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7 Common Elements Tenants Seek Out in a Prospective Rental

All tenants have differing wants, needs and desires. These wants, needs and desires translate into the type and location of properties they wish to live in. It is essential for a landlord to understand what is important to prospective tenants. Here is a list of common elements tenants seek out when renting a property:

Cleanliness
The property should be clean and presentable. No one wants to live somewhere littered with trash and unkempt landscaping. First impressions are important, and the best tenants are going to stay away if your place is a mess.

Safety
Safety is always a major issue. Everyone wants to feel safe in and around their homes. Safety can be attributed to location. Some locations are simply going to be safer than others, and there may be little the landlord can do about these situational problems.

But there is plenty you can do with your property. Tenant screening is the place to start. Weed out the bad prospects before they move in. Solid locks and security doors are also a big help, as are security systems and lots of lighting.

Location
Location is one of the most important elements when it comes to real estate. Some will want to be located near their job, others near their family. Some will want a particular neighborhood or access to transportation systems. Some may want to be near the trendy shops and restaurants. Others will want no part of that. Others will want to be in the city or out of the city, etc. These are all very different wants, and you need to understand where your property is and what locational benefits it offers to potential tenants.

A Good School District
School Districts can play a key role for tenants who have children or plan on having children in the near future. Some tenants will be looking for a home in a particular school district because they want their children to go to that particular school. Schools can be so important that prospective tenants will be able to overlook many other problems with a property as long as it is in the right school district.

Quiet
Some tenants like a quiet property. This can be very important, especially if the tenants have to wake up early every morning for work. This is something a landlord should keep in mind, especially with multi-unit properties, as noise complaints will drive you crazy.

Amenities
Amenities always make things a bit easier and more convenient. An amenity could be something as simple as ceiling fans, or it could be having a dishwasher or a washer and dryer located in the property. These amenities and others like them can make a huge difference to those looking to rent from you. Learn what is available in your market and up the ante a bit if you can.

Professionalism
Tenants want to be treated professionally no matter what. They want to know that they will be respected and that their home will be maintained. They do not need the hassle of badgering you for repairs nor do they want you interfering too much in their lives. The landlord/tenant relationship is a professional one, and that is how you should present yourself.

Tenants wants, needs and desires can vary significantly, and it is just not possible to accommodate everyone all the time. But landlords should be aware of what factors are important to their prospective tenants. Some of these factors, such as school neighborhoods, are dependent on location and there is little the landlord can do about these factors except to be aware of them going in.

But many others are within the landlord’s power to control or at least affect. Items such as cleanliness and professionalism, which are so important in this business, offer you the chance to make a great first impression and pick up the best tenants first. Others, such as the amenities you choose for your properties, can give you an edge over your competition. And in this business, a slight edge can make a big difference.

10 Popular Rental Property Tax Write-Offs

Here are some of the most important deductions you could benefit from:

1. Interest on Your Rental-Related Loans.
It’s important to make the distinction between principal and interest. You cannot deduct the amount of the loan (the principal), but you can deduct the interest on the loan that you pay in any given year.

Typically, as a rental owner, you’ll have some of these deductible interest expenses:

Interest on loans to buy your rental property (look for the Form 1098 from your lender each year).
Interest on loans to refinance your rental property (ditto: Form 1098).
Credit card interest for goods and services bought for the rental property.
And don’t forget about personal loans for things related to the rental property.

2. Travel Expenses.
If you have any travel expenses related to your rental property, such as transportation, lodging, and meals, they’re fully deductible. Also, if you use your personal vehicle in your rental property business, you can use one of two methods to deduct your related expenses: use the standard mileage rate or actual expenses.

3. Repairs & Maintenance.
A repair is any work that puts the property back in its original condition. Reasonable and necessary repair costs for your rental property are tax deductible. Maintenance does not always involve fixing something that’s broken, but it gets to the idea of keeping the property in its original condition, and in the long run a regular maintenance program could save you on emergency repair costs. Maintenance expenses that are deductible include:

  • Landscaping
  • Light bulbs, smoke detector batteries, HVAC filters, etc.
  • Pest control
  • Cleaning supplies

4. Depreciation.
Depreciation is a process through which you deduct long-term assets (assets you hold for more than one year) over many years. Long-term assets include rental buildings. Land is not included. Tangible personal property that lasts for more than one year, such as carpeting and kitchen appliances, can also be depreciated. Because depreciation can be very complicated, it’s best to discuss it with your accountant.

5. Insurance.
Insurance premiums, including those for landlord liability, theft, fire, and flood, are tax deductible.

6. Taxes.
Real estate taxes, property taxes, and state, county and local sales taxes are deductible.

7. Home Office & Office Supplies.
Many landlords don’t take advantage of the home office deduction, because quite frankly, it’s a bit of a pain AND the IRS tends to closely scrutinize this one. However, if you use an area of your home exclusively for your rental business, it might be exploring with your accountant. In addition to deducting for your home office, you can also deduct for office supplies used in carrying out your rental business. Deductible office supplies include writing implements, paper, notepads, printer ink, envelopes, and stamps.

8. Utilities.
If you pay any utilities for your rental property, you can deduct them. These include:

  • TV/Cable/Internet
  • Electricity
  • Gas
  • Garbage/Recycling
  • Water & Sewer

9. Professional Services.
If you need to hire a lawyer, accountant, or other professional, that cost is deductible and considered part of your operating expenses. Often, DIY landlords hire lawyers to handle tenant evictions (link to evictions article), or they’ll decide not to landlord themselves anymore and hire a property management company.

10. Advertising.
Any money you spend on advertising your property for rent is deductible, whether it’s online, print, or radio.