5 Ways to Improve Your Neighborhood Reputation

If renter’s dislike the area they aren’t likely to stick around long.

If no one shows a little TLC, a neighborhood, apartment complex, or area can quickly look battered, and its reputation will soon reflect that.

A bad reputation can mean you’ll have a hard time getting and keeping renters. Not to mention, when there’s an attitude of neglect, new tenants will show less regard and care for your property. Unfortunately attitude is catching.

If you are concerned about the neighborhood’s reputation, appearance, or friendliness, the answer is a simple one—start showing pride in the neighborhood and others will follow. It may take some considerable effort, but the fruits of your labor could definitely pay off.

5 Things You Can Do to Improve Neighborhood Curb Appeal

1. Attend events: A lot of neighborhoods will hold neighborhood or community events like Easter egg hunts, summer movies in the park, blood drives, etc. Make yourself present at some of the activities. But more importantly, make sure these activities are happening. For a good atmosphere, neighbors need to be friendly and get to know one another.

2. Plan activities: If the activities are happening—get a committee started to get things rolling. If the neighbors know one another, the less chance of contention or bad feelings.

3. Donate to local causes: If a tenant or local girl is selling Girl Scout cookies—buy some. If the community is raising money to improve a local park—donate. Supporting the community will show that you care beyond getting a paycheck and will ensure that the area stays nice or improves.

4. Have an online presence: If you don’t already have a Facebook page for your properties or individual apartment complexes then you should. This helps keep tenants abreast of situations and activities. A lot of communities and neighborhood have Facebook pages as well. Contribute to those pages as well with any pertinent information. This will also keep you informed of what’s going on.

5. Neighborhood cleanup: Every neighborhood could do with some cleaning and sprucing up—plan and make it happen. Getting the neighbors involved in taking care of their neighborhood will inspire them to take better care of it in the first place.

You don’t have to go overboard, but every now and then, making your presence known, helping out, and showing that you care will go a long way. Sometimes people just need a catalyst to help them keep the neighborhood a nice place—it’s a win-win for you, your tenants, and the neighborhood.

Should You Rent a House or an Apartment?

It’s time to upgrade, or maybe you just moved for a promotion—but whatever the reason, you’ll need to once again consider if you want to rent an apartment or rental house.

There are pros and cons to both, but it comes down to what you want and need from your living space. Carefully weigh your options as you consider the following:

6 Things to Consider When Renting a House or Apartment

Space: If you need lots of space you may have an easier time finding it in a rental house as opposed to an apartment. Not always, but typically apartments are smaller, have next to no outdoor living space, and are limited in storage.

Location: Locality can be a make it or break it point for some people. Depending on your job and lifestyle you may need to live as close to town as possible. While you may be able to find a rental home close to town, the chances that it will fit into your budget may not be as likely. If being close to town is a priority for you, you may have to forgo a rental house.

Maintenance: Some people enjoy taking care of a home, while others don’t want to deal with any maintenance. The upside of renting is that your landlord and property managers will take care of most maintenance issues. But if you choose a rental house you may have to step it up and mow the lawn, as well as some other regular maintenance issues that are taken care of for you at an apartment complex.

Amenities: Which amenities are included will vary from house to house and complex to complex, but typically an apartment complex provides more amenities. Again, it comes down to what kind of lifestyle you want. With a house you’ll get a yard and most likely a garage, but with an apartment you may have a community pool, fitness center, and playground. With an apartment you’ll also probably pay less for utilities as they are usually worked into the rent.

Privacy: We’ve all had to deal with those neighbors who are too loud, party too much, or have a crying baby—but it’s just a part of apartment living. You definitely lose some privacy and quiet in an apartment.

Customization: You’ll need to consider how much customization you want to do. If you’re a longtime apartment dweller you may be ready to finally paint some walls and make a place your own. Of course you’ll have to check with your landlord, but those who rent homes are much more open to letting their renters make minimal changes.

Now that you know the pros and cons to home and apartment living, you’ll need to weigh your options and make some decisions. Good luck on the apartment or house hunting!

6 Ways ePremium’s IRIS Program Will Save You Time

Time is a hot commodity when you’re juggling tenant complaints, maintenance issues, and late-paying renters. ePremium streamlines tenant interactions, monitors maintenance issues, and tracks tenant payments with the web platform IRIS, so you don’t have to.

Instead of tracking down all the information yourself, it will all be in one place—saving time, making your business run more efficiently, and ultimately resulting in a larger profit.

6 Reasons to Try ePremium’s IRIS Program

1. Personalized IRIS program training for your staff: ePremium tailors your teams training to the needs of your team and property. ePremium provides this training as a benefit to you, saving you from having to teach it yourself.

2. Educational materials and marketing literature for your residents: ePremium provides all the materials you need to learn the IRIS program, as well as the literature for your tenants regarding renter’s and security deposit insurance. When your tenants sign up for ePremium’s renters or deposit insurance, their policy will automatically show up on the program, and will track their payments. You won’t have to constantly wonder and worry if they dropped their insurance, because you’ll have all the information in front of you.

3. Available support team: ePremium has a support staff available to answer your questions. You’ll never have to spend time contacting and waiting for a response from your insurance agent—you can get the answers quickly during business hours.

4. Dedicated account manager: ePremium provides an account manager who is dedicated to your specific account and who will be available for help as well as the support team. The account manager will monitor your account and keep you abreast of any changes.

5. Ongoing support: The support for your team isn’t just a “getting started benefit,” it’s an ongoing benefit that we encourage you and your team to take advantage of, and will save you from struggling over problems and wasting time.

6. Multiple enrollment options for your tenants: ePremium encourages your tenants to invest in ePremium’s renter’s insurance and deposit insurance. Not only does it protect your tenants for a reasonable price, but with everyone under the same roof it makes it easier to monitor their coverage, and save time submitting claims. ePremium provides multiple ways for tenants to enroll: enroll at lease signing, enroll through website, or enroll by telephone. IRIS isn’t just for the property managers and landlords, it benefits tenants too.

The adage “time is money,” definitely rings true with property management—there are just too many places that your time (and money) will slip away from you.

ePremium’s goal is to eliminate these time lapses and help your support team run more efficiently and keep your tenants happy.

What to Do When Tenants Lock Themselves Out

What do you do when a frantic tenant calls at midnight begging to be let back in after they locked themselves out?

Most property managers are understanding and sympathetic—we’ve all been in that situation. But just because you are kind-hearted doesn’t mean you don’t deserve some compensation for your late night heroics.

Whatever you decide, you should include your policy in your lease agreement so there’s no confusion. You might want to make sure you mention it too, just because it’s in your lease agreement doesn’t mean the tenant read that portion.

When deciding on your policy for when tenants lock themselves out you should consider the following:

  • Is it during business hours or after hours? You may want to charge extra if you’re at home and it’s late at night. Make sure that you charge enough for the inconvenience of leaving your warm bed.
  • How far away do you have to travel? Neither your home nor your office may be just around the corner. You may need to travel a considerable distance to rescue your tenant(s).
  • How much would a locksmith cost? Most property manager’s charge a less than a locksmith would charge, as a convenience for their tenants.

Bottom line is you have to consider what your time and distance commitment would be and charge accordingly. Most property managers charge between $40 and $100 for a lock out fee. If you don’t charge a fee, you may encourage your tenants to be careless. Having a policy and fee in place will persuade your tenants to be extra careful. However, if there is reoccurring problem with a particular tenant, you may need to have a chat with them and/or up your fee.

You may also want to include in the lease your fee to replaces locks if keys are permanently lost. This can be quick a hefty cost if a key to an apartment building entrance is lost—as all keys and locks will have to be replaced to prevent theft. Make sure your tenants understand this—they might want to check if their renter’s insurance would cover such as cost.

Pros and Cons to Consider Before Subleasing Your Apartment

Subleasing is a definite risk to the original renter, but if you get the right sub-tenant, subleasing can at times be a huge benefit.

Subleasing is often confused with assigning the property. If you re-rent your apartment for the duration of your lease, and do not plan on returning to the property, then you are actually assigning the property to a new renter.

However, if you re-rent your apartment for any amount of time shorter than the duration of your lease, you are subleasing. This means that you plan on coming back to the apartment after a leave of absence.

People often consider subleasing if they live in a city where it is extremely difficult to find a good apartment. If your employer sent you on a year-long assignment across the country, would you give up an apartment you love, or would you temporarily rent it out so you could come back to it? It can be a tough decision to make, you should be sure the pros out-weigh the cons.

Cons of Subleasing an Apartment

  • The landlord may evict you and/or sue you if rent goes unpaid.
  • If your tenant doesn’t pay rent on time or at all, you are still required to pay the rent to your landlord.
  • The tenants may cause damage to or steal your personal items.
  • The tenants may damage the apartment, damages for which you would be responsible.
  • You may not be as thorough in the vetting process as experienced renters, and may get renters who are criminals or otherwise unsatisfactory.
  • If the tenants like your apartment too much they may try to get the landlord to push you out so they can permanently move in.
  • Your apartment lease may not allow you to sublet.
  • You’ll need to contact your renter’s insurance agent to let them know, and find out it subletting changes your coverage.

Pros of Subleasing an Apartment

  • You don’t have to pay two rents while you’re gone.
  • You can keep your apartment that you love.
  • A tenant may be able to catch home repairs or damages that might have gone unnoticed.
  • You won’t have to move twice.

Every situation is different, and it really depends on how much you love your apartment and how long you’re going to be gone, weighed against the risks.

How to Start a Recycling Program at Your Properties

As more people are becoming aware and passionate about the positive effects of recycling, more states are creating laws requiring recycling and more people are motivated to recycle on their own.

Although the majority of people willing to take the extra to time to recycle, less than half of recyclable waste is recycled. One of the main reasons is because recycling is not always made easy or accessible.

As the property manager of many households, you have the opportunity to make a big difference. In time recycling may become just as common as other energy conservation practices.

Follow these steps to get your recycling program off to a good start.

1. Gauge Interest: Before you start a program, find out what the level of interest is among your residents for a recycling program. Depending on the demographic of your properties, you may have more or less interest. But, thanks to the nationwide push towards greener products and practices, more people are open to recycling than ever before. You may find that you have a few passionate residents who would be willing to help spearhead the program.

The easiest way to gauge interest is by survey. You could even incentivize a speedy response by offering a discount of some sort.

2. Set Goals: Now that you now the level of interest, you can set your goals for recycling. You’re going to need those passionate tenants to start up and keep the programming running.

  • Make your goals attainable: Perhaps you start small by just recycling paper products, and later if you’ve been successful you move on to recycling plastics as well.
  • Demonstrate proper recycling: Send out a newsletter with detailed explanation, or perhaps one of your leaders puts on a demonstration.
  • Provide the bins: There is an upfront cost for recycling bins. Rather than push the cost to your tenants, foot the bill yourself. Tenants may be less excited about recycling if its costs them extra.
  • Offer incentives: to get things started you may need to offer incentives to get your tenants into the habit of recycling.

3. Set the Example: You can further set the example for a green lifestyle by using green materials and practices when possible. For example, if your properties need new blinds, you can install energy-efficient roller blades. Or you could add additional insulation to keep energy costs down. Such actions will decrease energy bills for your tenants and give you tax breaks.

There’s no doubt that recycling will benefit you, your tenants, and our planet. Although it may be tricky to get things started, it’s definitely worth the effort.

The Moving Checklist You Have to Have

Moving is complicated enough without worrying if you’ve changed your address for your bills and utilities.

We’ve compiled a detailed list of things you’ll need to remember to update in order to make your move easier.

5 Things To Update When You Move

1. Utilities and Important Bills: The most important thing to take care of is your utilities. You’ll need to cancel your current utilities, and set up utilities for your new address, hopefully without much of a break in-between—unless you’re okay with not having electricity or Internet for a few days. Here’s a list of the utilities you’ll need to change. Of course some of these may be covered by your landlord, so make sure you know which ones you need to take care of yourself.

  • Gas
  • Power
  • Water
  • Sewer
  • Garbage
  • Recycling
  • Cable/Direct TV
  • Internet
  • Landline Phone
  • Lawn/yard care
  • Rental Insurance
  • Auto Insurance
  • Health Insurance
  • Family Doctors and Dentists

2. USPS: The next step you’ll want to take is informing the postal office of your impending change of address. The post office will automatically start forwarding your mail (from the date that you indicate), which will give you ample time to change your address with all important credit card companies, newspapers, magazines, etc. You can pick up a change of address form at your local postal office or use their online form.

3. Bank, Credit Cards, Loans, and your Work: Even though most people do most of their banking online, you’ll still need to change your billing addresses for your credit cards. You’ll also want to change your address for every loan or investment you have. Don’t forget to change your address for your place of work, otherwise your might not get your tax returns. If you’ve changed jobs within the last year, you’ll need to get in touch with your old workplace also.

4. Magazines, Newspapers, and memberships: Though these are not high on your priority, the sooner you get your address changed the sooner you’ll start getting your magazines again. The post office should forward for awhile, but magazines need a fair amount of time to get your address changed in their system—so once the crazy starts to settle down knock this off your list.

5. Friends, family, acquaintances: Inform anyone who may need your address, or you may miss out some Christmas cards or wedding announcements. You can easily do this personally, through mass texting, or Facebook messages. But, however you get the word out there, just be sure you don’t publicly post your address for just anyone to see.

 

Essential Summer Maintenance Tips for Property Managers

While you should be keeping up on maintenance issues year-round, summertime is the ideal time to do annual inspections and take preventative action.

Unfortunately, renters aren’t usually as conscious about repairs as it’s not their own home, so take the initiative by preemptively looking for repairs that need to be made. Remember, that most repairs are simple if caught early. Use the following as a check list for your annual summer inspections:

  • Roof Maintenance: As mentioned in a past post, roof inspection and maintenance is fair-weather project. Inspecting and quickly repairing
  • A/C Servicing: If your property has air conditioning, don’t let an inspection slip by. Upset tenants sweltering in their apartment can be bee in your bonnet, better to have it in tip top shape by summertime than wait.
  • Inspect deck or patio: A wooden deck or patio is a nice feature that your tenants can enjoy year after year. Inspecting it annually ensures that it will last you even longer. Resealing the deck every year or so will also help protect the wood, especially if the wood is pressure-treated. Pressure treated wood needs to be properly sealed to protect it from water damage.
  • Lawn Maintenance: Whether your tenants are responsible for lawn care or if you hire it out, a well maintained lawn not only is pleasing, it can also reduce fire risks. In particularly hot areas, dry grass can be a hazard.
  • Replace furnace filter: You may need to replace your properties’ furnace filters more than once a year, but doing so before summer is a must. After a winter of running non-stop your furnace filter will surely be clogged. To ensure better air-flow and air-quality you’ll want to inspect your filter often and change at least once every summer.
  • Inspect window and patio screens: Window and patio screens are pretty cheap and easy to replace, but they also get ripped pretty easily. Inspect all screens before the heat hits so your tenants can let cool night air flow through the house without inviting the mosquitoes and gnats inside too.
  • Inspect Washer and Drying Machines: Another fire hazard is a clogged dryer vent. If your properties include washer and drying machines, be sure to clean the vents at last once a year. You’ll also want to inspect the washing machine hose for wear and replace it every 3-5 years. You’ll also want to check that your Commercial Property Insurance covers this type of home fire.

While not all of these have to be done in the summertime, but it’s a good time to check them off the list. One thing is for sure if you inspect diligently and do repairs as needed, you’ll save yourself a lot time and money by preventing more serious repairs that would surely come if left unattended.

Want to Rent? What Will Be Required of You?

Whether you are a first-time renter or a seasoned renter, you’ll have to go through a screening process for every property you rent. The screening may be simple or it may be extensive. Landlords can require anything that they want as long as they are consistent and it isn’t discriminatory.

You’ll most likely have to pay a fee for the time it takes to screen you, so make sure before you apply, that you meet the eligibility terms. Renters are just as different as the properties there are to rent, but generally the nicer and more expensive the property, the more strict the requirements. But unless you have some glaring issues in your past, you will usually not have a problem finding the right property for you. Requirements usually fall into the following categories.

Income: You’ll need to provide documents (pay stubs, tax records or a letter from an employer) showing proof of income. Landlords will need to make sure that you’ll be able to afford the rent. The general rule is that your rent should not tie up more than a third of your monthly income. So if you make $2,100 you should not apply to rent something for more than $700 a month.

Credit Check: Renting almost always includes a credit check—if it isn’t required you may not want to live there anyways. A landlord will want to make sure that you’ve paid your debts in the past and have a past of being reliable.

Criminal History: Some landlords will check for a criminal background not wanting to rent to those they think may be troublesome or untrustworthy. But they may not consider what the crime was, how long ago it happened, etc. If you have a criminal history it may be best to be upfront and explain the situation for yourself. You can even provide a reference letter to attest for your character.

Good Rental History: Some landlords will want references from past landlords or property managers to see if you are a reliable and responsible renter. They may ask previous landlords questions such as, “Did the tenant pay rent late?” “Did the tenant give adequate notification to vacate?” Also, if it is discovered that you owe rent to a previous landlord, you may be required to pay back rent, before a landlord will rent to you.

If throughout the screening process, the landlord decided that they will rent to you, but decide you are a higher risk tenant, they can ask that you pay a higher safety deposit or have a co-signer for the rent. If they choose to do so they must send you an adverse action letter stating why these precautions are necessary. If the landlord decides that you present too much risk and cannot rent to you, they must also send an adverse action letter explaining why.

In addition to the eligibility requirements, read the lease to make sure you can comply with all rules and policies. Some apartments allow pets, others don’t. Some apartments require a security deposit, while other’s offer security deposit insurance. If both tenant and landlord are clear on where the other stands the chances for a good rental relationship are much better.