Skip to content Sitemap

Blog

Are You Inspecting Your Properties? 5 Reasons Why You Should Be

Often times, property owners and managers only conduct their inspections when a tenant moves in and moves out. As soon as the vacancy is filled, many do not conduct regular inspections and only visit the property in times of emergency. Here are 5 reasons why you should be conducting regular inspections of your rental properties:

1. Confirm No Illegal Activity is Occurring

This is the most important reason to regularly inspect your properties. There have been many incidences of rental properties being used to manufacture and/or distribute drugs. This can cause immense damage to your property in the event of a fire or an explosion and can also create a dangerous living environment for the neighbors and other tenants on a property. By conducting regular inspections, you can not only catch an illegal operation early but it will also deter them from starting because they know their rental will be visited often by the manager.

2. Preserve the Value of Your Property

You may have heard of the horror stories when landlords go in to do the final inspection after a tenant has moved out only to discover that the property is ruined, there are unapproved alterations, and major renovations are needed in order to get the property rentable again. Regular inspections will ensure your investment is continuously in optimum condition.

3. Verify Your Tenants Are Complying With the Terms of the Lease

Is your tenant allowed to have a pet in the unit? Are there roommates that were not listed in the lease? What about an illegal business? Have there been unapproved alterations to the property? By regularly inspecting your rental property, you can guarantee that the terms of the lease are being followed by your tenants.

4. Keeping Quality Tenants

In the same way an inspection can verify tenants are abiding by the lease, inspections can also help you, as the property manager, abide by the terms of the lease as well. Is there something that was promised to the tenant upon moving in that was never followed up on? Is there anything on the property that you are responsible for that needs to be addressed? A regular inspection can make sure that you are upholding your end of the lease and show your tenants you are proactive. They will certainly appreciate it!

5. Determine Preventative Maintenance and Repairs

Small leaks can develop into larger ones. What could’ve cost just a few dollars could easily end up costing hundreds or more if not addressed quickly. Frequent inspections will keep your tenants happy by ensuring that all of the necessary components of the property are operating well.

 

Do You Want Excellent Landlord References? Here are 11 Qualities of an Ideal Tenant.

An experienced property manager will have a thorough process to find a highly qualified tenant for their vacancies. Qualified tenants will have a record of being financially responsible and upstanding behavior. This record gives property managers confidence in the tenants ability to pay their rent and not damage the property.

However, a great property manager will hope for more than simply good credit and a clean criminal record. While it is tough to screen for, there are various qualities that make a renter stand out as the ideal tenant… At least in the property manager’s eyes.

1. Of Course, Paying Your Rent

More importantly, pay your rent on time! The manager-tenant relationship is dependent upon consistent rent payments in exchange for a place to live, and on-time rent payments is the most critical aspect for which a tenant is responsible. Typically, the property owner relies on the rent to make the mortgage payment for the property so not paying rent on time can be financially burdensome for your property manager and property owner. If your property manager utilizes a management software program, you should have the ability to schedule reoccurring rent payments online directly from your checking account or via credit card so your rent is always paid on time.

2. Treat Your Rental as if it’s Your Own

Take pride in the ownership of your rental property. This will not just ensure the return of your security deposit, but also makes you more likely to receive a raving landlord recommendation if you decide to relocate at some point in the future. Normal wear and tear is anticipated, but preventing tenant caused property damage is absolutely essential.

3. Notify your Property Manager Immediately of Maintenance Issues

Even a tiny leak has can morph into a large and potentially expensive problem for a property manager. The ideal tenant will contact their property manager as soon as they notice any maintenance related issue that could require professional attention. Property managers often provide simple methods for tenants to submit their maintenance requests online. These can easily be tracked and monitored until the issue is fully resolved.

4. Do Not Demand Lots of Attention

Property managers value great communication from their tenants. However, there are always those tenants that are frequently complaining or demand special attention. It is very unlikely that you will be your property manager’s only tenant and top priority. Do your best to resolve issues yourself, as long as it is within your lease terms, before disturbing your property manager.

5. Do Not Let Someone Live with You When They are Not on the Lease

Lease agreements are specifically drafted to ensure protection for both the property manager and the tenants. The agreement requires a signature by anyone above 18 living in the rental property. An ideal tenant will not attempt to sneak in secret roommates and should notify their property manager if they anticipate having any guests stay overnight more than a few days.

6. Keep Your Rental Clean and Neat

The ideal tenant will keep their rental sanitary to prevent an infestation from pests or cause property damage. When a tenant does not keep a clean home, the property manager may need to deduct the amount paid for extermination services or repairs. That money will come from the tenant’s security deposit as stated in the lease.

7. Renewing Your Lease

Having to manage tenant turnover is costly and time consuming for a property manager. The ideal tenant will be eager to renew their lease and hopefully call the same rental property home for an extended period of time. The ideal situation would be that the tenant would meet every quality of the ideal renter, making the long term tenancy even more ideal.

8. Stay on Top of Tenant Maintenance

While a significant amount of maintenance responsibilities should be handled by the property manager, tenants may be required to maintain some appliances, manage lawn care, change air filters, replace smoke detector batteries or lightbulbs. The ideal tenant will not only acknowledge and agree to these terms, but will actually handle it themselves without contacting the property manager. A tenant’s maintenance responsibilities should be outlined in the rental agreement so they understand their legal obligation in regards to maintaining their rental properly.

9. Follow Your Lease Terms

Every rental agreement will prohibit any illegal activity on the property or any behavior that endangers the health and well-being of the other residents. An ideal tenant will strictly follow theses rules as well as the other lease terms. Some other lease terms that a bad tenant might break often will involve pets or disruptive parties that interfere with other tenant’s right to a peaceful environment. Other than failing to pay rent, violating lease terms such as these constitute legitimate grounds for eviction, which is a nuisance to say the least, for all property managers.

10. Owning Renter’s Insurance

Having renter’s insurance will help cover the cost of replacing a tenant’s stolen or damaged personal items. Renter’s insurance can also cover the cost of damage caused to the property by negligence. An ideal tenant will have renters insurance so the property manager doesn’t get stuck with a bill because a tenant was unable to afford the cost of the damaged property or court fees. Fortunately, renter’s insurance is extremely affordable and will cost less than a few cups of coffee a month!

11. Be Honest

Last but certainly not least is honesty. This is the most important important quality of a great tenant. There are times when something will occur that adversely affects a tenant’s financial situation. This can cause rent payments to be late or unaffordable. Property managers will appreciate sincere communication about these types of issues. While a tenant isn’t obligated to share all their personal information with their property manager, they are however, required to pay their rent throughout the lease term. If the rent starts to not be paid in full or if payments suddenly stop appearing, the property manager will likely begin to move forward with an eviction. On the other hand, if a tenant communicates with their property manager in advance, they may be able to break their lease without negatively impacting their rental history or an alternative agreement can be arranged.

How to Choose the Right Property Manager- 6 Important Financial Questions to Ask.

There are many different property managers to choose from all saying they are the best. How do you determine which really are the best? Here are 6 helpful financial questions to ask during your search.

1. How much do they charge?

Property management companies typically receive a percentage of the gross monthly rental income. A majority of management companies on Oahu charge a 10% fee. There are a handful of companies that charge upwards of 12% per month. In addition, there are also a few firms or individual real estate agents that offer property management as an additional service and are able to charge lower rates around 8%. Visit www.redmontgroup.com to learn more about all the services Redmont Real Estate Group offers to help ‘Simplify Life’ for real estate owners.

2. What fees are not included in the monthly management rate?

Management companies may charge a reduced monthly management fee below 10%, but then include additional fees for other services such as advertising the units, set up fees, management fees even if a property is vacant, and an array of other types of fees. Be sure that you know which fees are being charged for all of the services that you require in the management of your property.

3. How many properties are being managed by the company?

On Oahu, a lot of companies and individuals offering property management services are mostly involved in the buying and selling of real estate but offer property management as well. Some may manage just a handful of properties, others will have a robust management division. Be sure to ask how many properties the company is managing so you can have a better idea of their level of experience

4. How are the vacancies being advertised?

Some management companies struggle to lease out their properties because they do not effectively market the vacancy or rely on the same advertising and marketing strategies used when marketing a property for sale. The more experienced property management companies will utilize specialized marketing and advertising methods to list a property for rent. These tools and methods are different than when properties are listed for sale. In order for you to have the highest quality tenants for the best rate, make sure the property manager is advertising in all of the areas where prospective tenants will be looking; not just craigslist. 

5. What is the average number of days your rental is on the market?

Having your property vacant costs you money. The average rental property in Honolulu is vacant for approximately 56 days. A professional property management company can likely rent your property in 30 days or less depending on the time of year and quality of the property. Choosing the right property manager, that can get your properties leased quickly, will earn you thousands more a year.

6. How quickly are the monthly rents paid to you?

Some property managers utilize sophisticated management software that allows them to collect rent from the tenants online. Others still rely on their tenants to mail in checks or deliver cash to their office. Often times, these rents will not be paid to the owner until the end of the month. When choosing a property manager, make sure you choose one that is utilizing the latest management software and that your monthly rents are deposited in your account with a few business days after the tenant’s rent is due.

10 Things to Avoid When Managing Your Own Properties

We all make mistakes, sometimes people make mistakes in managing their own rental properties. Fortunately, others have made these mistakes so you don’t have to! Below are 10 of the most common mistakes and how you can avoid them.

 

1. Not Accounting For Your Own Time

It is important for independent property managers to take into account the value of their time when managing their own rental properties. If you are managing your own properties in an effort to save money, but neglect to account for the value of your time, you may actually be losing more money in the long run. Take into consideration the value of your time when managing your own rental properties.

2. Poor Budgeting

If you’re paying the mortgage with the same month’s rent payments, thats a recipe for disaster. It is ideal to have your mortgage paid at least one month in advance. Also, be sure to have at least 1.5 to 2 times the monthly rent set aside for maintenance and emergency repairs; you never know what will arise.

3. Not Inspecting the Property(s)

Most independent property managers only conduct inspections when a tenant moves in and when they move out. Sometimes a property doesn’t get inspected for several years! This will lead to delayed maintenance issues and will allow for what would have been small repairs to become big and expensive problems down the road.

4. Lenient Enforcement of Rental Agreements

When property managers do not enforce the terms of a rental agreement, tenants begin to exploit leniency. All terms of the agreement should be consistently enforced.

5. Static Lease Rents

It is not uncommon for independent property managers to not increase rents in an effort to keep a good tenant. This approach may be effective in the beginning, but in the future it could create greater difficulties. Attempting to increase the rent to market rates after it has been artificially low for years can be difficult and can upset long-time tenants. By incrementally increasing rents annually to keep up with the market, you can avoid these types of problems and will be beneficial for everyone.

6. Not Having a Rental Agreement and/or Move-in Condition Report

Some independent property managers use a personally drafted or outdated rental agreement. Others fail to complete a thorough move-in condition report with accompanying photos. By not having these, it can cause problems when attempting to enforce the lease or deduct money from the security deposit when the tenant moves out.

7. Inadequate Background Checks

The most effective way to avoid having a troublesome tenant is to thoroughly screen them upfront. Many independent property managers do not even do a basic credit check when screening their prospective tenants. The best background check process will have not just a credit screening, but also a criminal background check, a review of any prior evictions, and foreclosures.

8. Poor Advertising

Many independent property managers advertise their properties in only a few places when listing their vacancies. Often times Craigslist and Zillow are the only sites where a prospective tenant can find your property. For you to get the most applicants and fill your vacancies faster, make sure that your property is listed on all of the major real estate and property management websites, portals, and apartment listing sites in your market. In Hawaii, a great website is AHRN.com, a site that helps the military community find housing.

9. Breaching the Landlord Tenant Code

Independent property managers that are unfamiliar with the local landlord tenant laws will often make mistakes and end up in court. Not providing proper notice to vacate and mishandling the security deposit are just two of the areas that are frequently overlooked. It is essential that anyone managing a property know the applicable laws in your state and county jurisdiction.

10. Maintenance and Renovations with Insufficient Experience

Finally, attempting to do routine maintenance or renovations to your rental property on your own, especially when the project is unfamiliar, can not only be dangerous but end up becoming much more costly in the end. Be sure to use licensed professionals when your property needs repairs that are beyond your comfort level.

Is it Time to Hire a Property Manager? 10 Questions to Ask Yourself.

Every investor has a unique situation, there are multiple factors that will guide rental property owners in one way or the other. The following questions will help you decide if hiring a property manager is the right decision for you.

1. How many rental properties or units do you own?

The more your portfolio grows so do the challenges of management. It becomes much easier for important things to fall through the cracks. Investors that have large portfolios will see a significant benefit by utilizing a property manager. The size of a portfolio can also hinder an investors’ ability to purchase new properties if they are already spread too thin managing what they already own.

2. Do you feel overwhelmed with your property(s)?

Managing rental properties can be overwhelming, even for the most experienced investors. Something is always going on that requires attention and it doesn’t take long for things to get out of hand. By hiring a property manager, you can regain control and stability to both your properties and more importantly, your life.

3. Do you live close to your rental property(s)? Can you visit often?

By living close, it increases your ability to make the regular visits required for maintenance, inspections, collections, etc. However, the further you live, the higher your travel time and expenses will be. When you do not live close, it is easier for things to be neglected which can be a recipe for disaster. Plan on making monthly visits and don’t forget the potential for a middle of the night emergency call that demands your immediate attention. Down the road, is this really feasible for you?

4. How do you deal with stress? Do you consider yourself to be a tolerant person?

We typically view ourselves as level-headed, but at the end of the day it takes a special kind of person to deal with all the issues that can arise with property management. On top of just collecting rent every month, there are a number of unpredictable scenarios that can really drive people to their limits. Here are just a few of those scenarios that can occur with your tenants:

  • Physical/verbal altercations with other tenants or neighbors
  • Domestic disputes and law enforcement visits
  • Illegal businesses operating on the property
  • Noise disturbances and all-night parties
  • Trying to sneak extra people or animals into the property
  • Lawsuits and being sued
  • Destruction of property
  • Refusal to pay rent because they know how to work the legal system for free housing at the owners expense

 5. How much experience do you have with maintenance and repairs?

If you can’t do it yourself, do you have the right people to call? It can take a while to find reliable handymen and contractors and you may unknowingly hire people that are unethical, uninsured, do terrible work, or over charge. Maintenance and repairs are a significant component of property management. Consider hiring a property management company that has their own maintenance staff and can provide quality service at a great price.

6. How quickly can you get your unit rented and is it for the best rate?

Advertising, interested calls/emails/texts, and showing the units on your property can take a considerable amount of time, but they are essential as vacancies can easily erase your profit margins. If you are unsure whether you have the skills or the time to make this happen, OR if you have historically had an unacceptably high vacancy rate, you should consider hiring a property management company. Your bottom line will thank you!

7. Can you handle all of the accounting and record keeping for your property?

Balance sheets, profit and loss statements, income statements, labor and appliance warranties, and delinquent rents, all of these require special attention and can easily become a larger burden as portfolios grow. Owners who have a background in accounting can handle this better than others, however, most choose to hire an accountant to help with the bookkeeping. If you feel like this might be difficult for you then consider hiring a property management company.

8. Are you available 24 hours/day? 365 days/year?

When an emergency occurs at your property you can’t ignore it or deal with it at your convenience. Your birthday, important meeting, vacation, or personal commitment doesn’t relieve you of your responsibility to your tenant and investment property. While these emergencies don’t happen all the time, when they do, you have to be able to handle them immediately. Choose a property manager that can be called at 3:00am when you don’t want to be.

9. Are you willing to confront tenants about late payments and if need be evict them from the property?

Not many people like to be the bad guy so they try to be understanding and make exceptions. The problem is that this will certainly invite additional abuses and an array of excuses from  tenants. Late rent payments must be dealt with immediately, and while sometimes a friendly reminder is all that’s needed, other times, it can be a very expensive process that ends in an eviction. Unless your rental investment is a charity, being successful means enforcing the rules.

10. Is managing your property(s) the best use of your time?

In the end, whether you hire a management company should depend on if it is compatible with your lifestyle and makes sense financially. As an investor, you will have to assess the opportunity cost of both options based on your unique circumstances.