WHAT TO LOOK FOR WHEN BUYING A RENTAL PROPERTY
If you’re considering entering the rental game and adding “landlord” to your title, then you’ll want to educate yourself on the various pros and cons of this business endeavor. Becoming a quality landlord as well as a successful one who actually sees a return on their investment, takes quite a deal of patience, effort, and savviness. Avoid mistakes when purchasing a rental property that may end up costing you more than you bargained for. Turn to these tips of what to look for when buying a property to help give you an advantage when shopping around.
DON’T: LOOK FOR A FIXER-UPPER
All of those popular home improvement reality shows make buying a rundown home look so glamorous and fun. Beware of signs that the fixer-upper you’re being shown is a mistake. Buying a fixer-upper may be cheap in the beginning, but transforming it into a gorgeous and livable home isn’t a project for the inexperienced. Unless you’re particularly blessed with an ability to perfectly execute large scale home improvement projects, you’re going to need to rely on professionals, which will add up and gradually deplete the value of your return.
DO: LOOK FOR A HOUSE WITH MINIMAL REPAIRS
This type of house may be more than your traditional fixer-upper, but you won’t have to worry about investing in a handful of expensive repairs. If the property needs some tlc, look for a home that is priced under the average market price to still feel as though you’re getting a deal with your investment.
DON’T: LOOK WITHOUT CONSIDERING LOCATION
Even if you find the perfect house to invest in- it’s affordable, below market price, has minimal issues- you could be left struggling to fill it with tenants if it’s located in an undesirable location. No matter the amount of effort that you put into a home, if the house itself is far away from the majority of jobs or has a considerable drive to major grocery and department stores, then it may be seen as too much of a hassle for those looking to move in.
DO: LOOK FOR A PROPERTY IN HIGH-TRAFFIC AREAS
Buying and renovating a rental property within an area that has a thriving rental market will increase your chances of receiving a large return on your investment. Purchasing a property within this type of area will provide an advantage, as most people flocking to this location are looking for rentals. Additionally, choosing an area that caters to a renter demographic may also give you an edge. Young professionals, those with travel heavy occupations, or those needing a place close to a college or university are in the market for rentals specifically.
DON’T: SETTLE WITHOUT INVESTIGATING “MINOR” DAMAGES
If the property you’re looking at requires minor repairs to pipes or needs a simple water heater replacement, calling in a plumbing professional will have this issue fixed in no time. However, don’t take the “minor” issue at face value. If there are detected leaks in the house, there may be potential water damage that can be much more serious, time-consuming in its repair, and especially costly.
DON’T: FORGET TO CHECK GUTTERS AND INFRASTRUCTURE
If the gutters were not maintained throughout the winter, your rental property could be (or already has been!) the potential victim of flooding. Check gutters to see if there are any signs of cracks or severe dents caused by harsh weather and ice. Survey the base of the house for any cracks that may allow flooding brought on by damaged gutters to pool up and seep into the foundation of the home.
DO: VISIT THE HOUSE DURING AND AFTER RAIN
If you do see cracks in the gutters or base of the home, be sure to visit the house during or after moderate to heavy rain to check if flooding occurs. This can additionally help you gauge if there may be water damage within the infrastructure or basement that is worth investigating further. This is especially important if the property has a finished basement, as potentially dangerous substances like asbestos may have been used in tiling or ceiling insulations. Water damage can cause asbestos to become airborne, which can be a liability as a landlord should a tenant become sick. Inquire about the timeframe in which the house was built- older homes constructed before the mid-eighties are most likely to have asbestos present. Age may be helpful in identifying if this may be an issue!
DON’T: OVERLOOK COSMETICS
If the house is in a great location, doesn’t require major repairs, and you can get an awesome price for it, don’t assume that this means you’ve hit the jackpot with the perfect rental property. If the house looks outdated, the yard itself is dingey, and the inside needs some updates, potential renters might be less likely to pay a price that will help you see a return.
DO: LOOK FOR A PROPERTY WITH SMALL BLEMISHES
Look for a property with cosmetic faults that can be easily updated, especially on your own. Houses that have one or two rooms with old, worn out wallpaper can be taken down and repainted within a single weekend, and at little cost to you. Use DIY tips to redo kitchen cabinets that are outdated but in good shape, such as repainting, installing new pulls and knobs, or putting on a fresh, modern cabinet door.
Although there is a long list of things to keep in mind when searching for your rental property, don’t be deterred from making this investment. Having a rental property may be similar to running a small business but it is entirely possible to be wildly successful in your endeavor. Taking your time while searching for the perfect rental property, and being mindful of some simple dos and don’ts will have you on your way to being a great landlord.
Effective September 1, 2019, weekends and court holidays will no longer count in calculating the time periods for the following tenant notices in California:
- Notice to Pay Rent or Quit
- Notice to Perform Covenant (Cure) or Quit
- The five-day period in which a tenant has for filing an answer to an unlawful detainer summons
Starting on September 1st the three days must exclude weekends and court holidays. For example, under the current law, a tenant who is given a three-day notice to pay rent or quit on a Friday would be required to pay by Monday. Under the law effective September 1st, Saturday and Sunday would not be counted towards the three days, so the tenant would have until Wednesday to pay.
The new law also applies to the five-day period that tenants have to respond to service of an unlawful detainer summons and complaint. A tenant served with an unlawful detainer summons will now have five days excluding weekends and holidays to respond. The law does not impact the notice periods for 30 or 60-day termination notices, or notices based on uncurable breaches such as illegal use, unauthorized subletting, nuisance or waste.
Norbert G. Huston, Broker/Realtor
HOW TO WRITE A PET RESUME FOR YOUR RENTAL APPLICATION
Finding a pet-friendly rental can be a huge challenge for renters, especially when you’re living in an already competitive market. A pet resume may prove to be the answer to landing that coveted pet-friendly rental.
With many landlords and property managers making the decision to place restrictions on pets (or disallow pets altogether), your choices as a rental in a tight market become even more limited. In light of this, it’s normal for renters to wonder about the best way to stand out from the crowd and ensure that when you apply for your dream rental that the landlord chooses you–and your furry friend–over the other applicants. Enter the pet resume, the perfect way to convey to your prospective landlord or manager that your pet is an ideal four-legged tenant.
BASIC INFORMATION ABOUT YOUR PET
Just as you would a rental resume for yourself, there are some basic facts that you should begin the process in order to easily provide the most vital information at-a-glance. Don’t forget to list your own contact information as well, just in case your pet resume is separated from any part of your rental application. The resume should clearly list your pet’s name, breed, age, weight or size, and spay or neuter status. This is also a great time to include a photo of your pet.
Many landlords and managers have breed and/or size restrictions–even if they have pet-friendly housing available. Including this information at the beginning lets your potential landlord know that your pet will qualify and will save you from wasting any time with going through an extensive application process for housing that may ultimately not be appropriate for you and your particular pet. Keep in mind, if you have a dog that is a larger breed, your photo can play an important role in displaying a happy and playful side of the animal. This can help managers or landlords who may not have a breed restriction, but may still be concerned when it comes to breeds that are deemed aggressive.
LIST ACHIEVEMENTS OR NOTABLE FACTS
Include achievements, certificates and other verifiable facts about your pet; this is a time to show of your pet’s accolades. Think of it just like a job application resume, but for your furry counterpart. Fill this part of the pet resume can be as extensive as needed but don’t add anything untrue or unverifiable as your potential landlord may want proof.
This is an excellent place to list any obedience school classes, special training, and vaccinations for which your pet has been administered. Don’t forget to include special activities, if warranted. If your dog participates in a local K9 reading program for children, or if your cat visits the local elementary school these can all speak to your pet’s nature. If you regularly utilize any medication to keep pests at bay (such as a flea and tick repellent), list that information, as well as the frequency that it is administered.
Landlords can fear liability risk when it comes to pets. Fears of damage to the property or attacks and medical bills can be a deterrent for a landlord. You may know that your pet is calm, loving, and will not carry disease, but explicitly listing obedience training and vaccinations conveys that you are a responsible pet owner and reassures your potential landlord of your pets’ low-risk nature.
To truly stand out from other applicants, reinforce the idea that you and your pet will be excellent tenants. A property manager’s job can be made stressful if they’re getting calls about a tenant’s dog constantly barking or a cat roaming in areas it shouldn’t. Provide peace of mind and quell these fears by including pet references with your pet resume. Include one from a former landlord and a former neighbor, if possible. These should convey that your pet did not cause damage to the property or disrupt other residents. You can also include a reference from a veterinarian, obedience trainer, or friend who has had close contact with your pet. This reference can speak about your pet’s overall demeanor.
HIGHLIGHT YOUR PET’S PERSONALITY
Now that you have covered all of the vital information, it is finally a time to highlight what makes your pet unique. Since this a pet introduction, there is no reason to keep the language strictly formal. Talk about your pet and their favorite activities, consider including a funny anecdote in which your pet’s personality shines. Overall, make it fun-but not unprofessional. Remember, a pet resume is also a reflection of you as a potential tenant; while you want to keep this introduction factual, fun and interesting, it’s still important to take the process seriously.
Standing out as a rental applicant can be a chore–especially when you not only need to convince a potential landlord of your dream tenant status, but also that of your pet’s. Thankfully, with the right resumes in hand, there is no doubt that you can put your best foot forward and start an amazing landlord-tenant relationship within your new pet-friendly abode.
SPRING CLEANING FOR LANDLORDS & TENANTS
Springtime has arrived and it’s time to open the windows and clear the mustiness of winter. For landlords, it’s time not only for vital spring maintenance, but it’s important to tend to the external landscaping of the property. For tenants, now is an excellent time to deep-clean your space, change HVAC filters, and ensure you are completing any necessary tenant maintenance.
LANDLORDS’ SPRING CLEANING TASKS
While it’s important to complete the full checklist for vital spring maintenance, the transition to spring weather creates the optimal opportunity for cleaning of the exterior of the property. Make certain that the gutters are cleared of materials that fall and winter weather may have brought debris to. Leaves, small sticks or branches, and organic material can accumulate in the gutters due to autumn and winter storms. Make certain that your gutters are fully cleaned to prepare for spring showers which we just experienced here in Stockton. Furthermore, protect your building’s exterior with a good power wash to eliminate any gathered grime from winter.
Maintaining curb appeal is an important aspect to protecting your investment’s worth, there’s no better time than spring to guarantee your tenants and prospective tenants will adore the landscape. Get out your rakes and pruning tools and get down to business–and for added flair add a few new spring blooms to the mix.
TENANTS’ SPRING CLEANING TASKS
While one of the benefits in renting lies with having to deal with fewer maintenance tasks, renters are not off the hook completely. Seasonal changes serve as an excellent marker indicating that it’s time to change your HVAC filters and complete other recurring renter responsibilities.
Deep Cleaning Tasks
- Daily Tasks: Before the deep cleaning can begin, start with the daily tasks to set the stage. Tidy any personal items throughout your space, vacuum carpets, and sweep kitchen and bathroom floors.
- Dust: Work from the top down, starting at the ceiling taking pains to clean hard to reach spots that may be missed in the day-to-day cleaning tasks. Use an extendable duster to tackle any cobwebs or dust on ceiling fan blades and any crown molding.
- Clean Walls: Scuffs caused by furniture, children, or general use should be tackled with every deep clean. If a sponge and clear soap (avoid any dyed soap that could cause staining to light-colored walls) with a small amount of water doesn’t do the trick, using a product like the magic eraser should remove most scuff marks.
- Wash Window Screens & Sill: You may clean your window glass until it sparkles, but often the screen and sill get left out.
- Vacuum Low-traffic Areas: While ideally, you will be vacuuming low-traffic areas regularly, places like under furniture, the floors of closets, and other hard to reach spots are excellent candidates for spring cleaning. Move out furniture and items from closets to ensure that every area in your house is free from accumulating dust and allergens.
- Clean Carpets: To truly ensure you get your security deposit back, a good carpet cleaning once or so a year is a great way to maintain the cleanliness of your space, and keep it as clean as the day you moved in. Borrow or purchase a carpet cleaner (you can find consumer level versions for the same cost as an average vacuum) and do the task yourself, or confer with your landlord and offer to pay part of the cost of hiring a professional service. Either way, a clean carpet will ensure that your space stays fresh and will eliminate many household allergens.
In the end, both landlords and tenants are responsible for maintaining the property. Tenants who fail to regularly clean and maintain their home during tenancy can face a dwindling return on their security deposit should anything be damaged due to neglect. Landlords should strive to remind their renters of important cleaning and maintenance duties to protect the property and set tenants up for success.
Navigating the landlord-tenant relationship can be tricky at times, but landlords and renters don’t have to perpetually be at odds. During part 1 of this article, we touched on 5 ways to keep your landlord happy.
As we’ve discovered, in How To Keep Your Landlord Happy (Part 1) the unfortunate reality is, that most renters are unknowingly damaging their landlord’s perception of renters without even realizing it. Having a good history with your landlord is vital to ensuring that your landlord will be more willing to assist you if you come across a rare late payment or simply need a good reference for a future rental.
This time, we will talk about the last 5 ways to become an excellent renter and develop a great landlord-tenant relationship.
KEEP UP WITH MAINTENANCE:
It’s true that your landlord is responsible for most maintenance issues, but if you want a truly happy landlord or property manager be sure to tend to your renter maintenance responsibilities. Ensure your landlord-tenant relationship remains solid by caring for the rental as you would a home that you personally owned. This means ensuring that the HVAC is not damaged because the filter was not changed regularly, or that pipes are prepped for winter cold.
GET PROPER RENTERS INSURANCE COVERAGE:
Having renters insurance is vital to protect your belongings and convey to your landlord that you are a responsible tenant. Renters insurance can even cover damages should you cause unintentional harm to the property or if your dog bites someone who decides to sue. Renters insurance is surprisingly inexpensive, and can even offer coverage on your valuables outside of the home. Just don’t forget, a policy is only as effective as your documentation. Be sure to take a complete inventory of your belongings in case you ever need to file a renters insurance claim.
CAREFULLY EXAMINE AND RECALL YOUR LEASE TERMS:
If you want a happy landlord, you must follow your lease agreement down to the “T”. Many renters will look at a lease agreement as a mere formality that consists only of general guidelines regarding the rental and its respective rules. However, ignoring the details of your lease terms will guarantee a rocky relationship with your landlord, and could result in additional fees or even eviction. Pay attention to small details in the lease like who is responsible for snow removal, the use of nails when decorating your apartment or if you are allowed to keep indoor plants. These rules may seem nitpicky, but your landlord likely has specific reasons for their implementation, and failure to follow those rules could result in security deposit deductions, fines or even eviction.
AVOID CONSTANT COMPLAINTS:
The tenant that makes their landlord happy to have, is not the tenant that calls at all hours of the night and day to complain about menial issues. Altering your landlord to maintenance issues is important–and can even save your landlord some extra funds if prompt alerts prevent damage from getting worse. However, constantly requiring special attention will make your landlord weary of your tenancy. You’re better off resolving small matters on your own, change your own lightbulbs and deal with bad neighbors professionally on your own. Keep your complaints to a minimum and remember that you are not your landlord’s only priority, this will both keep your landlord happy and ensure that if you ever must make a complaint, it is taken more seriously.
Having a great relationship with your landlord can make your tenancy a breeze, and can put you first in line to keep your dream apartment when your lease is up for renewal. While there may not be such a thing as a dream tenant, you can come as close as possible by avoiding these mistakes.