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7 Deadly Sins of Property Management

There’s no right way to manage a property, but there’s definitely a wrong way to do so! This week, Cal Bay Property Management’s Scott Safadi hones in one the seven deadly sins of property management. Avoid these sins at all costs!
1. Not getting it in writing. By it, we mean everything. That’s right: any conversation you have with a tenant about your policies and procedures should be reflected in writing somewhere. The same goes for your interactions with contractors and employees. Without backing up your word in writing, your word is truly useless. That doesn’t just make leadership difficult, it means you could face potential legal trouble down the road.
2. Not using the latest technology. Some people are early adapters of the latest gadgets, while others wait for new technology to become mainstream before buying in. Whatever you do, resist the urge to hold off for too long. Tenants are often on the cutting edge of technology, and learning that your community won’t let them pay rent online can be a deal breaker for someone who lives their entire life online.
3. Not renting to the right tenants. The difference between an amazing community and a terrible one lies within the folks who live there. That’s right: you can have all the incredible, expensive amenities in the world, but if you rent to awful tenants, nobody will want to move in. Take the time to screen out problem tenants. It’ll save you money and time!
4. Not valuing the tenants you already have. Far too many landlords neglect to show appreciation for the tenants they already have. You know the ones – the folks who have quietly, peacefully lived in your rental for years, have always paid their rent on time and give you virtually no trouble whatsoever. It’s easy to put those kinds of people out of sight and out of mind. You’ll miss them when they move to a community where they’re valued.
5. Procrastinating on maintenance. You know you need to replace those HVAC systems before they finally give out. Do so before that happens, and you’ll save your tenants (and your staff) a world of trouble.
6. Ignoring bad reviews. Bad reviews happen to us all, but how you deal with them says a lot to prospective tenants who read your response. Address them politely and quickly!
7. Ignoring your website. Even if you’re not into web design, your website is your first and best chance to show off. By letting your website collect dust, you neglect your property’s reputation.
– Scott Safadi, Cal Bay Property Management

Summer Maintenance Projects: Your To-Do List

Temperatures are scorching, kids are out of school and your community pool is crowded from open until close. That’s right, it’s summer time! For many summer lovers, this is the most wonderful time of the year. For property owners, summer means time for heavy duty maintenance projects. Need some help creating your to do list? Cal Bay Property Management’s Scott Safadi has the ideas you need to get started. His list includes:
General Inspection. You should be inspecting your property thoroughly about once each season. These quarterly inspections can help prevent any unexpected maintenance surprises like a broken HVAC system. Get your tenants in on the job and ask them to change their air filters, check their gutters for clogs and look to see that their HVAC systems are indeed working as they should. Preventative maintenance can save you hundreds of dollars and countless hours of stress down the road!
Pool Maintenance. Your pool is likely getting a lot of action this summer. Since we’re about halfway through the season, now is the time to conduct a thorough cleaning of the space. And we’re not just talking skimming leaves off the top. Instead, ensure safety signs are clear (and not faded from the sun), clean up any trip hazards and power wash your deck areas. You’ll be thankful you did a midpoint clean up when it comes time to clean the pool to close up in August or September!
Prep for Forest Fires (Just in Case!) There’s a lot that property managers can do to prepare for forest fires. Remove debris from your property and trim down any vegetation on the borders of your property. If you have communal grills, post safety reminders about avoiding out of control embers. Consider also trimming down vegetation near the grills, too. Make sure you’ve got a great irrigation system going to ensure your grass isn’t drying out. Programmable sprinklers are a great way to conserve water and make sure your grass is green throughout the season.
Tenant Morale. There’s no better time than summer to remind your tenants why it’s so great to live in your community. Host barbecues, pool parties and other community events to encourage folks to renew their leases! While you’ve got tenants chatting over burgers and hot dogs, check in with them about their living experience. It’s a great, low-pressure way to garner feedback you can really put into use!
– Scott Safadi, Cal Bay Property Management

5 Words to Avoid in Rental Listings

When writing the best rental listings possible, finding the right words to describe your property is crucial for convincing folks to stop by for a tour. The right description can convince people who are hesitant about your community, or feel unsure about whether they want to rent at all. Scott Safadi of Cal Bay Property Management recommends writing several drafts of your rental listings and read them through the eyes of several kinds of renters. How would a single mom with three kids read your listing? What about a bachelor who has just graduated from college? How would a couple of newly retired seniors respond to your ad? While there’s no way to guarantee their responses, putting on a different persona as you read can really help.

Of course, there are also some words you should avoid no matter what. They might surprise you, though! Here are five Scott Safadi always avoids using when listing a rental. They are:

  1. Clean. Just the word clean can conjure images of a dirty apartment. Clean should go without saying, so don’t include it in your listing!
  2. Penthouse. Unless you’re renting to the wealthy and really do have a penthouse suite to offer, avoid using this word. Just because a unit is on the top floor doesn’t make it a penthouse. All this word does is draw comparisons to actual luxury living, so expectations will be far too high for anyone who does bother to stop by for a tour.
  3. Unique. This word means different things to different people, and you simply never know what connotation it might have for folks reading your listing. For many, unique translates to something they’ve never seen before. While a few risky renters might be willing to entertain this idea, most people want fairly standard apartments. Standout features should be described as anything but unique!
  4. Cheap. So you’re offering an affordable housing option. Great! Stick with the word affordable and stay away from the term cheap. It implies low quality and low value rather than simply low price.
  5. Original. Even if your units boast historic exposed brick walls, avoid the term original in your listing. It can imply that the apartment has never been updated. If you’re renting out an older space, embrace the charm of the historic background of the place and avoid words like original to describe them.

However you decide to promote your vacancies, avoid these five words and you’ll be on the right track!

— Scott Safadi, Cal Bay Property Management

 

3 Tricky Questions Tenants Ask (And How to Answer Them!)

As a property manager, your social skills are some of the most valuable tools in your toolkit. But when tenants throw curveball questions your way, even the smoothest of operators can grow anxious. This week, Scott Safadi of Cal Bay Property Management addresses three such questions and safe ways to answer:
1. Can I sublet my apartment?
Having an answer ready before the question is asked is key to handling a question like this one. Make sure your policies are clearly delineated in the lease and direct tenants to the lease they signed when they ask about subletting.
2. Can you take my roommate off the lease?
Sometimes, property managers have to play mediator among friends who have had a falling out or couples who have broken up. While you don’t legally have to remove anyone from a lease, you can explore the options with both parties if you wish. Be careful about taking sides, though! The easiest answer is sometimes just “no.”
3. Can I break my lease?
It’s not ideal for a tenant to break their lease early, but life happens. Employees get transferred, couples break up and folks buy homes. Still, these major life events aren’t reason enough to leave the lease unpaid. Work with the tenant to compromise if possible, but you should have a policy written into your lease ahead of time.
– Scott Safadi, Cal Bay Property Management

Mold Prevention Tips to Share with Your Tenants

It’s summertime, and humidity is creeping in. No matter the season, though, you and your tenants should stay alert to the potential for mold to creep in along with that humidity. Scott Safadi of Cal Bay Property Management recommends sharing these tips with your tenants this summer and beyond!
Dry wet areas
 
Mold grows where moisture is present, so do your part to clean up wet areas when they occur. A leaky pipe or flooded basement can quickly grow moldy, but so can wet laundry and used towels. Clean up after your shower and move your laundry when it’s done being washed!
Monitor humidity indoors
The Environmental Protection Agency recommends keeping your home between 30 and 60 percent humidity. This is a comfortable level and one that prevents mold from growing. So how do you monitor your humidity indoors? You can purchase a moisture monitor at your local hardware store.
Ventilate moist rooms
 
Proper ventilation is key for mold prevention. Make sure there are fans installed in your bathrooms and be sure to turn them on when you shower or take a bath. Any room with water – your kitchen, your laundry room, even your basement – needs fresh air and ventilation.
– Scott Safadi, Cal Bay Property Management

Pest Control 101: Who’s Responsible?

Nobody enjoys seeing bugs in their home. They’re creepy, often unexpected and give off the impression that your space is dirty. The reality is, though, that bugs make their way into even the cleanest of homes and apartments – especially when pets come in and out of your space daily.

Thankfully, pest control has come a long way. Pest control experts can spray for fleas, ticks, mosquitos and bed bugs, among other critters. But for rental properties, deciding who is responsible for hiring the pest control folks can be quite the dilemma.
For the most part, property managers can expect to pick up the tab. If the infestation is naturally occurring (perhaps there is a grassy field nearby where mice might live, or a hornet’s nest just outside the tenant’s door), landlords should pay. Your exterminator can help you determine how the infestation started and what can be done to prevent future critters from entering the home.
On the other hand, if tenants have a history of failing to take out their garbage or treat their pets for fleas, it’s possible they can be held liable for the pest control.
– Scott Safadi, Cal Bay Property Management

5 Amenities You Aren’t Promoting (But Should Be!)

When it comes to attracting new tenants, it’s easy to believe that having flashy new amenities is necessary. And while they certainly don’t hurt, flashy amenities aren’t everything. In fact, there’s a lot property managers can promote about their current community without needing to do any upgrades. That’s what Scott Safadi of Cal Bay Property Management recommends – starting with the basics and promoting them like the true assets they are to your property.
Start with outdoor space. It should be an extension of the unit you’re renting. Whether it’s a small backyard, patio or even a balcony, make sure you’re photographing it and including it in your ads.
Next, emphasize your location. Even if you’re not in the trendiest part of town, there are definite pros to living in your area. Include hot spots in your listings – mention the Whole Foods nearby, or the gym conveniently down the street. Nobody wants to travel far for their daily errands, so a prime location can beat even the shiniest new amenity.
Don’t forget to mention your community’s safety features. A peephole, smart lock technology and break-proof windows can provide prospective tenants peace of mind about moving to your neck of the woods.
– Scott Safadi, Cal Bay Property Management

Designing Your Bark Park

Pet lovers will flock to communities that offer their dogs great amenities, and a dog park is quickly becoming a must-have feature for successful properties. The good news? If you’ve got a spare area of grass to devote to dogs, you’re halfway to a new, highly-sought after amenity! Here are some things to consider:
Location is key
You’ll want to position your bark park in a central location, where all residents can easily access it. The nice thing about dog parks is that they don’t need to be on a perfectly flat piece of the property, so if you’ve got a hilly spot you’re not doing much with, consider placing the park there!
Fencing design
Dog park fences should be at least five feet tall in order to keep pups safe and contained within the area. The gate design is critical, too – consider adding a double gate system allowing pets and their owners to separate themselves to get leashed up again before departing the park.
Rules
Public areas of your community need rules. Reminders to pet owners to clean up after their pet, pay close attention while they visit the park and to keep aggressive dogs away from others are all good reminders. One rule you should always include? Warnings that owners – and not the property – are responsible for keeping their dogs safe.
– Scott Safadi, Cal Bay Property Management

Should You Install Security Cameras on Your Property?

A lot of responsibilities fall to the property manager. You’ve got a million tasks to juggle at any given time, so naturally, security can fall by the wayside if you’re not careful. That’s why installing security cameras on your property may be a good move.

Security cameras can be as big or as small an investment as you’d like. Scott Safadi of Cal Bay Property Management recommends installing cameras in parking lots to start. Your residents and guests will appreciate the added security. Should car break-ins be a problem, you’ll have captured the incidents on tape.

Before you wire your entire property, though, consider why you’re doing so. If you’re hoping to scare off would-be burglars, then perhaps fake cameras are all you need. These are affordable and are a great crime deterrent. Of course, if a crime does occur and you need footage, you’ll be out of luck.

Security lighting can also do wonders for deterring crime. Lights may indeed be a better investment for your money, at least up front. Shining a light on parking lots, stairwells and hallways can go a long way to making your tenants feel safer.

There’s no right answer for this question – installing security cameras is a choice each property manager must decide for themselves!

– Scott Safadi, Cal Bay Property Management

Getting Started (And Taking Control of) Your Yelp Page

Review sites are powerful tools, and as Spiderman can tell you, with great power comes great responsibility. Scott Safadi of Cal Bay Property Management recommends taking control of your Yelp page and promoting yourself as an industry leader. But how do you even get started?
Signing up is easy. Head on over to biz.yelp.com to claim your business as your own. You’ll create an account similar to the ones Yelp reviewers make when signing up. From there, you’ll have the chance to provide useful information about your business to Yelp readers. Be sure to include your website, your office hours and your contact information.
One great way to maximize your Yelp presence is to offer an incentive for stopping by to see one of your properties. Yelp Deals are a great way to do this. Consider offering a discount on an application fee for prospective tenants who check in via Yelp.
Once you’ve got your Yelp business page up and running, the next step is finding folks to write honest reviews. Who better to look to than your current residents? Again, incentives are key here – but never bribe anyone for a good review. Instead, provide e
xcellent service and when a tenant is particularly grateful, ask them to review you on Yelp!
– Scott Safadi, Cal Bay Property Management

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