14 Landlord-Tenant Relationship Guidelines for the Digital Economy

Did you know that over 95% of text messages are read within a few seconds? Further statistics have also revealed that SMS text marketing boasts 10x the open rate of e-mail marketing. Text messaging is quick, actionable, and very useful for today’s digitally-defined real estate professional.

  • Sunday, June 3, 2018

  Matt Angerer

  Advertising & Marketing   

by: Matt Angerer

Did you know that over 95% of text messages are read within a few seconds? Further statistics have also revealed that SMS text marketing boasts 10x the open rate of e-mail marketing. Text messaging is quick, actionable, and very useful for today’s digitally-defined real estate professional.

As a Landlord trying to grow your rental property portfolio, you are faced with increasing pressure with each new acquisition. You could outsource it all to a property management company and kiss away 10% of your profits plus the 1st month of rent or embrace the added stress that comes with each new rental property – but keep the profits in your pocket. What if we told you this ‘tug of war’ between reduced profit margins and added stress is only an illusion? Managing the added stress of growing your rental property portfolio while preserving high profit margins as an Independent Landlord requires a balance of your time, low-cost technology, and the expectations you set with applicants at first contact.  

At VerticalRent, we define “first contact” as the moment a digital exchange occurs with a potential renter (otherwise known as an applicant). Most often, this occurs from an SMS text message received from a vacancy ad you posted to a popular rental property search engine like Zillow, Trulia, HotPads, CraigsList:

  • Applicant: “Hello, is rental property on 123 Main Street still available?”
  • Landlord (You): “Yes, it’s still available.”

This is what we define as “first contact” at VerticalRent and the point at which the Landlord-Tenant relationship has officially started. Things become unwieldy very quickly when you’re a 1-man show with a dozen or so rental properties in your portfolio. Not only are your managing the onslaught of inquiries and showing requests for your rental vacancies, but you’re simultaneously tending to the demands of your existing tenants. Perhaps you’re also chasing a few tenants for late rent that still hasn’t paid and prospecting to purchase a few more investment properties. Oh wait, you also have a personal life including: a wife, a boss, co-workers, and a few buddies who’d like to see you more than once a year. Each one of them “has your number” and expects a quick response when they text you. Knowing that nearly 95% of all text messages are read within a few seconds, they know you read it. You can’t hide from text messages – but you can hide from e-mail and phone calls. Meeting the expectations of your personal, professional, and real estate life without sacrificing profit margins by turning it all over to a property management firm is a challenge we see facing over 2 million independent landlords operating in the United States today. Finding balance and efficiency in a world of instant gratification and near real-time communication requires a Landlord-Tenant relationship by design.   

In other words, nailing down your philosophy on how you scale your rental property portfolio as an independent landlord is the key to unlocking the financial freedom you have dreamed about. We’re not saying it won’t be hard work. As the old saying goes, anything worthwhile is hard work and this is no different in the business of rental properties. But before you throw up your hands and stop investing or hire a property management company, you must master the art of the Landlord-Tenant relationship. And, no, it isn’t just about a strong lease agreement. There is a lot more to the equation that will provide you with peace-of-mind, increase your profit margins, while ensuring that you stay in the business of independent landlording of rental properties for your entire life. After all, rental property investing is a long-term play with dividends that pay over the course of 30 to 50 years – you need to have a marathon mindset, not a sprinters mentality.

To celebrate the 14 weeks of Summer 2018, our gift to you are these 14 guidelines to better managing your Landlord-Tenant relationship. But before we get into our self-asserted guidelines to improve the Landlord-Tenant relationship, let’s look at how others define this relationship.

According to Investopedia, a lease establishes the relationship of landlord and tenant and is both a conveyance of possessory estate in real property and a contract between parties. Through the lease, the tenant receives a right to legal possession of the property in exchange for “valuable consideration” (i.e., rent) paid to you, the landlord.  As we know, most leases specify the duration of the agreement, and any terms for extending the agreement plus rent payment details. A quick search on Wikipedia about “Landlord-Tenant Relationship” doesn’t return a verbatim result for the term – but shows a page about Landlord-Tenant Law. According to Wikipedia.org, Landlord-tenant law is a part of the common law that details the rights and duties of landlords and tenants. It includes elements of both real property law (specifically conveyances) and contract law. To be clear, this article is in no way shape or form about Landlord-tenant law, nor does it provide any legal advice.

Here are VerticalRent’s 14 Landlord-Tenant Relationship Guidelines for the Digital Economy:

  1. Everything starts with an SMS Text – Buying your first rental property isn’t rocket science. Filling it with a tenant isn’t difficult either, but rarely do people “pull an ad” in the local newspaper to advertise their vacancy. They first turn to free online services like Zillow or CraigsList. Why? Well, for starters – it’s free. Even more, you get global exposure to potential renters moving into your metropolitan area from other places in the U.S., or abroad.

What is the one thing that these two popular online searches ask you to provide when submitting a rental vacancy? You guessed it, your phone number. They also ask you whether you’d like to accept SMS text messages from interested applicants – most of us do, right? Before you know it, your phone is blowing up with text messages from interested renters.

Managing each applicant interested in your rental is a different story, especially when you have multiple rental vacancies that open for tenancy at the same time. Many of us who rent homes in college towns know exactly what I am talking about with that statement. Then you need to schedule walk-throughs, accept rental apps, and screen the applicants. It can get messy. We recommend using VerticalRent® Hub to separate your personal and landlord phone numbers to receive applicant inquiries separately, but on the same device. Make sense? Instead of painting your personal phone number everywhere – you can plug your VerticalRent Hub number on vacancy listing ads, lease agreements, and business cards – drawing a line in the sand.

You can respond to SMS texts to your Hub line from your smart phone, or you can answer them from your keyboard at your computer while logged into VerticalRent. Some real estate professionals prefer the efficiency gained with dual-monitors and back & forth SMS texting from their keyboards. You can even setup automatic text message responders that point applicant inquiries for rental vacancies to your VerticalRent-supplied website. You can set an application fee to weed out the serious inquiries from the dreamers. When they apply, you can quickly text them from VerticalRent Hub with more details about setting up a face-to-face walk through of the rental property. At that point, you’re armed with the information necessary to know whether the applicant has the financial strength to be accepted as a renter in your apartment community. It’s that simple, but you need the right tools to manage it.

  1. Faxing is Not Dead – Yea I know, I just spoke about the relevance of SMS texting and underscored it with solid statistics as to why its better than e-mail. Faxing is so 1980s – why are we even having this conversation? Well, it’s no secret that modern medicine is keeping people alive longer and longer. If you want to accommodate the broad spectrum of renters in America, you must have the right communication channels established to accept landlord forms. There are senior citizens that I have rented to in the past who didn’t own a smart phone and didn’t want anything to do with the Internet. They asked for a paper rental application and went home to “think about it” before filling it out and signing it. A few days later, they called me back and said they were ready to move ahead – but wanted to fax over the signed rental application.

Faxing is handy when accepting rental applications, wet signed lease agreements, or even communicating resident announcements. With VerticalRent® Hub, you will receive a dedicated digital fax line with your local area code. You can fax landlord forms, fully executed lease agreements, signed rental applications, or blast out announcements via fax to the office managers at your corporate office complex. You can even setup auto-fax reminders to be sent at certain times of the year to remind your residents and tenants of important dates – such as when its time to change those Furnace filters.

Will faxing ever die completely? Hard to say, but I would suspect that faxing will fizzle out at some point altogether. But then again, we thought that vinyl records would disappear completely, and I just spent last week in an AirB&B in Austin, Texas called The Guild that provided a Vinyl Record Player where I listened to the “oldies” every evening. My point is that any good Landlord provides his tenants with communication options and is prepared to accommodate as necessary. In the words of Abraham Lincoln: I will prepare and some day my chance will come. Be prepared to accept communication in any form your applicant or tenant desires.

  1. Separate Your Personal and Real Estate Phone Numbers – You wouldn’t paint your private phone number on a public wall, would you? I bet you are – but your “public wall” is the Internet. Harmless, right? So, you think. Whether you’re a Landlord, a Commercial Broker, or a Property Manager – putting your personal mobile phone number on lease agreements, rental vacancy ads, for sale and rent signs on front lawns, and your website is freely giving out the keys to connecting with you. Your personal mobile number is sacred. We can always earn more money, but we can’t get back the time wasted when someone calls our personal mobile trying to sell us something. And don’t be fooled – they got your information by scraping public websites where your information as a real estate professional is listed.

As your reputation elevates as a real estate professional in your community, your personal mobile number becomes more and more sacred. Stop the madness and separate your personal and real estate phone numbers with VerticalRent Hub. That doesn’t mean carrying around two cell phones in your pocket. I’ve seen people carrying around a few different phones and its ludicrous – who has enough pockets for that? Smartphones are huge these days! VerticalRent Hub allows you to keep one device with multiple phone numbers. Use your Hub phone number on those rental ads, on those lease agreements, and on those for rent signs that you’re posting around town. When phone calls start coming in, you’ll know whether its personal or real-estate related. Even better, you can setup a professional real estate voicemail greeting based on extension or time of day that the person calls your number. Pretty cool, right?

  1. Save All Communication and Be Careful What You Put in Writing – Look, your tenants aren’t your friends. I’ve seen too many landlords talk to their tenants as if their trying to find another friend. Keep it short, keep it professional. And if you’re communicating about lease agreement provisions, put it in writing. Sure, whatever you say could conceivably be treated as a verbal contract – but what you put in writing trumps everything. E-mails, texts, faxes, and mailed letters. Content is king. And since most of your applicants and tenants are “text happy” this day and age – you’re backlog of texts can fill up rather quickly.

With VerticalRent Hub, you not only receive unlimited archival of each and every text message your send or receive, but we provide the same with the dedicated e-mail address we give to you as a Hub subscriber. Unlimited texts, unlimited e-mails, and unlimited attachments (photos, leases, rental agreements, landlord forms). Not even Google gives you unlimited storage! As a real estate professional, never delete communication you have with an applicant or tenant. More importantly, never communicate more than what is necessary. Sure, you can be friendly with people, but it stops with pleasantries – don’t get opinionated, don’t respond to threats, and never ever threaten anybody in any way. If you are going to act on something, then act on it. Your tenants are likely saving all your communication too, so be very careful.

Let’s face it, this is your lively hood on the line. You’re buying rental properties to put junior through college and someday hopefully retire with a solid nest egg. One tenant who has a few marbles loose could make your life a living hell, so be sure to save every single piece of communication. Doing so will ensure a harmonious Landlord-Tenant relationship. After all, good fences make good neighbors. In this example, your “fence” is VerticalRent. Protect yourself!

  1. Automate Your Rental Advertising Campaigns – Tired of wasting your time with wishy washy potential renters? I bet you’re out there conducting walk-thrus before collecting a rental application and checking tenant credit history, aren’t you? Not only are you inconveniencing yourself, but you’re wasting the time of the renter you currently have in the unit. Then you pull a tenant credit report and eviction check to find out that the applicant was evicted 2 years ago and has a sub-500 credit score – bummer! You just wasted your time. Stop the madness.  

Collecting a rental application fee is how to compensate yourself for time spent reviewing the rental application, credit report, and making a leasing decision. To weed out the “dreamers” as I often call them, I learned to automate my rental advertising campaigns with VerticalRent with an application fee.First, you need to get your rental ad on the top sites like Zillow, Trulia, Hotpads, and CraigsList. Like it or not, CraigsList is still very popular across the United States. If you feel that your rental unit is too classy for CraigList, think again. There are very expensive rental units advertised and filled from CraigsList daily. On your rental ad, include your Hub phone number provided by VerticalRent and setup an auto-responder that links back to your application page. I setup a simple automatic reply of:

“Hey, thanks for inquiring – we’re accepting rental applications and scheduling showings for next week. Go here (insert link) to complete our rental application. We do charge a small rental application fee for the costs of reviewing the reports. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to text me back!”

Typically, the “dreamers” won’t text back and won’t apply. The serious applicants will text back to let you know they are completing a rental application and will pay the rental application fee – no questions asked. With VerticalRent, the rental application fee can be paid by credit card and is direct deposited via ACH straight into your checking account – making it quick and easy.

After collecting the rental applications and associated fees, I would often setup a walk-thru day on a Saturday or Sunday and schedule out the applicants throughout the day. You can coordinate and schedule the walk-thrus with VerticalRent’s Hub feature by texting available appointment times back and forth with the applicants. My experience has been that only about 50% of the applicants who RSVP show up to the walk-thrus. Some of them love the place, whereas others aren’t happy with something – and they disappear. Then you’re left with a handful of interested applicants. At that point, I dig deeper and conduct a full tenant background check. This includes an SSN verification to check on previous address history, landlord-tenant dispute records, and a multi-jurisdictional scan of criminal records. I marry that up with their credit reports and I make a leasing decision based off the handful of applicants I still have left.

For the applicants that I denied – I send them a quick text with a link to an adverse action letter that I created in VerticalRent explaining why I denied their application. It’s very important that you’re forthright about everything. If their credit score doesn’t fit your standard, tell them. If they were arrested for assault and battery -- and you have a policy against that -- tell them. Consistently and standardization in how your screen applicants is critical.

Automating the steps above is easy with VerticalRent Hub. You’re able to create templates according to your policies and standards as a Landlord. I can’t advise you on what sort of language you should use, but I’d suggest talking to a real estate attorney in your neck of the woods to help. They’ll make sure you have everything straight!

  1. Get a Different E-mail Address – Similar to how you separate your personal and real estate life with phone numbers, the same goes for your e-mail address that you plaster all over the Internet. Fortunately, VerticalRent provides its Premium and Ultimate subscribers with a dedicated e-mail address for all real estate related activities. It’s secure and fully integrated into the Hub Communication portal, plus it exudes a sense of professionalism that you’re using a best-in-class rental property software to manage your rental units.
  2. Ditch Listening to Voicemails – Every try to listen to a voicemail and take notes at the same time? You end up listening to the voicemail 2 to 3 times to jot down the pertinent information. With VerticalRent Hub, we automatically convert the voicemails left on your Hub line to both email and text message. You can read it at your convenience and archive the message.
  3. Broadcast Important Announcements to Tenants – How many times have you asked your tenant to remember to change the filter in the furnace? You know how much wear and tear it puts on the HVAC unit when the filter is clogged, right? With VerticalRent, you can setup recurring reminders that are communicated out to your tenants at pre-specified intervals. Choose the communication method: Text, Email, Voicemail – set the recurring frequency (every 3 months) – and type out the communication:

“Hey <Tenant Name>, this is friendly automated reminder to change your furnace filter. Kindly reply back with ‘Yes’ when you’ve completed this task per your lease agreement.”

When they text or email back with a ‘Yes’, VerticalRent updates the maintenance record on file for the property assigned to the tenant/lease with a date/time stamp of the last time the air filter was changed. Cool, right? We have thought of nifty little ways to automate the maintenance efforts of your rental properties. Establishing a strong Landlord-Tenant relationship with Hub helps you maintain accurate records of all your appliances.

  1. Save All Pictures with Date/Time Stamps – All digital photos of your property should be saved to the maintenance record of the property. Take for instance this scenario. You hire a plumber to repair a broken shower drain that floods your tenant’s master bedroom. If you’re a VerticalRent landlord, the scenario can play out where you ask the plumber to SMS text you the images of the major milestones of the repair process itself, such as:
  • Base of shower removed – Photo taken, texted to Owner/Landlord.
  • Drain removed – Photo taken, texted to Owner/Landlord.
  • Carpet removed and dried – Photo taken, texted to Owner/Landlord.
  • New drain installed – Photo taken, texted to Owner/Landlord.
  • Base of shower re-installed – Photo taken, texted to Owner/Landlord.
  • Shower re-caulked and painted – Photo taken, texted to Owner/Landlord.
  • Padding and Carpeting Replaced – Photo taken, texted to Owner/Landlord.

With VerticalRent® Hub, we capture the date & time stamp of the inbound text from the plumber that you hired to make the repairs, along with the associated image and the information they provided about the repair process. With the power of our technology, Landlords can then easily convert this information into a “repair report” they can provide back to the tenant when the job is completed to their satisfaction. The repair report contains detailed evidence of the repair. It doesn’t take the plumber more than 5 minutes total to snap pictures on his smart phone and text them over to your Hub line. VerticalRent does the heavy lifting under the hood to associate the images to the vendor (plumber) that you created. With another click, you can tag the images to a unit and property.

All this data – the images and the date/time stamps – are saved forever in your Hub portfolio. If you ever need to refer to repairs that occurred for each of your rental properties, you have the necessary ‘repair reports’ available at your disposal to print or e-mail.

  1. Se Habla Espanol – Confidently write ‘Se Habla Espanol’ on your business cards, websites, and For Rent signs. VerticalRent Hub has a built-in translator for a variety of different languages, including Spanish. If a foreign buyer from South America is interested in a listing you have, you can quickly translate inbound e-mails, voicemails, and text messages on-the-fly with our proprietary technology. As you receive inbound texts or emails, VerticalRent will auto-translate it to the language of your choice (by default is English). When you respond, we’ll translate your language of choice back over to the originating language to ensure that all parties can receive communication updates in their language of choice.

With VerticalRent® Hub, Landlords can now accommodate a wide-array of applicants and renters who speak different languages. Spanish, Chinese, German, French, and English. You’ll never be at a communication disadvantage in the metropolitan area you decide to purchase rental properties.

  1. Streamline Work Order Requests – When the seal breaks on the toilet and water is leaking, the tenant usually sends a quick e-mail or text message to the Property Manager or Landlord. By using VerticalRent, you can receive the work order request and associated images of the repair via text – then quickly “Tag” the information to a Work Order. Once you create the associated Work Order, you can text it back out to your preferred Plumber to repair the toilet.

As the Plumber fixes the toilet, they can text the images of key milestones of the repair process back to you to save to your file and auto-generate a repair report with date/time stamps for each image, along with a description. You can even use PayPal or Google Pay with VerticalRent Hub to make a payment to the vendor or ask the Plumber to sign-up for VerticalRent Pay and receive payments directly from you with our platform.

As your rental property portfolio grows, it’s important to centralize and streamline work order requests. VerticalRent’s tenant portal is another way that renters can e-mail maintenance requests, but the ability to manage maintenance tasks via SMS text message is critical. Our platform gives you the power to easily categorize, organize, and facilitate a wide-array of repairs to your rental properties with many different vendors at once – Plumbers, Electricians, Carpet Installers, Roofers, and Landscapers. From the point of tenant request, to paying the invoice – VerticalRent streamlines each step in between to ensure a smooth experience for your tenants.

  1. Provide 24/7 Tenant Self-Service with VerticalRent – Nobody wants to be interrupted at 11:30 PM at night, but as a Property Manager or Landlord – you’re on-call almost 24/7. Even though your expected to be on-call 24/7, you don’t really need to be available every hour of every day. In fact, you can “manage perception” with your renters in a very professional and automated way by directing them to self-service information and setting up auto-responders within Hub. Let me show you how we help Landlords do that with VerticalRent Hub.

For a true emergency, a tenant can text you with a pre-defined hashtag of #emergency. VerticalRent will identify the hash tag in a text automatically, the tenant it was received from (by the mobile number), and automatically call the “emergency backup phone” that you provide to the system for tenant-related emergencies. Hub will also flag the text as “Urgent” and highlight it in red to bring your attention to it immediately. VerticalRent Hub will automatically dial out to the emergency line that you provide and speak this automated message to whomever answers or voicemail:

“Hi, this is VerticalRent Hub, we received an emergency text from a tenant at 123 Main Street. You can call them directly at 123-123-1234 or reply to their text on Hub. Sorry for the interruption, but it sounds like something important!”

What’s more is that you can configure Hub to automatically “blast text” a group of mobile numbers when a tenant-related emergency text is received. This way, if the on-call person isn’t available, someone from the group on the “blast text” list will be notified as well.

Disclaimer: Our hash-tagging technology in Hub is in-development and will be ready for Landlords Fall 2018. Provided herein is a sneak peak of what features will be included.

We are creating other powerful features in Hub to help you automate and streamline a variety of self-service tasks based on hashtag keywords. For instance, we’re working on a few out-of-the-box template hashtags available in Hub such as:

  • #safety – The safety of your tenants should be your #1 priority as a landlord or property manager. With that said, you can provide your tenant with the ability to hashtag-text you with #safety along with their complaint. Any text message with the hashtag of safety is prioritized as “High” in VerticalRent Hub and highlighted to your attention.
  • #bedbugs – Nobody wants bed bugs, but it seems to be a common complaint in hotels and apartment rentals. If your tenants do happen to identify bed bugs in their rental unit, you can setup an auto-responder that references a specific section of the lease agreement for your provision about bedbugs. Perhaps you have a provision where a pre-approved vendor with a negotiated rate is to be used for extermination.

The text back to them will contain a link that points to the specific section of your lease agreement. With VerticalRent Hub, you can setup these auto-responders that point to specific areas of the lease agreement. The tenant can then click the link in the text message and read the specific provision without you having to explain it to them.

  • #pests – This is another common complaint that you will hear from tenants. They might complain about ants in the house, or perhaps roaches, or some other type of infestation. Like bedbugs, most Landlords have a specific provision in their lease agreement relating to pests. You can upload your lease agreement to VerticalRent and tag and hyperlink the associated provision of the lease agreement that deals with pest control. If a tenant asks about pest control with a #pests in their text message, VerticalRent Hub will automatically respond back with a URL/hyperlink directing them to the specific section of the lease agreement that speaks to pest control.

Automating your Landlord-Tenant relationship in this manner helps you streamline communication and confidently grow your rental property portfolio. You would be amazed at how many of the same type of complaints and questions will come your way year-over-year with different tenants. Instead of answering the same question over and over, you can automate the response mechanism to help save you time and money.

  • #trash – You can specify the trash pickup days and times for each rental property. Any current or future tenants assigned to that property can text your Hub line with #trash and receive a reminder of the date/time that the trash is picked up. Seems trivial, but I’ve been asked this question over and over with new tenants over the years. By spelling out the accepted hashtags in a tenant’s welcome e-mail or even giving them a refrigerator magnet with the hashtags listed, you can save yourself a lot of time and headache. VerticalRent Hub will automatically respond back to the tenant with the trash pick dates and times for a specific unit-property when it detects #trash in the text.  
  • #utilities – You can specify all the local utility contact information such as water/sewer, power, gas, and internet. If an applicant or tenant would text your Hub line with this hashtag (#utilities) and they are already associated with a property, Hub will respond back automatically with information about the local utility hook-ups for that property address. Yet again, another very common question among new tenants in a property. All of this information is generally available in a lease agreement or the welcome packet, but tenants will inevitably ask the question.
  • #repair – This is a general hashtag for your tenants to submit maintenance repair requests. VerticalRent Hub will recognize the hashtag from the tenant’s mobile phone number when its texted to you. Tenants can send you digital photos of the repair request and Hub will automatically assign the maintenance request to the correct unit & property, along with sending you a notification. You can take it a step further and create an auto-responder based on not only the hashtag (#repair), but also the tenant and/or property.
  • #noise – According to the American Apartment Owners Association, the #4 most common apartment complaint is noise. Instead of calling the local authorities, most tenants always text their landlord or property manager about neighborhood disruptions – loud music, a loud party, or a dripping sound that just won’t go away. In your lease agreement, you can list out the accepted hashtags and instruct your tenants to “hashtag the request” via text message to you. VerticalRent Hub identifies the hashtag, associates it with the incoming mobile number, and automatically assigns the noise complaint to the associated unit & property. Our built-in conditional routing rules also give you the ability to automatically assign the noise complaint to a local property manager or handle it yourself with an auto-responder such as:

“Hi <Tenant Name>, I received your noise complaint. I will be in touch with you soon. Meanwhile, don’t hesitate to get in touch with your local authorities at XXX-XXX-XXXX to submit a formal complaint about the noise.”

  • #lease – Whether it’s a deposit refund dispute, a breach of agreement, or a lease termination request – this is another common hashtag. As a Landlord, you can respond back to your tenant with pointers to specific provisions with your lease agreement related to the questions they have. A specific scenario may relate to an early lease break request and flow something like this:
    • Tenant – “Hello, I accepted a job transfer and need to break our #lease agreement. What is your policy?
    • Landlord – “Per provision 3.12 (link), we request a 30-day notice and a 2 month lease termination fee to end the agreement early.”

With Hub, you can choose from a list of pre-written snippet responses that contain URL/links to the provision with your lease agreement. If the tenant doesn’t hashtag the text message, you can quickly assign it to the #lease tag yourself to categorize it accordingly in VerticalRent.

Even more powerful is your ability to create custom hashtags. How does this work? Well, let’s say you own rental properties in Alaska – but they are spread out geographically in different areas of the State. Long shot, I know – but follow our logic. In each area, there are different local “snow plowing” service providers. In Hub, you’ll have the ability to specify a hashtag such as #snowremoval and then can further define snow removal companies available in different regions of the State based on Zip Code. If a tenant texts your Hub line with #snowremoval after a big storm, Hub will automatically text them back with the list of snow removal companies that you specified for the region of Alaska where the tenant is living. This might not necessarily be based on the area code where they texted you from, but the specific location of the rental property where they are living.

  1. Multi-Lingual Accommodations – Ever see a Realtor’s ad in English with “Se Habla Espanol” on it as well? In many rental markets, the individuals whom are looking for rentals only speak Spanish or very little English. Their language-of-choice is Spanish. This is a problem if you’re language-of-choice is English. There is an obvious gap between that needs to be filled. You could always double-down on Rosetta Stone and learn to speak Spanish fluently if you serve a metropolitan area with a high volume of Spanish-speaking renters. But who has the time to learn another language? VerticalRent Hub delivers fast, high-quality, and free language translation for text messages, phone calls, and faxes. Our neural machine translation engine has been trained on a wide variety of content across different use cases to produce translations that sound fluent and natural. For those of you that didn’t know, neural machine translation is a form of language translation automation that uses deep learning models to deliver more accurate and more natural sounding translation than traditional statistical and rule-based translation algorithms.

With Hub, you can confidently promote “Se Habla Espanol” on your business cards, on your fliers, on your website – everywhere! Our language identification filter will automatically identify the source language and translate it over to your language of choice (e.g., English). And all of this happens in real-time with e-mails too. If you have a preferred carpenter that does your handyman work on rentals that you own who only speaks Spanish – Hub is your perfect companion. You can text back and forth with your Spanish-speaking handyman in English and let our neural network-based translator do the work under-the-hood. This way, you are fully understanding what he’s telling you, and vice-versa. There is no misunderstanding!

The same principal applies to applicants and tenants. Never again lose out on the potential to fill a vacancy with a Spanish-speaking family. Not only will Hub translate Spanish, but we also support Japanese, Russian, Italian, Traditional Chinese, Turkish, and Czech!

  1. Capture Move-In and Move-Out Evidence – The condition of your rental properties is what helps you fill vacancies fast. Documenting the condition of each rental property with digital images and date/time stamps can help establish ground rules between the Landlord and Tenant.

As part of tenant move-in to a rental unit, you can ask your tenant to SMS text you over images of every room in the rental unit along with any details about the condition of the property. All this evidence can be archived into a move-in evidence report. When your tenant is ready to move-out of the unit, you can ask them to do the same.

At the end of the lease when your tenants move-out, you can both use Hub as a system of record to document the condition of your rental property with digital date-time stamped images to determine whether it’s normal “wear and tear” or an item that should be deducted from the security deposit. Simply using a paper-based “Move-In / Move-Out Checklist” doesn’t cut it. There is room for misinterpretation with written comments, but the digital photography snapped on a smart phone and saved to a report in Hub doesn’t lie.

We hope that our 14 Landlord-Tenant Relationship Guidelines for the Digital Economy has provided with you with the insights that can help establish a framework to successfully growing your rental property portfolio. As the dog days of summer 2018 approach, take a spin of VerticalRent Hub and try out our award-winning platform yourself.

About VerticalRent:

VerticalRent® Hub is a revolutionary way for real estate professionals to streamline, simplify, and improve Landlord-Tenant relationships. Founded in 2011, VerticalRent became the real estate industry’s #1 rental property tenant screening platform for independent landlords and property managers. View our tenant screening guide, download our free eBook, or visit our extensive resource center to educate yourself on state-specific landlord-tenant information.


VerticalRent® is not a law firm, and the employees of VerticalRent® are not acting as your attorney. Our educational blog or landlord forms engine is not a substitute for the sound advice of a local attorney, whom is familiar with your local laws and regulations. VerticalRent® cannot provide you with legal advice, nor are we permitted to engage in the practice of law.

We are prohibited from providing you with any sort of advice, opinion, explanation, or recommendation about your possible legal rights – which may include remedies, options, defenses, or the selection of landlord forms available on the VerticalRent platform. Our platform is designed to provide landlords and property managers with powerful online tools to screen applicants, collect rent online, advertise vacancies, and generate free landlord forms. To that extent, our blog often publishes general information on issues commonly encountered by landlords – such as evicting tenants.

Although VerticalRent takes every reasonable effort possible to ensure the accuracy of its consumer reports and landlord forms, we do not guarantee or warrant the information to be correct, complete, or up-to-date. The law changes rapidly across the United States, from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. We will not be held responsible for any loss, injury, claim, damage, or liability related to the use of our blog, landlord forms or consumer reports generated from this platform.

About the author

Matt Angerer is the Founder and President of VerticalRent. He enjoys writing on a variety of topics that help Landlords, Property Managers, and Renters across America. He is particularly interested in helping renters understand their local marketplace, pick the best places to live, and find an awesome roommate. Since 2011, VerticalRent has grown to service over 100,000 landlords and renters across America. 

Read more articles from Matt Angerer

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