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Why it’s important to do yearly maintenance checks

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property management tips

It’s crucial to do a yearly maintenance check for a variety of reasons; sometimes tenants fail to report problems until they become disasters and sometimes you lose track of things that need to be updated around your property.

Do these three things yearly to stay on top of your rental maintenance:

  1. Save money on utilities.

    Things like a dripping faucet or a running toilet are often minor inconveniences that tenants don’t report. This is especially true if they’re not footing the water bill. You could save hundreds of dollars by going through your property and promptly fixing any water leaks. Don’t forget to check outside sprinkler systems and faucets if you rent out a house.

  2. Eradicate deposit disputes.

    If you are lucky enough to have a long-term tenant, renewing the lease each year is a given. This year, instead of just having them sign a contract, you should think about doing an annual walk through. You can avoid future disputes by checking and notating any new damage. Plus, you can see if anything needs to be fixed before it becomes a bigger issue.

  3. Keep an eye on your investment.

    It’s smart to do a yearly check on rental prices in your area using a rent calculator or searching comparative listings. Don’t shortchange yourself by keeping rent prices the same when the market around you is exploding. If you decide a raise in rent would be fair, write a letter to your tenants informing them of the price change when it’s time to renew their lease.

Best Months to List Your Property

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property management advice

To keep vacancy numbers low, you’re obviously going to want to list your rental as soon as the previous tenant puts in their 30-day notice. However, if you’re in a position to be a little bit flexible, it could be beneficial to plan the dates you decide to list.

When is that? The simple answer: between April and May. Here’s why.

1. Your rental looks nicer.

Not only can you take nicer photos for listings, but chances are your rental will look more appealing with green grass and sunshine surrounding it. You’ll also be more inclined to fix up any minor cosmetic or seasonal maintenance before listing, and that can make a big difference when potential tenants come to tour the place.

2. It’s when people are looking.

Studies show that most people wait until the weather starts to warm up before they think about moving. Higher demand means you’ll be able to screen potential tenants and make sure you found the right match.

3. It’s tax refund time.

Moving can be expensive after you factor in security deposits and moving vans. The bump in extra spending money that most people get after tax refund season is often an incentive for them to look at moving to a new rental.

Runner up: July and August.

If you can’t list your rental in early spring, wait until the end of summer to try and rent it. That’s when students start looking for somewhere to live and apartments are in high demand. The downside, however, is that they won’t typically be long-term tenants.

So, what happens if your current contracts end during the months where demand is low?

If you have a contract that ends in the winter months, many real estate investors suggest offering a month-to-month option and waiting to find new tenants until the spring.

Any observations about the best time to rent? Let us know in the comments!

Landlords: Check your toilets for this hidden danger

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property management tips

If you’ve ever faced plumbing problems in your rental before, you know what a formidable foe water can be. Although leaks and clogs can happen without warning, there is one potential catastrophe you can avoid just by checking the manufacturer and date on your toilet tanks.

You might be in danger if…

After dealing with thousands of cases where the tank cracked without warning, property inspectors now caution landlords to check their old Crane toilets to make sure they don’t have a defective one.

How to check for potential problems

To make sure your toilet is not in danger of cracking due to manufacturer error, remove the lid and find the serial number inside the tank that is stamped into the porcelain.

If it begins with “V” and the third and fourth numbers are 80 through 91 (the year it was made), you may want to replace your toilet as soon as possible.

There are several horror stories of landlords who didn’t realize they basically had a ticking bomb in their bathroom and ended up with massive flooding problems. By taking two minutes to check your tank, you could end up saving yourself thousands of dollars.

How to market your property in 2017

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property management tips: marketing your property

Between the holidays and the weather, winter can be a dead-zone for the rental industry. Although it may not be an ideal time for filling vacancies, it IS a great time to start preparing for the busy season ahead so that when the best time to rent rolls around you’ll be ready.

Here’s how to ensure that your rentals are in high demand.

Pay attention to reviews

If you haven’t been already, this is the year to focus on getting more positive feedback. For apartment communities, that means keeping tabs on what people are saying about you on Yelp, Google, and Facebook.

Make sure you have an account on each platform and are responding to both praise and criticism. Even a simple “Thanks for taking the time to leave a review!” shows renters that you’re listening to their feedback.

If the problem is that you lack the reviews to set you apart from other communities in the area, try sending an email to current tenants asking them to leave a review or do a social media promotion on your apartment community page. When asking for reviews, it always helps to have an incentive like being entered into a drawing for a gift card.

Amp up your listings

Start prepping now for future vacancies so that when it comes time to list you have everything ready. Make sure you have up-to-date photos of every room and all the shared amenities.

You should also spend time exploring the extra ad opportunities on the sites where you list. For example, on Rentler you can purchase banners that say “Pet-Friendly” “Brand New” or “Utilities Included”. If you accept applications online, you can also specify that right on your listing.

How to market your rental

Use this time to think of possible titles for the listings you’ll have available. Tip: Don’t waste space putting the number of bedrooms and bathrooms, since all those details can be seen on the search page. Instead, use this space to tout something that sets you apart like “Newly remodeled, first month free” or “Near downtown, utilities included!”

Woo tenants with tech 

Today’s tenants are looking for convenience, and offering easy solutions for everyday rental woes can give you an edge.

For example, if you accept online rent payments or manage maintenance requests digitally, that’s an awesome value-add and you should include it in the listing.

The same goes for things like app-controlled thermostats and other smart home features. Home technology is blowing up, and the money you spend on upgrading your rental will pay off…you just have to make sure to advertise it.

Here’s why everyone is investing in rental properties

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property management investing

For decades, buying a home was the ultimate goal and renting was just a means to an end. However, experts say that thought process is changing.

It’s no longer a matter of not being able to afford a house. Instead, renters are actively choosing to stay renters for longer periods of time. With that new mindset, it’s no surprise that investing in rental properties is being touted as a low-risk way to grow your income and leverage assets.

Here’s more info on why renting is so popular right now:

Cost

According to this article on Business Insider, the myth that renting is more expensive than buying has been busted. In fact, the author did a little digging and found that in high-demand markets like San Francisco, it’s over $2,500 more per month to own an entry-level home than to rent an apartment.

Renters no longer feel the pressure to buy a house immediately, and instead they are choosing to be long-term tenants (the best kind!) while they wait for the market to even out.

Credit Building

Earlier this month, USA Today posed the question: is it better to rent or buy a home?

They cited several reasons renting is smart. Among them, and one we hear often, is that renting provides an easy opportunity to build credit.

The biggest problem millennials face when trying to get a mortgage loan is that they either have no credit or bad credit. Instead of taking on a colossal interest rate and saving for a giant down payment, they’re renting and asking landlords to report their on-time rent payments to the major credit bureaus.

For more reasons why you might want to start looking at rental properties, check out this article 9 Reasons to Invest in Apartments that has been circulating around investment websites.

What are a landlord’s maintenance responsibilities?

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If you’re a DIY landlord you probably have the privilege of being your own CEO, accountant, and maintenance person all rolled into one. Since you’re doing everything, it’s sometimes necessary to make a judgment call about what needs to be fixed right away and what can be done at a later date.

However, there are certain instances where it’s illegal to let repairs go unchecked. Here’s a guide to figuring out what your legal obligations are as a landlord.

  1. Local safety code.

    Problems that fall under your local safety code must be addressed immediately. You can find guidelines for your specific state, but most local safety codes include maintenance of smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, cases of toxic mold, and any safety features like banister and railing repair.

  2. Plumbing.

    Plumbing issues are a landlord’s responsibility, and for your own sake, it’s best to take care of these as soon as possible. Water leaks, pipe damage, and sprinkler systems are all included in your list of responsibilities.

  3. Heating and air conditioning.

    You’re responsible for ensuring that a tenant’s home is habitable, so heating and air conditioning repairs are usually up to you. However, a landlord is not legally obligated to install an air conditioning system if there is not one in place.

To make repairs even easier on yourself, sign up for Rentler’s free Property Management Software and access our free maintenance tracking tool. You can receive work orders from tenants online, message them directly, and archive past requests.

Upgrades to attract health-conscious renters

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Upgrades for health-conscious renters

These days, renters expect more from their homes. Many want to live in a place that naturally inspires health and wellness. By implementing smart home upgrades that make it easier for renters to stay fit, you’ll broaden your appeal among health-conscious renters while creating a vibrant apartment community and increasing tenant quality of life.

Add a Community Garden

Many renters want gardens not only to enjoy, but to grow their own food. If you have a community garden on-site, tenants can grow healthy food in plots they manage. They can mingle with neighbors, make friends, and trade produce. Better still, you’ll have less landscape to maintain. To increase the utility of your community garden, look for local environmental educators and farmers to partner with. You may even want to host a farmers market at your facility — bringing fresh produce directly to your renters!

Develop Fitness Trails On Site

If you have a large lot, adding walking and running trails is a great way to make use of your landscape to promote an active lifestyle and attract health-conscious renters. Tenants will love being able to walk, bike and run — just steps from their apartments.

Add a Sunshade to Outdoor Common Areas

A sunshade extends the use of your outdoor common areas by blocking solar light and heat. This is healthy because it blocks UV rays, which can cause sun damage and painful sunburn. A large sunshade is an easy solution to cover an entire patio. If you want tenants to choose whether they want sun or shade, patio umbrellas are a convenient solution that also increases the curb appeal of your apartment complex.

Offer Secure Bike Storage and Repair On Site

Biking to work is a great way to exercise and reduce your environmental impact. Yet for renters who bike to work, their need for secure storage often goes unmet.

Protect the environment and tenants’ health by offering secure bike storage. Make this deal even sweeter with on-site bike repair from local bicycle mechanics.

Develop an On-Site Fitness Center

Maybe your apartment has a pool for tenants. Do you also have a fitness center? Even a simple weight room with some gym mats offers a convenient place for tenants to work out. Upgrade this with a few elliptical machines, treadmills or stationary bikes. If your on-site gym looks dated, add a fresh coat of paint and replace outdated equipment to immediately infuse new energy.

To take thing even further, offer free or low-cost fitness classes. Yoga teachers, personal trainers, boot camp instructors and other fitness professionals are always looking for new communities to host classes. By offering your site and keeping costs low, you can incentivize renters to select your apartment and demonstrate your facility encourages health and wellness. This can even be a way to make money by opening classes to nonresidents for higher fees.

Have a Quiet Room in the Lobby

A quiet room serves the mental health of residents and allows people to meditate, relax or even nap. All you need is a small room with padded mats, comfortable yoga blankets, and a soothing white noise machine. If you have an extra closet or nook in your apartment lobby, this puts it to use while demonstrating that you care for the well-being of residents.

Set Up a Massage Room

For a luxury amenity that renters will appreciate, consider having a massage room on-site. Not only is massage therapeutic and relaxing, it offers a host of mind-body benefits. Instead of having to travel to a day spa, renters can just go upstairs and receive a soothing massage from a masseuse you’ve hired. All you need is a simple room with a storage cabinet. A massage therapist will come to your apartment complex with a massage table and take care of the rest!

By investing in the health and wellness of your renters, you’ll create a happy community of renters who reward you with their loyalty. You’ll also win positive press and acclaim in your local market, strengthening your reputation as a desirable place to live.

Review: Best Property Management Software

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best property management software review

If you manage properties, you probably rely on an army of online tools to get the job done. If not, allow us to introduce you to some property management software that’s going to free up your time and money.

We recommend that DIY landlords who need help managing a handful of properties check out Rentler’s property management software. It features everything from online rent payments to maintenance requests, and most of it is free to use.

However, if you manage 50+ properties you may need some bigger guns (figuratively, of course). Luckily Reviews.com has done extensive research to round up a list of their favorites. Out of 51 contenders, they narrowed it down to find the best three tools out there for property managers.

They looked at how easy it was to collect rent online, manage maintenance requests, perform tenant screening, and reconcile the books. So who gets their coveted seal of approval?

  1. AppFolio
    Appfolio is just as intuitive as Buildium, according to the users at Reiews.com, and a better value if you’re managing over 200 properties.
  2. TenantCloud
    This free option made Reviews.com top three thanks to their extra features that don’t cost extra.

To read the detailed review and see who they recommend for residential properties, commercial properties, and more check out the full article on Reviews.com.

Remember, if you’re new to property management or don’t manage more than 50 properties, Rentler may the best and most affordable option. For tenant screening, collecting and paying rent online, tracking maintenance requests, and even using lawyer-approved landlord forms, Rentler’s property management software is easy and effective for anyone to use. Not to mention there is an array of free resources for landlords looking to become better property managers.

Get Started With A Free Account Today

Vacant property? Here’s how to secure it

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property management advice

If you’re renting a residential home, it is more important to ensure that your property remains safe and protected. There are many ways to protect your home between tenants, one of those options you may not have heard before: roller shutters.

So, what exactly is a roller shutter and how it can provide security to your home? Roller shutters are a metal device that is utilized to add safety and security to the doors and windows of a standalone house. As a matter of fact, these shutters can be used in the residential as well as commercial properties. There are many aspects that make these new shutters different from the traditional ones.

Like the name suggests, a roller shutter incorporates the rolling mechanism, and it quite useful from the perspective of saving space. Based on the coil mechanism, this shutter can be rolled up easily without any problem. Made from galvanized steel, these shutters provide incredible security. This is the reason why a lot of people these days are opting for these shutters to provide security to their residential properties.

Some of the benefits of installing a roller shutter in your home

  • Secure– The level of security increases considerably when a roller shutter is installed at a residential of commercial property. The presence of these shutters makes it tough for the thieves and burglars to break into a building via its doors and windows. So, if you want to make your potential tenants feel more secure when renting your property, then you must install these shutters.
  • Keeps away vandalism– Another major benefit of installing roller shutters is that it protects your house or property from the possibility of vandalism. This is more important for the properties located close to the high streets. Most of the residential properties located at the high street are protected with these shutters. In case of a riot, you and your tenants will certainly feel more safe and secure.
  • Insulation– These shutters have excellent insulating properties. Since these shutters are made from galvanized steel and PU material, the property remains warm in the winter season and cooler in the summer season. So, a roller shutter can be a good way to entice the tenants. You can make them feel more comfortable when renting your property.
  • Privacy– Roller shutters are easy to handle, you can effortlessly pull the shutter down without anybody’s help, whenever needed. In this way, you will get some privacy from the annoying elements. This is the reason why small offices install these shutters at their property.

Get ahead with great photography

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Here’s a fun fact we’ve noticed at Rentler—listings with photos get 27% more views than those without photos. That’s 27% more people that could be looking at your property instead of at another property.

This might come as a surprise, but many landlords don’t take the time or the effort to upload photos. Now that our stats have convinced you photos are the way to go, make sure they’re the best. A good photo should reflect your well-maintained property and give potential tenants a glimpse of the community around it. Here are some tips, even if photography isn’t your area of expertise:

Staging

A well-furnished room gets more tenants ogling over your listing. They can picture and feel the home when you show them potential layouts. Pictures with furniture always bode well, as they enable prospective tenants to really visualize your place as their place. However, on the flipside, you want to make sure the photos don’t look too cluttered or filled with personal items.

If someone is currently living in the property you will be listing, inform them ahead of time you would like to come take some photos and mention that you would like the decor to look as simple as possible. Once you begin photographing, try to crop the photos so personal items are out of the frame.

If the property is empty, we get that you probably don’t want to spend the time or money it would take to fill it up. You can get creative and repurpose items from your lobby (if your property has one) or bring a few things from your own house. All you really need is a chair or two, mirrors to reflect natural light, and a plant to make a place look inviting. If you want to invest a little bit more into photography, you can also use a staging company that will bring in furniture and take the photos for you. This website is a great resource for finding companies in your area.

While you’ve got the camera out, take some photos of the area around the property. Whether that’s the yard, courtyard, sidewalk, or hallway, people want to see what their new surroundings will be.

Lighting

Natural light will be your best friend, so try to take the photos during daytime hours. Turn on all the lights before you snap your photos. If you have a dark room or area, use lamps to brighten the place up. Light brings life to your listing by infusing it with colors and warmth. Accent lighting can be decorative and bring harmony and balance to rooms as well.

Be Professional

Don’t be the guy who has a stained mattress in an empty bedroom as one of your photos. Yes, this just recently happened. No need to hire a professional, just take pride in your photography skills. Get the best angles and use a great camera with high resolution. Make sure your photos aren’t blurry or pixelated. Remember, photos can be the deciding factor for those who are on the fence about renting your place. If you don’t already have a tripod, this lightweight version from Amazon is a good beginner option.

Using your smartphone for photography is no longer taboo, to get the best images use this tripod made for phones that will eliminate blurry images and an app like VSCO Cam or Camera+ to edit your pictures before posting them.

Give Yourself Options

Taking more photos than you think you’ll need is a great way to give yourself options, then select the photos that turn out the best. Also, take photos at different times of the day in order to capture different lighting and effects.

Following these simple tips will make a massive impact on the number of visitors to your listing.