All of your hard work has finally paid off--you connected with a travel nurse interested in your short term rental and found someone who is the perfect fit. Securing your first travel nurse renter is always a little nerve wracking as you wait to see if your unit is priced competitively and how quickly the response time might be.
While chatting with your potential renter is a great way to get a general impression of each traveler’s personality, it may not be enough to provide total peace of mind to you as the landlord. To make sure this perfect tenant also can be relied on to take care of your property and pay rent on time there are a few ways to take extra precautions before signing a lease.
The best way to protect yourself and tip the scales in your favor is by having a specific tenant screening process. By establishing and following the same steps each time, you’ll provide a fair and equitable framework to help ensure you secure the highest quality tenants possible.
For most property owners, their onboarding process consists of four steps:
Eviction Report (If not included in the background check)
Instead of worrying about creating and managing an application on your own, using a platform like KeyCheck streamlines the entire process for you. KeyCheck.com allows applicants to submit their information online where it can be safely stored and easily reviewed. Dealing with paper applications is not only a hassle but also involves liability. If your applicant’s personal and/or financial information is compromised you could be held responsible. In addition, having an all-in-one portal for applications and payments will make you look more professional and reliable to travel nurses who are trying to verify your credibility from far away.
Hopefully, you’ve taken the time to create a descriptive listing on Furnished Finder or Travel Nurse Housing and added in some great high quality photos to really sell your space. Now it is time to review each applicant and narrow down your choices. The best approach is to create a list of criteria that will help you quickly and fairly eliminate candidates. Here are a few things to consider:
Length of contract: The typical travel nurse contract is 13 weeks, so you can expect a lot of requests for a three month rental period. Most nurses will be willing to sign some sort of lease agreement that lines up with their contract, but others may prefer month-to-month. It is up to you to decide if you are willing to work with shorter lease agreements or not.
Credit score: You may also want to take a look at their credit score and see whether they are carrying a lot of debt and have trouble paying other bills on time. How much weight this score carries in the decision making process is completely up to you.
Criminal background check: Some landlords don’t mind renting to tenants with a record as long as any incidents occurred well in the past. The good thing about renting to travel nurses is they have to maintain a professional license and go through regular background checks for each contract, so in the event that they have anything on record it is likely to be minor.
References: Be sure to ask for references and follow-up by calling the tenant’s previous landlords. You want to see if former landlords would be willing to rent to that tenant again. This is especially helpful if a nurse is bringing a pet and you want to make sure they are responsible pet owners.
Other: You may have your own criteria when it comes to evaluating and eliminating applicants. Make a list of what you do and do not want to allow on your property and stick to it to ensure you have a positive experience as a landlord.
By narrowing your market to travel nurses and other professionals you are already dealing with more reliable tenants than most landlords. Having a solid application process and expectations for your applicants just makes the whole process that much easier long term.
Creating The Lease
For most new landlords, creating a lease can be the most intimidating part of the rental process. Most of us aren’t familiar with leasing laws in our home and may not know exactly what to include to protect ourselves.
When creating a lease there are two important points to remember:
The lease is an important legal document that is meant to protect both you and the tenant. That makes it especially important to cover all your bases and pay attention to the details.
Laws regarding leases vary from state to state. If you go online and download a general template, you may not be in compliance with certain laws and regulations.
Because the lease is such an important document, it is worth spending a little money upfront to protect you long term. KeyCheck.com has partnered with LawDepot to provide its customers with state specific leases written by legally trained professionals. Once you have created a custom lease, you can modify the document for each new tenant to meet all of your needs with each new short term renter.
In general, the lease should include:
Landlord contact information
Where payments should be sent
The length of the lease with exact beginning and ending dates
Rights and responsibilities for both the landlord and the tenant
Termination of lease
Insider Tip: Occasionally travel nurses may have their travel contracts canceled. Most contracts have a two week notice clause and as travel nurses we know that this is an inherent risk to the career field. As such we are typically prepared financially to navigate a contract cancellation. Landlords renting to travel nurses may consider including a clause of how to navigate a contract cancellation (ex: proof of cancellation, required notice, or fees associated with early lease termination).
Since there is so much to include and different requirements vary by state, we highly recommend investing in a professional lease to keep you and your property safe from a legal standpoint.
Before You Sign the Lease
Once you have picked out the right tenant, finalized the application process and created a lease, you are ready to confirm the agreement. While a lot of travel nurses are used to finalizing everything via email or text, it is a nice touch to offer a quick phone call to go over all of the details regarding deposits, signing the lease, and any other questions they may have. If you use a service that allows tenants to pay rent online and even set up automatic withdrawals, you will want to make sure they are able to create an account. Providing guidance and letting them know what to expect shows that you are a responsible landlord and want them to have an excellent tenant experience.
This process may sound long, but travel contracts move fast. Most travelers will apply for and accept jobs within a 2-3 day period. Once a contract is secured they may have two weeks or less until their start date, so they are usually ready to jump on quality housing when they find it. By having your application, deposit, and lease process streamlined you will be positioned to successfully meet the fast paced needs of the travel nurse housing market.
Document the Property
Before your tenant arrives, take pictures and record any wear that is already present. If there has been damage to the property once the tenant moves out, you will have proof that they were responsible for the damage and it wasn’t a pre-existing problem. Some landlords will have the renter sign and date this documentation as an acknowledgement of the current condition of the unit.
Signing the Lease
Because travel nurses are usually coming from another city or possibly another state, they most likely will not be able to meet in person to sign a lease. Using an all in one platform like KeyCheck, you can actually arrange to sign leases electronically. This is a huge plus for travel nurses who don’t have a way to print, sign, and scan physical documents.
Once the lease is signed, be sure to confirm details about your tenant’s arrival and the move in process. If they are driving from one assignment to the next they may not have an exact time they will arrive, or they may arrive outside of normal business hours. It is helpful to have a plan for how to hand off keys in the event of a late arrival. Some landlords prefer to use a keypad lock or a lockbox to hand off keys to avoid any scheduling issues with move in.
Onboarding new tenants doesn’t have to be a difficult and time-consuming process. Invest time upfront to create a set of procedures so that you know exactly what steps to follow and you can check the items off your list as you go through the process. This will make it easy to onboard travel nurses at every 13 weeks or so and help keep your rental space filled on a regular basis so you can increase your profitability.
KeyCheck.com is a trusted source for landlords to get free tenant screening reports and order custom leases for any state. Our credit check reports include the most accurate credit, background, and eviction data available to ensure you have the best information on the tenant you’re screening. The best thing a landlord can do is to have a system that works and repeat the same process for each tenant. www.keycheck.com