13 easy ways to stay on your property manager’s good side

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Property managers would be lying if they’ve never had times where relationships with tenants have broken down. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

Our friendly team sees your happiness and comfort as a priority — it’s just as important to us as keeping our landlords happy.

So forget previous bad experiences, harsh landlords or unreasonable property managers. We’re extending the olive branch and starting again — these 13 tips will help you understand what we expect from you and why relationships can sometimes become strained. Help us out with these aspects and we’ll get on fabulously. Plus, we’ll be able to give you a great reference when you decide to move on from your current property.

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1. Pay rent on time.

We know this seems obvious, but you’d be surprised how many tenants pay rent late. Want to stay on our (and your landlord’s) good side? The easiest way is to set up a direct debit and pay rent on time every month!

 

2. Be polite.

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Being polite and calm really does go a long way and we’ll always respond with the utmost courtesy too. After all, we’re at work and we want to represent our company in the best way possible. Do some property management companies suck? Absolutely.  But why would anyone want to go above and beyond for someone who is just going to yell or be impolite? When an issue seems to linger, try to see our viewpoint — we’re dealing with hundreds of tenants and landlords which require us to prioritize the urgency of each issue. Often we are addressing the issue, but simply waiting for your landlords response, approval, or payment or waiting for an opening in the maintenance contractors schedule. Honestly, we’re doing our best and also want to get things resolved as quickly as possible! A little bit of kindness and understanding will help you get the resolution you require quicker.

 

3. Listen to our instructions.

You might not believe it, but we know a thing or two about houses! Watch and listen when we show you how to trip a beaker or turn a gas valve off. Everything we say is to make your life easier and our job smoother.

 

4. Be our eyes and ears.

We have to take care of many properties and we won’t know about any problems or issues if you don’t tell us. The earlier you can inform us of a problem, the quicker we can sort it and the less likely it is to escalate.

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5. Tell the truth.

Lease terms can be forgotten or accidents can happen — we understand that kids, friends and even you can make mistakes, and telling us the truth will help us get the problem resolved as soon as possible. After many years in the business, we’ve heard all excuses and we can spot a lie a mile off.

 

 

6. Leave a message.

On the rare occasion we don’t answer your call, please leave us a message, drop us a text, or send us a quick email rather than calling again and again. We may be in a meeting, at a showing appointment, on the phone, or with other clients and unable to answer at the time. We we will respond back as soon as possible.

 

7. Understand we have a lot going on.

Just like everyone at work, we need to prioritize our workload around the urgency of each issue. If we can’t deal with your problem immediately, it doesn’t mean we don’t care — it may just be that someone else has something bigger we need to worry about. We’ll communicate with you as much as possible, so you know why we may be delayed in sorting your problem out.

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8. If you get in a bind, talk to us.

Did you lose your job? Has your flatmate gone off the deep end? We want to know what’s going on and we want to help — don’t think you’ll be in trouble! It won’t help if you put your head in the sand and hope whatever problem you have will go away. Speak to us and we’ll help you address it and get out of any sticky situation. Communication is key!

 

9. Treat the property and the people who do work for us with respect.

We love knowing that our tenants are looking after our properties — a clean tidy damage-free house at inspection time is a sure fire way to get into our good books. And there’s nothing better than hearing from an electrician, plumber or other trades-person that they encountered a lovely tenant.

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10. Work with us.

You have a busy schedule, we have a busy schedule — let’s work together and make everyone’s lives easier. Trust us, we want your problem resolved because we have a dozen more to deal with! Where you can, work with us on times and arrangements. We hate to disturb you but we’ll be done and out of your hair as soon as possible.

 

11. Trust us.

We only ever want to enter your home for a legitimate reason upon prior approval from you — we’re not going to steal your stuff or mess with your things! We have our reputation and real estate licenses on the line.

 

12. Follow the rules.

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We don’t set rules, we’re simply paid to enforce them. Each state has Landlord-Tenant Laws designed to protect the rights of both parties in the lease: the landlord and the tenant. The terms of the lease are not merely made-up by the property manager, but rather established and enforced by the state’s Landlord-Tenant Laws. The state governs when rent is due, when late fees are assessed and what amount to charge, how much notice to give before moving, a landlord’s and tenant’s responsibilities, among others. The lease constitutes a contract. When you sign a contract, you agree to all those rules, so don’t ignore them once you’ve moved in. Good tenants and good landlords respect contracts, and good property managers enforce them. After all, it’s our job to return a landlord’s property to them after a tenancy in the same way it began.

 

13. Respect your neighbors.

Try and put yourself in your neighbor’s shoes — would you appreciate a loud party the night before your final exams or a major presentation at work? No, you wouldn’t! Respecting others is a key part of living on your own so be as considerate as you can and, if you mess up, an apology can go a long way.

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With a little give and take, we can keep our relationship strong and you can have a much more enjoyable and relaxing time in your rental home. We know we’re not always perfect, but we’re just doing our job as best we can.

Source: Harcourts

Setting Rents for the New Year

1The art of raising rents is a difficult one to master for newbie investors. The fear of creating a vacancy or offending a tenant is unbearable for most new landlords. It is a touchy dilemma. You are directly impacting the quality of a tenant’s life when you increase the rent, but you are also affecting your ability to pay your obligations with the rent increases. In this article, I would like to list reasons why raising the rent on your properties is a necessary decision, how to accurately assess the market rental rate, and how to raise the rents effectively without creating a mass exodus.

Let me list the reasons why rents should be raised:

1. Keep up with the rate of inflation.
2. Grow the top line (revenue).
3. Stay competitive in the market.
4. Fight the expense creep.


If you have just acquired a property, or are in the middle of a renovation, you should read our article on our Three Step Reposition.

It is our framework on how to take over the operations of a property, and to effectively increase any rents that are under market. It will show you how to fill the vacant units, implement Ratio Utility Billing (RUBS), and raise the remaining tenants to market.
Before you consider raising rents, you need to make sure you are delivering a quality product to your tenants. What does that entail? In our properties, we strive to deliver clean, safe, affordable units with stellar customer service. We guarantee potential tenants a same day guarantee if they qualify to rent one of our apartments. We are always stressing our customer service and our quick and professional maintenance staff.

If you are trying to raise rents, and you business model does not deliver a quality product, you are going to experience the vacancy that I alluded to earlier. A tenant knows exactly what a two bedroom apartment is renting for, and if he can get a better deal down the street, then he is gone. But, if you can couple customer service with a competitive price, your retention rate will rise.

I often discuss with our Jake & Gino community the commodity effect. If your product or service becomes a commodity in the marketplace, then people will only shop you for price, and your margins and business will suffer. Take a look at the baking industry. Money has turned into a commodity, and the investor has countless choices to access money. Investors can drive a hard bargain with banks when trying to secure financing.

You want to avoid this mistake at all costs. The Internet has revolutionized how we shop for products and has led to the commodity effect. How do we try to navigate around the commodity effect? By offering great customer service, by differentiating our product and by giving the consumer reasons other than price to do business with our brand.

Now that we’ve discussed the importance of operations, I think we should examine the reasons why you need to be “pushing” rents. The most obvious reason is to keep up with inflation. Your costs go up every year, and your revenue needs to increase to offset your increase in expenses. The next reason may not be as obvious. Jake refers to this burden as the expense creep.
Every year, vendors are testing you to see if you are checking invoices to see if expenses are rising. It is your responsibility as an owner to review your contracts with vendors every year to insure the best price and the best value. Rent increases will offset some of the expense creep that occurs in everyone’s business.

Another obvious yet often overlooked reason is that landlords who do not stay competitive in the market are not maximizing their value. Let me give you a quick example. If you own 50 units, and the units are $50 per month under market, you are potentially losing $30,000 in revenue per year. That’s not even the worst part. The value of the property is $375,000 less at an 8 cap, due to the diminished income (Income/Cap Rate: $30,000/8%).

At this point, I think you’ve realized the importance of maximizing the revenue on your property. Let’s discuss how to determine the market rent and how to implement your strategy.
The first step is to determine the market rent. There are two websites that we use as a barometer for the rents. The first one is Rentometer. Plug in your address, insert the rent you are charging, pick the unit size and voila. The rent-o-meter will give you an average price, a median price and will tell you if your price is a good deal or if you are overpriced. You need to decipher what amenities your property offers compared to the market, but this is an excellent starting point to evaluate rents in the area.

The other site that we often use is Apartments.com. Look up individual apartment complexes to see what pricing is, what amenities are offered, and what is available to rent. Most landlords use this site to advertise their rentals.

You can also try the good old fashioned way of picking up the phone and calling a couple of brokers in the market. A good multifamily broker should have the pulse of the market, and should be able to tell you what a two bed is renting for in a specific neighborhood. I employ all three of these strategies to price my property accordingly.
Now that we have assessed the market rent, it’s time to go to work. Once we have tenants coming off a lease, we will go to market rent with the apartment, depending upon how many leases come up at the same time. If you have several buildings in one property, you can select to target one building every month or two and institute rent increases. This will lower your risk of having too many tenants vacating at the same time. This will also give you an idea if your increases are in line with the market. If you are getting serious push back on the increases, then you can modify the increase or choose not to implement one.

It is imperative that you work with your staff and get constant feedback as to how the tenants are responding. Are they mad, threatening to leave, or are they just venting their frustrations. You need to maintain a careful eye upon how many tenants decide to vacate due to the increase.

Task:

Begin by analyzing the rental rates in your market. Once the market rate has been established, check to see where your rents fall. Are they at the market, or is their some upside? If there is some upside, then start renting the vacant units at the newly established market rate and begin to increase the leases that come due to the new market. Remember, take your time and be flexible with your pricing.
Please share with us any tools that you use to assess the rental rates in your market. I would also like to know how you address increasing those rents.

1. Determine the market rent
2. Look in December how you are performing
3. Take it one step at a time

Source: multifamilyinsiders.com

HUD Issues New Guidelines On The Use of Criminal Records In The Rental Screening Process

1On April 4, 2016 the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) dropped a bombshell on owners and managers of residential rental properties in the U.S.

HUD’s Office of General Counsel published a 10 page guide entitled “Guidance on Application of Fair Housing Act Standards to the Use of Criminal Records by Providers of Housing and Real-Estate Related Transactions.”

This guide essentially changes the rules as we currently know them with regard to rejecting a rental applicant based on their prior criminal history. I highly recommend that all of you read the document itself — many times in fact — as this is a very important change and this issue is not going to go away.

This Policy Is Applicable To All Landlords

HUD’s guide applies to ALL HOUSING PROVIDERS. I repeat, this new policy applies to all of you. Some landlords assume that when the see “HUD” that it only applies to federally subsidized housing and public housing. Sometimes that is true, but not in this case. HUD is the federal agency that investigates allegations of fair housing (discrimination) violations. HUD investigates discrimination allegations against all landlords not just landlords of section 8 properties. So this guide published by HUD applies to all of you market rate/conventional housing landlords as well.

Disparate Impact

In order to understand HUD’s view on the use of a person’s criminal history in the screening process you have to understand something referred to as “disparate impact”. In essence, “disparate impact” means that a landlord can have a facially neutral screening policy that is applied equally to everyone but it can still be discriminatory if its use results in a disproportionate impact on a member of a protected class.

HUD’s guide includes lots of statistics that show that across the U.S. African-Americans and Hispanics are arrested, convicted, and incarcerated at rates disproportionate to their share in the general population.

As a result of these statistics, if a landlord considers and applicant’s criminal history (arrest and/or conviction) as part of the screening process, that landlord may be discriminating against African- Americans or Hispanics based on their race and/or national origin (both of which are protected classes under Fair Housing laws).

So even if your screening policy on its face is not discriminatory and even if you are applying it evenly you may still be discriminating based on race and/or national origin, because your policy affects African-Americans and Hispanics more than others.

Substantial, Legitimate, Nondiscriminatory Interest

So does this mean that a landlord cannot take into consideration a rental applicant’s criminal background at all? The answer is both “yes” and “no.” HUD states that a landlord may not be discriminating based on race or national origin if his/her screening criteria with regard to the criminal history of an applicant can be proven to be “necessary to achieve a substantial, legitimate, nondiscriminatory interest of the [housing] provider.”

What the heck does that mean?

There is no easy definition or explanation of this phrase. Whether a landlord’s screening policy with regard to an applicant’s criminal history is “substantial, legitimate, and nondiscriminatory” will depend on many specifics. It could depend on the facts of the crime or how old the conviction is or the exact wording of the criteria or how the criteria is applied etc. etc. And it is helpful to keep in mind that one Fair Housing investigator’s interpretation of the phrase may be different than another’s. And one judge’s view may be different than another’s.

HUD has tried to further clarify this phrase by boiling it all down to the following statements:

  • A landlord must be able to prove through reliable evidence that his/her policy or practice of screening based on criminal history actually assists in protecting resident safety and/or property.
  • Merely relying on generalizations or stereotypes that anyone with a criminal history poses a greater risk than a person without such a background is not sufficient.

Prior Arrests

HUD states that if a landlord rejects a rental applicant because of one or more prior arrests — that have not resulted in a conviction — that the landlord’s policy cannot meet the burden of having a “substantial, legitimate, nondiscriminatory interest.” Translation: if you are doing this, you are discriminating.

HUD states that “the fact of an arrest is not a reliable basis upon which to assess the potential risk to resident safety or property posed by a particular individual. For that reason, a housing provider who denies housing to persons on the basis of arrests not resulting in convictions cannot prove that the exclusion actually assists in protecting resident safety and/or property.”

So landlords may no longer consider whether a rental applicant has been arrested unless that arrest resulted in a conviction.

HUD does not come out and say this but it would seem to me that by logical extension a landlord also can not deny an applicant who has a criminal case that it still pending (since there has not yet been a conviction).

So the applicant that has a pending “first-degree homicide” charge or a “sexual assault of a child” case that is still winding its way through the criminal justice system or is on appeal – cannot be rejected based on that fact alone.

I understand the whole “innocent until proven guilty” viewpoint, but do you think this will comfort your longstanding tenant that has minor children living with her when a middle-aged white guy charged with “sexual assault of a child” is allowed to move in next door to her because his case has not yet gone to trial and therefore he has not yet been convicted?

Oh just wait, it gets even better.

Criminal Convictions

HUD also states that a landlord that imposes a “blanket prohibition” on any rental applicant with a “conviction record — no matter when the conviction occurred, what the underlying conduct entailed, or what the convicted person has done since then — will be unable to meet this burden.”

Translation: If you deny any and all applicants because they have a criminal conviction you are violating Fair Housing laws and therefore discriminating based on race and national origin, even if you apply that criteria evenly against everyone.

HUD goes on to say that even if you have a more tailored policy or practice that excludes individuals with only certain types of conviction you still must prove that your screening policy is necessary to serve a “substantial, legitimate, nondiscriminatory interest.” There that pesky phrase again.

HUD recommends that any landlord that wants to consider an applicant’s past criminal convictions as part of the screening process must at a minimum consider the following:

  • The nature and severity of the crime, and
  • The amount of time that has passed since the criminal conduct occurred.

That is the only guidance that HUD has given us. The rest is for you to figure out. And if you don’t handle things properly you may get investigated or sued for discrimination.

Exception: Illegal Manufacture or Distribution of a Controlled Substance

There is one point of clarity. The federal Fair Housing Act does contain a section that states that the taking of an adverse action against a person who has been convicted for illegally manufacturing or distributing a controlled substance as defined in section 102 of the Controlled Substances Act (21 U.S.C. 802) will not be discriminatory. So a landlord is still free to deny a rental applicant if they have ever been convicted of manufacturing or distributing a controlled substance.

Conclusion

What really frustrates me about this whole thing is that landlords are now being told that they must consider a applicant’s criminal convictions on a case by case basis. For years we have been told by HUD that the best way to avoid discriminating against someone is to treat everyone the same; your screening criteria must be “objective” and not “subjective. But now HUD seems to be saying that is no longer appropriate.

Now HUD is telling landlords that they will need to become social workers and therapists and try to determine if an applicant who was convicted of a crime in the past has been rehabilitated or not.

Think of the time and effort that will be required for a landlord to travel to the courthouse to review the criminal case file to determine all of the facts surrounding the crime, all of the events that led up to the person engaging in the criminal conduct, the individual’s past, to review any pre-sentencing report to see what the evaluator thinks about the defendant etc. None of this information is available on CCAP. You will only get this information from the actual file. Or are you just supposed to listen to the applicant’s version of the facts of the conviction and believe them?

It appears to me that HUD might actually be hoping that landlords decide their is too much risk involved in denying any applicant based on their past criminal convictions (except for the conviction for manufacturing or distributing controlled substances – see above) and therefore they should all be accepted.

Landlords will now need to try and determine what convictions might be considered “directly related to the safety of your residents and your property” and hope their interpretation is correct or else risk being investigated and/or sued.

Tristan R. Pettit, Esq.

Source: petriestocking.com

Tristan is a shareholder with the law firm of Petrie+Stocking and focuses his practice in the area of landlord-tenant law representing landlords and property management companies throughout Wisconsin.

Mold Remediation For Landlords

Liability is always a concern for landlords. Thus, it’s easy to understand why the mention of “mold” and “millions” together would give a property owner nightmares. Not only is indoor exposure to mold known to cause respiratory problems and other health issues in some individuals, but mold is everywhere — and because moisture is critical to its ability to grow to elevated levels, something as simple as a leaky pipe could prove costly.

A web search for “mold lawsuits” reveals horror stories, one about a couple ordered to pay nearly $3 million in damages for selling a California home rife with mold. The same search shows that numerous law firms stand ready to sue property owners on behalf of tenants who believe mold made them sick.

While causation is difficult to prove, you as a landlord have enough to do without being tied up in court. And whether there is litigation or not, a prevalence of mold could lead to tenant loss.

For a landlord, mold remediation can save a host of problems. (Document efforts in case of legal proceedings.)

Mold issues in buildings are a result of water/moisture problems. Mold also needs an organic food source — and many building materials serve that purpose — and high relative humidity. The water source is the easiest factor to control.

As a landlord, the mold problem is not yours alone. Mold can grow in 24 to 48 hours after a water intrusion, so the tenant bears some responsibility for notifying the landlord the mold situation or water leak exists, and for reporting water stains that indicate a leak. Tenants also should use exhaust fans and control humidity. Mold can be hidden in many places, and a landlord generally cannot be held liable unless he or she knew — or should have known — the problem existed.

If the area where mold is growing is small, researching how to clean mold as the landlord and doing the work yourself can save the cost of hiring a mold remediation specialist.

As a landlord, the mold issue is one you must take seriously. Acting quickly and thoroughly can reduce liability risks. The accompanying infographic describes some typical mold situations, steps for mold remediation, and tips to prevent mold.

Source: AAOA

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Looking to lease your home? Don’t be a TURKEY, call us!

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During the summer, the turkey learns to expect that visits from the farmer mean food. Eventually Thanksgiving nears, but when the farmer shows up this time he is bearing an axe and not food. The turkey learns very quickly that his expectations were catastrophically off mark.

This happens in leasing, too. No, your head isn’t chopped off, but you become very accustomed to leasing routines and experiences can suddenly change in which you aren’t prepared.

So how do you avoid becoming a turkey? The first line of defense is to have #BevRobertsRentals in your corner.
#CaryNC #WakeCounty #Raleigh #Apex

Property Management isn’t for everyone, but HAY… it’s in our JEANS!

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Property Management isn’t for everyone, but #HAY… it’s in our #JEANS! #scarecrow #fall#thanksgiving #wakecountync #caryareanc

Property Management of Residents with Pets

1There appears to be more people in the U.S. who live with a pet than ever before. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is carefully looking into this topic as it pertains to renters. In fact, HUD has already published an 8 page guide titled Resident Rights that every property manager should become familiar with. You’ll be hard pressed to find any mention about the right to have pets. On page 7 is a list of resource phone numbers for a number of services and ways to verify information on the rights and responsibilities of residents from a federal government perspective. Check it out too!

The latest challenge between Property Managers and residents regarding pets involve the categories of “service,” “companion” and “therapy” animals. Service, companion or emotional support animals fall within the definition of assistance animals under the Housing and Urban Development’s guidelines. Like it or not these guidelines are also adopted in many states in defining the rights of tenants and residents. The legalities and the responsibility to make “reasonable accommodation” are daunting.

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Department of Justice narrowed the definition of a service animal as “… as any dog that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability, including a physical, sensory, psychiatric, intellectual, or other mental disability.”

However, a housing provider [landlord] “… may not ask a tenant or applicant to provide documentation showing the disability or disability-related need for an assistance animal if the disability or disability-related need is readily apparent or already known to the provider.”

In some situations a “housing provider” may ask for verification, but any questions should be limited to a relevant connection between the resident’s disability and the disability-related need for the animal. Some residential rental complexes that allow pets have received legal advice to create a separate set of rules for assistance animals, since they will probably have more access to common areas than other pets.

Make sure you clearly communicate to assistance animal owners that if they allow animals to roam off-leash, don’t pick up their animals’ droppings, or allow their pet to be aggressive or a chronic barker that these are consequential violations. It may also be necessary to give a fair warning ahead of time.

Inform the owner if the animal’s behavior doesn’t improve after the warning it will have to be removed, but make sure that your state and local laws allow this type of remedial action. You may need legal advice. My research indicates that even if you have the right to insist that the animal be removed, a replacement animal may need to be allowed. It makes sense to insist that the animal not be allowed outside without a leash or that it be a dog that doesn’t bark continually.

The bottom line is to know the laws, make your resident policies explicit, and know the rights of your owners as well as your own as a property manager.

Source: PropertyManager.com