Your Guide on How to Find a Property Manager That’s Reliable

Your Guide on How to Find a Property Manager That’s Reliable

Looking to hire a property manager?

Whether you own commercial or residential real estate, finding excellent tenants and managing both them and the building can be a full-time job. Hiring a property manager is not only an important part of guaranteeing things operate smoothly, but it will also help you save money and get the best return on your investment.

There are several things to look for when vetting property management companies. You want to be sure you’re getting only the best because you’ll be trusting them to represent you as the landlord.

Any mistakes they make will be issues you’re inevitably responsible for, so choose wisely. This may sound like a lot of pressure, but don’t worry. We’ve broken down a guide to finding the best property manager for your building.

Read on to learn more so you can feel confident with the company you select!

Experience

Managing a property can be a complicated task. There are many things to consider and take care of simultaneously so you’ll want to be sure you hire someone with experience.

Whichever company or person you go with should have at least one year of experience under their belt. This is important because you’ll be trusting the manager to make decisions regarding the building and its tenants. One wrong move could be costly.

For example, if a pipe bursts and leaks into the bathroom of one of the units, you’ll expect your property manager to call a plumber and have the pipe fixed. But this isn’t enough.

Your property manager should know that any time there is water damage to the ceiling, walls or floor of a unit, they’ll need to open up the saturated area to try it out and ensure there is no mold growth.

This simple error and oversight could end up not only costing you dearly when it comes to repairs but it could put the whole building and your tenants in jeopardy as mold spreads quickly and can also make people sick.

Reputation

Nowadays, people can review property management companies on Yelp or user reviews sites available online. This is an excellent way of vetting a company and seeing what other clients think about who you may decide to hire.

See what people say. Are their reviews positive or have they experienced difficulties when dealing with the company? People usually only write a review when they have something either really good or really bad to say, so you’ll be able to get both ends of the spectrum by using this tool.

Reputation is important because you want to hire someone who is a trusted professional in this industry. Talk to other building owners. See what companies they know and trust and get their information.

You’re always better off getting a direct referral from someone who has experience with a company and can vouch for them honestly.

Tenant Screening

This is a very important part of whether or not a property manager is qualified to run your building. They should be a good judge of character and take all necessary steps to ensure whoever is about to move into your building is screened properly so you don’t encounter issues with them once they’re in.

You’ll want to be sure you’re on the same page with them about what kind of process is in place to interview and accept new tenants. Double check with them that they have anti-discrimination policies in place so a tenant can never accuse you or the property manager of treating them with bias or in an unfair manner.

The property manager should have a very clear system for vetting new tenants. They’ll need to run a background check, credit check and get references from previous landlords, colleagues or friends who can vouch for them.

If these procedures are not in place when you interview the company, run the other way since this is basic property management knowledge and if they don’t have it, it’s not a good sign.

Quick Turnover

Ask your potential property manager what system they implement when a tenant moves out and a new one moves in. How long of a vacancy period do they typically have? Are they able to get new tenants in quickly, therefore saving you money on lost rent?

They should be able to tell you how they go about securing new tenants when a unit becomes available because the faster the turnover time, the better for everyone involved. After all, why miss weeks or months of income if you don’t have to?

Routine Procedures

Aside from how they screen and secure tenants, your new property management company should have routine procedures for every element of the building and how it’s run.

For example, they should have a number of reliable vendors they can turn to if there’s a problem in the building. These vendors should be ones they’ve used before and had a relationship with so they can get them there quickly and for a fair price.

There should also be a routine for how and when there is maintenance done on the building. This goes for plumbing, electrical, landscaping and more. This routine maintenance is important because it will keep small issues from becomes worse and costing you more money down the road.

There should also be a procedure in place when it comes to dealing with tenants. How are work orders for problems within the units dealt with? What happens in someone is late on rent? These are just some of the things to consider and be sure the company has a definitive answer to.

Find a Property Manager Today

Finding a property manager doesn’t have to be complicated now that you know the right things to look for. Be sure to keep an eye out for a reputable company that has great reviews and strong policies.

If you can do this, you can rest easy knowing your income property is being taken care of and working for you. Don’t stress about your investment, just reap the rewards of it!

Looking for the right property manager? You’ve come to the right place. Contact us for more information and be sure to check out the rest of our blog for more tips.

7 Important Tenant Screening Questions You Should Always Ask

7 Important Tenant Screening Questions You Should Always Ask

Are you having a hard time getting applicants for your property?

Finding a quality tenant for your rental property doesn’t have to be like finding a needle in a haystack. Placing an ad online doesn’t always give you the cream of the crop, but you can narrow down your choices by asking quality tenant screening questions.

These questions will help you determine if the potential renter will be worth the revenue you will receive with them staying at your property.

What should you ask before agreeing to let someone rent a property?

Here are 7 important tenant screening questions that will help save you a lot of hassles down the road.

How Long Have You Lived at Your Current Place?

You want to ask this question to potential tenants to learn about their current living situation. If an applicant has been at a property for a couple of years their family may be getting bigger, or a change of scenery may be in order.

If someone is trying to move into your property but hasn’t finished out their current lease, that could be a potential red flag. Why are they trying to leave in a hurry?

Asking this question will help you understand why they want to move into your property.

What is Your Monthly Income?

One of the other important questions to ask potential tenants is how much will their monthly income be. This will help weed out applicants who may not be able to afford the rental amount of the property on a monthly basis.

If your rent is $1000 per month and the tenant applicant is only able to bring in $2000 in income, chances are they will quickly find themselves owing you money because rent may not be high on their priority list compared to other material items.

Will You Agree to a Credit Check?

This question can sometimes be put on an advertisement for your rental property, but if you sit down in person with the prospective tenant it is good to see their reaction.

Sometimes they will be honest and explain that their credit is poor and it may hope that honesty will keep them in good standing. If they flat out refuse to undergo a credit check then you can quickly cross them off the list if you have a feeling they will lead to financial problems down the road.

Have You Ever Had an Eviction?

Asking your potential renter if they have been evicted is a good indicator of how they will treat you and your property if they sign a leasing agreement.

A prior eviction does not necessarily mean that they will skip out on paying you rent when it is due. It could be a dispute between the tenant and prior landlord regarding living conditions that the tenant deemed unsuitable, so finding out the entire story is the best option before making a final decision.

How Many People Will Be Living With You?

When you ask a potential renter how many people will be living on the property it will give you an opportunity to learn about their family. Will space be big enough for everyone to live comfortably?

If your property is a 2 bedroom 1 bath single family home, expecting 4 adults and 6 children to live in the space without it being cramped will be a delusion.

Learning about the occupants of the house can also help you determine if there will need to be routine maintenance done (college kids may like to throw parties that result in structural damage).

Make sure you have a full understanding of who will be living on the property before coming to an agreement with the renter.

Can You Provide References From a Previous Employer or Landlord?

Getting personal references from an applicant is one thing. Being able to find good references from a former landlord or employer will help you get a better feeling for the tenant in professional settings.

The former or current employer can provide valuable knowledge about the potential tenant when they interact with others, how well they perform at work, and if they can be trusted with valuable information.

Reaching out to a previous landlord can give you background information about the tenant that would involve how clean they kept their last home if there were any complaints or violations reported from neighbors and a general feeling of how often they would pay rent on a timely basis.

After you have finished speaking to a former landlord or employer you should be able to have enough evidence to determine whether to rent your property to the applicant.

Do You Have Any Pets?

This may sound like an uncommon question, but if people are willing to sneak animals into hotels that are not pet-friendly, they will do the same thing with their home.

Whether you decide to include a pet deposit with your tenant fees will ultimately be up to you, but asking the potential renter upfront can help you determine if you will want to approve their application or not.

Some properties do not allow large dogs or exotic animals, so speaking to the tenant beforehand can save both of you a lot of time if the animal will not be allowed to live at the property.

What Tenant Screening Questions Will You Ask?

Now that you have seen a few of the most popular tenant screening questions out there today, do you have any that will be added to your list?

If you are looking for more information check out our blog at or call us at (310) 310-8063 to learn more.

How Do Rental Property Management Companies Work?

How Do Rental Property Management Companies Work?

Congratulations, you’re one of the savvy investors who’s purchased a rental property!

With the availability of homes for sale and rent in California at an all-time low, keeping your property occupied should be relatively easy, right? But what about all the tasks that come with owning a rental property?

Some property owners choose to manage their own properties; perhaps they like the hands-on aspect of propertye maintenance and choosing their own tenants, or they’re concerned that the cost will affect their bottom line. Rental property owners who know they don’t have the time, resources or desire to do it all themselves may choose to hire a professional property management company.

How do you decide?

Review these 8 things rental property management companies do to help you decide whether you should hire a property management company or D-I-Y it.

1. Deals Directly with Prospects and Tenants

This includes finding tenants, screening applicants, managing leases and setting appropriate rent levels in compliance with state and municipal laws.

Finding tenants

A skilled rental property management company will know where, when and how to advertise your vacant property to get you the high quality and quantity of prospective renters needed to minimize property vacancies. They can even write and post your ads so that they appeal to and reach the target market for your property.

Screening applicants

Effective screening of rental applicants can yield reliable tenants who pay on time and stay in their leases longer. Thorough screening of prospective renters includes running credit checks, verifying employment, checking references and performing criminal background checks.

Managing leases

For newer property owners, it may seem that you can create a standard lease agreement for the ages–easy enough, right? Not so fast. Managing leases can be a full-time job in itself. An experienced property management company will:

  • Draft rental agreements that have the necessary legal clauses to protect both landlord and tenant
  • Consistently review rental agreements to ensure language is accurate, up-to-date and legally compliant
  • Determine and document security deposit amounts
  • Execute leases, which means that all parties involved have signed, dated and received signed copies of the agreement
  • Modify leases when terms have changed, e.g. when rents go up or down
  • Terminate leases
  • Renew leases in a timely manner

Some property owners will try to save time and hassle by letting leases lapse into an “automatic” month-to-month term. Renewing leases allows you to plan and budget for periodic property updates, avoid having vacancies during low-leasing seasons and show renters you care, which can result in happier, longer-term tenants.

Setting rent levels

Setting proper rent levels can make the difference between earning a healthy income on your property and pursuing an expensive hobby. A qualified property management firm can provide insight and analysis on your specific market and help you set competitive but profitable rates.

2. Collects and Deposits Rent

Collecting timely payment from customers is a challenge in any business. Experienced property management companies have systems in place for collecting and depositing rent payments, security deposits and late fees in an efficient and timely manner.

3. Handles Maintenance and Repair Issues

Regular, ongoing maintenance is necessary to protect your property value and keep tenants happy. Rental property management companies have the experience and resources to get the job at hand done, including handyman services, contractors, and staff. And don’t forget the unscheduled maintenance requests that come in, often at night or early morning, when tenants lock themselves out of their units or have a clogged toilet. Many property management companies provide 24-hour on-call maintenance service.

4. Responds to Tenant Complaints

Tenant complaints can range from complaints about noise and pest infestations to concerns over potentially hazardous conditions like toxic mold, faulty wiring, lead paint and carbon monoxide. A good property manager knows how to handle these complaints in a professional, timely and non-emotional way.

5. Handles Move-Outs

Move-out duties include returning (or not returning) the security deposit, cleaning the property and making any repairs. In the unfortunate circumstance of an eviction, these tasks can become especially tedious.

6. Keeps You Compliant

Good rental property management firm managers have an in-depth knowledge of state and national laws governing the rental property industry. They’ll help to keep you legally compliant and minimize your risk exposure when it comes issues ranging from safety and environmental compliance to discrimination and eviction.

Safety

Local, municipal and State of California laws are designed to protect tenants from health and safety risks that can result from everything from inadequate heating and property deterioration to unsanitary conditions and inoperable hallway lighting. Inspection by enforcement agents can occur anytime and–if violations are found–result in misdemeanor charges which are punishable, imprisonment or both. Having a qualified property manager who knows and complies with state and local laws can protect the owner and the tenant and help mitigate costly legal situations.

Environmental

Rental property management firms actively look for and remove any potential environmental hazards to tenants, including toxic mold, asbestos, carbon monoxide and lead.

Discrimination

The federal Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status and disability. The State of California also abides by the Unruh Civil Rights Act which further protects consumers against discrimination based on ancestry, age, medical condition, genetic information and sexual orientation. Inexperienced property owners can unknowingly violate discrimination laws by simply using the wrong word in an advertisement, rental application or conversation, leaving them exposed to lawsuits and penalties.

Eviction

Evictions can be costly, time-consuming and even dangerous. If you find you need to evict a tenant based on non-payment or other lease violations, it’s important that you follow specific procedures for legal action and documentation. An eviction in California can take as little as three days or up to several months depending on factors like tenant cooperation and availability of proper documentation. A reliable property management firm can save you time, hassle and potential lost revenue by handling the eviction process for you.

7. Manages the Budget and Maintains Records

A property management company can assist you with tedious record-keeping responsibilities advise you on which deductions you can claim, and even file taxes or the property. Note: Property management fees themselves are typically tax-deductible.

8. Supervises Property and Personnel

Qualified property management companies will supervise and manage maintenance and security personnel to ensure they do their work in full and on time. In addition, they can provide 24/7 protection of vacant properties against theft and vandalism.

Deciding Whether a Rental Property Management Company Is Right for You

Knowing these 8 things that rental property management companies do can help you make the best choice for your situation. You’ll also want to weigh your available budget, time and resources to know what’s right for you. Whether you choose to hire a rental property management company or manage your rental property yourself, we have the tools and information to help keep you from getting in over your head.

Check out our blog at or call us at (310) 310-8063 to learn more.

Understanding the Value of Real Estate Property Management in Today’s Market

Understanding the Value of Real Estate Property Management in Today’s Market

If we were to ask you how much you think the total value of all U.S. homes are, what would you answer?

A. $10 trillion
B. $20 trillion
C. $30 trillion.

If you answered A or B, sorry, you’re wrong. C is the closest – with the actual answer being a whopping $31.8 trillion!

Now, who would want to tap into that kind of market? The thing is, real estate property investments aren’t only about having money for making such large purchases. To succeed in this industry, investors need someone to manage their properties. This is where real estate property management services come into play.

But how exactly does professional property management work? Don’t worry. We’ll show you the ropes in this post.

So, keep reading to learn the value of experienced property managers and the difference they can make!

The Rise of Property Management to Stardom

To understand how partnering up with a qualified property management company can benefit you, it pays to have some background on this sector first. Here’s something to put things in perspective:

The property management sector is now worth $77 billion. It has shown a steady increase of 4.4% from 2012 to 2017.

Why do you think so?

For the simple reason that more investors are putting their money in real estate. But to make the most out of their investments, they need the services of professional property managers (a more in-depth explanation below). The dips in rental vacancy rates, which shows that demand for rental properties is on the rise, fueled this growth. In fact, a Pew Study showed that the number of residential property renters grew to 36.6% in 2016. At the time of this writing, the latest Census Bureau report shows that owner-occupied households in the U.S. stand at 64.2%.

Indeed, homeownership is still a major part of the American Dream. Many individuals, however, find renting more cost-effective. That goes for both residential and commercial (offices) consumers.

It’s for these reasons (and more) that real estate property investments continue to grow. At the same time, the heightened competition (for investors like landlords and commercial property owners) highlight the need for effective property management.

The Core of Property Management

The role of property management services is to basically oversee all aspects of managing a piece of real estate property. Be it residential or commercial, an apartment or a 5-bedroom house, a condominium unit or an entire office building. Simply put, the property management company acts on your behalf – as the owner – to retain the value of your asset. At the same time, help you generate a steady stream of income. The responsibilities of property managers don’t just begin when you already have a tenant. They can even help you with this task. They’ll ensure that you get into a contract with only respectable renters.

Where Effective Property Management Starts

Say your property is all “Ready for Occupancy” (RFO). Now, all it lacks is a tenant. To find the right tenant though, you need basic marketing skills and knowledge. After all, you’d have to advertise your property and make people want to live or work in it. You also need to have knowledge of federal, state, and local property laws. What “reasonable” rental prices are. As for how long you’ll find a tenant, there’s too much variation. Consider this though:

A credit check for prospects alone can already take up to 10 days. Combine this with your other tenant-hunting tasks (like advertising, interviewing, etc.), and you’re looking at weeks of finding a potential renter.

Even if you do find a prospect, your search shouldn’t end with a phone call from a single applicant. You need to screen your potential tenants first.

As the property owner, you have many other things on your mind, such as looking for more assets to invest in. You want to find a tenant ASAP, but locating the right one takes a lot of time. But you can’t just bind yourself to a contract with the first prospect.

Remember, the quickest way to see your investment property’s value is to let bad tenants occupy it.

They can neglect or modify it without your permission. They can even use it for unlawful activities. They may also be constantly late in their payments.

Worse, they can just leave without paying their delinquencies or the rest of the lease!

This is where one of the many other benefits of working with expert property managers come into play.

With their skills and knowledge of both the market and tenant behavior, they can help you locate the best tenants. Tenants who’ll not only pay their dues on time but take care of your property like their own.

Dealing with the Hard Part of Turning down Applicants

Just as hard as verifying source of income, checking credit, and reaching out to references of an applicant is turning unqualified ones down. You have every right to say no to an applicant who doesn’t meet credit standards or has a history full of payment delinquencies. But what’s more difficult is knowing when it’s legal to turn them down. Remember, there are laws surrounding fair housing, and you can face legal consequences if you fail to comply.

From Rental Collection to Property Inspection

Property managers won’t just help you find the right tenant. They’ll also ensure timely rental collection. Yes, hiring a seasoned manager helps you prevent getting into a contract with habitual late payers. But there are some situations wherein payment defaults can still occur. Don’t worry though. The property manager will still take full responsibility for dealing with the delinquent tenant. He/she will also assess late fees and interest as indicated in the contract. Property managers also carry out inspections before tenancy, as well as during and after a tenant leaves. During tenancy, it’s normal for them to conduct inspections at least every six months.

Ready to Benefit from Professional Real Estate Property Management?

All the above-mentioned benefits of working with real estate property management professionals is for your own peace of mind. With these experts’ help, you can rest assure your tenants aren’t damaging your property. That it maintains its value, or better yet, appreciates.

So, if you’re ready to reap all these benefits and more, feel free to connect with us. We’ll be more than happy to provide you with quotes and answer your inquiries about effective property management!

How Apartment Property Management Can Improve Tenant Retention

How Apartment Property Management Can Improve Tenant Retention

America is a country full of incredible investment opportunities. Standing out among those opportunities is owning rental properties. As a matter of fact, almost 40% of the country are renters meaning ample income potential for those willing to take the leap and become landlords.

Unfortunately, there’s more to renting property than making an income.

There are laws you need to keep up with, fixes you need to manage, and of course, there are tenants.

Without tenants there’s no money and finding good ones is costly and time-consuming. An apartment property management and home property management agency can help to that end.

With a property management agency by your side, you can be sure your retention rate of quality tenants will improve big time!

Here are a few reasons why!

1) Timely Maintenance

Let’s face it, if you’re managing your rental properties and your personal life, it can be hard to get around to tenant requests. The longer you take, the more likely a tenant is to take their tenancy elsewhere when their lease/rental term is up.

With apartment property management and home property management, all tenant requests will go directly to the property management team. These teams already have contractors they work with lined up and ready to come out to service units as soon as the same day.

That immediacy means more satisfaction for your tenants and more time they’ll spend in your property.

2) Good Pricing

Pricing your property correctly is a difficult task. You need to take into account market conditions, demand, what comparable units are going for in the area and more.

If you’re maintaining steep, noncompetitive pricing in a down market, tenants will almost certainly move to a nearby rental more in line with current conditions. A good property management agency is an expert in the area they operate in.

They can immediately deduce the most opportune pricing and when it comes time to re-up lease/rental agreements, adjust the rent to get you the maximum value and keep good tenants in place.

3) Background Checks

Checking credit and criminal history are both important factors of the rental process. Tenants with negative history often pose a greater risk to your property and are at higher risk to move around more often.

Fortunately, apartment property management and home property management agencies know how to pre-screen tenants in a way that makes sure only quality, qualified people make it into your home.

That means your tenants will be more likely to stay for longer periods of time from the moment they sign their lease/rental agreement.

4) Modern Payment Processing

More and more, payment is going digital. As a matter of fact, half of the millennial population have never used checks at all.

Because of that, being able to offer things like online portals or mobile payments is becoming imperative. Keeping up with technology may not be a strong suit of yours. A good apartment property management company though is always on the cusp of what’s new.

The amount of payment options offered through property management to tenants increases convenience. That leads to more timely rental payments. It also lowers the chance tenants will vacate looking for a rental property that more closely accommodates their needs.

5) They Communicate

When tenants have questions or problems, they want to speak to someone right away. If you’re not dedicating 8 hours a day, 5 days a week to being available to answer your phone when your tenant needs help, that’s a problem.

More often than not, tenants will look for a property owner who offers them immediacy when they have needs. If you can’t be that person, in today’s competitive rental market, someone else will be.

With property management, your tenants have someone they can contact regularly. That means a reduced risk of tenants needing to wait for someone to get back to them and a higher level of tenant satisfaction.

6) They Keep Your Property Looking Good

Even when your tenants aren’t asking for an emergency maintenance, there are still things that need regular maintenance to keep your property looking good.

Groundskeeping, for instance, will require a regular visit from a gardener. Carpet changes will require tending to every few years so. Walls may need touching up.

You get the picture.

With a property management company in your corner, they will always have their finger on the pulse of the condition of your property. That means, even without being asked to do so by an upset tenant, they’ll take action to keep the condition of your space sharp.

That consistent care for your apartment or home will instill in tenants the feeling that you care about them and their living conditions. That will translate into a longer tenancy.

Summarizing How Apartment Property Management and Home Property Management Can Improve Tenant Retention

There is a tremendous amount of opportunity in renting properties. There is also a tremendous amount of responsibility.

A property owner’s ability to handle responsibilities surrounding their tenants in a timely manner will have a profound effect on tenant turnover.

To keep good tenants in your property for as long as possible, we recommend hiring a property management company.

They’ll perform maintenance quickly both by request and as it’s needed over time. They’ll keep your pricing competitive. They’ll also background check and be available to address tenant questions and concerns.

That full-service combination will noticeably reduce your need to seek new tenants and lead to more consistency in your income!

Do you own a rental property/properties in the West Los Angeles, Santa Monica, Pacific Palisades, or Brentwood areas? If you do and are looking for a reputable apartment property management and/or home property management agency, look no further than Westside Property Management.

At Westside, our family owned agency has been helping property owners reduce rental related headaches and increase their revenue for nearly two decades.

Let us do the same for you!

Contact us today about your property needs and we’ll let you know how we can help!