Category Archives: property management

rent payment

Handling Late Rent or HOA Dues Payments

One of the most common sources of anxiety for property managers, landlords, or members of the board of homeowners associations is handling late payments, whether rent, dues or monthly fees. While not an enjoyable part of the job, it is seemingly inevitable that someone will be late at some point during your tenure as a property manager. Knowing how to deal with this somewhat sticky situation is a critical part of the myriad of tasks for managers. 

Capital improvements such as electrical upgrades, installation of new roofs, and plumbing upgrades are just the start of what rent and dues cover for unit owners. Other services such as trash pick up, driveway and parking lot care throughout the four seasons, landscaping, and facility maintenance are among the long list of things that are taken care of from the funds. 

If rent or dues (in an HOA) are not paid regularly and on time, these services may be significantly impacted. The lack of prompt payment can, in turn, negatively impact the successful management of the entire community. In a worst-case scenario, repairs may not be able to be made or financial bankruptcy may be considered. 

Thankfully, most renters or unit owners pay their obligations on time and in full. Here are some tips on handling situations where late payments are occurring. 

Create an Established Course of Action 

When homeowners (in an HOA) or renters in an apartment sign a lease or buy a condo in your community, have a written agreement that each party signs clearly spelling out the consequences of not paying on time. 

Initially, when a late payment is noticed a friendly reminder email or phone call to remit payment can be made by the landlord or HOSA board. If this course of action does not remedy the issue a demand notice may be sent. This statement will explain what is due and that fees will accumulate as each day passes. 

Depending upon the circumstances and whether this is the first time this has happened, a property manager may waive late fees or work out some sort of payment plan. 

If all else fails, services may be limited for this unit or a lien may be filed in court against the property dwellers. 

Avoiding Court 

Most HOAs and landlords would like to spare the expenses of going to court. Therefore processes should be put into place within communities to catch late payments immediately and work out remedies that help the community continue on as well as the unit owner pay their obligations in a timely manner. 

Some communities use automated payment systems, reminder notices that are generated automatically prior to each month’s payment date, and options if hardships exist. 

For more information on setting up payment plans and how software can help your property with payments check out our website and property services

 

man in walkway in the winter

Seasonal Maintenance Tips for Property Managers

Fall may seem like the time of year that the world slows down and enjoys the spectacular show that the leaves put on, seemingly for our pure enjoyment. If you are a property manager or landlord, however, you know that this fleeting time is a busy one, prepping for the winter months and making sure that your property is in good condition to make it through another potentially harsh New England winter. 

For property upkeep to be successful maintenance should occur throughout the year but there are some specific tasks that experience tells us need to be completed every fall. Read on for our maintenance tips that can keep your property well maintained throughout the year. 

squirril

Roof & Gutters 

Let’s start our maintenance tips at the top with the regular fall checks on the roof and gutters of your property. 

Fall is a good time (before temps and precipitation may make it difficult to inspect the area) to clean out gutters that are clogged with leaves, debris, and wildlife nests. A good clean-out will mean your gutters will be able to continue to function properly and move water away from your structure and foundation. 

While you’re up there, check the roof for any signs of damage such as peeling shingles, weak spots, or a chimney cap that may have become dislodged due to wind or storms. Accessing this area when there is ice or snow will be impossible, so this may be your last chance to inspect and repair. 

Trees, Leaves, & Landscaping Needs 

Fall is notorious for requiring some heavy-duty cleanup, especially in the time between when the last leaves and the first flakes fall. It may seem like a race against time but getting those leaves up before Mother Nature dumps a few feet of snow on them is important not just now but when it all melts in the spring. 

Our tip is to think about this task as three main areas: cleaning up the leaves, trimming back trees and bushes that need it, and repairing any areas of your landscape that require attention before all outdoor tasks are not accessible. 

Windows & Doors 

Winter in our region can bring some amazingly low temperatures. Therefore insulation including caulking around windows and doors should be checked annually to ensure that HVAC systems are not stressed or allowing heated air to escape. 

Fresh window calk and door sweeps can be a lifesaver for your utility bill and lessen the need to keep turning up the thermostat. 

Prep For Snow 

If part of your duties as a property manager includes snow plowing and shoveling your communities, be sure that you have the right equipment and that it has been thoroughly checked before the first flakes fly. 

It’s also a good idea to remind your tenants or renters of the policy for moving cars and parking lot rules for when the weather turns slippery. 

 

phone apps

Keeping Your Renters “In The Loop” 

Communication between property managers or landlords and renters is a critical piece of the puzzle for harmonious living in an apartment community or homeowner’s association. Communication, including how it occurs, when it occurs, and how informative it is, can mean the difference between a rocky relationship and a productive one. 

Whether you are a traditionalist and like to use “snail mail” as your form of communication or you have made the leap to the digital world, your communication should be timely, regular, and filled with useful information. lease paperwork

When To Communicate

It’s important to communicate effectively with renters, tenants, or members of your HOA, but it’s also important to know when communication needs to occur. Here are a few examples of when you should be sending out text messages, emails, or posting bulletins. 

  • The dates and time of capital improvements. This could be roofing, paving, landscaping, HVAC updates, or a host of other major renovations. 
  • Interruptions or changes in service. This could include regular landscaping tasks being discontinued or changed to a different day. 
  • Information regarding financial changes to contracts. 
  • Updates to building or community rules.
  • Local news or events impacting the community. 
  • Reminders for safety. 
  • Updates or reminders for snow plowing if applicable. 

phone apps

Forms of Communication

When to choose to communicate is one thing, but how you do it is another thing. A good rule is that property managers should use multiple forms of communication in case some renters have an affinity for one form over another. Older renters may not want to text or use an app while younger renters may find email or regular newsletter bog them down. 

Here are some options for the methods of communication. 

  • Software apps can make communication instantaneous and easy with a smartphone.
  • Email may be a good choice for more formal newsletters and reminders of things like repairs or maintenance work. 
  • An updated website with rules, regulations, and a calendar of events/repairs. This is a good way to remind your community when mowing day is or when the amenities (like the pool or clubhouse) will be closed for cleaning. 
  • A dedicated phone line that is staffed with employees who can field questions, comments, or concerns. This may be a cost-effective way of weeding out issues that are small and can be answered quickly. 
  • A bulletin board in a common space can be a great place to post news, reminders, and upbeat items. This is not a place to post repairs or individual renters issues. 

Having multiple communication channels is a way to ensure that everyone living in your community or building has a method that they are most comfortable using. Communication is the key to having happy (loyal) renters. For more information about our communication visit our website

 

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4 Most Common Tenant Issues

As property managers, there’s often quite a bit on our plates. From handling emergency repairs to scheduling regular maintenance and from collecting rent to staying updated on trending property issues. It’s important to be on top of it all. One way to do that is to be proactive in handling common tenant issues. 

To this end, let’s discuss four of the four most common tenant issues that landlords and property managers tackle on a regular basis. tools for repairs

Maintenance Issues 

From leaky faucets to overflowing toilets, property managers and landlords are accustomed to various maintenance requests. The trick is to create a process for managing the requests in a timely and organized fashion. 

In a recent blog, we examined methods to prioritize maintenance requests that can be helpful. Going digital and using software to help you track and anticipate requests is also a fantastic method to surviving the sometimes ocean-like wave of maintenance issue requests. 

The most important thing is to choose a method notification, inform your renters the priority list and follow through will all requests as quickly and responsively as possible. 

Neighbor Issues 

Not everyone has Mr. Rogers as their neighbor. That, unfortunately, means that noise complaints, pet complaints, and a whole host of scenarios can become a property manager’s biggest nightmare. 

Whether it’s loud music, crying children, obnoxious parties at all hours, or a heavy foot heard above, the list of complaints can go on forever. A good technique for property managers is to talk with both the tenant making the complaint as well as those who are the focus of the complaint. Find out the details and respectfully request that changes and solutions be followed. 

For chronic or persistent complaints, put in writing the rules of the community or building and make it known what behaviors are prohibited and at what times. key in door lock

Lack of Communication 

No renter likes to have to chase down a property manager any time they need assistance or have a question. Good tenants are hard to find, so addressing their questions in a timely fashion is also important. 

Experienced property managers know that having many methods of communication available is a good way to keep your renter informed about changes in the community or repairs that have been scheduled. Some property management companies provide an app that renters can put in requests, while others use texting capabilities to answer questions. Still, others use monthly newsletters or postings to keep everyone in the community apprised of events, repairs, or updates. 

Pest Problems 

Whether it’s a cockroach, bed bug, mouse, or another wildlife critter, no renter wants to handle the issue on their own. 

Pest problems are one of the most common issues landlords and property managers deal with. In order to be proactive and prevent rodents from finding your area attractive, request that trash barrels be put out only as early as the night before pick up and that lockable covers be used. Additionally, suggest that any outdoor cooking areas be cleaned well after use to prevent wildlife from finding your property attractive. 

To address issues once they happen, always have pest professionals on call to handle discretely any pest that may have infiltrated your properties. 

 

paperwork

Managing Financial Issues as a Property Manager 

Whether you own one property or multiple communities, property management is a juggling act between the paperwork, vendors, fielding renter questions, and the finances that determine the overall running of your properties. 

Financial issues often rank as some of the more challenging for property managers, whether it is collecting rent, planning for capital expenditures, or handling the payment to vendors such as a landscape crew, plumbers, or electricians. 

Thankfully there are some tips to the trade for new property managers to assist with the smooth running and financial management of your properties. 

Budget for Year-Round Expenses 

While it may be easy to anticipate that your property will need a fall or spring clean-up from the landscaping vendor, it may not be as obvious to determine your budget for repairs and unit maintenance. 

Tracking past years’ repairs and maintenance can be a huge help in budgeting your year-round expenses. Talking to other property managers can also help you anticipate expenses that happen seasonally. For instance, frozen pipes in the winter, clogged gutters in the fall,  and heating/cooling issues all year long. 

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Anticipate Capital Expenditures 

Capital expenditures, also referred to as CapEx, are the improvements to a property that increases its value such as updating the electrical, replacing the roof, upgrading appliances, overhauling the floors, and the list can go on and on. 

Capital expenditures tend to be the most costly and need to be budgeted for in the years leading up to the improvements. Savvy property managers know to plan well in advance for these CapEx improvements so they will be financially ready to make the investment. Budgeting and saving for these expenses is a key part of the accounting of rent and other finances throughout the year. 

Go Digital 

Keeping track of finances can be a time-consuming process. We suggest using software designed for property managers that can help streamline your paperwork as well as allow you to budget for regular repairs and capital expenditures. 

Accounting software for rental properties allows you to record daily bookkeeping items, track receipts, create reports, and prepare for tax season in minutes instead of hours (or days). Here is a quick list of some of the more popular software and applications that can help you stay organized and save time when it comes to property management finances. 

It isn’t always possible to hire a professional to take care of your books and balance the inflow and outflow of money, but in many cases, that person can help you balance the books, save for larger expenses, and plan for the future of your property as their primary job. 

 

urban condo

Property Management & Time Management 

Property managers lead jam-packed days and (often) nights. By the end of a workday, many may wonder where all their time went and what they accomplished on a given day. That’s where effective time management comes into play, something that’s a critical skill for busy property managers. 

The phrase ‘time is fleeting’ is especially true for always-on-the-go property managers who juggle multiple properties and renters. Thankfully there are some tricks to the trade as well as some new technology that can keep time from slipping through your fingers. Here are a few suggestions. 

Prioritize Tasks

As a property manager, it may be easy to fall victim to the idea that every task is critical because it is important to your renters. This is a myth. Some tasks should take priority over others. 

Every day, property managers should take a look at their list of repairs, concerns, or issues and determine which ones are most pressing. Think of plumbing problems, safety issues, and issues that could lead to bigger problems if not dealt with immediately as your top priority. Make it a goal to complete three to five of them and get to the less critical problems later in the day or week. 

ipad tasks

Group Tasks 

If there are several renters or unit owners who are having similar issues such as landscape issues, HVAC maintenance, or paperwork questions, group them together and try to accomplish it as a chunk. 

For instance, if many renters are having drain issues, hire a plumber to take care of each renter all in one day. Or if you have lots of accounting or paperwork issues, dedicate a chunk of time to only doing that type of work. 

Utilize Technology for Organization 

Technology can be a wonderful thing when used to keep your work streamlined. Try a new property management software that can keep you organized and focused on the task at hand. 

Property management software can keep the paperwork organized and save time and energy when keeping track of maintenance, rent, and other daily tasks. 

Delegate & Outsource

Property managers are good at many things: light repairs, paperwork, and fielding questions from renters. They should, however,  leave the electrical work, plumbing, and other skilled work to the professionals. 

It’s a good idea to have a list of loyal vendors that can be called upon in an emergency or for regular maintenance. This will save time and allow you to knock off a few other items on your to-do list while they do what they are trained to do. woman communicating on the phone

Communicate 

When prioritizing tasks, including requested repairs, it’s a good idea to communicate when a task is expected to be completed. This may seem like a time-waster but, in the end, it will save you time from fielding calls about when the work will be done. 

A newsletter or property manager website can help keep all of your properties or renters informed about what’s going on in their community. 

 

condo pool

How a Management Co. Can Save You Time & Money 

Self-managing your rental properties may seem like a lucrative and easy business, but you would be amazed at how hiring a management company to handle all the details and day-to-day running of the property can be both a time saver and cost-effective. 

If managing a rental property is new to you or you have multiple properties, you could benefit from the experience, technology, and efficiency of a property management company partnering with you. Here are a few of the ways you will find this type of company can save you precious time and money. 

Quality Marketing & Fewer Rental Turnovers 

One of the biggest hassles of being a landlord comes when a renter gives their notice and they tell you what day they plan to move out. This signals a flurry of tasks that must get done including listing the apartment or unit, cleaning, making repairs, and sifting through the applications for the candidates for renting. 

This can be a lot all at once with only a small window of time to get it all done. A management company can not only handle all the marketing that needs to be done to find a new renter but can use software designed to examine which renters have better credit and which may end up being loyal long term renters versus a constant revolving door of unit owners. 

tools for repairs

Maintenance Management 

Taking care of a property means not just worrying about rental turnover but all the details of running a property. This could include small or large maintenance issues like plumbing, electrical, misplaced keys, HVAC issues, or problems with appliances. 

Management companies make it their business to either keep reputable maintenance companies on retainer or they work often enough with vendors that they know the most cost-effective and reliable ones when an issue surfaces. They know who is available 24/7 during emergencies and who can take care of long-term issues that arise. 

Rent Collection & Communication 

Thankfully in 2022, there are many software programs and apps that make paying rent easier than ever. And if the case arises where a renter does not pay in a timely fashion, the property management has time-tested policies and access to legal power to rectify the situation or work with the renter in the case of an emergency. 

Communication is key in the rental business. Management companies can save you time by communicating regularly with unit owners about due dates, upcoming maintenance, and any announcements that need to be made. 

With the right property management company on your side, you can save yourself lots of time and money in this exciting but sometimes chaotic industry. 

software on a laptop

3 Issues Landlords Face

Landlords wear many hats during their tenure. These “hats” could include being a fix-it person, bill collector, or negotiator. Staying on top of issues can be a stressful but also rewarding career in the property management field. If you are considering entering the industry, here are 3 issues that you will want to prepare yourself for as you take on this industry. 

Turnover Rates 

Some of the busiest times in a property manager or landlord’s career are during the times when a unit is being turned over from one tenant to another. While this time gives a perfect opportunity to make improvements or repairs to a unit, it can also be a costly time. 

When a tenant gives his/her notice that they will be vacating a property, it is imperative that the unit be filled in a timely manner. That means marketing or advertising the opening, ensuring the property is properly cleaned and vacated, and finding a suitable candidate to rent the space. 

Remember, once a property is vacant, it is no longer making money and can quickly become a cash flow issue. 

Strategies to keep your tenants happy include making maintenance a priority, ensuring that the rent rate is fair, and ensuring that your selection process includes looking for long-term renters who are financially solid. 

Late Payments 

There’s nothing worse than having to chase down your rent payments. Dealing with later payers or lack of payment entirely can be a huge cash flow issue that can become a legal one. 

Strategies to overcome this include increasing communication with tenants about what your maintenance schedule includes. That way they understand the value of their payments. Another tactic is to make payments easy by having an online portal or payment system that can be done right at a tenant’s fingertips either through a computer or smartphone. 

tools for repairs

Maintenance Calls 

Toilets don’t always clog during work hours. Roofs don’t leak only during the day. Snow doesn’t only fall during the week. That means your job as a landlord is essentially around the clock all year long. That includes weekends and holidays and all through the night. 

A strategy to handle the onslaught of maintenance calls is to have a list of reliable repair people, including plumbers and electricians, who can be called at any time of day or night to handle emergencies. 

Some property managers have their own crew, but if you don’t you will want to build partnerships with local service people so you can maintain your properties 24/7. 

 

apartment

Common Damage Vs Wear-and-Tear in Rental Units 

If you are a landlord or property manager you know that there is some level of regular wear-and-tear damage that you are willing to accept when a tenant moves out. However, when does that normal wear-and-tear become a devaluation of the property that can be taken out of the security deposit? 

When one thinks of damage in rental units, we think about holes in walls, burn marks, and unusable appliances. While these are pretty common, let’s take a closer look at these and other scenarios that you will need to examine to determine if they are caused just by living there or if the damage is extensive enough that it needs to be repaired and deducted from a tenant’s security deposit. 

Normal Wear-and-Tear

Depending upon how long your tenants have lived in the unit, there may be quite a bit of wear-and-tear. For instance, it is fairly common for wood floors to be scuffed or carpets to need cleaning. It’s also normal for walls to have small nail holes from picture hangings. 

These examples are all normal for the use of an apartment and can not be charged to a security deposit. Usually security deposits are used to compensate for out of the ordinary damage. The cost of basic cleaning, repairing, and prepping the unit for the next tenant is a cost of the business. Your state’s landlord laws will explain exactly what you can and can not deduct from the security deposit and should be part of the rental agreement in advance of renting to an individual. 

circular saw

Unit Damage 

Let’s take a moment to talk about damage that can be deducted from the security deposit. 

Holes

While it’s normal to have nail holes where pictures or wall hangings once existed, it is not normal to have larger holes in the walls where roughhousing was an issue or furniture repeatedly hit the walls, or even physical altercations occurred. These holes are the responsibility of the tenant to repair or risk losing a security deposit. 

Flooring Damage 

Carpets in need of cleaning or wood floors that need buffing are normal wear-and tear. What’s out of the normal are burn marks on the carpet, pet urine stains, excessive food stains, or torn carpeting. The same goes for gauges or water stains on a hardwood floor. 

Nicotine Stains 

Smoking can cause an excessive amount of damage to the walls ceiling, floor coverings and drapery of a unit. The discolored yellow stains are difficult to remove and the smell even harder to remedy. These stains may be able to be charged to a security deposit depending upon the level of damage and the terms of a lease agreement. 

Unauthorized Painting 

While it is not unheard of for landlords to allow painting in an apartment by a tenant, it is something that may need to be refreshed after the unit is unoccupied. If painting occurred without authorization, a landlord may be able to assess compensation for the cost of repainting the unit so that it can be rented again.