Posts Tagged ‘Property Maintenance’

Probiotics for Property Plumbing – Nature’s Cleaning power

Written by Landlord Property Management Magazine on . Posted in Blog

MegaMicrobes

DRAMATICALLY REDUCE MAINTENANCE COSTS BY USING MEGAMICROBES!

A common challenge for multi-resident, multi-story buildings is the frequency of plumbing repairs needed to keep waste water flowing freely out through drains, pipes, and outflow stacks. This problem can be especially acute in residential complexes where fats, oil and grease from in-home cooking accumulate all the way from kitchen drain traps to the common ground level drains.

Additional deposits of soap, hair, and other waste residue from bathroom showers, tubs, sinks and toilets add to the ongoing problem. Typically, this issue is dealt with as a maintenance budget line item for both plumber snaking at the unit level and the much more expensive jetting service applied to the inside of the common vertical outflow pipes, known as stacks. The annual cost for these services can easily top $10,000 or more, even in a modest-sized building with less than 100 units.

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The critical role of construction in property management

Written by Landlord Property Management Magazine on . Posted in Blog

By Ruben Walker | CAM Construction

Construction is more important than you think

If you own a commercial building or complex, you are either managing it yourself or have a property manager. So you know there are many responsibilities and tasks associated with managing your property. But you may have never thought about the role of construction in property management. This post takes a look and gets you up to speed on what you need to know about this important aspect of the job.

Definition of property management

According to Wikipedia, it is:

the operation, control, and oversight of real estate as used in its most broad terms. Management indicates a need to be cared for, monitored and be held accountable for its useful life and condition.

Property management involves the processes, systems and manpower required to manage the life cycle of all acquired property as defined above including acquisition, control, accountability, responsibility, maintenance, utilization, and disposition.”

How does construction fit into property management?

Construction has several roles to play.

Repairs

Repairs are mostly self-evident. They involve fixing things that are broken through misuse. A window broken by a baseball is a good example. Simple repairs may be carried out by an onsite employee. But more extensive ones may be handled by a third-party. Say if someone drives a car through your front entrance.

Maintenance

Many times an onsite employee will provide maintenance. But it can be more efficient and less costly to contract it out in other circumstances.

Routine maintenance involves the day to day upkeep of your property to keep it functional. Replacing loose fasteners on railings, fencing, steps, or deck planks are examples. Recaulking older windows is another.

Preventive maintenance is a proactive service to avoid unnecessary repairs. Regular inspections and service prolong the useful life of your assets. It is also an important part of maintaining the safety of your property.

Capital Improvements

Capital improvements are a different thing altogether. They are almost always carried out by a third-party. According to Investopedia they are:

“the addition of a permanent structural improvement or the restoration of some aspect of a property that will either enhance the property’s overall value or increases its useful life. Although the scale of the capital improvement can vary, capital improvements can be made by both individual homeowners and large-scale property owners.”

They also have very different tax implications.

The components of your property eventually wear out and have to be replaced. Replacement is necessary even if they have been properly maintained. Technology also changes and requires upgrading or installation of new systems and components. New regulations from government also require additions to or adaptations of your property and its constituent parts. You might even have to carry out upgrades just to stay competitive.

Replacing old windows with new energy-conserving ones is an example of a capital improvement.

Experience counts

You know that you can’t be an expert in every area of responsibility that is involved with property management. That’s why it is important to have partners you can trust and that have the experience you need for third-party services.

When it comes to construction in property management, a financially-sound contractor with experience in capital improvements is a smart option. This role is more complicated and challenging than repairs or maintenance. It also requires outstanding project management and communication skills from your partner.

You need one who can work hand-in-glove with you, your architect, designer, and local regulatory officials. You want a teammate that can help you implement your management plan and advise you on it.

Conclusion

As you can see the role of construction in property management is vital to the success and profitability of your property.

The key is having the right general contractor to partner with for this crucial aspect of the job. It is important to have someone who can understand you, your business or property, and its mission and culture. You need someone you can count on to provide quality, safety, and avoidance of future problems.

Roof Coatings are not Roofs!

Written by Landlord Property Management Magazine on . Posted in Blog

By Tom Scherer  | T&G Roofing

roofing materials

Roof coatings became popular in the 1970’s and 80’s, along with the “Bee Gees”, and they have been around ever since. Coatings are applied over an existing hot tar roof in an effort to “extend” the life of the roof and to add reflective qualities to the system. This is sound thinking, however, in many cases, coatings are misrepresented by the coating industry and contractors who install them. Most of the waterproofing is done before the coating is even applied. (All cracks and holes are mended with plastic roof cement)

To “extend” the life of the roof could mean getting an extra year or two out of the existing system. But I have heard boasts of 10 and 15 year warranties that may not hold water. I installed one of these coatings exactly as directed by the manufacturer. After being told that I would get a 10 year “leak free” warranty from the manufacturer, I had to refund my customer’s money after the first year. I then installed a single ply TPO system to keep water out of the building and to keep myself out of the “People’s Court.”

Since elastomeric coatings are as thin as a piece of paper, how could they be expected to maintain a waterproof membrane for more than a year or so? They can’t and they don’t.

Coatings are not to be confused with actual roofing systems like hot tar, torch-down or single ply. Coatings, by themselves, are not considered to be a legitimate roofing system. They are considered to be a roof restoration only.

Coatings are often required to be installed over a cap-sheet roof so it meets the title 24 (environmental reflective demands) requirement. But it was never intended as a waterproofing system in itself. Single ply systems, on the other hand, have a reflective coating, that meets Title 24, built right into the system.

The best available flat roofing systems as of Jan. 2015 are single ply systems (TPO or PVC) that carry 20-30 year warranties. Hot tar systems are legitimate, but they do not compare with the single ply across the board in terms of safety, longevity, environmental issues. Torch-down is at the low end of the tier. It has the shortest lifespan, uses open flames, and has safety issues.

Emulsion and elastomeric coatings rely on the roof system that they are covering for longevity. When the roofing that the coating is covering deteriorates then the coating fails.

I know of some manufacturers offering 10 year warranties on their coatings however, the warranty has stipulations that do not protect the property owner. The cost of coatings is about half of regular flat roofing options so many property owners are lured by the lower prices and the long warranties, however these warranties do not stand up to close scrutiny.

Single ply roofing does not rely on the existing roofing at all. It stands by itself, whether it’s over an existing roof or bare plywood. It is like large sheets of thick rubber. This material is substantial and will not allow water to penetrate it for 20+ years. The warranties for single ply are legitimate and are validated by reputable companies.

There is really no comparison between the two. One is akin to painting over a roof (coatings) while the other is a new roof covering (single ply).

New buildings across America are roofing with single ply roofing. No building chain (Lowes, Home Depot, WalMart etc.) is roofing their buildings with a coating only.

Hot tar roofing is an acceptable re-roofing choice as it is substantial and will last 15+ years, however single ply is the better choice for longevity, reflectivity, and environmental effects. (no fumes, not oil based, and it’s recyclable)

At T&G Roofing Company, Inc., we pride ourselves on quality. Every installer is a professional with many years of roofing experience. The materials that we install are of the highest quality, always number one grade and we never use seconds. We install brand name roofing products such as GAF, CertainTeed, Owens Corning, Monier-Lifetile, US Tile, and Eagle. These products have proven time and time again that they can stand up to what Mother Nature has to dish out.

Summer Season Property Maintenance To-Do List

Written by Landlord Property Management Magazine on . Posted in Blog

Shared post from Appfolio

maintenance tools 1

Summer is almost here; and it’s a popular time for renters to move in and out of apartments. If you’re busy welcoming new renters, performing move-out inspections in vacant units, and trying to get apartments rented property maintenance can fall by the wayside until things calm down. Yet your renters deserve clean and well-groomed common areas. Make sure your apartments look their best all summer long by adding these summer season maintenance tasks to your to-do list.

Property Exterior Summer Maintenance Tasks

Focus your energy on keeping your property exterior looking great in summer, when outdoor areas will see increased usage.

Put outdoor lighting in place: Long summer nights entice renters to stay outdoors in common areas. To help them get back inside safely, make sure that you have outdoor lighting illuminating pathways and doorways. Solar lighting is an energy-efficient, modern option that requires little maintenance once installed.

Trim grass: For comfort and protection from pests, keep grass trimmed regularly. Set a reminder in your calendar so you remember to mow the lawn every two weeks (or on the schedule of your choice), or contract out to a landscaping company if you prefer not to do this yourself.

Perform a garden/common areas landscaping cleanup: Late spring and early summer is a perfect time to trim back plants, trees, and shrubs. Don’t forget to weed paths and walkways, where little plants can spring up in cracks and make your property look shoddy.

Mulch garden beds: Flowers, trees, and shrubs get thirsty during summer heat. Adding 2-3 inches of mulch to garden beds helps the soil retain water for longer. Plants will look better during long, hot summer days; you will also conserve water usage and reduce utility costs through this eco-friendly landscaping tip.

Wash and repair deck and patio spaces: Outdoor common spaces like decks and patios will see heavy use in summer. Check all of these common spaces now, and make any repairs that are necessary (such as repainting or replacing a loose deck board). Then clean all common areas to remove dust, dirt, and grime. To help keep these areas tidy and reduce the amount you’ll need to clean up after renters, install trash cans on decks and patios.

Clean window wells and gutters: To ensure that rain can flow freely, clean out window wells and gutters seasonally, including as part of summer landscaping. Remove leaves, dirt, waste, and debris.

Property Interior Summer Maintenance Tasks

Tackle these tasks to keep interior common areas pleasant in summer.

Have air conditioners serviced: Whether you have window air conditioners in common areas or enjoy central air conditioning, summertime will place a big demand on your AC. Be prepared by having your air conditioning serviced by a reputable HVAC company. This way, you can make repairs or replacements so your units will work properly when it matters most.

Address gaps in windows, doors, and walls: Summer is prime pest season. These critters get inside through holes in windows, screens, doors, and walls. Get ahead of the pests by sealing cracks in windows and doors using caulk or expandable foam. If you notice that screens have rips, repair them to minimize your work mitigating pest problems later on.

Test smoke and CO2 alarms: Test unit smoke and CO2 alarms several times a year. By adding this to your seasonal property maintenance list, you can help keep residents safe.

Have interior carpets and furniture cleaned: After wet, muddy spring weather passes, treat interior carpets to a deep cleaning. Hallways will look brighter when carpets are cleaned. Many residents will breathe easier when mold, dust, pollen, and other allergens are removed from common area carpets. At the same time, clean interior furniture. Regular cleaning of furniture can forestall furniture replacement and keep your apartment looking its best.

When you are able to keep up with summer maintenance, fall clean up won’t be as time-consuming and you’ll feel less stressed as a result. Property Managers, what other tips do you have for keeping your properties well-groomed all summer long?

appfolio Appfolio | Company Website | LinkedIn Connect |

AppFolio, Inc. develops Property Management Software that helps businesses improve their workflow so they save time and make more money.  Appfolio submits articles & blogs including topics of Resident Retention, Improved Owner Communication, Time Management, and more.

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The post Summer Season Property Maintenance To-Do List appeared first on The Official AppFolio Blog.

6 Contractor Warning Signs for Landlords

Written by Landlord Property Management Magazine on . Posted in Blog

HVAC-Preventative-MaintenanceAt some point, every landlord need to hire a contractor, so it’s important to be able to spot contractor warning signs to help determine who the best candidate is. Whether it’s a simple update or a whole remodel, you depend on outside service experts to help keep your rentals in top condition.

Deciding on which contractor to hire can be a stressful decision, so take the time to get familiar with several contractor warning signs so that you can sift through the bids and get the one who will really be worth it. There are too many bad contractors and contractor scams out there to risk your real estate investment to just anyone.

Good Contractors Are Critical To Success

When you find a good contractor, it’s amazing how smoothly things can go. If you are working with a contractor that isn’t so capable, you can lose time, money and even jeopardize your investment with safety issues.

Most landlords and property owners are familiar with the important steps of process of asking a potential contractor for a portfolio and a list of references. However, there are other factors you examine to determine if a potential contractor is one you should hire or one you should steer clear of.

Here are 6 contractor warning signs to look for when hiring someone to work on your rental property.

1. No license, registration or insurance

It may seem obvious to stick with someone who has all the proper credentials, but many people are tempted by the low rates of someone claiming to be an expert contractor who just “hasn’t gotten around to renewing their license.” Other scenarios that property owners might encounter often involve a friend or relative with experience who say they will do the job for a bargain price.

Never hire a contractor that doesn’t have proper certification. This enables you to stay on the right side of the law and to protect your investment financially.

2. Unusual payment arrangements

Most professional contractors have an outline for a payment plan, depending on the size of the project. For small to medium jobs, they need some form of payment up front to start purchasing materials and the balance is paid upon completion. For large jobs, contractors generally require a down payment and then set up regular progress payments or draws after that.

Beware of contractors who only want to be paid in cash or who ask for large payments up front, especially if it accompanies a lowball offer. Property owners all across the country tell too many horror stories of paying contractors up front only to see their money, and the contractor, disappear.

3. High pressure sales tactics

A good contractor should be content to be judged on past work and recommendations from previous customers without resorting to aggressive sales pitches or putting pressure on potential clients. While some people are just naturally assertive when it comes to sales, it could also signal desperation, such as the business is struggling and isn’t landing many clients. If you feel like a contractor is simply trying too hard to secure a job with you, follow your instincts and keep looking.

4. Mismatched skills

Don’t make the mistake of thinking that a good contractor in one area of specialization automatically makes him good for just any project. If a contractor has years of experience in kitchen remodeling and no real bathroom remodeling experience, you are taking a risk in trusting an extensive project with someone who may not be as familiar with the requirements and potential issues of a particular job.

Make sure the contractor you hire has experience in the exact project you want, along with plenty of satisfied customers. Do your research and ask for examples of work and references from past clients who had work done that is similar in scope and cost to what you want.

5. Sketchy paperwork

Contractors who are confident in their skills and abilities are not afraid to put things down on paper. If a contractor doesn’t have a basic written contract to start with, that’s a red flag. Reluctance to commit to a schedule in writing is another warning sign.

Failure to provide a list of materials and supplies should also raise concerns, because accurate records are extremely important in this line of work. You should be able to ask for examples of materials lists from previous jobs similar to yours, and if the contractor is reluctant to provide those, he may not be the best choice.

6. Communication barriers

A great contractor can still be hard to get along with, especially if your communication styles are not a match. Communicating with your contractor is a key part of ensuring that each project goes smoothly, so if there is a failure to communicate on the most basic level, chances are things won’t improve down the road. Observe whether the contractor does an equal amount of listening as he does sharing information and opinions with you.

Steer Clear of Shortcuts

Too many property owners become the victims of unethical or dishonest contractors, and still others succumb to the temptation of letting someone they know act as their contractor. Whether it’s to save money or save time, choosing a contractor that isn’t right for you can have long-term repercussions. If you don’t pay attention to the warning signs, you’ll always hire the wrong contractor for your project.

What methods do you use to screen and hire contractors for your rental properties? Are you aware of any other contractor warning signs? Please share this article and let us know your strategies in the comments below.


StephenMichaelWhite Stephen M. White | Company Website | LinkedIn Connect |

Stephen Michael White is the founder and CEO of RentPrep, a tenant screening company that gives landlords the tools and resources to get better tenants. Stephen is a frequent speaker for real estate and landlord associations around the country, passing along the knowledge he’s gained working with thousands of landlords, investors and property managers since 2007.  

How To Handle Property Inspections for Occupied Units

Written by Landlord Property Management Magazine on . Posted in Blog

Property InspectionAs the owner of rental properties, whether it be one or multiple units, annual inspections are a vital part of the process. Sometimes, you might have a long-term tenant that religiously renews that lease year after year – and you appreciate that. However, unless you employ a property manager to handle daily operations, property upkeep is your responsibility and you’ll need to perform the occasional inspection while a unit is still occupied.

After all, you can’t fix things when you’re unaware of their current condition, making property inspections during tenancy sometimes unavoidable. Here are some tips concerning the do’s and don’ts of approaching that annual inspection when the time rolls around, even if tenants have previously approved of your right to handle the task within your rental or lease agreement.

Do Give Notice Prior to Inspections

Unless you suspect your current tenant of violating current restrictions or policies within their lease such as unapproved residents or pets, current tenants appreciate you giving notice before inspection. Even if the worst they have to hide is dirty laundry or dust, unless you’ve stipulated the potential for surprise inspections in your lease agreement, the law mandates advanced notice unless a local law or ordinance is being broken.

Do Encourage Resident Presence During Property Inspections

More importantly, you should encourage at least one primary leaseholder to be present during your inspection. This could prevent any accusations of theft or mischief down the line, and it will also give you the opportunity to ask the tenant about any potential problems with appliances, systems, or concerns about the unit. Residnets are often very willing to open their homes to you just to catch your ear about a needed repair or suggestion.

Do Let Residents Understand Why You’re Doing the Inspection

Is that tile chipped in the bathroom? Is the kitchen faucet leaking? How about servicing that HVAC system? Structural integrity and appliance and systems check are a part of homeownership, whether you lease or rent it or not. Let your tenant know the reasons for your visit, and that it is a routine event both for their benefit and yours.

Don’t Take Photographs Indoors of Personal Items

You may only intend to get that sagging windowpane, but you accidentally got part of the mantle that features family photos. Unlike a vacant home, occupied rental property inspections have certain rules, and taking photos of identifiable personal items like pictures, computers, valuables, pets, or people is a no-no.

Don’t Engage in Face-to-Face Confrontations with Residents about Issues

As the owner,  steam may be coming from your ears if you make an inspection only to find your property is being neglected in some way. It’s important to visually and physically document such issues, but it’s equally essential to address such problems with your resident – in writing. Verbal confrontations could lead to your tenant skipping out on you, bad mouthing your reputation as a renter, or even legal troubles down the line. Keep your notifications formal and in writing if problems surface during your property inspection.

Whether annual, interim, or spot inspections are on the agenda for your rental properties, keep these do’s and don’t in mind to keep tenants happy and to ensure you’re acting in accordance with renter’s legal rights.


appfolio Appfolio | Company Website | LinkedIn Connect |

AppFolio, Inc. develops Property Management Software that helps businesses improve their workflow so they save time and make more money.  Appfolio submits articles & blogs including topics of Resident Retention, Improved Owner Communication, Time Management, and more.

Preventive Maintenance, Taking The Time Saves Time

Written by Landlord Property Management Magazine on . Posted in Blog

Property maintenance“There isnt enough time to do time to do preventive maintenance,” might be the battle cry for every new maintenance supervisor.

“You’ll pay in time and maintenance expense, when you don’t perform preventive maintenance,” is the sage advice from any Obi Wan Kenobi that has a few years of experience in the lead maintenance role.

No one is ever going to find time for preventive maintenance. It has to be scheduled: a half hour a day, a half day per week. Therre’s isn’t one right answer. There’s only a wrong answer-NOT SCHEDULING!

At the beginnng of a month, or the beginning of the work week; determine the preventive maintenance focus for that time frame. Then determine how much time is needed to accomplish this task for the property.

– Changing furnace or air conditioning filters for 125 apartments.
– How much time for each apartment home?
– Enter
– Perform Service
– Check Smoke Detector, ALWAYS!!
– Exit, leaving door tag that says “Maintenance was in your home today.”

Worst case, ten minutes? So for 125 apartment homes, its 1250 minutes, about 21 hours of time to schedule. Almost three full days! To prevent maintenance operations from coming to a halt, could you schedule two hours a day for two weeks?

With a scheduled activity, the number of apartments being serviced can be managed to prevent overscheduling. In this case, twelve to thirteen apartments would need to be scheduled each day. A scheduled, controlled limited effort compared to giving notices to an entire property, something interrupts the schedule resulting in the domino effect of revising notices and mass confusion for maintenance and residents.

In many cases, it makes sense to combine quarterly initiatives; smoke detector test, unit inspections, or filter changes. It takes more time in each apartment home, but not near as much time as a repeat performancee of entering every apartment home again. Before undertaking a property wide initiative, look at the calendar, what items are on the immediate horizon? Budget Prep? Is it time to update the capital needs inventory for the property? Use the time effectively and efficiently.

Properties with consistent preventive maintenance almost eliminate after hour emergencies.

The number of calls for poorly performing air conditioners or furnaces that are remedied after a pricey service call to change the filter is frustrating to anyone reviewing invoices; what a waste of financial resources. In addition to the realization that failure to service HVAC equipment properly will result in premature failure of the equipment or systems.

Exterior inspections are a critical feature of preventive maintenance.
Do exterior doors close securely?
Any loose shingles, gutters or downspouts?
Are extensions in place on all downspouts, with splashblocks to take water
away from the building foundation?

Spring, fall and even winter can be wet seasons. Heavy rains and melting snow give building drainage systems a work out. Without extensions to drain the roof run off away from the building, the excessive moisture is a perfect climate for mildew to develop on interior surfaces.

A resident reports they found mold on the wall, in the closet, behind the sofa or when they pulled the bed away from the wall.

Step 2, ( after Step One cleaning the area) Exterior Inspection, are the gutters and downspouts properly draining water away from the building.

If this isn’t a regular maintenance practice, additional time will be committed to this effort to reinspect after future rainfalls to insure the problem is resolved.

Properties in northern parts of our nation need an appropriate plan for snow removal.
Who plows?
Where is it pushed to?
Is the equipment for the sidewalks in good working condition?
Is there gasoline for the equipment, ice melt products on hand?

“Getting Around To It” generally doesn’t happen until there’s no choice because it is now too late to prepare, its time for action. Scheduling is the key to success.

Taking the time to review items for the preventive maintenance agenda, determining the time to complete the task and scheduling is the first step to proactive maintenance in an environment that changes daily.


Lori_Hammond Lori Hammond | Company Website | LinkedIn Connect |

Lori has 30+ years’ experience in the Property Management Industry, working with both market rate and affordable housing.  Lori has been privileged to work with some tremendous industry leaders during employment tenures with Oxford Management, NHP Management, AIMCO, Alliance Residential, Boston Capital, The Sterling Group, P.K. Housing and currently Management Resources Development.

Disasterous Consequences of Not Maintaining HVAC Equipment

Written by Landlord Property Management Magazine on . Posted in Blog

Rental Property Owner and CEO Of Cold Craft, Inc. Heating and Air, Stresses The Potential Disastrous Consequences Of Not Maintaining The Buildings’ Equipment

HVAC_1CNN announced on February 24, 2014 that on February 23, 2014 a water heater pipe in Legal Seafood in a New York mall was the cause for a carbon monoxide death and the illness of others. This story was also reported on ABC7 news NY; FOX News, Newsday, NBC New York carbon monoxide poisoning from a water heater, and it makes a great reminder for how important it is to maintain the equipment in all buildings including commercial and residential properties and to have new carbon monoxide detectors. These CO detectors are good for approximately five years, so follow manufacturer’s instructions on replacement.

Susan Nichol is a rental property owner as well as the CEO of Cold Craft, Inc. Every week they observe people taking on the risk of either deferred maintenance or do it yourself heating installations. “To avoid risking the health and well-being of my tenants and my investment I act on the importance of maintaining the most expensive parts of my rental homes, the heating and air conditioning and hot water systems.” The current economy, perhaps the desire to maximize profits or lack of knowledge of equipment maintenance has been responsible for building owners and managers to delay or defer the maintenance on the property’s equipment.

What are these risks? First and foremost carbon monoxide poisoning and death or combustion issues like a fire in the furnace are the highest risk the property owner can take. Check on line there are cases every winter for years of people having issues with the furnaces. Owners and managers need to keep records of the maintenance so should a problem crop up the owner/manager can show a track record of maintaining the equipment. This will show that at the time of the maintenance the equipment was working properly. Regular maintenance also provides the financial rewards of extending the usable life of your equipment.

Typically these HVAC units are out of sight and out of mind, so they do not get the needed attention that is needed to maximize the efficiency and extend the equipment’s usable life. HVAC units are in closets, basements, crawl spaces, on rooftops or simply in the attic, out of the way places that can go unnoticed. This is why it is important to plan the maintenance with a reputable company to make sure that the equipment is running at its best at any age or condition. This equipment needs to be maintained to avoid surprises. “The key to maximizing your money with rental property is to make sure the expensive equipment in the home (HVAC which means, heating, ventilation, and air conditioning) are maintained so the equipment will last longer. This means that the replacement can be delayed or planned for.” Susan Nichol, Investment Property Owner.

There is another benefit too and that is planned replacement. When the HVAC equipment is getting towards the end of its usable life the replacement of the equipment can be planned so it has the least impact on the tenant. Planning the replacement can be done when the unit is vacant, when the tenant is aware of upcoming work, and planning allows the replacement to be done in the spring or fall when the weather is mild should anything go wrong and the owner/manager is not out of rental money because of a lack of heat.

Unfortunately, Nichol’s properties are out of state so she is unable to take advantage of her own firm to work on her properties, but they are still maintained. “I have a couple of business rules when it comes to rental property; the most important one is that I need to be able to sleep at night. Looming expenses and possible disaster from deferred HVAC maintenance is not a chance that I am willing to take.” says Nichol. That’s why Cold Craft advocates annual safety inspections on combustion appliances, new Co detectors (especially to replace the units that are over 5 years old – see manufacturer’s replacement suggestions and new batteries annually).

Cold Craft, Inc. opened for business in 1991 serving the San Francisco bay area in heating, air conditioning and refrigeration for both commercial and residential aspects of the trade. The company has a safety focus both for our employees and our customers. Its continuous improvement program includes incentives for education such as being NATE certified; this is why Cold Craft was awarded the Circle of Excellence from NATE, the gold standard in HVAC. The firm also has been Diamond Certified for 12 years. The employees also pride themselves on offering new technology, renewable and energy efficient solutions. Cold Craft’s goal is to continue to grow in the HVACR industry in the bay area and hire additional experienced technicians and installers. Learn more at http://www.coldcraft.com, or follow Cold Craft, Inc. on Twitter @suzi_coldcraft

Should You Repair or Replace? Choosing Wise Renovations for Rental Propeties

Written by Landlord Property Management Magazine on . Posted in Blog

repair_replace_balanceRental property renovations open the doors for financial rewards through potential rental or selling price increases. However, deciding which renovations to undertake that will ultimately reap the most benefits can be complex. Interestingly, there’s a lot of advice offered by real estate professionals about which renovations are most worthwhile for investors, and these experts know what improvements renters really want.

Even more interesting – they know how to get the most bang for your buck when it comes to making wise property renovations, understanding the correlation between curb appeal and rental rates, how to choose remodeling projects that preserve equity and the integrity of the property.

Still Turning and Burning your Property? Don’t Get Burned Yourself

More property investors are realizing the benefits of treating their rental homes more like “their home” as opposed to another “unit.” Even scaled down renovations and remodeling projects can help increase equity and help you maintain a top-notch resident base. Investing in major projects is just that – major – so keep in mind that even minor improvements can make a tremendous long-term difference for both renters and owners.

However, some major projects cannot be ignored, and this is when treating it as a home comes into play for investors. One major roofing failure can spell disaster, put residents out of their home, and you temporarily out of income – facing a huge repair bill. Itemize your “to do” list according to importance, putting preserving the integrity of your dwelling on top of the list. Everything else you should evaluate by cost, the improvement’s potential lifespan, and consider any applicable tax credits and return on investment.

Cleaning, Cleaning, Cleaning – The #1 Return on Investment for Rental Properties

That’s right – a clean home is a desirable home. Those appliances don’t have to be top condition or modern, just clean! Carpets and flooring don’t need to be replaced when a good shampooing or deep cleaning may make them look brand new again.

Consider that the lifespan of carpeting averages about 11 years, according Old House Web’s experts, but wood flooring and many types of tile can last a lifetime. If replacement is imminent, consider upgrading to resilient and lovely Terrazzo tile or a natural, eco-friendly wood. If there are only a few flaws, chips, scratches, or imperfections that can be resolved with spot replacements or partial refinishing, then the cost-effective solution is clear!

Interior and Exterior Painting

Curb appeal extends to the interiors in the eyes of a renter; after all, they have to see those walls every day. If you’ve rented to a smoker or the same resident for many years, you’re likely justified in going with a complete overhaul with interior paint. However, you might be able to get away with a few walls here and again, but it’s such an inexpensive renovation, it’s best to refresh everything for your new charge.

Kitchens and Bathrooms – To Renovate or Resurface?

These two improvements are known for their tremendous return on investment; however, they are also known for their high initial investment. Contractor and remodeling experts are promoting the benefits of resurfacing over replacements. Resurfacing bathtubs, showers, and cabinetry are far more cost efficient projects than replacing them, particularly if they are in decent condition. The pros at Old House Web estimate that acrylic baths have a 15-year lifespan, so estimate “how much life” your major fixtures and appliances have left before considering costly replacements.

Final Considerations in Remodeling Rental Properties

Your budget, how much time you have, and the condition of your property certainly play a role in your remodeling decisions; however, as a wise investor you have to know when to “turn and burn” and when to take your time and renovate units as though you were living there. You’ll see happier residents and may even get some recommendations through your efforts of being a responsible and caring landlord.


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AppFolio, Inc. develops Property Management Software that helps businesses improve their workflow so they save time and make more money.  Appfolio submits articles & blogs including topics of Resident Retention, Improved Owner Communication, Time Management, and more.

What Does Property Maintenance have to do with Resident Retention?

Written by Landlord Property Management Magazine on . Posted in Blog

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Maintenance is often regarded as a necessary evil or odd stepchild to the whole rental experience.   Like in a restaurant, the busboy is not high on the totem pole, yet remove or neglect the bus service and the restaurant falls into chaos and diners are not happy.

Maintenance_CostThe same can be said in the apartment industry.  Neglect maintenance and you will quickly find out how important maintenance is to your residents.  In 2012, SatisFacts Research published an e-book that revealed the highest-ranking factor for an apartment resident’s renewal decision was “Quality of maintenance service provided”.  Maintenance ranked higher than perks, parties and even the desire for more parking.

Keeping in mind that maintenance is such a great concern for lease renewing residents, successful property management teams look at maintenance providers as a valuable asset to be used in resident retention programs.  Consider the cost of routine maintenance against the massive cost of a rental make-ready in the event that a resident does not re-new their lease.

List or identify the ten top routine maintenance requests in the past year.  Determine if the item could have been quickly resolved by asking a few key questions such as:  “Is the pilot lit?”, “Have you pushed the reset button under the garbage disposal?”, “Have you reset the GFCI button on the electrical outlet?  Team up with your maintenance team or provider for a much more extensive list of simple questions that may resolve an issue while your resident is on the phone.  Asking the right questions will also save on your maintenance costs.  Sending out a plumber to reset a button is very expensive use of a resources and a potential time waster for your resident.

An often-overlooked aspect of maintenance is the follow up call to ensure the work was satisfactory and the work solved the resident’s issues.   This a good time to practice your customer service tools and ask the resident if there is anything else they need.

Use the maintenance team as a secret weapon in the war   against vacancies. Make sure the residents know who the maintenance team members are; introduce them, mention their long professional service to the community.  Emphasize their maintenance proficiency and ability to perform service requests in a timely manner.

The property management and maintenance team are not separate teams.   As an example, the property management & maintenance departments are very much like offense and defense teams in a football game.  Both work as one team and both are critical to the success of a winning game.  One makes the points and the other defends the points.  One without the other spells disaster.  Communication is key to a winning strategy. Both teams need to know the end goal.  Treat both your management/leasing team and maintenance team as equals; they are two sides of the same coin.   Use both your leasing and maintenance departments as a two-prong approach to filling vacancies and controlling resident retention.  In other words; a happy resident will be a long term resident.

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Frankie & JerryBuffalo Maintenance, Inc. provides comprehensive maintenance and repair solutions for the rental housing industry.  Jerry L’Ecuyer  is a licensed contractor & real estate broker.  Frankie Alvarez is the Operations Director and has been involved with apartment maintenance & construction for over 18 years.

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