Category Archives for "Property maintenance"

How do you protect me from property damage?

Learn the steps we take to protect you from property damage.

We are often asked by property owners how we protect them from property damage. This is an important question because property damages can get very expensive very quickly. Costs come from repairing the damages, and from the time the property has to remain empty.

There are two things we do for all our property owners to protect them from damages.

  1. Collect a deposit. We collect a deposit from each tenant before they move in. The deposit is held to help cover the cost of any damages to the property. After screening, if we think the person is risky, we may offer them a lease with a higher deposit. We may collect a double, triple, or even quadruple deposit. In an upcoming post, I will discuss how much of a deposit we collect and why.
  2. Tenant screening. The best thing we do to protect property owners is by carefully screening every tenant. We have a screening process that we go through with every tenant application we receive, and it works. If we can provide better tenants, there is a lower risk of property damage. We foster good will with our tenants by encouraging and maintaining a positive relationship with the tenants. Staying in contact with tenants helps, and so does giving landlords regular updates. You can learn more about our screening process from our post 7 Steps to a Flawless Tenant Screening.
  3. Inspections. we also suggest regular inspections. They allow us to identify problems earlier than we would waiting until the tenant moves out. This allows us to discover problems such as water leaks before they cause significant damage. Learn more about what your options are when it comes to inspections with How many times do you inspect my property

Our experienced investment property management team can relieve you of the burden of managing your rental property while saving you some serious money! Call us today at (440) 220-7300 to see how we can help you!

 

What are your maintenance fees?

As Cleveland, Oh property managers, we understand the role proper maintenance plays in tenant retention.

Finding out what a property manager charges for maintenance is vital. You also need to know  requests are handled before entering into any kind of agreement. Property managers may differ wildly on how they handle maintenance issues and charges.

The first question for us is “Is there an actual maintenance problem or just tenant complaining?” When repairs are needed, we forward them to the owner, so there are no surprises.

We’ve tried working with outside people, but we found we were not completely happy with that. There was always the risk that the work was not getting done or not getting done to our standards. Outside maintenance was also very expensive. For those reasons, we work with an in-house maintenance crew.

The more we use the same people, the more we trust them and the better they understand our expectations. We also have more control over what they did, when they worked, and the amount spent on repairs and upgrades. Being able to control costs, allows us to pass that savings on to our property owners.

We’ve been able to help with costs when mistakes are made. We stand behind our guy’s work, and we believe we’ve been able to balance quality and cost.

If tenants feel the property is not maintained and their concerns are not addressed, they will move. That creates a significant cost to the owner. We do our part to take care of the properties and keep the tenants happy.

We have set maintenance costs. I won’t go over that here because they change periodically.

Our experienced investment property management team can relieve you of the burden of managing your rental property while saving you some serious money! Call us today at (440) 220-7300 to see how we can help you!

 

Is Your Current Manager Licensed? Don’t Get Hurt!

Don’t get hurt! Only trust licensed professionals.

While looking for a property manager, you may see ads for people offering to do property management. Maybe they are handymen or contractors, and they post ads that they can help manage your properties. They boast their ability to handle the maintenance themselves. But are they licensed?

The one most important question you need to ask when contacting someone is if they are licensed to do property management. Ohio Law states that when working as a property manager; leasing properties, collecting rent, etc. you have to have a brokerage license.

A brokerage license is not easy to get or keep. You might think having a license isn’t a big deal as long as they get the job done. However, you have to think about it as a commitment and investment. If a property management company went through the work of getting and maintaining their license, it is a sign of professionalism and commitment.

Someone operating without a license can disappear on you. They may be looking to make some fast money and get out. Likewise, if their business is maintenance and they decide to offer property management as a means of getting more business, you have no real guarantee that they have the experience and knowledge needed to manage your properties, which is a lot more than just the physical maintenance.

Having and maintaining a license is a means of protecting the public. For example, as licensed property managers, we have audited trust accounts. These ensure that deposits and rent money is being safely handled. If we are managing 300 rental units, we may have anywhere from $300,000 to $600,000 in the bank. That is a lot of money. For someone with little to lose, that money could just disappear. As licensed property managers, we are held responsible for every dollar.

If you have an issue with how we manage, you can go to the state. Then the issue will be looked in to. If we are found at fault, our license can be pulled. Because we are committed to our business, we work in the best interest of our property owners to ensure we maintain our license.

Additionally, operating without a license is a criminal offense with a $1000 fine per incident. If an unlicensed person is managing multiple properties, that fine can be huge. It does not take much for the state to find unlicensed people working as managers and put them out of business, which would leave the property owner in a serious bind.

As professional licensed property managers, we have the systems in place to care for many properties for both local and out-of-state property owners. Our system and processes are well developed and allow us to go beyond minimum care. We manage all the properties under our care as if they were our own, which provides peace of mind especially for out-of-state owners, who are unable to physically check on their properties.

Our experienced investment property management team can relieve you of the burden of managing your rental property while saving you some serious money! Call us today at (440) 220-7300 to see how we can help you!

Do You Have Hoarders Living in Your Property?

Have you seen the show Hoarders?

It depicts people with compulsive hoarding issues that cause them to collect things…lots of things. Hoarding leads to a home filled with trash and clutter. So much so that rooms get blocked off or it becomes unsafe to navigate the apartment.

Hoarders can also lead to damage to the structure of the building. There can be issues like water leaks that go undetected due to the hoard. Hoarding can also lead to damaged floors and walls. It can lead to bugs or mold, which cause additional damage.

The bottom line is you do not want a hoarder renting one of your properties. It leads to a very expensive move out when the apartment will need emptied, cleaned, and repaired before it can be rented again.

What can you do to prevent a hoarder from damaging your properties?

This one is difficult because you do not know when meeting the perspective tenant that they are hoarders. We work hard to help our landlords avoid having a hoarder take over a property. We do that in two ways.

  1. Careful screening. Screening for hoarding is not as easy as screening for other issues. It is not something that will show up on a credit or criminal background check. What we do is get the contact information for a couple of their previous landlords. While this is not a foolproof approach, it helps in avoiding the situation altogether
  2.  Three-month inspection. Three months gives a new tenant time to get settled in their new home. If there are hoarding issues, they will likely start to show by three months. Identifying the problem early gives us the opportunity to work with the tenant to set cleanliness expectations and to follow-up to ensure the mess is handled.

Again, there is no sure-fire way to avoid having a hoarder damage your property. However, through careful screening and follow-up inspections, you can mitigate the risk and hopefully reduce or eliminate any damage to your property. We freely do this for all the property owners. It is always our goal to provide them with the most stress-free and cost-effective experience possible.

Dealing with a hoarder is a situation where before and after video inspections may become highly critical to establish the extent of the damage caused to the property. Watch for our upcoming post on the value of video inspections.

Our experienced investment property management team can relieve you of the burden of managing your rental property while saving you some serious money! Call us today at (440) 220-7300 to see how we can help you!

Why property managers require additional insurance…questions about insurance and landlording

Why would a property manager require additional insurance?

Well the big reason is to protect you the landlord client. There are many risks when managing and owning rental property. If you are sued for any reason we will most likely be sued. Yet when you agree to work with our company and most any other manager we are indemnified by our clients for these risks.  The main problem is that if we are not named on your insurance policy the attorney your insurance policy appoints will only represent you and not us and we will have to incur a separate attorney to represent us. Those attorneys may then fight or might work together. Either way we end up no longer being in the same corner and our clients could find themselves in the positions of paying not just the insurance deductible but also our attorneys fees. Our clients don’t want that to happen nor do we.

 

Why do we have to have your insurance information as an owner?

Winters alone in Northeastern Ohio have been fairly difficult this year for landlords. Between ice dams, water backups and freezes in 2015, I’ve seen damages from just a few hundred dollars all the way to $30,000 PLUS! When an emergency arises property managers need to be able to contact the contractors covered, we need to know what is covered, and what can we actually pay for. You don’t want to call an owner in the middle of the night or an insurance agent for that matter asking a million questions. That would just delay the whole process and possibly cause more damages to the property. To be prepared for an emergency you need to have a copy of the owner’s insurance policy. Make this a requirement and add the copy to the property file.

Do you know what your policy covers?

Many homeowners don’t. I suggest calling your insurance company and asking what your coverage is. Somethings you want to try to purchase is the loss of rent coverage. It is a little more expensive to purchase but definitely worth it. If a tenant moves out a few months before their lease is up then your policy covers those months of rent that you would lose. You also want to make sure your policy covers water back up, for when the sewer gets backed up. We all know this is just something that happens.Another requirement we have added is tenant insurance.

Why do we require your tenants to purchase tenant insurance?

It is very affordable ranging from $9-$15 a month. We are able to ensure the landlord’s name is included on the policy. Require your tenants to purchase a policy through you. You will be able to ensure the landlord’s name is included on the policy. Requiring this will add double coverage to the home. As well as take care of a lot of issues when you have an insurance claim. For example, if your tenant has to stay in a hotel for a night due to a water leak  Who doesn’t want that? Your home should also be covered if there is damage caused by tenant negligence. It will also help you take care of several issues when tenants do have a claim. Hotel stays, for example, are one of the coverages that many tenant insurance policies include.  Many insurance companies will give a discount on your policy when you require tenants to purchase insurance. This is one way we help landlords when they need it most!

Our experienced investment property management team can relieve you of the burden of managing your rental property while saving you some serious money!

Call us today at (440) 220-7300 to see how we can help you!

 

You may not become a god… but you can save a lot of money on drain repairs for your Cleveland Ohio Rental. And that’s almost as good, right?

If you saw the movie Lucy with Scarlett Johansson, the blue powder in the video above may look familiar. In the movie, Johansson’s character has a powdered blue drug called CPH 4 stuffed into her stomach. Having so much of the substance in her system gives her all of these incredible powers. She basically becomes a time-traveling, omnipotent god.

See embedded trailer below

In real life, CPH 4 would kill you long before you ever had the chance to develop powers like that.

But there are some blue powders— like the one in the video, for instance— that really can be beneficial. They won’t give you powers, but they’re pretty powerful by themselves, particularly if your property has a lot of old pipes or a rusted out, delicate drainage system.

If there’s trees anywhere near your property, there’s really no way to avoid root growth. It’s just an inevitability. And it can become a real problem when those tree roots grow into 100 year old pipes that may not be durable enough anymore to sustain Roto-Rooter coming out and shoving metal snakes down them.

What can you do?

Well, one solution is copper sulfate. As you can see in the video, I’ve got a bag of copper sulfate. It comes in packages with a pound or two packed inside and usually sells for around $15-$30. We actually ship these packages out to our tenants to help prevent new root growth. If you can educate your tenants on how to use copper sulfate, it’s a very affordable way to maintain the drainage and sewer systems in your properties.

It’s very simple. You divide a package into 4 equal parts and you flush them down the toilet one after another. Usually it just takes a few days for the root growth to stop. Sometimes the roots that are already in the system will disintegrate as well.

Another product we use to clean out our pipes is called K-97. K-97 is a little more affordable than copper sulfate, and is used for items other than roots that are blocking your pipes. It’s essentially a bacteria/chemical solution and it digests paper, grease, and whatever other waste particles or foreign objects are clogging up your pipes.

I can’t authoritatively say that K-97 will work on roots— I only have personal experience with copper sulfate when dealing with roots— but it will eat right through things that shouldn’t be in your drainage system. It’s like Super Drano.

K-97 will run you around $15-$20 per package and you can ship it to your tenants just like copper sulfate. They just put it in their system at night and usually by morning the drains will already be flowing much more efficiently.

These are just a couple of solutions we use to maintain the drainage systems at our properties, particularly older or more delicate ones that run the risk of collapsing if you get too invasive or aggressive with your unclogging methods. And they save money.

So, like I said… they may not make you a superhuman like Scarlet Johansson’s Lucy character… but they should keep you from having to deal with an I Love Lucy-kind of calamity.

The Importance of properly maintaining properties

Don't find your self in political cross hairs. Don't be a blight to the neighborhood. Maintain your home. We can help both by getting a renter to assist you in financing the maintenance and in actually coordinating the maintenance.

Don’t find your self in political cross hairs. Don’t be a blight to the neighborhood. Maintain your home. We can help both by getting a renter to assist you in financing the maintenance and in actually coordinating the maintenance.

Don’t find your self in political cross hairs. Don’t be a blight to the neighborhood. Maintain your home. We can help both by getting a renter to assist you in financing the maintenance and in actually coordinating the maintenance.[/caption]Landlords with properties in Lorain may be aware of the city’s efforts to “clean up” the city. This plan has included charging landlords for “inspections” that may or may not actually be conducted. Hiring contractors to drive around the city looking for lawns to mow and then charging the owners $300 for the service (despite the fact the city is unable to maintain the grass in city parks).

Part of this plan has also been seizing and demolishing houses they deem to be dilapidated or beyond repair. However, who gets to make those decisions? AND how are these decisions properly vetted, so that the owner is given the proper channels to despite the decision and/or make repairs to the property?

If you follow the local news, you have probably heard that a house belonging to George Schneider was recently demolished despite the fact he was in the process of protesting the decision, and he had been granted a permit by the city to make repairs to the property. He had contractors at the house making a plan for repairs only days prior to the home being demolished.

Now, this isn’t to argue the house was not in poor shape, or that Mr. Schneider should not have been held responsible for maintaining his property. However, the fact remains that he was actively working towards repairing the home, and he was following the proper legal channels to protest the decision to demolish his property.

So if Mr. Schneider was following the proper legal channels laid out by the city, what channels was the city following when they demolished his property? Who is to be held responsible for what happened? Mr. Schneider is now suing the city and a judge will have to sift through the mess to figure out who was more wrong.

Properly maintaining a rental property is an essential part of the business. Properly maintained units rent faster and for more money. A properly maintained property will maintain its value better, as well as the value of the surrounding homes, which will make your neighbors happy. It’s good for the landlord, the tenants, the city, the neighbors, and the community as a whole. In addition to being a solid business decision, maintaining properties demonstrates a landlord’s commitment to the area.

One of the many problems landlords face in regards to maintaining properties is vandalism. Unfortunately, areas such as Lorain and Elyria have been riddled with vandalism; people stealing copper pipes, aluminum siding, and more. The best way to combat these risks is by keeping units rented and empty units secured.

Turning around an apartment complex

Does your property need a turn around? Give us a call. We put the same creativity we put into marketing, into helping our clients find solutions.

Does your property need a turn around? Give us a call. We put the same creativity we put into marketing, into helping our clients find solutions.

We wanted to share with you a success story. Today we filled the last of a series of vacancies for the 333 Washington, an 18 unit apartment building in Elyria. When we took over management in October 2012, this building had a 50% occupancy and of those units several were under eviction.

There were a lot of repairs to be made, as the current management was not meeting the needs of the tenants. Screening had not been done properly and it had gained a very bad reputation. Advertising dollars were spent poorly. 6 months later this property is 100 percent occupied with only 1 eviction in process (not a tenant we put in). It wasn’t easy to turn this complex around.

The owner had a limited repair budget which we had to work with. The building had a bed bug infestation that took several months to get a handle on. There were difficult tenants we had to get rid of. We had to really dial in the marketing and find out what worked for that property.

For us this is a turnaround story, we are very proud of and we think that we could bring YOU the same results.

About Realty Trust Services

Realty Trust Services is a licensed brokerage and property management company based out of Lorain County with a service area from Sandusky to Cleveland Heights to Medina. Their team includes: Agents, Christopher Obrycki, Andrew Morris, Shanon Jones- Plas, Kari Taylor, Matthew Klein, Julie Musial and our other unlicensed team members including Steven Taylor, Bill Taylor, Greg Zadorozny, Kris Mrazik, Joyce Thomson, Matthew Harkins and David Stevoff. For more information on Realty Trust Services and how they can help with your property call 440-220-7300.

Helping Landlords Weather the Storm

Isn’t it nice when other people handle your problems?

As is the case with many storms, the recent super storm Sandy had homeowners and landlords alike concerned about their properties and the possible damage being caused by the storm. At Realty Trust Services, we are happy to provide our landlords with the peace of mind knowing their properties are being taken care of in every way possible. Here are five ways we were able to help the landlords that have trusted us with the safe keeping of their properties.

Fielding Emergency Calls – During major storms, tenants call with a wide variety of concerns. Their power is out, there is water leaking in through one of the windows, a tree just came down in the yard. Regardless of the problem, we are here to take the phone calls and handle the problem. Our landlords do not have to deal with taking phone calls at all hours of the day and night. In addition to providing the landlords with peace, we make sure the tenants feel heard, which promotes retention and word-of-mouth referrals. When tenants feel ignored, they will find somewhere else to live.

Assessing Property Damage – Following a big storm, any damage to the properties needs to be assessed and plans need to be made. This is also something we do for our landlords. Instead of heading out as soon as the storm breaks to see what can be done to preserve their investments, our landlords get to stay in the comfort of their homes with the families. We make sure the repairs are made as quickly as possible.

Make Needed Repairs – Whether it is resealing windows or replacing blown away shingles, we make sure the needed repairs get done. Our landlords do not need to waste their time or energy taking care of their investment properties, so they can focus on their personal properties. In addition to the practical advantage of having us do the repairs, we once again provide our landlords with the comfort of knowing their investments are being protected.

Tree and limb removal – A common problem during storms is trees or tree limbs being blown down. The day after a big storm, we travel from property to property assessing needs and cleaning up properties. We remove all down trees and limbs, and we handle any damage they may have caused. We also inspect the trees still on the property to see if any of them were damaged and now in danger of falling.

We act as liaisons – Everyone likes to know their concerns are being heard and their complaints are being handled. We act as liaisons between the landlord and the tenants, as well as the landlord and outside contractors or vendors. When there are repairs we can not personally fix, we contact people who can and we make the appropriate arrangements for them to make the repairs. We stay in contact with the tenants, so they are aware of when repairs will be made and when people may be coming to the property. We keep our landlords up to date on what is being done at their properties.

Storms can cause a great deal of damage, and when you own multiple investment properties in the same area, you may have damage or issues to deal with at all of these properties. There is only so much one person can do. We have the people and the resources to handle multiple properties simultaneously. We provide landlords with peace of mind, and we provide tenants with the confidence of knowing their home is being well taken care of. The benefits we provide are both practical and intrinsic.

About Realty Trust Services
Realty Trust Services is a licensed brokerage and property management company in Lorain County. Their team includes: Andrew Morris, Kari Taylor, Steven Taylor, Matthew Harkins, Greg Zadorozny and many more. For more information on Realty Trust Services and how they can help with your property call 440-220-7300.

Bedbugs… what is the Lorain County landlord liability?

Bed bugs are becoming a huge problem for Lorain County Landlords these days.  The question is what is the liability to landlords?  Does a landlord need to pay to exterminate bed bugs, when it is the tenants fault for possibly bringing them in to the home in the first place? We aren’t attorneys and can’t answer that question directly for every scenario.

However landlords do have the responsibility for maintaining the safety of their buildings.  In multi unit properties a landlord should probably shoulder the responsibility as blame for infestation is even more difficult to ascertain.  In a single family home it is still possible that a landlord will be responsible as the cause of an infestation is very difficult to prove and the bugs are a real health threat.

Here is a research paper on bed bugs from Ohio State University.

Here is an attorney article on bed bugs and rentals.

Lorain County Bed Bugs Article.

Feel free to comment below on local bed bug experiences.  Bed bug mitigation is very expensive and often doesn’t work. There are however many new treatments coming out.

If you as the landlord have bed bugs on your property, this is a real bummer, regardless of whether you have professional property management or not.  At Realty Trust Services we are able to help you in treating infestations and handling the tenant dram that is involved so you can go on with life as usual.

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With more than 45 years of investment property management experience our expert team can relieve you of the burden of managing your rental property while saving you some serious money! Call us today at (440) 220-7300 to see how we can help you!

 

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