FORBES: Eight Reasons You Shouldn’t Manage Your Own Investment Properties

1Purchasing an investment property is an exciting business venture. If your building is in good shape and you find the right tenants, you stand to earn a lot of money from your rental units.

At first it may seem like a good idea to manage your own property and retain full control over costs, tenants and income. However, self-management can often be a headache: When something breaks down or your tenants are late with rent, you bear the sole responsibility to address it.

Hiring a third-party property management company can be worth every penny, especially if you’re looking to grow your investment business over time. Members of Forbes Real Estate Council shared eight common scenarios in which it makes more sense to outsource your property management tasks.

1. If Real Estate Investing Is Your Side Hustle

If an investor has a full-time job and they are investing as a side hustle, I would suggest hiring a property manager from day one. If the investor is fully focused on real estate investing, it makes sense to bring in a third party once they reach 10 units. At that point, their time is better used looking at more deals versus collecting rents or dealing with tenant maintenance issues. – Ali Jamal, Stablegold Hospitality

2. If You Lack Housing Expertise

Investors should not manage their own properties in situations where they are not familiar with the type of housing being managed. For example, with affordable housing, there is much compliance involved and making a mistake can result in fines. In that scenario, property management is best left to third-party companies that specialize in affordable housing. – Nathaniel Kunes, AppFolio Inc.

3. If You Want To Maximize Your Time As A Passive Investor

Your time is valuable, and technology is opening up many outsourcing options by connecting investors with qualified professionals in property management and skilled labor. Take advantage of every opportunity to maximize yourtime. In fact, investment platforms are allowing people to diversify across several properties without ever picking up a hammer. – Nav Athwal, RealtyShares

4. If You Need To Fill In Skill Or Resource Gaps

Each investor’s access to resources and prior skills and knowledge needs to be reviewed before providing this type of recommendation. It needs to be personalized. An investor who is a handyman likely doesn’t need to pay someone to make repairs. Finding the right tenant can make or break success, so evaluating candidates may be the best area to have help, particularly at first. – Michelle Ames, HorsePower Team Texas/Independent Realty

5. If You Don’t Have Time To Learn The Laws And Run It As A Business

Outsourcing will avoid legal liabilities from Fair Housing and Fair Credit Reporting Acts, state landlord-tenant laws and local regulations. Property managers will have resources that can perform services for less. You’ll also be less likely to lose income from tenants who don’t pay their rent or rents that end up being below market. – Alex Hemani, ALNA Companies

6. If Your Properties Are Located In Different Markets

Using third-party management is usually advisable when properties are located in different markets, as well as when owners don’t have the time or skills required to manage the property effectively. While it is tempting to save the 7-8% management fee typically paid to property managers, there are a host of tasks they take care of to keep the property occupied, cash-flowing and maintained. – Gary Beasley, Roofstock

7. If You’re New To Being A Landlord

You should hire a third-party manager if you’re new to being a landlord and don’t completely understand local ordinances and leasing practices, or don’t have all the contacts needed for repairs and maintenance items. A good third-party manager will know all of the above and you will learn them over time. – Lee Kiser, Kiser Group

8. If You Want To Scale Your Investment Business

If you want a large income property portfolio, don’t self-manage beyond one to two years. After that time, you will be better able to understand “a manager’s perspective.” Your highest and best use isn’t faucet repair or replacing bathrooms. It’s researching geographic markets and establishing competent teams. If you self-manage, ask yourself better questions like, “How scalable is this?” – Keith Weinhold, Get Rich Education

Source: forbes.com

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How Tenant Screening Changed In 2017

1One of the most important things that property owners and landlords can do to prevent problems with renters is to conduct a thorough tenant screening. The best tenant screening reports cover areas like criminal record, eviction history and credit score. Without it, landlords increase their risk of dealing with tenants that have a history of unpaid rent, costly damages and evictions.

However, there were two major changes in 2017 that affected the way that landlords get information from tenant screening efforts.

National Consumer Assistance Plan

The National Consumer Assistance Plan (NCAP) is a joint venture between the three credit bureaus, Equifax, Experian and Transunion. The plan stems from a settlement in 2015 between more than 30 state attorneys general and the three major credit bureaus.

The goal of NCAP is to boost the accuracy of the information on the credit report, among other things. One of the ways they plan to do this is by decreasing the reporting of such public records such as tax liens, parking tickets and civil judgments. So how does this affect landlords?

The new reporting changes are especially critical for landlords because evictions are civil judgments and as of July 1, 2017, they disappeared from credit reports of any prospective tenants. If tenant screening companies provide landlords with just a credit report as part of an applicant’s background check, the landlord will have no insight into that person’s rental history.

Landlords need to check with their tenant screening service to ensure that they are now using an alternative source to discover any eviction judgments on an applicant. There are several national companies that do provide information on forcible detainer and unlawful detainer judgements for tenant screening companies. It’s now the only way that landlords can get information on prior evictions.

Because of the extra cost involved in using a national eviction search, many tenant screening companies are increasing their fees and passing the cost on to their clients. Landlords may have to charge more for their application fees (if allowable in their state) to cover their own costs.

Any landlord that wants a thorough background check on an applicant must ensure that the tenant screening service they now use includes this separate eviction search.

Equifax Breach

One of the country’s largest credit reporting companies experienced a data breach that compromised information for more than 145 million customers. The company experienced unauthorized access to data from May through June and key identity information was accessed, including names, birthdays, social security numbers, driver’s license numbers and more.

Because of the massive potential for identity theft, many consumers placed a freeze on their credit report. With a freeze, potential creditors are unable to access someone’s report without the consumer removing it temporarily. This prevents anyone from opening a line of credit with that information, including identity thieves. However, it also prevents landlords from accessing the info they need to get a complete picture of their applicants.

Landlords need to be aware that identity theft and fraud will be on the rise as a result of the data breach, affecting innocent applicants. They should also know that because many people have put a freeze on their report, their tenant screening company may not be able to access anything without consent.

During the application process, landlords can make things go a little more smoothly with any applicants that have set up a freeze. Many tenants don’t think about unlocking their credit report for a background check on a rental home. Landlords can ask applicants or include a reminder on the application about lifting the freeze temporarily. If the applicant can’t or won’t lift the freeze in a timely manner, landlords may have to move to the next applicant.

Despite the freeze on a credit, landlords should never change their tenant screening practices. When looking for the best tenants, landlords need to get a good idea of what kind of renter an applicant will be. Proper tenant screening will always save landlords time, damages and money. However, in 2017, these two factors just made it a little more difficult for landlords and tenant screening companies to get the background information they need.

Source: realtybiznews.com

Ask The Attorney – Screening Question

ask-the-attorney

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

Q:  Dear Mr. Reno:

I have a couple applying for my rental. The gentleman has a good credit history but his girlfriend’s is horrible. If I just have him on the lease and he leaves the rental due to a break-up, do I have a big problem getting her out of my house? What would I have to do? We are in Maryland.. Thanks. Jane W., MD

A: It’s a package deal. You like’em as a couple, or you don’t. Does his responsibility outweigh her lack thereof? That’s your call. Leaving her off the lease doesn’t help you- it only helps her. That would give her the right to occupy the residence as his companion- but no liability for rent. Bad move.

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.

Evicted Tenant Still Owes Money

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:

My tenants were evicted due to non-payment of rent. They did pay a portion but unable to provide full amount due. I want to try and recover the balance owed plus some damages left after moving, cost of not being able to rent due to time it will take for repairs, and cleaning fees. Most, if not all issues, are covered in signed lease. How and where do I go about this? Thank you. Carol – PA.

A: The tenants are no longer in possession so the eviction court has no jurisdiction. It’s a small claims court case now. Twenty dollar filing fee. Good Luck.

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.

10 Things All Landlords Should Remember To Ensure Good Tenant Relations

1Investing in rental property can be highly rewarding if successful, as it can help build your net worth and make a profit by generating a steady monthly income. This type of investment takes work, however, with landlords having to worry not only about finding the right property but also about maintaining it, making it attractive for potential tenants and finding suitable and trustworthy renters.

All experienced landlords have their share of tenant horror stories, ranging from dealing with unruly renters to facing significant property damage, but with a proper screening process in place, most problems can be avoided. Establishing a professional, positive relationship between landlord and tenant can help the former obtain a solid return on investment and the latter achieve a higher quality of life. Below, 10 real estate experts with Forbes Real Estate Council share some of the most important things any landlord should remember to improve their tenant relations.

1. Over-Communication

Keeping good lines of communication open can solve many landlord/tenant problems. Make sure tenants understand why things are happening, and give good advance notice for anything disruptive. – Jeremy Brandt, WeBuyHouses.com

2. Tenants Are People, Too

The opportunity to serve others comes with a variety of faces. As a landlord, the ability to engage with tenants as stakeholders brings conscious leadership to our everyday interactions. Home is where the heart is, and supporting people as they create a home is a gift. Realizing you are part of impacting the social/emotional environment for others, brings a humanitarian vibe to a traditional role. – Susan Leger Ferraro, Peace, Love, Happiness Real Estate

3. Boundaries And Limitations

As our investment platform scaled nationally, we noted the variation of landlord-tenant laws as some geographic regions favored landlords disproportionately. We found it essential to understand the legislative dynamics of the community by partnering with local experts to mitigate our liability and legal exposure. – André Bueno, The BM Group

4. Being Approachable

Many tenants are afraid to contact their landlord about issues. From landlords, I hear that tenants don’t tell them about repairs until they are really bad. From tenants, I hear they don’t want to call because they don’t want to bother the landlord or are afraid. Be approachable. Be supportive of you tenants. One way we can help landlords have better tenants is teach tenants about maintenance. – Michelle Ames, HorsePower Realty/Realty Executives Metroplex

5. Trust Is The Key To A Better Relationship

My company was born from my own awful renting experience when I was pitted against other potential tenants in a bidding war. Even worse than the high monthly rent, I ended up with was the poor relationship with the landlord that ensued. Renters who have a poor experience leasing their home are more likely to churn from their lease. Landlords should make sure they build trust in the leasing phase. – Anthemos Georgiades, Zumper

6. Better Protocol

The majority of horror stories typically boil down to one thing: horrible tenants, right? However, it is incumbent upon the landlord or property manager to have a proper, thorough and strictly held vetting process for which to qualify the people who will be occupying your investment. If you’re allowing just anyone, the nightmare began before the lease even started; you just didn’t realize it yet. – Tracy Royce, Royce of Real Estate

7. The Little Things

I’ve come to the conclusion that succeeding in real estate comes down to doing the little things on a consistent basis. The same thing goes for being a landlord. Little things such as a move-in package and holiday gift cards for tenants, responding quickly to maintenance requests and being pleasant can be the difference between a tenant that will want to stay and pay and one that won’t. – Engelo Rumora, List’n Sell Realty

8. Careful Lease Review Before Signing

Many people sign documents without thoroughly reading them. Although it is not your job to hold your tenant’s hand through committing to the terms you have laid out, if you take the time, in the beginning, to make sure they understand and are willing to comply with all the terms, there will be fewer surprises later on and less chance of conflict. – Hillary Hobson, Highest Cash Offer

9. Tenants Are Clients

Every landlord should remind themselves that tenants are their clients. They’re also trusting those clients with a very valuable asset. It’s best to be respectful, communicate openly and professionally and take care of tenants so they take care of the rental property. A landlord’s behavior influences the tenants’ behavior. – Dave Zirnhelt, Snap Up Real Estate

10. Having A Property Manager

I own a property management company that collects rent, handles tenant requests/repairs, takes care of everything from A-Z. Take the stress off your shoulders as the landlord and let a professional handle the “dirty” work for you. Let us be the “bad” guy, while you vacation in the Bahamas with friends. The less you interact with your tenant, the better your relationship will be with them. – Angela Yaun, Day Realty Group

Source: forbes.com

9 Sneaky Fees to Watch for When Hiring a Property Manager

security-deposit-piggy-bank-moneyTo many landlords, property management services are superfluous, cutting their profit margins to a minimum in exchange for basic services. But the reality is that property managers can make your life extraordinarily easier—and most charge a reasonable enough rate that you can draw a monthly profit from your properties (headache-free).

However, when you’re searching for a property manager to handle your landlord responsibilities, it’s important to note that not all fee structures are the same. If you don’t understand how a manager’s fees work, you won’t be able to compare apples to apples, and you might end up shaving your profit more than necessary if you aren’t prepared for those fees when they come up.

9 Fees to Watch For

These are some of the most common “hidden” fees, extra fees, and differences in fee structure to watch for when comparing providers or finalizing a contract:

1. Rent Due and Rent Collected

Many property managers will charge fees as a percentage of rent, but watch how this is worded—there’s a difference between charging as a percentage of rent due and a percentage of rent collected. A percentage of rent due means your company will charge you based on how much money a tenant owes you; a percentage of rent collected means your company will charge you based on how much money a tenant actually pays you—and is generally more favorable. If you’re charged based on rent due, you’ll end up paying for property management even when your property is vacant and you have no money coming in.

2. Early Cancellation

You may also be charged an early cancellation fee should you break the contract with your property manager before the end of its outlined term. For example, if you agree to work with them for a year and you want out after eight months, you might pay an additional few hundred dollars. Be especially wary of this fee with untested property managers.

3. A La Carte Management Fees

“A la carte” management fees refer to a suite of extra fees a property manager may charge you in addition to basic services. Usually, a property manager will either charge a higher price (and no additional fees) or a lower price, with multiple additional fees, somewhat evening out. Accordingly, it pays to know what fees are applicable and what they might run you. The remaining items in this list could all be classified as a la carte management fees.

4. Vacancy

If a company isn’t charging you the full cost of management while your property is vacant, there may still be an additional vacancy fee. Rather than collecting a percentage of rent due, they may collect a smaller amount from you as a kind of retainer.

5. Advertising

When it comes time to seek a new tenant, some property managers may charge you an additional advertising fee. This would cover the cost of creating media (such as taking photos) and placing it on sources like online listings or paper publications.

6. Leasing

A leasing fee may apply when you find a new tenant for your property. This covers the cost of drafting and securing a new lease agreement and is generally low in cost. If the cost here is high, it should raise a red flag, especially if your resulting tenant turnover seems to increase.

7. Lease Renewal

Lease renewal is even simpler than initial leasing, but it may still require a fee. You may need to draw up new paperwork or renegotiate terms with a tenant, and that means your property managers will be doing a bit of extra work. Expect minimal fees here as well.

8. Maintenance

Property management fees should cover basic instances of maintenance and repair, but some companies may charge extra for big jobs, or for an inspection between tenants.

9. Eviction

Eviction can be a messy process, and if you ever need to evict, you’ll be grateful you have a property management service in your corner. Most property managers will handle the eviction completely on your behalf, but some will charge you an extra fee for the extra work involved. Expect to pay at least a few hundred dollars for this process.

Apples to Apples

Different companies might charge money in different ways, but if they’re offering similar services, you’ll likely find the bottom-line price of each to be competitive with one another. The big difference here is how you plan on using your property management company; for example, if you’re looking for long-term arrangements, an early cancellation fee shouldn’t factor much into your decision. Try to consider all these factors and all price points when comparing providers and making your decision.

Source: biggerpockets.com

When to Start Eviction.

ask-the-attorney

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

Q:  Dear Mr. Reno: 

If the tenant has not paid any rent for any given month, At what point do you start the eviction notice. 1 month late or longer? Julian Ornelas, Texas

A: You could have started on July 2nd. There’s no requirement that you wait unless your lease has a grace period. Then you should wait until the grace period is up.

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.