While renting to new tenants is a frequent and ordinary task for every landlord, the unfortunate truth is that many landlords continue to get it wrong. A properly organized and systematized rental process that considers the needs of particular tenants can be the gateway to rewarding personal relationships and successful rental transactions, but a faulty rental process can be the opening to lawsuits, lost income and depreciating property value. In this article, we will focus on some of the wants and needs of retired (older) tenants, and one particular nuance when it comes to income verification. Renting to retired tenants can be trickier than you think!
At Real Property Management of Sarasota & Manatee we find that three issues often come up with respect to senior citizen tenant applicants:
- Personal mobility issues.
- Fixed income.
Personal Mobility Issues
While there is always an exception to the rule, a-la “Jack LaLane,” the unfortunate truth (just ask my hips and knees) is that our bodies tend to deteriorate as we get older. Not all, but many retires face personal mobility issues over time, which is something that landlords should be aware of and responsive to. Landlords should understand that stairs may be more difficult for retirees to navigate. Your older tenants might request things like grab-bars in bathrooms. Proximity to public transportation may be an important issue to retired tenants, as many retirees have chosen to give up driving their own vehicles.
While a landlord is not responsible for paying for such things as adding grab-bars, ramps, etc., the general rule of thumb with respect to such items is, “reasonable accommodation.” Reasonable accommodation means that if a request will cause no undue expense to the landlord, or damage to the property, and the tenant is willing to pay for it, then a tenant’s reasonable requests should be granted. Of course, the tenant is always responsible for returning the property to the condition the property was in before the accommodation was granted (e.g., if the landlord grants permission for the installation of grab-bars during the tenancy, the tenant is responsible for removing the bars and making any necessary repairs upon vacating the premises).
One statistic states that nearly 50% of prospective tenants have pets, and the number is even higher for retirees. A pet can be a great comfort to a retiree, especially one who has lost a spouse, so a landlord with pet-friendly policies, and units that are “pet-proofed” (e.g., tile floors instead of carpet, fenced yards, etc.) can often find a ready market for their rentals among retirees.
A side-issue that sometimes comes up (which is not exclusive to retirees) are designated ‘assistance-animals.’ While not considered ‘pets’ in the strict legal sense, the laws and regulations with respect to these types of animals (a discussion of which is beyond the scope of this article) is something that every landlord should make themselves intimately familiar.
Income verification is often a straight-forward affair for working tenant applicants: employee applicants provide pay-stubs and employer contact information; self-employed applicants provide two years of tax returns. Simple and straightforward.
However, such traditional proofs of income may not be available for many retirees, who will instead ask to provide such things as social security award letters, pension award letters, or investment account statements. It is not uncommon for retirees to show very little ‘income’ (income being defined as regular recurring payments) but instead have a large pool of assets (e.g., a hefty bank account) with which they hope to make rent payments. In such situations it is always advisable for landlords to be sure to request adequate up-front deposits to help defray losses should a tenant’s assets decline due to unforeseen market events (think of the economic melt-down of 2008 as an example).
While renting to retirees does present landlords with nuances not necessarily applicable to employed tenant applicants, most retirees make great tenants, so it behooves rental owners to familiarize themselves with, and make reasonable accommodations for this often delightful group of people.
Your Next Steps
If you’re thinking about using a professional Nokomis property manager to rent your investment property, you should visit the company’s website, contact them via phone or email, and get the conversation started to see if there is a good working fit. I personally like companies that provide transparent pricing information right on their website.
If you have a residential rental property in the Sarasota – Bradenton – North Port market area that you would like leased and managed professionally, please feel free to visit http://rpmSaraMana.com to learn a bit about who we are and how we do business. I’d be happy to schedule a call with you to discuss your individual situation and needs. Call me at 941-216-0005, leaving a voicemail works great as I do return calls promptly!
Download our free guide to finding the best Sarasota and surrounding area property manager for further reading.
We are pledged to the letter and spirit of U.S. policy for the achievement of equal housing opportunity throughout the Nation. See Equal Housing Opportunity Statement for more information.