Rules and Regulations of a Different Sort

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New Rules.

Property Managers, Common-Interest Community Managers, and landlords often lament the failure of residents to obey the rules of their communities. To these managers, keeping order in the community is a full-time job. If you talk to their residents, you’ll hear a different story. The residents will tell you of the extreme hardships caused by the managers’ extensive Rules & Regulations that seek to govern “every aspect” of the residents’ lives.

Is this adversarial relationship necessary?

A conversation with a friend today sparked an idea. What if, as managers, we seek to communicate our rules and policies in a way the residents will not only read them, but adhere to them? And, if you’re a resident in a multifamily community, would you have more respect for the rules if they were communicated in a more user-friendly fashion? Continue reading “Rules and Regulations of a Different Sort”

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Roommates

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Greetings, fellow property managers! Today’s blog is a guest post by one of our own, Robert Frenchu of Coldwell Banker Best Sellers in Carson City, Nevada. It’s a humorous take on the myriad issues surrounding roommates in rental properties. Enjoy!

Roommates

Roommates

The very word sends chills down the spine of property managers. The only other things we’d rather not hear are, “…water leaking since last Tuesday,” and “…when the garbage truck plowed through the living room….” Why do we develop nervous tics whenever roommates apply for a rental? Besides dealing with the competing priorities and motivations of two or more different people, roommates many times have trouble understanding some basic concepts.

A lease is a contract— a legal agreement between two- or more- parties. Any time you add another party to the mix, things can get more complex, and often do. Many leases have language that describes the obligation being between the owner and multiple tenants, and that language is “together and severally.” (Think of the word “severed” instead of “several.”) That means the agreement is • between the Owner and Tenants A & B, and • between the Owner and Tenant A, and the Owner and Tenant B.

Now that you understand the concept behind multiple signatories on contracts, let’s cruise through some examples of situations you need to think about before you sign on the dotted line. Continue reading “Roommates”

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Surety Bond in Lieu of Security Deposit

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Surety Bond in Lieu of Security Deposit

Joining states like California and Florida, who have responded to real estate market conditions, the Nevada Legislature amended NRS 118A.242 in 2009, allowing landlords and tenants to negotiate the acceptance of a surety bond in lieu of all or part of a security deposit on a residential dwelling. Now, instead of having to come up with a large sum of money in advance, tenants (if the landlord agrees) are able to purchase a surety bond to cover all or part of the security deposit.

Here’s how the Nevada law reads:

(emphasis added)

NRS 118A.242  Security: Limitation on amount or value; surety bond in lieu of security; duties and liability of landlord; damages; disputing itemized accounting of security; prohibited provisions.

1.  The landlord may not demand or receive security or a surety bond, or a combination thereof, including the last month’s rent, whose total amount or value exceeds 3 months’ periodic rent.

2.  In lieu of paying all or part of the security required by the landlord, a tenant may, if the landlord consents, purchase a surety bond to secure the tenant’s obligation to the landlord under the rental agreement to:

(a) Remedy any default of the tenant in the payment of rent.

(b) Repair damages to the premises other than normal wear and tear.

(c) Clean the dwelling unit.

3.  The landlord:

(a) Is not required to accept a surety bond purchased by the tenant in lieu of paying all or part of the security; and

(b) May not require a tenant to purchase a security bond in lieu of paying all or part of the security. Continue reading “Surety Bond in Lieu of Security Deposit”

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The Healing Benefit of Pets

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The Healing Benefit of Pets

Every now and then, I’ll hear from a property manager expressing frustration over a request they received for permission to keep a “companion animal.” The request  comes either before or during occupancy by a tenant (or owner, if in a condominium or similar housing) claiming to have a metal or physical disability. I’ve been told, “Anyone who wants a pet can have one just by getting a doctor’s letter.”

The frustration expressed by these property managers is clear. The assumption is that some residents “take advantage” of laws allowing companion animals as a fair housing accommodation when they  don’t appear to have a medical need for the animal. The managers feel they’re being “worked,” by residents who want to circumvent landlord policies limiting pets.

Although, to some, the need for such an accommodation may seem unrealistic or exaggerated, medical science is continually proving that pets DO provide quantifiable health benefits.  The Delta Society has a number of articles on its website pointing to medical research that substantiates these facts: Continue reading “The Healing Benefit of Pets”

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5 Signs You Might be Dating a Property Manager

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5 Signs You Might be Dating a Property Manager

Property Management is my thing. I’ve been at it for nearly my entire adult life. Dating, on the other hand, is something I’ve done on and off, over the years. Surprisingly, I’ve never quite gotten the hang of it. Like a fish out of water, the dating scene just hasn’t been a good fit for me.

There are many lessons to be learned in the dating world, no matter the outcome.  One of those lessons came to me pretty early.  I learned to be careful what I say about my employment. When I would come right out and tell prospective sweeties that I’m a property manager or landlord, it conjured up some pretty powerful stereotypes. Those stereotypes served to draw some rather strange prospects to my door.

So, if you are scrolling through an online list of potential dating prospects, and you see employment references like “real estate curator” or “property preservation specialist,” or “asset manager,” beware. You might just be dating a property manager. Continue reading “5 Signs You Might be Dating a Property Manager”

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Death of a Tenant

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Death of a Tenant

This is not a smiley-happy post. In fact, the topic is downright depressing. 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 25+ years, 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 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.

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Following are a few guidelines to help you deal appropriately with a death in one of your rental units: Continue reading “Death of a Tenant”

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How many people can live here?

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How many people can live here?

As professional property managers, we recognize the importance of implementing rules, regulations, policies, and procedures for the protection of our clients, our renters, and ourselves. How often do we view those policies with the eyes of the consumer? How often do we consider Fair Housing Law when implementing our policies?

“A man’s home is his castle.”

These are powerful words for most Americans. Whether we rent or own our homes, as a society we recognize the importance of having a home to which we can retreat from the pressures of daily life; a place where we feel safe and secure. For renters, this security can be threatened by unreasonable intervention of the landlord. Once our security is threatened, we begin to question the motives behind the perceived threat. The policies and rules imposed by the landlord are often a source of Fair Housing complaints by renters. Continue reading “How many people can live here?”

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Consistency and Documentation – The Property Manager’s Mantra

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Your telephone interview with a prospect will make or break the rental transaction.

A question that arises frequently among property managers is, “How can I be sure I’m treating all rental prospects equally?”

The initial telephone interview with a prospective resident sets the stage for the landlord/tenant relationship. Your responses and behavior at this critical stage are the first indication the prospect has of your professionalism. And, for you, it’s your first opportunity to make a connection with the prospect. These moments will either make or break the rental transaction. Many fair housing complaints are filed in response to prospects’ perceptions of how they were treated at the very earliest stages of the relationship. Continue reading “Consistency and Documentation – The Property Manager’s Mantra”

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Why Policies & Procedures?

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I received a call today from a property manager who’s been in the business nearly as long as I have. She’s a 3-person operation, is well respected, and manages about 250 residential properties. We started talking about policy manuals, and she confessed she’s never had written policies and procedures for her office. Why? “Because we’re so small, we don’t really need them.”

I beg to differ. Establishing and maintaining clear written policies and procedures for handling the day-to-day property management activity is a key factor in successful management of residential housing. Even if you have just one employee, you need written procedures.

Some of the benefits of written procedures…

  • Written procedures help prevent mistakes
  • Written procedures assure consistency in your actions
  • Written procedures save time, especially when training new employees
  • Written procedures improve the quality of service you provide
  • Written procedures free you from worry about your employees’ decisions
  • And, having clear policies and procedures, and monitoring adherence to those policies is a requirement under Nevada licensing law.

Your Policy Manual should be a living/breathing document, allowing for updates and changes, as circumstances arise. It’s not something meant to be neatly bound, then put high up on a shelf somewhere in the back office. In fact, why not allow everybody who is invested in the daily management of properties in your office be a contributor to the policy manual? If your employees are invested in defining operational rules and policy, they are much more likely to advocate for proper procedure, and follow your company’s policies.

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Policies and Procedures go hand-in-hand with following laws and regulation.
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Abandonment Issues

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Abandonment Issues

Here’s a question from a Nevada property manager I think most of us can relate to:

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“I just evicted a tenant for non-payment of rent. It’s obvious to me that he took what he wanted, and left the rest. You wouldn’t believe this mess! Some of the junk he left is actually useable, which is a fortunate twist. I’m not sure where he moved, but I’m really glad he’s gone. It’ll cost me about $3,000 to put this place back together. His deposit was that much, so I’m only out the rent. I’m just glad to be done with him.  I AM done with him, aren’t I?”

Maybe you are, maybe you’re not. Chapter 118A.460 of the Nevada Revised Statues (Landlord and Tenant: Dwellings) applies to disposal of property abandoned by the tenant in residential properties. Even if it’s clear the tenant isn’t coming back, and even if he still owes you money, ignoring these rules could cost you a bundle. Continue reading “Abandonment Issues”

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