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How to maximize your vacation rental’s rent potential

Want your vacation rental to rent to its highest potential?
Spring and summer will come along quickly and in the months leading up to it, we have compiled some links of DIY projects to do around the house. We believe these projects will increase your rental value. Whether it is atheistically pleasing or practical, these DIY (Do-It-Yourself) projects will attract the right renter.

  • Guests coming in from out of town want to take advantage of the California sun.
    Make your backyard the highlight of the hang-out spot with different areas to sit, eat and relax. We have provided links to low budget enhancements to the outside of your property. If you are in the mood for a project or need ideas, check out the Buzzfeed link below! Our favorites are numbers: 3, 6, 11, 15, 17, 26, 35, and 37 (or nailing towel/coat hooks on the fence to hang those wet and sandy beach towels). Read more
  • Like a challenge?
    How about a DIY farmhouse bench and table; perfect for outdoor summer BBQs and gatherings. Read more
  • Have a lumpy uninviting couch?
    No need to buy a new one, this DIY project shows you how to bring it back to life on a budget. Read more
  • Not enough cabinet space in the bathrooms?
    Hammer nesting (small to large baskets) horizontally on the wall above the toilet for wash cloths, hand towels, and bath towels. Read more
    Or install towel racks on the back of the bathroom door for more space! Read more

If you’d like to go an alternate route than DIY projects around the house, providing amenities such as boogie boards, sand castle tools, Frisbees, volleyballs, noodles, beach umbrellas and a cooler can greaten your chance of attracting out-of-towners. One of the biggest annoyance for travelers is having to rent or buy these items, which are hard to fly back to and from with or are immediately donated or discarded after use. Let your renters feel welcomed and want to rent from you, by making their vacation hassle free!

Property Insurance: The Basics On Insuring Your Property

When renting out your property to prospective tenants, there are a few basics you must know. As the owner of a property, you are liable for all issues that arise, so having quality property insurance takes on greater importance. Without property insurance, you may be forced to pay damages related to weather, vandalism and a wide variety of other problems that arise.

Those who rent out their property have to deal with the same level of risk as those who own their own home. There are two different insurance policies available, the HO-4 and the HO-6, with the HO-6 aimed towards the needs and concerns of property owners. The HO-6 policy protects owners and provides coverage for many different maladies.

Weather related issues are covered, include damage that occurs due to wind, snow, rain, lightning, hail, volcanoes and sleet. However, a different policy may need to be purchased if you live in an area that is susceptible to earthquakes and floods, as they are not included in a HO-6 policy. Wind damage policies may also be sold separately if the property is located in a coastal region that is more susceptible to wind related issues.

Damage from riots, explosions, vehicles, airplanes, vandalism, theft and smoke are also included in the HO-6, giving those who rent and own their own property valuable piece of mind.

Even more importantly, the HO-6 provides coverage for a bevy of problems that can come about due to poorly installed plumbing or electrical systems. Heating and air conditioning damages are paid for, as well as any damages related to accidental water or steam discharge.

You may also require coverage for any other pieces of property within the area that you are renting. If you have any sheds or garages on the premises, these will also necessitate the purchase of coverage.

If you are allowing tenants the usage of any personal items or are leaving some of your own items on the property, it is important to have these included in any property insurance agreement.

The HO-6 may not apply to your specific situation, so landlords can also choose from liability, fair rental and inflation protection packages. A liability policy covers property owners’ costs if a claim is made against them for damages to the property that are considered to be accidental.

A fair rental policy reimburses owners who are unable to rent out their investment property due to issues covered by their policy. The insurance will pay for any lost rental income caused by these problems. Inflation protection gives owners help in paying for property repairs.

Be sure to shop around and look at a number of different policies before deciding which one is best for you. It is vital to tailor the policy you choose to the specific needs of your property. No landlord wants to be left holding the bag for problems that occur, whether they are natural or man made. Property insurance gives you the buffer you need from these issues, to ensure peace of mind.

How To Keep Your Tenants And Increase Profit

As a property owner, keeping your tenants can significantly increase your profits over time. Renting your property to a reliable tenant is generally a good practice to have. For one thing, a good tenant can be hard to find. Not all tenants can be trusted to maintain the property in good condition and pay their bills on time. If lucky enough to find a good tenant, you should do what you can to keep them. Otherwise, you will have to find a new one, and risk the chance of getting a bad tenant.

Long term tenants are also more likely to get renters insurance. Renters insurance protects you as the property manager. On one hand, if the tenants have insurance of their own, they will be less likely file lawsuits against you as a landlord. On the other hand, it will also be a benefit if there happens to be significant damage to the property or tenants’ property.

In the time between tenants, when no one is renting the property, the result is a loss of revenue. With no one paying rent, the property- which still costs money to maintain- counts as a loss. Keeping tenants for a longer amount of time decreases the frequencies at which these periods of loss occur. Instead, there is a constant influx of rent being paid. Advertising the property to find new tenants is also expensive, and the expense only grows with time.

There are many ways to keep good tenants, and maximize profits. One way to keep tenants happy is respond to problems quickly. Though the problems may seem minor, taking a long time to respond to issues can prevent a tenant from staying in the property. Similarly, as a property owner it is your duty to be responsive. Keep an open line of communication with your tenants and respond quickly to emails, calls, and text messages. Consider being open to renting property to pet owners. Not only does that open you up to a wider audience of potential tenants, it gives the option to tenants without pets. Another option is offering a grace period on rent collection. By extending it a few days, you come off as more lenient and personable. Privacy is another important factor that can dramatically impact the length of time a tenant spends in your property.

Perhaps the most important element of keeping you tenants happy comes before they even inhabit the property. Screening your tenants before renting property out to them is crucial. The step can help reduce the chances of getting tenants with a history of missing payments, damaging property, or getting evicted for various reasons. In shared apartments, or property blocks a bad tenant can prevent neighboring good tenants from renting the property longer term.

Avoiding Craigslist Real Estate Scams

Craigslist real estate scams are everywhere. When you are looking for a home for rent, you may find that there are countless properties available on Craigslist. They show you photos of a place and disclose the rent as being very affordable based upon the neighborhood that you are looking in. All looks good, but how do you know it’s a scam or not?

Many of the scams on Craigslist show you rental properties that are not actually for rent. People agree to mail you a key to the location because they are not local. They want you to fill out an application and provide them with a background check fee so that they can approve you for the property.

Here are some of the most important things to know:

  • – The background check fee is their way of scamming you out of your money
  • – The application is going to include a lot of personal details that could lead them to stealing your identity

Many people have fallen into the trap of Craigslist real estate scams and you can avoid these by working with a local real estate agent that can take you through the properties for rent and show you that the places are legitimately available.

The rentals that are being listed by the scam artists are often very easy to identify if you know what you are looking for. The cost of the rent is going to be considerably lower than the other properties in the area. This is done to lure you in and make you think that it’s such a good deal that you will act quickly so no one else is able to get the property.

The person who is running the scam may also not speak the best of English. They will say that they are not local and upon being approved, they will mail you a key. This is not standard protocol when renting a property. You should be given the key in person and be able to view the property ahead of time.

If you are not sure whether a real estate listing is a legitimate one or not, there are some things you can do. You can ask for the physical address and take a drive down to the property. You can also ask to talk to the current or previous renters to find out what they think of the house.

Scams take place on Craigslist every day and you don’t want to be the victim. If you are looking for a rental, the best thing to do is contact a local real estate agent where you can trust that they are doing everything by the books. You can view the property and then fill out an application, which does not include a fee to run a background check.

Property Insurance: Insuring Your Property

If a rental property is damaged by fire, flood, earthquake or other national disaster or is faced with a liability lawsuit, insurance is often the only thing that stands between the owner and financial ruin. If you are the owner of a property that rents for more than a couple weeks a year, a homeowner’s insurance policy is not sufficient. As a landlord, it’s important to protect your investment with an insurance policy designed specifically for rental properties. Although you should be sure to consult with a professional insurance agent to get recommendations specific to your situation, here is some helpful information to consider about rental property insurance:

  • A typical rental property policy will cover fire, theft, damage from weather related events , injury liability or malicious damage.

  • Most policies have the option of adding on areas of coverage, such as rent guarantee and legal aid, but these add-ons may greatly affect your monthly premium.

  • Premises liability coverage is important to have as it will protect you in the event that a tenant or one of their guests is injured due to negligence on the property. Something as simple as someone slipping on a puddle of water could result in a law suit totaling hundreds of thousands of dollars, if they are seriously injured.

  • Property insurance is just as accessible as homeowner’s insurance in terms of finding a supplier. It’s important to consider not only the price of the policy, but also the amount of coverage, the areas that are covered and the amount of the deductible.

  • When considering your policy, you must decide how you would want your claim settled. You can choose an “actual cash value” option, which will pay the current value of the damaged property, or a “replacement cost” option, which has a higher premium, but will cover the total cost to rebuild and replace damaged property.

  • You may also want to encourage your renters to secure their own insurance to cover any potential loss of their personal property in the event of a fire or other unforeseen disaster.

Making Your Property Shine Inside and Out

The appearance of your property, both inside and out, can either attract the customers that you want or scare them away. Maintaining proper care and going the extra step to make your property shine will ensure your success in bringing in leasers for the long term. Even making basic improvements in your rentals can increase their monthly value significantly. Here is some advice for how to make your property shine inside and out:

  • Make a good first impression. Hire a good landscaping company to make sure your grass is cut and that the outside of your property is properly maintained. Plant bright flowers to add appeal, but make sure that you water them. Dead flowers are even worse than no flowers at all. Look for obvious fixes, such as scratched paint or torn screens. Make sure trash receptacles or dumpsters are not overflowing. Be diligent about picking up any litter that may be found on your property.

  • Look at your property through the eyes of a renter. What are some things that you would want if you were renting the space? What would you expect in the kitchen? Is the bathroom up to date? Using the same critical eye that most renters use when checking out a new space, determine what needs to be improved or enhanced in order to satisfy potential renters.

  • Improve your lighting. When showing your property, make sure to utilize every light that is available to brighten up the space. Also, raise the blinds to let in the natural light. Make sure that the outside of your properly is well lit for better safety and security.

  • Paint. A fresh coat of paint can do wonders to add shine and polish to your rental property. This may include the outside of your office and the exterior of the rental as well as the rooms inside of the space that you are renting. Using white or a light tan color will make your rooms look bigger.

  • Update your property. Replace worn carpet, switch out scuffed up cabinet doors, replace old light fixtures, tear up the vinyl flooring in your bathroom, etc. The value of your property increases with each update you make and so does the possibility of attracting desired tenants.

How to Resolve Tenant Issues

Whether a property contains just one tenant or several hundred, you can expect tenant issues to occur. When a tenant has an issue or concern, it is important to handle the situation in an appropriate way that will bring the best outcome for all involved. If these situations are handled incorrectly, the relationship you have with your tenant(s) could be very negatively impacted; which will only bring more headaches down the road.

 

Here is some advice for how to properly resolve tenant issues:

  • Listen: Sometimes a tenant just wants to know that they are heard. In every case, it’s vital that you listen to the issue and determine if it is a small concern or one that could be considered an emergency. Asking follow up questions will let the tenant know that you were paying attention and will help you find all of the important details necessary to identify a resolution.
  • Be Available: This doesn’t mean that you should hand your cell phone number to every tenant, but make sure that they know when and how they can contact you.
  • Respond in a Timely Manner: If you ignore a concern or delay your response, the issue and the temper of the tenant has the potential to escalate, becoming more difficult to handle.
  • Have a System: If you have a system in place where tenants can contact a designated number or fill out an online complaint form, the process of resolving complaints will be much more efficient and less frustrating for all involved.
  • Be Professional: Handling tenant issues is part of your job so it is important that you maintain your professionalism, no matter how difficult that may be. Make sure not to raise your voice, curse or get overly emotional.

For any property, tenant issues are bound to arise. How you handle the situation will affect how your tenants view you and the harmony of your property. Addressing tenant issues appropriately will go a long way in keeping the piece at your rental property.

 

Duties of a Property Manager

Without a great property manager, a rental property could very easily go into chaos. Property management is a critical role that helps each rental location run smoothly and successfully. The job of a property manager is typically comprised of a specific set of responsibilities in helping to properly run a rental property. Whether you are managing a small or large location, high-end or ultra-affordable; there are certain duties that every property manager will be expected to perform.

 

These responsibilities include:

  • Locating Tenants: The first step to success for any property is attracting appropriate renters. The property manager will be responsible for getting the word out through local advertisements and online listings. They also must be available to show the property and to give tours to potential tenants. For most properties it’s also important for the manager to screen potential tenants through credit checks and background checks to ensure that they qualify for a rental agreement. A good property manager will be aware of any possible red flags or warning signs of a possibly risky renter.
  •  Collecting Rent: Making sure that rent is paid on time by each tenant is a vital part of ensuring the success of your property. The manager will also have to follow up with any renter who is late with their payment and issue late fees for those who pay past the due date. They are also responsible for overseeing the eviction process, when necessary. These duties may not make the property manager very popular, but it’s important that they hold the tenants responsible to the terms of the lease.
  • Maintaining the Property: Making sure that the property is well taken care of and safe is a huge area of responsibility for a property manager. This includes quickly addressing tenant complaints, making sure that landscaping is take care of, organizing pest control and clearing public areas of dangers, such as ice or standing water.
  • Handling Repairs: A property manager is responsible for the timely execution of needed repairs. This includes both regular maintenance, such as replacing air filters and checking smoke detectors, and emergency repairs, such as leaks or faulty alarms. A good property manager will have quick access to a list of favorite professionals to help with these repairs including a plumber, locksmith, electrician and contractor.
  • Educating Themselves About the Law: A property manager doesn’t need to be a lawyer, but they do need to be aware of government regulations, laws and property rights of citizens in order to make sure that they are properly doing their job. As a property manager, it is important to follow the letter of the law, especially when it comes to the handling of deposits, maintaining safe properties and conducting evictions. Not being aware of important statutes and laws could lead to a costly law suit and, most likely, the loss of your job.
  • Supervising: The property manager is responsible for supervising the other employees of the property. This includes other office staff as well as any contract employees, including lawn care professionals, painters, pest control specialists, etc. They must ensure that each person is doing their job properly for the rental property to run successfully.

It is essential that every rental property have a highly qualified property manager to ensure that the property runs safely and effectively. This is not an all-inclusive list, but these are the core responsibilities of the job. If the property manager is properly carrying out their duties of locating tenants, collecting rent, maintaining the property, handling repairs, staying educated about property law and supervising, they will contribute greatly to the success of the rental property.

Have other questions about property management in San Diego? Click here to read FAQs about property management or contact Harland Property Management directly at 858-367-0343.

How to Choose the Length of a Lease

When putting a property up for rent, it is hard to know exactly how long a lease should be. If the lease period is too short, such as with a month-to-month contract, a landlord may have to deal with high turnover and the associated time and financial costs. On the other hand, some tenants shy away from long-term, 12 month leases because they do not want to be committed to a particular property. What is the best way for a landlord to determine a lease period?

A landlord will want to look at where their property is located and who their target demographic is. If you are renting in a:

  • College Town – A large segment of the population will likely be transient, making a six-month lease a desirable option. This type of lease offers flexibility for the student renter as it falls in line with changing academic schedules, while providing more security than a month-to-month lease. However, if you feel uneasy about finding renters every six months, a 12 month lease is still an option. You’ll need to decide if you’re willing to take the risk of turnover to appeal to more renters or if you’d rather have the security of a longer lease term. Are you a landlord that is tired of dealing with college turnover? Learn more about San Diego property management services and let a professional take care of marketing and rental responsibilities for you!
  • High Demand District – If you are fortunate enough to own a property where demand is higher than available real estate, a month-to-month lease may be a good idea. If your property is properly priced, well maintained and in a high-demand district, you have a better chance at getting tenants quickly. A month-to-month lease will allow you to appeal to more tenants, helping you to find someone who is reliable and respectful, and if they give their 30 days, you can hopefully fill the vacancy before any financial issues arise.
  • Residential Area – Year-long leases may be more appropriate as individuals looking to rent are likely connected to the area because of a job, a particular school, etc. Generally, renters will be new families who are not ready to purchase a home, but are still looking to raise children in a stable and community-oriented environment. In San Diego, there are many military families who are new to the area and are looking for a safe, friendly residential area to help make the transition to a new city easier. If you are a landlord and need help renting your home, click here to learn about professional residential management from Harland Property Management in San Diego.

The length of your lease will depend on what you as a landlord are most comfortable with, as well as the time you have to devote to managing your property. If you are overwhelmed by your responsibilities as a landlord, contact Harland Property Management at 858-367-0343 today, and don’t forget to check out what our clients are saying about us!

Updates Every Landlord Should Consider

Photo Credit: mahanshardwareandautosupplyWhether you have recently purchased a new rental unit or a tenant has moved on, new tenants like to see clean, updated properties. A few improvements will help you maximize your returns and maintain a good reputation as a landlord without draining your wallet. Here are some of the most common repairs and updates you should consider.

  • Install New Door Locks
    One of the most important things is to have all door locks changed or re-keyed. It is surprisingly common for door locks to remain unchanged from tenant to tenant, however a wise tenant will ask for proof that this has been done. Not only will your tenants will feel more secure after new door locks are installed, you will not face liability if someone enters the property with an old key. Own a vacation rental? You definitely can’t change the locks each time you have a new renter, however there are other management services for San Diego vacation rentals that you should consider.
  • Eliminate Carpet
    Carpets are hard to maintain. They snag, are easily stained, hold lots of dirt and can wear quickly. Over the long term, you could save a lot of money by getting rid of carpet and replacing it with more durable and easy to clean hardwood or laminate. Plus, homes with wood and laminate floors tend to be visually more appealing and can attract more tenants to your rental.
  • Update Appliances
    Not only will the tenants appreciate new gadgetry around the home, but you will save time, money and hassle by not having to repair unreliable old appliances. What if you have old appliances that are still in working condition? Enlist the help of handyman, or learn more about services from professional and reliable San Diego property management companies who will take care of everything for you.
  • Try a Programmable Thermostat
    This cheap fix offers benefits to both you as a landlord, and your renters. It is far easier for tenants to keep energy bills low with a programmable thermostat. Not only that, you will be able to showcase the lower utility bills to future tenants, which will make your rental unit more attractive. It’s always important to keep in mind how you can better market your property so you can ensure tenancy year round.

Have other questions about property management in San Diego? Click here to read FAQs about property management or contact Harland Property Management directly at 858-367-0343.