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So what rights do landlords have in Cleveland?

Usually when we think about landlord and tenant rights, we think about how the law seems a little bit skewed towards tenants over landlords. This turns out to be especially true when speaking about giving tenants the benefit of doubt, and at times even extra rights outside what is outlined in the law, by a judge in certain situations. But where exactly do landlords stand in all of this? Let’s talk a little bit about the most important rights landlords possess at the time of being in a lease agreement with a tenant.

1.- You can ask for as much as you want.

It’s important that you know what you’re entitled to as a landlord, according to the law.

As a landlord, you are entitled to ask for as much money for your property as you want. This is something completely permitted by the law, and you can go as low or high as you desire. However, it’s not wise to go way too high or way too low – we will provide you with advice in regard to this, usually leaning to asking for more at the beginning, and then work it out with the tenant from that. As well as paying mind to market feedback in order to help you decide on a good starting price. Remember you CAN ASK for as much as you want, but you CAN’T FORCE anyone to pay as much as you want. So, sometimes it boils down to negotiating in good terms.

2.-You can set your own terms for the lease agreement

When entering into a lease agreement with a tenant, you have the right to set your own terms for the use of your property AS LONG AS they don’t enter into conflict with what is stipulated by the law. It’s also really important for you not to violate any of the anti-discrimination statutes that the law stablishes (which are ever expanding in different ways from state to state). One way to avoid falling into this when evaluating for possible tenants is to keep your focus on non-subjective aspects, and making your case from them, such as credit history, when trying to filter out potential tenants that have a heavy criminal record for example. You also need to keep in mind that the type of tenants your property will bring in will definitely depend on its level of attractiveness. When helping you find a tenant, we have a very specific screening process that we follow, designed to take all of this into consideration so we can help you find the best option.

3.- You can evict tenants for non-payment of rent and sometimes non-money related situations

The law states that if a tenant does not pay rent, he/she can be subject to eviction by their landlord. It is really important to pay mind to other types of payment besides the official rent amount when considering this option. For example, utility bills can be considered as a form of rent. If tenants are obligated to pay for these according to the lease agreement, their non-payment can be used as cause for eviction. This holds up even if the lease contract has been renewed or still has a longer period of time remaining before it ends. In our case, one of our lease clauses specifically states that non-payment of utilities is considered non-payment of rent and this can be cause of eviction if neglected.

At the same time, if the tenant enters into a violation that materially affects health and safety, you must give the tenant a 30-day window of time along with a notice, to resolve this issue. After this time has passed you can file for the tenant’s eviction if the tenant has not resolved the violation, even if they have been paying rent on time.

4.- You have the right to access the property after a 24-hour notice.

As long as you provide your tenant with a 24-hour written notice, you can access the property for inspection or any other purpose that you as a landlord deem reasonable. This can be made in form of the postal service, or even e-mail. We recommend that along with the written notice, a call is placed in order to let the tenant know a notice has been sent, this way it’s impossible for them to claim to have missed reading the e-mail or the document in paper. It’s important as a landlord though, to avoid entering in any behaviour that could be considered intimidation – as this is not permitted by the law. This becomes even more important for delicate situations in which the relations with the tenant have already deteriorated for other reasons or when an eviction process has been set in place and there is tension between both parties.

You can also access the property without notice if you believe as a landlord that an emergency-type of situation exists (a gas or water leak), and proof needs to be presented in relation to this emergency, in order for it not to be a violation.

5.-  You have the right to get your property back in the state you delivered it to the tenant

This pretty much holds up for every aspect of the property EXCEPT for what we know as “ordinary wear and tear”. We will speak more thoroughly about this aspect on a different post, but it’s basically really unclearly defined by the law. In order to counter this ambiguity, we have a very detailed process in which we take photos and videos; then we present potential percentage values of responsibility for both tenant and landlord, and we keep these open for negotiation – usually starting high and leaning towards the landlord’s favor and negotiating from there while making value judgements.

Our aim is to keep this out of court, but if you do wish to take it there, it’s important to consider that if your claim as a landlord doesn’t hold up and you lose, you will end up paying double the value of the tenant’s security deposit -hence why we try to negotiate out of court and try to keep it reasonable for both parties.

6.- Other rights

Just by owning the property, you’re pretty much entitled to a whole bundle of other rights, and you transfer some of these to the tenant, when entering into a lease agreement. For example, as a landlord, you never transfer your rights to your property’s title and deed through the agreement. The only thing you transfer from yourself to the tenant is the right of access for the period to the lease. You keep this right to a certain extent, but as we mentioned before, there are limitations.

This is just one example of those additional rights, and we consider that it’s important for you to be familiar with at least the most important ones, but if you’d like to inform yourself on the details on the rest we offer you a link to the document “Tenant/Landlord Rights and Obligations”, this is a pamphlet provided by the Ohio Bar Association. The link is below.

Did your property manager lie to you about value?

After years of experience in the industry I have learned that it’s a really common practice for many real estate agents to not only mis-value properties during their first encounter with the owner, but also declare a fixed price for it, in hopes of trying to get your business. This goes for both rental price evaluation and sales price evaluation.  You would think that, since they are professionals, they probably know about this and have the expertise needed to place a price on your home or apartment with one look. Well you would be wrong.

One very important thing to remember is that value is not a synonym of price. In general terms, the word price represents the amount of money that is asked for in order to purchase a certain something. Pretty basic right? That’s when value comes in. Value represents the actual benefit you are gaining by paying a price at the time you make a purchase. Value is that extra space you would love to have in your bedroom for a triple dresser. Or those extra square feet you need in your backyard for the vegetable garden you want to grow. Or a good view of the beach from the second floor.

And this is why stating that your property is worth a fixed amount and can only go for a certain price is plain wrong. It is wrong because even when an expert is able to assess the approximate worth of a property based its characteristics and recent history, a whole set of additional circumstances go along with that into actually defining the end value of the same property for individual potential buyers.

Maybe there’s a very specific circumstance in relation to the neighborhood surrounding the property that will give one buyer a less attractive standpoint in regards to the value of the property while at the same time, another person will actually offer an additional premium due to the fact that its really close to their workplace. In the second case, as this happens, and this new offer appears due to a single need met by this specific property, the market value begins to vary. This is basic supply and demand going into action.

Being lied to about the value of your business and finding out later can be a taxing experience.

For this same reason, when stating a property’s potential worth, it’s common practice to use ranges when speaking about actual pricing. This way agents take into account a variation of value that a set of different additional circumstances offer, as well as other changes in market behaviour that could very well affect the value of the property at any given time.

So, if you get to meet a new agent and he/she instantly states a fixed pricing for your property, always remember – they are either lying to you, or they have a crystal ball.

Things even my property manager didn’t know about tenant insurance

Recently, we had an insurance issue where tenants had left for a week on vacation and, when they came back, there was a water problem.

No one knows exactly what happened, but pipes froze, water went everywhere, and it had been leaking for days when it was discovered. Ceilings had collapsed. The tenants’ things were damaged. They couldn’t live in the house and, although the owner prorated the rent they had already paid for the month, they had a real emergency situation.

The hotel wasn’t paid for because their lease didn’t cover that. Their property wasn’t paid for because the lease specifically said if their property was not insured it wouldn’t be paid for.

And they didn’t have tenant insurance.

These were two professionals— they do OK for themselves— but they didn’t have a lot of extra money to spend on all of these things that needed to be repaired or replaced. And they lost some important things.

Not only that, but they weren’t able to come back to the house for a month and a half. They had a very rough time and there was nothing we could do to really help ease any of it. The owner didn’t have the money to pay for everything— they weren’t covered for it all either— and the tenants had been advised in their lease that they needed to invest in tenant insurance.

They didn’t.

So a bad situation was made worse because there was no tenant insurance.

Tenant insurance is very inexpensive. It usually costs between $9-$15 a month and it really gives the policy holders a lot of peace of mind.

We had another situation not long ago where there was a sewer backup and raw sewage flooded into a basement. Contractors came out and fixed the issue but the tenant had some of their private property in the basement and it was damaged by the leak.

But that tenant had tenant insurance. An adjuster came out and wrote them a check. They were able to restore what they’d lost.

Tenant insurance can help with hotel expenses if there’s an emergency and oftentimes tenant insurance will also cover animal liability. If you have a dog and it bites somebody you can get sued even if the person wasn’t hurt. Tenant insurance in Cleveland, or elsewhere in Ohio will cover that where an owner’s insurance policy wouldn’t. In addition, it’ll also cover things like damage to the landlord’s property, depending on the policy.

You need your own insurance to cover you and that’s not to mention your personal property. Personal property is only one part of it, but in a bad situation you need some peace of mind that these things are going to be taken care of.

It’s not something you really need to think about all that often, but, trust me, you’ll be happy you have it if and when you need it.

In the past, our leases here at Realty Trust Services didn’t require tenant insurance, but we’ve seen how much more smoothly things go— when something does go wrong— because of tenant insurance.

Tenant Insurance Is A Must 

Because of those experiences, we’ve decided that— if a tenant signs a lease with Realty Trust Services— we now require them to have tenant insurance. It’s good for the owners, it’s really good for the tenants… it’s good for everyone involved.

This requirement isn’t something we make any money on, but we do have a vendor that offers tenant insurance and its set up right inside of our tenant software. Tenants can click it and get it. Very easy.

If you’re a Realty Trust Services tenant, you can find the tenant insurance on our website. There will be a little advertisement when you log in.

If you don’t have a login, call our office at 440.427.0423 and ask for a login to your online account.

If you’re a new tenant, we welcome you and we look forward to working with you to have a safe experience renting our houses with total peace of mind, contact us by clicking here or call us at our office anytime.

The Lean Property Manager?

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Let’s face it, property management tends to be a backwards industry. Both in the USA and even mores so in Cleveland Ohio.  In fact there maybe one or two property management companies that have been in business more than 5 years in this area.

At Realty Trust Services we are constantly looking at ways to be more effective and innovative.

In the last 30 years major innovations in manufacturing have been coming to united states from Japan, which incidentally got its start from the leading united states statistician Edward Demings. Toyota innovated Deming’s teachings into the Toyota Production System (TPS) and as American companies have adopted techniques from the Toyota Production System this series of ideas and techniques has been called “Lean” because of the obsessive focus on eliminating inefficiencies / waste or any financial or energy expenditure that doesn’t directly provide value to the end customer. 

As business becomes more competitive and transparent and consumers more demanding, service companies are also starting to look at the techniques and philosophies from Lean Manufacturing to bring Lean Service offerings.

At Realty Trust Services we have begun a journey towards improvement using lean techniques. All though any mode of improvement is a never instant we wanted to talk about some of the things we are working on to improve.

What allows lean to take hold in a company is that it is part of the culture. To that end it is something that we talk about daily we study it together in daily meetings.

According to Paul Akers, author or “2 Second Lean” the highest pillar of lean is the ability to “see waste.” Lean systems all are designed so that waste and inefficiencies are immediately visually apparent company wide. This then allows the workers within the company to immediately respond and keep processes running smoothly and allows us to make full use of the “human resources” of the company. Examples of how we are exposing the business processes in a visual way is that have 4 LCD’s displays on our main office walls as dashboards for essential company processes. Data connectors to display tenant charges, maintenance work orders, indicators of email backlog for each employee, and rental market times are all being created so that the entire team is up to date on every part of the business


 

Lean companies use cross functional teams arranged together in work groups to increase efficiency in communication and we too have adopted this in our work force.

Let Us Help Your Grow Your Portfolio

As a Real Estate investor your goal is to grow your portfolio of income producing Ohio Rental Property and generate more monthly cash flow.

Realty Trust Services is continually improving ourselves so that we can help improve your business and profitability. We are not comfortable simply being better than the very low standard this industry has set.

Doing all of this means that you (landlord) can count on us to help you efficiently grow your portfolio of rental properties in Westlake Ohio and generate more cash flow from those properties than you may have in the past.

From our innovations we have even created an alpha version of a program that we are releasing here which we believe could change the way businesses use the internet. See the video on this below and a link to the website for this product here: http://Snapextual.com

We aren’t perfect and we have plenty of “waste” to eliminate. However if you’re not satisfied with your current property management company, or are frustrated with managing your Ohio Rental Property yourself, consider joining a company that will continue to grow and improve with you and consider your suggestions.

Get Ohio Property Management

To learn more about Realty Trust Services, or how we can help you contact us today by CLICKING HERE to connect with us through our website or by calling (440) 220-7300.

Why Cleveland Ohio landlords need insurance

This past winter was a difficult one for a lot of landlords in northeast Ohio. I’ve seen ice dams, water backups, freezes on houses while tenants were away. And damages ranging from a few hundred dollars all the way up to $30,000 plus in terms of what insurance would pay.

So I figured now would be a great time to talk about insurance for landlords.

In the past, here at Realty Trust Services, we didn’t always require owners to provide us with copies of their insurance policies. However, we’ve learned from experience that it’s vitally important that owners have a copy of their policies on file with us. That way, if we have an emergency, we aren’t having to make a guess about which contractor use and delaying essential services that need to take place ASAP to stop any further damage to the property.

If we’re not sure what contractor to use and we’re calling around trying to get in contact with a property owner late at night or get in touch with an insurance agent about what’s covered and what’s not… that’s eating up precious time and potentially costing everyone more money.

Not an ideal situation at all.

So, by having that policy information available, we can make better informed decisions.

Regardless of whether there’s a policy on file or not, the first step is normally doing whatever may be necessary to prevent further damage to the property. Then there’s restoration. Information makes both much easier, more efficient, and more easier to afford.

One thing that we offer here at Realty Trust Services— that we recommend to other property management companies— is a 24-hour dispatch for emergencies. If something happens, we’re ready to go and we have a network of contacts with restoration contractors that work with insurance companies. That’s proven to be invaluable for us.

A while ago, we started contacting owners and asking them questions about their insurance policies for our database. As it turned out, most of them didn’t really have very good information about what their insurance even offered. They didn’t know the deductible— what they paid out of pocket before the insurance kicked in— or what their insurance covered and they didn’t know that they weren’t covered at all when their property was vacant. Some didn’t know if they had insurance at all.

Which is to say that now might be a good time to call up your insurance agent and have them look at your policy to find out what’s on it.

One thing that’s nice to have is loss of rent coverage. It’s a little more expensive, but, if you can get it, at least if something happens and you lose rent for 5 months, you’ll have a cushion.


 

Another thing you really need a firm grasp on what happens when a tenant moves out because coverage changes and— more often than not— you need a new policy for a certain period afterward.

And you should make it a priority to find out if the policy has water damage coverage because we do have a lot of issues— especially with older homes— with water in northeastern Ohio.

There’s no getting around the fact that sewer backups happen. Roots grow in the drains or what have you. It’s just the nature of owning a home in this area.

Insurance is a classic issue for landlords because a lot of insurance underwriters don’t even want to touch rental properties. It’s a specialized niche and you definitely want to find an agent that has some knowledge and can assist you and educate you a little bit about what you’re getting and what you should get.

Something we’ve just recently added as a standard policy— based on our experiences— is that we’re requiring all tenants to have tenant insurance. Here at Realty Trust Services, we offer tenant insurance through our software. It’s quite a nice policy and it runs between $9 and $15 a month. So it’s a nominal fee that enables us to make sure that the tenant has named the landlord in the policy.

And for owners, there’s even coverage for damage to your property caused by tenant negligence.

Let’s say, hypothetically, that there’s damage to the roof from a storm which causes the house to leak and the tenants have to go to a hotel. You can set up a policy so the tenants aren’t asking you to pay for that hotel stay.

Having that insurance in place keeps you from getting sued for the price of that hotel stay. And the possibility that the tenant might sue— in some instances— to be reimbursed for that trip, even if you’re not contractually obligated to provide for that.

So you can certainly see the appeal of insurance in that case… and there’s a lot of cases that are very similar to those circumstances.

Insurance companies have learned the hard way that some tenants will use tenant insurance as an ATM machine to get money for their stuff in situations like the one above. So the insurance companies have stopped providing for that and personal belongings are no longer covered.

For all of those reasons and more, we strongly recommend any owner— whether they’re with Realty Trust Services or not— require tenant insurance. It just makes good sense.

If you’re unsure about your insurance policy, the team here at Realty Trust Services would be happy to refer you to several professionals that can give you quotes and talk you through the best policy for your needs contact us today by calling (440) 220-7300 or click here to contact us through our website. 

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