Residential Property Maintenance – Systems and Procedures

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HomeRepairAs property managers, one of our most important responsibilities is to oversee the maintenance and repair of the homes we manage. In fact, most states’ laws address this, in one form or another. For example, Nevada law, in its Property Management licensing section, states:

NRS 645.019  “Property management” defined.  “Property management” means the physical, administrative or financial maintenance and management of real property, or the supervision of such activities for a fee, commission or other compensation or valuable consideration, pursuant to a property management agreement.
(Added to NRS by 1997, 954; A 2003, 932)  (Emphasis added)

Despite  guidance of both law and “common sense,” too often, our responsibility for overseeing the physical maintenance of the properties we manage is handled in a reactive, rather than proactive, manner. We wait for something to break, as opposed to thinking ahead and planning for maintenance and repair, before things go wrong. In upcoming posts, we’ll explore residential property maintenance, from the property manager’s perspective.   Continue reading “Residential Property Maintenance – Systems and Procedures”

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Client Retention – Property Management Style

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With so many of our owner/clients falling into the role of Landlord by chance, rather than by choice in the last few years, it’s no wonder we’re facing challenges gaining their loyalty. Often times, the rental property owner doesn’t have the slightest clue how to manage such an investment. In many cases, the property wasn’t originally purchased as a rental. The investment strategy, if one exists at all, is vague and constantly shifting.

 

A single expense, a “bad” tenant, or a month without income, and the “Accidental Landlord” panics. “How am I going to make my mortgage payment?” “I can’t afford to pay for that!” Does this sound familiar? Before you realize what’s happening, this property owner is moving on to what he perceives as greener pastures, with another property manager.

 

Gaining client loyalty is one of the greatest tests of a property manager. Without that loyalty, we cannot succeed. How can we, as professional property managers, create an environment in which the owner/client trusts us enough to remain loyal, even when management difficulties arise?

 

CB026637It starts before the contract is signed…   Continue reading “Client Retention – Property Management Style”

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When Saving Time Can Cost You Time (and Money!)

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As successful property managers, we quickly learn the importance of streamlining our policies and procedures, by establishing methods to save both time and effort. The profit margin in this business is tight, and if we fail to employ standardization and time-saving strategies, we’ll never succeed. I’ve noticed the average burnout time for most new property managers seems to be about 2 years. That’s how long it takes to realize it’s not a money-making business, unless we have policies and procedures in place that make the job doable.

Continue reading “When Saving Time Can Cost You Time (and Money!)”

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Assistance Animal Fair Housing Case in Reno Nevada

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BassetHot off the presses! The U.S. Department of Justice just announced a settlement with a Reno, NV apartment complex regarding the management’s treatment of residents with assistance animals. From the DOJ’s press release:

“The department’s complaint had alleged that the owners, employees and management company of Rosewood Park Apartments violated the Fair Housing Act by limiting individuals with certain assistance animals to a particular section of Rosewood Park Apartments; subjecting such individuals to pet fees; requiring assistance animals to be licensed or certified; and barring companion or uncertified service dogs altogether.”

The settlement in this case was $127,500, payable to a family who was denied housing (because of their assistance animal), Continue reading “Assistance Animal Fair Housing Case in Reno Nevada”

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Property Inspection – During Tenancy

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I can’t quite put my finger on it, but something’s just not right…

Whether you inspect your occupied property management homes annually, semi-annually, quarterly, or more often (Careful here! How does your state define ‘harassment?’), you undoubtedly use a form for that purpose.

 

Is there a perfect form for an “interim inspection” of a rental home? Maybe. But, in most cases, the property condition issues vary with the locality and climate. Would you stress AC operation and maintenance a bit more strongly in Las Vegas, than you would in Bozeman, MT? Probably so.

 

The art is not in the form itself. It’s in knowing what to look for – with your own inventory, with your particular geographical location and weather conditions.

Continue reading “Property Inspection – During Tenancy”

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Nevada’s AB194 – Tenant Damage to Property

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evictionShort, and sweet, Nevada’s AB 194 was passed by both houses of the legislature, and signed by the governor this week. It becomes law on October 1, 2013.

 

The new law specifically calls for criminal liability for renters who willfully damage or destroy the rental property:

“This bill clarifies that a person who holds a leasehold interest in the real property of another person may be criminally liable for the willful or malicious destruction or injury of that real property.”

 

The text of the bill is nice and simple:

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF NEVADA, REPRESENTED IN SENATE AND ASSEMBLY, DO ENACT AS FOLLOWS:

Section 1. NRS 206.310 is hereby amended to read as follows:
206.310 1. Every person who shall willfully or maliciously destroy or injure any real or personal property of another, for the destruction or injury of which no special punishment is otherwise specially prescribed, shall be guilty of a public offense proportionate to the value of the property affected or the loss resulting from such offense.
2. It is not a defense that the person engaging in the conduct prohibited by subsection 1 holds a leasehold interest in the real property that was destroyed or injured.”

 

Tip for Nevada Property Managers: This might be good language to add to your residential and commercial lease agreements, as a deterrent to willful property damage. At the very least, you’ll want to remind your tenants of this provision of law if you become aware of any tenant-caused damage to the property.

 

 

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Tenant Death – The Property Manager’s Guide

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This is a revival of a post from a few years ago. I’ve had a couple of emails recently from property managers across the U.S. who are dealing with this issue right now, and they’re looking for answers. So, what does the property manager need to know (and do) when a tenant of ours dies in one of our rental units?  

Yes, I know. This is a rather depressing topic. Not something we ordinarily want to discuss. Yet, if you’re in this business long enough, eventually, someone’s going to die in one of your rental units. It happens. In my 30+ years as a property manager, I’ve had three deaths. The first was a drug overdose; the second a “peaceful” death, and the third was suicide.

No matter the circumstances, there isn’t anything much more disturbing than to find a dead body in an apartment or rental house you manage. The event can haunt you for months. At the moment you discover the death, it’s easy to make critical mistakes – confusion takes hold, and we don’t always think clearly about what we should be doing.

 

Following are a few guidelines to help you deal appropriately with a death in one of your rental units:   Continue reading “Tenant Death – The Property Manager’s Guide”

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The Four Agreements of Property Management: #2 It’s not about you.

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 “There are moments at work where my mind wanders to happier times… like being in the dentist’s chair. Yes, my work is a vessel of fun. “Fun,” like rusty sword-swallowing fun!”

Tim Lambdin

Real Estate Licensee, Property Manager

35-year industry veteran

Property Management can be a very challenging profession, in terms of communication. Most often, when the telephone rings, it is a problem. The tenant is unhappy because something needs to be repaired. The owner is unhappy because he’s not making as much money on the property as he thinks he should. The vendor is unhappy because he wasn’t paid the day he submitted his invoice. Property Managers must balance the needs and wants of all parties in landlord/tenant relationship, whether residential or commercial, while at the same time setting appropriate boundaries, mediating disputes, and communicating difficult messages.

Continue reading “The Four Agreements of Property Management: #2 It’s not about you.”

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Collecting Bad Debts Fairly

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vector image of arrow sign going up while money written undernea

 

Property managers often ask me how I handle pursuing tenants who move out owing sums in excess of their deposit.  Owners so frequently expect the property manager to act as a collection agency, and many of our contracts do not address the manager’s responsibility for those activities.  Furthermore, federal law strictly regulates the property manager’s efforts in collecting tenant debt.  What should the property manager do in these cases?

 

Make sure your owners know your policies.  Communicate those policies in writing.  Your management contract should specifically spell out what you will and will not do in the event of “bad debts” by tenants.  Should the situation arise, remind your owners of those policies and any associated charges.

 

Your records speak for themselves.  Prove it or lose it!  If you are unable to prove a debt, you will be unable to collect it. Continue reading “Collecting Bad Debts Fairly”

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Owner: “Why Can’t I Talk to My Own Tenant?”

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Owner/Tenant Conversations

A common frustration among property managers all over the country is the difficulty posed when owner/clients start communicating directly with their tenants. From the owner’s perspective, it’s difficult for them to understand why this would be a problem. After all, it’s their rental property! The tenants are their tenants, right?

 

“Just because I have retained a professional property manager, shouldn’t mean I can’t interact with my own tenants.”  This is what our owners often believe, and it’s one of the most damaging beliefs they can hold.

Continue reading “Owner: “Why Can’t I Talk to My Own Tenant?””

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