Tag Archives for " investment property "

How much do you charge for evictions?

Control eviction costs by preventing them

This is not a bad question to ask, and we get it a lot. Landlords are worried about evictions because they are so costly.

We offer our property owners an all-in-one fee. This covers the three-day notice, court appearances, attorney fees, court costs, and any other related costs. I’m not going to state here what the current fee is because it changes from time to time. Check HERE to see our current all-in-one eviction fee.

We are looking at adding eviction protection insurance as a service to our property owners. For an additional small monthly fee, eviction costs will be covered. If that is something you may be interested in, let us know. We are currently gauging the level of interest there is for that kind of service.

While an eviction is sometimes necessary, it is out ultimate goal to avoid evictions because we understand that evictions and move-outs are costly. We want to save our property owners the expense and frustration of evictions. Please also read What Happens if a Tenant Doesn’t Pay the Rent? to learn more about what we do to avoid costly evictions and move-outs.

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 happens if a tenant isn’t paying rent?

We all know money doesn’t grow in trees. Learn to increase profits by reducing expenses.

Properties owners often ask what happens if a tenant isn’t paying rent? They want to know what we do about it, and this is an important issue to discuss with prospective property management companies. Move out costs are the highest expense a landlord will have. Minimizing move outs and evictions is key to ensuring our property owners are profitable.

Ohio Revise Code recognizes a one-month collection cycle. You may make other arrangements with your tenants such as paying weekly, but Ohio only recognizes monthly collection. This means that even if your tenant is on a weekly pay plan, the eviction process cannot be started until they have gone a full month without paying rent.

We actually start before the first of the month. In our post Do you manager your Cleveland Ohio property or does your property manage you?  we discuss how we set tenant expectations. Paying rent is a significant area where we set the expectations. This process starts before a tenant moves in and we adhere to it the entire time they live in the property. So before the start of a new month, we send the tenant a rent reminder and statement of what they owe.

We strongly encourage tenants to set up a direct withdrawal and to pay early. Getting tenants in the habit of paying early and making the rent a priority payment will help keep the property filled and avoid evictions.

The rent is due on the first. If it is not paid by the first, we assess a late fee. The tenant then has five days to pay their rent. After five days, they are served a three-day notice. The three-day notice is required to start the legal eviction process. However, we talk to the tenant and encourage them to pay the rent. Our goal is always to keep tenants as long as possible. Again, this is to avoid the costs of move outs for the property owner.

Between the 10th and the 15th of the month, we file for the eviction if the tenant has not made arrangements or worked with us on getting their rent caught up. The majority of tenants do get caught up and the experience helps them to better understand our expectations.

There are exceptions to this process. For example, sometimes during the winter months, we are more lenient working with tenants because having an empty property during the winter is more costly to the property owner. We always discuss with the property owner their options in moving forward.

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!


How to use video marketing to lease your property faster

Rent your properties faster than ever before with less showings.

Video marketing is a huge tool and something you should already be using. Video tours can save you a lot of time showing properties because people will have the opportunity to preview the property first. This will filter out a lot of tenants that wouldn’t otherwise be interested once they had a chance to see the rental unit. In this way, video marketing also attracts more serious prospects.

The success of video marketing is completely dependent on the quality of the video. The key to success is making a video that is smooth, clear and provides an accurate and appealing view of the property. Here are a few tips to help you make a video tour that will get your property rented fast.

  1. Use a decent camera. You don’t need an expensive camera or professional equipment. You just need a decent camera that will take clear video. Most smartphones now actually have excellent cameras and allow you to upload them directly to YouTube.
  2. Use a wide-angle lens. Even if you are using the camera on your phone, you can get a wide-angle lens attachment. This is particularly useful when filming small rooms because it will allow you to shoot the entire room at once, which will make it look bigger and more open.
  3. Sweep the room. You want to ensure when you are showing a room; you aren’t moving too fast or jerking the camera around. Start at one side of the room and slowly and steadily sweep the view up, around, and back down. Then slowly back out of the room. You don’t want to physically turn around and walk out because you will inevitably end up with a close-up of a wall.
  4. Limit the length. No one will sit through a 30-minute video tour…or even a 10-minute video tour to be frank. Aim to make your videos 3 to 7 minutes. 5 minutes should be your max, but depending on the size of the property, you may need to go up to 7 minutes. As with any marketing, video marketing must be short and to the point or people will stop watching.
  5. Walk smoothly. You may not feel it, but the simple act of walking can make your video turn out jerky and shaky. Our eyes naturally correct that jerky when we walk, which is why you won’t see it until you’re trying to watch a video you recorded. One way to limit the movement in the video is to take your shoes off, so you can slide your feet as you move around. Some cameras come equipment with stabilization, which also may help. There is also a certain amount of correction you can make using Youtube editor. The finished product does not have to look professional, but it needs to be as smooth as possible.
  6. Hold the camera with both hands. Holding the camera with both hands will help to keep it steady and centered. The less you move the camera around the better the final video will be.
  7. Walk through the center. Regardless of whether you are moving down a hallway or through a door, stay in the center. This will keep the walls from cutting into the video and make the space look more open.
  8. Be prepared. Before you start filming, walk through the entire unit, turn on lights, open drapes, and bedroom doors. Do everything you may need to be done while filming, so you don’t need to stop or mess up the video by having to open a door while shooting. Open the drapes and turn all the lights on. The brighter a room is, the more open it will feel.
  9. Highlight anything special. Make a list of all the selling points of the property and make sure they are in the video as well as talked about. For example, if the apartment has a laundry room, don’t just show the laundry without saying anything…or say there is a laundry room without showing it. Include the laundry room in the video tour and when you do, tell the viewers that they won’t have to lug their dirty clothes down to the laundry mat or save up all their quarters to use a laundry room…

When you start the video tour, you always want to start outside in front of the property. Use a very casual, conversational tone when talking, and start by saying something to the effect of, “Hi. Welcome to ________________….” Then start describing the benefits of the property.

Before you go into the property, do a slow and smooth 360, so the viewer can get a look at the neighborhood.

As you walk through the house, name each room you are going in to. This will help the viewer create a mental map of the property. It is best to shoot the entire video without editing. If you make a mistake, laugh it off in the video. If doesn’t have to be perfect, and mistakes make you look more real.

When describing the house, focus on the benefits, opposed to the features. For example, instead of saying there is a “large family room” you can say, “plenty of room for company.” Instead of saying the house has a “high-efficiency furnace,” so it has “low heating costs.” The key is to market what people want, such as low monthly expenses or having friends and family over.

Remember, the video does not have to be perfect or dramatic. Just make it happen. Video marketing provides a new dimension to a marketing plan.

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,


How do You Know What is Happening with Your Property?

The secret property managers don’t want you to know.

How do you know what is happening with your property?

If you don’t physical live at your apartment, the answer is: you don’t. The farther you live, the less you know about what happens on a day-to-day basis.

Here’s the dirty little secret of property management…we don’t know either because we don’t live there either.

As a property manager, we aren’t supposed to tell you that. We’re expected to inform you that we know everything going on at the properties we care for, but that isn’t true. It can’t possibly be true. So how do we take care of things? How do we make sure your properties are being cared for and maintained?

I can speak for all property managers, but I can tell you what we do.

We have several mechanisms in place to stay on top of things.

  1. Magnets. All of the apartments we manage have magnets in them with our contact information, so the tenant can quickly and easily call if there is a problem. There is no concern over them losing the number or not being sure who or when to call.
  2. Stickers on the windows. We also put stickers on the windows facing out, so the neighbors can read them. The stickers have our contact information, so neighbors can call and report any unruly behavior or concerns they have about the property or the tenants.
  3. Video inspections. The video inspections are our most valuable tool. We conduct video inspections just before a new tenant moving in, so we have an accurate and highly vision record of the condition of the property. We then recommend our property owners to go with a 90-day video inspection. 90 days is enough time the new tenant to get unpacked and comfortable; start a regular routine. By 90 days, we will be able to tell if cleaning, maintenance, or hoarding may be a problem, and we can respond accordingly before things get out of control.

Short of moving in, there is no fool-proof way to know everything that happens in an apartment. However, by making ourselves available to both tenants and neighbors and by conducting video inspections so that we can stay on top of potential problems, we can know a lot of what is going on and stay focused on ensuring the rental units are well maintained.

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 it is so important to check criminal and eviction records manually?

Have you been to your local courthouse lately?

About four years ago we approved a tenant application, the tenant moved in, and then we had to evict them roughly six months later. On a whim, we went to the local court and found out the tenant had a recent conviction that did not show up on the background check we had conducted with the tenant application. This caused us to take a look at our tenant screening process.

We found that the national databases we had been using were not as accurate or timely as we had assumed. For a variety of reasons including infrequent updates and missed filings, national databases were limited in their accuracy. While we still use them to search for out of the area information, for local background checks, we rely on manual background checks.

Manually checks are beneficial for several reasons:

  1. Accuracy. Conducting the background check manually will ensure it is done thoroughly and the information is available as soon as it is filed. This means it doesn’t matter if the tenant had an eviction filed the day before, we’ll find out about this. We manually check eviction and criminal records.
  2. Better understanding.  Manually doing checks allows you to better understand the process and filing system within your local courts. You know how it works and how to find information quickly and easily.
  3. Limit frustration. Manual background checks have allowed us to limit the frustration of evictions and other problems property owners may experience when dealing with bad tenants.

When screen tenant applications, be sure to also conduct a Landlord Verification. Follow the link to learn the benefits and challenges of verifications.

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


Help! I’ve been transferred out of state but can’t sell my home

Is a short sale the best option for you?

I hear from a lot of people that are underwater on their home, and they don’t know what to do. This happens when the house value drops below what is owed on the house.

As long as you plan to stay in your home, this may not be a problem because eventually the market goes back up. However, people run into problems when they have to sell their house. This typically happens when someone is transferred out of the area with their job, but owe more than they can sell their house for.

If this is the case, you have a few options, but only you can decide what is best for you.

  1. Write a big check. If you have to sell and you can afford it, you can simply write a check for the difference. This is an ideal situation, but it may be the best option if you want the house gone and you don’t want to sacrifice your credit.
  2. Short sale. A lot of people ask me about short sales and if they are eligible. I have a lot of experience with short sales. Here is the problem. Technically, yes, you can sell your house on a short sale, but the bank has to agree to it, and typically the bank will not agree to a short sale if they think they can get the full amount. If you are up to date on your payments and always pay on time, the bank will say no because they are getting their money from you. The only time a bank will agree to a short sale is if the payments are months behind and the rick of foreclosure becomes an option. If you have good credit and protecting your credit is important to you, then short sale will not be an option. If you don’t care about your credit and you are willing to not pay the mortgage for a few months, you can probably talk the bank into a short sale.
  3. Let it foreclose. You can stop making payments and walk away. This will all but destroy your credit, but it is an option if you are desperate to get rid of the property.
  4. Rent the house. By renting out the house, you can leave your job and have someone else make the payments for you. This will allow you to wait until the mortgage is LOW enough to sell or the market improves. Many people may be nervous about renting their home while they are living out of the area, but it is far more widespread than you probably realize, and it may be your best option. If you decide to rent your property, you will want to find a property manager that will take care of all the day-to-day stuff including maintenance, showings, collecting the rent, and handling emergencies.

The house value is dependent on several factors that are completely out of your control. You just have to focus on what you can control, which includes what you do to recoup your money.

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!



7 Steps to Flawless Tenant Screening

Through years of experience in the field, we’ve narrowed our tenant screening process down to a specific set of steps that allow us to work quickly to fill the apartments and houses we manage with the best possible tenants. This is an overview of our process. Hopefully it can help you in screening your tenants.

  1. Create a checklist. We’ve learned that working from checklists ensures consistency and accuracy in everything we do. While some feel that checklists are tedious, it will actually save you time and frustration. You won’t need to worry about forgetting anything. Additionally, following a checklist will provide the consistency needed to help keep you out of Fair Housing Hell. We use property management software that allows for the creation and monitoring of checklists, but you can also just use a notebook and pen.
  2. We send a welcome email and phone call after an application is submitted. The welcome email will include additional information we’ll need to run their application, and the phone call is to ensure they received the email. The additional information requested includes employer and landlord waivers that need signed and returned, so we can contact them.
  3. Run background checks. This includes a credit, eviction, and criminal background checks. We check a nationwide database, but also manually check with the local courts. Again, we’ve learned over the years that national background check databases are limited in how accurate they can be, so it is essential to Manually Check Eviction and Criminal
  4. Get other verification in order. In addition to background checks, we conduct a landlord verification to try to find out if they consistently pay their rent on time and if they caused damage to their previous residence. Read Problems with Landlord Verification in Screening and the Solution to learn more about landlord verification.
  5. Collect information. We request copies of the previous 30-days’ worth of pay stubs, a copy of a photo ID for each adult that will be living on the property, and a photo of any pets they have. Photos and IDs are important, so you know exactly who and what animals will be living there.
  6. Create a summary. Once all the verification and background checks are complete, compose a summary of the results. Within the summary, we include the final decision on whether or not the lease will be offered to them. This is important because if they insist on knowing why they were not offered the lease, the reason needs to be clear to keep you out of Fair Housing Hell.
  7. Notify tenant and collect hold fee. If the applicant is being offered the lease, they are notified immediately and asked to pay a hold fee. The hold fee, unlike a deposit, is non-refundable. If they go through with renting the property, the hold fee is applied to their deposit.

Hopefully, this was helpful. If you have any questions about our process, feel free to ask. If you are interesting in having us handle your leasing process or learning more about the services we offer, don’t hesitate to contact us.

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!


Problems with Landlord Verification in Screening and the Solution

People regularly ask us if we actually do landlord verification. There are varied opinions among landlords and property managers over whether or not this is an effective method of tenant screening.

Despite the potential problems, which I’ll discuss if you can get a landlord to speak honestly and from knowledge about a tenant, they can provide some of the most valuable information. First, when I say from knowledge, I mean a landlord that was involved with the day-to-day; one that knew first-hand what kind of tenant the applicant has been or will be.

Why is landlord verification so valuable?

Because current and past landlords can provide you with the two most important pieces of information, you need when deciding whether or not to accept a tenant application.

  1. Do they pay and on time
  2. Did they do damage to the property

There are plenty of smaller bits of information you’ll need to know, but those two are the most important because they separate the good tenants from the not good tenants. What else could you want?

It might seem like common sense to talk to their landlord, but the property managers that are hesitant to do so, are with good reason. Current landlords may not be entirely honest with you about the tenant or may purposely mislead you.

Why would a landlord purposely mislead you? Obviously, you’re both in the same business; there should be some level of comradery there, right? There are two primary reasons a landlord will mislead a prospective landlord.

  1. The tenant is fantastic and they don’t want to lose them. If a landlord does not want to lose a tenant that pays on time, keeps the place clean, and doesn’t cause problems, they may mislead prospective landlords into thinking there are issues with the tenant to keep them.
  2. The tenant is horrible. Likewise, if a landlord wants to get rid of a tenant without the expense of an eviction, they may make the individual sound better than they are to convince you to rent to them.

With the risk of being misled, why would we still conduct landlord verification? While not completely fool-proof, we have found a solution to this problem.

In some cases, we know the previous landlord or property manager, and we are confident they will provide us with accurate information. Being in the business for a while, we’ve had the opportunity to network with many of the property owners in the area, which helps.

However, the solution, since you can’t bank on knowing the previous landlord is to get landlord information going back two addresses. If you can get in contact with the applicant’s previous landlord; not the one they are currently renting from, you can get more accurate information. The former landlord will have no vested interest in misleading you because the tenant is no longer with them anyway.

For more information on how we screen tenants, go to 7 Steps to Flawless Tenant Screening.

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!

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 Cleveland Ohio landlords need to know about large deposits and deposit accounting

Landlords accept security deposits as a form of insurance. If the tenant damages the property or leaves with unpaid bills, the landlord can use the money from the security deposit to help cover those expenses. When accepting a security deposit, there are several things landlords need to understand to protect themselves and their property.

  1. The security deposit does not belong to the landlord or in our case, the property manager. That money needs to be held in a secure account, so when the tenant moves out, it can either be returned or applied to acceptable expenses. That money cannot just be put into an account with the rents and other income streams to be spent as needed. It needs to be available if and when the tenant moves out.
  2. You may have to pay interest on the security deposit. If you collect anything over the first month’s rent, you have to pay 5% interest on that amount on the one-year anniversary of accepting the money and every year after that. For example, if the rent is $1000 per month, and you collect a $2000 security deposit, you will have to pay interest on the $2000.
  3. Withholding security deposit money for damage is not always supported by law. The law states that ordinary wear and tear cannot be deducted from the deposit. However, the description of “ordinary wear and tear” is highly subjective and judges enforce it differently from one community to the next. For example, I do not believe having to repaint due to the walls being so dirty they can’t be cleaned or full of scratches and marks should be considered “ordinary.” Most courts, however, do not agree with that and will not allow landlords to deduct for painting costs. Our policy is to make the deductions we feel are necessary and appropriate and then if the court questions it, we can make our case and work with the owner regarding what the court decides. This is another example of when before and after video inspections become helpful
  4. You MUST provide an accounting of the deposit within 30 days. By law, the landlord is required to either provide the tenant with their deposit, and itemized account of repairs needed that used up their deposit, or a combination of part of the deposit and the itemized list of repairs. It does not matter if the tenant is getting nothing back due to damage to the apartment, the landlord MUST provide the tenant with a written statement regarding the deposit. If the tenant can prove the landlord did not provide this within 30 days, they can get as much as double their deposit back.

As a property manager, I understand the laws regarding security deposits inside and out. I am also familiar with the courts in the greater Cleveland area and what each of them generally finds as acceptable wear and tear. That knowledge along with the various processes and checklists we have in place to run our business enables me to provide the best care for the properties I am entrusted with.  Regardless of whether the property owner is local or out-of-state, they can rest assured that their security deposits are protected, and they are protected from needless fines and aggravation.


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!

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