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Top Ten Reasons to Hire A Management Company

“Should I hire a management company?”

This is one of the biggest decisions you’ll make as a landlord. The process of managing your own properties can be time consuming and costly. For that reason alone, a property management company might make sense.

Ten reasons that you really do need a management company:

  1. We properly vet tenants by running background screenings
  2. You don’t live near your rental property – we do!
  3. You don’t have to manage multiple properties or rental units alone.
  4. If you view your rental property ownership strictly as an investment, then hands-on management is not in your best interest.
  5. You are inundated with management and maintenance tasks.
  6. Management companies can reduce vacancy time and advertising costs.
  7. Your tenants do not pay on time – we fix this.
  8. Your tenants are not maintaining the property – we fix this too.
  9. If your tenants have an “ownership” feel of the rental unit and have become adversarial about repairs – we step in so you don’t have to.
  10. You don’t know or understand the law. Ignorance can be costly; so we break it down for you so that you can gain insight in an easy to understand way.

There are many more reasons to hire a management company – evictions, maintenance issues, preventive maintenance needs, holding security deposits in accordance to Statues, etc – But you get the picture. I’ll leave you with my top reason to hire a management company: An Arm’s Length Transaction. That is the strongest asset that a management company brings to the table. We have seen and dealt with any issues you can think of. and we know how to respond accordingly within the Statutes. Every issue and problem will cost you time, energy, and money.

Bottom line, help your bottom line by hiring a great management company.

Denise Helbig, President
Westcoast Management and Realty, Inc.

Ordinary Wear and Tear Versus Damage/Excessive Filth

Lets shed some light onto who has rights to the security deposit. When there is a dispute its my job is to mediate between owners and tenants . I would guess that most management companies are like minded; they would love for the tenant to leave the property in ready-to-rent shape. Ready-to-rent shape means no disputes!

Lets talk about expectations.

From landlords we hear: “What do you mean I have to replace the carpet after the tenant leaves. They have been fine with it for the past 10 years?” “what do you mean I have to paint, it’s just been three years?” “If I have to paint – why can’t I charge the tenant for the full paint job?

From tenants we hear: “What do you mean I get charged for a full paint job when I covered up all 50 nail holes?” “Can’t you just touch up the paint?” “I paid a pet deposit and extra rent, I shouldn’t have to buy a new door for minor clawing damage!”

Unrealistic expectations run rampant among disputes.

The answers to all of these questions (and more) relate to both owners and tenants not understanding the difference between ordinary wear and tear verse damage or excessive filth. I would like to thank NOLO for allowing me to use and this guide for reference. Please check out this link to
a fantastic Guide by Marica Stewart https://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/chart-cleaning-repairs-landlord-deduct-29017.html. We have included a helpful chart from the article below which can provide you with examples.

Bottom line, we want to help investors minimize the repair costs between tenants. Time is money. The time a property sits vacant means lack of return on dollars. This does not mean we help you by withholding the security deposit as a “bonus” for you. We cannot have an owner place demands on the entire deposit because you know the unit needs updating once the tenant moves out. We help by: informing, being proactive, properly vetting tenants, preparing tenants with essential tools for move out, and by providing you with insight on preventive maintenance.

the other bottom line – tenants want to have their security deposit returned quickly. We want to help you too!  In Florida the Landlord must place a demand by sending a Notice Of Intent within 30 days of the tenant vacating the property. As soon as we can return it – we will!

I hope you will check out Marica Stewarts full article! As well as this this chart below for additional support!

As always – we are here to help clarify any and all confusion.

Ordinary Wear and Tear: Landlord’s Responsibility Damage or Excessive Filth: Tenant’s Responsibility
Curtains faded by the sun Cigarette burns in curtains or carpets
Water-stained linoleum by shower Broken tiles in bathroom
Minor marks on or nicks in wall Large marks on or holes in wall
Dents in the wall where a door handle bumped it Door off its hinges
Moderate dirt or spotting on carpet Rips in carpet or urine stains from pets
A few small tack or nail holes in wall Lots of picture holes or gouges in walls that require patching as well as repainting
A rug worn thin by normal use Stains in rug caused by a leaking fish tank
Worn gaskets on refrigerator doors Broken refrigerator shelf
Faded paint on bedroom wall Water damage on wall from hanging plants
Dark patches of ingrained soil on hardwood floors that have lost their finish and have been worn down to bare wood Water stains on wood floors and windowsills caused by windows being left open during rainstorms
Warped cabinet doors that won’t close Sticky cabinets and interiors
Stains on old porcelain fixtures that have lost their protective coating Grime-coated bathtub and toilet
Moderately dirty mini-blinds Missing mini-blinds
Bathroom mirror beginning to “de-silver” (black spots) Mirrors caked with lipstick and makeup
Clothes dryer that delivers cold air because the thermostat has given out Dryer that won’t turn at all because it’s been over-loaded
Toilet flushes inadequately because mineral deposits have clogged the jets Toilet won’t flush properly because it’s stopped up with a diaper

 

How to Get Your Security Deposit Back

The journey for you to receive your entire security deposit begins on day one and continues throughout the remainder of your lease.  We want to refund your entire security deposit back to you! 

Helpful Tips For Getting Your Security Deposit Back:

  1. Prior to taking possession of the unit, do a thorough walk through inspection of the property with the leasing agent. Note any items that need to be repaired prior to move-in. Take note of items that may not need repair, but are showing age due to normal wear and tear (This helps ensure you will not be charged at your move-out for those items)
  2. Read and understand your lease agreement. It’s a legally binding contract.   If you break your lease or fail to give notice, you may lose all or a portion of your security deposit.  If you break your contract (mid – lease), you may be held liable for the remaining rent – until the unit has been occupied again.
  3. Do NOT make changes to the unit. You might think you are doing the owner a favor by making “improvements,” but the owner will not feel that way!  Prior to making ANY changes, you may submit an Architectural Request Form with the $35 application fee. All changes must be approved by the owner prior to beginning work.  Upon completion, you must request an inspection to receive final approval.  If you fail to get the improvements signed off AFTER completion, or failed to complete the work according to the plans you submitted, you could lose all or a portion of your security deposit.
  4. Report repairs immediately. For example: the refrigerator is leaking. You clean it up everyday, its a nuisance but not a top priority. It may not seem like a big deal, but it could be causing damage to the refrigerator, floor, or the cabinets. Reporting the issue helps guarantee that it is noted come move out.
  5. Plan ahead for your move-out by giving proper notice. We will send you a Move-Out Inspection report which lists exactly what we are looking for at your move out. It also lists the charges that you could receive if not completed correctly. You have instructions on how to give the property back so that you will not receive surprise charges. If you have taken possession of the unit, you are responsible for cleaning every part of the unit. Consider hiring a professional cleaning service for a hassle free solution to get the unit ready.
  6. Don’t confuse LAST MONTH’S RENT with SECURITY DEPOSIT. We rarely, if ever, collect last month’s rent.
  7. Understand the difference between Ordinary Wear and Tear and excessive damage or filth.

As a management company we get no part of

your security deposit if it is not returned to you in full. We would always rather return it to you than charge for damage! If there is a dispute, it sits untouched in escrow until resolved. It makes us (and your landlord) happy when we give you back your security deposit in full. This means the unit was in ready-to-rent shape! The owner will have final decision over your return, but please don’t hesitate to contact us with questions.

Helping you get your full security deposit refund is always our goal!

 

Good luck in your rental journey and stay tuned for more information explaining tip number 7 in our next post!

The Property Management Team at Westcoast Management and Realty, Inc.

How to Save on Maintenance Costs by Spending!

We know it may seem counter intuitive, but here are some secrets on how to save on maintenance costs – by spending!

We understand the bottom line – as investors you’re concerned about CASH FLOW! To be a savvy investor consider putting aside up to 10% of rent – annually – to reinvest in your rental. We know that you want to spend as little as possible on repairs, however the wise investor knows that spending a little on preventive maintenance could save thousands in the long run!

Here is a small list of IMPORTANT (and cheap) ways to save in the long run – specifically for exterior maintenance issues…

Preventive exterior maintenance musts:

  1. Routine pressure washing. Pressure washing the exterior paint extends the life of the paint. Mildew growth left unchecked will lead to needing a full paint job in the future. Pressure Washing of sidewalks and driveways is also a must. If your tenants or their guest slip and fall, it could be disastrous. This both avoids potential problem areas with tenants and also keeps up standards enforced by HOA’s. Being proactive here eliminates the threat of potential fines and fees later on.
  2. Routine roof cleaning. Roof cleaning can extend the life of the roof up to 5 years here in Florida. By using a low pressure mildew resistant cleaner, you can help stave off some of the effects of our harsh environment.
  3. Tree Trimming. To ensure branches do not touch the roof or house, tree trimming is a must. Tree limbs laying on the roof damage shingles and limbs brushing up against the house damage the paint.
  4. Clean out debris. Leaving excess build up in the gutters can lead to roof damage and interior water damage. Additionally clean away dead plants from the house. Florida’s weather is brutal and plants need to be cleaned out of those beds regularly to prevent insect infestation.
  5. Annual pre-summer air conditioning inspection. Remember that brutal Florida weather? It is a nightmare when a tenant’s AC goes out in 90+ degree heat! A preventive check on the system really helps to address problems in advance, while providing you with important information on future costs. This helps you plan ahead for a larger expense in the future. Be prepared to replace those units a minimum of every 12-15 years.

These up front smaller costs really do reduce the burden of larger surprise expenses in the future. Additionally I find that tenants appreciate these small items being done. It makes them feel taken care of. I always say a happy tenant has a better chance of paying their rent on time! These preventive maintenance items are sure to make both your tenant happy and your wallet!

Until next time!

Denise Helbig, Broker, LCAM, CMCA, President
Westcoast Management and Realty, Inc.

Ten Great Benefits of HOAs

It’s a smart investment to protect the value of your home. You reap the benefits of having many advocates who safeguard your interests. Your association functions with the help of active volunteers and a top-notch management company. Here are ten good reasons to live in an HOA.

1. HOAs preserve the nature of the community and protect property values by delivering services that provide a safe, well-maintained living environment.

2. HOA regulations are another layer of protection against neighborhood degradation. Regulations are an effective means to maintain community standards while protecting property values.

3. HOAs lessen the need for local government oversight of housing conditions. Most municipalities are not equipped, i.e. do not have the manpower – to monitor housing.

4. Homeowners in HOAs have a vested interest in reporting and correcting problems; which could be anything from architectural and building code violations, to illegal parking and landscaping issues.

5. HOA leaders live in the neighborhood and better understand the needs of the community; from the delivery of core services, such as waste collection, to the decisions affecting the future of the community.

6. In terms of voting, meeting attendance, and volunteerism, HOAs promote a higher level of civic involvement than municipalities.

7. By definition, planned communities offer a more efficient use of land to address the growing issue of urban sprawl associated with unplanned development.

8. Land-use efficiencies can make homes more affordable. This is a benefit for first-time home buyers, retirees, and low to moderate-income families.

9. Many HOAs maintain swimming pools, tennis courts, playgrounds, and other amenities that most families cannot afford on their own.

10. Associations offer a sense of community, an important contribution in an increasingly transient society.

Thank you for allowing us to serve your community!

Why Hire a Property Manager for your Rentals?

One of the biggest decisions you’ll face as a landlord is whether you should hire a property management company.  In spite of the cost, there are some compelling reasons for using a management company. Along with the standard “you will save yourself time and money by using a professional,” consider the following reasons to use a management company.

Reasons to use a management company:

Property Management companies know advertising! Not only do we know advertising, but also we have access to the best places for marketing your specific property!  A rental property WILL rent faster with a property management company than an individual owner.

The prescreening process is the key! We have background checking procedures and programs in place in order to secure a qualified tenant. By using a property management company, you ensure nothing gets missed.

We deal directly with the tenants – so you don’t have to!  Here is an insider tip – tenants are less likely to pay rent late with a management company versus an owner.  When owners deal directly with tenants, there is always more “wiggle” room and tenants know it!  A management company is paid to look out for the best interests of the owner!

Finding qualified vendors for maintenance tasks is a chore! We use licensed and insured vendors who have been properly vetted.  This is extremely important!

Being on-call all the time is tiring! Unless you are using your rentals as a main source of income, being on call 24-hours a day is a daunting task for any one individual. We are here to lift that burden off of you!

The cliché is true – working with a professional DOES save you time and money. We alleviate the stress of marketing your vacancies, collecting rent, handling maintenance/repairs, tackling HOA issues, as well as resolving tenant complaints and much more!

Our job is to give you peace of mind knowing that your valuable investment is in good hands!

Why Is Your Property Still Vacant?

A long-term vacancy can quickly turn a real estate dream house into a nightmare. Along with investors having a cash flow problem, there is a very real security risk to long-term vacancies.  Break-ins, Craigslist scams and trespassing are all security issues for a vacant house.  In this STRONG rental market, why would any property stay vacant for an extended length of time?

  1. The property is listed too high. Instead of pricing your rental with a high profit margin, let the market dictate the rental amount. This seems like a no-brainer but many owners refuse to negotiate on the monthly rental rate, even in the face of local data. Take into account that a property vacant for one month can defeat the annual additional cash flow from a monthly rate listed to high. Your rental should never be the most expensive rental in the area – even if it’s the nicest!
  2. The local market is saturated with other rental properties. Even though the rental market is strong, if one community has multiple available vacancies the market sags in that area.  Prospective renters may wonder what is wrong with the area if there are too many properties for rent at one time.
  3. The property lacks curb appeal – outside and inside. Curb appeal doesn’t just apply to properties listed for sale, but also applies to properties for rent. Most prospective tenants will drive by your rentals to check out the listing before scheduling a showing of the interior. If they don’t get that warm fuzzy feeling from the outside of the property, chances are they won’t even walk through the front door.  Once they walk through the doors, the inside of the property should be clean and ready to rent or the chance to capture the tenant’s eye is lost.
  4. The property was listed as PRE-lease too early! Each property has about 30 days to be the “HOT” property.  If the property is listed too early because it was occupied or wasn’t ready to rent, many potential tenants won’t take notice. Prospective tenants wonder why they keep seeing the same property month after month.
  5. The property doesn’t allow pets. Many owners want to understandably protect their investment by not allowing pets.  This policy will limit the tenant pool.  Perhaps instead of not allowing any pets, consider allowing pets with a limited weight size.
  6. The property isn’t being advertised enough or correctly. The best way to find a tenant is all about on-the-web advertising.  Most prospective tenants want to view the property online with pictures, videos, and additional information.  Advertising on multiple websites is a must!
  7. Your property management company needs to step up their game! Your property management company should be warm and welcoming. They should be able to respond to rental calls quickly, pre-screen tenants with professionalism, and hold effective Open Houses.

Our staff is knowledge and friendly.  We can help you rent your property quickly and effectively.  We would love the chance to earn your business.

Westcoast Management and Realty, Inc. service@wcmanagement.info

Tenant Troubling Shoot Guide – Save THOUSANDS in Unnecessary Rental Repairs

Every owner needs to know how to save THOUSANDS of dollars in repairs!

Over the years, I have developed a Tenant Troubleshooting Guide.  When a tenant requests a work order, they are instructed to consult our Troubleshooting Guide.  When they email or  call us with a work order request, my staff is trained speak with the tenants to seek out the RIGHT information.  In order to properly process a work order and possibly save our owners money, we try to glean as much information from the tenant as possible.  We try to found out:

  • If the work order is the responsibility of the owner, HOA or tenant
  • If the work order is a VALID and that every avenue has been exhausted prior to submitting the work order to a vendor
  • If the tenant is aware that if the work order is NOT a valid request (for example the reset button just needed to be pressed on the garbage disposal) that the tenant will be responsible for the cost of the work order.
  • If the work order is due to tenant damage or neglect, the tenant understands that they will be responsible for the cost of the work order.

We are VERY transparent with the tenants,  our vendors have been properly vetted prior to using them and our tenants understand that the vendor will get to the truth of the matter!   In this way, there are no surprises when the plumber calls and says that a toy was flushed down the toilet and caused the back-up.  Although the tenant is obviously hoping that we don’t find out, when we are told that a repair is the responsibility of the tenant then it becomes our responsibility to follow through with the owner, tenant and vendor to get restitution for the owner.  Our tenants (generally) understand that when we walk through the process of the Trouble Shooting Guide with them, we are doing our best to make sure that they aren’t charged for a work order unnecessarily.   We do take a proactive approach to work order processing for our owners – the tenants also reap the benefits as well.

Here is the link for my Troubleshooting Guide https://wcm.hoa-websites.com/trouble-shooting-guide   Check it out!   It is given to every tenant at move-in and given again at renewal and given again if they say they cannot find they copy.  It is the first line of defense in keeping those vendor costs down for my owners!

Denise Helbig, President, Westcoast Management and Realty, Inc.

Landlords – How do I get my Tenants to pay on time?

Being in the Property Management Industry for over 20 years (YIKES!  How could it be that long?) I have learned one SUPER important thing about tenants.

HAPPY TENANTS have a much better chance of paying their rent on time!  So how do we inspire happiness in tenants without giving into every single request?

1.  Treat their work order requests as quickly as possible with request and courtesy.

2.  Offer and incentive to renew or pay on time.  One month I had a drawing where I gave away multiple gift cards and a Flat Screen TV.  All tenants who paid on time were entered into the drawing which we held live on Facebook.  It was SOOOOO fun!

3.  Report their timely payments to the Credit Bureau to help them build their Good Credit.

4.  Have a 24 hour emergency line to answer those after hours calls.  Although we remind them that it is a “fire and flood” line, expect that there will also be the “I can’t log into my tenant portal” call at 11:30pm as well because they want to make a payment before midnight to avoid those pesky late fees.

5.  Sometimes be reasonable and give tenants a break on late fees.  I honestly use this approach sparingly and with caution.  Sometimes you can turn that tenant that is on the cusp of being shaky right back around.

I try to instill in my managers and staff that Tenants are important and everyone needs a place to live!

Denise Helbig, President Westcoast Management and Realty, Inc.

How to Inspire HAPPY Tenants – Top Ten Tips!

Happy tenants typically pay their rent and pay it on time and are more likely to renew their lease.  How do you inspire happiness in your tenants?  Here are my Top Ten Tips.

Denise Helbig, President of Westcoast Management and Realty, Inc.

  1. The rental unit should be clean and ready to rent before tenants take possession.
  2. Be prompt in answering their service requests.
  3. Offer a 24-hour emergency line to report after-hours service issues.
  4.  Use reputable vendors who do quality work.  Tenants become frustrated when a vendor needs to make multiple visits for the same issue.
  5. Follow up with your tenant to ensure the service repair request was completed to their satisfaction.
  6. When you make a mistake, own it!  If the tenant received an erroneous late notice or the service request wasn’t handled as quickly as it could have been firstly apologize! Then do everything you can to make it right!
  7.  Make it easy for your tenants to pay rent on time by using an online tenant portal system.
  8.  Give your tenants an occasional courtesy call just to check in.
  9. Offer a renewal bonus for tenants that renew their leases early.
  10. Give your tenants a welcome basket full of cleaning supplies, water bottles, candy, paper towels, local coupons upon move-in.  Our new tenants love it!

 

Tenants – Welcome to your new home!

 

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