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Should You Allow Cats in Your Rental?

Photo Credit: funnyloolThe topic of whether or not to allow pets in a rental property is a much debated topic, and one that will ultimately depend on your personal comfort level and the type of renter you are trying to attract. When landlords think about their pet policy, they focus on dogs, stipulating size and weight. However, what about cats? If you are a landlord and property manager in San Diego, you may want to think twice about allowing cats in your rental property.

A cat can easily cause thousands of dollars of damage to a home or apartment in a very short time. Cats that have not been declawed can tear up flooring, walls, and furniture. Along with this, you have the risk of damage due to their strong smelling urine. The level of ammonia in a cat’s urine usually requires a professional cleaner to remove the pungent odor. And, if the situation is not taken care of immediately, you may find yourself replacing the all the flooring in your property.

Another issue that is more common with cats than dogs is fleas. In addition to affecting cats, fleas are capable of affecting dogs, animals and humans. This can be especially hazardous in an apartment complex because the fleas can travel and create problems for other tenants as well. To remedy the situation, you’ll need to call a professional pest control company which can eat away at your profits. Are you a landlord who manages multiple units in a property? Learn more about professional management for San Diego apartments and let licensed managers take care of all the work for you.

According to the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, cat allergies are twice as common as dog allergies. Contrary to popular belief, cat allergies are not the result of pet hair, but a protein found on the skin of cats called Fel d1. This protein travels in the form of a small and light particle which is incredibly sticky and can easily attach to skin, clothing, carpet and more. Even after a cat is taken from a house, allergen levels may remain high for up to six months! This can pose a problem for landlords in trying to rent their property to a new tenant and can be costly if the entire home or apartment needs to be thoroughly cleaned.

To help minimize any of the above problems, consider adding a pet addendum to your rental agreement to reserve the right to have the premises professional treated, at the renter’s expense, if it is obvious that the property is not maintained in a clean or safe way. The more specific you are, the better you will be protected.

For other management tips, contact Harland Property Management at 858-367-0343 today or click here to request a property management quote!

Maintaining Landscaping during the Winter

Photo Credit: ZellPlumbingWith winter in full swing, landlords and property managers are looking for ways to maintain the beauty and value of their properties. After all, a lush lawn that helps rent a property in the summer still requires care through the rest of the year! What are some easy, cost-effective ways to keep everything looking good through the cold months of winter?

  • Aerate, seed, and fertilize your grassed areas. This is best done during the cooler, dormant months of autumn and will produce a beautiful and green spring lawn. Aeration loosens the soil for planting and the fertilizer will help sustain the seed. The fertilizer will also ensure the seeds are prepared for healthy growth, in addition to maintaining the health of the lawn overall.
  • Remove all of your dead annuals. A simple step, but what a difference it can make! Removing dead plants is an absolute necessity, especially in the winter when they no longer have a vibrant color. The removal also helps prepare the soil for a new crop of annuals in the spring and summer.
  • Protect sensitive plants. While temperatures do not necessarily fall too low in the San Diego area, the most sensitive plants can always benefit from light mulching at their base or stems to protect them. If the weather turns uncharacteristically cool, screens also help protect plants.
  • Monitor your irrigation system. Plants require water, even in the winter. Make sure they are getting the right amount to sustain them through the season. Don’t have time to closely monitor your irrigation system? Learn how a residential property management company in San Diego can help.
  • Consider planting winter-blooming flowers. Instead of looking at empty beds all winter, select some hardy winter-blooming flower varieties to lend color to the landscaping through the dreary days of winter. Calendula, lobelia, nasturtium, and annual salvia all should fit the bill for the season. Planting bulbs for the spring is a winter gardening chore as well, certain to reap benefits next year.

Weren’t prepared for property management to be so much work? Don’t worry, Harland Property Management is here to help. Learn about our professional property management services in San Diego and see how we can help you with everything from outdoor landscaping to yearly tax preparation for your rental property. Our property management specialists are also available to answer any of your questions. Simply dial 858-367-0343.

Underestimating Property Costs

Underestimating Property CostsOwning income-producing property is the dream of many business people today. Unfortunately, there is more to it than buying a property and hanging a rental sign. Many property owners learn from experience; however learning from mistakes is not financially feasible in today’s market. Overwhelmed already? Learn more about professional property management services in San Diego and check out the dangers of underestimating property costs.

Property costs go beyond the initial price tag. The cost of occupancy inspection is nominal, and property taxes, insurance and mortgage payments are often considered and planned for during the purchase. Other costs, however, need to be considered as well and can sometimes fluctuate from one year to another.

  • Maintenance and damages. Be certain to budget enough money for damage caused by tenants. Normal wear and tear is bound to happen, but it is important to also budget for unforeseen circumstances. Your lease may entitle you to some money from the security deposit, but it’s always good to have a safety fund so you can make the repair as soon as possible. Also, if you’re not taking on the repairs yourself, be sure to budget for the cost of labor. Many first-time landlords make the mistake of underestimating how much it will actually cost to fix a leaky sink or repaint a wall.
  • Renovations and upgrades. Depending on the age of your rental property, you may have to renovate or upgrade certain aspects such as the flooring or plumbing. Carefully examine your property and be realistic on what will need to be updated in the near future, as well as its cost. Are you an apartment manager in San Diego? You may want to consider hiring a single contractor who will be able to handle all of your renovations and upgrades.
  • Landscaping. The outside of the home is just as important as the inside! Although some responsibility may fall on the tenant to maintain landscaping, most falls upon the landlord. You’ll need to budget for routine landscaping and be prepared for additional landscaping needs as the seasons change.

Being a landlord isn’t for everyone! If you still want to reap the financial benefits but would prefer assistance from a professional property management company, reach out to Harland Property Management. Read our property management reviews and then contact us at 858-367-0343 to request a free quote!

How to Prepare Rental Properties for the Cooler Months

Preparing Rentals for ColdAlthough San Diego is renowned for its lovely weather, the cooler months are on the horizon. If you are a landlord in the San Diego area, you will need to properly prepare your residential rental property before the cold weather sets in. Are you a landlord that doesn’t want to hassle with taking care of your rental properties on your own? Learn more about our residential property management services in San Diego.

 

Inspect for Air Leaks

Even a small leak from a window or door can have a great impact on a home’s energy efficiency. Eliminating any seepage from the home is especially important when the temperatures begin to get cooler. If the inspection reveals any air leaks, a fresh application of caulking and weather-stripping will help to keep the property as energy-efficient as possible.

 

HVAC System Maintenance

In order to be effective, a HVAC system needs a certain amount of regular maintenance. This includes replacing all of the filters and checking the system for any wear and tear. It is also essential that the unit is thoroughly cleaned of any debris. Not only will routine maintenance extend the longevity of the HVAC system, but it will also reduce energy consumption.

 

Clean the Gutters

Although San Diego is not known for torrential rain, it is always best to be prepared. A clogged drainage system makes the home much more susceptible to being damaged. Water damage is a very expensive repair that can be prevented by taking the proper precautions.

 

Inspect Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Detectors
If you have not inspected the carbon monoxide and smoke detectors lately, now is definitely the best time to do so. Due to the fact that residents will likely be spending more time indoors, the chances of a fire-related accident are elevated. When it comes to the safety of a rental property, every precaution should be taken.

 

By ensuring that the above precautions are taken, you can rest assured that your tenants will enjoy a problem free winter. For more tips on residential property management, visit www.harlandpropertymanagement.com or contact Harland Property Management directly at 858-367-0343 to speak to an expert property manager.

Time Management Tips for Property Managers

Photo Credit: morgan.eduAfter the leasing agent helps the tenant select the property and the moving company delivers the household goods, the responsibilities of the property manager or landlord continue for the duration of the lease. It is important to understand that tenancy management is time-consuming, and critical to amicable tenant relations, organized record keeping and legal compliance. Not sure if you want to manage a property on your own? Learn more about professional property management in San Diego.

Develop a reference sheet for the tenants for repairs and emergencies. A typed, well-organized list of preferred repair services, utility companies and maintenance professionals should reduce excessive calls to the property manager and shift some responsibility to the tenant. Also, provide two emergency contacts with alternative ways to reach both. This is especially important for landlords with vacation rentals, as tenants will likely be unfamiliar with the San Diego area.

Designate space for hard copies of documents, creating separate folders to organize documentation by category. Keep together the executed lease agreement, addendums and disclosures. In another folder, retain all tenant correspondence including a copy of the vendor and emergency contact list. Separately, maintain a record of rent payments received, missed or late. This is very important in the event of an eviction. Under a California statute, a month-to-month tenant who successfully disputes an eviction notice can regain temporary possession only if they are current on their rent. An Excel spreadsheet is a good way to track this information.

Organize soft copies of emails and other documents. Save email correspondence by creating an inbox folder with the tenant’s name. If there is a great deal of correspondence, set up sub-folders by subject or time period. On the computer desktop, create a folder with the tenant’s name to save documents such as the tracking spreadsheet mentioned above and templates for overdue rent notices. Schedule monthly reminders to send a late notice if the rent is outstanding. Ideally, these reminders will not be necessary, but it is best to be prepared.

While the tasks seem small at first, they can add up to save landlords time and can help solve any disputes. However, if you need assistance with your landlord responsibilities, contact Harland Property Management. In addition to managing all of your day to day responsibilities, we also work on your behalf to create positive tenant relations and can take care of any eviction disputes. We also have a professional team of contractors to tend to any maintenance or emergency situations.

Enjoy the additional income from your rental properties without the time consuming responsibilities. Reach out to a expert property manager today at 858-367-0343 and learn how we can help you make the most of your residential, apartment or commercial property.

How to Get Your Tenants to Pay Rent on Time

Reminders for RentRenting out a property is one of the best ways to enjoy a steady income stream. However, one of the largest challenges that landlords face is getting tenants to pay their rent on time. Fortunately, there are several methods to ensure you don’t have to go to great lengths to receive the payment or evict your tenants.

Here are a few simple ways to help ensure that landlords receive rent on time each month:

Enforce Late Fees

Enforcing late fees is one of the easiest ways to receive a payment that is on-time each month, but the fees must comply with the state’s law. Fees can usually be charged by the fifth of each month, which will be a large motivator for tenants who may already be tight on money.

Send Reminders

Sometimes the first day of the month simply comes and goes unexpectedly for those who become engulfed with school, work or family life. Just as the utility companies send reminders, it’s acceptable to send a monthly reminder when the first is quickly approaching. Creating mailers or postcards is a great option for landlords who manage multiple units or apartments. Are you a landlord that finds yourself overwhelmed by your apartment management responsibilities. Click here to learn more about professional multi-unit and apartment management services in San Diego.

Keep Up on Repairs

In many cases, tenants are simply refusing to pay their rent on time because there are too many repairs that still need to be fixed on the property. This is often their way of communicating their feelings to the landlord, making it important to earn the respect of the tenant so that their own responsibility is reciprocated.

Work with a Property Management Company

If you constantly find yourself with bad tenants who refuse to pay rent on time, it may be time to look for help from a professional San Diego property management company. With the help of a company like Harland Property Management, you won’t have to worry about tenant screening or rental payments as they will take care of everything for you. This ensures you are paid on time and that your unit is always properly maintained.

Things to Know before Buying an Apartment Building

Buying an Apartment ComplexOwning and leasing an apartment building can be a great way for a landlord to generate additional yearly income. However, prior to buying an entire apartment building, it is important that landlords know what they are getting into. Without the proper knowledge, buying and leasing and apartment building could cause more stress than anticipated. Harland Property Management offers information about buying an apartment building and important tips to help guide prospective buyers through the process.

Start by making sure your finances are in order and calculate the time and cost you will need before you will start to see a profit. Then, check out the vacancies in the area where the apartment building is located. One rule of thumb is to not purchase a building if more than 20 percent of the buildings in the area are vacant; otherwise, you are going to have a difficult time finding tenants. Ensure that you have also planned for common repairs, such as paint touch-ups, and be sure there is an emergency fund in place for those larger, unexpected repairs.

One other point that is often overlooked is the building’s safety. Make sure to hire an unbiased inspector with a solid reputation. Things to make sure he or she looks for include a weak or cracked foundation and any damage to load-bearing walls. You should also make sure the inspector checks that the electrical wiring is up-to-date and that there are no signs of mold or other hazards. For more information about apartment management in San Diego, click here.

Additionally, do not be afraid to invest extra money in professional advice and services. Consult with real estate agents in the area who are familiar with costs and local regulations, and who can provide you with valuable information that you might not get elsewhere. Make use of a certified public accountant to make sure all your finances are in order, to confirm that you can comfortably afford to make the purchase and to get any tax-saving tips. Finally, make sure to contact an attorney for legal advice. There are often a lot of little details that have the possibility of being overlooked, especially at the county level: licenses, permits, fees, taxes, etc.

After you feel confident in your decision to purchase an apartment building, you will need to consider how you are going to attract renters, minimize vacancy and successfully manage the collection of rent, maintenance and the property as a whole.

For those who have never managed an entire apartment building or feel overwhelmed by the process, consult with a professional property management agency such as Harland Property Management. We specialize in apartment management and will help you with everything from legal paperwork and filling vacancies to maintenance and tenant evictions. Interested? Click here and see what some of our clients are saying about our property management services!

How to Identify a Craigslist Rental Scam

Identifying Property Rental ScammersCraigslist has become a valuable tool for landlords, giving them the ability to market their properties free of charge on the internet. They can provide information about the property’s location, price as well as updates and amenities. In fact, when looking for homes or apartments, many prospective renters turn to Craigslist knowing there will be local listings in which they can use for research and comparison. What’s even better is these prospective renters can search from anywhere, whether in San Diego or across the nation in New York.

While craigslist can be a valuable tool for landlords, it is also a prime target for scammers posting fake real estate ads. There are several ways to identify a fake real estate posting on Craigslist, and they can be relatively easy to spot once you know what to look for. We’re going to list a few signs that indicate a posting on Craigslist is fake.

When an advertisement looks like a great deal, but no address or phone number is listed and no photographs are included, chances are high that it might be a scam. While this doesn’t hold true for all occasions, anyone looking to seriously rent a property in San Diego would likely include contact information.

Another red flag are posts that state an online payment to conduct a credit check is required, but those with very low credit can still qualify. It is likely that whoever placed the ad is looking to take someone’s money in the form of an online payment, particularly individuals who have bad credit and are in need of a property manager who doesn’t place much importance on credit history.

A final quick way to check if a Craigslist listing is fake is to email the poster. If their email a string of letters and gibberish, chances are it’s been automatically generated and is just used as a ‘burner email.’ This makes the email nearly impossible to trace back to the creator and is a common tactic of scammers to avoid being caught.

In some cases, false ads on Craigslist may use pictures from other actual postings. If you are a landlord and one of your single family home rentals, apartments or condos is being used for one of these fake advertisements, the first step is to contact Craigslist and report the listing. If you’ve been contacted by people trying to confirm their purchase after they sent money to the scammer, it can be tough to inform them they have been scammed. Take their information and consult your lawyer as soon as possible – you don’t want to be on the receiving end of a lawsuit for the actions of someone else.

Whether you are looking for a new home or apartment or are a landlord in need of marketing assistance, contact us today. Click here to read more about our business and see how our 24/7 team of dedicated real estate professionals can assist you in renting your ideal property!

The Importance of Security Deposits for Landlords

Importance of Security DepositsA security deposit is one of the most important lines of defense for landlords. A security deposit not only protects the property, but a landlord’s finances should anything be damaged during their renter’s lease period. Typically, the deposit is the same amount as one month’s rent and is returned to the renter at the end of the stipulated lease period.

However, deductions can be made from the deposit. For example, if the renter is behind on monthly rental payments, this amount can be deducted from the security deposit. While landlords in San Diego cannot deduct for regular wear and tear, damage or excessive filth such as cigarette burns in the carpet, large marks or holes in the wall, grime coated bathrooms and toilets, and water damage care all valid reasons to deduct amounts from the deposit. Unfortunately, even landlords that have a valid reason for deductions can be pulled into court. As a result, it is crucial that landlords know what they need to do to avoid litigation and reduce their out of pocket costs.

Property Overview Prior to Move-In

Before any tenants move in, landlords can protect themselves by taking pictures of the property. This will help show the current state of the property upon move in and if something happens at a later date, can be used as reference to prove that the damage extended beyond everyday wear and tear. It is best to get a time stamp on the pictures developed to show that they were taken right before the tenant moved in.

Preliminary Inspection upon End of Lease

Two weeks before a tenant moves out, perform a preliminary inspection. Evaluate the carpet, window treatments and appliances for any damage. With the tenants present, you can write out potential damage and corresponding amounts. Both parties sign the agreement at the end of the inspection. As a landlord, you then have proof that the tenants are aware of potential deposit deductions unless the damages are repaired before move-out day.

Final Inspection once Lease has Ended

Typically performed after the tenants move out, the final inspection allows you to evaluate areas covered by furniture or wall decorations. Unless there is excessive damage, normal wear-and-tear cleaning is not part of the security deposit. Also, you must return the deposit within 21 days of the official move-out date. If you are renting a San Diego vacation home for a certain amount of days, the process will be slightly different, however a security deposit should still be imposed.

Deductions

If you have valid deductions, write out a detailed account of each damaged area and include pictures if possible. Keep all your receipts for new materials and provide the former tenants with receipt copies. If they match their deduction amount with your materials list, they quickly see the validation of the charges rather than resorting to a court litigation process.

Have other questions about property management? Click here for a list of other Frequently Asked Questions or contact Harland Property Management directly at 858-367-0343. From apartment and residential properties to commercial buildings and vacation homes, we can answer any of your questions regarding property management in San Diego.

Should You Rent to College Students?

San Diego Rental MarketSan Diego is home to 3 major college campuses, making college students an ideal demographic to target as renters. However, renting to college students is a bit different than renting to older adults or families in San Diego. So what are the differences and if you are a landlord, how do you ensure that you have a good experience renting to college students? The following are things to know about college students, as well as a few things that you should keep in mind about the younger rental market.

 

Take the School Year into Consideration
College campuses welcome students at the end of August or beginning of September through late May. If you are planning on renting to college students, you should start advertising your rentals heavily in June or July. This gives you plenty of time to find a tenant for the school year. You may also want to consider requiring a 12 month lease to ensure that your property will generate revenue throughout the entire year, even during the summer when school is no longer in session.

Know what Type of Students Your Property Will Attract
The type of property you own will dictate the type of students that will want to rent from you. For instance, if you are renting a one or two bedroom apartment in San Diego, you will likely be appealing to smaller groups, couples or individuals. If you rent a single or multi-family home will likely appeal to large groups of students, and could possibly increase your monthly rent potential. For landlords who do not feel comfortable having large groups in their properties, you can always stipulate the maximum number of renters allowed in the lease.

Tenant Screening
Although many college students are responsible young adults, others are living on their own for the first time and may not always make the best decisions. You want to have a thorough screening process to ensure the students you rent to will be respectful of your property. During tenant screening, you will also want to perform routine background, reference and credit checks, as well as monthly income statements. If your prospective renters are currently full-time students and do not have a job, you’ll need to get information from a co-signer.

Create a Clear and Straightforward Lease
Unfortunately, you will not always have the perfect student renter residing in your property. From renters who are not fond of cleaning to those who stay up late into the morning playing music, you may have to deal with damage and noise complaints. Clearly state what the student renter is responsible for in the lease and what will be done if your general rules are not followed.  While you can’t mandate that your tenants clean the house daily or go to bed at midnight, you can put clauses in the lease that can expedite the eviction process if your property is being abused.

If you are looking for a property manager to assist you when leasing to college students, contact Harland Property Management today. Specializing in San Diego property management, we can help you with everything from the application and screening process to maintenance and eviction. For an instant property management quote, call 858-367-0343 and speak with one of our expert property managers.