As a rental property owner, do you know who is protecting your property investment?
If you are a do-it-yourself landlord, protecting your investment is your job–but if you hire a professional property manager, it becomes their full-time job.
Can’t you just feel the weight lifting off your chest?
It’s every landlord’s nightmare. And it just happened again, a landlord reports discovering extensive damage to his rental property, including stolen appliances and fixtures, foundation damage, nine broken windows and five broken doors, including the garage, trashed carpet, and smashed drywall. He estimates the damage to be about $25,000.
So What is a Landlord to Do?
Screen the Tenants
When a property owner struggled to evict a tenant, he hired Real Property Management. The tenant was soon evicted to the owner’s satisfaction, but the owner’s poor tenant screening turned into a horrific nightmare with a lasting effect. The Real Property Management crew found evidence that adult movies were being filmed on the property. Believing their unusual experience was behind them, the Real Property Management office began getting the house back in shape and rent-ready.
But during the 2012 Super Bowl (and in the middle of the clean-up period) the tenants broke into the property and had quite the party. Huge holes were knocked through the walls and damage was done throughout the house. The excitement didn’t end there. The Real Property Management team received a phone call that the house was on fire… and it was no accident. The stove and gas valves had been turned on and accelerants were used to ignite the blaze. And how did authorities know the tenants were involved?
One of them caught himself on fire.
Neighbors were interviewed, arrests made and insurance claims submitted, and with the help of the professional property management team–the case ran its course.
Lesson Learned: Proper tenant screening is a critical component of successful leasing, don’t neglect it.
Inspect the Property
“I thought I had the ideal tenants. They rented one of my properties for close to 10 years. They always paid rent on time, and never called about repairs. I thought it was the perfect situation. I didn’t have to worry about anything.”
But after 10 years, the tenants mailed this landlord (who lived out of state) the keys with a note saying they had moved out. They didn’t leave any forwarding address or any reason for moving. The note stated they had cleaned up the best they could but had left some belongings behind.
As soon as he was able, the landlord went to the home to access the damage (still believing this would be a quick turnover). Everything in the front yard seemed in order. The trees were pretty overgrown, and the limbs were draped all over the rooftop. He thought to himself, “So, the trees need trimming. Nothing alarming.” Then he entered the home. The smell of cat urine hit first, and was so strong it made him gag. The odor was so powerful you couldn’t even smell the cigarette smoke that had stained the walls, ceiling, carpet, and blinds. There was junk everywhere. It was like an episode of hoarders. The kitchen counters and sink were piled with dirty dishes. The oven still had food rotting away inside. The laundry room wall was wasting away from some sort of water damage. The bathroom vanity was crumbling to pieces while the shower knobs no longer worked and maybe hadn’t worked in months, or even years. There were three mattresses piled on top of each other in one of the bedrooms. The mattresses looked as if rats had chewed their way inside and made a home for themselves.
“I had never seen anything like this. Why had I not seen the inside of my own house in 10 years?”
After $15,000 in repairs, the landlord hired Real Property Management to help manage his property. Inspections can be a vital tool in making sure your investment is being properly cared for. Quarterly inspections, at the very least, are a perfect opportunity to change out air filters to protect your HVAC system, and make sure all of the smoke and Carbon Monoxide detectors are in proper working order. Finding unapproved pets or discovering something as simple as a small water leak could have avoided more costly issues later.
Lesson Learned: By regularly inspecting your rental property, problems can be found earlier saving you thousands.
Often times when a Real Property Management office is first hired, a property is already vacant and may have been for a period of time. An empty house can quickly become a squatter’s dream, as in the case of a vacant property newly acquired by Real Property Management.
Inspecting a property and changing the locks are a regular practice for our property managers when a rental home becomes vacant or is newly acquired. While inspecting a property to prepare it for leasing, it was discovered that someone had been living in the home. There were tell-tale signs of life such as trash, clothes, food, and a blanket hanging in the window. The police were called, who determined a man and a woman had been living there for a couple of weeks. Although they couldn’t figure out how the couple gained access to the property, the police assumed the squatters watched as the former tenants moved out and then they immediately took up residence when the tenants were gone. While nothing was broken, there was quite a mess to clean up – a clogged toilet, ants from all the food and trash laying around, and since there was no garbage disposal, a clogged up sink.
A professional property manager inspects their vacant properties, knows what to look for, and most importantly—gets your rental property leased fast to avoid any vacancy.
Lesson Learned: Vacancies are bad–Take proper steps to get your rental property rented fast to avoid prolonged vacancy.
Know the Law
After getting married, Darius and his wife found themselves with two houses and two mortgages. They considered selling, but Darius wasn’t ready to give up his first home just yet. He decided to keep the home, become a landlord and thought he’d take the safe route by renting to a friend. He had never considered using a property management company. As a police officer, Darius had dealt with his fair share of landlord/tenant problems, so he figured he would have no issues with property management. That is, until seven months had passed and he still hadn’t received a single rent payment. During the course of those seven months, Darius found that he simply didn’t have time to devote to checking on the property, hounding the tenants for payments, nor the heart to begin the eviction process.
When Darius finally went to check on the house, he found extensive damage. “It looked like they had lived there for 10 years,” said Darius. “It was just a complete mess. The carpets had holes in them, doors had holes in them, paint all over the walls. I don’t know how you break a toilet, but they broke a toilet. Water leaked all over everything. They never called me up and said, ‘Hey, this is broken and needs to be replaced.’”
When it settled in that he was going to have to take them to court, Darius discovered that he had no knowledge of the civil side of landlord/tenant issues. His expertise as a police officer was not going to get him very far when it came to evicting his own tenant. When all was said and done, Darius lost $30,000 in lost rent, property damage and attorney fees.
Once Darius made it through the painful eviction process, he began searching for a property management company to take this burden off of his hands. His brother-in-law recommended Real Property Management. Since hiring the Real Property Management office and getting a new, properly screened tenant within weeks, Darius has been free from the pressure of renting his home. “We don’t have hands on the property,” Darius said. “Real Property Management does everything. They manage, they do all the screening of the tenants, and every month they deposit a check into our account. It’s that simple for us.”
Lesson Learned: Knowing all the landlord/tenant laws will save you time and money–So will a professional property manager.
For almost 30 years, Real Property Management offices throughout the country have helped countless property owners turn their nightmares into opportunity by providing the best service, knowledge and expertise in the industry.