Rendin's Head of Legal and Compliance Lia Siht covers the most popular questions from (freshly started) landlords. Sometimes finding information from the web might get overwhelming and confusing, so here's a compact overview of what's necessary to know. Rendin is a long-term home rental platform. Its core is the world's most secure digital rental agreement, including fully digital processes, insurance, background-checked tenant candidates for the landlords, and a no-deposit feature for tenants.
Often, it's common to prefer a fixed-term lease because, for some reason, people believe it guarantees stability and income for a longer time. At the same time, we see the usage of termless agreements as a growing trend – also recommended by us and many real estate experts in the field. The reason is security.
The problem with a fixed-term rental agreement is that it's rigid. The agreement can't be terminated by either party without a serious reason (for example, a serious reason isn't the tenant's sudden wish to move to another city or country due to an unexpected job offer). The situation might lead to property abandonment and ignoring the monetary obligations. Next-up is the uncomfortable situation where the landlord needs to find a new tenant and deal with the previous one's debts.
The case is better with a termless rental agreement because both parties can end it by giving three months notice. So the risk is lower of getting in trouble with a problematic tenant. The landlords should always keep in mind that the option to terminate the contract is the most important aspect if we look at it from a problem-solving perspective.
There are five steps to follow. 1500+ signed agreements via Rendin have helped us map out how to act purposefully.
Finding tenants: you need to secure maximal visibility of the advert in real estate portals, Facebook Marketplace and(or) using other alternatives. The best deals for the tenants are offers directly from landlords, without deposit and where the pets are allowed.
Background checks on candidates and tenant selection: if usually background check is carried out before the showings process, then our experience indicates that it's reasonable to move this step forward. It helps to save time and avoids inconvenience.
Organising showings: the optimal choice is to schedule all showings into one day or do an info event so that potential tenants can visit the place and ask questions. Again, this is a time-saver.
Preparing the agreement: reliable draft of the rental agreement is available for Rendin's users in the web/app. If the landlord uses Rendin's services, signing the agreement is really easy because all the necessary items are added, and the landlord-tenant has to fill the blanks.
Handover and handover act: that part needs to be taken seriously. People usually think that the hassle is over and a good tenant is found. There's never a 100% guarantee that no problems occur during the tenancy period. It means the handover act must be done correctly so that later on, the claiming process can be handled more easily.
We suggest landlords take pictures that express the rental home's condition before handover (including more detailed images of expensive items such as home appliances); record utility readings and objects in the property (to make sure nothing is lost later on).
We can only share our own experiences and the way we work. Rendin's background check is built on the credit check. If the candidate passes the background check: the person has the payment ability and no existing debts for other companies. This method helps to eliminate a large number of problematic tenants. Plus, we're in progress building our own database of tenants who aren't allowed to find rental homes through Rendin.
Landlords are also making enquiries on criminal records and looking for relevant info on Google and social media. And last but not least – the landlord's personal intuition. If something feels sketchy then it's a perfectly valid reason to turn down some tenant candidates.
Threats and other such actions are never the solution. Our practice indicates that problems can be solved properly and within the law. The first and best way is to compromise, and not even legal knowledge is needed. When working with problems, the time factor (how much time is spent on resolving a situation) is often not taken into account. Compromise is always the quickest solution which also makes it the cheapest one. Sometimes losing 100-200 euros while compromising seems painful. However, in comparison with months long pressure and headache, which in most cases causes financial damage, too, it's a very small loss.
Yet, it's important to understand when it's fair and reasonable to reach an agreement and when it's not.
If the circumstances become critical, it's vital to keep calm and think rationally. Some guidelines:
For one late payment, it's worth doing a warning.
If two months of rent is left unpaid, then there's a reason to terminate the contract (the draft is available for Rendin users).
The next step is to reach out to the rental commission or court.
If the landlord doesn't have any claims in terms of eviction or repairs, and only rent and incidental expenses are owed, an accelerated procedure can be used.
*The content of this blog post reflects Estonian rental market and legal context.