Welcome to my resource page for current or prospective landlords in the Boise Idaho area. If you own investment properties, or are considering investing in real estate, I built this page to help you learn about or deal with landlord/tenant issues and assist you in self-managing your rentals.
Useful Links For Landlords:
Idaho Landlord Tenant Guidelines These guidelines from the Idaho Office of the Attorney General will answer many of your questions about what is legal in negotiating leases, dealing with tenant deposits, legal notices, unlawful detainers, evictions, tenant's property and more.
Idaho Tenant Rights, Laws & Protections by HUD This page links you to many sources of information for landlords and tenants, including Fair Housing Laws, American with Disabilities Act, Idaho Laws & Statutes and much more.
Idaho Supreme Court Self Help Center for Landlord Tenant Cases This page helps you prepare for legal action and links you to many required forms and affidavits for eviction and unlawful detainer actions.
MR Landlord.com All about landlording, this site helps with acquiring tenant credit reports, state-specific leases, educational products, chat room, newsletters, Q&A library, lead-based paint pamphlets and much much more.
The Landlord Protection Agency Self-help site for landlords with free rental forms, credit reports, landlord tenant law, evictions and forums.
Ada County Assessor Look up your property or one you are considering here with satellite mapping, tax information and more.
Consumer Affairs Guide To Online Background Checks
According to data from TransUnion, bad tenants are costing
landlords and property owners upwards of $5.8 billion per year. In 2014 alone, landlords evicted 3.4 million residents at nearly $1,700 per eviction. Landlords and property managers know the importance of tenant screening. But for many of them, deciding where to start can be a big
Whether you're looking for credit history, or even criminal
backgrounds, Consumer Affairs created a background check guide that makes finding the right service provider quick and easy.
Here is a snapshot of what the guide covers:
A Landlord's 3 Biggest Fears: Vacancy, Maintenance Costs, Bad Tenants.
Like any business, there are risks that can be managed and minimized on rental property. I have worked with many investors and manage my own properties and I have some advice on these subjects that will help you avoid problems.
- What are the different types of background check companies – and which one will meet your specific needs
- These services can get expensive, what are the different pricing options?
- How in-depth does the company go in explaining the results?
Tips For Controlling Vacancy:
- Buy rental property in central locations, near the core of the population, to attract the largest pool of tenants.
- Buy affordable homes. The lower the rent, the larger the pool of potential renters. But not too low, to avoid lower quality tenants.
Always plan on 1 month a year vacant (8% annual) in your cash flow analysis. This is playing it very safe, since the actual vacancy rates are well under 3% in the Boise area.
Asking for at least 1-year terms on your leases gives you zero vacancy for a year and greatly enhances your cash return over what you estimated in your cash-flow analysis.
Place signs immediately when tenant gives notice, both in the yard and directional from nearby higher traffic streets.
- Place ads in Craigslist as soon as you know the date it will be available, allowing time for clean-up and repairs.
Research competing properties and ask for rent that is competitive in the market. A month vacant may cost more than lowering the rent temporarily.
If possible, avoid ending leases November- February, when fewer people move.
After the original term ends, ask mo-to-mo tenants to sign a new lease through winter periods. Or add a rent increase clause upon expiration of the original term.
Tips For Controlling Maintenance Costs:
Buy newer low maintenance property that will not require big-ticket items like roofing, furnace, A/C, water heater, etc. while you own it.
- You might consider buying condo/townhouse type units, where exterior maintenance is provided by the association. However, these are less liquid than single-family homes.
Spell out all tenant maintenance responsibilities in the lease.
Inspect the property often and remind tenants of responsibilities under the lease- lawn mowing, watering, leaf removal, weeding, dog bombs, etc. Don't be afraid to issue written warnings.
Auto sprinklers are a must. Buy with or add.
Instruct tenants to notify you when any repairs are needed- especially water leaks.
Tips for Avoiding Bad Tenants:
In my experience, signs are an essential part of cost effective advertising of homes for rent, both in front of the home and directional. But, finding a good renter is a numbers game. The more applicants you get, the better your chances of avoiding the dreaded bad tenant, who can trash your house and add stress to your life.
Don't get in a hurry! Carefully choose prospects- call references, check credit reports, investigate backgrounds and verify all information on the application.
Don't be afraid to ask for larger deposits from tenants with bad/borderline credit or dubious histories.
Use income guidelines like lenders do. We require that tenant's income be at least 3 times the rent.
Never let a tenant move in until all deposits and rent are paid in full and the check has cleared.
Check on the condition of the home frequently at first and be quick with 3-day written notices to tenant for not maintaining or damaging the property.
Never give any ground on timely payment of rent and late fees. Written notice is a must- you can always let them stay if they catch up.
Add new clauses to your lease when you get burned. I once gave back the renter's deposit, only to get a bill for utilities 3 weeks later. Now our lease says we have 30 days to return deposits after move-out.
Craigslist for Boise is free and remarkably effective for marketing properties for rent, but watch out for scammers. You might be surprised how creative they can be. We've found it is better to direct inquiries on your ads to call, rather than giving out your e-mail address. Also, including photos is a must!
Apartments.com is used by Idaho Statesman to display local rentals. Statesman ads are not cheap, but a well-written ad can generate hundreds of phone calls. Despite the cost, describe the home well to save time on the phone. Always have your script ready with a description of the home. Point out any unusual features before driving out to show the property and wasting time. An example might be an upstairs master bedroom, which won't work for many people. Remember- you get what you ask for when advertising.
Idaho Press Tribune for mostly Canyon County Rentals. I don't own any rentals there and have never used this paper, but I understand the cost is more reasonable than the Statesman.
Before Showing- Ask Questions
Always be ready not just to answer questions about the unit for rent, but also to ask them. How many people? How many pets? When do you want to move in? How long will you stay? A few questions can save you many trips to show the rental to tenants you don't want.
Be sure to review the fair housing laws. The wrong questions could get you in trouble for discrimination against protected classes; age, race, national origin, religion, familial status, etc. However, there are many legal ways to discriminate, such as bad credit, inadequate income, lack of rental history, etc. Be sure to document your reasons when rejecting applications.
Lead-Based Paint Rules by EPA - These new rules might make you think twice about buying or keeping property built before 1978 for rental uses. New procedures increase costs and gigantic penalties have been added to any job that disturbs more than a few sq ft of painted surfaces containing lead, both inside and outside the home. Home owners doing the work themselves are exempt, but anyone doing it for compensation must comply- this includes landlords. When in doubt, test for lead! Lead test kits are available at most hardware, home improvement and paint stores.
I am a real estate broker and none of this information is intended to be legal advice. Over the last 2 decades I have worked for many investors buying rental property and discussed many of these issues after the sale. I also own & manage my own rental properties, so I have plenty of hands-on experience.
I welcome all questions.