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Ten Tips for Pocono Landlords

Some suggestions to help your rental business run smoothly.

1. Screen every prospective tenant thoroughly.
This is the most important tip we can give you. In 40 years of renting his is golden Rule #1. Don't rent to anyone before checking credit history, references, and background. Poor tenant screening and selection often results in problem tenants. Tenant who pays the rent late or not at all, trashes your place, or allows unapproved undesirable friends move in are the worst problems you will experience. Use a complete written application to screen tenants. Keep this application!

2. Get it in writing.
Use a written lease or month-to-month rental agreement to document the important facts of your relationship with your tenants -- including when and how to handle tenant complaints and repair problems, notice you must give to enter a tenant's apartment, and etc. Do not rely on your states tenant law to cover you. Have a written agreement.

3. Handle security deposits properly as required by your state law.
Establish the legal system of setting, collecting, holding, and returning your tenants security deposit. Inspect and document the condition of the rental unit before the tenant moves in with photos or video, to avoid disputes over security deposits when the tenant moves out.

4. Make repairs prior to showing the property and when requested by the tenant.
Maintain and repair when (and even before) needed. Make repairs when requested. If the property is not in repair, you'll alienate good tenants, and tenants may gain the right to withhold rent, repair the problem and deduct the cost from the rent, sue for injuries caused by defective conditions, and/or move out without giving you notice.

5. Provide a secure building.
Providing security even of the basic kind will keep your tenants and the property from be easy marks for a criminal. Often the best measures, such as proper lights and trimmed landscaping, are not expensive.

6. Provide notice to your tenants before entering.
Notify your tenants when you plan to enter their unit. Provide as much notice as possible, at least 24 hours or the minimum amount required by your state law.

7. Disclose any environmental hazards you know of, in advance.
If there is a hazard like lead or mold on the property, tell your tenants. Landlords are increasingly held liable for tenant health issues resulting from exposure to environmental issues on their properties.

8. Oversee your management staff or rental agents.
Choose your property manager carefully. If a manager commits a crime or is incompetent, you may be held financially responsible. Make the manager's duties clear in advance of hiring to help prevent problems down the road.

9. Have enough and the right insurance.
Have liability, fire, theft and other property insurance. A good insurance program can protect you from lawsuits by tenants and visitors for injuries or discrimination and from losses to your rental property caused by everything from fire and storms to burglary and vandalism.

10. Resolve disputes quietly and quickly .
Resolve disputes with your tenants without lawyers and lawsuits. Put some money aside as "crazy tenant money". Then, If you have a conflict with a "crazy" tenant over rent, repairs, your access to the rental unit, noise, or some other issue that doesn't immediately warrant an eviction, first meet with the tenant to see if the problem can be resolved informally. If that doesn't work, consider mediation by a neutral third party, often available at little or no cost from a publicly funded program. If none of this works, you'll have some dollars to through at the problem

If a dispute involves money, and your attempts to reach agreement fail, go to small claims court, where you can represent yourself. Small claims court is good for collecting unpaid rent or seeking money for property damage after a tenant moves out and the security deposit is exhausted. It is also less expensive than state court. Bear in mind prior to starting the process, that if the tenant has no net worth it will be useless to pursue them