Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Property Management Pet Peeves

There are downsides to any job, but for property managers, the pet peeves can make or break your day. Scott Safadi of Cal Bay Property Management reveals four of the most common pet peeves that property managers experience.

Propped doors

Security is important, but tenants forget that when their hands are full or they're waiting for guests to arrive. Leaving doors propped is a huge liability for the whole community. Open doors invite trouble. Even if burglars aren't lurking around the corner waiting for a door to be propped, they still increase the likelihood of something bad happening.

Patio violations

Rules about grills and open flames on patios exist for a reason, but many tenants see those rules more like guidelines that are meant to be pushed. But grills violate fire codes, and have to be dealt with seriously. 

Screening tenants

It would be nice to trust every prospective tenant at their word, wouldn't it? But with expensive property to maintain, managers simply have to do their homework - as boring as it might be! Those background checks and reference calls can save property managers a lot of headaches down the line.

Parking violations

For communities with limited parking, violators can be the bane of management's existence. Clearly labeling parking options, though, can help nip this problem in the bud.

- Scott Safadi, Cal Bay Property Management

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Could You be Held Liable for Unsupervised Children?

Every landlord knows the value of a safe rental unit or community. Whether your tenants are five of 95, safety is critical to everyone. But when kids go unsupervised by their parents, your property could be full of hazards - and you might not even know it!

An attractive nuisance is the legal term for an object that might appeal to kids in some unexpected way. Old appliances, junked cars that don't run any longer, power tools and construction material might not seem exciting to adults, but imaginative kids simply see opportunities to get creative. Should they play with these materials unsupervised and find themselves injured, you could be held liable.

Being a landlord comes with a lot of responsibility, so do your part to move these attractive nuisances out of sight of kids before danger strikes. Lock up tools and materials, and get rid of junked furniture, appliances and vehicles. 

If you had an object on your property that you're not willing to move but might be dangerous to kids, talk with your insurance company about it. They may be able to offer insight. And of course, make renters insurance a priority for your tenants!

- Scott Safadi, Cal Bay Property Management

Thursday, May 11, 2017

It's Moving Season: Are Your Properties Ready?

It's the most wonderful (and challenging) time of the year to be a property manager: moving season. The temperatures are warm, school is letting out and renters are looking to make moves. Give your property a spring makeover before prospective tenants descend upon your community. Here's how to get ready:

Improve curb appeal

It doesn't take a lot to make your property more aesthetically appealing. Plant flowers, mow your lawn and decorate with pretty flags. Your first impression needs to give off the vibe that you take excellent care of your community - and that your residents love living there. 

Clear away winter debris

Even if your area stayed relatively snow free this winter, chances are good your property could still use some tidying up. Clean up any debris lying in gutters, on the grass or in the parking lots. Be sure to pick up any large sticks or branches that may have come down over the winter, too.

Walk through vacant units

If you've got a great maintenance crew and a reliable office staff, chances are good this last step is largely unnecessary - but it never hurts to double check behind your team. Don't allow for any surprises when you guide prospective tenants through newly vacated units. Walk through yourself to ensure all signs of the previous tenants are gone.

- Scott Safadi

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Landscaping Maintenance: What Not to Do

For most property managers, landscaping is a necessary evil. Unless you've got a green thumb or are particularly passionate about gardening, landscaping is just another chore to take care of on your to do list. Scott Safadi of Cal Bay Property Management encourages property managers to resist the urge to be lazy, though. Letting landscaping grow wild will only delay the inevitable! Here are some other landscaping habits to avoid:

Using the wrong tools. If your maintenance crew doesn't have access to the tools they need, chances are good an accident - or at the very least, an aesthetic one - can happen. Make sure you've got the basics to offer your staff: lawnmowers, leaf blowers and edge trimmers are a must.

Mowing, blowing and leaving. It's tempting to blow your grass clippings into the street once you've finished mowing the grass, but it looks terrible! Instead, take the extra time to pick up the clippings - you don't want to sacrifice any curb appeal!

Overfertilizing. Even when you contract out to lawn maintenance specialists, this can be a problem. Fertilizing once a season is plenty. Too much and you'll wind up with "fertilizer burn" - brown or yellow grass.

- Scott Safadi, Cal Bay Property Management

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

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