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When to take the For Rent sign down?

May 1, 2011

After I decide on which candidate I am going with for a property, I try and get the deposit and first months rent right away.  However, I typically only end up taking the deposit from them first.  Then they usually move in the following weekend or so.  At this time, I exchange the keys to the house for the first months rent.  Taking the deposit essentially holds the house.

During this hold period or time between taking the deposit and getting the first months rent I keep my For Rent sign in the yard.  I think this makes my tenants nervous, but this is really just playing defense – this time period makes me nervous too.  I tell my new tenants that I just leave the sign in the yard as I think I might have another vacancy coming up around the corner.  I do this for several reasons:

Backup plan in case the people I just took a deposit from change their mind.  In this instance I would keep the deposit they just gave me as they made a commitment to rent the property.  When I give them a receipt for the deposit, I make this clear to them.

Continue to get contact info on prospective tenants.  This allows me to field a few more calls and get more names and phone numbers for future vacancies.  I always have several candidates that are living with other family and could move at any time.  I have one such family that really liked one of my places, but I had already went with someone else.  I keep this information and will call them when I have my next vacancy.

Subject to credit.  My deposit receipt says the acceptance of the deposit is subject to confirmation of credit.  I almost always check credit before accepting the deposit, but by leaving this in the receipt it leaves it open to me rejecting them even after taking the deposit.  Not sure I would ever do this, but maybe something changes after they give me the deposit.  I don’t re-check their credit a week later, but this kind of gives me an out clause.

Finally, it kind of tells them they better hurry up and move in before someone better comes along.  I have never had a prospect back out after giving me a deposit, but just being cautious.

The problem I could see occurring is they give you the deposit on say Jan 20 and say we will move in on Feb 1.  Then they have some family member go into the hospital, have a car accident, get called out of town for their job, etc and they can’t move in until Feb 8 or Feb 15 or some such.  Without their commitment in writing to move in and start rent on the first, they might stretch you out and have you losing rent.

From → Landlord

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