Categories
Landlord Tips

The Importance of Rental Property Inspections for Homeowners

As a homeowner, rental property inspections are an important aspect of renting out your home to tenants; here is why.

To keep your rental property healthy, you must perform regular inspections. Think about this: most dentists recommend a cleaning and dental exam every 6-months. This not only gets you to stay on top of your brushing, flossing, and other routine care, but it allows your dentist to make sure your teeth are healthy. Should a small cavity appear, it can be addressed quickly and painlessly. Otherwise, that small cavity could become larger and more painful in time, requiring oral surgery like a root canal.

Inspecting and monitoring your rental property will help you avoid major issues down the road. They not only help you maintain your property but also spark the tenant to show care for the property, as well.

Types of Rental Property Inspections

Several different types of inspections occur at various times throughout the term of the lease. During each of the inspections, you will want to document everything with dates, clear notes, and pictures. This will help you maintain a condition report of the property and, if needed, could be used during a legal proceeding.

Here are the four main types of rental property inspections.

1. Move-In Inspection

This inspection is done at the beginning of a tenancy and often involves a walkthrough by the property management company (or owner) and the new tenant. Everything is documented so that the tenant will not be held liable at the end of the lease.

2. Move-Out Inspection

This inspection occurs immediately after the tenant has vacated the property. Cross checking the move-in inspection report with move-out report, you can see what damage, if any, has been caused that goes beyond normal wear and tear.

3. Seasonal Inspection

Certain types of proactive maintenance occur on a scheduled time frame. These rental property inspections allow you to check up on your tenant’s care of the property while also addressing issues that require maintenance in the upcoming season.

4. Drive-By Inspection

Sometimes taking a drive-by your property allows you to assess its condition. You don’t invade your tenant’s space, but you can still gather an idea of the level of care and overall condition.

Some property managers hold pre-move-out inspections to give the tenant time to cure anything that may be violating the lease term or affect their deposit return. Pre-management inspections are another type of inspection that is common when a management company takes over a new rental property. They inspect all aspects of the property and document it so that everything has already been reported and addressed when the first tenant moves in. Of course, this also ensures that the property itself is in healthy condition for a tenant – and that it is up to code.

Make Sure Your Tenants Expect It

Many tenants feel that rental property inspections are a violation of privacy and may be hesitant to allow someone to come through the property. It is crucial that your lease clearly states the details of the inspections.

At the lease signing, be sure to review each term of the lease – and discuss the inspections. This allows for transparency and stresses the importance of following the terms stated within the lease. After all, during the inspections, you will be making sure the tenant is holding up his/her end of the agreement, too.

Why You Need Inspections

While there are many reasons you will need to inspect your rental property regularly, we have listed a few of the most important here.

Be proactive with maintenance. As we have already discussed, not addressing some maintenance concerns, such as a minor roof leak, can leave you facing significant repairs down the road.

Pay attention to lease violations. When you are inspecting your property, you are doing so beyond the scope of maintenance. You want to make sure that the tenant is abiding by the lease terms so that your property is in good hands. Because they know you will be inspecting, they have more incentive to follow the terms of the lease.

Increase communication. Again, transparency is essential. If your tenant knows you are monitoring their care of your rental home, then when some issues arise, they are likely to report it. Having a good landlord-tenant relationship is imperative for maintaining quality clients.

How a Property Manager Can Help

Hiring a property manager can take the burden of rental property inspections off of your shoulders. They will take the time to review the property, document the inspection, and often store this info electronically to easily access it in the future. They are familiar with the lease and know what to look for in terms of violations. Also, their experienced team knows preventative maintenance and what needs to be inspected and addressed. Any issues that arise can be handled accordingly to keep your rental property healthy.

It is important to note, however, that not all property managers are the same. When you hire someone to take care of your rental portfolio, you want to make sure you clearly understand the agreement you sign – as well as any fees. Unfortunately, many property managers hide their inspection fees, giving you the impression that it’s a routine service until it happens.

RPM Evolve Sets the Bar High

Real Property Management Evolve thrives on providing the best property management service with an honest approach. We know the practices of other property management companies, and that’s why we set the bar high. At RPM Evolve, we stay away from shady practices and only have the best interest of your rental property in mind.

We list the fees for our inspections right on the pricing page of our website! And, depending on your membership, your property inspections may be included.

We believe that regular inspections throughout the length of the lease will help us manage your property the best. By monitoring the health and condition of your property, we are better able to keep it healthy for years to come without leaving you any hefty repair costs. RPM Evolve has a team of experts in their field who know what to look for and how to address it.

Conclusion

Rental property inspections are a necessary part of managing your properties. Avoid significant issues down the road and keep your tenants adhering to the lease terms with these regular inspections. If you want to leave it to the professionals, hire a top property management team – Real Property Management Evolve!

Categories
Landlord Tips

Fair Housing Act Arizona: How to Protect Yourself and Your Property

As a landlord, it is imperative that you understand the Fair Housing Act in Arizona and how you can protect yourself and your property with the help of a property manager.

We live in a world with laws that are put into place for all sorts of reasons. These laws keep our roadways safe, help keep our children safe, and even help with our job security. Regardless of how good or bad you feel a law is, it was put into place to keep balance within our society – and ensure that everyone has an equal right to an opportunity.

As a landlord or rental property owner, there are specific laws that you must follow to allow everyone a fair chance at renting your property. You cannot pick and choose who you want to allow to rent your property, just as a business owner can’t pick and choose who he will let shop in his store.

Does this mean you have to rent to anyone? No.

Does this mean you have to give everyone a fair chance? Yes.

Let’s take a look at the Fair Housing Act and how the State of Arizona uses it to protect you and your property.

History of the Fair Housing Act

The federal Fair Housing Act was enacted with the 1968 Civil Rights Act. It was done so to eliminate discrimination. Before this act, discrimination was running rampant in Arizona and around the country. Kids learned in schools that were segregated by color, and minorities found it nearly impossible to advance in an economic world. Neighborhoods remained separated by racial divide due to the unfair Arizona housing laws.

The Fair Housing Act did not happen overnight. Nobody came up with this grand idea and decided to run with it. Many people fought long and hard for these equal rights. Shelley v. Kraemer is a court case from 1948 that was filed due to minorities being excluded from certain neighborhoods and sections of cities. This was a fight against the housing patterns that were based on race – and popular at the time.

During the civil rights era of our country, many aspects of discrimination were found in legislation. Title VIII of the Civil Rights Act became known on its own as the Fair Housing Act. Its purpose was to make it illegal for individuals to be discriminated against based on things such as race, religion, sex, and national origin.

The Fair Housing Act would later be amended to include protection for additional groups, including those who are disabled or based on family status. Currently, the federal law prohibits housing discrimination against anyone based on:

  • Race
  • Color
  • Religion
  • Sex
  • National Origin
  • Familial Status
  • Physical or mental disability

The Importance of the Fair Housing Act in Arizona

Housing discrimination laws protect all people, regardless of who they are. As a landlord, these laws are to help guide you so that you do not give unfair treatment to one potential tenant over another. For instance, your tenant screening process should be the same for everyone who applies. And the qualifications that your tenant is required to meet should also be the same. Being consistent, requiring the same documents and fees, and holding each to the same standards is critical.

It should be noted that you cannot:

  • Deny someone the opportunity to rent your property.
  • Advertise to a specific group.
  • Be inconsistent with your qualification standards.
  • Harass a tenant.
  • Refuse to accommodate someone with disabilities.
  • Have an unfair screening process.

Regardless of your personal feelings, you have a property for rent – and everyone must have an equal opportunity to rent it.

Protecting Yourself and Your Property

Whatever you do, you do not want to find yourself in hot water. You do not want to discriminate or insinuate anything – from the first moment of marketing your property until you are moving in a new tenant and beyond. You need to be cognizant of your actions while speaking and behaving in an unbiased manner, no matter who you encounter.

Sometimes, landlords act without looking at the whole picture. It’s easy to do. For instance, if you receive a tenant application for a property from someone who is disabled and in a wheelchair. Would you deny it because it has stairs? After all, how would he or she get upstairs? This is an example of what not to do.

Or what about turning down someone with a service animal because of your no pet policy? This is discrimination, too. If you have someone who helps you with maintenance and he or she picks and chooses whose repairs to do first – this could also be a type of discrimination.

Any time someone feels as though they are being discriminated against, a claim can be filed against you. And each complaint will be reviewed by the Arizona Attorney General Civil Rights Division. Do not find yourself here. By being mindful and knowledgeable of the Fair Housing Act in Arizona, you can avoid these consequences.

A Property Management Company Can Help

Whether you are new to the rental game or are a seasoned landlord, filling a vacancy or working closely with new tenants is always going to make you cautious. You want to do the right thing (hopefully), but one wrong move and you can find yourself under review. It is a lot of stress that most landlords just do not want to deal with.

Leave it to the professionals – property managers who make it their job to know the law and follow it. Inevitably, human error happens. This means if you have a property management team handling your rentals when this poor judgment happens, you are not going to be the one held liable.

The best choice you can make is to hire a property manager with an excellent reputation and a long history of solid, fair housing practice. At Real Property Management Evolve, our team of professionals is well-versed in the Fair Housing Laws in Arizona and makes it a point to follow them. We make sure that your vacancies are filled with the best tenants imaginable – the ones who surpass all qualifications of our non-discriminatory tenant screening.

Final Thought

The Fair Housing Act in Arizona was put in place to ensure that everyone has equal access to the housing available in the market. As a landlord in Arizona, you are required to abide by these laws or face the consequences. Reduce your chance of incidence with a professional property manager.

Categories
Landlord Tips

6 Rental Lease Agreement Mistakes to Avoid

When owning property, it is imperative to create a thorough rental lease agreement to protect yourself and your assets. Here are 6 rental agreement mistakes to avoid.

As a landlord, there are things you must handle with each new tenant; from the first inquiry on the property and the scheduled showing to the tenant application and thorough screening report process. While all of these things are incredibly important when it comes to finding high-quality tenants, nothing is as important as your rental lease agreement.

There are many pre-written lease agreements online that you can print for free. Or, you may have a copy of one used by a friend years ago. Unfortunately, this easy way out could cost you big time in the future. One of the biggest mistakes you can make as a landlord is to not have a well-written, thorough rental lease agreement that offers protection to both yourself and your tenants.

Take a moment think about this: Where did your current lease agreement come from?

Before you let another tenant sign your lease agreement, be sure to review your lease agreement so that it avoids these common mistakes.

The Importance of a Lease Agreement

Your lease is not just a document that needs to be signed as a formality. Your lease agreement is a legally binding contract between you as the landlord or homeowner and your new tenant. It states everything that each party in the lease is responsible for, from rental amounts and security deposits to pets, noise, utilities, and more.

The very specific terms of the rental agreement are spelled out in the lease. In fact, you should always consider having the following in your agreement:

  • Basic information, such as the names, address, length of rental, and fees to be paid.
  • Maintenance requirements to keep the property healthy. Will the tenant be responsible for all expenses when something happens to the property? Will the landlord handle the repairs? Who should the tenant contact?
  • Address subleasing and occupancy limits.
  • Discuss property insurance and the need for renter’s insurance.
  • State your policy (if you have one) on smoking and/or pets.

You never sign a lease with the intention of things going wrong. But life happens – and sometimes those great tenants fall on hard times or turn out not to be so great at all. Having a proper lease signed by both of you ensures that you will be protected should legal action be required.

Types of Rental Lease Agreement Mistakes

Let’s take a look at what not to do with your rental lease agreement.

1. Using a Blanket Lease

It can be tempting to just use a blanket lease and maybe writing in the information as you go. But, here’s the thing – it looks unprofessional and, depending on your handwriting, it could make your lease a bit unclear should legal issues arise. To better protect yourself, it is best to have a well-written and thorough lease agreement.

2. Failing to Outline Tenant Responsibilities

Be sure to address the responsibilities of your tenants since they will be residing in your rental property for some time. If your tenant is to be responsible for the general maintenance and upkeep of the property, then state these expectations in the lease. Be specific. Consider pest control, landscaping, light bulb replacement, air filters, some alarm batteries, overall cleanliness of the property, etc.

Make sure that your tenant has a clear understanding of his/her responsibility in maintaining the property. Of course, make sure your responsibilities are clearly stated, too.

3. Not Stating Rules Regarding Additional Occupants

It is standard practice to have each adult who will be residing at the property undergo tenant screening – and be added to the lease agreement. But what happens when your tenant moves their friend/cousin/significant other into the property after the lease is signed? And what about those friends who just come to visit but never leave?

Be straightforward in your lease about what you expect and what is not allowed – as well as the repercussions if this is not followed.

4. Not Requiring Insurance

Having homeowners’ insurance on your rental property is a must. But, for many landlords, requiring your tenant to have renters’ insurance has been up for debate. Here is something to consider – not requiring renters’ insurance could leave you in the middle of a lawsuit should personal property get damaged. Renters insurance is a small monthly fee and it helps cover things outside the scope of homeowners’ insurance. Adding a clause to your rental lease agreement requiring this protection can save you a lot of headaches in an emergency.

5. Forgoing the Co-Signor

The person (or persons) who sign the lease are agreeing to be liable for the monthly rent and routine care of the property during its term. When you are screening your tenants, you look for things like proof of employment, decent (if not great) credit score, verifiable income, quality references, no prior evictions, etc. However, some people have encountered a rough patch and do not meet all your requirements.

A co-signor is someone who goes through the same screening and is deemed a stellar candidate for the property. Having this individual sign your lease – which should also include a co-signor clause – protects your interests down the road.  

6. Disregarding the Law

You must understand your role as a landlord. You have a property that you are renting to tenants. And you are each signing a lease – that you created – accepting certain responsibilities. Do not let yourself get carried away. You have laws that govern you and your position as a landlord – including the rights of your tenants. Do not overstep. If you are unsure, have your rental lease agreement reviewed by a professional before moving forward with it.

How a Property Manager Can Help

Property management professionals know the rental industry inside and out. They have a deep understanding of the laws at the local, state, and federal laws that have been put in place to protect both you and your tenant. When you have a property manager on your side, then you can rest easy knowing that your property is handled by experts throughout the entire rental process – including the lease agreement.

At Real Property Management Evolve, you get the best property management you can find in and around Phoenix. When you’ve got us on your side, you can rest assured that your lease agreement is going to be free of mistakes and be designed to keep you safe and secure no matter what.

Categories
Landlord Tips

10 Essential Property Management Duties and Responsibilities

When looking for the best property manager in your area, see if they exceed your expectations and offer these 10 essential property management duties and responsibilities.

Owning a rental property can bring in money and add another asset to your portfolio. It can also take up a lot of time and increase the level of stress in your life. You may even find yourself asking if it is all worth it.

Some of the most successful corporations around the world have latched onto something that has changed the way they do business – for the better. They focus on what they do best and they delegate and outsource everything else. This frees up time to create a stellar business without having to worry about all the general aspects of doing so.

As a landlord or homeowner with a rental property, you can do the same thing when you seek out a property manager to handle things for you.

The Key Roles of a Property Manager

While there are often different levels of service that you can take advantage of, below is a list of the ten most essential property management duties and responsibilities – and how they can benefit you.

1. Marketing the Property

In order to maintain very low vacancy rates, your property needs exposure – and this means property management marketing. There are so many ways to get this job done, whether marketing on websites, social media, in magazines, professional networking, and the like. But if you are not familiar with the process or you don’t have a large network or following, you could be limiting yourself on prospective tenants.

Property managers know just how to sell your rental to the right audience.

2. Scheduling/Showing the Property

If marketing is done right, there will be a big response to the ads – and people are going to want to view the property. As a landlord or homeowner, scheduling these visits can be time-consuming. Property managers plan for this and are always ready to schedule showings and be there to answer any questions of those who are interested.

3. Tenant Screening

Tenant screening is one of the most important property management duties and responsibilities. Not having a thorough and reliable tenant screening policy could leave you – and your property – at risk. Property managers, on the other hand, have a tried-and-true screening policy and professional know-how that ensures you find only high-quality tenants to fill your rental space.

4. Lease Signing

A lease is a contract between you and your tenants. It states all the expectations and responsibilities of each – and it contains all the necessary legal jargon that can protect you within the court system should something go wrong.

Sure, you absolutely could print one online. But are you going to trust your legal rights and your property to a free form you found on some shady website?

Property managers have thorough leases that cover all the necessary items and work to legally protect you. In addition, they understand what the lease is saying and can review every paragraph with the incoming tenants so that there is no confusion.

5. Rent Collection

Other important property management duties and responsibilities include rent collection. As a landlord, keeping track of the rent can become a bit tricky; and following up with who owes what, who did not pay, etc. can be stressful. This is especially the case when someone does not pay their rent and then begins avoiding you.

Property management teams have seen all the tricks and they have played all the games. They handle the rent collection and will even move forward with the eviction process if necessary.

6. Routine Property Maintenance

Practicing routine maintenance is important for keeping your rental in good condition. Staying on top of this maintenance can be time-consuming.

Property managers have a team that handles routine maintenance throughout the year to ensure that any issues are taken care of proactively.

7. Emergency Repairs

Plumbing issues, broken appliances, and non-functioning air conditioners become emergency repairs any day or night. As a landlord, you have to handle these repairs yourself or find someone who will. In Arizona, you must adhere to the strict laws around emergency repairs or you could be held liable in court costing you time, and money.

A property management team has a licensed network of individuals that handle emergency repairs of any type within the guidelines of Arizona state laws. Property managers help protect your legal liability by acting on your behalf in compliance with the law.

8. Move-in/Move-out

Walking through the property and assessing its condition is essential at move in and move out. This allows you to take note of any damage that may have occurred during the lease.

Property managers know what to look for and have a good idea of the cost when it comes to returning security deposits after paying for the damage.

9. Accounting and Document Management

Great managers will include all document and reporting management as part of their property management duties and responsibilities. Leases, complaints, payments, repair costs, and so on can lead to a lot of paperwork that is necessary to keep for both accounting purposes and any future legal issues. Keeping track of everything can be a hassle. A good property management team, however, will have an organized – often electronic – method for keeping everything together when you need it.

In addition, a good property manager will provide you with the legally required documents for rental income to provide your tax professional at the end of the year.

10. Handling Tenant Complaints

Lastly, tenant complaints are never fun. And having to play the mediator between parties, practice your problem-solving skills, and so on can lead to a great deal of stress. Let go of it by hiring a property manager who will effectively address any tenant complaints that arise.

How Good is Your Property Management Team?

When you hand the care of your rental property over to a property management team, you should be filled with a sense of relief. Your reliance and confidence in this team should be reinforced with a sense of trust that can leave you with nothing but peace of mind.

At Real Property Management Evolve, we help landlords and homeowners free up their time and rid themselves of the stress and frustrations that can come with managing rental properties. We are experts in property marketing, tenant screening, rent collection, maintenance, property inspection, accounting/financial reporting, and more.

As the number one property management team in Phoenix, we are with you every step of the way. You expect a high level of service – and that is what you get. The standard of care you receive from your management team does not end with you – it is used for finding great tenants and caring for your rental property, too.

Conclusion

When you hire a management team for your rental property, they should surpass their essential property management duties and responsibilities, leaving you feeling confident about your decision.