Category Archives: association living

landlord keys

Qualities of a Good Landlord 

In medieval and manorial times, the word landlord often took on many negative connotations from an emphasis on crime to a malevolent land owner. Now, in the modern day, landlords manage apartment complexes and homeowners associations in an efficient, reliable, and professional way. 

The connotation of the name “landlord” has most definitely evolved over the years toward a more positive and helpful side of property management. In fact, the number of landlords in our area is on the rise as rental needs increase. 

According to the United States 2019 Census Statistics, approximately 38% of the Greater Boston area rents rather than owns their residence. That means thousands of young professionals, families, and critical workforce members are renting in the broader Boston area.

If you are planning to manage property (or currently do,) today’s blog is for you. We are looking at some of the top qualities that landlords should possess in order to make community living a more positive experience. 

circular saw

Must Have Qualities of a Good Landlord

What exactly does it take to be a good property manager or landlord? More importantly, what qualities should a landlord possess in order to do their job efficiently? 

Knowledge

Landlords need to have a broad depth of knowledge into many areas. This includes the ability to market their properties and financially manage the money coming in through residents as well as money being spent on major renovations. 

Landlords should also have a working knowledge of the major components of their building including plumbing, pest management, landscaping and more. It doesn’t mean that a landlord should be able to fix every issue, but rather be able to know when a simple fix is needed and when to call in the professionals. 

Communication 

Property managers and landlords live in a time when communication, especially digital communication, can make their job much easier. Text messages, emails, and voicemails can make repairs and communicate about upcoming events like master repairs and landscaping that may be happening in the coming weeks. 

Being able to let your landlord know about a problem and get fast feedback from them is an important part of being a reliable landlord. There are many new software apps available to keep the lines of communication open from both sides. 

Professionalism 

Being a good landlord often means wearing many hats over the course of the day from on-the-fly repair person to financial wizard. Being professional in each of these positions is also a critical part of being a respected landlord. 

At the very least, a landlord is invested in a property. Invested enough to make needed improvements for the residents who live in the community. Most landlords are passionate about their jobs and show pride in the improvements they make in their properties. 

Are you a new or established landlord in the Greater Boston region looking for more information on adding to your property? Follow our blog or contact us for more insightful ideas. 

 

key to a new home

Minimizing Stress During Tenant Transitions 

In an ideal world, good tenants would move in and stay for eternity. Unfortunately, the world is far from perfect and somewhere along your time as a property manager or landlord, you will need to handle the transition from one tenant to another. 

Having a smooth transition between tenants is critical to not only the landlord/property manager but also to the current and future tenants of the unit. Making sure that the property changes over  from one renter to another as smoothly as possible can also be a positive for the property in general. 

Let’s take a closer look from three points of view (landlord, current tenant, and future tenant) at how to make these transitions less stressful and as uneventful as possible. 

Giving Notice 

Depending upon the type of lease agreement you have for your rental property, you will most likely have 30 days to give notice of your departure. A tenancy-at-will has no formal lease agreement, so thirty days to end your rental agreement is usually the norm. 

For renters who have a year-long lease, letting your property manager or landlord know before your lease is up is the norm, although by giving ample time you help make the transition smoother all around. 

End of Lease Rental Checklist

Once a renter has given their notice, a checklist that breaks down what will happen in the last thirty days is a smart idea not only for communication’s sake, but also so that each party knows, in writing, what they are responsible for. For instance, a landlord may require that the unit be clean including a wipe down of the refrigerator and stove. Or a tenant may request a security deposit be returned as long as items on the checklist are completed and no damage to the unit is evident. 

Part of the lease-ending checklist should be the specific date of vacating the property so both the property management team and new renter will have time to arrange for upgrades, repairs, or changes to the unit. 

tools for repairs

Arranging For Repairs 

While inconvenient to the current tenants, many property managers like to get a head start on repairs and upgrades on units that are being vacated. That may mean updates while the current tenant still occupies the unit. 

It’s a good idea to make arrangements for repairs, painting, or deep cleaning to be done in the days immediately after the tenant has moved out. Some managers, however, like to get a jumpstart and schedule out those tasks even while the former tenant is still occupying the property. 

Check your lease agreement to find out when and how these tasks should be handled. 

Formal Walk Through

Walking through a property is not done just at the end of a lease, but should also be done thoroughly at the start of a lease as well. Current and future tenants need to know the condition of the unit as well as any issues that may be remaining from past renters. 

During each of these ‘walkthroughs’ each involved party should look for damage, areas that need repair, and problems with electrical, plumbing, or fixtures. Safety issues and health issues should also be addressed. Report these to the appropriate people so you are not held responsible later. 

If you are in the need of expert property management services to make these types of transitions go smoothly, contact Thayer & Associates

 

handing over the keys

How to Find & Keep Quality Tenants 

One of the best ways for property managers or landlords to protect their investment property is to find quality tenants who will care for the unit and the property, pay their rent on time, and remain in the unit for a considerable length of time. 

It may be tempting to rent your units as quickly as possible to avoid vacant units or apartments, but spending the time to find quality tenants can pay off in the long run. Finding qualified and quality tenants can save time, money, and potential headaches years into the future. 

home or rental key

Top Landlord Concerns 

When it comes to finding quality tenants, there are several criteria that any property manager or landlord will be looking for including: prompt payments, prior eviction history, criminal history, tendency to move constantly, inaccurate or fraudulent information on application, and whether they are a high maintenance tenant. 

Most of these concerns can be identified through a background and credit check but there are some that we must all rely on a little bit of experience with tenants and a sprinkle of intuition. 

In a SmartMove user survey, property owners expressed some clear concerns about bringing on new tenants. Their top concern was, by-far, problems paying bills on time. While this may be your top concern as well, know that checking a tenant’s credit is one way to alleviate major concerns.

What Is A Good Tenant? 

Now that we understand the concerns of property management companies prior to renting a unit, it’s also a good time to set out your criteria of what makes a good tenant in your eyes. 

Some of the major factors that you may be looking for, especially if you are like many companies who are looking for a financially stable renter is to ask these questions: 

  • Does the candidate have a steady income? 
  • How long have they had this particular job? (Looking for longevity.) 
  • What does the candidate’s credit score show about their ability to pay bills on time? 

There are aspects that you will want to research or discover during the application or interview process. These may include: how long they have lived in their current place, why they are moving, or whether they are aware of property guidelines like rules about parking, pets, or guests. 

During the application process you will also be able to learn a little about the person’s character and temperament, which may come in handy if issues arise later.

credit card

Steps to Find & Keep A Good Tenant 

Now that you understand the top concerns of landlords and some key criteria to be on the lookout for with your tenants, you need to know how to find these types of renters. Here are a few places to consider. 

Step 1 List Your Rental Property

Depending upon your location, you may want to list your property units in distinct locations, such as business listings if you are hoping for young professionals or online websites that can help you cast a wide net of candidates. Be careful of your listing locations. If you place an ad in a college paper, you’ll likely be renting to college age tenants. 

Step 2 Do Your Research

As a landlord, it is your responsibility to conduct thorough background checks including any eviction history, criminal history, and a complete credit check. 

Step 3 Look For References 

As your tenant candidate for references from employers, past landlords, and other relevant people so you can get a better sense of what the tenant will be like once they move in. 

 

condo livingroom

Prepping Your Rental for a Smooth Turnover 

As property managers, we are very familiar with the rental turnover cycle. Tenants move in; tenants move out. It is a part of life and there is some sense of both chaos and harmony knowing that the cycle continues on. 

If you have yet to start working with a property management company, you may find yourself dealing with all the details involved with a tenant turnover on your own. If so, we have some tips that may help you make the transition go more smoothly or you may choose to use our services here at Thayer & Associates. 

There are things that a landlord or property management company should do both before the former tenant moves out and before the current tenant moves in. Read on for some ideas to make this as stress-free as possible.

apartment bedroom

Before Your Tenant Moves Out 

As part of your responsibility as a landlord, “It’s your legal responsibility to provide a comfortable, healthy and safe living environment to your tenants, which often entails performing some essential repairs and upgrades,” according to Rentec Direct online

This may mean cleaning the rental unit, making repairs, and ensuring that the unit is safe for the next tenant. You may also want to make upgrades that could increase the value of your rental and attract reliable tenants for future years. 

Conduct a Walkthrough 

As soon as your tenant puts in their notice that they will be moving, you should schedule an informal walkthrough with them to discuss issues such as cleaning that may fall under tenant responsibilities, as well as maintenance, repairs, updates, and landscaping issues that would be in the landlord’s domain. 

Make a list of all that should be done prior to a new tenant moving in and prioritize each task. 

Schedule Professional Services 

Depending upon the condition of the unit and how much work/improvements you may want to complete, scheduling professional services such as a cleaning crew, plumber, electrician, or general contractor should be done well in advance so you can have the work done in a timely manner. 

Establish Move Out Guidelines 

Before your tenant moves out, be sure to give clear guidelines about what the apartment or unit should look like upon handing over the keys. For instance, many property managers require a clean apartment including the stove, refrigerator, and bathrooms. Without the area being free and clean of any leftover property or belongings, landlords often stipulate the loss of the security deposit. 

Another scenario to consider is if walls have been painted or more permanent changes have been made, with or without your consent, be sure to stipulate what should be done to prepare the unit for the next tenant. 

man moving boxes

After Moving Day 

Once your tenant has moved, there are a flurry of tasks that should be completed by the manager, landlord, or company responsible for the property. 

First, the locks should be changed by a professional to ensure that a fresh set of keys will be given for a secure unit. 

From there, many property managers spend a few days painting, cleaning, and repairing any areas that need it. Updates to areas like the kitchen and bathrooms could be done during this window when the unit is not occupied. 

If there are carpenters, windows, or appliances that need cleaning this is the time to get that done as well. 

Tenant turnover is inevitable, but having a sound plan prepared in advance can help make the transition go smoothly. Tell us your transition suggestions below or on our social media pages. If you are in need of tenant turnover help, whether it is marketing or completing the tasks needed to rent out your property, talk to our team about using our services here at Thayer & Associates. 

 

rental keys

Features New Renters Want in 2022 

Rent has been rising at an alarming rate all over the country throughout 2021 and is expected to continue in this trend in the new year, according to a November 2021 Zumper National Rent Report. This study puts median rental prices for the Boston, Massachusetts area at $2470, which ranks as the third highest in the country behind New York City and SanFrancisco, CA. 

Rising rental rates come with some expectations on the part of renters and unit owners. New renters want to see some features and amenities that can offset or at least incentivize them to choose one rental location over another. 

With these things in mind, today’s blog will be examining some of the rental property features, amenities, and trends that renters are coming to expect in the new year. 

texting communication

Online Payments and Requests

We live in a digital age and renters have come to expect that their dealings with their home should also be convenient and easy. Millennials and other generations want to be able to do many things online such as: pay rent, request in-unit repairs, and chat with management when questions arise. 

We recently published a blog that expounded the many Benefits of Association Software as a way to meet the needs of a new generation of renters. This online software can increase communications with renters, improve security, and streamline data for both your unit owners and management group. 

swimming pool

Property Improvements 

With increased rental rates, renters have come to expect that properties will continue improvements such as bonus spaces including pools, fitness rooms, laundry facilities, and terrace areas for urban locations. 

With millions of millennials in the rental market, Butterfly MX recently reported that 86% of millennial renters are “willing to pay more for a multi-family home or apartment and are willing to pay more for a “smart” apartment, compared to 65% of boomers who would request the same.” 

Obviously each property will have only so much space to expand and make improvements, but renters want to see that not only are repairs being maintained regularly, but that amenities are being added to offset the rate increases. 

The Need For Parking Spaces Is Disappearing 

In decades past, a trend that would have made this list of wants by renters would be a parking space. The dawn of ridesharing and other mass transit options has moved parking spots from high on the list of wants to a lower category. 

What are your list of top features of amenities wanted by newer renters? Drop us a comment below or check us out on our Facebook page. 

 

calendar

Ringing In The New Year With Tenant Reminders 

The turning of the calendar to a new month and new year is symbolic of a fresh start, a clean slate, if you will. Take advantage of this new beginning as a time to refresh and remind your tenants or community members of the services your team offers as well as a gentle reminder of community guidelines. 

software on a laptop

Software Updates 

Many property management providers and landlords offer online payments and software to make putting in repair requests or comments easy to manage. 

If your community is starting to utilize a new software program or wants to encourage more tenants to use your current one, the new year is a great time to remind them of the advantages of such software. 

For instance, paying rent or HOA dues can be infinitely easier and timely if it is scheduled on a software application. Many of them even have mobile apps to make things even easier to pay or make a request on-the-go. 

remember graphics

Changes in Lease or Laws 

The new year is an excellent time to send out a community or building-wide newsletter informing the people who live in your community any changes to Massachusetts state laws regarding leasing, tenancy-at will or payment requirements. 

An easy to access document can be read and referred to throughout the year as changes are made to any state laws or local leasing agreements. 

This is also a good time to let your tenants or community members know if there will be any increases in fees or leasing agreements. Allowing residents a chance to budget well in advance is a smart way to prepare them for any increases. 

Maintenance Schedules or Landscaping Timelines 

As the winter settles in, the turning of the calendar is an appropriate time to remind the residents in your community of any major maintenance that is scheduled. 

For instance, if this summer is the time you plan on installing a new roof or making upgrades to the amenities, you will want to give your tenants a heads up so they can plan accordingly. 

Giving a landscape timeline is also a good idea for kicking off the new year. If you have a new landscaping company or plan to start spring clean ups at a certain time, you can inform your community at this time. 

Reminders of Rights 

Tenants have certain rights (as well as responsibilities) that fall on their shoulders. Provide resources on a regular basis that allows your community members to read about their rights and understand them fully. The Mass.gov site has a full library of tenant rights articles that could be helpful. 

As responsible property managers or landlords, what are you doing to help provide resources and information this New Years to your tenants and community members? 

 

Holiday decor

Holiday Decor Rules in Your HOA

The months of November and December are filled with holidays and religious events that are joyously observed by multiple religions around the globe. In fact, celebrations including Diwali, Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Advent, Christmas, and New Years, make for a very busy couple of months. 

With this being the case, now is a good time as ever to review with your community members or tenants your expectations for holiday decor, especially if decorating rules are a part of your association rules. 

Let’s take a closer look at how cheery seasonal decorations can be balanced with our world’s beautiful diversity to accommodate all the religions and traditions. Here are some decorating tips that will benefit most HOA residents, tenants, and board members.

Holiday decor

Assess Your Timing 

We know that a lot of people love to start celebrating the holidays right after the Halloween candy has been handed out. Be sure to consult with your community or association rules to determine when decorations are allowed and when they are due to be taken down. 

Most communities have a specific timeline to follow according to the CC&Rs. A common rule is to put them up no earlier than a month before the holiday and take them down no later than two weeks afterward. Some communities, however, have rules about putting decorations up after Thanksgiving and taking them down by the first week of January. 

The best scenario is to check with your association or property management team about what the timeline is for your area. 

Avoid Excessive Lights & Noise

Communities are meant to be enjoyed by all who reside there. So be mindful of any excessive blinking lights or decorations that make noise, sing songs, or are too flashy. 

Many homeowners associations only allow a certain length of light strands, such as up to 200 feet. There may also be restrictions on when lights or music may be playing. For example, all lighted displays may need to be turned off by 9pm. It’s a good idea to put these on a timer to help you maintain the adherence to the community decor rules. 

Avoid Negative & Offensive Decor 

In this world where politics and religion can be sensitive subjects, it’s always a good idea to err on the side of caution and place positive and uplifting decorations on your property. Avoid any decor that may offend your neighbors or cause issues during the holiday season. 

Violations that impact HOA rules may mean your decorations will need to be adjusted or removed altogether. 

Consider Safety Protocols 

When placing your holiday decorations be sure to check all wires and equipment for safety purposes. Your HOA or property maintenance team may need to take a quick look to be sure there are no fire safety issues with excessive plugs or frayed wires. 

What are the holiday decor rules in your community? Drop us a note this holiday season and let us know how your celebrations are going! 

 

loud neighbor

Handling Difficult Neighbors in an HOA

No one plans on having difficult neighbors when they move into a new place. Unfortunately, it can happen even in the nicest of locations. Thankfully, all is not lost when a troublesome relationship emerges in an HOA. There are several steps that you can take to improve the situation, and in some cases solve the problem all together.

Types of Bad Neighbors 

Normally in HOAs, neighbors develop close bonds where they trust each other and even become close friends. They go for walks together, visit with one another, and even hang out in common areas as friends. 

Unfortunately, there will always be “that neighbor” that may rub you the wrong way. This can happen for a number of reasons. 

The Noisy Neighbor 

This type of difficult neighbor can usually be dealt with by talking to the HOA about what the rules are regarding loud parties, music, or visitors on the weekends or during the work week.

The noise issue could be coming from an energetic pet, overly loud young children, people partying, or loud music. Most HOAs have guidelines about hours that should be quieter. 

Talk to your HOA about appropriate ways you can talk to your neighbor to resolve the issue before having the HOA board take any action. You never know, the resident may have no idea their noise is impacting other people. 

The Unsightly Neighbor 

From yard signs to unappealing trash cans, unsightly neighbors usually offend other members of the community with nuisance messes or the physical appearance of their unit. 

These issues, while annoying, are a bit harder to handle. Cleanliness of the trash areas and the physical appearance of a unit are often regulated through the HOA by-laws. Check out this article, from Home Management, on ways your HOA could handle this type of difficult neighbor in a kind and non-judgmental manner. 

trash cans

Illegal Activity Neighbor 

There are lots of illegal activities that go under the radar in many communities, but in a close knit HOA, these actions become very apparent. Your HOA will need to inform the proper authorities as well as make it clear that any illegal actions on the property are cause for legal action against the resident. 

HOAs have several actions within their purview regarding difficult neighbors. For instance, HOAs can follow up with complaints between neighbors to determine what the problem is and if it has an easy solution. If that is not possible, violation notices may be sent to stop the difficult behavior. 

From there, mediation may be an option to talk through the issue with an unbiased third party. After that option comes legal action to stop criminal or dangerous behavior. 

Do you have a difficult neighbor? Tell us in the comments how your HOA handled the situation. 

 

walkway with landscaping

Fall Landscaping to Prep for Winter 

The work of a property management company is never really done. There are tasks to be completed during every season. Fall is no exception to that rule. In fact, this time of year is critical to ensuring that steps are taken to prepare the landscaping including the lawn, walkways, and driveways for the onslaught of a typical New England winter. 

Responsive and proactive property management companies know that there are many tasks that should be completed during this time of year to ensure that residents and visitors alike will remain safe and that the landscaping will flourish in the coming year. 

Here are a few of those steps that your management team may want to consider. 

gazebo and green grass

Landscaping 

While the growing season may be almost done, there is still much to do to ready the grass, shrubs, and trees for the winter season. 

We all know that winter can be fairly wild here in Massachusetts but if you take the right care of your landscaping you will find the winter more bearable and the spring to reap rewards of your fall efforts. 

  • Rake all leaves and remove them from the property. This will help the grass breathe and stop leaves from becoming slipping issues along your walkways and driveways. 
  • Aerate grass and apply the last fertilizer. 
  • Cut grass for the final time during the season. 

In order to protect your shrubbery and ornamental plants from the cold and snow build-up our region can experience, you may want to take further steps. 

  • Prune trees to ensure spring flowering will occur. 
  • Trim dead or broken branches so they won’t fall during winter storms. 
  • Protect shrubbery against winter water loss by protecting it in a layer of mulch. 
  • Wrap tender plantings in burlap or by building an A frame wooden protection system around bushes that are open to heavy snow. 
  • Minimize salt damage by having an area to shovel or plow snow that will not impact plantings. 

pavers in circle

Hardscaping 

Non-organic aspects of your landscaping such as the walkways, stone walls, and driveways will need upkeep during the fall months as well. 

Make sure you have removed all leaves and debris after the majority of foliage has fallen. This will save you time and effort in the spring and keep your walkways and driveways safe for your residents to walk. 

Provide driveways guides for your snow plow operators to visually see the edges to stop damage to sidewalks and landscape areas. 

Place salt containers in easily accessible areas so residents can use them if their cars become stuck on ice or snow. This will also make it easier for your shovel crew to salt after each storm. 

Prep now so that your New England winter will go smoothly no matter what Mother Nature sends our way. 

 

key in door lock

Locks: When Should Property Managers Make the Change? 

Locks are often a last line of defense to robbery attempts or a home invasion. A criminal may be deterred by a few home features such as: exterior motion sensor lights, security systems, and, of course, a locked door. 

Safety and security are two of the most important aspects of property management. According to the FBI, burglary is the most common threat to homes and rental units. 

Knowing this, when should property owners change the locks to a unit? 

Managing keys and lock replacement protocol can become an expensive part of running any community. The average cost of replacing a lock can run from $100-200 for each lock needing to be replaced. Given that most units have more than one entryway, this can add up as renters move on to other living communities. 

The laws regulating whether a landlord (or property management group) is required to change the locks after each tenant vary state-by-state. In fact, some even vary jurisdiction-by-jurisdiction. 

According to LandlordGurus online, “most states require the landlord to provide a functioning deadbolt on all exterior doors to the unit. If it has been damaged, then you may be required to replace it for the new tenant.”

Here are situations when your community may want to consider changing the locks. 

red door

When a Key Has Been Lost or Stolen 

One key can mean the difference between a break-in and a safe evening at home. If you have a tenant who has lost a key or possibly had that key stolen, you may want to change the locks. This one step can show your management company’s commitment to safety in the community. 

When the Property Turns Over

While not always required in every state or municipality, changing the locks when one tenant leaves and another moves in can be a safety measure that can give everyone some peace of mind. 

Tenants may choose to change the locks even if a management company does not. If this is the case, you will need copies of the key and to gain permission for the change. 

When Vendors Have Completed Major Work 

If your community is completing major renovations such as electrical, plumbing, or exterior work that requires the vendors to have copies of keys to access all areas, you may want to consider changing the locks at the completion of the work. 

This will give unit owners a sense of security as they probably have seen the vendors using the buildings and accessing areas with keys. This is also a good way to ensure that any extra keys that may have been used are no longer useful. 

According to Brink Home Security, “Apartment owners or renters should keep their spare keys only in the hands of a trusted few, such as roommates or family members. You should also consider smart locks that help you control who enters and exits with customized entry codes.” 

If you have questions about what is legally required in your state, comment below or contact us about safety in your community.