Rental Applications: Knowing the Rules and Requirements

I thought this was an insightful article about the rental application rules and requirements.  This is both useful for property management companies and tenants or landlords.  Know your stuff!


Posted on 16. Sep, 2011 by Marc Courtenay in Business As property managers, we confront the ever-changing process of attracting and qualifying new residents to fill vacancies. With the legal landscape also changing, it’s increasingly important to understand the laws governing rental applications in the state where we manage our rental properties. Let’s begin with the state having the largest population; California. Here’s what a potential renter is told on the state’s web site for information by The Department of Consumer Affairs on the topic of “Looking for a Rental Unit” ( “Before renting to you, most landlords will ask you to fill out a written rental application form. A rental application is different from a rental agreement. The rental application is like a job or credit application. The landlord will use it to decide whether to rent to you.” Then it lists all the information that a rental application form will probably ask for and reminds the potential renter, “The application also may contain an authorization for the landlord to obtain a copy of your credit report, which will show the landlord how you have handled your financial obligations in the past.” No matter what state you’re operating your property management business in, it pays to carefully study the instructions and clarifications that the state is posting to educate the public on their rights and the responsibilities of owner-landlords. One of the other most populous states is Florida. The Division of Consumer Services of the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services has a similar page which explains the highlights of “Florida’s Landlord/Tenant Law—Summary of Chapter 83, Part II—Florida Statutes” ( The State of Florida has its own style of explaining the “Oral and Written Rental Agreements” which they succinctly describe as follows: “A rental agreement is an agreement to rent property (commonly referred to as leases). Rental agreements may be either written or oral. “Most rental agreements are written because oral agreements can be subject to misunderstandings and are difficult to prove. A written rental agreement can be a formal contract, or simply a copy of a letter stating the rights and obligations of both the landlord and tenant. “Florida law requires that notices to and from a landlord must be in writing, even if the rental agreement is oral. You should always retain a copy of any correspondence to and from your landlord.” Section 83.46(2), F. S. “If the rental agreement contains no provision as to duration of the tenancy, the duration is determined by the periods for which rent is payable (week-to-week, month-to-month, etc.). All other terms are either those specifically addressed by law or those that are part of the agreement between you and your landlord.” My point is that as property managers we need both continuing updates and sometimes legal guidance on what the state laws dictate and how they may have been recently changed and interpreted. Before you go to any great expense, locate, print out and study the specific text in your state’s website and make sure your rental applications comply specifically with the rules that protect the rights of anyone who may be applying to fill one of your vacancies. In future articles I hope to offer more ideas on ways to simplify the process of making sure you have a rental agreement that is consumer-friendly and legally “bullet-proof”.

Property Management Company in Boise Idaho and the surrounding areas

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Why not have a blog posting about blog postings!  Sounds good to me……


Posted on 18. Jan, 2011 by Aimee Miller in Best Of, Marketing

We all know how happy great, new content makes Google. If you can find 30 minutes each week to write 1 or 2 articles for your property management blog you will definitely start to see more traffic coming to your website. It can be challenging to get started blogging so here are a few starter topics from a recent AppFolio blog post.

  1. Pick your top favorite local restaurants and review them – hopefully they are within walking distance!
  2. Show what you know about local housing prices and the future trends in your area. We all care about housing – renters and buyers and especially potential customers. When you show that you know the area and and are watching the trends you build trust with your current and future customers.
  3. Be seasonal– make a list of the top 5 best activities to do in your area based on the time of year (hey…this is actually 4 ideas ;) ). Take pictures of people doing the activities and having fun too!
  4. Anytime you bring people in your community together, write about it. Include photos and videos too.
  5. What are you doing to make residents lives easier / better? Write about technology improvements, property improvements, etc – market all of the fantastic investments you’re making for your community.
  6. Help residents make their rental a home. Share ideas on what they can do to enhance the garden, save energy, paint the walls, etc.

One important tip – when you’re writing your posts, be sure you’re using the right search terms that will benefit your business – think local (neighborhood, city), your type of business (manage apartments, homes, etc) and think about your audience. But, keep your writing natural so people will enjoy reading your articles! Once you start writing you’ll find there are so many great things to say. And the best part – you’re creating content you can use on Facebook too.


In my experience with Property Management in the Boise area, I have seen a market slow down from a Realtor’s perspective and a Property Management perspective in the latter half of the third quarter.  As a former active Real Estate Agent, one of the slowest months in terms of volume was the month of August.  Reasoning being, ‘back to school!’, families aren’t in the moving mode when they’re busy getting ready for the school season.  This is not to say that the market comes to a stand still in the month of August, there are always buyers willing to buy.  But there is statistical information provided by the local MLS that show a decrease in volume of units sold in August.  After August, as the weather turns cold, the numbers stay down until Spring.  Why is this?

Have you ever heard of a ‘fair weather person’?  I have, and for good reason.  Most of us are just that, fair weather people.  The natural state of winter makes people want to nestle down into their homes and wait for the heat to come back.  Spring cleaning is a great example of this.  Ever wonder why the cleaning refers to the spring time?  As the weather turns warm, people begin to make changes and plan ahead.

So how does this affect the rental market?  Believe it or not, the rental market coincides with the Real Estate market.  In the spring and summer months, tenants are out looking for places and investors as buying investments.  Prices are up, volume increases, tenants increase, and Property Management companies are busy.  When the latter half of the third quarter hits, the markets slow down, prices drop, and tenants settle in to their homes they leased during the summer months.  Most contracts are a year long contract, so it’s easy to see why every year maintains the same cycle.  And so goes the cycle of Real Estate and Property Management in the Treasure Valley, up and down, warm and cold.

Written by D. Patrick O’Laughlin, Esq.

Our property manager / owner clients have a distinct advantage over other judgment creditors, because they typically know the bank and account number where their former tenant banks. Generally, this information is on the tenant’s application. If, however, the tenant has changed bank accounts, prudent property managers will take copies of rent checks to compare with the application to determine if their tenant has changed accounts. It is not uncommon for someone struggling financially to change bank accounts.

In order to levy a bank account, the judgment creditor must first request a writ of execution from the court. For landlord-tenant cases, this is the court where the eviction took place. Once the writ of execution has been issued by the court, the creditor must utilize the sheriff (or registered process server) to personally serve a copy of the writ and a notice of levy on the bank. In order to be effective, the levy must be served upon the branch where the account is held or at a centralized location within California that has been designated by the financial institution.

At the time of levy, or shortly thereafter, the sheriff must also serve the judgment debtor with a copy of the writ, notice of levy, and list of exemptions that may be available to the judgment debtor in California.

The bank is obligated to honor the levy provided that it can effectively identify the account holder. This seems like a simple notion. However, imagine that the levy was served at a major institution on the account of “John Smith.” The bank could conceivably have reasonable difficulty identifying the proper account to levy and, therefore, the levy would be ineffective. In light of this potential obstacle, a judgment creditor should include personal identification information on the levy instructions so that the bank cannot avoid the levy. Of course, it is appropriate to provide the bank account number on the levy instructions if available to the creditor. Creditors may also include the social security number of the defendant on the levy instructions and request that the bank levy all accounts held in the name of the judgment debtor including but not limited to those identified on the levy instructions. This “broad sweep” maximizes debt collection potential.

Once the levy is served, the bank must seize all monies in the defendant’s bank accounts. The levy reaches all monies in the accounts at the instant of levy. After the levy, the bank may not honor checks or other orders for payment drawn against the defendant’s accounts because, in essence, the accounts are frozen.

In the event that the bank account is held jointly with another party, the sheriff will instruct the bank to hold the levied monies for 15 days to allow the third party to make a claim on the levied funds. If a third party claims an interest in the levied funds, a court hearing will be necessary to determine whether the third party has a superior interest to that of the judgment creditor. In these instances, an “undertaking” may be required. An undertaking can be an expensive proposition for a judgment creditor since the court can require the posting of bond.

After the levy, the judgment debtor may assert that the levied funds are exempt from execution. If this occurs, a court hearing will be set to determine whether or not the levied funds are, in fact, exempt. It is incumbent upon the judgment debtor to trace the levied funds to an exempt source. Common examples of exempt funds are social security benefits, unemployment compensation, and disability payments. If the judge determines that the levied monies are exempt, the court will order the return of the levied monies to the judgment debtor.

California statutes also allow for the levy of safe deposit boxes. After service of the writ of execution by the sheriff, the financial institution may not permit the defendant to remove the contents of the safe deposit box. A bank officer or manager places a “boot” upon the lock so that the defendant cannot gain access.

Typically, additional fees must be submitted by the judgment creditor to drill the box and the judgment creditor must retain the services of a locksmith. The bank manager, sheriff, locksmith, and the creditor then meet at the bank at an agreed upon time and the locksmith will open the box. The defendant is entitled to be present at the time of drilling. After drilling, the box is presented to the judgment creditor for inspection. Typically, the bank manager will arrange for the availability of an office in which the creditor can carefully inspect the contents of the safe deposit box. If the creditor wishes, the contents may be delivered to the sheriff for sale. The proceeds of the sale are applied to the judgment. In order to sell the contents, the judgment creditor must obtain a “turnover order” from the court prior to drilling.

Over the years, our firm has discovered some very interesting items in the safe deposit boxes of defendants. Quite often, documentation is held in the box that can lead to the discovery of other assets. For example, on behalf of our clients, we have discovered deeds, stock certificates, wills, and automobile registrations.

Recently, our firm was retained to collect a relatively large judgment following a commercial eviction. For nearly a year, the defendant remained uncooperative and evasive. The defendant had taken great pains to hide assets. When we located and seized a safe deposit box, the defendant surprisingly (and quickly) came to the bargaining table. Prior to the scheduled drilling, the defendant offered to settle the case for $75,000. Our client accepted. While there was no longer a need to pursue the drilling, our client remained somewhat curious as to the contents of the box but was delighted with the outcome of the case.

Property managers have an inside track on other creditors since, by the nature of the landlord-tenant relationship, they often know where their former tenants banks, allowing for a successful collection process. Does your collection partner conduct bank levies? If not, they are leaving money on the table.


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