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Alternative Flooring Options

Accidents happen. Even the neatest, cleanest of tenants can damage your property unintentionally. The good news? There are a number of alternative flooring options that can save property owners money and time. Cal Bay Property Management’s Scott Safadi says that while carpet and hardwood flooring might be the most popular options, these alternative flooring options are well worth considering. No-hassle flooring options mean preventing damage and ensuring a long-lasting investment. Check out these three options:
Polished Concrete
Anyone who has ever lived with polished concrete floors will tell you how amazing it is. A special machine uses diamonds to polish the concrete and give it a high shine. Once it is stained, the concrete mimics the look of tile, marble or other high-end flooring options. Stain and water resistant, polished concrete is incredibly durable and can help keep warm apartments cool. The surface is impenetrable, making mold growth impossible. These floors are so low maintenance that landlords will love how easy they are to clean between tenants. Less cleaning means less time the unit has to sit empty!
Epoxy Floor Paint
Typically used for garages and driveways, epoxy floor paint has grown in popularity over the years. Homeowners and landlords are embracing the paint because of how versatile it can be. The paint creates polymer bonds as it cures. That means the floor becomes super flexible and durable once dry. The thick paint bonds well with sub-flooring and creates a waterproof surface. Epoxy floor paint cannot be stained and is virtually impenetrable. Use it on wood flooring to prevent a mold resistant surface, or on concrete to prevent dusting.
Bamboo Flooring
If you’re worried about the environment and want your apartment to be as green as possible, bamboo flooring is the way to go. A type of grass, bamboo renews itself quicker than the trees that provide most types of flooring. When woven tightly, bamboo makes for flooring that is even more durable than traditional wood floors. Because bamboo is water-resistant, it is less likely to warp. It can also be stained multiple colors, giving you some creativity in your design.
It is easy to see why these alternative flooring options are growing in popularity. Affordable and easy to care for, bamboo, epoxy paint and polished concrete are all great choices for your rental home.
– Scott Safadi, Cal Bay Property Management

Renting to a Hoarder

As a property manager, sensitivity towards tenants and their health issues is incredibly important. When your tenant’s health problems begin to conflict with your expectations of tenant behavior, though, problems can quickly arise. When renting to a hoarder, complaints from neighbors and staff can force a property manager’s hand, but the situation should be handled carefully so as not to violate Fair Housing rules.
Hoarding was officially recognized as a mental disorder by the American Psychiatric Association in 2013. That makes hoarders part of a protected class. Scott Safadi of Cal Bay Property Management encourages property managers to resist their initial urge to evict the tenant and instead consider employing one of the following strategies:
Conduct Inspections
Protect your property by scheduling routine inspections with the hoarding tenant. These monthly inspections don’t have to feel invasive. Make a standing appointment with the tenant and keep the visits short. Keep an eye out for hazardous waste and resist the urge to police clutter. As long as the tenant is not breaking the lease in any way, they may keep their unit in the order they like.
Understanding Hoarding vs. Bad Housekeeping
Some of us are better at keeping a clean house than others. Dirty dishes in the sink and clothes on the floor may drive some folks crazy, while others see it as reasonable chaos. Hoarders, on the other hand, tend to stockpile items they feel an emotional connection to. They often leave little room for walking through rooms and instead pile items to the ceiling. Knowing the difference between someone who is a bad housekeeper and a hoarder is crucial.
Careful Conversation
 
If your tenant is indeed a hoarder and in violation of their lease, a sensitive conversation with the person and their family can help bring the issue to their attention. Offer concrete suggestions to clean the home up and give the tenant a reasonable deadline to make the changes. Get the agreement in writing and be sure to follow up at the agreed upon time. This is a delicate conversation and one of the most challenging a property manager will ever have. Handle it the way you would want someone to speak to your own troubled family member.
By responding to hoarding tenants with sensitivity, you’ll have a better chance at helping a person struggling with a very real mental disorder.
– Scott Safadi, Cal Bay Property Management

Home Security Through Landscaping

When a burglar sets his sights on a home or apartment, even the most sophisticated security system or deadbolt can deter him from breaking in. The reality is that millions of people fall victim to burglaries each year. Scott Safadi of Cal Bay Property Management recommends a novel approach to securing your rentals: landscaping.

That’s right: designing landscaping to prevent burglaries is just one of the latest home security trends sweeping the nation. While locks and alarm systems are great ways to secure your home, planting a few strategic bushes and trees could help keep burglars from targeting your place.

The kind of plants matter a great deal. To determine which you should buy, consider the kinds of plants you wouldn’t want to climb through to break into someone’s home. Thorny bushes like holly or roses can be excellent deterrents.

Of course, there is something to be said for increasing your visibility, too. Creating clear sight lines from your windows through the yard and out to the street is critical. You’ll be able to quickly spot anyone who shouldn’t be on your property. Pruning vegetation also rids criminals of spots to hide.

Consider installing gravel beneath your windows. Criminals need silence to carry out many of their misdeeds, and the crunch of gravel could tip off anyone at home that someone is lurking nearby. Installing overhead lighting outdoors is a great way to make burglars feel insecure. Motion-activated lights are perfect for this strategy.

If your home has a back door, look into reinforcing it. The back door is often less protected that the front, so criminals often try the back door first. Install accent lighting to illuminate the landscape out back, too. This will help to eliminate hiding spots of those lurking in the shadows. If you have a gate, make sure it is locked. While this sounds like common sense, you’d be surprised how many people fail to check even the most basic home security measures.

Finally, invest in partial privacy fencing. While you might prefer solid fences, they protect intruders and help them go undetected by your neighbors. However you decide to reinforce your home security, taking a hard look at your landscaping can help.

– Scott Safadi, Cal Bay Property Management

Wildfire Prevention Tips for Your Apartment Community

Is your property prepared for wildfires?

If you don’t live in California, chances are good you don’t worry about wildfires much. But the reality is that wildfires can and do occur in every state in the country. Wildfire season is 2.5 months longer than it was 30 years ago, with each season seemingly worse than the last. Even if you’re not overly concerned about wildfires, Cal Bay Property Management’s Scott Safadi recommends taking these steps to prepare for the worst case scenario:
1. Landscape with fire in mind. Gravel walkways can separate vegetation and stop flames in their tracks. Plants that are high in moisture are also great choices. Avoid flammable trees like conifers. Maintenance is critically important: keep your lawn mowed, your trees trimmed and your leaves raked. Limiting what is available to catch on fire is key!
2. Replace building materials with fire-resistant versions. Roofs, decks, siding and fencing can all be replaced with fire-resistant material. Of course, you’d ideally have this in place from the moment your community is built. If you can’t afford to replace it all at once, look into flame-retardant coating you can add to existing materials.
3. Create an emergency plan. Work with staff and neighbors to create a plan for emergencies. Whether fire starts in a residence or spreads naturally, you should have an idea in mind of how to best evacuate the community.
4. Invest in ceiling-mounted sprinklers. Adding these to your residences can dramatically reduce the damage fire does to the apartment homes. Though not exactly affordable, they are a great investment. There’s even FEMA grants to help with the cost, making ceiling-mounted sprinklers something every landlord should look into.
5. Get covered. What does your insurance policy have to say about fires? Do your tenants have renter’s insurance? Will their property be replaced if a wildfire does indeed occur? These are all questions to ask yourself, your tenants and your insurance agent when prepping for wildfires.
6. Store flammable materials safely. If you’ve got a gas container sitting in a shed that’s bound to get tipped over, you could be the one to inadvertently start the next raging wildfire. Store gas containers and other flammable materials in a safe manner.
However you decide to plan for wildfires, do so now. You never know when danger might strike your community.
– Scott Safadi, Cal Bay Property Management

Settling Conflicts Between Tenants: A Guide

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Multifamily communities offer a lot of perks: affordable housing, shared amenities and the chance to create a neighborhood. But for some tenants, the drawbacks of apartment living can jeopardize their willingness to fulfill or re-sign their lease. Scott Safadi of Cal Bay Property Management knows how critically important it is to nip conflicts between tenants in the bud. Here’s his guide to common conflicts and how to settle them peacefully.

Loud Music
 
In most apartment community leases, policies state that tenants may not make noise that might disturb neighbors. Unfortunately, though, this is easier said than done. For apartments with hardwood floors and blank walls, there’s not a lot to absorb sounds coming from a TV, the radio or even from conversation. What is a property manager to do?
The key lies in respectful negotiation. For the most part, people tend to be flexible about noise during daylight hours. If you can start a conversation between the warring neighbors about what is or isn’t reasonable for them, you can begin working towards a compromise. Of course, the lease rules all. If you made a promise to prevent noisy neighbors from intruding into your tenant’s daily life, you’ll be the one to have to enforce the rules.
Pet Drama
 
If you allow pets on your property, chances are good you’ve heard complaints about barking or about waste being left in the grass. While this is all to be expected, to some degree, more extreme conflicts between neighbors can upset the peace of your community. If you have a tenant accusing another of being negligent with their waste management or with the noise their pets make, have a conversation with the pet owner. Explain your concerns and work on a solution together. You’ll find most pet owners love their dogs and cats enough to make changes necessary to keep them living on your property!
Children’s Behavior
 
This is where neighbor disputes can get tricky, even for seasoned property managers. While no parent likes being told how to raise their kids, the reality is that some busy parents aren’t always supervising their kids behavior as closely as they could. Children running and yelling around a property is not okay, so if a tenant complains, it’s your place as property manager to step in.
Having community rules to point to can help. Consider enforcing rules regarding supervision, noise and property damage and place them in the lease. It’ll make conversations with parents that much easier.
– Scott Safadi, Cal Bay Property Management

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

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