pick up the fine points as you go along.