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Investment Property Checklist: What to Look for Before Buying

Jennifer Sorenson - Wednesday, October 3, 2018

The single largest purchase most Americans make is a house. When buying investment property, you repeat that purchase to scale — many times if you're successful. Before you sign for an investment property, however, you'll want to be reasonably certain that the unit will turn a profit. Here are a few things to check out before you make an offer.

1. Location! Location! Location!

In real estate, it is all about location. A home on one side of a street might go for 50 percent more than a home on the opposite side. In New York City, the median rental price for a one-bedroom unit is $4,200 in Tribeca, while the neighboring Lower East Side offers a much more affordable median price of only $2,570. One block can put a property in the highly desirable Tribeca area or the much less in-demand area of the Lower East Side.

2. Check the Tax Rate

Property taxes may be deductible, but they can also eat up a large portion of the profit on a rental. In some cases, the taxes on commercial property are much higher than on homes for personal use. Additionally, some properties have temporary tax credits in place that keep the valuation lower for a set period. The last thing you want is to face a sudden balloon on the property tax assessment.

3. Good Schools Are a Plus

When buying a property to live in, you should always check the surrounding schools, and the same goes when buying an investment property. Good school districts often mean a more stable housing environment, which can play an important role when you eventually decide to sell. Plus, they might act as a draw for tenants that have or are considering a family.

4. Crime Rates

Crime can devalue your property and make it harder to find tenants. Everything from petty theft to vandalism can become a problem if it happens too frequently. If crime is an issue, be sure to look for trends that might indicate a neighborhood improvement. If crime is on a downturn, it might pay to buy into the community while it's undervalued. Run a thorough check on all of the crime reports and trends for the area before buying.

5. Vacancy Rates

If there are many empty units, you might not want to buy in that area. Lots of units mean lots of competition for tenants, which often means lower rents. The less competition there is from other landlords, the more likely you are to be able to start your property off as a profitable endeavor.

6. Average Rental Rates

To find a profitable investment, you need to know what you can expect a property to bring in on a monthly basis. Be sure to look at the price per bedroom and per square foot when trying decide. No two properties are the same, so a very spacious one-bedroom might bring in almost as much as a cramped two-bedroom. Look at the return based on square footage to get a better idea of the potential return on a particular property.

7. Inspect Thoroughly

A house can come with a lot of problems that might not be obvious during a casual walk-through. Look for signs of water damage, check outlets for possible electrical issues, ask about recent repairs, etc. Also, be sure to work with an inspector that knows you want a complete repair list. If you know about upcoming maintenance, you can plan for the expense.

When investing in real estate, you can earn back the purchase price in rental fees and reap rewards at the end when you sell the property. The challenge lies in choosing the right property for your investment. Follow these tips to help narrow down the options.

Article Content Originally Posted by: Landlord Station. (March.2016). “Investment Property Checklist: What to Look For Before Buying.” Landlord Station. Retrieved 10, Oct. 2016 from: http://www.landlordstation.com/blog/investment-property-checklist-what-to-look-for-before-buying/

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Five Easy Ways to Give Your Rentals More Curb Appeal

Jennifer Sorenson - Friday, August 31, 2018

If your rental properties make a great first impression then potential residents will want to see what’s on the inside. This article will focus on rental properties with five units or less, and is especially applicable for single family homes.

  1. Beautify The Path
    Start by beautifying the path to the front door. If you look at your rental property from across the street, you’ll see what I’m writing about. Let your eyes “walk the path” from the beginning of your property to the front door. Now use your creativity. Some attractive stepping-stones or “pavers” may look so much better than the old, cracked concrete walkway that leads to the front door. Planting a few ornamental trees or bushes on either side of the walkway will help aesthetically too.
  2. A Better Front Door

The next idea is to make sure the front door is attractively painted and that you place two attractive light fixtures on either side of the door. This will give it some symmetry and add a dimension of both quality and safety. Remember, people also look for rentals at sunset and at night. Having good lighting around the front door can make a positive, visual difference.

Your home’s front entry is the focal point of its curb appeal. Make a statement by giving your front door a clean look. If you’re not going to paint it or stain it, at least clean off any dirty spots around the knob, and use metal polish on the door fixtures. This is a great way to set yourself apart from the competition.

  1. Upgrade the Entry
    Your entry should also reflect the home’s interior, so choose a shiny door knocker or a wreath that reflects your good taste. Throw in a qualitative “welcome home” doormat for good measure.

New house numbers, a new entry door lockset, a wall-mounted mailbox, and an overhead light fixture are all elements that also add style and interest to your rental home.

  1. Freshen Up the Trim
    How about the trim on the front of the house and around the windows? You’ll be amazed at how some new wood trim or freshly painted trim will make your rental home stand out. It will also give the front of the house an extra depth and dimension.
  2. Add Some Plants
    Last but not least, do a “container garden” on the front porch or on either side of the front door. Container gardens add a welcoming feel and colorful appeal to any home exterior — quickly and affordably. You can buy ready-made containers from garden centers or create your own by choosing your favorite plants.

You can also install some flower boxes and some new screens on the street-side windows. This can add that touch of charm and coziness that helps insure a good first impression and instant curb appeal.

These touches convey a sense of pride that many former homeowners who are now forced to rent still would like to feel. Former homeowners want to be proud to have visitors, and they want the place where they live to convey that “homey” feeling from the moment someone drives up.

So there you have five inexpensive, simple ideas for making your rental property a little more irresistible. As with all aspects of property management, a little extra care and thoughtfulness can go a long way to pleasing both owners and residents.

Article Content Originally Posted by: Courtenay, Marc. (Nov.2010). “Five Easy Ways to Give Your Rentals More Curb Appeal.” The Best Of Real Estate. Retrieved 31, Aug. 2016 from: http://www.propertymanager.com/2010/11/five-easy-ways-to-give-your-rentals-more-curb-appeal/

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Austin, TX Property Management: Customer Service Across the Generations

Jennifer Sorenson - Monday, June 5, 2017

Your Austin, TX property management business strives to provide good customer service. But have you thought about what this means for interactions between you and to your customers? If you’ve ever found that your customer service team hits the mark with some customers but not with others, consider the possibility of a generation gap. How can you make sure that your customer service achieves excellence for people from many different generations?

Young and Mobile

Young adults or Millennials may be looking for their first home in Austin, TX, and they have customer service needs that may be different from those who are working for your rental property management company. Millennials are natives to computers, and they live online. They want to have customer service that’s interactive and available when they need it. According to a recent Forbes article, millennials are also dedicated renters. The article states that this generation’s “dream” may be to rent, not buy. They want to find rental information quickly, and they want it to be customized to their needs. This generation often accesses information and customer service on their mobile devices, and they’re attracted to neighborhoods and to customer connection that feature sociable, 24-hour services. Create simple ways that they can get more information or customer support online, and provide real-time, mobile-friendly support. Focus on fun, lifestyle, and experience as you create customer service for your millennial customers in Austin, TX.

Families Looking for Homes

Members of Generation X often have children and look for family-friendly rental homes in Austin, TX. This generation values choice, and they tend to do their own research before coming to you with questions. As busy professionals and parents, they value simple processes and multiple methods of communication. Give them support as they collect information, and give them many ways to ask for information, from blog posts and webinars to phone and online customer support in real time.

Established Adults

As the Baby Boomers move into Austin, TX for retirement, you can expect a wave of mature and established adults who have customer service expectations that are quite different from those of your younger employees. According to insights from Nielsen, Boomers may not be ready to downsize quite yet, and “those who are moving are not going very far. Sixty-seven percent of movers will stay in-state and over half will move within 30 miles of their current home. Being close to their communities and families in Austin, TX is very important to them as they age.” As Boomers move, they’re not necessarily looking for smaller spaces, and they’re looking for amenities that feel like home.

Boomers are straightforward and often relatively fluent with technology- so they will not hesitate to share their experiences about your customer service online. While they like to try and work through problems on their own, when they have a problem that they can’t solve they expect you to resolve it quickly, and they want you to be on call. With Boomer customers, it’s important to give them information, respect their need for a quick resolution of any problems, and focus on solutions.

The Needs of Seniors

While many seniors regularly use technology, they aren’t digital natives. They will likely contact you by phone or in person, and they’ll respond to more traditional advertising methods. They love personal attention, and your customer service needs to focus on patience and a personal touch.

According to a recent study by Nuance Communications, Inc., the expectations of all generations are higher now than ever before. So no matter what generation you target, excellent customer service is essential with property management in Austin, TX.

Creating customer profiles can help you understand the needs of different groups of people, and it can also help you make notes on their use of technology, their communication style, and more. Customer profiles and detailed information about individual renters helps your employees work with different generations. When you’re working with diverse populations, your entire workforce needs to know how to flex their customer service so that they can achieve excellence.

Article Content Originally Posted by: Propertyware (December.2015). “Rental Property Management Customer Service Across the Generations.” Proertyware.com, June. 2017 from: http://www.propertyware.com/blog/rental-property-management-customer-service-across-the-generations/

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Communication is Key, Tips on Effective Landlord Tenant Communication in Austin, TX

Jennifer Sorenson - Monday, June 5, 2017

Good communication is essential for any Austin, TX property management business. Open and direct communication between tenants and landlords will ensure a successful relationship. Establishing great communication is important from the start, even when someone is still a prospective renter. This Austin, TX property management approach will help you avoid stress, land profitable deals, and keep you out of legal trouble. Follow these simple tips to get you started on a path to great open communication.

Be Professional

A tenant is essentially your customer. Maintain a respectful, non-emotional communication style when associating with renters. Using “sir” or “ma’am,” asking if another time is better when kids are crying, or simply asking how the person is doing are all easy ways to be polite. Avoid crossing your arms or showing other defensive or aggressive body language indicators. Smile and show regular eye contact as you listen carefully to your tenant. GDAA Property Management in Austin, TX knows that professionalism is more than good customer service, it is the gateway to positive communication.

Be Flexible

One size of communication does not fit all. Pay attention to the different communication needs of each tenant, and do not assume that one approach will achieve the same result with all of your renters. If one renter prefers phone calls and another prefers emails, take care to cater to each communication need. It may seem like a hassle at first to change a style for one renter, but in the end, for Austin, TX rental property management it is worth the extra effort to develop those positive landlord-tenant relationships.

More is more

Do not hesitate to over communicate. So often we walk away from a conversation thinking our message was loud and clear when all parties made assumptions based on the communication (including words, tone, and body language) that skews the message from the original intent. “More” does not need to be “more complicated,” but regular, simple communication will help ensure everyone is clear on your expectations as a property manager in Austin, TX. Ultimately, remember you are working with people. And that human-nature element requires a little patience and skill on your part to create effective communication. As Austin, TX rental property management, communication is essential. You have opportunity to communicate at the time of lease signing and at regularly scheduled inspections. Awareness of what it takes to be a good communicator, and even some conscious practice, can help get you in the right direction for success. Your communication can show you care and you are professional.

Article Content Originally Posted by: Riseotech. (August.2015). “Communication is key: Tips on effective landlord-tenant communication.” Specializedpm.com, June. 2017 from: http://www.specializedrpm.com/communication-is-key-tips-on-effective-landlord-tenant-communication/

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Electronic Cash Pay Solution

Jennifer Sorenson - Monday, May 22, 2017

Rent Manager® has teamed up with PayLease to bring you another great solution to your money handling problems. PayLease, a leading electronic payments provider for the property management industry, is bringing you Cash Pay.

Cash Pay allows residents to electronically pay rent by visiting one of 25,000 CheckFreePay® locations nationwide. This not only makes handling payments easier for tenants, but easier for property managers as well.

The big benefits of Cash Pay include:

  1. Property managers no longer have to handle cash in their communities
  2. Tenants can now pay 24/7, 365 days a year at any CheckFreePay®location
  3. It’s safe, simple, and secure

When a payment is accepted through Cash Pay, transactions appear in Rent Manager instantaneously. This eliminates the daunting task of manually entering payment data into the software. This, in turn, keeps cash out of the management office, and reduces the risk of theft.

Once the payment is made, it is automatically converted into an electronic transaction, allowing your company to receive funds faster than ever.

Cash Pay provides many benefits to property managers, including eliminating data entry, reducing fraud and theft, and faster deposit funding.

Residents also benefit from the feature, having the option to conveniently make payments 24/7 at any CheckFreePay® location nationwide, including major retailers like Walmart, Kmart, and more. Residents can pay virtually anytime and anywhere, eliminating the need to travel back to the community office to drop off their payment.

We are excited to partner with Rent Manager to launch Cash Pay for their customers and create an electronic method for residents to pay with cash, said Ben Truehart, Senior Vice President of PayLease. Cash Pay eliminates the traditional hurdles associated with collecting cash or money orders, and gives residents more convenient payment options.

How It Works:

    Property managers will assign a unique CheckFreePay member ID number to the resident in the Rent Manager Software.
    Resident visits any CheckFreePay location and presents their member card and cash payment, along with a $4 transaction fee to the teller.
    Resident receives a receipt, and their payment instantly populates into Rent Manager.

Article Content Originally Posted by: Walker, Kelsie. (October.2014). “Electronic Cash Pay Solutions for Your Rent Manager Software.” Rent Manager Blog, October. 2014 from: https://www.rentmanager.com/electronic-cash-pay-solution-for-your-rent-manager-software/ .

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The Most Important Things to Look For When Screening Rental Applications in Kyle, TX

Jennifer Sorenson - Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Vacancies often breed anxiety among landlords. The desire to fill a unit quickly can sometimes get in the way of finding the perfect tenant. However, this could be a costly mistake. Bad tenants miss payments, damage property, and can be downright miserable to deal with.

To avoid these problem tenants, it is extremely important to watch for several red flags throughout the tenant screening process. Rental applications are key to finding quality tenants.

Credit Score

This one should be the most obvious. Prospective tenants with a history of missing payments and spending beyond their means are probably not the type of people you’d want to rely on to send in checks every month. Of course, you can always give them some leeway for minor credit blemishes, but be sure to look for glaring signs of financial irresponsibility. The easiest way to find and manage credit scores among multiple applicants is through an online property management software.

Background Check

Just like a credit score, a background check can uncover some nasty red flags about potential tenants. Do they have a history of theft, vandalism, drug use? No landlords want these issues arising midway through a lease.

It’s up to you what discretions can be forgiven and which ones are total deal breakers. An applicant with a minor charge from their teenage years are not necessarily going to be bad tenants, but it is important to determine which behaviors are potentially toxic.

For an example check out our GDAA Leasing Criteria or visit our Agent Resources to see a GDAA Prospective Tenant Pre-Qualification Form.

Employment History

Does the applicant switch jobs a lot? Are they in a volatile industry? Are they reluctant to offer you a reference from work? If your applicant is a flaky employee, odds are he or she could be a flaky tenant.

A good applicant would have a stable job he or she has held onto for a long time. Of course, switching jobs is understandable–but you want to make sure they don’t have long gaps in between employment.

Current Income

Proof of income is also hugely important in the screening process. You need to know that your applicant will be able to comfortably make rent payments each month. Do the math if you have to. Can they afford rent, utilities, food and necessities with some to spare off their monthly income? If they’re cutting it very close, odds are there might be some months where the rent is late, which is obviously not an ideal situation for landlords.

Other Financial Information

If you want an even deeper look into your applicant’s ability to pay, you can even go as far as asking them for bank statements and credit card records. A healthy amount of savings and proof of timely credit card payments can be a great indicator of the prospective tenant’s ability to pay rent. The more information you can gather, the better chance you have in determining an applicant’s overall financial responsibility.

Landlord Referrals

This one is a big one. An obvious indicator of whether this lease will work out is whether or not the tenant’s last one did. This is as easy as calling up their previous landlord and asking a few questions. Usually, the less the landlord has to say, the better. Make sure that the tenant was low-maintenance, paid rent on time, and left the unit in good shape.

An applicant’s reluctance to provide a landlord’s contact information can be a huge red flag. This often means they had a bad history with their previous landlord that could potentially be replicated. Just ask their previous landlord plenty of questions to feel-out how the applicant behaved as a tenant.

Check out our GDAA Prospective Tenant Pre-Qualification Form to see what information we collect.

Reason for Leaving Previous Residence

Why applicants left their previous living situation is another critical piece of information. It’s something banal like their lease ended, they’re moving to a new area, or they want to move to a bigger place. However, there are some red flags to keep an eye on. Find out if the applicant was evicted, had an altercation with the previous landlord or roommates, or perhaps he or she is just an impulsive person who moves on a moment’s notice.

Ideally, you want a tenant that will stay for the entire lease period without any drama. Past reasons for changing residences can give you important insights into how the applicant chooses to end rental agreements.

Appearance and Demeanor

Don’t judge every book by its cover. However, keep in mind that there might be some outward signs of a bad tenant. Sometimes how the applicants treat their appearance can translate into how they treat the property. This is a pretty subjective qualifier, so use your best judgment and supplement it with more quantitative facts.

Applicants’ demeanor throughout the screening process is also necessary to keep in mind. Did they fail to provide you with straightforward answers to simple questions? Were they reluctant to provide references or financial information? Were they just plain rude? All these potentially hazardous signs can be found at all stages of the screening process, starting with the initial phone call. The ideal tenant will be polite, straightforward and respectful.

Lifestyle Choices

Do the applicants have pets? Are they smokers? Are they musicians? These are important factors to consider when choosing a tenant. None of these factors necessarily disqualify an applicant, but they are all important to consider.

For instance, a musician with a drum kit may not be the best fit in a close-quartered, thin-walled apartment building primarily filled with young families and the elderly. Common sense can dictate which kinds of hobbies or critters may be problematic when renting a unit.

Important Disclaimer on Tenant Screening

While it is important to have a discriminating eye for the right tenants, there are laws against certain types of discrimination. A landlord absolutely cannot legally deny housing to someone based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status or handicaps. This should be obvious, but can get a landlord in serious legal trouble.

Now You Know How to Properly Screen Rental Applications

Finding the right tenant can be tough, but when considering these important factors, the wrong tenants can easily be weeded out. Finding out all this information on your own, however, can be time-consuming and tedious.

Fortunately, GDAA Property Management provides a Leasing Only service, where we work as your leasing professional to secure the best tenants for your property, on the best terms possible, while leaving the day-to-day management to you.

Article Content Originally Posted by: McMillin, Anne. (May.2016). “The Most Important Things to Look Out For When Screening Rental Applications.” Rentalutions, May. 2016 from: https://www.rentalutions.com/education/articles/the-most-important-things-to-look-out-for-when-screening-rental-applications/

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Bedbugs Still a Risk

Jennifer Sorenson - Saturday, April 15, 2017

It’s almost inevitable this difficult-to-detect pest will find its way into at least one of your properties over time. Here’s how to eradicate the problem before an infestation takes hold.

Bedbugs are flat and round, but very tiny. Adults are about 2 millimeters to 3 millimeters in length and brown in color, but they can appear reddish if they’ve fed recently.

Bedbugs are a growing issue in the United States and are showing no signs of slowing down. When you consider that the insects were practically nonexistent 20 to 30 years ago, it’s even more shocking to see where we are today.

In 2015, the National Pest Management Association (NPMA) conducted a survey of pest management professionals that found that 99.6% of pest professionals had treated for bedbugs in the past year. While this staggering figure speaks for itself in terms of the prevalence of bedbugs, the survey also looked at where pest professionals are most likely to find the bugs. Not surprisingly, apartments and condominiums ranked at the top of the list. Beating out single-family homes and hotels/motels on the list, apartments and condominiums, unfortunately, make great homes for bedbugs because of the insects’ behaviors, habits, and preferences.

Why They Like Us
Bedbugs are considered a “human” pest because they’re attracted to the heat that emanates from our bodies, our natural body odors, and the carbon dioxide we emit. They feed on our blood primarily, although they will feed on any warm-blooded host. That said, bedbugs can most often be found in areas where humans are present.

These bloodsuckers are one of the pest world’s best hitchhikers. Even though they seek our body heat when it’s time to feed, the bugs don’t like to remain on our bodies for long periods of time. Instead, they prefer to hide out on our clothes or in our luggage, traveling from place to place before settling into a new home.

As a result, bedbugs are tough to detect. It’s almost inevitable they’ll find their way into one of your buildings over time, and once inside, they can move from unit to unit. And they can live for up to a year without a meal, so they’re not going to disappear on their own.

That’s why the key to helping mitigate the chances of a bedbug infestation is to conduct regular, proactive inspections and contact a pest management professional as soon as you suspect bedbugs may be present. This can be difficult in multifamily buildings because it requires residents to conduct inspections on their own. However, most pest management companies will be more than happy to have a professional come out and conduct an educational program for residents and staff.

How to Detect the Presence of Bedbugs
Some easy steps can help residents detect signs of bedbugs:

• Cracks and crevices around beds and other resting areas are the most likely places to find bedbugs. This means mattress seams, sheets, and furniture are all likely locations for bedbugs. Make sure to check these spots on a weekly basis.

• Bedbugs are flat and round, but very tiny. Adults are about 2 millimeters to 3 millimeters in length and brown in color, but they can appear reddish if they’ve fed recently. Remove any bedbugs you find immediately.

• When moving from place to place, bedbugs will defecate and leave behind small, rust-colored ink stains that can be seen with the naked eye. Look closely for these marks when conducting an inspection.

• Generally nocturnal in nature, bedbugs usually feed at night once they sense a host is asleep. This makes it tough to prevent bites, but if you wake up with small red bumps on your skin, it might be time to call in a professional.

• If bedbugs are reproducing, you may be able to find clear skin casings lying around from developing nymphs. You might also smell a musty, sweet odor. If you discover these signs, don’t try to resolve the issue on your own, as the indicators show that bedbugs are already reproducing in your building.

• Whatever you do, don’t bring in secondhand furniture. Often, there are bedbugs already living on such pieces that will be happy to have a new home—your units.

Once you suspect signs of bedbugs, it’s important to take action immediately. There are a few different options for treating them, but the recommended technique differs depending on the exact needs and circumstances of your building.

The upper echelon of bedbug detection, however, comes in the form of a canine inspection. Because dogs have an incredibly keen sense of smell, when trained they can accurately point their handlers to the areas where bedbugs are present. Indeed, dogs are the fastest and most accurate detectors of bedbugs.

Although bedbugs can certainly be a risk to the reputation of your business, being aware of the potential signs and actively working to spot them—and resolve issues proactively—can make a world of difference. 

Article Content Originally Posted by: Bowman, Hope. (March.2017). “Bedbugs Still a Constant Risk.” Multi Family Executive, April. 2017 from: http://www.multifamilyexecutive.com/http://www.multifamilyexecutive.com/property-management/bedbugs-still-a-constant-risk_oproperty-management/bedbugs-still-a-constant-risk_o

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Consistent, Fair, and Compliant Security Deposit Return

Jennifer Sorenson - Friday, October 28, 2016

Is it safe to say that many tenants expect and even feel entitled to a full return of their security deposit, regardless of how well they took care of the property? As professional property managers, we must be consistent, fair, and above all, compliant in the disposition of the tenant’s security deposit. Below are some helpful tips to help guide you in this process. • Know your local and State laws. Laws differ State to State and sometimes city to city. I recommend that you review your applicable State and local laws and create a checklist to be compliant. What some States allow, others specifically do not. Know your laws. • What can be deducted? Generally, any unpaid rent, unpaid tenant utilities, or contingencies specified within the rental agreement; such as carpet cleaning may be deducted. Repairs of well-documented tenant-caused damages are usually allowed. Examples of tenant-caused damages are: cigarette burns, excessive damage to walls, clogged plumbing, or pet damage, to name a few. Lastly, most States allow property managers to deduct tenant owed fees, such as non-sufficient funds (NSF) fees and late fees. • What cannot be deducted? Typical items and/ or repairs that would fall under the conditions of normal wear and tear cannot be deducted from the tenant’s security deposit. For example: Minor nicks in the baseboards or walls, black spots on mirrors (de-silver), minor dust on blinds, mineral deposits on sinks and/or toilets, etc. • When does the deposit need to be released? You must be aware of your State law and be sure that you comply with the statutes. Some States allow as many as 60 days, while others allow as little as 14 days. Please visit the following URL for a Security Deposit Return Time State by State List (https://www.thelpa. com/free/security_return_by_state.pdf). You need to know your statutory deadlines and comply, as most States allow for treble damages (a term that indicates that a statute permits a court to triple the amount of the actual/compensatory damages to be awarded to a prevailing plaintiff) for failing to meet the deadline. Lastly, deposit dispositions that are less than the tenant’s full security deposit require a detailed itemization of any deductions. Below are some helpful tips which will help you make sure that you are not missing anything when you are ready to release the tenant’s security deposit. • How do you make sure that you release the tenants deposit on time? Most property management software has reminders as a feature. If not, most email programs such as Google docs and Outlook have task features and reminders. Regardless of the system you use, it is recommended to schedule the deposit disposition some time before it is actually due, to give you extra time if needed. • Review. Review. Review. Review and compare the move-in and move-out inspection reports and photos. Review any notes on the tenant account and the rental agreement. By reviewing all of this documentation, you can determine very quickly for which items the tenant will be charged, if anything. You will also eliminate any of those pesky tenant disputes by having well-written documentation and photos. • Do you have checklist in place? A checklist is a wonderful way to ensure that you have covered all of your bases and have not missed anything. Having a checklist in place is also another way to get started on all the steps that are needed prior to disposition of the deposit. Below are a few examples of what you may want on your checklist. • Check for open work orders. If there are any pending or open work orders that may be considered tenant related damages, you may need to contact your vendor to be sure that the work is completed and to send the invoice or in some cases you may need to estimate that cost until the invoice has been received. • Lost rent and credits due. Is the tenant responsible for any lost rent? Or does the tenant have any credits due? • Utilities. Did the tenant shut off the utilities prior to surrendering the property? Quickly check for any tenant utilities during the time of their tenancy. • Review charges and close out. A detailed review of the charges on the tenants account is a must. Once you have reviewed and cross referenced everything, you are ready to release the deposit and close the tenant out. Be sure that you disperse the deposit accordingly and be sure to include a copy of the detailed itemized list of deductions with their check if they are receiving one. In summary, it is best practice to know your State and local laws to be sure that you and your company comply. Document move-ins and move-outs. Set expectations upfront with tenants and disclose any move-out fees within the rental agreement. And lastly, have a good checklist in place, so that you don’t miss anything.

Article Content Originally Posted by: Smith, Marie L. (April.2016). “Consistent, Fair, and Compliant Security Deposit Return.” The Residential Resource. Retrieved 31, Aug. 2016 from:http://www.narpm.org/docs/members/magazine/2016/Apr_2016_lo-res.pdf

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10 Ways to Protect Your Rental Investment

Jennifer Sorenson - Thursday, October 27, 2016

Protecting your rental property can take many forms. There are mistakes to be avoided, scams that you will want to stay clear of, the possibility of damage done to the property, etc… Your best bet is to get ahead of the issues before they happen, and make sure that you know how to properly protect your investment.

  • Avoid Common Mistakes - In real estate investment, some mistakes could cost you quite a bit of money. There are more common mistakes that would be best to avoid.
  • Know What to Expect - The difference between success and failure can boil down to preparation. Part of that is knowing what to expect and knowing how to avoid any common mistakes.
  • "Real Estate Guru" Scams - It's always a good idea to seek out advice so that you can make the best decisions possible in your real estate investments, but be careful that you are looking to the right places and people for that advice.
  • Safely Applying for a Mortgage - When you apply for a loan you will be providing very sensitive, personal information. Check out these tips on how to protect yourself from identity theft during this time.
  • Protecting Your Vacant Property - There will often be a bit of time between an outgoing tenant and an incoming one, and this will leave your property sitting vacant. You will want to make sure that it will be protected.
  • Uses of a Security System - Security systems installed in a rental can help protect both your property and the tenants that are living there, as well as make your rental more profitable.
  • Renters' Insurance - As a landlord you will have your property insured, but you may consider requiring renters' insurance as well so that your tenants and their belongings are covered and protected.
  • Protecting Your Property With a Lease - When you accept an applicant as a new tenant you will want to sign a lease with them. This is meant to protect both parties involved and detail out what is expected.
  • How to Handle Late Payments - If your tenant doesn't pay their rent on time you may have trouble paying the mortgage on the home or the upkeep. Make sure that you know how to handle late payments.
  • Protect Your Property During an Eviction - An eviction can be a stressful time for both landlord and tenant, but you'll want to make sure that your rental property is protected.

Article Content Originally Posted by: Landlord Station. (July.2016). “10 Ways to Protect Your Rental Investment?” Landlord Station. Retrieved 17, Oct. 2017 from: http://www.landlordstation.com/blog/top-10-amazing-ways-to-protect-a-rental-investment/

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5 Unique Challenges of Multi-family Properties

Jennifer Sorenson - Monday, October 24, 2016

You want to move beyond single family homes as you become more comfortable in your role as a landlord. A multi-family property, especially an apartment or condo building, is more than just a single family property on a larger scale. You have unique challenges to contend with when you deal with multi-family properties.

Separating Utilities

You don't want to foot the cost of the entire building's utilities, so it's important to understand how to split the cost between units. The process of separating utilities depends on whether you're dealing with an apartment building or duplex, as well as how your utilities are set up. A common method for handling utility separation is by asking the utility companies to submeter each of your apartments. You don't want to evenly split one utility bill between all the tenants in the building, as one person may have an entire computer network hooked up and another person may only use a single light for their electric usage. Including utilities in the rent may seem like a good workaround instead of going with submetering, but if you lowball the estimate then you're going to be losing money. Depending on the season, you may be losing a significant amount of money from the inclusion.

Scaling Your Property Management Systems

You aren't dealing with one tenant anymore, you're dealing with dozens. That's dozens of potential maintenance requests, rent checks to deposit, and units to inspect throughout the year. Instead of trying to do it all by hand, have a solid property management system in place that is designed to scale with your increasing amount of tenants.

Dealing with Tenant Noise Complaints

Your tenants no longer exist in the vacuum that is a single family home. If you have tenants who don't understand how to control their noise levels, you're going to end up losing out on long-term, quieter tenants who don't want to live in a noisy building. You have a few ways to deal with tenant noise complaints. The first line of defense is setting up your building with soundproofing material and design to cut down on the potential for noise. After that, address the concerns directly with the problem tenant. You may be forced to ask the tenant to leave the property if the disruption is particularly problematic and frequent.

Turnover Rates

Single-family house tenants may treat the rental unit as their actual house, especially if it's in an area where there isn't a lot of good real estate going up for sale. In multi-family properties, tenants aren't necessarily looking for a place to settle down for the long term. This situation is particularly true if your apartments don't have unique features that set them apart from other apartments on the market. You deal with a higher turnover rate than single-family properties, so you have to stay on top of your marketing to keep your units filled.

Increased Showing

You have a significantly higher amount of rental units to show potential tenants once you pick up a multi-family property. You have to be prepared for more marketing and apartment showings, but you do have one distinct advantage for showing a multi-family property: you probably have an empty unit that can be used as a model apartment. You don't have to ask your tenant to rearrange their schedule so you can show the property, and you know the exact condition of the apartment before you open the door for the showing.

Article Content Originally Posted by: Landlord Station. (Dec.2014). “5 Unique Challenges of Multi-family Properties” Landlord Station. Retrieved 25, Oct. 2017 from: http://www.landlordstation.com/blog/5-unique-challenges-of-multi-family-properties/

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