Call them whatever you want: oversights. Mistakes. Errors. Oops moments.
They’re bound to happen. It’s impossible to know everything, and with all the balls in the air when you’re leasing, managing, and maintaining a property – things are going to drop from time to time.
The problem, of course, is that these oversights are often expensive. They can sometimes snowball and become larger and more complicated problems.
One of the best reasons to partner with a professional Santa Rosa property management company is to protect yourself from these oversights. Property managers will prevent the common mistakes that are made and point out the blind spots that self-managing landlords often have.
You can benefit from the experience and systems that come with professional management. We’ve already learned from our own mistakes and oversights; we know how to prevent these disruptions and confusions.
Let’s take a look at some of the worst oversights for a landlord, and how property managers like us can help you prevent them.
Rental Property Pricing Oversights
Proper pricing is critical to successfully renting out your property and earning money from it, and we’re frequently surprised at how little thought landlords sometimes give to where their rental value should land.
Your property’s rental value will depend largely on the market, and a lot of landlords make the mistake of ignoring the market and pricing their home according to what they think it’s worth or what they want to earn. Or, they’ll be so desperate to find and keep a tenant that they’ll underprice the home.
Pricing your property too low means leaving money on the table. It’s also dangerous because you may struggle to ever catch up with the market rents.
Pricing your property too high means a longer vacancy period. It will take longer to find someone willing to rent your home at a price that’s too high, and you may find yourself losing an entire month’s rent before you lower your asking price and find a tenant.
These oversights can cost you money.
Take a look at what homes similar to yours are renting for in your neighborhood. Price your home competitively to avoid those long vacancies and be willing to come down on the price if you’re not getting a lot of interest.
Tenant Screening Oversights
Screening your tenants is one of the most important things you’ll do as a landlord. It has to be thorough, consistent, and fair.
A good screening process is documented and consistent. It allows you to carefully check the background and financial stability of each potential tenant without violating any fair housing laws. Establish standard rental criteria and document your process.
When you partner with a management company, there is less room for error. Property managers screen within fair housing guidelines. We provide a set of standard qualifying rental criteria to every applicant. And, we check:
- National eviction and criminal databases
- Credit reports
- Rental references
Don’t breeze past the tenant screening process. If you cannot be thorough, leverage the resources and experience of a property manager.
Oversights with State and Federal Rental Laws
California is well-known for its strict laws and tenant protections. If you don’t know these laws well, it’s easy to miss something. A property manager won’t let that happen. We’ll keep you compliant.
Here are some of the biggest legal problems that landlords tend to run into. These oversights will not only cost you money, they’ll potentially land you in court and do some damage to your reputation.
- Fair Housing Laws
If you’re not up to date on the fair housing laws, there’s a lot of room for error. Not knowing the protected classes, the difference between a pet and a service animal, and what disparate impact means can be a huge oversight. You need to know these laws and how they’re applied in order to protect your property. As you may know, California fair housing laws are even stricter than the federal laws. Are you prepared? Fair housing oversights are extremely expensive; you could spend $16,000 or more on a single fair housing failure.
- Rent Control in Santa Rosa
Do you know whether your property is subject to or exempt from statewide rent control? If your property is exempt, is this clearly stated in your lease agreement? Make sure you understand what the rent control laws mean, even if they don’t pertain to your property. These laws will still impact what you charge and how you raise your rent during renewals.
Property managers stay up to date on all rent control laws. We understand which properties are exempt and we help owners navigate the particulars of rent control.
- Security Deposit Oversights
Security deposit oversights can happen as you’re collecting the deposit, holding it, and especially returning it. In California, you have 21 days after the tenant moves out to return the deposit. If you’re withholding money from it, you’ll need to send your tenants a list explaining what you’ve deducted and why. There are also limits to what you can collect; don’t try to ask tenants for more than what’s allowed.
- Eviction Oversights in Santa Rosa
You’ll need to follow just cause eviction laws in Santa Rosa. You can easily find yourself grappling with legal oversights while serving the notice and filling out the paperwork required by the court. Working with a property manager will reduce the risk that you even need to evict; professionally managed homes are usually less likely to require an eviction.
If you need to evict a tenant, you have to follow the legal process for evictions. It starts with your reason. You cannot simply decide to evict a tenant in the middle of a lease term. You can only evict them if they’re not paying rent, or if they’ve violated the lease agreement. You can evict if there’s evidence of criminal activity in the home. Then, you’ll serve a notice to your tenants. Your property manager will have legal resources if it does become necessary to evict, but usually the entire process can be avoided.
One of the worst oversights you can make while evicting your tenants is to do something illegal. Don’t go over to the property and change the locks. We know it’s frustrating when rent isn’t being paid and it feels like your tenants are living for free in your property. You must remain professional, however, and having a property manager managing the eviction on your behalf will give you some distance.
Deferred and Unreported Maintenance in Santa Rosa Rental Property
Maintenance oversights are especially painful. And expensive.
Property managers can help you avoid them by having a plan in place to address preventative maintenance, emergency repairs, and routine needs. Some of the most expensive maintenance mistakes involve deferred maintenance and needed repairs that your tenants have not brought to your attention.
If you put off repairs because you don’t want to spend the money, you’ll find the problem only grows more expensive for you. If you don’t hear about a leaking sink for a few months, you’ll find yourself responding to a major plumbing catastrophe eventually.
With deferred and unreported maintenance, you’ll also face the additional deterioration of your entire property. This can chip away at your property’s value.
Property managers won’t allow this oversight to happen. We will protect your property and its value and condition by:
- Maintaining positive relationships with residents. We explain and reinforce the importance of reporting repair needs right away. By helping your tenants to understand that everything should be documented and reported right away, we’ll keep a better handle on how and when things are repaired. We won’t let small problems become large catastrophes.
- Documenting routine inspections. Property managers will document the condition of your property accurately and with inspection technology.
- Putting together a preventative maintenance plan so you can have all of your major systems and functions inspected and serviced. Have the heating and cooling system inspected and serviced annually. Get the roof and the gutters cleaned annually. Hire a pest control service to do routine treatments.
Responsive maintenance can help you avoid the oversight and expense of deferred maintenance.
Choosing Vendors and Contractors
Vendor selection can be a problem if you don’t know who to hire or you don’t have existing relationships in place.
Protect yourself, your property, and your residents by working with licensed professionals when work is required. Hiring someone who doesn’t carry the proper insurance can also bring a lot of liability onto your property. What if there’s an injury? If a worker without insurance falls off a ladder, you may be liable for their hospital bills and even their lost wages. If a non-electrician starts rewiring your house and starts a fire, you could find yourself with a huge insurance claim and a lot of property damage.
Avoid this potential oversight by working with a property manager. We have well-screened vendors that we work with, and these professionals are licensed, insured, and dedicated to providing high quality, cost effective maintenance work.
We can help you avoid these oversights and all the other mistakes that can potentially be made when you manage a property in Santa Rosa on your own. Please contact us at Redwood Residential Property Management.