Ask the Attorney – Crazy Judge

ask-the-attorneyThe Landlord Protection Agency®presents John Reno, Esq.,a highly experienced Landlord – Tenant attorney based on Long Island, NY.

Q:  Dear Mr. Reno:

There is what we consider a squatter in our rental house. The Judge considers him a tenant because he moved in and had the electric and water turned on in his name, unauthorized. We were told to go through the eviction process as if he was a tenant, which we did. At Court, the defendant lied under oath saying that he paid rent and did repairs to the house. He had no proof. He also said it was dangerous for him and his 3 babies to live there because the electrical breaker would sometimes shut off. The Judge ruled in his favor and said he could live there for the rest of his life if he chose to do so.

Can we move into our own house to do needed repairs while the squatter is there?
Thank you ever SO much!
Jacqueline, Texas

A: The judge said what? This is the most bizarre thing I’ve heard (this week.) So he said he paid rent. So he’s a tenant- with no lease. He gets a 30 day notice- then back to court.

Legal Disclaimer
The Landlord Protection Agency’s “Ask the Attorney” column is for informational purposes only. The questions answered by Mr. Reno on this site do not constitute an attorney – client relationship and are not to be considered legal advice. Not all questions will be answered and some may appear in the LPA Q&A Forum.
The Landlord Protection Agency recommends that you seek legal advice before using any of the material offered on this web site, and makes no guarantee on the effectiveness, compliance with local laws or success of any of the material offered on this web site. The Landlord Protection Agency is not engaged in rendering legal advice.

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Why are Certified Funds required in Real Estate transactions?

Close up of hands giving house model to other hands with money.What are certified funds?  I’m buying/renting real estate and the company wants me to bring “cash or equivalent” or “certified funds.” Why can’t I just write a personal check?  The money is there!

Relax! The purpose of this blog post is meant to give a simple explanation of why “certified funds” are required in your real estate transaction and how to acquire and present them to the real estate office.

Certified funds are just that. They are a form of payment that is guaranteed (or certified) to clear, be valid, and are non-revocable.  When making certain types of transactions, such as real estate transactions, it’s required that the payment method used will satisfy the contractual obligations. To do this, certified funds will be required, usually in the form of:

Specifically, personal checks are NOT allowed, as the account may not have sufficient funds or they can be cancelled. Credit cards are NOT allowed, as the transaction may later be disputed or reversed. Checks sent by a bank bill payment service are NOT allowed, as they are the same as personal checks.

Simply put, once certified funds are issued, they cannot be recalled or cancelled by the bank.  The bank that wrote the cashier’s check or money order must by law, honor and pay the amount due in the document.  Therefore, it is the same as handing a person the equivalent amount of funds in cash.

Cash is, well, cash. It is absolute funds, and value has is transferred immediately to the holder.  There is no issuing bank to recall the funds.  It is the absolute transfer of value when given from one person to another.

1Personal checks, on the other hand, must “clear” the issuing bank before the payment is deemed absolute.  This could take as long as a week or more.

Certified funds are required because it assures that the funds are good, valid and present at the closing of the transaction and release of keys.  A closing is set for a certain day and if, for example, a personal check is presented, the company will have to wait at least 10 business days before giving the seller or landlord their proceeds.  If the seller or landlord does not receive their proceeds for weeks past the closing date, well, the parties have not really closed on the agreed upon date, right?  Therefore, keys cannot be released to the buyer or tenant. In order to ease this issue, certified funds are required so that proceeds may be disbursed to the seller/landlord, commissions to agents, etc. Real estate is a major investment worth hundreds of thousands of dollars and can potentially cause all parties stress; however, certified funds give the assurance that funds are good and will clear to let money and keys go to the various parties entitled.

Where can I get a certified funds?

Here are some of the top places to get a certified funds, beginning with the cheaper options, that you may use as a guide.

  • Walmart: The big-box store offers money orders from MoneyGram, a money order provider, at a cost of 70 cents each for values up to $1,000.
  • Money transfer agents: You can buy money orders from companies such as Western Union and MoneyGram at convenience stores, drugstores, supermarkets, check-cashing outlets and elsewhere. The Western Union money order fee, as an example, is around 99 cents; charges vary by location. Single money orders are usually limited to less than $1,000.
  • U.S. Postal Service: Money orders to be sent within the United States are $1.20 for up to $500; $1.60 for amounts over $500 up to $1,000. There’s one exception: Military money orders, issued by postal military facilities, are 40 cents. An international money order with a value of up to $700 costs $8.25.
  • Banks and credit unions: Financial institutions sell money orders for around $5 each, with values typically up to $1,000. They often waive fees for customers with premium accounts.

5 Habits You Didn’t Know Were Essential for Landlording

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There’s no such thing as landlord school.

Most landlords just do a little reading online and dive right in. Which is fine – but it also means many new landlords are ill-prepared for the work of being a successful landlord.

Far too many landlords fail to bring a level of professionalism to their landlording side gigs. Sure, this can lead to some irked tenants, but the person who suffers the most is the landlord — in the form of shoddy returns.

My partner and I teach a property management course to mom-and-pop landlords. Here, we again and again return to a few simple themes. Most of these themes revolve around prevention, discipline, and staying several steps ahead of the irregular-but-expensive events that ruin returns.

Here are five habits that landlords need to develop if they want maximum profits and minimum headaches!

Related: How to Be a Landlord: Top 12 Tips for Success

1. The Unflinching Enforcer Mindset

A few months back I analyzed whether you should keep your home as a rental or sell it when you move. The first thing I talked about? Whether you have the disposition and discipline needed to be a landlord.

Tenants will push against your boundaries. Your job as a landlord is to firmly and professionally defend those boundaries.

That means enforcing your lease agreement — to the letter.

Rent doesn’t come in on the first? Send an unofficial late-rent reminder. Rent doesn’t come in before the legally-mandated grace period ends? Send an official eviction-warning notice.

They still don’t pay after the required waiting period? File in court for eviction.

You’ll get sob stories, often with literal sobbing. Many people bend and give their tenants leeway — and then they give some more leeway.

If you do this, you train your tenants to believe that the rent is not their most urgent bill. So why would they ever pay it on time when they have other bills they need to pay in which excuses are not an option?

Enforce your lease agreement and your tenants will know that they can’t get away with whatever they want. They’ll know the rent is their highest priority because you will enforce the late fee and evictions.

If you can’t do that, you will lose all credibility with your tenants. You’re better off investing your money in a REIT.

2. The Discipline to do Recurring, Scheduled Work (Even When it Doesn’t “Feel” Necessary)

Landlords have monthly, semi-annual, and annual work they should be doing.

As we discussed above, every month you need to stay on top of your tenants about rent. Set reminders on your calendar if need be. Every six months, you need to inspect your rental units. Semi-annual inspections should be written right into your lease agreement.

It doesn’t feel urgent. It’s not a frantic midnight phone call about a burst pipe. So, most landlords don’t do it.

But again, it comes down to setting expectations with your tenants. Send a loud, clear message that you care about the property, you care about the lease terms, and (if you do it right) you care about the tenants.

Check that they don’t have unauthorized people or pets living there. Make sure they’re keeping the property clean. Confirm that they’ve changed the air filters.

And use that face time to build more of a relationship with your tenants: Ask about their jobs, their kids, their lives.

Then, every year, you need to raise the rent. Many landlords wring their hands and fret about it, but the alternative is allowing rents to fall below market value — then hitting your tenants with a too-drastic rent hike all at once.

Related: I Asked Landlords for Their Best Tips: Here Are 6 Recurring Secrets to Success

3. Budget Like a Business (Because You Are One)

As a landlord, you’re a small business owner, whether you think of yourself that way or not.

The expenses involved in owning a rental property are largely hidden, because they’re irregular (but big when they happen). Expenses like turnovers, repairs, vacancies.

Here’s what rental property cash flow looks like visually – smooth periods, interrupted by huge spikes in expenses.

What does that all mean for you as a landlord? It means you don’t want to be that chump standing there with his jaw hanging open asking: “How am I supposed to pay for this $5,000 roof bill?!”

Here’s how: by setting aside money every month for these potential expenses. In a word, by budgeting.

And while we’re at it,if you ever want to retire with your rental income, budget your personal finances too. What’s the point of all the hard work building (and managing) your rental portfolio if you’re just going to turn around and spend it all on new shoes and dinners out?

If you want to get ahead, both as a landlord and as a person, get comfortable (and disciplined!) with your budgeting.

4. Think Long-Term to Vanquish Vacancies

Turnovers are where most of the work and costs involved in being a landlord lie.

You’ll have to repaint the unit. Maybe re-carpet it. You’ll have to go through and fix all the little things that the outgoing tenants either messed up or just lived with. Then there’s the lost rent, even as you continue carrying the costs of owning the property.

In other words, you have to spend money that you wouldn’t have had to if the tenants had stayed.

Then there’s the stress and headaches and work of advertising for new tenants, coordinating with contractors, screening tenants, signing a lease agreement, doing move-in and move-out inspections, etc. It’s labor. If you have a property manager, they’ll charge you dearly for that labor.

Speaking of tenant screening, your goal is not fill the unit as quickly as possible with an acceptable tenant. Shift your thinking to the long term, and instead make it a priority to fill the unit with a high-ROI, low-maintenance, long-term tenant.

You want someone who will be low-impact and treat your property with kid gloves. Someone who will pay the rent on time every month so you don’t have to chase them. Someone who will stick around for the long haul so you don’t have to worry about all the costs and headaches involved in a turnover.

5. The Meticulous Mindset: Records, Documentation & Attention to Detail

I’m just going to say it: If you’re not the anal-retentive type, hire someone to manage your rentals who is.

You need to be exacting in your record keeping, your documentation, and your attention to detail. For example, did you walk through the unit before your renters moved in to document the condition with them? Did you both sign the condition statement? Did you take photos with timestamps of every room from every angle?

Then what did you do with the photos and documentation? Is it stored securely on your computer or in your file folder where you can access it at a moment’s notice?

I’ll stop beating this horse; you get the idea. Active landlording is not a good fit for the laid-back and leisurely. There’s nothing wrong with hiring a property manager if you don’t have this meticulous personality type – the important thing is the self-awareness to acknowledge the bad fit and outsource your property management.

You’re in Business — Be Professional

Effective landlords have effective habits, that revolve around thinking long-term and embracing minor headaches today to avoid massive headaches tomorrow.

Keep a friendly but professional distance from your tenants; they’re your clients. Set a budget for expenses like you’re a professional, because you are. Set recurring reminders on your professional calendar, and then follow through actually execute them!

Catching a theme here? The landlords who succeed are the ones who bring professionalism to their rental management.

And if you can’t be professional, hire a professional.

Source: Bigger Pockets

Top 5 Mistakes Landlords Make with Their Investment Properties

1Managing an investment property is no easy task. It may sound like big money, but if you are not prepared it can turn into a huge money pit. As a landlord, you have a big responsibility to the property as well as the tenants. One small misstep could end up costing you valuable time, energy, and money. That is why you must make sure you do your homework before jumping in. Do as much research as possible. If you look up the latest real estate trends in the area or ask a local expert, you will be able to find enough information to help you make the best decisions when it comes to your investment property. Unfortunately, many landlords want to get started so quickly that they do not think before they invest. Here are the top five mistakes that landlords make with their investment properties:

1.Choosing the Wrong Tenants

This is one of the biggest mistakes you can make as a landlord. If you are renting your property out to a stranger, you must take the extra steps needed to make sure you get the best possible tenants in your property. If you do not know them very well, there are certain precautions you can take. Have them prepare the following:

a) Application Form: Have prospective tenants complete a written application form. This will include standard renter’s information such as names, numbers, employer, previous residences, income, etc. Each adult who will be living in the property would need to fill one of these forms out and minors can be added as well. They would sign that all the information they provide is accurate to the best of their knowledge.

b) Credit and Background Checks: Tenant screening is a great way to see how financially stable your prospective renter is. Credit reports often show if someone has been late on payments and the amount of debt they already have. A background check is very important, not just for your peace of mind, but also in consideration of the neighborhood. You would not want to rent the property out to a convicted criminal. It would compromise the safety of the area and could also bring down the property values.

c) Referrals: Asking for referrals from past landlords and current employer is a great way to go the extra mile in finding the perfect tenant. If the applicants have not be great renters in the past, then they probably would not move forward with their application if referrals are needed. A referral from an employer would also give you confidence that the tenant is gainfullyemployed and able to make a monthly payment.

2. Failing to Create a Thorough Lease Agreement

Creating a good lease agreement is where part of your research will come in handy. Many landlords will print the first form they see on the internet. Unfortunately, this form could be outdated and only relevant for a certain location. Make sure to find an application that has all your stipulations and current local regulations spelled out. Some tenants will comb through the entirety of the agreement to try to catch something that the landlord missed to exploit it. For this reason, it is very important that you create a thorough lease agreement. Be sure to add any rules specific to your property in an addendums section.

3. Lack of Communication

If you make yourself unavailable to your tenants, you are doing them and yourself a disservice. Your office should always be open and you should always be available by phone. Sometimes, home emergencies will come up and your tenants will need your ‘okay’ or your help to get the issues resolved. It can range from something small, like a door coming off its hinges, to something huge, like a flood or leak in the plumbing. The sooner you can get back to your tenants, the better for them and you. The longer you let an issue go, the more difficult it will be to fix a problem and the more resentment your renter could have for you. You want to make sure that your tenants have a good experience so that they are not criticalof you to future renters. This is especially important this day and age where you can review anything and anyone on the internet.

4. Setting the Rental Rate Too Low or Too High

Make sure you are setting the rental rate within the correct range for the property’s age and location. There is such a thing as setting the price too high and too low. If the rent is too high for the area or for how old the property is, no one will want to live there. The longer your home sits unoccupied, the more money you are losing each day. In the same vein, you do not want to set the rent too low. You may be able to get someone into the home quicker, but you could be leaving a lot of money on the table. The whole point in taking on an investment property is to make money. The best thing you can do is look at other rental properties in the area. Try to stick within the range of rental pricing you see in the neighborhood.

5. Delaying Eviction Process

If you do find yourself in the position of having to evict a tenant, try to get the process started as soon as possible. You can expect it to take about 30 days from start to finish, but many times, it is delayed because tenants will come up with excuses. As soon as you can tell there is a real issue, you should begin the process. The longer you wait to get it rolling, the longer it will take. The longer it takes, the more money you will be losing. It is important to note that the tenant is still legally obligated to pay the back rent owed to you. However, if a tenant has opted not to pay rent up until this point, you may be out of luck trying to collect it from them in the future.

Being a landlord is a tough role! If you avoid these common mistakes that most people make with their investment properties, you should have an easier go at it. The main thing to remember is that the more research and preparation you put into renting out your property, the more return you will see on your investment.

Source: realtybiznews.com

We’ve Launched Our New Website & Video!

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WE’VE JUST LAUNCHED OUR NEW WEBSITE!

Here at Bev Roberts Rentals we are always looking to improve the services we offer. In an exciting step towards enhancing your experience, we have launched a brand new website. With a fresh look, feel and a new intuitive design, our new website is designed with you in mind. We are now mobile optimized! We understand your needs and how we can help you with a variety of leasing and management challenges. Fully optimized for mobile devices, our new site will allow you to access the information and services you need whether you’re at your desk or on the move.

 

WE’VE JUST LAUNCHED OUR NEW VIDEO!

For us, family-owned and operated means a family feeling with a professional approach. When you call on us, you’re not calling upon strangers for assistance, you’re working with our family. Serving customers directly is a primary part of our business model. We’re a family with values, beliefs and traditions, much like yours. That’s why we care on a personal level, not because it’s our business, but because it’s our way of life. As a family-owned and operated company, we take pride in providing you with more personalized services. Get to know our family better by pressing play below…

Tenant Hurricane Procedures

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Please only call Bev Roberts Rentals when absolutely necessary, so that we may keep our lines open for emergency concerns. Please refrain from calling to get storm updates. Our team is currently getting inundated with phone calls and emails. It’s not that we don’t want to hear from you, we appreciate the concern and covet your thoughts and prayers right now. We understand that everyone is worried about Hurricane Irma, but per the North Carolina governor, Roy Cooper, “It’s too soon to know how North Carolina will be impacted.” Please keep in mind that this is our home too – so our team takes this very seriously! Many of us have lived here though numerous storms and hurricanes, so understand there is a “wait and see” period with hurricanes requiring patience. Do not panic when you see headlines declaring a state of emergency. The state of emergency allows us to get a plan activated and the teams and equipment in place in case the hurricane makes landfall in North Carolina.

Instead of calling, please use the links below for Bev Roberts Rentals information updates. Bev Roberts Rentals works hard to keep tenants and landlords informed – prior, during and post storm. We recommend everyone monitor Bev Roberts Rentals here:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/bevrobertsrentals/

Tenant Preparation Procedures:

Stay tuned to the local news media and follow all recommended precautions and instructions. We would like you to take a few minutes to review the hurricane plan we utilize.

  1. Log into your Tenant Portal and review your contact information. Please inform us if any of this information needs updating. Each manager utilizes this information to notify tenants of important changes, problems and/or issues.
  2. Take photos of the home and your contents at their current state for insurance purposes. After the storm, inspect the home for damage, take photos, and report damage to Bev Roberts Rentals. If possible, submit photos via the online Maintenance Request system.
  3. Please write down the below contact information for your property manager, and keep it in a safe place: Bev Roberts: (919) 630-3882 or bev@robertsrentals.net, Craig Brockman: (919) 609-3131 or craig@robertsrentals.net, and Nick Roberts: (919) 244-1649 or nick@robertsrentals.net
  4. Turn off main water to house if a pipe leak is noticed. If you smell gas, turn off main gas valve.
  5. Anchor or shelter outdoor potted plans, awnings, patio and lawn furniture, grills, and trash and recycling receptacles.
  6. Turn off propane tanks.
  7. Close all windows.
  8. Do not open refrigerator unless necessary. In case of lengthy power outages, remove food from refrigerator prior to spoiling to prevent odor damage. Empty ice bucket to prevent damage to floor from melting ice.
  9. Insert wedges in sliding patio doors; if not protected, damaging winds will lift them off their tracks and blow them into the house.
  10. Lower radio and television antennas, protect satellite dishes.
  11. Close all outdoor electrical outlets.
  12. Secure garage, porch doors, and storm doors.
  13. Purchase a flashlight (do NOT use candles) and extra batteries.
  14. Charge all cell phones.
  15. Unplug electrical equipment.
  16. Do NOT tape or board up windows. This can actually cause more damage to the windows or siding of the house.
  17. If you are instructed to evacuate the home by local authorities: If possible, please notify Bev Roberts Rentals, lock all doors, turn off main breaker, turn off main gas line, turn off main water supply to the home.

Bev Roberts Rentals Will Be Closed Labor Day

US Flag Picnic

Dear Landlords & Tenants,

Bev Roberts Rentals will be closed on Monday, September 4, 2017 in observance of Labor Day.  We will return to regular business hours on Tuesday, September 5th at 9:00 AM EST.  As customary, we will remain available by phone and appointment while the office building is closed.  The outdoor drop-box is checked daily. The online portal system is available during non-business hours as well.

Tenants… As a friendly reminder, please be aware of the lease terms due to the Federal Holiday:  “All rents shall be paid in advance on or before the first day of each month.  Tenant shall pay the late fee if any rental payment is five days or more late.  Tenant understands and agrees postal delays, envelope post-mark dates, bank discrepancies, online payment system errors, weekends or holidays, or any other pretext does not constitute a waiver of late fees.”