During the busy rental season you may find that you're being pulled in multiple directions. If you want to stay on top of things, you will need to have your process and policies set before you jump in the middle of it. This includes how you will handle a variety of fees.
Before things get too crazy, take a few minutes to consider the following about rental fees and deposits:
Application Fees - Application fees are legal in many states and will help to ease the burden of the tenant screening process from the landlord. Local laws will dictate if they are allowed and if there are any restrictions, but this article gives you an overview of what you should expect with application fees and what they may be used for.
Non-Refundable Fees - There are certain fees that you may charge as a landlord that you will not be required to return when the tenant moves out.
Pet Fees - Many renters will have a pet that they wish to bring with them. It's possible to accept tenants with pets and keep your property safe as well. Make sure to know what you should be charging for pet fees.
Pet Deposits vs Pet Rent - A popular trend is to charge a tenant a separate rent for the pet as well. Make sure you know the differences between a pet deposit and pet rent so that you may explain that to them.
Late Rent Fees - Setting late fees will help encourage your tenant to pay on time. If there is no penalty for paying after the due date, there is no guarantee you'll get you rent payment on time so that you, in turn, may pay bills associated with the rental.
Fees Vs Deposits - You will want to make sure that your wording is correct when you approach the subject of monies owed in your lease. Fees and deposits will differ and should not be used interchangeably. Make sure that you specify what is potentially refundable and what is not.
Security Deposits - Security deposits are an important part of keeping your rental investment safe. If a tenant damages the property, a security deposit will be what helps keep you from taking on the full burden of cost that it may take to repair it before a new tenant may move in.
What Can You Deduct? - Knowing what you can and cannot deduct from a security deposit is imperative to staying on the right side of the law when it comes to returning it.
Is it Normal Wear and Tear? - When it comes time to return the security deposit, you will need to know the difference between normal wear and tear and actual damage done. If you don't, you may deduct something from the deposit that you shouldn't.