- I just can’t get enough tenant horror stories. What’s wrong with these people?
- As property managers, it’s crucial to make good decisions when updating properties. And when it comes to masonry work, it’s important to choose the right brick for the job.
- Ahhhhhh! Mice. Who’s responsible for dealing with rodent infestation? Tenant or landlord?
- People are always looking to buy real estate, but how do you get them to use you as their agent or broker? The answer is through several marketing streams.
- There’s a new group for multifamily housing professionals: The National Multifamily Speakers Alliance, a promising multifamily education initiative.
Think you’re having a bad day? Just be thankful you didn’t get a call from a tenant about her “buzzing toilet with voltage running through it.” Yes, it really happened. When an upstairs tenant performed a makeshift repair, a toilet on the floor below became supercharged. This situation could have been avoided had that property manager followed our first step in work order processing. Read on to ensure that this situation (or something like it) doesn’t happen under your watch.
1. Make it easy for tenants to submit maintenance requests.
Let’s face it … stuff breaks. Being critical of tenants or discouraging requests for repairs or maintenance when they happen isn’t going to keep the wheels greased. Little things can become big things, as demonstrated through this story about a tenant who waited too long. She came home from work each day after her management office had already closed, subsequently allowing a small leak in her washer to mushroom into a ceiling repair for the downstairs tenant. In this case, extended office hours or an easy after-hours process for submitting work requests could have prevented an expensive repair.
2. Review, prioritize, estimate.
Set a designated maximum amount for work that can be done without necessitating an estimate before-hand. If you can reasonably expect the work to be done for this amount or less, then it’s just a matter of prioritizing the project with others already waiting in the hopper. If it looks like a larger job, approach one or more vendors for an estimate. This may require taking a more careful look at the problem or getting additional information from your tenant.
3. Create the work order and call in the vendor.
Process the request through your system (for record-keeping) and create an additional copy for the selected vendor. By using a clear and comprehensive work order that describes the work in detail, disputes over cost increases for work that was not ordered can be averted. Be sure to check out some of these great online resources for work order management.
4. Keep track of what’s going on.
It never fails that just as you get to the point where you trust a contractor or vendor, the “new guy” is sent out. By now, though, you have become used to the vendor and haven’t been keeping as close of tabs on the company as you once were. As luck would have it, the new guy turns out to be a slacker, creating problems for your tenant and a delay in getting the work completed. To avoid this, have a clear idea of the project’s schedule and monitor progress to keep things on track. It may require a little extra effort at first, but it will save you time and money in the long run.
5. Verify project completion and pay the invoice upon receipt
Once your project is complete, have the work order signed off on by both your tenant and yourself. Once everything looks good, pay promptly. All vendors appreciate speedy payment and this will gaurantee you continue to receive good response time and service from your vendor in the future.
6. Close and file the work order
Close out the work order and keep it on hand as a permanent history item. You never know when you may have to go through a unit’s maintenance history to prove warranty status or gently persuade a vendor to give you a freebie (in cases of repeat work). This sort of careful, organized record-keeping will also allow you to look up the daily status of all work orders.
Property Management Software Rental Property Management Software Landlord Software HOA Software Property Management4 Comments
It’s that time of the week again …
- Do you have a tenant who’s making your life miserable? Check out these tenant horror stories and you might decide you don’t have it so bad afterall.
- If you’re thinking about refinishing hardwood floors, you should know your options. Learn the ins and outs of refinishing hardwood floors.
- Are you a hands-on landlord? Find out.
- From a tenant’s perspective: what a large deposit means to him.
- If you manage real estate or your own properies professionally, you must check out the Institute of Real Estate Management (IREM). The IREM is a great resource for anyone engaged in property management.
Property Management Software Rental Property Management Software Landlord Software HOA Software Property Management2 Comments
The alarm clock goes off. It’s a beautiful morning … but you don’t want to get out of bed. You’re chasing a tenant for delinquent rent and it’s making your life difficult. You remember having a pretty good feeling about this tenant during the interview … so what happened? What information could you have gathered or had her provide to avoid this situation? TenantScreening.org offers the information and tools you need to help find good tenants and screen out the problem ones.
Get the real identification information.
By far, a state driver’s license is the best option for identification purposes. If your potential tenant drove a car into your parking lot, don’t listen to excuses. Expired driver’s licenses should be a red flag for landlords and property managers. It might just be an applicant’s attempt at withholding current information.
Get contact information … plenty of it.
Whether your would-be tenant calls his mom on Mother’s Day or not, you want her phone number and address. A mother will always know how to reach her child, even if that child skips out on paying you rent. Getting employers, friends, and family contact information is important in every case … no exceptions. And when you can, get cell phone numbers because they tend to change less frequently than home numbers. (Also, cell phones allow you to make like a C.S.I. detective—you might just track that delinquent tenant with GPS!)
Obtain employment and rental references.
Another must-have item on your rental application is employment verification information. Be sure to get past employers’ names and contact information. Also be sure to verify your tenant’s income. If her employer doesn’t want to give you an income figure, give a range to which the employer can respond. If a tenant is self-employed, ask for a copy of her tax return. However you have to do it, make sure that you really check out rental references. If your potential tenant left holes in the walls and stains on the floor of a previous apartment, you need to know.
Run credit and background checks.
The next step is a credit check. You need to know if the applicant pays his bills and if he has a history of bankruptcy or suits for unpaid rents. And, of course, if he has a criminal record, you may just want to think twice before renting that apartment. A word of caution on that note, though; believe it or not, it could be illegal to discriminate against applicants based on their criminal record. Check your state laws.
Cover yourself with secured payment and adequate deposits.
The college student who wants to rent your property may be likable, but that doesn’t mean she’ll be able to consistently pay her rent. You may need to require a parent or other relative to sign on as a guarantor. After all, if dad isn’t willing to sign on with his daughter, it might be a sign that you shouldn’t either.
Deposits provide peace of mind when it comes to receiving regular rental payment and a unit that’s left in good condition. Many states have laws about how much you can require in rental, pet, and security deposits; be sure to find out what yours are. Working within the confines of state and federal law, ask for deposits in amounts that will allow you a peaceful night’s rest. If both first and last months’ rent seems necessary, don’t think twice about asking for it. Oh, and if your tenant’s pooch is named Godzilla, you may be wise to require an extra pet deposit.
Every week Buildium searches for links of interest to property managers and real estate professionals. Here’s this week’s batch:
- Ever had a vacating tenant leave some of her belongings behind? Take a look at these unusual items.
- There are thriving markets even in this time of mortgage crisis. The top 5 cities surviving the mortgage crisis might just surprise you.
- Interested in taking advantage of the down market by purchasing foreclosures? Be sure to follow these 10 ½ tips for buying foreclosures.
- Here’s a good way to put part-time rental cash in your pocket.
- Manage single-family or small residential properties? Join the National Association of Residential Property Managers.
If you’re like most property managers, you have lots to do but precious little time to do it. Whether you’re a landlord with just a few rental properties or a professional property manager managing hundreds of units, this is always the case. While (unfortunately!) you can’t tack a couple more hours onto the day, there are some things you can do to work smarter.
Let’s take rent collection, for example. Have you ever have calculated how much time you spend dealing with checks? Even if you haven’t done the math, we can all agree it takes way too much time. Each month the rent checks come pouring in, requiring time-crunched property managers and landlords to open envelopes, figure out which check is whose, record rents paid and rents still owed, fill out deposit slips, and trek off to the bank. There must be a better way.
Want more proof? Take a look at this article, “Businesses Adopt Online Payments to Improve Cash Flow and Save Time and Money”, posted on WorkZ, a website for small business owners. The article cites a Gartner research study showing that it costs between $2 and $5 to send a paper bill and another $10 to process a paper check. Whether you buy Gartner’s numbers or not, the bottom line is it costs many of us way more than it should to collect rent payments each month. This is supposed to be income generation, afterall.
Here’s what Andrew Block, head honcho at the Boston-based property management company The Hamilton Company has to say on the matter:
We have been looking for a solution where we could send a statement to our many tenants either by email or fax and to allow our tenant to be able to make payment over the internet. Our company processes a significant number of transactions each month and it is very costly to send out statements. The problem with paper checks is that it takes a lot of time and money to handle them.
Okay, so if it costs too much to collect rent by check each month, what’s the solution? One option is to accept credit cards—with services like PayPal, anyone can do it. But bear in mind, while credit cards are more convenient than checks, they’re also an expensive way to go. With credit card companies charging between 2 and 4 percent of each rent payment, costs can add up fast.
A better option is to debit your tenant’s bank account directly, just like stores do when you use your ATM card. Electronic rent collection services allow you to withdraw rent from your tenants’ checking or savings accounts and automatically deposit it to your bank account. And instead of charging 2 to 4 percent of the rent payment, these services generally charge much less—sometimes as little as 50 cents per payment.
If you factor in what your time is worth (let alone the cost of gas these days), collecting rent electronically makes a ton of cents. And what’s not to like about that?