Using a property management company takes most of the burden away from you as an investor or homeowner. A property manager has knowledge, access to attorneys, legal forms, marketing, research… that may not be readily available to an individual landlord.
How We Market Your Property
Let’s start by talking about the marketing done by our property management company. We do not place a property on the market until it is “show ready” which means all work is finished. It should be freshened up, which sometimes means new paint (but not always). It must be clean and the lawn well-manicured. Now if you are willing, we are happy to suggest the things that will attract clients even more such as a few different light fixtures, some shrubbery, painting colors on the walls other than white, perhaps painting the front door or the shutters in a new color that will pop. This elevates your property to something more than the mundane AND if you want to be a contender with the NEW apartments that are available, you might need to do some work to ATTRACT the current tenant prospects.
When it is ready, we send our professional photographer to the home in order to present it with its best attributes featured. We then send those photos over to our resource to make it into a video which narrates the features of the home and provides a map. The marketing begins by listing it on our website – www.thegatetohome.com. When using a property management company, your listing is usually shared with MANY other sites such as Rent.com, Zillow, Truila, Rent Path, Hot Pads, etc. Additionally, our firm lists the home on the MLS (multiple listing system). MLS is the same system that we use when we list homes for sale. This goes out to all the agents in the area and this exposure is great because they may have clients moving to the area for a job. Many of these prefer to rent awhile before purchasing or building. This provides ample time for them to get to know the area, their new employment, the schools, etc. before sinking their money into a home. Lastly, those videos that I mentioned also show up on google and Facebook as well as our site. So, the possibilities of large numbers of people viewing your prospective rental is great!
How Potential Tenants See Your Property
The viewing process is facilitated by an outside resource who vets the applicant and provides them with a one-time viewing code to get inside the property. Who views it is reported to our company as we need proof that the applicants have viewed the property in person prior to accepting an application. This is especially wonderful during this time of the COVID-19 pandemic as no one is being exposed to each other. If this property does not suit their needs, they already have an account set up and may view other properties with a new and different code for each one. This has really assisted us to continue to rent properties quickly this year and has alleviated concern in the prospective tenants as well as our office staff.
Our property management model is first come – first served which means that applications are time stamped when they are received through our website; however, it is NOT considered complete until all things are received from the applicant. Some items required are photo ID, proof of income, photos of any pets, an application entered through pet screening for which there is a small fee (but it is not charged if the animal is a service animal or an emotional support animal) and applications must be received from all those that are 18 or over that will reside in the property. If all of this is received, then we can start the process of checking the applicants. We try to complete this in 24 – 48 hours so that all know whether the application is accepted or not. If not, we go on to the second applicant. We use this model so that we can assure that we are following treating everyone fairly.
Tenant Application Process
Once an application is received, our workload begins. Homeowners/landlords, do you know how to determine who is a good tenant and the processes involved? Do you understand FAIR HOUSING? We, as property managers, do our best to check the tenants, while following all the guidelines provided. Yes, we check criminal, credit, confirm employment and income, # of people to reside in the property, whether they are in the military or not, follow up on pet screening, previous rental history, any evictions found… Then if a prospective tenant has been approved for a property, they must be prepared to take the property within a two-week time frame as this is the longest we will hold a property off the market for someone without paying. And one more thing, you as owner should have insurance coverage for the time that the property is vacant and to protect it from vandalism as well. Call those insurance companies and make sure that you have a commercial liability insurance with the property management company named as additional insured as well as standard fire policies. Remember we are acting as your agent representing you in all we do so make sure we are protected.
Property Management After Tenant Approval
Once approved, we immediately get a signed contract and collect a full month of rent including pet rent (pro-rations of rent happen for the second month). The security deposit, pet fees and monthly funds required for the tenant benefit package must be paid by the time they pick up the keys. All funds for beginning this lease are required to be money orders, but funds may be paid online after this point or at our drop box directly outside our door.
Our Tenant/Landlord Portal
We desire that both owners/tenants do as much as possible through the owner and tenant portals on our website. Tenants may pay their rents, turn in maintenance requests or even provide a 30 day written notice that they do not intend to renew their lease. Owners also have a portal where they can review the monthly statement that shows funds received, monies paid out for repairs/maintenance to their property, copies of inspections and they may deposit funds if a repair or improvement exceeds their monthly income and/or reserve.
Property Condition Reports
Property managers do property condition reports with photos. Our firm does a report on each property prior to possession of the rental home so we KNOW the condition in which it was received by the tenant. A drive-by photo is done after the new tenant has been there about 3 months. How the exterior of the home and lawn is being managed is usually indicative of how the inside may be. We also do an interior condition report of the home at about the 9th month of the lease. This condition report informs us whether we want to extend the lease or not. It assists us in advising the tenant of any repairs that may be required to correct or mend. Lastly, we do a move out condition report that determines if all is normal wear and tear or if there are actual damages that will be deducted from their security deposit. We can do additional property condition reports if desired, but there would be a charge for each of these.
Property Market Analysis
A market analysis is performed at this 9 month point in time to determine if there should be an increase in rent and/or if we desire to continue with the current tenant. There is NOT always an increase as sometimes a property may be renting at the top of its market. Just a note for you, we never commit to a price forever to an owner. A property may rent for a different amount during a “downed economy” than it does in a great economy, but we always strive to get an owner a fair market rent. Do you know what a fair market rent may be or how to arrive at one? It may be better to keep a tenant than to have a change-over that would include vacancy and possible repairs/improvements. Sometimes if the current market change in value is minor, we may opt to leave the rent as it is without increase for a year for the benefit of all.
Property Management: Collecting the Money
What else is property management? It is a collection of the rents each month with follow up by writing letters/emails/texts if a tenant has failed to pay. In 2020, this part is even more valuable to you as a landlord because we are required to keep up with all the legalities required by the state, the government, the real estate commission, the CDC… We can file evictions IF owners do not have any federally insured loans on the property, if the tenant does not receive government assistance for rents, if the tenant is not late because of any matter related to COVID-19… It is the responsibility of the management company to do its best to keep you the owner out of trouble by always having current knowledge of the changes in law and contracts. It always seems that the contracts have several things that change annually. IF filing for possession, eviction, money owed... is necessary, the property manager may represent you as long as it is in small claims court. Many times, filing is all that is necessary to catch the attention of the tenant and an immediate correction may be done by them. You are charged for court fees and writs, but these are added to the tenant charges and should be paid back by them if we reach resolution and they remain in the property OR it may be paid from the security deposit after they have moved if we were granted possession. Do you, as a landlord, know the guidelines to follow for court, evictions, writs?
Property Managers Oversee Maintenance
What else do property managers do? We handle maintenance issues on your behalf. We have ongoing relationships with vendors that we know and trust who have worked for us for years. We require insurance and workers compensation by all and we provide 1099’s to them for all work completed under our supervision at the end of the year. All the work shows on your yearend statement from us making things very easy for you and your accountant. Sometimes landlords/investors will tell us that you know people that can do the work for less money that you might want to use. They may be your friend or uncle or even yourself – this is not a good idea. Most are NOT insured. We do NOT recommend that you allow this or do it yourself, but if you do, you would have to pay them directly. We will not hire them or pay them. We will still need to schedule the work through the tenant and will charge you a small fee for overseeing this. AND if anything should happen such as fire, theft, damage… to the tenant or to your investment property, YOU, the landlord, are responsible. It could be a frightening scene. It is in your best interest to allow us to do the job that we are hired to do with the coverage needed!
The subjects discussed are only a FEW of the things that we property managers do. It is good to remember that we work as if we were you, protecting the property to the best of our abilities. If something needed is beyond the scope of our abilities and responsibilities, we are happy to refer you to others. Remember that we are not insurance agents, official inspectors, financial advisors, attorneys… but we can direct you to them when needed. We, at Gates Management & Realty have been doing property management for over 25 years and can promise you that life changes yearly, but we strive to maintain our membership in groups that keep us educated as those changes arise. AND lastly, it is our Job and our Joy to manage for you!