Need more space than an apartment, condo or townhouse can offer, but not ready to buy? A single-family home rental may fit the bill. But not all home rental listings are legit, so here are some tip-offs and tools to help you avoid a rental scam.
According to National Rental Home Council (NRHC) members, who are owners of rental homes, scammers use a variety of tactics to get people’s money. Some hijack a real rental listing by changing the email address or other contact information and then placing the altered ad on another site. Others gain access to keys in lockboxes, make copies, and pose as legitimate rental agents. Still others may list a property that’s already leased and then try to collect application fees, security deposits, and even the first month’s rent.
Here are some tips to help you avoid rental scams:
Do an online search of the rental company. Enter its name plus words like “review,” “complaint” or “scam.”If you find bad reviews, you may want to look elsewhere.
Got a good vibe? Rental home listings may appear in several places, including rental company websites and online listing services like like Zillow, Trulia or Craigslist. If you see a rental company’s listing on one of those online listing services, do a search of the home’s address to make sure it appears on the rental company’s website. If it doesn’t, it may be a scam.
Compare prices. Is the rent a lot less than comparable rentals? That could be a red flag.
Take a tour. Ask for identification.Rental agents should have photo ID badges issued by the company that owns or manages the property.
Nothing sketchy yet? Apply through the rental company, licensed real estate professional or listings website.
Before you sign a lease, look for signs at the rental with the name of the property owner or manager. Call that company before making a deal with anyone.
Never pay with cash, wire transfers or gift cards. If anyone tells you to pay this way, it’s a sure sign of a scam. Wiring money is like sending cash — once you send it, you have no way to get it back. As for gift cards, they’re for gifts, NOT for payments.
Author of this article is Colleen Tressler | Consumer Education Specialist, FTC
If you spot a rental scam, report it to local law enforcement and the FTC.
Upgrade these feature to make your property more attractive to tenants by Katy Peterson
With a strong economy, more and more property owners are deciding to rent out their homes, condos, and apartments. As a result, there’s more competition than ever for high-quality, long-term tenants. Prospective renters now use online listings to directly compare your property against others nearby on factors such as monthly rent, upgrades, and amenities.
To make your rental property more attractive to renters, you’ll need to take care of essential maintenance, make upgrades to the bathrooms and kitchen, and then work on putting the property in the best possible light.
Take care of the essentials first
You might be ready to pick up that sledgehammer and open up some interior walls, but a better place to start is by thinking through the essentials first. After all, tenants don’t need an upgraded kitchen in the same way they need a roof that doesn’t leak, a heater that works in the winter, and safe electrical outlets. In other words, you want to address any maintenance and upkeep needs before you move onto the fun stuff.
Think about these projects as addressing potential “deal breakers” for renters. Dealbreakers are anything that could strongly dissuade a prospective renter from working with you, or give a current renter grounds to vacate the property and void the lease. No matter how attractive the rest of the rental is, deal breakers are going to cause you significant headaches and put you in the red at the end of the year.
As alluded to earlier, the property’s HVAC systems are important. In many states and municipalities, working heating and cooling systems are mandated by law. If the property’s furnace or air conditioner is minutes away from breaking down, it might be prudent to invest in a new system before spending on any other upgrades. To get an assessment of where your HVAC systems currently stand, call a locally trusted heating and cooling company in your area for a seasonal tune-up and inspection.
Once you’ve taken care of the necessities, you can move onto making attractive upgrades to the place.
Upgrade the kitchen and bathrooms
If you’re going to upgrade any part of your rental property, focus on the kitchen and bathrooms first. Just as is the case in single-family homes, kitchen and bathroom remodels generally have the best return-on-investment and are the most sought-after upgrades by prospective renters.
For the kitchen, invest in high-quality materials without feeling the need to make the space luxurious. Renters, just like homeowners, often value good-looking practicality over luxury. We recommend looking at granite or quartz countertops: in addition to being very popular with renters, these types of counters are relatively durable and long-lasting. Replacing or refacing cabinets to match may also be a good idea. Kitchen upgrades such as replacing the sink or adding a backsplash are relatively inexpensive additions that you might as well do while putting in new cabinets or countertops.
In the bathroom, keep what works. Most property owners don’t replace the toilet, tub, or shower—although they often will put new tile, glass, and fixtures in the latter. For the bathroom vanity, keep it where it is in the bathroom, but consider putting new countertops and sinks in this space. If your budget is limited, just upgrading the lighting, faucets, fixtures, and other accessories throughout the bathroom can make a big difference.
Make the small improvements count
If you’ve had to replace the furnace or water heater, your remodeling budget may be relatively limited. However, there are still things you can do to make the property stand out from others on the market. Here are a few inexpensive things to consider:
Make the property smarter: You can install a programmable thermostat, add a security system, and upgrade the door locks to electronic locks for under $1,000. Many prospective renters will appreciate the built-in convenience these upgrades offer. Plus, a smart thermostat helps them save money on their utility bills while reducing the wear-and-tear on the property’s HVAC systems. That’s a win-win for everyone.
Light it up: Put your property in the best possible light by replacing old, yellow lights with bright, energy-efficient ones. In the kitchen, consider hanging pendant lighting over the island for a modern look. Under-cabinet lights can highlight the best features of the property, especially if you invested in new countertops. In the living room, make sure there are enough ceiling and fanlights to keep the space well-light and inviting.
A good first impression makes all the difference
One final tip: consider hiring a professional photographer to take pictures and video of your upgraded property. Since most prospective renters are finding and viewing the rental online, this makes for the best possible first impression, and can really help “sell” good renters on your property as a long-term place to stay.
So much of what people think about your apartment, condo, or house is influenced by what they see of it in the first five minutes. By putting your best foot forward and ensuring that all “dealbreakers” have been properly handled, you’ll put yourself in a great position to find a high-quality, long-term renter.
Top 5 Ways to Increase the Value of Your Rental in 2020
As long-time property owners know, there are few moments you can afford to rest on your laurels when it comes to your rental. The key to successfully maintaining and growing the value of a rental property is proactive action, especially when it comes to upkeep and upgrades. To that end, let’s review the five best ways to add value to your rental property and make it more attractive to prospective renters.
#1. Upgrade the kitchen and bathroom
One of the best ways to boost the value of your rental property is by upgrading its outdated kitchen and bathrooms. This will likely both increase the property’s value on the market and what you can realistically charge for it monthly. Today’s renters are drawn to homes, condos, and apartments that feature modern kitchens and sleek bathrooms.
In the bathroom, talk to a plumbing contractor about upgrading the shower with new faucets, fixtures, tile, and glass. A modern, clean shower is an attractive asset to all renters. If your budget limits you from replacing an older bathroom vanity, at least consider replacing the sink fixtures, handles, and drains. This is a low-cost, subtle way of making a guest or master bath feel new.
#2. Give the front landscaping a fresh look
They say not to judge a book by its cover, but many prospective renters will do just that when they come to visit your property for the first time. The front yard and its landscaping need to make the right first impression if you want to get the right renters. Overgrown grass and messy bushes might send the wrong subliminal message to visitors.
Depending on what the neighborhood’s general aesthetic style allows for, consider swapping high-maintenance grass, bushes, trees, and plants out for low-maintenance, slow-growing varieties. This will reduce the amount of upkeep the renter or you have to deal with, while also ensuring that the property is ready to be shown off at any time of the year.
#3. Focus on energy-efficiency upgrades
Beyond the rent, your renters also have to pay for the property’s utility costs. Nothing will drive a good renter out faster than month-after-month of exorbitant electric or gas bills. You may not think of it this way, but—from the tenant’s perspective—their “cost of living” in your property is the sum of the rent and utilities. If they feel they’re getting a bad deal, they’ll be looking to move when their lease is up.
This is why energy-efficiency upgrades are really attractive to renters. You don’t have to invest thousands to make a difference on this front. Some positive changes that add up include adding attic insulation, installing weatherstripping around doors and windows, and making sure the HVAC systems get their annual maintenance. Be sure to add your energy upgrades to the list of your property’s features when you list it.
#4. Pick durable, long-lasting materials
If you do plan on completing renovations to the property, bear in mind that you need to balance value, quality, and durability. Too often, property owners simply pick the cheapest floors, countertops, cabinets, or appliances for their rental. However, you often get what you pay for when it comes to these products. You also want to avoid the opposite extreme: you probably won’t see much return-on-investment by adding marble countertops and custom wood floors to the property.
Instead, find a middle ground by installing high-quality, non-luxury products that are made to last. Stone countertops—such as quartz and granite—are a beautiful and durable fit for the kitchen. Vinyl and laminate floors don’t show wear-and-tear for many, many years. Finish off the kitchen by waiting for a great sale on brand-name, high-quality appliances for the rental.
#5. Always hire a professional
It may be tempting to personally take on all the upkeep and upgrades your property needs. However, some things are best left to the professionals. This includes plumbing, electrical, HVAC, and installation work. Having the work done right the first time is the best way to preserve the value of your property and avoid further issues down the road. After all, you don’t want to get a call from your renter months from now about a leaking pipe in the bathroom you just finished remodeling.
Katy Peterson is the communications specialist at Southern Air Heating and Cooling, a professional HVAC and plumbing repair company in Louisiana. Katy has been in the industry for almost ten years and enjoys writing about topics that help homeowners keep their home repair at minimum expense.
Millennials in Orlando have a lot of buying power these days. They’re willing to spend more money on what they want — and that includes living space. So how do you appeal to millennials who are looking to rent?
This generation wants convenience at their fingertips — literally. They find products and services with a few clicks on their smartphones. Make amenities such as exercise rooms, swimming pools, security services, and laundry amenities as easy to access as their phones. If you offer high-end services including laundry pickup and delivery or grocery delivery, be sure to make that clear. Property management groups can help you market these conveniences.
2. Curb Appeal
Gorgeous lawns and landscaping make your property more upscale. A well-manicured lawn and flowerbeds featuring native Orlando flowers make an inviting first impression. An energy-efficient, eco-friendly landscape is just as important. Consider providing lawn maintenance, so your renters know they won't have to worry about maintaining the yard. According to Wikilawn, lawn mowing in Orlando costs $36 per service, which you can easily roll up into the rent.
Most millennials won't even consider moving anywhere their pet isn't welcome. Dogs are family members to this age group. The yard must be dog-friendly with enough room for Fido to run and play. Consider adding a doggie fountain. Highlight the number of shade trees in the yard as well as nearby parks where dogs would like walking. It's also important to provide dog-friendly flooring inside the rental unit. Keep in mind, hardwood floors scratch easily whereas carpet is cheaper to replace.
Whether your rental units include private outdoor areas or shared space, highlight the benefits of the yard. Forget about the myth of "lazy millennials"! A recent study found this group works harder and longer than any other generation. They need a place to de-stress when they come home. You can separate the yard into space for the dog and outdoor space for entertaining. Use shrubs to divide the yard and place comfortable seating around a fire pit and cooking area. Stick a few cheap solar lights into the ground to light up the area at nighttime.
Once again, convenience is key for the millennial. Since many don't have cars, they rely on ride-sharing services and bus routes. When marketing your property, highlight the access to bus routes, restaurants, bars, and grocery stores. Create a website that lists the benefits of renting from you and includes maps to local places. Social media also helps display the value of your location.
6. Optional Furnishings
Young professionals like things clean and simple. They tend to spend time on necessary tasks and appreciate anything that leaves them with more leisure time. Worrying about furnishing an apartment may be a big stressor for renters in this group. Offering furnished apartments, or at least partially furnished, is a huge selling point. If you can’t offer furniture, try to show apartments that are clean and furnished. This helps renters imagine how space can be used.
Using these tips can help you attract responsible long-term tenants. Another plus to renting to millennials? If they like where they are, they may recommend it to friends, co-workers, or family members who are of the same high-quality group of clients.
Meredith Hale is a gardening and landscape writer, and design addict. She has coordinated the design on many house flipping projects, admitting that her favorite part is creating inspired outdoor spaces.
Trying to decide whether to handle your property on your own or work with a property management company? If so, then you are in the right place! By the end of this post, you’ll have all the information right in your fingertips.
First and foremost, there is a great deal of work that goes into managing a rental property. Among other things, you’ll need to:
Know the law. Specifically, the federal, state, and local landlord-tenant law.
Regularly maintain and repair the rental property. Remember, as a landlord, the law requires you to keep the property in safe and habitable conditions.
Enforce the terms of the lease. A lease is a legally binding document between you and your tenant. In addition to carefully documenting it for your protection, you must also enforce it.
Collect rent in a timely fashion. Rent is core to the rental business. To run a successful business, its collection needs to be timely and reliable.
Find the right tenant. The right tenant can make your life a dream, but a bad tenant can cause you stress, aggravation, and money.
So, are you still up to the task? Well if you are not, here is the good news – you can still hire a good property manager to do it for you.
A good property manager will put your mind at ease, free up your time, and add value to your investment.
The experts at Upkeep Media suggest that there is an abundance of reasons why serious investors should consider working with a professional property management company.
Let’s look at six benefits of working with a professional property management company:
A high-quality tenant is crucial to lowering costs over the long run. It’s one with a good credit score, good rental history, a clean rental record, and a stable and high level of income.
A tenant with such qualities is every landlord’s dream. However, they can be quite elusive without a proper screening process.
In fact, without a solid tenant screening process in place, you might just end up getting the exact opposite. That is one who you might end up having to evict due to their bad behaviors.
Property managers have been in the business for a long period of time. They have reliable and tried-and-tested processes that help them weed out the bad from the good. This helps them find tenants that:
Causes less wear and tear on the property
Pay rent on time
Cause fewer problems
Shorter periods of vacancies
It goes without saying that vacant rental property is every landlord’s worst nightmare. It essentially means no income at the end of the month.
By hiring a professional property manager, you can help reduce the amount of time your property sits vacant. This is because property managers have proven and tested tools and strategies that can help market your property to the right tenant pool.
Less Legal Problems
Being a landlord is a complicated endeavor. You may unintentionally find yourself making mistakes such as:
Disregarding tenant’s right to privacy. Tenants have a right to the quiet enjoyment of their homes. To enter the unit, you must provide them with adequate notice, usually 24 hours.
Refusing to make repairs. As a landlord, you have an obligation to ensure that your property is habitable.
Failure to provide a safe environment. You have a duty to ensure your tenant has a safe living environment.
Using illegal provisions in a rental agreement. You can find yourself in a legal hot soup if you place discriminatory conditions in your rental agreement.
Failure to make disclosures to prospective tenants. Different states have different requirements in regards to what landlords must disclosure to their tenants.
Asking discriminatory questions. Did you know it’s illegal to ask certain questions when interviewing your tenants? For example, asking your tenant:
Do you go to church in this neighborhood?
Where do your kids go to school?
Are you pregnant? I don’t want a baby disturbing the other tenants.
Where were your parents born?
You can avoid all these issues and more by hiring the right person. A good property manager is well-versed with the federal, state, and local laws guiding the landlord-tenant relationship.
Long-term tenants are great for cash flow. They help guarantee income at the end of the month.
Short-term tenants, on the other hand, mean a series of issues. For one, it means lost rent. It also means high maintenance costs, as you’ll have to do things like clean the property, replace carpets, and repaint the walls every time a turnover happens.
Did I also mention that you’ll also have to market the property and screen potential tenants once again? Well, these costs can quickly add up.
Hiring a professional is the only way to increase your odds of landing a high-quality, long-term tenant. Remember, though, not all property managers are created equal. As such, when interviewing them, make sure you check their tenant retention policy.
Improved Property Value
Regular property repair and maintenance is key to improving the value of your property. Good property managers usually conduct four inspections per lease period. These are:
When tenants first move into the property. This helps document the condition of the property.
During a drive-by. This helps check for common lease violations such as subletting or unauthorized pets.
When seasons change. Every season calls for certain maintenance tasks. In winter, for example, winterizing pipes is important.
When tenants finally move out. Many leases require that tenants return the properties in much the same way they found them. The move-in inspection report acts as a checklist. The tenant then becomes liable for any excessive property damage discovered.
RentCare Property Management launches THE BEST Property Management Real Estate Agent/Broker Referral Program in Central Florida.
RentCare has been managing residential income-producing rental properties in Orange, Seminole, Osceola, Lake, and Polk Counties for 25 years. Through the years, they've met numerous real estate agents, in an effort to protect their relationship with their clients, have attempted to manage the properties themselves.
Unfortunately, they've subjected themselves, as well as the property Owner, to incredible and unnecessary liability.
As a result, we've decided to implement a Best-In-Class Referral Program that will help agents make money while maintaining a relationship with their clients.
We will contact you to review your client's needs prior to contacting them.
We will contact the client within 24 hours of receiving the referral.
We will provide an honest, comprehensive market analysis.
We will thoroughly discuss our management program and work to establish realistic expectations.
We will disclose all costs involved up front.
We will maintain open communication with all clients to help them realize their goals and satisfy their property management needs.
We will treat your client with the utmost respect and give them the care, diligence, and attention they deserve.
We will always respect the fact they are your client and they will remain your client. If they decide to sell the property or have additional real estate needs, they will remain your client. No matter how long we manage their property, they will always remain your client.
Referral Compensation for REALTORS®
We will pay you 25% of the Leasing Fee, and...
We will pay you 25% of the first year's Management Fee every month. This ongoing residual income is designed to compensate you as you maintain your relationship with your client.
Tell me if you're currently in this situation: You have a property on the market, you've lowered a price a few times, but for some reason, it's just not
This happens quite often, in fact. You're not alone.
The problem, as you know, is you're not getting the target price you want, but it's sitting there empty.
Depending on your circumstances, of course, you may want to consider hiring a professional property manager, getting someone in there to rent, generating
some positive cash flow, and trying again in a year or two. By then, the market may rebound and you could get the price you want, or better.
Some owners believe they should manage their property themselves, but there are certainly a number of pitfalls with that. Ones you may not even be
aware of. We'll be doing a series of videos on your YouTube Channel in the coming weeks/months about how to manage your property and what to
If you do decide to avoid the hassle, time, and liability, and if you live in the Central Florida area, be sure to give us a call at RentCare Property
Management. We can do a FREE evaluation on your property to determine what your property can generate for rent, and we'd be glad to talk to you
about how we can actually save you money.
I can be reached via cell at (321) 251-4740 or email@example.com.
You may be managing your rental property yourself, or you’re in the process today looking for a property manager, one that includes more and costs less.
As you may know, there are many things to consider when owning income-producing residential real estate. Today, however, we're presenting just 13 Considerations When Owning & Managing a Rental Property:
1. NARPM - the National Association of Residential Property Managers
If you are looking for a Property Management company, make sure they are members of NARPM. And even if you’re just managing your own property, consider joining. It’s about the education, the networking, the designations and learning how to navigate all the landlord tenant laws. With NARPM, you’ll have access to resources to get all your questions answered and to help you think of things you’re not even aware of yet.
2. Knowing what to charge for rent
This is about maximizing the amount of money you can charge for your type of property in your market. If you try charging too much, the property may sit empty for longer than expected. If you try charging too little, you may leave money on the table and that can hurt your cash flow.
The key here is doing a thorough Comparative Market Analysis. And this isn’t about making a few phone calls posing as a potential renter to your competitors. There’s a lot more to it than that.
3. Marketing the property
What is your plan to market your property? Do you have a system? There’s a lot more to it than just putting it up on Craigslist and hoping for the best. For example, we have a system at RentCare property management where we post your property on dozens of different sites, all at the touch of a button. The major benefit here is we will market your property where the ideal tenant is looking, and it’s not always on Craigslist.
4. Finding and Vetting a Tenant
Once you get some interest in your property, do you have an application process? And when you get those applications, are you looking into their financial history, rental history and are you doing criminal background checks? This is another one of those areas that if you have a system in place, it can save you time, money and lots of headaches down the road.
5. The Lease
Did you download your lease from some website online? Or is the lease like ours at RentCare, that's based on 25 years of experience and reviewed every year by an attorney that specializes in property management?
6. Move-in Inspections
These are critical. Document, document, document! Take pictures, record videos. It’s all about the details. We’re trying to avoid the “well, it was like that when I moved in” game.
7. Collecting Rent
Do you have a system for collecting rent? Is it easy for your tenants? Can they pay online? Or do you still live in the “checks in the mail” world? And, do you have an automated reminder system in place, as well?
8. Ongoing repairs & inspections
Do you have a network of local vendors? At RentCare, for example, with 25 years of experience in the area, we know what to look for and we’ve cultivated relationships with our vendors. We have vendors that go out of their way to respond to our calls. We trust they will give us an honest assessment. And trust like that doesn’t happen overnight.
And with inspections, you have to do them periodically throughout the term of the lease. This is about making sure everything is being taken care of and that your investment property will last for years.
9. Preventative maintenance
So important! And this isn’t just about air filters and smoke detector batteries. There’s SO much more than that. Having a thorough preventative maintenance program in place can save you thousands of dollars!
10. Lease renewal program
Do you review your tenant’s updated financial history. Their criminal history? Most owners avoid asking and answering this question: Do you actually WANT your tenant to renew? And, do you have automated reminders based on parameters in your lease?
11. Move-out inspections
Just like Move-in inspections, this is about paying attention to the detail. Document, document, document! "But, but,…that was like that last year!"
12. Handling Deposits in Escrow and Deposit disputes
This goes back to knowing the law. And if you don’t have access to resources, like NARPM, and if your lease isn’t really solid, you could get yourself in a lot of trouble. And, you could end up spending way too much money after-the-fact trying to navigate legal battles.
Look, evictions are horrible and expensive. They’re difficult for tenants AND for landlords. At RentCare Property Management, though, Evictions, backed by an attorney, are included in your management fee.
I invite you to take a look at RentCare Property Management. If you’re trying to go it alone and manage your own property, I’m very confident we will be able to actually save you money. Or if your current property manager doesn't have robust systems in place backed by 25 years of experience, please give us a call.
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