It takes a lot of work to get your rental home physcially ready, advertise it, show it to prospective tenants, receive applications, screen the applicants, and at long last approve a qualified tenant. Once that is done, you have finally come to the stage where you provide an iron-clad lease and hand over the keys! Here are some helpful tips for tenant lease signing and move in.
If you are a do-it-yourself landlord in Middle Tennessee, you need to be sure your lease complies with state law. You need to follow the requirements laid out in the Tennessee Uniform Residential Landlord and Tenant Act. (See the act here.) This covers many details such as how much late fee you can charge, regulations on the security deposit, permission to enter the property, etc. It is also highly recommended that you have a real estate attorney specializing in property management review your lease. Should you ever be in a position that requires a judge to rule for or against you, the lease can be what compels this in your favor.
It is also advisable to go over the details of the lease with the tenant to be sure they understand the terms. So many people are willing to sign contracts without even looking at them. It can help avoid problems later if you help the tenants understand their obligations before signing. At RPM Rental Solutions, we have a very detailed, Tennessee-abiding, attorney-approved lease and our tenants initial specific areas to be sure that they understand vital portions of the lease. If your home is part of a Homeowners Association, be sure to also provide a copy of those rules and regulations to the tenant as well, and have them initial that they have read them.
Utilities in landlord accounts
After the lease signing, we provide a copy for the tenants (and we always keep it on their tenant portal on our website as well so they can find it at any time). They will need a copy of the lease to switch utilities to their name, which we require to be done within two days of the start of the lease. We generally recommend homeowners put utilities into a ‘landlord account’ if the utility company provides that option. Different utility companies offer different landlord accounts, but in most cases, it is to the owner’s advantage and even the tenant’s advantage to have it set up that way. For example, Murfreesboro Electric company has a landlord account that allows both the owner and the tenant to be charged only $20 each time the electric transfers to a new tenant or back to the owner instead of $50 each time. It also allows us (the homeowners or the homeowner’s property managers), to check to be sure the tenant is paying their utility bill, as required in our lease. We provide the tenants with helpful information, websites, etc. for setting up the utilities in their name.
The date the lease begins, we meet the new tenants at the property. Often our tenants have already paid the security deposit, pet fee if applicable, and first month’s rent through our online payment portal. If not, we receive a money order or cashier’s check at the home for the full amount. Next we do a move-in inspection with the tenants to go over anything needed, such as how unusual appliances need to be operated, any specific rules they need to follow, when and where the air filters should be changed, and noting any areas that have pre-existing damage that the tenant will not be responsible for when they leave. We leave a move-in inspection sheet for the tenant to fill out and return to us within 4 days to keep on file in case they find further issues after we leave.
Hand over the keys last!
An important tip: NEVER hand the keys over before the lease signing or before you have been paid in full for the amount due that day — if the tenant is already providing an excuse or needing to go run back out to get the money, then hold on to the keys until they have resolved the problem.
Make sure the tenant knows how to reach you in case of an emergency and how to pay their rent every month. Hopefully, your rental property will now have smooth sailing after all the work you’ve put into getting a good tenant in place!
We hope these tips from Real Property Management Rental Solutions for tenant lease signing and move in are helpful to do-it-yourself landlords in Tennessee. If you’d like to learn more about our property management services, contact us here or call us at 615-900-4067!