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January 15, 2010

Secrets to Being a Super Landlord

Owning rental real estate can be very rewarding, but it can also be very frustrating, especially if you decide to manage your own properties. Rental real estate is really the perfect investment…that is, until you put tenants into the equation. Tenants – you may love them or you may hate them, but you can’t do without them. There is simply no way around it – you must learn how to effectively deal with tenants and become a super landlord.

Before you have to deal with tenants, you must first purchase rental property. The first, and most important thing you need to do when getting involved in rental real estate is to buy right. If you don’t buy right, then you may be doomed to failure no matter how good a landlord you might be.

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September 06, 2008

Rehabbers: What products work best for you?

Do you invest in rehabs? If so, what are some of the products and techniques that have worked for you when you're getting distressed properties in shape to either rent out or sell? Share you favorite tips by using the comment function on this entry.

June 25, 2008

Property Management: Pets & Pet Peeves

Managing Residential Properties

Pets & Pet Peeves

By Victoria Greene

Like many others, I like animals. I grew up with German Shepherds, Dobermans, pugs, and poodles. We had cats, birds, gerbils, and fish at one time or another. Our furry and feathered friends were like family. So when I make recommendations for you to consider as you establish or refine your pet policies, it is not from a place of disliking pets or pet owners; it is rooted in the fact that I have loved my pets so much that I know there are times allowing pets is not in the best interest of the pet or the resident(s).

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April 30, 2008

What's your best rehab tip?

Investing in real estate rehabs will always be a popular option for investors who know how and are willing to either do the work or get it done. But many new investors are intimidated by the idea of buying a distressed property that no one else wants and fixing it up.

If you're a rehab investor, what are some of the things you do to get your rehabs fixed up and on the market quickly and economically? Do you have some quick fixes for cabinets and countertops? For carpets and flooring? Landscaping? Maybe a great way to eliminate odors or brighten up dull fixtures?

Please use the comment feature to share some of the techniques you use that work.

January 30, 2008

Landlords: Don’t Get Scammed by Counterfeit Checks

The situation might seem innocent enough. You’ve got a property for rent that you’ve been advertising. You get a prospective tenant from out of town, maybe even from overseas, who pays the deposit and one or more months rent in advance using a cashier’s check. You deposit the check, then the tenant—who hasn’t moved in yet—asks you to return a portion of the funds via wire transfer because of a family emergency or some other reason. Because the original payment you received was a cashier’s check and you haven’t been asked for a 100 percent refund, you feel safe cooperating.

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January 09, 2008

Landlords: Don’t get scammed by accepting counterfeit checks

Here’s an alert issued by the Texas Attorney General that’s worth knowing regardless of where you are located.

Landlords are being targeted by a scam that involves paying deposits and rent with counterfeit checks, then the “tenant” asks to have part of the money returned. It might take a bank some time (weeks or even longer) to realize that the check is counterfeit, but when it does, the victim will be out the amount of the check plus any money sent to the scammer.

Here’s the full notice from the Texas Attorney General:

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January 01, 2008

Investor safety: Protect yourself when showing your properties

By Jordan Taylor

In 2006, a real estate agent working at an open house in McKinney, Texas, was brutally murdered. An agent in St. Petersburg, Florida, was attacked, robbed and her car stolen by a young man armed with a gun and a 12-inch hunting knife who had posed as a customer. Within 11 days in DeKalb County, Georgia, three different real estate agents were robbed by an armed couple in incidents authorities believe were connected.

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November 27, 2007

Protect Your Investment Through Tenant Screening

The most common way to generate cash flow with real estate is through renting your property to a tenant. Good tenants are some of your most valuable assets, while a bad tenant can be your worst nightmare. So how do you get the good ones? The answer is tenant screening, and it applies whether you have properties for low-, moderate-, or upper-income tenants.

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October 04, 2007

Do you allow pets? Watch the language in your lease

I saw an article on apartments.com about exotic pets that might be appropriate for apartment dwellers. The article, which was written for tenants, said that if the lease doesn’t allow dogs or cats, they might want to try getting a sugar glider, ferret, hermit crab, or pot bellied pig.

If you have rental property, take a look at the pet-related language in your lease and be sure you haven’t left a loophole big enough for some exotic creature to crawl through.

Jackie

July 26, 2007

Encourage your tenants to get insurance

It seems that at least on a weekly basis I see local news stories about renters who lose much of their personal belongings because of a fire, flood, storm or other property damage that also damages their contents. Often the reporters will comment that building was insured but the contents were not, and they show heart-breaking images of tenants sobbing that they’ve lost everything they own. I’ll resist going off onto a rant about media bias and just make my real estate investing-related point here:

Encourage your tenants to get renters’ insurance to cover their furnishings and personal belongings. Be sure they clearly understand that you have insurance ONLY on the building and fixtures you own and that they are responsible for insuring their belongings.

Indicate this in your rental agreement and consider going the extra step of asking tenants to initial that particular clause. If you have a multi-unit building with a community bulletin board or newsletter, periodically put up reminders about insurance.

If you’ve dealt with this issue, what have you done to motivate your tenants to protect themselves with renters insurance?

Jackie

July 10, 2007

Provide a safe home for your tenants

In the results of a recent poll by Apartments.com, 97 percent of respondents said that crime rate plays a significant part in their decision on where to live when choosing an apartment.

As a landlord, you can attract better tenants and reduce tenant turnover (which will increase your profits) by taking measures to create a safe environment for your tenants. If you own apartment buildings, consider exterior lighting in all public areas, including walkways, elevators, stairwells, laundries, garbage receptacles, and anywhere else a criminal might lurk. Organize a Neighborhood Watch program and encourage all your tenants to participate.

Whether you own apartments or single family homes, install deadbolts on all exterior doors and make sure windows can be locked securely. Install pins in the overhead frame of sliding doors (or a charley bar) to prevent those doors from being lifted off their tracks. Re-key all locks when a new tenant moves in and keep track of who has keys.

For additional information on providing a safe home for your tenants, visit the National Crime Prevention Council website.

Jackie

June 21, 2007

Renters like to recycle

A recent survey by Apartments.com revealed the following interesting statistics:

• More than 63% of renters currently recycle.
• 26% of renters state they would pay more to rent in an environmentally friendly building.
• 50% of renters who recycle live in buildings that provide recycling programs.
• Plastic is the most commonly recycled material by renters.

If you own multi-unit buildings and are not currently offering recycling, you may want to investigate what’s involved in adding a recycling program.

Jackie

May 14, 2007

One-third of landlords say tenant complaints are down

CompleteLandlord.com recently surveyed 300 residential landlords about tenant complaints. The responses: 59 percent reported tenant complaints remained the same; 33 percent said complaints had decreased in the past 12 months; and 8 percent reported an increase in complaints over the past year.

Landlords indicate the most frequent tenant complaints were:

• 44% plumbing
• 33% heat or air conditioning
• 23% maintenance problems inside the apartment
• 19% other tenants too loud/disruptive
• 17% problems with appliances
• 15% maintenance problems on exterior of building
• 10% rents too high

According to landlords, 93 percent of tenant complaints were addressed in less than one week. Of that, 37 percent were addressed within 24 hours.

April 25, 2007

Landlords: Set rules about decorating for your tenants

If you’re a landlord or property manager, your lease agreements should include a clear description of what sort of decorating and alterations your tenants are allowed to do.

A recent survey by Apartments.com revealed that 90 percent of renters of will decorate when moving to a new apartment. (Click here to read the news release about the survey from Apartments.com.) It’s likely that a good portion of this decorating will be concentrated on the tenants’ own furnishings, but it might include paint, wallpaper, wall hangings, and other changes to the unit that may or may not meet your approval.

You’ll avoid problems if you’re clear on the rules upfront. You may, for example, allow paint with color approval first. Or you may allow hanging art or even small appliances in the kitchen on the walls with the understanding that tenants must fill the holes on moving (or pay a fee if they don’t). In multi-unit buildings, you might want to stipulate that window coverings must present a uniform look from the exterior.

The rules are up to you—the key is to make sure everyone knows what they are.

Jackie

April 11, 2007

Should you accept credit cards?

Getting a credit card merchant account can be a hassle and there are costs involved, but if you have a significant number of rental units, you may want to consider it.

You could set your tenants up on an automatic charge for their rent payments—although you would have to set your rents at a rate that would cover the credit card fee. What’s more useful is to use a credit card to assure on-time payments by doing this:

When a new tenant signs a lease, get a valid credit card number from him (or her). As part of your lease terms, stipulate that the rent is due on the first and considered late on the third. If the rent is not paid by the third, you will assess a late fee and charge the amount of the rent plus the late fee to the tenant’s credit card.

This won’t work for every landlord, particular those with a small number of units. But it’s something to consider if late rent payments are an issue for you.

Jackie

April 04, 2007

Landlord tip: Silence is not always golden

Recently a friend sent me something that’s probably floating around the internet. The subject line was: “Got beer? A landlord’s worst nightmare.”

The e-mail told the story of a single man who lived for eight years in a townhouse in Ogden, Utah. The landlord thought the guy was a great tenant because he never called, never complained, and was never late with the rent.

When the man moved out, there was no dust, scattered clothing, or dirty dishes anywhere. There was, however, an estimated 70,000 empty beer cans in the townhouse. The cans were everywhere, and the tenant had made tunnels between the bedroom, bathroom and kitchen. Do the math – this tenant consumed an average of 24 cans of beer a day during the eight years he lived there. Of course, it was “light” beer, so perhaps he was concerned about his health.

The point of sharing this story is this: Even when you have what appears to be the perfect tenant, you need to periodically do a physical check of all your properties. Certainly respect your tenants’ privacy, but at the same time, protect your investment. Some landlords combine checking their units with performing some type of regular maintenance so the inspection doesn’t seem intrusive. Or when it comes time to renew the lease, suggest doing it at the rental unit.

If you’ve got some tips for doing subtle, non-intrusive property checks of occupied units, let me know and we’ll share them.

Jackie