Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Right of Entry: How Much Advance Notice is Enough?

For property managers, time management is critical. It sometimes feels as though there simply aren't enough hours in the day to get everything done! And when you're factoring the schedules of your tenants into your own daily routine, following rules and regulations about the notice required to enter a unit can be difficult.

How much advance notice do you need to give tenants about entering their unit? For emergency situations, the answer is none. If you know of a serious emergency and need to get into their unit to stop a disaster from occurring, you can enter without their knowledge. But if the task you need completed isn't an emergency, the answer can vary depending on your state.

Scott Safadi of Cal Bay Property Management recommends providing all tenants 24 hours notice that you need to enter their unit - regardless of the official law in your area. Giving folks the heads up they need to tidy up, crate their dogs or be home to supervise work being done is just the polite thing to do. Check your state's laws for exact limits on when you can enter - just to be safe. 

When in doubt, just ask yourself: if you were in their shoes, how much notice would you prefer to be given? 

- Scott Safadi, Cal Bay Property Management

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Criminal Background Checks: Should You Run Them On Prospective Tenants?

Tenant screening is important. Not only will a proper screen give you insight about a person's character, it will also let you know of any potential risks you're taking by agreeing to rent to someone. And while every property manager has their own special formula of screening methods, credit checks have become universally standard in the United States. Another kind of screen growing in popularity? The criminal background check.

Scott Safadi of Cal Bay Property Management says that's because credit checks are limited in what they can tell you about a tenant. While they might inform you of a prospective tenant's ability to pay rent on time, it won't tell you about their arrest history or their spot on the FBI's most wanted list. Criminal background checks can. Though your first priority might be running a profitable business, property managers owe it to their tenants to foster a safe community in which to live.

Criminal background checks can be obtained for as little as $15 online, depending on the type of record searched for and the state you're searching in. Even more expensive background checks can save you money and stress in the long run. Consider adding criminal background checks to your tenant screening process today.

- Scott Safadi, Cal Bay Property Management

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Tax Tips for Landlords

It's that time of year: tax season! While it's nobody's favorite time, it could be an opportunity for you to save some money and gain insight into what's working - and what's not - at your property. Scott Safadi of Cal Bay Property Management recommends you be on the lookout for the following:

- Contractor 1099s. Did you hire any independent contractors this year? Perhaps you hired a guest blogger for your website or paid a local to trim your hedges. If so, you'll need to send off your 1099s as soon as possible!

- Closing out your books. Does your financial software still list the year as 2016? You're falling behind! Gather up any paperwork related to your property and reconcile it all against your bank statements. Not only will this give you the insight you need into your taxes, you'll get a great "big picture" look at your financials!

- 2017 budget. Have you created one yet? If you haven't, tax season is the perfect time! Take a look at what worked last year - and what didn't - and adjust accordingly. 

- Scott Safadi, Cal Bay Property Management

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Preventing Mold Growth in your Rental Property

Mold: it's something no one wants to deal with, but virtually every property manager will encounter it at some point or another. So how do you prevent mold growth in your rental property? Scott Safadi of Cal Bay Property Management recommends these easy tips:

Inspect regularly. 
Excessive moisture is often the cause of mold growth, so paying close attention to a unit's HVAC and plumbing systems can make a big difference. Look for moisture where you'd expect, like in the bathroom or kitchen, but in the unexpected places, too - like in crawlspaces and attics.

Install exhaust fans.
Every bathroom should have an exhaust fan, plain and simple. If yours don't, you're just asking for mold growth! 

Fix leaks as soon as they're spotted.
Whether you find a leak while inspecting a unit or a tenant voices concern to maintenance about a leak, you need to leap into action - and quickly. Maintain your gutters to prevent clogs, and keep an eye on thunderstorms. They can highlight leaks you never knew existed!

- Scott Safadi, Cal Bay Property Management

Monday, March 27, 2017

Tenant vs. Landlord Maintenance Responsibilities: Drawing the Line

Living in a rental property has a lot of upsides. There's no mortgage hanging over your head, offering you flexibility if you want to pick up and move across town - or across country. Renting can be more affordable, too. There's also less pressure to maintain the property. After all, if your fridge breaks or the AC goes out, the landlord is just one phone call away. Right?

For property managers, drawing the line on maintenance responsibilities is critical. Some renters don't understand where personal responsibility comes into play. As Scott Safadi of Cal Bay Property Management know, it's so important to clearly delineate duties - from the moment the lease is signed. 

What duties should you take on as a property manager? Generally, it's your job to ensure plumbing, electrical and HVAC systems are functioning properly. But tenants owe it to themselves (and to the landlord) to use these properly. Light bulbs and smoke detector batteries are likely to need more regular (albeit easy) maintenance. You can require tenants to change these things themselves, but be sure to include it in writing!

The key - as with all tenant-landlord dilemmas - is communication. Get everyone on the same page and maintenance will be a cinch! 

- Scott Safadi, Cal Bay Property Management

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Why Every Lease Renewal Should be Celebrated

When a tenant renews their lease, you should be celebrating. These little milestones show you're doing something right. Scott Safadi of Cal Bay Property Management recommends using this time to chat with their tenants about what's going right - and what could still be improved. There is always room for improvement, after all!

But you shouldn't celebrate alone, or even just with your colleagues. You should rope in the tenant who re-signed their lease into the celebration, too! After all, they should be appreciated for making such a great choice! A small token of your appreciation can go a long way to help them celebrate. Though a bottle of champagne for every re-signed lease might be overboard, you should at least acknowledge their good decision with a thank you card. Little things like this can make all the difference in showing residents how much you notice - and care!

Another quick and easy way to show your appreciation? Knock a few dollars off the rent for the month for the person who re-signed. You might lose a little money, but considering how long the unit may have sat open had the tenant not re-signed, it's a bargain!

- Scott Safadi, Cal Bay Property Management

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Common Tenant Complaints and How to Manage Them

When you've work in the property management field for as long as Scott Safadi of Cal Bay Property Management has, you learn a thing or two about tenant complaints. They tend to fall in the following four categories:
  • Maintenance 
  • Noisy neighbors
  • Pest control
  • Communication issues
The last bullet is the most important. Why? Because good communication is a tool that can combat the previous three issues. When a tenant can't contact you about maintenance, pest control or their noisy neighbors, their problem is exacerbated by the lack of response from the powers that be. That's why it's so crucial to have a system in place to handle tenant communications. 

Consider setting up a tenant portal for folks to log their complaints. You can direct these messages to come right to your email inbox, if you so choose. However you decide to manage complaints, the key is communication!

- Scott Safadi, Cal Bay Property Management


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