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Tenant Screening – Changes You Need To Know

Tenant Screening – Changes You Need To Know

There’s no doubt that tenant screening can be one of the most complicated aspects of owning rental properties because you have to follow the requirements of the Fair Housing Act and not offend anyone. 

In 2017 tenant screening has gotten a little more complicated for owners thanks to recent policy updates from the Department of Housing And Urban Development.

HUD rolled out a 10-page policy update last year advising all landlords and property managers that using criminal history for the purpose of tenant screening may actually be discriminatory. HUD notes that nearly one-third of the U.S. population (or 100 million U.S. adults) have a criminal record of some sort, and the misuse of background checks during the tenant screening process can hinder their ability to find safe, secure, and affordable housing—a key aspect of rehabilitation. Sometimes, even those who have been arrested but not convicted have difficulty securing housing based upon their prior arrest.

Black and Latino Americans are disproportionately affected, the memo notes, as they are incarcerated at rates disproportionate to their share of the general population. Black and Latino individuals comprise an estimated 58% of the U.S. prison population, despite accounting for only 25% of the total U.S. population.

Consequently, the memo states:

Criminal records-based barriers to housing are likely to have a disproportionate impact on minority home seekers. While having a criminal record is not a protected characteristic under the Fair Housing Act, criminal history-based restrictions on housing opportunities violate the Act if, without justification, their burden falls more often on renters or other housing market participants of one race or national origin over another (i.e., discriminatory effects liability). Additionally, intentional discrimination in violation of the Act occurs if a housing provider treats individuals with comparable criminal history differently because of their race, national origin, or other protected characteristic (i.e., disparate treatment liability).

This does not mean that criminal history cannot be considered at all during the tenant screening process. Instead, HUD is basically telling landlords and property managers:

You cannot institute a blanket ban on all applicants with a criminal history.

You cannot reject a tenant based upon an arrest that did not result in conviction.

You must treat comparable criminal histories similarly without consideration of race, national origin, or other protected classes.

Because Black and Latino Americans are incarcerated at higher rates than their peers, any blanket policy for tenant screening that bans applicants with a criminal history would inadvertently discriminate against minorities. HUD cites a Supreme Court decision in reminding us that simply being arrested often has little probative value in showing that someone has actually engaged in misconduct—which is why arrests without convictions should not be used as the basis for denying a tenant.

Convictions are treated differently. Landlords and property managers may reject an applicant whose background check reveals that he/she has been convicted of a crime. There’s one big caveat: The landlord or property manager must show that excluding a person with a conviction achieves a “substantial, legitimate, nondiscriminatory purpose.” To put it simply, you have to distinguish between criminal activity that creates a demonstrable risk to resident safety and/or property, and criminal conduct that does not.

Given the new HUD guidelines, landlords and property managers should consider the following questions when reviewing a person’s criminal history:

Was the applicant convicted of a crime, or were they just arrested?

What was the severity of the crime?

How long ago was the crime committed?

Has the person reoffended since their original conviction?

Was it a drug-related crime? (HUD allows a blanket ban on those who have been convicted of illegal drug manufacturing or distribution.)

New Guidelines for Tenant Screening

HUD’s new policy memo has the downside of making the tenant screening process more complicated than it already is. It muddies the waters in terms of how landlords and property managers evaluate criminal history, as there is no guidance on which crimes should generally considered acceptable and which are not. Landlords and property managers are asked to use their discretion, with the memo acknowledging the need to look at circumstances on a case-by-case basis.

Here are a few tips to help you to comply with the new guidelines:

Screen tenants based on their financial and other qualifications first. Only conduct a background check if a person appears to be otherwise qualified. This will protect you from denying a tenant based upon another qualification, and having the tenant argue that they were denied based upon their criminal background.

If a background check reveals a criminal history, evaluate the nature of the crime (see questions above). If you plan to deny a person based upon this information, put a note in your internal file explaining why you felt a denial was appropriate (e.g. how this protects you, other tenants, and the property). Sign and date the note. This will protect you if the applicant ever alleges discrimination.

Review all existing rental policies and applicant screening procedures. Some landlords or companies may be facing a complete overhaul given the new HUD guidelines. Be sure that all members of your team clearly understand the new policies so they can be implemented uniformly by all.

Get Property Management Here

For affordable and professional property management contact Vestpro Residential today by calling us at (832) 971-1841 or click here to connect with us online.

 

 

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Posted by on February 23, 2017 in Tenant Screening

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New Year Resolutions – Hire A Houston Texas Property Manager In 2017

New Year Resolutions – Hire A Houston Texas Property Manager In 2017

By Vestpro Residential Services

HOUSTON, TX. – With the 2016 holidays officially over many people will be coming up with their New Year’s Resolutions for 2017 and if you own rental properties in Houston one of the best resolutions you can make is to hire a Houston Texas Property Manager in 2017 especially for these reasons.

Saves You Time And Money

An experienced Houston Texas Property Manager will save you the time of managing your rental properties yourself especially when it comes to day-to-day tasks like rent collection, customer service, and maintenance because these are all tasks that you will no longer have to do yourself.

You will also save money when you hire a Houston Property Manager because you won’t have to chase down tenants when they don’t pay, or make repairs to your rental property yourself because our team of trained professionals will complete those property management tasks for you so you can focus on growing your portfolio of rental properties.

Property Management Makes Life Easier

Let’s face it, as you purchase more rental properties you can expect to have more responsibilities but with an experienced Houston Texas Property Manager you can focus on the things that matter for you like spending time with your family, enjoying life and growing your rental property portfolio knowing that the everyday tasks of property management are being handled for you on the back end.

To learn more about our property management services contact Vestpro Residential today by calling us at (832) 971-1841 or click here to connect with us through our website.

 

Posted by on December 27, 2016 in Property Management Tips

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Should you buy rentals in Houston? Even if you’re out of the area?

Should you buy rentals in Houston? Even if you’re out of the area?

Thanks to the booming real estate market in the last 12 months there are more condos, town homes and apartment buildings available for purchase and rent than ever before but the big question is should you buy rentals in Houston even if you’re out of the area? The answer to this question is yes!

Pros of Buying Long-Distance Real Estate

  • The ability to buy in more affordable markets. Property values in second- and third-tier markets don’t command the premium of real estate in primary markets and there’s lower competition. That said, depending on the market, rents can still be very strong. Buying in one of these markets is a way to get your foot in the door, realize positive cash flow and build equity.

  • Real estate as a long-term strategy. Some investors decide to buy real estate in an area that they don’t currently live in, but think they might want to someday. For instance, I’d consider buying a home closer to my parents if there’s a chance I’ll want to live closer to them someday. Many investors use a similar mindset when considering real estate in vacation and retirement markets, like the Carolinas and Florida. These houses can be rented now and held in case an investor wants to live there someday, too.

  • Tax benefits. Say what you want about Trump, but when the New York Times released a copy of his 1995 tax returns it shed light on a stark reality: real estate investors are able to use the tax code to their advantage. The ability to write off interest paid on a mortgage and depreciation makes buying investment property highly attractive. The provision Trump took advantage of is no different than the loopholes that everyday investors use, too.

Get Houston Texas Property Management Here!

For affordable Houston Texas Property Management contact Vestpro Residential Services today by calling us at (832) 971-1841 or click here to connect with us online.

 

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Posted by on November 23, 2016 in Property Management Tips

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What Does A Houston Texas Property Manager Do?

What Does A Houston Texas Property Manager Do?

What does a Houston Texas Property Manager do? This is one of the biggest questions that property owners who manage their own rental properties have had over the years because some owners are under the misconception that we just collect a check without doing much to actually manage their rental properties.

In this article, we will break down what a Houston Texas Property Manager actually does so you will be more aware of what to expect when hiring a property manager to manage your rental properties.

Houston Texas Property Managers Ease Stress

One of the first things that Houston Texas Property Managers do is ease the stress that you may have experienced with owning rental properties in the Houston area in the past because we are your first line of defense when it comes to making sure that your rental properties are rented to the most qualified tenants, rent is collected on time every month and your single family home, condo, townhome or apartment is professionally managed each month.

Houston Property Managers Insure Efficiency

From determining what your rental property should be rented for, to coming up with a marketing plan to market your Houston Rental Property, your property manager ensures efficiency and can be relied on especially when the time comes to make repairs so you don’t have to make any of those repairs yourself or come out to your rental property to manage repairs on your rental property.

Handle All Financials

With every move in your Houston Property Manager will professionally handle the financials for your rental property which includes placing the deposit in a trust account, making payments for owners (if needed), maintain historical records for the rental property, provide easy cash-flow statements on a monthly basis and annual reporting that has been structured for tax purposes.

Get Houston Property Management

For professional Houston Texas Property Management contact Vestpro Residential Services at (832) 498-0016 or click here to connect with us online.

 

Posted by on July 13, 2016 in Property Managers

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3 Reasons to Consider Passive Houston Texas Real Estate Investing

3 Reasons to Consider Passive Houston Texas Real Estate Investing

So you’re thinking about getting involved in Houston Texas Real Estate Investing but will your Real Estate investment be a passive investment?

In this post we will share with you 3 tips you can use to insure that your Houston Texas Real Estate investment will be 100% passive so you can continue working in your current job while your rental property makes money for you, even while you sleep.

Passive Tip #1 – Purhase a Property with Existing Tenants

Instead of buying rental property that’s vacant or needs repairs you should search for rental properties with existing tenants because the cash flow for those properties is already established and your money can start working for you 24-7.

If you are short on funds to purcahse a propert consider crowdfunding.

Crowdfunding is opening up investing to anyone with a little extra cash these days as regulations change and entrepreneurs take advantage of the expanding marketplace.

Source – abc15.com

Passive Tip #2 – Hire a The Right Property Management Company 

One of the big mistakes most investors make when they are just getting started with buying rental property is thinking they can do everything themselves.

Don’t make this mistake! Hire a property management company in Houston Texas immediately when you buy your first rental property because this will save you the time, money and hassle of having to manage your property yourself and you will have more time to actually grow your portfolio.

As an investor and entrepreneur, you should always be on the lookout for ways outside the obvious to improve your return. When using personal funds to invest, the best way to do it is through a self-directed IRA. A self-directed IRA is the same as the usual IRA, however, it allows alternative investments for your retirement savings. By investing through an IRA, you can avoid using your taxed income. Most banks have this option, so it’s best to speak with a financial advisor before diving in head first with this kind of investment — and remember to leave yourself with something for retirement.

Source – entrepreneur.com 

Passive Tip #3 – Use The Tax Advantages Uncle Sam Offers You

Last of all, but most important, as you are buying Houston Texas Real Estate you should keep in mind that there’s a lot that Uncle Sam can do for you especially if you have an investment that’s equity structured because will be able to keep most of your income and have cash returns which are tax deferred.

As a rental property owner, you are able to deduct nearly all the expenses you’ll pay to manage your property. Everything from the mortgage interest you pay on the loan all the way down to the paper you buy for your printer (if you are using that printer primarily for real estate investing purposes, that is).

Source – Biggerpockets.com 

Get Houston Texas Property Management

To get Houston Texas property management contact Vestpro Residential Services, LLC today by clicking here to connect with us online or calling us at (832) 498-0016.

 

 

Posted by on November 12, 2015 in Property Management Tips

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What to Look For In a Houston Property Manager

What to Look For In a Houston Property Manager

So you’re thinking about hiring a Houston Property Manager to manage your real estate

This is a smart move to make because as your portfolio grows so will all of your management responsibilities and this is why hiring a Houston Property Management company just makes sense.

Before choosing just anyone we will share with you several tips you can use for choosing the right Houston Property Manager.

What to Look For In a Houston Property Management Company:

Tip #1 – Look for a Team

When you choose a Houston Property Management company you should choose an organization that offers you a team instead of one individual because a team will be able to efficiently handle all of the duties required to efficiently manage a rental property including: customer service, maintenance and rent collection.

Tip #2 – Look for Experience

The Houston Property Manager you choose should be experienced in all forms of property management and provide you with verifiable references from satisfied owner clients and happy tenants they have managed over the years.

Tip #3 – Look for Growth

The right Houston Texas Property Management company you choose should also show signs of growth in their company by having acquired new clients over the last 24 months and they should also show signs of growth when it comes to the systems they use to manage their company.

Tip #4 – Look for Efficiency

Last of all, but most important, when you choose a Houston Property Manager you should choose a company that offers the most efficient online and offline tools possible for finding, qualifying and keeping tenants so you can continue to enjoy long term cash flow from your Houston Rental Property without having regular vacancies.

Get a Houston Property Manager Now

To get started with a Houston Property Manager contact Vestpro Residential Services today by calling us at (832) 498-0016 or click here to connect with us online.

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Posted by on September 9, 2015 in Property Management Tips

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