Is Your Tenant Screening Process FCRA & FHA Compliant?

Is Your Tenant Screening Process FCRA & FHA Compliant?

Many investment property owners who handle their own tenant screening process and rental decisions are unaware that there are state and federal laws that apply to tenant credit and background checks, and how landlords can use that information to make rental decisions. If you’re not consistently practicing a compliant tenant screening process, you could find yourself facing stiff discrimination fines or vulnerable to civil suit from rejected prospective tenants.

What Does The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FRCA) Have To Do With My Rental? 

You’re not a credit reporting agency, so this may seem weird, but when you order a consumer report on a prospective tenant, you’re certifying to the agency providing the report that you are going to use that information for a legally “permissible purpose,” in this case, tenant screening. So far, so good.

But if you find something in that report that causes you to reject the tenant’s application or require a co-signer, or require additional rent (these are called adverse actions in legal terminology), the FCRA requires you to notify the party in writing of the adverse action and reason. You must provide the contact information for the company who gave you the report, and let the recipient know that they have a right to dispute the report.

Fair Housing Act And Criminal Background Checks For Tenants

Running a criminal background check on a prospective tenant seems like a no-brainer. Who wants to rent to criminals? In practice, though, landlords are limited in how they use information from a criminal background check to take adverse action against a tenant.

  • A tenant can’t be rejected because of an arrest, if no conviction followed.
  • You must be able to demonstrate that a rejection based on criminal record “accurately distinguishes between criminal conduct that indicates a demonstrable risk to resident safety and/or property and criminal conduct that does not.”
  • People with convictions for distribution or manufacture of drugs can be denied based on those convictions. People with convictions for drug possession cannot.
  • Your treatment of criminal issues must be consistent across all applicants. You can’t reject an application from one person with a drug distribution conviction, and then later accept one from another person with the same conviction.
  • Selective use of criminal history to reject applications based on race, national origin, or other protected characteristics is considered discriminatory.

Stay On The Right Side Of The Law With Tenant Screening

The laws that cover tenant screening are complicated and they’re always changing. It’s easy to see how a landlord could end up breaking the law without even knowing it. The Orlando property management experts at Belmont Management Group help their clients stay compliant with all of the applicable laws, so they can rest assured that their investment property business is in good standing and running smoothly. Call or contact us online to learn more about how working with the professional property management team at Belmont Management can make your rental properties turn the best possible profit for you.



Please keep in mind that this is mostly a summary of the important points, but by no means does it constitute or cover all of the requirements of a compliant tenant screening program.

Make Rental Property Maintenance Less Stressful | Property Management

How To Make Rental Property Maintenance Less Stressful

If you’re an owner taking care of your own property management in the Orlando area, you’ve probably already learned how much demand on your time and budget rental property maintenance can be. Especially if you own multiple investment properties, maintenance and repairs can eat into your time and sanity very quickly. Planning in advance, before any new need arises, you can get those worries under control.

  • Have a request system – Create a request system that works for you. Maybe you want tenants to make requests by phone at your business office, or to send an email or fill out a form on your website. Whatever works, as long as everyone knows how to make requests properly, and that way you won’t respond to sticky notes on the face of their rent checks.
  • Have vendor contracts in place – It’s important to realize that when you’re doing your own property management and hiring vendors to do maintenance and repairs, you’re essentially acting as a general contractor, and you can benefit by taking some cues from the way general contractors deal with their subs. Make contacts and keep a preferred vendor list, and ask for volume and loyalty discounts. 
  • Track service calls & vendors – Keep detailed records of service calls, including issues and solutions, costs, turn-around time, and any other key information that may help you fine-tune your budget and vendor list in future. 
  • Follow up with resident & share feedback with the vendor – Vendors don’t tend to get a lot of feedback from end-users, so if your tenant has something great to say about one of your vendors, be sure to pass it along. It’s another way to build stronger relationships and loyalty across the board.

Consider Professional Property Management in Orlando

One advantage of working with a professional property management firm is that they should have maintenance professionals on staff, and volume contracts with any outside vendors they use. At Belmont Management Group, we have trained maintenance staff that is familiar with our high standards and expectations, and 24/7 coverage, in case an emergency arises. Call or contact us online to schedule a free consultation and learn more about how working with professional property management can help you earn more while spending less time stressing about your investment property.

Rental Property Management With 24/7 Property Maintenance & Repairs

Rental Property Management With 24/7 Property Maintenance & Repairs

If you own rental property in the Orlando area, management can be a serious drain on your time and energy. Especially when it comes to keeping on top of property maintenance and repairs, and fielding emergency calls from tenants at 3:00 a.m. When you work with a rental property management company like Belmont Management Group in Winter Park, you can forget about answering those middle-of-the-night calls. We provide 24/7 maintenance and repairs, and better still, we take an active role in keeping your property maintained, so there are fewer repair calls overall.

A Pound Of Prevention 

Because we systematically inspect each of our clients’ rental properties and deal with maintenance issues as they begin, we’re able to prevent small problems from becoming big emergencies. This proactive approach also ensures that each property is in best-possible condition at all times, so tenants are happier and tend to stay longer. Well-maintained properties are also easier to turn around faster between tenants, because there is only a short list of issues to take care of before your property is ready for new tenants to start paying rent.

An Ounce Of Cure

Of course, there are times and circumstances (we’re looking at you, hurricanes) where no amount of property maintenance will prevent the need for emergency repairs. When those situations arise, our maintenance team is on call 24 hours a day to take care of problems immediately, so your property damage is minimized, the property remains habitable in all but the most severe cases, and your tenants see that you take their welfare seriously. When things go wrong, we’ll be there to make them right again as quickly as possible.

Choose Proactive Rental Property Management

From Winter Park condos to Maitland houses, if you own rental property in the greater Orlando area, you can run that property more efficiently and cost-effectively by working with a proactive rental property management company. Belmont Management Group provides full-service management and property maintenance that keeps hassles and costs to a minimum for our clients. Call or contact us online for a consultation, and we’ll explain how rental property management helps you realize a better return on your property investment.

Effective Tenant Screening Heads Off Future Problems

Effective Tenant Screening Heads Off Future Problems

Tenant screening is one area that many owners who manage their own residential rental properties struggle with. If you own a single property or only a couple of properties, you may find it cost-prohibitive to run full background checks on every applicant, and certain services like rental history verification may not be available at all to you as an individual. You know that it’s important to gather all the information you can to make informed decisions about tenants, and yet, getting that information is expensive and time-consuming, if you can get it at all.

Better Marketing Strategies Bring Better Prospects

Another area that presents significant challenges for owners is marketing. There are lots of places to advertise rental properties free, but they’re often riddled with irrelevant ads and they’re not where the responsible tenants you want to attract naturally go looking. Finding good tenants starts as early in the process as choosing where to market your property, and the best outlets usually cost money for individuals to place a listing or ad. Property management companies that run many listings each month typically get a reduced rate, making it more affordable to place their listings in the most desirable outlets.

Professional Property Managers Have Better Screening Tools

Professional property managers like the team at Belmont Management Group run a high volume of tenant screenings, so makes sense for them to pay for more powerful tools to help them do more effective screenings, faster. When your property is managed through a professional management service, you get the benefit of better information at a lower cost, which ultimately means you’re likely to have longer-term tenancies with fewer problems, and less chance of needing to evict tenants. We’ll not only pull a credit report on each prospective tenant, but also run a background check, verify their employment and income, and review their rental history and rent payment history. Vacancies are filled faster, and turnover rates are significantly lower, which ultimately saves you money.

Better Returns On You Investment, Less Hassle

 Owning investment property is never going to bring completely passive income, but working with a professional property management company will definitely help shift the balance toward “less time, better income” for you, the owner. The Belmont Management Group delivers better results for their clients, throughout the leasing and property management process. Call or contact us online for a consultation and we’ll tell you more about how professional property management brings you a better return.

Orlando’s Hot Rental Market Is Good News For Owners

Orlando’s Hot Rental Market Is Good News For Owners

The residential rental market boom continues in central Florida, which is great news for Orlando area property owners. As home purchase prices continue rising and wages stay nearly flat, more low- and middle-income people find themselves unable to purchase a house, which means that they’ll be competing for well-managed, well-maintained rentals. For people who already own income property, or are in a position to purchase, this represents a significant opportunity because this trend is likely to continue for some time.

Rent On The Rise

Though rents and rates of increase vary by city and neighborhood, the overall trend in central Florida is up. In Orlando, apartment rents at the end of August 2018 had climbed to an average of $1,256: one bedrooms averaging $1,109 and two bedrooms averaging $1,339. Rents on single family homes, duplexes, and condos tend to rise even more quickly, because the people renting them are those who would, in a different economic time, be purchasing a house.

Owning & Managing Rental Property Is Real Work

Of course, if making money in rental property was effortless, there would be a lot more people doing it. It’s definitely not a get-rich-quick scheme. Keeping track of leases, insurance, maintenance, scheduled repairs and renovations, and tenant issues is a time-consuming proposition, under the best circumstances. If you’re considering purchasing income property, it’s important to understand that there are real demands on your time, and those demands are ongoing.

If you’ve already had experience managing your own residential rental property, you’ve probably discovered all of this, and you may have also learned how much more challenging things can get when you have tenants who are behind on rent, or require eviction. Property management is far more complicated than it seems at first.

Professional Property Management Will Help 

The professional property managers at Belmont Management Group help you reap the benefits of owning income property without sacrificing all your spare time (and maybe sometime that wasn’t spare, too!) by finding the right tenants, staying on top of the financials, managing maintenance and repairs, and taking care of matters like late fees or evictions, should the need ever arise. Call or contact us online for a consultation.

Condominium Leak? Who is responsible?

Leaks represent one of the most common issues affecting condominium unit owners.  If you’ve experienced a leak in your condominium, you know there (unfortunately) is almost never a straightforward or consistent process. “What steps should I take?” “Who is responsible for paying for the repairs?” “Is it the leak-er, the leak-ee, or even the association?” These are just some of the questions that come up during a situation involving water damage.

What steps should I take?

If you experience a leak, the first step is to shut off the main water supply to your unit. It is important to always know where the shut-off valve is located. If you are using a property management company, make sure they’re also aware of it’s location. Immediately shutting off the water could be the difference between a few small spots of water damage or extensive drywall damage and sopping wet carpets. Shutting off your water will help you figure out if the leak is coming from your unit or your neighbors.

Once the water is shut off, assess the area. If the leak stops, this means you are the leak-er. If the leak continues, you are the leak-ee. Immediately contact the surrounding units – above, behind, and beside. At this time, you should also contact the Association’s office. They are able to provide assistance in contacting your neighbors and even recommending a licensed plumber.

Common leaks for you and your neighbors to look out for include, but are not limited to, pin-holes in copper pipes, tub or toilet seals, decaying tile grout, hot water heaters, washing machines, and clogged A/C condensation drain lines. We recommend that you contact a licensed plumber to help you identify the source of the problem.

Who is responsible for paying for the repairs?

Once the source is determined, it is important to carefully review the documents that govern your Condominium Association.  Certain documents provide for the Association to only be responsible for water lines up to the point where they ‘split’ to service individual units. To further explain, if the leaking water line ONLY services your unit, it is your responsibility to address the repair.  In some Associations, the documents are not as specific and provide that The Association is responsible for any water pipe contained inside the walls of the condominium structure.

The repair of the leaky pipe is usually relatively straightforward. The question becomes: “who is responsible for the damage in the unit?” (furniture, drywall, cabinets, floors, etc).  As a general disclaimer, we recommend that you contact your insurance company and attorney for specifics related to your situation.  However, the standard procedure affirms each individual unit owner is responsible for damages within their unit (from the drywall in). In simpler terms, if the unit above yours experienced a water break, and your unit was unfortunately damaged due to the leak, you would still be responsible for the interior damage of your unit.  The same would apply to others affected by the issue.  The association is typically responsible for repairing/replacing the drywall. However, individual unit owners are responsible for the paint and texture once the new drywall is in place.


An exception to the scenario described above would include negligence on the part of an owner to maintain the components within their individual units.  If negligence is found, it is possible the owner of the unit responsible for the leak could be responsible for the damages caused to other units.

As a general rule, once you identify the issue, and depending on the extent of the damage, you should consult with your attorney and insurance company right away.

Lastly, as a homeowner, it is important to familiarize yourself with Florida Statute 718.111, Condominiums – The Association, as well as your Association’s governing documents. These documents can be requested from your condominium’s management company.


Calling all renters! Beware of rental scams this rental season!

Just this past month, our company became a victim to two rental scams. Thankfully, one was a quick fix (as quick as hitting the “report this listing” button on Craigslist). The other scam, however, was not as quick of a fix. It took our company almost 48 hours to resolve this issue. I know you may be reading this and thinking, “less than two days?” That’s nothing! But in property management, so much can happen in just 48 hours. After looking back on this week’s events, we are here to tell you about a few rental scams you should also be on the lookout for this rental season!


The Craigslist ScamRental Scams

Have you seen a property on Craigslist recently that just looks too good to be true? Well, there’s a very good chance it just may be. Thankfully, for our company, we were notified by a prospective tenant that someone advertised one of our rental properties at HALF the price. We later found out why it was so easy to spot! Our scammer was not smart enough to remove our watermarked company logo from the photos in his/her Craigslist posting. So, I’d first like to start off by saying, beware of third parties posting rental properties at a lower price. Try to Google the address, and you will most likely be prompted to a trustworthy website with the same listing. Only this time, it will have legitimate information.

The Cash Only Scam

Have you ever wired money to a friend or family member using Western Union or Money Gram? If so, then you know there is no way of tracking this transfer. It’s like it never happened or it’s like using cash, but without a traceable receipt.
Beware of anyone calling themselves “landlords or owners”, stating money wiring is required. Recognized brokers or landlords usually request certified funds, such as a money order, or even accept electronic funds through their preferred software.

Other Scams

  • Did the “landlord” of this property posting notify you they are unable to give you a tour of the property because they were “out of town” or “do not live in state”?
  • Although you did not yet see the property, did the “landlord” of this posting offer you a deal you couldn’t pass up? Did this deal require immediate payment?
  • Did you feel pressure or sense of urgency coming from the “landlord” of this property listing?

If any of the above circumstances apply to you, there is a very likely chance you were involved in a rental scam, otherwise known as fraud. If so, please contact your local authorities immediately. It is also suggested to file a complaint through the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center as well as The Federal Trade Commission. Furthermore, please don’t forget to click that “report this listing” button to help others from being victimized!

To avoid becoming a victim of a rental scam or fraud, follow these five rules.

1. If you are looking at properties on Craigslist, always cross reference the property address in the posting with more reliable rental sources such as Realtor, Zillow, or Trulia.
2. Research all found information including names, e-mail addresses, or phone numbers, through Google or another preferred search engine. You can verify the property owner’s name through your county’s property appraiser website.
3. Research market rates in your area. If the property you are interested in is well below market value, this could be a sign of a rental scam.
4. Do not provide any personal information or fill out an application until you or someone you trust has met with the landlord or property manager and viewed the property. On the opposite hand, be aware of “landlords” who are not at all concerned with your income, rental history, credit history, or criminal background.
5. Do not pay any funds without an executed lease, and never, in any case, wire money.

There are many Landlords who successfully market and rent their properties on their own through private listing websites. We believe having a property management company on your side can provide an additional layer of security to renters to ensure you are dealing with reputable Landlords. The same holds true for landlords and owners looking to rent properties without running the risk of dealing with fictitious tenants.


Should I Hire a Property Manager?

We understand that having a property manager is not for everyone. The same way we understand that some investors would never think of not having one. The truth of the matter is that it’s not for everyone. Many thoughts and questions may go through your mind before hiring one.

I can be my own property manager.

It seems pretty easy. Put a sign out front, meet a few folks, find a lease from the internet, or maybe just have your tenants confirm an e-mail agreeing to the terms. (Yes, we’ve seen this!)

How hard could it be to manage my own property?

The truth is, if you have the time, a great property, a greater long term tenant, and you are local, you may not need a property manager. Members of our staff actually have relatives who manage their own properties. Family reunions are a blast, let me tell you! Regardless, it may still not be very efficient use of your time and money, as you may still not have the systems or vendors in place to maximize the income and potential of your property.

Why Hire a Property Manager?So, for those of you – strong willed, owners of your own time, and amazing DYIers, we salute you! If you do not fit any of the above criteria, and you are still with us, you…

  • have already self-managed and are in over your head.
  • are ready to enjoy your hard-earned money and sip cocktails by the beach at your favorite travel destination.
  • may be in the process of buying your first investment home. This process can be stressful and hectic while trying to figure out how you are going to cover your costs and generate an attractive return. We can help you by providing an analysis of your investment before you buy the property, as well as tools to maximize your return.
  • may be relocating and wish to keep your current home as a rental and future investment.
  • know you need a manager, but recently had a bad experience with another property management company.


Now, we understand there are individuals who give our profession a bad name. We strongly believe they only make up a tiny fraction of the overall great group of companies in our industry. Companies who strive to do a great job for their clients and tenants every day. We know not everyone is perfect, and mistakes may happen. After all, most property owners hire property managers because they have already realized it is not an easy job and there are tons of variables to handle. These variables include rent collection, vendor selection, and scheduling of repairs, all while keeping detailed records of income and expenses.

We Believe

In essence, we believe great property management companies are made by combining proven systems with dedicated professionals, who are committed to delivering excellent service to owners and tenants. The systems keep order and consistency, but our people are what makes the experience shine for our clients and customers.  Setting the right expectations from the very beginning is the key to success in establishing a strong relationship between the property owner and property management company.

After years in the business, we have realized that our strongest attributes directly benefit clients who experience the types of dilemmas listed above. It’s important to understand your needs and wants prior to hiring a property manager. We also find that clients who don’t have a high need or desire to be involved in the day to day operations of their property are the ones who find the most value in hiring a property management company. Value your time!

Find out how Belmont Management Group can help you meet your real estate investment goals.

Airbnb – A Different Kind of Property Management

I recently took a family trip to Charleston, South Carolina. While there, we all stayed in an Airbnb property. For those of you who don’t know, Airbnb, founded in 2008, is a hospitality marketplace for travelers looking for unique, short-term accommodations. Your options include: renting a private room, a room shared with others, or a whole house with your friends and family. With over three million listings in 65,000 cities and 191 countries, the world is your oyster.

I have to tell you, my experience was GREAT! The property was in a great location, and it was half of the price we would have paid for three different hotel rooms. Who isn’t for saving money? The property came with a fully equipped kitchen. The salt and pepper shakers were missing, but I let that slide.Airbnb The property also had clean sheets, any necessity – you name it. A gentleman, who seemed to be an Airbnb property manager, even stopped by to drop off a space heater.

Recently, many clients have asked us whether we have expanded into Airbnb property management. We regretfully say we have not… yet. This type of property management is not out of the question for the future. We find it to be a great concept, as you can probably tell by now. However, we do not have the systems in place for the high turnover rate the short-term Aribnb type business demands.

Most Airbnbs are hosted by people who rent out their personal residence while they are out of town – why not? It’s a great way to make extra cash! However, recently there has been an increase in the number of investors who are purchasing homes and condos with the sole intention to use them as Airbnb rentals.  Regardless of your situation, it is important for property owners or renters who wish to host their homes through Airbnb to be sure your lease agreement, neighborhood rules and regulations, and municipal codes allow for short-term rentals. It may come as a surprise to learn not all communities/associations allow for this type of activity, and unknowingly, you may be subject to fines.

Earlier this year, Aimco, one of our nation’s largest property management a
gencies, filed a law suit against Airbnb. The case claimed Airbnb advertised Aimco’s units as short-term sublet rentals, therefore violating lease agreements between Aimco and their tenants. Read the whole story at Florida Realtors!

As a result of this news story, as well as many other similar stories within the last year, Airbnb is answering landlords worries. They implemented (and continue to revamp) a new program, by the name of Airbnb Friendly Buildings. If you are a landlord or building owner, this program is an easy way for you to express consent to your tenant to become an Airbnb host. This reservation platform also allows you to track hosting activities in your home. As any program, there are terms and agreements that must be agreed upon. If your building is currently available within this program, get with your tenant and sign up today!

If you are able to make your home Airbnb friendly, please carry on! Keep growing this great community for travelers and the hospitality industry!

Where to Buy Your Rental Home: A Guide to Investing in Orlando from a Professional Property Manager

As an Orlando Property Management company, we know that location is the foundation for success when purchasing a new rental home in the Orlando area. While we’ll explore additional investment strategies in future posts, today’s emphasis is on the harmonious relationship between your property’s location and your real rate of return. Read more