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Win-Win!: A Laundry in Your Rental Property

Some landlord-owners of small residential buildings do not have laundry facilities on the premises. In some cases, there never was a laundry, or in others the landlord felt it would be just another thing that had to be fixed, and so removed it.

Landlords, though, should realize that having a laundry on the premises is almost always worth the expense. Why is that?

Well, my first rule of landlording is, “thou shalt always provide a rental that thou shalt wish to live in”. So, would you like to live in a home without a laundry? I think not, and tenants actually do think like you too! A tenant will pay more for a home with this amenity.

Oh, well, maybe if you are prohibitively rich, and you simply send out your laundry, whether you take it all to a cleaner, or a wash-and-fold laundry that are common in urban areas. Or, maybe you are a young, 20-something, where going to a laundromat is actually a social event. And even if you do use a laundromat, you better stick around all the while, you may have a few hundred dollars of clothes in those washers, the price of clothing today. But really, it is primitive, time-consuming, expensive, and inefficient to do your laundry.

As a landlord, having a washer/dryer translates to more desirability, which means higher rent, and a more stable tenancy, since it provides an important service, that perhaps another landlord would not provide.

With this logic in mind, I would advise any landlord who does not have a laundry to think again. It is a huge issue with many tenants, and an absolute essential for any upscale tenant. Sure there is some initial investment for bringing the utilities to the laundry location, and the appliance cost, but this is a long-term investment that should pay dividends a long time.

For a single family home, it is normal to provide either washer/dryer or hookups for same. For a multiple unit building, it is normal to have a coin operated appliances (this can also be a great income source).

If you do not have a laundry facility in your rental, you really should give this some serious thought, and realize how it can really be a winning decision for both you and and your tenant.

Coming to a blog soon: It’s Here! The Coin-Operated STACKING Washer AND
Dryer

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WHEN A TENANT HAS A PARTY

Tenants Having a Party!

Parties Do Happen. Sometimes landlords like to think of a tenant as in a parent-child relationship; they are always limited in what they can and should do at all times. While there is some truth to this attitude, there are natural human tendencies, on the tenant’s part, to do normal human things, like have friends visit, to socialize, and have fun.

One of our basic rights in this land is the right to freely associate with people of our choice, and to have them come to our homes and visit. In this case, I’m not considering “overnight guests”, but people who come, visit and leave. When we have a number of folks like this at one time, we sometimes call it a party.

Party Etiquette in regards to “the landlord”. Parties are meant to be relaxed and fun, welcoming people into your home, having some good laughs, good food, some great people experiences. Tenants, however, need to be aware of two potential problems: the landlord, and the neighbors.

Besides the rent, the landlord is concerned with keeping the property in good condition and keeping the peace with the neighbors. The neighbors, whether the house next door or the apartment next door, are concerned with their right to “quiet enjoyment”. To avoid problems, it is important that the tenant address these factors straight-on; it will make for better party and happy neighbors.

Tips to Avoid Problems. A lot of what you do with your party is common sense. Keep it under control, be ready to have guidelines should anything or anybody get out of control. Control any possible unruly guest, noise or visual factors so neighbors’ eyebrows stay unraised. The best parties are the ones that are a little on the edge, but not crossing over.

Protect the premises and the property as if it were your own, and speak up to your guests if somebody gets out of line. If the party is has a lot of guests, be sure to inform your immediate neighbors of what is going to happen, in advance, and the hours. If you are friendly with your neighbors, you might even want to invite them!

If the party is exceptionally large, there may be a need sometimes to inform your landlord as well, to let him/her know that you are simply enjoying their place, your wonderful home, and that out of respect you’re letting them know what’s up.

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Upgraded Amenities Can Cause Headaches

The decision to add special amenities to a rental property may seem a great idea. You think it’s a way to attract a more discerning tenant, one who may be so very happy to have those little extras, like a garbage disposal, icemaker, speaker and alarm systems. Happy tenant pays more rent, owner gets happy too, right?

Ah, be mindful, though, that one day those special devices will break and need servicing. Somebody has to pay for it, especially when the item is question is a little exotic, and if you’re a landlord, you realize that not only did it cost more than normal to purchase it, well now it costs a little more than normal to fix it.

In fairness, the tenant signed-on with the expectation that everything would be in working order at all times, so if that doorbell works but the little light in the button went out, as a landlord, you’re expected to fix it. That intercom system you installed? Now it has a scratchy sound when you listen to the audio, so open your wallet, my friend, you now need a special technician to come take care of it.

To think about, here are some examples of “upgraded amenities” compared to a simpler counterpart:

Dishwasher vs no dishwasher. They take a long time to run and baked on food still needs extra hand-scrubbing. Then they break….OY!
Lighted doorbell vs un-lighted doorbell. The difference in price is about a dollar or two, but a repair to the light could cost a ton more.
Icemaker in Refrigerator vs filling those ice trays. How necessary?.
Garbage disposal vs trash/composting. Bad for pipes, creates sludge. Disposals are prone to abuse, and jamming. If you have a garden, better compost!
Shower wand vs showerhead. Wands work great but hoses fail. A showerhead is almost forever.
Automatic Landscape sprinklers vs manual watering. Great if absolutely necessary, but don’t expect a tenant to understand these.
Kitchen sink faucet with built-in sprayer/hose vs one-spout regular faucet. Hoses often fail, and need replacement by a plumber.
Owner-paid internet vs tenant pay. Better tenant takes control here.
Owner provided washer/dryer vs bring-your-own. They will break at some point.
Automatic garage opener vs manual. Special Tech required.

While many of these amenities are standard expectations, some you might want to avoid. Certain ones might actually be a disservice to the tenant and landlord both, as some gadgetry is just too much trouble. They may take time to learn, extra time to operate, and then when they break, there is an inconvenience.

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Tenants and Landlords from Hell

In these days of being politically correct, one might say it is inappropriate to talk trash about tenants or landlords. They are all good people just trying to get along in this world, right? Um….well, in my many years of experience in property management, I’d say the word “all” in that sentence should be replaced.

Most landlords and tenants are fine. It is a good, honest business transaction that they have. One gives a product, housing, with all the included features. The other pays money, and agrees to abide by certain rules. In most cases it works out just fine. But enter the landlords and tenants from hell.

LANDLORD FROM HELL.
The exalted landlord starts from a logic that says “I will provide housing that I would be proud to live in. A basic premise of a LFH is the person renting from them is “just a tenant”, so the property doesn’t need to be anything special. The tenant is a troublesome creature who must be kept in line, antagonistically.

TENANT FROM HELL.
Looks at a landlord as wealthy and manipulative, and is always trying to do the minimum to get the maximum.
Has an entitlement attitude, any little thing must be fixed.
Feels that every problem should be fixed by landlord.
Feels that all disputes must involve a lawyer
Tenant speak: mildew is toxic mold, a puddle is a flood, a spark is a flame

conclusion:

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Tenant Noise Complaint Letter

Everybody makes noise, but occasionally some noise crosses the line. If a tenant has a habit of making excessive noise, that is a breach of one of the main principles of habitabiliity: “the covenant of quiet enjoyment” of one’s premises. The laws of the land protect such quiet enjoyment.

An initial reaction to a excessive noise complaint, when practical, would be to communicate verbally to the offender what the problem is. Something severely excessive or after hours miight entail a call to local law enforcement. However, a carefully worded letter to the offending tenant is an effective yet inexpensive way of ensuring compliance and cooperation. Here is a sample letter, that you are free to adapt to your needs, editing as needed.

Date June 6, 2012

From: Justin DaHood
Property Manager for 1234 Elm Street
9876 Main Street
Anytown USA

To: Johnny and Mary Noisemaster
1234 Elm Street, Unit 52
Anytown, USA

Re: Excessive Noise

Dear Johnny and Mary,

It has been reported, and documented, that excessive noise and disturbance has been coming from your rented premises at 1234 Elm, Unit 52, (describe, giving times/details). It is absolutely essential that all residents respect the right to quiet enjoyment of their neighbors, a right that is protected by law and by the covenants of your lease.

I ask that you respect the concerns of your neighbors and control the noise levels generated within your rented premises. If you do not do so, you will be in violation of your lease, and with local law, but more importantly, you will be disrupting the quiet enjoyment of your neighbors.

Thank you in advance for your cooperation.

Justin DaHood

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Cheap Plumbing Tools Save Big $ ! Plunger, Zip-it, and Drain King

Keep Your Drains Running Free!

There are two tools you need to have to save you BIG on plumbing problems, and tenants need to know this too!

Tenants like to think that all problems are covered by the landlord, but certain problems can rightfully be charged to the tenant when caused by tenant’s misuse. The main problems relate to drain blockages.

Having been a property manager for years, I’ve seen it all, and have had many a service call for blocked drains. Since plumbers rates start at well over $100 per hour (with a minimum charge) we are talking real money here. I’ll spare you the gory details of what people tried to send down the drain, without luck.

The drain-blockage policy of The Rental Source and other property management companies, is as follows:
“Drain blockages occurring after move-in, that are not caused by an inherent, pre-existing condition of the drains, caused by inappropriate use of drains, shall be the responsibility of the tenant to repair.”

If a building is old and plumbing has not been upgraded nor maintained well, blockages can happen frequently and many times are not the user’s fault. Old drains get sludge build-up that narrows the drainways that are easy clog candidates. But other times, people put things down the drain that should not be there, that cause clogs: cotton swabs (Q-tips), baby wipes, tampons, hair, paper towels, dirt from potted plants, etc..

WONDER TOOLS AND TIPS: Plunger, Zip-It, and Drain King

Ok, if you’re a tenant you’re probably grumbling about the idea of paying for a plumber or trying to fix it on your own.maybe having to pay to clear the drain. Same goes for the owner….nobody wants to spend money on this dirty work! But when you are obligated to pay, you will want to save money. Take special note of these cheap plumbing tools that you should have in your arsenal for that time when a drain is clogged.

Plunger. Many times a plunger will do the job for a clogged toilet or a sink drain. It is too often that we get calls from a tenant who has a clogged toilet that they can’t fix with a plunger, but many times they gave up too soon or weren’t doing it right. Try filling the toilet bowl almost to the top (but not overflowing!), and THEN start pumping. The extra weight of the water will help push down the obstruction. Keep at it, and usually it will go down. If it doesn’t, it could be something fell into the toilet that needs to be removed with a snake or toilet removal. In that case, the call to the plumber may be in order.

Zip-It. (need to provide link) This is a trade name for a very simple device made of plastic that costs about $3 and probably costs five cents to manufacture. It is a long strip, about 18” long, made of semi-flexible plastic with many barbs along its length. Since many drain blockages in tubs and bathroom sinks are from hair, the Zip-it is simply for pulling out hair. You stick it in as deep as it goes (you might have to wiggle it around a bit or twist it as you go). After it is in, pull it out slowly, and you may bring with you a trail of hair that will amaze you (how did all that hair get in there?) Don’t wait, buy one now for the next time, and you won’t have to call a plumber or your property manager, and maybe end up paying for a plumber!

Drain King. (need to provide link) Again, this is a trade name, but this is a brilliant invention, simple to use, and cheap (about ten bucks, and you can use it over and over). It looks like a little black rubber stick, about 5 to 10 inches long, depending on the drain size you need it for. It has a female garden hose connector on one side, and a little hole on the other side. You need a garden hose and a place to connect it to a cold water supply (a garden hose spigot or a cold water supply to a washing machine will do).

Connect the male end of the hose to the Drain King, stick it into the affected drain, and then turn the water on, making sure the DK is securely in the drain so it doesn’t pop out. THen, turn on the water full-force. What happens is DK fills up like a balloon, with creates a seal within the pipe, and then it pulsates water in the direction of the drain blockage. DK has succeeded where many a plumber has failed, and now most plumbers keep these in their tool box as an alternative.

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Proper Move-in and Move-out Procedure Eliminates Grief

One of the most important aspects of property management is the Move-in and the Move-out. This is an area where, if handled improperly, great disagreements can come.

If money were not an issue, there would be no problem. But when a tenant is charged for cleaning or damages upon move out, charges they do not agree with, there can be a problem. If the tenant is NOT charged upon move out, and then some expense is made to repair or clean the property, that means the landlord pays. The landlord will say, “why am I paying for this; it should have been charged to the tenant!”

So this is the squeeze that the property manager gets in, and it is a no-win situation. This is why doing a proper Move-in and Move-out Walkthrough Inspection is so very important.

Documentation!
The main point of the move-in inspection is to document the condition of the premises, because later, upon move out, there will be a comparison, and that is where the tenant may be charged for issues that are beyond normal wear and tear.

As a property manager, my belief is that there is no way to exactly document the condition of the premises upon move-in or move-out, but you have to do your very best. You can have video cameras, 12 wise men and women, digital photos, etc, but still something can come up. The point is you have to do the best you can with what tools you have to document and agree, between tenant and property manager, what the condition is upon move in, and the comparative condition upon move-out.

Tools to Note the Condition.

Mutual understanding, completing checklist; additional notes.

Unforeseen issues, conflict resolution

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The Ultimate Guide to Finding the Best Tenants

Being a residential landlord can be an honest, rewarding profession, whereby housing is provided and rent is received. Communications are cordial, rent is paid on time, and routine maintenance requests are received with solutions provided.

With certain tenants, Landlording can be a hellish, torturous experience. Collecting rent becomes a chore, lease compliance is a joke. You, as landlord, are framed as a greedy parasite power-monger. Requests for repairs are delivered with a theme that your property is faulty and you are a neglectful and uncaring landlord with a shoddy property, even if it is in top condition.

The “people element” is the most important aspect of the three elements of property management: people, property, and money, and certain tenants can cause grief and your undoing.

Good and Bad Tenants Defined.

A great tenant is such a gift. Your life, as landlord, will be so much easier, and you can feel good about what you do, with a good tenant. What makes a great tenant? In the perfect world such a tenant can be described as considerate and respectful, pays the rent on time and in full, compliant with the rules of the lease, and is a good human being.

When something goes wrong, they bring it to your attention without drama, in a helpful manner.

A more negative perception of a tenant is one who is unfriendly, disruptive to the premises,

GETTING GOOD TENANT “GOING IN”; be careful in your screening

QUALIFIED is the key word

GOOD SCREENING TECHNIQUES

CHECKLIST OF GOOD TENANT
Sufficient income
Good credit
Landlord reference (earlier, not current)
Not a chronic complainer
Pets?

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Landlording Vs The Internet: AirBnB.com and Couchsurfing.org

Few things bring such joy than having lovely people visiting in your home. Also wonderful is visiting people in their homes, in faraway lands, seening their amazing cities and towns, and doing it all affordably! This is how it should be.

Where there is a will (and the internet) there is a way, and that way is either AirBnB .com or Couchsurfing.net . Through the advent of the web, you can rent out your home, apartment or living room, on the cheap, through a worldwide network of subscribers. Make a little mad money and maybe meet a new friend!

Air BnB (as in bed-and-breakfast), and couchsurfing (as in sleeping on the couch), for those who are new to this, make a lot of sense. As long as you don’t get a criminal type hanging out in your home, a small percentage possibility, this can be a good way to make a few bucks, and to have perhaps an interesting guest visiting you.

For the visitor, he or she gets an accommodation that is affordable with maybe a built-in insider’s introduction to an otherwise unfamiliar environment. Sounds great, doesn’t it?

This is great….uh….if the person bringing in the guest is the homeowner. But if it is a rental, now the property manager in me comes out, so let’s break it down. “If it walks like a duck, looks like a duck, and quacks like a duck….it is a __________.” I smell “SUBLETTING”!!

In the landlord-tenant venue, accommodations are provided, and rent received. There are rules attached to this arrangement, contained in a Lease. There is a trade-off: rent provides for certain services, within limits. A specified number of occupants use the premises, expend a certain amount of utilities, and generate a certain, expected amount of wear and tear.

A landlord has a certain expectation from the tenant. The rent is established based on the ability of the tenant to pay, certain anticipated expenses, an understood number of feet pattering on the floor. The landlord has a right to rely upon some predictability to control expenses, wear and tear, and the managability of the property.

One could quibble about the fairness of allowing or denying a legitimate guest to stay in a rented home or apartment. Most leases have clauses stating a maximum time for overnight guests. However, when money is exchanged for the accommodations, then it certainly appears to be subletting, and such subletting without the permission of the landlord would normally be a violation of the lease terms, and grounds for termination of the lease.