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Implementing a Late Fee Policy

Collecting timely rent payments from tenants is essential to keeping your property finances in order and promoting responsible tenant behavior. Writing a late fee policy into your rental agreements is a good way to make sure tenants remain diligent about on-time payments throughout the course of their tenancy. Just as important is making sure you hold your tenants to this policy. Rental agreement payment policies should include the following information: The day of the month rent is due. The day the late fee kicks in. The amount of the late fee. In a standard rental agreement, landlords provide tenants a five-day “grace period” between the day rent is due and the day the late fee is applied. Late fee penalty payments generally fall around $25. However, before setting the fee, be sure to check state and local laws to find out what maximum fees are allowed by law. While some landlords charge a single flat late fee, others charge an escalating amount for each day payment is late (for example, $5 on the first day, $10 on the second day, etc.). If you do use an escalating scale, you will also need to cap the late fee at a reasonable maximum amount. Not only is it important to build late fees into your lease contracts, but it’s also important to enforce the policy. With this in mind, though, judgment and reason are called for. For example, if a tenant has lived in your unit for eleven months and consistently paid rent......
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Smart Marketing By Partnering With Corporate Housing Companies

Forming an excellent relationship with Corporate Housing Providers (CHPs) is a smart alliance because of how valuable a partner you can gain to lease up your property and keep it that way.  There are approximately 61,280 corporate housing units occupied every day paying one billion dollars in annual rent.  This is a huge revenue stream to tap into! I recently attended a meeting with other area corporate housing providers and property owners and managers.  The reason for the meeting was to encourage better communication between these two groups and some very interesting points and ideas were shared.  Here are 5 great reasons why partnering with a CHP is a smart move for those who own/rent apartment properties. 1.)      Working with corporate housing is easy!  ®      Working with corporate housing is less work.  Because CHPs are in similar businesses, they can expedite the leasing process and cut down on your workload, which means you have more time for other things.  CHPs sign leases on a daily basis and don’t require the additional time that is typically spent on walking through a lease with an individual prospective renter.   Additionally, CHPs rents are always paid on time, which means no three-day notices and chasing down rental payments. Make more money with corporate housing  ®      CHPs typically pay market rent and in many cases pay a premium for shorter term leases.  Although often asking for deposits to be waived, they do pay administrative fees, which means leasing agents still receive their commission and the leases......
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10 Signs Your Property Management Company is a Success

While profitability is one great sign of success, there are also many other less tangible indicators that your property management business is doing well. Following is  a list of ten signs you’re running a good property management shop. How many items on this list apply to your business? 1. Your vacancy rates are low. Low vacancy rates can mean any one (and often a combination of) several good things: 1) that you’re doing a good job marketing your property to new tenants; 2) that you’re maintaining existing tenants; and 3) that your units are generally sought-after. 2. You receive new property management clients from referrals. In business, referrals are the sincerest form of flattery. When existing clientele are referring potential clients your way, it is a sure sign you’re doing things right. 3. You receive new tenants from referrals. Chances are tenants who are displeased with your property aren’t going to recommend your property to their friends. As with client referrals, tenant referrals speak kindly of your work and may also indicate that you’ve successfully instated a good tenant referral program. 4. Your tenants stay put. They like you, they really like you! As with all business, it costs far less to keep existing tenants than it does to find new ones. If your tenants tend to remain in your units for multiple lease periods, chances are you’re pricing your units right and making tenants feel well cared for. 5. Other property managers contact you for advice. While it’s nice to......
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STOP ask yourself do you do your follow up calls or thank you cards?!?!?!?

  STOP ask yourself do you do your follow up calls or thank you cards?!?!?!?  By Jolene Sopalski Leasing Specialist WRH Realty Services If you answered no to that question then I want you to hold up your right hand and pledge the following “ I will  start following up with my prospects no prospect will go un-followed up”. Good now if you are one of the ones that said yes I do my follow up calls and thank you cards I want to give you a big hug so just picture me giving  you a hug.  Why are follow ups with prospects so important to you and your owners? They are important to us because our prospects are the key to our success in this industry with out them leasing our apartments there would be no need for us. So why would you let them walk out of your office and never make contact again with money? All to often we use the excuse there's just no time to follow up. I really don’t like hearing there is no time to follow up on a potential lease because that is our job. I want to share with you some tips on following up on prospects that will hopefully increase your leases, make your owners happy and make it easier for you to follow up.  Always keep in mined that you are not the only property that your prospect is looking at so you want  to stay in the game by......
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Tenant Referral Programs -- Are They Worth It?

Let’s face it – keeping vacancy rates as low as possible is any property manager’s first priority. With the economy in its current state, this is truer than ever before.  We’ve written several articles in the past on combating a lousy rental market with strategies like lease renewal incentives and cross-promoting with local businesses. This week we are offering just another tool aimed at keeping vacancy rates low – a tenant referral program. Tenant Referral Incentives – How Much is Enough? By far the most common type of tenant referral program involves offering current tenants a monetary incentive to refer a new friend, family member, or colleague to their community – the current tenant is then paid for their referral when the referred tenant signs a lease.  Although monetary incentives can come in all sizes, one of the most commonly used programs offers $100 per tenant successfully referred. It’s important to note that if you go the monetary route, incentives should match your tenant demographic – we recommend starting with an incentive that is about 20% of one month’s rent. That being said, some of the most successful referral programs actually occur in more high-end properties. A wealthy person in a high-end property may be more motivated to refer a friend for a $1000 incentive than a less well-off person would be for a $100 incentive. Get Creative with Your Program You know your property better than anybody else. In order to achieve the highest adoption of your tenant referral program,......
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Realtors Turned Property Managers

Anyone who has made a career in real estate knows that the market is always changing. There’s no arguing the fact that real estate professionals must have the ability to accept that while there are times of feast, there are also times of famine. But even when buyers are hard to come by, opportunities for income generation exist. And one of those opportunities is property management. Adapting to change. It’s not news at this point: Over the past couple of years, the real estate market has taken a huge hit. With foreclosures running rampant, loan qualification processes that can be difficult at best, and severe job losses across the nation, successful real estate transactions have been hard to come by. Even successful transactions now require far more time and effort than they once did. While things are slowly beginning to turn around, the real estate market is cyclical — we will at some point see it dip again. This is why it’s so important for real estate agents to have a back-up plan when times get rough. Property management offers realtors a great way to remain in the field and put their skills to use, even when the market is down. Steady income. No matter what, people will always need shelter. Particularly during economic climates like that of the past couple years, home sales may go down, but renting goes up, with all of the displaced former home owners looking for new places to lay their heads. No matter what field......
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Dealing with (and Preventing!) Bad Neighbors

Dealing with bad tenants can be tricky enough—though such scenarios are not ideal, at least you have a contract on your side to dictate certain rules and behaviors that ensure the comfort of all your tenants. But what happens in a case involving bad neighbors, when you don’t have the benefit of a pre-existing agreement on your side? Depending on the set-up of your property, a bad neighbor can potentially be just as disruptive (or perhaps even more so) than uncourteous tenants in your own property. Following are some suggestions to help mitigate this sort of scenario. Consider neighbors when property hunting.Time and time again in this blog, we’ve highlighted the importance of doing extremely thorough research when seeking out an investment property. And guess what? We’re about to dole that same information out once again. With so many other factors to take into consideration when selecting a property, evaluating potential neighbors is one of those things that all to often falls by the wayside. But on a day-to-day basis, your property’s neighbor can have a considerable impact on your tenants’ quality of living. And if that impact is a negative one, you may very well find yourself with high turnover or an undesirable vacancy rate. So, with this in mind, taking neighbors into account is a consideration when purchasing a property.Visit your potential property at various times of the day to see if there are any red flags (be sure to do this at times when neighbors are likely to be home, such as weeknights ......
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The Fair Housing Act and You

The Fair Housing Act (FHA) exists to ensure that all potential tenants are given an equal opportunity to obtain residency. This anti-discrimination policy means that, as a landlord, you are not allowed to base tenancy at your property upon any of the following factors, including: age, race, color, religion, familial status, or handicap. This law is straightforward enough; however, there are certain common instances in which landlords find themselves inadvertently in violation of this act. A common slip-up that can potentially lead to legal troubles down the line is searching for a certain “type” of tenant based upon your property’s location, amenities, or general pre-existing demographic. Consider the following scenario.  As clearly stated in the FHA, you cannot base your decision upon whether or not to accept a tenant on their situation or life circumstances. For example, even if you prefer to rent to students, you absolutely cannot refuse to rent an available unit to a family of three simply because they are a family rather than a single student. Remember, though, the average tenant wants to find a living situation that is comfortable for them. In the above scenario, for example, if you have a ten-unit complex that is primarily occupied by students, chances are other students (as opposed to families or young professionals) are going to be most enticed by your property. To achieve maximum visibility among this target demographic, you should place advertisements in outlets that cater to the university population in your area—school-affiliated publications, websites and bulletin boards at local college ......
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Keeping Your Lease Agreements Up to Date

If there’s one document in property management that simply has to reviewed (and updated as necessary) on a regular basis, it’s your lease. This is, after all, the document that will ultimately determine your rights and protect your best interests when it comes to issues both big and small.  Because you’re dealing with a host of rules and regulations on the federal, state, and local levels, it’s imperative that you not only adjust your lease as necessary when laws change, but also that you’re in compliance and protected on all three fronts. If you’re not proficient in legalese, chances are reviewing your lease (and, moreover, identifying those elements that need to be changed) is a daunting endeavor at best. Following are some tips and best practices for keeping your lease up-to-date and your best interests protected on an ongoing basis. Hiring Legal CounselYes, this can be a somewhat expensive option. However, consider the fact that a water-tight lease can potentially spare you legal costs of a far more unpleasant variety in the future and additionally saves you a ton of time (as compared to reviewing and revising a lease on your own). Suddenly, the cost of hiring a legal professional to review your lease becomes a far more appealing option. If you do choose to take this route and don’t already have a trusted lawyer in your contact base, talk with real estate and property management professionals for references to proven lawyers that specialize in such matters. Professional or Association Meetings and SeminarsTaking part......
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Are Renewal Incentives Worth It?

Are Renewal Incentives Worth It? Most landlords will agree that a vacant unit ranks right up there as one of their least favorite things. The bottom line is simple: A vacant unit is money down the drain. There are, of course, times of feast when rental units rarely remain vacant for even a few days in between one tenant and the next. But then there are the other, slimmer times, when people are saving their pennies and staying put. In this case, finding a new, quality tenant is much, much easier said then done — it can take weeks (in some cases maybe even months) to find the right tenant. And, of course, even if you are able to find a tenant, flipping a unit costs money. As discussed in our previous post, even those units that are left in good condition require some degree of re-investment — not to mention the cost of advertising and marketing available units. Which all seems to make it clear that, at least in the current economy, retaining good tenants is the best way to go. Not only will it save you the expense of turning the unit, but it will also prevent a potential lingering vacancy from sucking away at your bottom line. Sometimes, though, no matter how good of a job you’ve done taking care of your tenants and making sure that your property and their unit is in tip-top condition, a tenant just feels it’s time to move on. If a good tenant......
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