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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

Creating an Engaging Website for Your Property

They say you never get a second chance at a first impression, and in 2017, your website is often your community’s first impression. Scott Safadi of Cal Bay Property Management says most apartment hunters will Google your community before ever reading reviews, touring a unit or calling your office. With so many competitor websites to keep up with, how do you ensure yours is engaging and effective?
It starts with attention-grabbing photography. If your photos are looking dated, considering hiring a photographer to come in and take new ones. Your photos should tell the story of your community. If they don’t have a subtle narrative arc, chances are good that folks won’t bother clicking through.
Once you have your audience’s attention, keep them hooked with engaging content. Blogs can lend credibility and personality to your brand. Most of all, your content needs to convey important information about your community – otherwise, it’s just a waste of readers’ time.
There’s no secret formula to creating a great website, but by following these tips, you’ll be on your way!
– Scott Safadi, Cal Bay Property Management

Microapartments and You: Should You Take Advantage of This Trend?

There’s a new hot trend in the property management world: microapartments.
Perhaps you’ve heard of them. They’re small units typically between 200 and 400 square feet. Within that space, you have the standard necessities : a kitchen, a bathroom and maybe a window, if you’re lucky. These microapartments make studios look luxurious by comparison.
These microapartments are revolutionizing the way many Millennials are renting. For folks in expensive areas – and those who spend the majority of their time at work or out socializing – these microapartments mean an easy way to save some cash. Often, these renters are willing to trade space for location, particularly in cities like New York and San Francisco.
So will microapartments work for your community? Unless you have a stellar location with an excellent walk score, microapartments probably aren’t a good choice for you. As Scott Safadi of Cal Bay Property Management can tell you, location is critical for your community regardless of the size of your units. But unless you’re offering rock bottom rental prices (not a great idea – you might attract irresponsible tenants), you’ll need some way to appeal to folks. Location is key.
Even if you’re not in a position to convert your community to a microapartment building, this is a trend worth watching!
– Scott Safadi, Cal Bay Property Management

Spring Cleaning Your Property

It’s officially spring, and while the warm temperatures might have you thinking about a vacation, it’s best to tackle spring cleaning before relaxing! Scott Safadi of Cal Bay Property Management knows how important it is to be proactive about maintenance. Here’s a to do list of chores you should consider undertaking to prep your property for the season:
– Check out your roof and gutters. Hauling out the ladder around the property might be a chore, but staying abreast of the condition of your roof and gutters pays in the long run. While you’re there, clean out any old leaves and debris that might have collected. Spring often means lots of rain, so you’ll want to be prepared for the gutters to flow clear!
– Get landscaping. Now is the time to plant new flower beds, pick up old branches and sticks that have fallen over the long winter, and rake up any last dead leaves on the ground. Be sure to trim any trees or bushes that appear grown over, too.
– Inspect your parking lots. Check for potholes and faded paint. Once you know what needs tackled, create a to do list to pass along to any contractors you might hire.
– Scott Safadi, Cal Bay Property Management

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