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8 Tips for New Landlords

Transfer PoliciesA guest post by Brian Davis, Ezlandlordforms.com, Moorestown, NJ Building a strong relationship with a new tenant and protecting your real estate investment is of paramount importance when crafting a lease agreement.  There are a multitude of considerations at this juncture that are essential to understand.  Brian Davis, Vice President of EzlandlordForms.com, is a seasoned landlord and top expert on landlord-tenant relationships.  Here he offers his top tips for new landlords as a helpful tool for navigating lease creation and the ongoing considerations of managing a rental property. 1. Understand the Fair Housing Act and how it applies to your rental.  When advertising for a new tenant, it is critical that landlords and property managers understand and comply with the Fair Housing Act. The Fair Housing Act prohibits landlords from using any of the following criteria when evaluating potential tenants: race, color, national heritage, religion, gender, disability, and familial status. While that may sound simple on the surface, consider that stating in a rental listing “perfect for a single professional” is a violation of the Act (bias against familial status). Advertising only in your church’s newsletter discriminates by religion. What landlords can and should use to evaluate potential tenants is financial data, credit histories, and other background data. 2. Know your tenant by thoroughly screening each prospective renter to avoid problems down the road.  This can be accomplished by a few simple steps.  First, conduct a professional credit check to learn an applicant’s credit history and if they have been fiscally responsible in t......
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Testing Email Subject Lines

I recently started a video series for Apartments.com called Got a Minute?  In these videos experts from Apartments.com answer questions and tackle topics in about a minute.  This month our Marketing Manager and Online Marketing Specialist discuss the importance of testing email subject lines and provide four tips to do so.  If you have any questions, make sure to comment below.
[video:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T4MM16mWfgA 433x300]

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Establishing Transfer Policies for Multi-unit Properties

By Ben Holubecki, STML Realty Group, Glen Ellyn, IL Transfer policies are often a detail overlooked by landlords and property owners who own/manage multi-unit properties. A tenant requesting a move from one unit to another presents challenges and can add unnecessary and unexpected costs for property owners. Ignoring these requests or not addressing them properly can open landlords up to potential resentment from tenants and even legal liabilities if not properly documented. There are a lot of reasons why a tenant might request a transfer to another unit within the same property and there are positive and negative impacts resulting from this type of request. The most common reasons for these requests in my experience are: - Problems or issues with current neighbors - Maintenance issues within their current unit which they feel were not or will not be addressed - Lack of upgrades due to extended tenancy (newly remodeled units are obviously more desirable) - Preference regarding location within the property (different floor, closer to parking, amenities) - Moving from 1 unit type to another such as moving from a 1 bedroom apartment to a 2 bedroom Regardless of the tenant’s reason for the transfer request, there are both positive and negatives that you should consider. The positive: - Your tenant obviously likes the property enough to want to stay - You have a history with this tenant so you know what to expect regarding care for the property and rental payments. No surprises. That is always a positive. ......
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How do you deal with racism when it is you being attacked by the resident?

This is going to be a touchy subject for many, but one that I realize we do not talk about enough in our industry. Today I experienced for the first time in this industry, racism towards me in front of a room full of people. I did not know how to handle it and it took all the strength I had to not cry or go off on the resident. No one ever trained me to know what to do when a resident is racist towards you!  I was trained on what to do when a co-worker or a vendor is rude or racist. What was even more embarrassing was the fact that I was the only one of my race in the room and the others were either speechless or giggling about what was being said. So what do we do when this happens to us? Do we ignore it or address the issue right away? Would it even matter to the resident? I chose to calmly ask the resident to please leave my office.  I was told that I was denying them their right of freedom of speech. They did have the right of freedom of speech but not in front potential residents. This only added fuel to the fire and after several minutes of telling them to leave, they finally did. I turn around to see the astonished looks on my leasing specialist’s and the applicant faces.  I noticed that two prospects were giggling about the whole thing.......
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Search Engine Optimization for Property Managers

Title tagBy Geoff Roberts, Buildium, Boston, MA Whenever I’m asked what I do for a living, my go-to response is that “I work in marketing and public relations for a software company.” That’s a sufficient reply for most social situations, but on occasion I’m asked more specifically about my job responsibilities. Inevitably I’m stopped as soon as I mention “search engine optimization” or “SEO.” While this is a small part of what I do, I’ve found that it fascinates people – they tend to look at it as something of an enigma. “I’ve never understood search engine results” or “Google makes it all up anyways” are common responses, but the probing questions regarding SEO never stop there. Regardless of the industry you are in, search engine results are likely playing an increasingly important role in your company’s ability to be found by prospective customers and others interested in the products/services your business offers. As I’ve been receiving an increasing number of emails regarding SEO from Buildium customers, I figured I’d start by laying out some of the basic tried and true practices that can help your company rank more highly in search results. What exactly is SEO? According to Wikipedia, search engine optimization is the “process of improving the visibility of a website or web page in search engines via the ‘natural’ or unpaid search results.” In plain English, when you go to Google and run a search for anything, say “Boston Property Management,” it’s the process of improving how close ......
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Five Tips for Remembering People’s Names

A fairly popular playwright once asked What’s in a name?  Well, I’m going to argue a lot!  Our names are very important to us, so your potential renters’ and current residents’ names should be even more important to you.  Here are five unforgettable tips to help you remember the name of everyone who walks into your leasing office:   1.       Focus – It may seem obvious, but when a person introduces themselves really focus and listen to what they are saying.  If this is what goes on in your mind when you meet someone, then you are not focusing: I have to grab a guest card.  Where did I put my pen?  Should I get a sandwich or Mexican food for lunch?  I like her shoes.  Don’t forget to tell her about our special this month.  Oh shoot, what was her name?!  Clear your mind, pay attention, look the person in the eye and focus on what they are saying to you. 2.       Repeat – Ok, so Pete and Repeat were on a boat.  You know how this one turns out.  Repeat, repeat, repeat!  After someone introduces themselves, repeat their name back to them.  “Hi, I’m Jim”, “Hi Jim, it’s so nice to meet you”!  Then try to use their name two more times during your conversation. 3.       Write it down – This tip is courtesy of every waitress I have ever had who thought they had such an incredible memory they did not have to write down my order.  If......
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Know Your Property Management Market Potential

By Jo-Anne Oliveri, ireviloution intelligence, Brisbane, Australia I see too many property management businesses either fail completely or forever fail to achieve their targets for many and varying reasons. It’s important, just like in any business, to understand and know your market. In order to create your business plan and targets you must know the market size, potential, averages, statistics and demographics. In this particular blog I’ll focus on the critical role market potential and averages play in the success of your business. Mistakes continue to be made in the property management industry because business owners focus on numbers and not income. There are many critical factors that can make or break the success and profitability of an agency. By understanding critical factors you should then understand that by focusing on the number of properties under management, rather than the income, you are creating a ‘Frankenstein’ for yourself and your team, not to mention disastrous consumer relationships. To put it simply by focusing on properties under management you are focusing on quantity only. By measuring targets on income you are focusing on quality. It’s a classic “quality versus quantity” dilemma,  and quality always beats quantity. A quality agent attracts quality teams, which tend to attract quality property owners and their quality properties, who in turn attract quality tenants. Next thing you know you have yourself a quality business and a quality brand. QUALITY PLUS! Always remember – when you are tempted to focus on numbers of properties under management, when ......
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10 Tips to Effectively Communicate with Your Landlord

By Ben Holubecki, STML Realty, Glen Ellyn, IL As a property manager, I spend quite a bit of time thinking about how I communicate with the residents of the properties that I manage. Unfortunately, most residents give little thought to how they communicate with their property manager or landlord. Considering that nearly 35% of Americans currently reside in approximately 40 million rental units throughout the country it is surprising that so few of us really understand how to communicate effectively with our landlords. Almost every one of these landlord/tenant relationships last a minimum of one year and some last many years, even decades. The relationship that you enjoy with your landlord can directly impact your lifestyle, comfort, image, and financial standing. Establishing a positive and healthy relationship with your landlord can go a long way in helping you live in the best conditions possible, getting you the fastest responses to maintenance requests, and keeping your rental rates reasonable. The following are some quick tips which can go a long way in helping to maintain and improve landlord/tenant relations: During your rental search 1) Know what your expectations are before searching for a property. If your requirements aren’t offered at a particular property, then move on. Don’t expect a landlord to add an unreasonable amount of amenities or upgrades to an existing rental. There are often other units available that will meet all of your needs. 2) Submit completely accurate rental applications regardless of your shortcomings. Do not overstate your income or......
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Dodd-Frank Bill Requires Adverse Action Letters

By Salvatore Friscia, San Diego Premier Property Management, San Diego, CA The property is ready to be occupied, marketing is complete, and now you are receiving multiple inquires. At the first showing you receive two applications and it looks as though you’ll fill the unit quickly but remember only one party can be offered the property and after you have evaluated both applications – pulling credit information, confirming employment status and reviewing past rental history – it is clear that only one party meets your qualifications. So is it as simple as offering the rental to the qualified party and just letting the other party know that they didn’t get the unit? Not so fast. As of July 21, 2011 the Dodd-Frank bill requires you to provide the consumer with a Score Disclosure letter or an Adverse Action letter if you decline their application or impose additional conditions (such as a higher deposit) in order to accept the application. This law was enacted toward creditors but does include “Property Managers” who deal with making decisions based on credit scores for potential tenants. According to the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) creditors are required to issue an adverse action notice containing the name of the credit reporting agency, notice of the consumer’s right to request a free credit report, and notice of the consumer’s right to dispute the accuracy of the report’s content. The Equal Credit Opportunity Act (ECOA) requires creditors to provide consumers with the specific reasons for a denial, o......
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Ask the Expert: Avoiding, controlling and eliminating bed bugs

Bed bugs were a popular topic at NAA this year and the conversations were lead by Greg Baumann, Director of Technical Services for Orkin Pest Control. With over 30 years of pest control experience, Greg was the perfect person to ask to contribute to my Ask the Expert blog series. Below is his post on avoiding, controlling and eliminating bed bugs in multifamily housing.  He can be contacted at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. For more information, go to http://www.orkincommercial.com/ and make sure to comment below with questions.   Around the world, bed bugs are becoming part of daily life for many.  In the past 10 years, they have resurged to the point where they can potentially be found in any place that humans inhabit, especially in multifamily housing.  In fact Orkin, a popular pest control company, conducted a survey just over a year ago which showed that of the 8,500 bed-bug-infested customers evaluated, 44% were multifamily housing customers, surpassing hospitality.  The National Apartment Association (NAA) surveyed its members and found that 66% of the respondents have encountered bed bugs at their properties, with a large explosion in numbers since 2007.  The good news is most infestations were limited to less than five units per property.  However, an alarming trend is litigation is increasing, with 6% of the properties having been involved in a bed-bug-related case. Basics of the Bed Bug Bed bugs are typically flat and small, with the adult being just about 3/16” in length.  They can live a year without a meal, although, this is not......
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