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A Quick Safety Checklist for Your Rental Home

Whether you’re just getting ready to rent out your property for the first time, you’re in between tenants, or you just want to make sure everything is in order for the new year, it never hurts to take a quick look at the state of your property when it comes to safety. In fact, because tenants have a right to a safe home, you are required to make sure your property meets certain safety standards.

While you’ll definitely want to talk to a property management company or similar expert to learn the specific requirements for your property, there are some basic things you can (and should) do regularly to make sure your property is safe for occupancy. Here is a starter checklist of things to keep an eye on.

Structural elements. These include the very basics: floors, walls, ceilings. Check for anything that is out of order either visually or functionally. If the floor slopes or bends, there could be foundational issues. If there are any “soft spots” in hard floors, or stains that don’t go away or that keep coming back, that could be a sign of water damage. Similarly, unevenness, cracks, bulges, or stains on the walls or ceilings could indicate a serious issue that requires immediate attention.

Electrical components

Non-working outlets or switches could be a sign of faulty wiring, and they should be examined by an electrician to avoid the possibility of electrical fires.

Heating and cooling systems

Not only are HVAC systems important for your tenant’s comfort, problems with these systems could create safety issues if left unchecked. Regular cleaning can avoid a lot of problems, and will be much cheaper than handling water or fire damage caused by a neglected system.

Appliances

This is as simple as making sure things like the refrigerator (if your property includes one), microwave, stove, and oven work properly. Do they reach appropriate temperatures? Do all the burners work as they should?

Plumbing

You definitely want to make sure there are no plumbing leaks in the house, as those problems can cause water damage—whether that’s structural damage or a health risk (like mold). Check faucets, showers and tubs, and toilets.

Exterior environment

You’ll want to make sure the exterior of your property—both in the front and back of the house—is well lit. This is a big safety benefit to tenants who may be outside at night, and it also could deter criminals from trespassing on the property. Also, make sure all pavement is well kept and no repairs are needed, and that there aren’t any large holes or problems with the landscaping.

Windows

Cracked windows could be a big safety hazard to tenants. Similarly, all windows should have working locks on them; this ensures that children do not open (and potentially fall out of) windows from the inside, and also takes another step in deterring criminal activity on your property.

Alarms

Check smoke alarms, carbon monoxide detectors, water detectors, and any security alarms or cameras you have to make sure they are in good working order. Also, make sure your rental agreements clearly outline who is in charge of maintaining these alarms and paying for repairs/replacements.

Creating a safe place for your tenants to live should be priority number one for all landlords and property owners. Keeping to this basic checklist will help you stay on top of any safety related issues at your property, before someone gets hurt.

Need a hand with maintenance or repairs? Want help finding the perfect tenant for your space? Real Property Management can answer your questions and help you prepare, market, fill, and manage your rental properties, saving you time, money, and headaches. Contact us today at 480-719-1243 to see what our years of experience can do for you.

Should I Rent To Families With Children?

When you first think about it, you might think that renting your property to a family with children is a terrible idea. You’ll probably picture marker on all the walls, crumbs wedged into every nook and cranny, and carpet stains created by who knows what.

It’s true—families can be a mess. However, you shouldn’t write them off entirely when you are searching for a tenant for your rental property. For one thing, such discrimination is illegal; but for another, family renters have a lot of benefits as well. Read on for a few of those benefits, and also for tips about how to attract families to your rental property.

They are often more financially established.

Generally speaking, it is pretty common for parents to be a bit older, and more established in their careers, than younger, childless tenants. Financial stability can only mean good things for you as their landlord.

There is more potential for a long-term lease.

Families with children do not want to be moving around very often. Not only is moving a bigger job for them (more clothes, more furniture, and all those toys!), but it is also difficult emotionally for children to move frequently, especially once they are in school. For these reasons, parents are probably looking for a home they can rent for a while, rather than a temporary living solution.

You’ll have to clean the house anyway.

Sure, the walls might end up a little more scuffed up than you’d like, but chances are, you’ll want to paint them before the next tenant moves in anyway. Yes, the carpets might take a beating, but again, cleaning or replacing the carpet between tenants is pretty standard. The truth is, there is very little that children could do to a house that won’t be taken care of in a standard tenant switch.

For those things that end up being broken or damaged beyond repair during the family’s stay, you can use your security deposit. In other words, you are pretty much covered when it comes to paying for any extra damages renting to a family might incur.

You can make family-friendly changes.

If the idea of renting to a family appeals to you, consider making a couple small changes to your home that will make it a more attractive choice for families. For instance, getting rid of carpet in high-traffic areas will benefit both you and the family, since carpet is more difficult to keep clean. Also, when repainting, use a paint with a finish other than flat. Flat paint shows scuffs and fingerprints much more easily, which means those walls will start looking dirty, fast, if children are living in the house.

You’ll need to change your marketing strategy.

If you think your property may be good for families, you’ll want to rethink how your market it. You’ll definitely want to point out the high points of the neighborhood, for example. Are you close to a park? Are you zoned for good schools? Are there lots of other children in your neighborhood? Low crime rate? These are all things that families with children will care about—a lot.

The house itself should also be marketed differently. Families with children want lots of storage space, an enclosed back yard, and a separate bathroom for the kids. If you happen to have a den, basement, or loft in your house, point out that those areas could be used as playrooms for the kids. Highlighting these “kid-friendly” features will make your house a much easier sell.

Renting to families with children might seem stressful at first. Take a deep breath, recognize the positives, and embrace it!

If you want help marketing or managing your rental property, contact Real Property Management today. We can help you find and keep good tenants that will help you turn your property into a profitable business venture, with minimal effort and hassle on your part. So give us a call at 480-719-1243. We’d love to see what we can do for you!

How to Make Sure Your Tenants Don’t Destroy Your Rental Property

It’s every landlord’s biggest fear: your tenant’s lease is up, and you go walk through the property to see if they’re getting their security deposit back. What do you see? Holes in the walls, destroyed carpet, broken light fixtures, neglected landscaping…and the list goes on.

You want your tenants to be happy and comfortable in your rental property, but you also want it to be in good shape when they’re done with it. Thankfully, there are a few things you can do to make sure your tenants don’t destroy your property during their stay. Here are some of our favorites.

Don’t use flat paint.

While you’ll most likely be repainting the entire house in between tenants, you might be able to get away with a few touchups in certain rooms—but only if you’ve used the right paint from the beginning. Flat paint is going to show every scuff, scrape, and mark. Paints with a shinier finish will be much easier to clean and keep looking fresh.

Choose your flooring carefully.

Flooring in a home can really take a beating, even in a short period of time. Certain kinds of flooring are going to withstand the test of time much more effectively (think tile, vinyl, and laminate) while others (like carpet and hardwood) are more likely to show all the wear. Especially for high traffic areas of your house, consider installing a flooring type that will stand up to all those dirty feet. And when choosing carpet, choose something that is made specifically to be high-traffic friendly and stain-resistant.

Go for low-maintenance landscaping.

Choose greenery that survives your climate easily, without much attention. You’ll definitely want a few trees or bushes outside your home, but don’t go overboard. Too many of these plants, especially in varieties that are hard to take care of, is setting your renters up for failure.

Be present, right from the beginning.

If your tenants are comfortable talking to you, they’ll be much more likely to bring small issues to your attention, before they become big problems. This will save you a lot of hassle and headache when it comes time to find a new tenant. Of course, make sure you’re available at a level that is comfortable for you. You might not be comfortable giving your tenant your personal number, for example. If you’d rather not deal with your tenants directly, hire a great property management company to do all the heavy lifting for you.

Communicate your expectations.

Whether they’re built into the lease, or typed up on a sheet you give to the tenant on the first day of occupancy, it can’t hurt to tell the tenant what you expect when it comes to their care of the property. They will definitely care about your expectations, because ultimately, you decide if they get their deposit back! Tell them things to keep an eye on, what your maintenance schedule is like, and any special care instructions for the flooring, landscaping, or appliances. Make it easy for them to take care of things!

You definitely want to do whatever you can to avoid a sticky situation with your tenant at the end of their lease. Take care of your investment property, and you’ll reap the rewards for years to come!

A property management company can be your best friend as a landlord. Offering various services ranging from marketing to maintenance, Real Property Management can help you make sure that your investment is hassle-free and profitable. Let us help you reach your goals! Give us a call at 480-719-1243 or contact us online today!

 

Should I Rent Out My Property? 3 Questions to Ask Yourself

If you own a house or condo that you no longer need for personal use, you may be considering renting it out. Of course, that’s not always a simple decision to make. Being a landlord comes with its challenges, and for some people, those challenges just aren’t worth it, no matter what the benefits may be.

When trying to decide if renting out your property is right for you, you’ll want to take your time to make an informed decision. Here are some questions you should ask yourself as you try to decide whether or not to start looking for renters for your property.

1. What is the home’s current value?

Knowing the current value of your home will help you determine whether you are better off renting or selling. If your home is worth enough that you will make a good amount of money on the sale by cashing in your equity, you may be better off selling. If you think your home might be worth more in a few years, it might be a good idea to rent while preparing to buy.
If you’re unsure of the home’s current value, you might want to start by talking to a real estate agent, or property management company. You might be able to get some help looking at comparable homes in your area, which would give you a good idea of what a fair asking price might be. If you really want to be sure, you could always have your home appraised (which you would have to do anyway, if you decide to sell).

2. What condition is the house in?

If your house has been lived in for a while, it may be in need of some improvements. Those repairs could be very costly if you decide to sell, whether you have to spend more upfront to get the house in “sell-ready” condition, or you have to lower your asking price to make up for the poor condition and needed repairs.

If you have the cash to spend on any needed repairs, you can perform those right away which could raise your asking price (whether you’re selling or renting). If not, renting for a while might be a better option for you. Many renters are willing to overlook things that are outdated or are not upgraded, giving you time to save up to make some changes before selling.

3. Am I able to manage a rental?

The truth is, renting out a property can be a very profitable venture. But it’s also a very time-consuming one, and it can be very confusing, especially if you’ve never done it before. How much should you charge? How do you go about finding the right tenant? What sorts of things should you (and shouldn’t you) allow your tenants to do while living in the house? What will you do if rent payments are late, or if emergency repairs pop up?

These questions (and many more) need to be considered when you’re thinking about renting out your property. Thankfully, if you think the whole thing might be too much for you to handle on your own, you still have options. Your best bet would probably be a property management company, which would handle many of the technicalities of renting your space while helping you maximize your profits.

Renting your property is a great option if you own an unoccupied space, but make sure you do your research and think things through before jumping into this unknown territory.

If you think renting might be right for you, or you would like to know more about the potential benefits and downsides of owning a rental property, contact Real Property Management today. We can give you a free management quote and apply our years of knowledge and experience to your unique situation. Give us a call at 480-719-1243 today!

5 Ways to Increase Cash Flow on Your Rental Property

It’s true what they say: cash is king. This is especially true when it comes to investment properties like rental homes. It can be a lot of work to keep up with a rental property (unless you use a property management company, of course), and you don’t want all that hard work to be for nothing.

If you’re trying to think of ways to increase the cash flow on your rental property, we are here to help! We’ve come up with some changes you can make that will make your property the income source you’ve been waiting for.

  • Reexamine your fees. Are you charging an application fee? You should be. Application fees will make sure you only get serious applicants vying for occupancy of your house. This can also help you offset the cost of background checks (you’re doing those, right?)

    You should also reconsider charging late fees, if you haven’t done that before. If fees aren’t stated explicitly in your current contracts, have them rewritten to include when a late fee will be charged, and how much it will cost. Tenants that don’t pay on time are disrespecting their rental agreement. Remember: it’s not personal, it’s business!
     
  • Upgrade appliances. Newer appliances will do a few things for you. First, the home will be an easier sell, meaning fewer vacancies. Also, newer appliances are often more energy efficient, lowering power and water costs noticeably. You’ll recoup your costs in no time.
  • Cut out carpet where you can. Carpet is difficult to keep clean and needs to be replaced often, especially when you’re in-between tenants. Replace carpet with something more durable (tile is great!) that will stand the test of time and not need to be replaced so often. Bonus: it’s easy to keep clean, so your tenants will love it, too!
  • Charge for pets. Allowing tenants to bring their furry friends along to your property is usually a good choice; such a restriction can be a deal breaker for many potential renters. But it is very reasonable to increase the rent by a small amount (say, $20-$30) when a pet is involved. Pets can do damage to a property and require a deeper cleaning once the tenant moves out, so the increased rent is completely justified.
  • Install new window treatments. New blinds, shades, or shutters can be very appealing to potential tenants, which means that your property may be rented faster when you include these things. Also, you’ll keep direct sunlight out of the home, which could lower utility bills significantly, especially in hot climates.

Whether they’ll make it easier to find new renters or help you to manage cleaning costs, these changes can help you keep your rental property profitable and your cash flow high.

Looking for more great tips, or more help managing your rental property? Contact Real Property Management at 480-719-1243 to get property management tips from experts who have been there, done that, and helps dozens of property owners turn their investments into profitable ventures. We can’t wait to help you succeed in your business!

Finding a Contractor or Repairman to Handle Repairs in Your Rental Property

No matter how diligent you are about taking care of your rental property, the truth is that the house is going to need repairs sooner or later. Whether it’s the appliances, the central cooling/heating system, or the plumbing, something is bound to need fixing at some point. And depending on the rental agreement you have with your tenant, you may be responsible for fixing them yourself.

Some things will be simple fixes that you can handle alone. Others may require full replacement of the fixture or appliance. But sometimes, it will be your best bet to hire a professional to do the repair.

How do you go about finding a contracted professional that will handle the repair quickly, efficiently, and effectively? We’ve come up with a few tips for you to keep in mind when you’re looking for a contractor for your rental property.

Ask for references

One of the best ways to find someone reliable is to ask other property owners who they have used. Ask for both good and bad experiences, so you know who to try out, and who to avoid.

Get estimates.

Don’t resign yourself to a high price from the first person you call. Call a few people and ask for a rough estimate of the cost for your project. Once you have a good idea of what it should cost, you’ll be able to find a good deal.

Check review sites.

Sites like Yelp can be very useful when you’re searching for contractors or small businesses. You’ll be able to see what other people think of the contractor and whether or not they would recommend doing business with that person. Look for contractors who have more than a few reviews, with a rating of 4 stars or more.

Ask plenty of questions.

Before your contractor gets to work, ask exactly what they’re going to do and how much it’s going to cost. Are they charging separately for parts and labor? How long is the repair going to take? When do they expect payment and what forms of payment do they accept? Knowing these things will avoid any unpleasant surprises.

Don’t make rash decisions.

As anxious as you probably are to have the work done quickly and cheaply, you probably shouldn’t base your decisions on who can be there first or who is the cheapest. These people might be desperate for work, meaning they might not be your most competent option. Instead, look for someone who is highly reviewed, reasonably priced, and most importantly, seems to know their stuff.

Use a property management company. Nothing will make repairs easier than having someone else do a lot of the work for you. These companies handle many aspects of property ownership, including payment collection, maintenance, marketing, and more.

Maintenance and repairs on your property can be stressful, especially if they are impacting your renter’s quality of life. By following these tips, you’ll be able to handle these stressful situations in the best way possible.

Real Property Management makes managing your rental property a breeze. Take the guesswork out of renting and let someone else handle the contracts, payments, and maintenance for your property. Contact us today at (480) 719-1243.

10 Perfect Gifts for Your Tenants

Whether it’s the holiday season or just time to renew the lease, you might find yourself in need of some good gift ideas for your tenants. It can be difficult to come up with gift ideas for people you don’t know very well, but it also can’t hurt to show a little extra appreciation to the people renting your property.

We’ve come up with 10 gift ideas that would be perfect for you to surprise your tenants with the next time the occasion arises.

 

  • A gift card to a nearby restaurant. This is an especially good idea for newer tenants, since it will welcome them to the area and help them feel more at home. Don’t feel like you have to go overboard—a $10-20 card will be enough!
  • A bottle of a festive drink. Particularly appropriate around the holidays, a bottle of wine, champagne, or sparkling cider will do just enough to show your tenant that you’re thinking of them.
  • A personal card. If your family sends out holiday cards, include your tenants on your recipient list. This may seem small, but it will show them that you consider them a friend and will ultimately be good for your relationship. Non-holiday cards are also appropriate throughout the year, especially when your tenant first moves in or renews their lease.
  • Nice hand soap. Practical and thoughtful, hand soap is a safe gift that will remind your tenants of you every time they use it.
  • Movie tickets. Movie tickets are fairly inexpensive, and who doesn’t love going to the movies? Throw in a box of candy if you’re feeling extra generous!
  • Cookies or treats from a local bakery. Many bakeries offer special holiday-themed treats around the holidays. Nice baked goods are always appreciated and seem like a very personal gift.
  • A nice blanket. It just seems fitting to include something for the home on this list. Blankets are easy to find, fairly inexpensive, and crowd-pleasers!
  • A box of chocolates. Fancy enough to earn you lots of brownie points. Easy enough to grab on your next grocery trip. Win-win.
  • A door mat. Another “home-centric” gift, this is another cost effective gift option that will help your tenants feel at home in your property. Choose a fairly plain style that most people would like, and include the gift receipt in case they decide to exhange it.
  • A board game. Perfect for renters with families, a board game will be a great addition to their home. Go with a classic favorite, like Scrabble, Sorry, or Life, to make sure they’ll love it.

Hopefully, this quick gift guide has given you some ideas of gifts to give your tenants. Whether it’s a welcome gift, a holiday present, or a token of appreciation, your tenant will be sure to enjoy receiving a gift from you.
Want more help managing your tenants and rental properties? Contact Real Property Management. Our team of experts can take all the guesswork out of marketing and renting your property, so that all you have to do is sit back and enjoy the profits. Give us a call at 480-719-1243 today!

Rental Properties and Holiday Lights: What You Should Know

Most people love to decorate around the holidays, and your renters are probably no exception. Whether it’s an elaborate front-yard extravaganza, or some garland hung on the fireplace mantel, chances are, your renters are bringing the holiday cheer to your property this season.

The truth is, most holiday light displays are perfectly harmless. They’re beautiful, festive, and bring a sense of joy to the person displaying them. However, holiday lights have been known to create hazards in the home, and the last thing you want is for your valuable rental property to become less valuable because of an electrical mishap.

To avoid such problems, consider giving your renters a helpful sheet of things to keep in mind as they set up their holiday light displays this year. Here are some of the things you should include.

What kind of lights to use

Lights should be UL listed, which means they will have been third-party tested for safety. They should also only be used where they are appropriately rated for use; that is, lights that are rated for indoor use only should not be used outside. Packaging should be clearly labeled that the lights are UL listed and rated for a specific type of use, so hopefully this shouldn’t create much confusion in your tenants’ minds.

Good practices for extension cords

Most people know not to load up a single plug with too many extension cords. This can cause electrical problems that could be significant. It can also create a fire hazard.

Common courtesy

Remind tenants that lights should not be left on all night, especially if part of the display flashes or makes some kind of noise.

Keep an eye on things

Exposed wires or broken plugs can cause problems with holiday lights. So, too, can broken bulbs. Make sure your tenants are aware of these problems and remind them to inspect their light strands before setting them up. If they need to replace bulbs, make sure they know to double check what the proper wattage is for the strand. Using the incorrect wattage can create a fire hazard.

Hanging methods

Let your tenants know how you would prefer holiday lights and decorations be hung in the home, both outside and inside. For outdoor lights, you could suggest plastic clips for fixing lights to the house itself, or request that the lights be kept only to the landscaping. For indoors, if you aren’t comfortable with nails or pushpins in the walls, you could suggest Command hooks or strips, which can hold a good amount of weight and won’t do any damage to your walls.

If all goes well, the holidays will pass without incident for you and your renters. Just to be sure, consider reminding them of these tips before they deck the halls this holiday season.

For more help managing your tenants and your rental properties, contact Real Property Management at 480-719-1243. We can help make managing your rental property simple and profitable, by letting our team of experts put their knowledge to good use, for you. Call us today!

Low Maintenance Decorating Solutions for Your Rental Property

Deciding how to decorate your rental property can be difficult. You want it to appeal to a large number of people, but you don’t want it to be trendy. You want it to look upgraded, but you don’t want it to be expensive or high maintenance. And you want it to last so that it will increase the value of your property over time.

Sound impossible? Thankfully, it’s not! We’ve rounded up a few examples of decorating options that will make your property more visually appealing while keeping it low maintenance. Take a look and get ready for some great looking upgrades!

Tile backsplash

Tile is very easy to keep clean, and very durable. It’s also fairly easy to install, and a lot of it is pretty inexpensive as well. This means that a nice tile backsplash is the perfect decorating solution for your kitchen and/or bathroom. One nice thing about this option is that it is a good way to add a little color or texture to an otherwise blank space. Of course, since you want your rental property to have wide appeal, you probably want to keep it fairly neutral; however, you can still have a little fun with it and get something that looks great and is easy in terms of upkeep.

(Not flat) paint

Paint is a really great way to change up a room, and a nice coat of paint will make your home attractive to a wide array of potential tenants. We do have a little advice to go along with this. First of all, don’t use flat paint. Flat paint will show every scuff and scratch, which makes maintenance a little more difficult. Also, use the same neutral color throughout the house. You might think this is boring from a decorating standpoint, but it will actually tie the house together really well and create a “blank canvas” effect that will allow potential tenants to envision the house as their own.

Upgraded light fixtures

Light fixtures can sometimes blend into the background in a home—but not if you make them the focal point of the room! Chandeliers and pendants can make a big statement, and you can find some that hit just the right sweet spot of classic and stylish. You can also count on this being an affordable designing upgrade; most lighting fixtures are not too expensive, and they will last for a long time in your home. That means that as long as you choose the right ones, you’ll get a lot of bang for your buck. Find some that fit the style and coloring of your home. If you know someone with an eye for design, ask for their help with picking out a few fixtures that won’t go out of style for several years.

All of these decoration solutions are low maintenance ways to “decorate” your rental property in a way that is appealing to tenants. It doesn’t have to be complicated to give your property a fresh feel and a put-together look!

For more help attracting and keeping great tenants, use a property management company like Real Property Management. We have years of experience helping property owners fill and maintain their properties with no hassle or headaches. Contact us today and let us help you make sure that your rental property is the financial success you’ve dreamed of!

3 Inexpensive Ways to Attract New Tenants

Attracting new tenants is really the “name of the game” when it comes to making your rental property a profitable endeavor. Vacancies get very expensive very quickly, and keeping your property full is the only way you will ever make money on it.

It is definitely true that sometimes, you have to spend money to earn it; however, we’ve found that there are also very inexpensive ways to attract tenants to your property and fill it faster. Here are just three examples of inexpensive things you can do to end vacancies at your property.

Use Social Media

Social media has a wide reach and makes your property visible and accessible to potential renters. An everyday post is free, of course, but if you are serious about getting your property filled quickly, you can also purchase sponsored posts that will make sure your post is seen by those most likely to view and visit your listing. You can also use social media to your advantage by getting your friends to spread the word about your property—a simple “share” or “retweet” is really all it takes to double the reach of your listing!

Small Touches During Showings

A great smelling candle, fresh flowers, recently cleaned carpets, natural lighting—these are all things that will make your property itself more appealing when a potential tenant views your property. They are relatively inexpensive updates and will make the house inviting and welcoming.

Hold an Open House

An open house may seem kind of old school, but it is actually a very efficient way to show your property to a large number of people all at once, and there are a few benefits to it. For one thing, you’ll spend less time scheduling showings, since you’ll only need to be there for a few hours on whatever day you choose. You’ll also have the chance to make a good impression on your potential renters—offer snacks and water, be present and personable, and of course, have the house looking its best. This is also a good way to make sure other homeowners in the neighborhood know that your property is for rent—which means that they can tell their friends about family about it, too. Overall, it’s a good, simple, and cheap way to increase visibility on your property.

These inexpensive ideas can really help you fill your rental property faster. Another idea? Hire a trustworthy, experienced property management company, like Real Property Management. We make it easy for property owners to fill their properties and keep them filled, meaning less vacancy time for you. We also make property management easy for you, by handling things like rent collection, maintenance scheduling, and making sure your property is doing what it’s supposed to do for you: making a profit!

Contact Real Property Management today and let us show you the difference a quality property management company can make.