Posts Tagged ‘Tenant Retention’

The Landlord’s Guide to Property Safety

Written by Landlord Property Management Magazine on . Posted in Blog

By Brentnie Daggett

A pair of hands holding a small house. Real estate or insurance concept.

One of the most basic responsibilities for housing providers entails landlords and property managers maintaining safe and habitable living conditions for their tenants.

Most states have requirements to ensure that renters are provided with safe and livable homes. These basic rights, known as the implied warranty of habitability, originated as a result of court decisions in the late 1970’s and is the base structure on which all landlords should develop any safety checklists used.

So what exactly does this mean in terms of provisions? The property owner must ensure that: basic building structures are intact, common areas are safe and clean, there is reasonable access to cold and hot water, trash receptacles and pickup is available, living space is free of vermin and (in most states) that the space is safe from foreseeable theft or criminal intrusion.

Since safety is such a crucial aspect of managing rentals, utilizing a safety checklist will help you address any issues before they become a safety risk or a legal liability.

Indoor Safety Feature Check:

  • Gas Safety: annual safety check on each appliances, pipes or flues that utilize gas
  • Electrical Safety:
    • Ensure outlets are in working order and panels are secure. Do extra inspections during turnover to ensure past tenants did not make unauthorized electric alterations.
    • Check each light to ensure switches are working smoothly, delay could indicate a fire-hazard.
    • Inspect dryer vents, and ensure that exhaust is being released while the dryer is running. A blockage could cause a fire, and might need to be handled with a vacuum hose or by a professional.
  • Fire Safety:
    • Ensure all smoke and carbon monoxide alarms are in working order, double-check this during any routine maintenance, as some tenants will not change batteries or take batteries out.
    • Ensure tenants have access to fire escape routes
    • Supply fire extinguisher for residents (Depending on State/Local fire codes)
    • Unclog chimneys so that poor ventilation does not pose a health or fire risk.
  • Structural Safety:
    • Check that walls, stairs floors and other structure is sound.
    • Manage any environmental toxins (mold asbestos and lead paint) appropriately within the space.
    • Check for cracks or holes in the walls or ceilings that can lead or collapse, leaks, or infestations.
    • Check that doors close and open properly, difficulty evacuating through doors poses a fire hazard. Additionally, doors leading outside should have working locks that deter theft or intrusion.
  • Appliance Habitability:
    • Verify that all sinks, showers and toilets have proper water pressure and no leaks. Also, check your water heater’s temp and safety relief valve once a year to remove sediment buildup that can cause failure.
    • Have your HVAC system professionally inspected, and remind tenants to change air filters as this can prevent expensive repairs.
    • Verify that kitchen appliances work properly. Check for potential leaks, that burners ignite properly, and that the refrigerator stays at a proper temp.

Outdoor Safety Feature Check:

  • Walkway Safety:
    • Provide exterior light source(s) to ensure visibility and deter criminal activity.
    • Trim landscape to prevent overgrowth obstructing walkways and allowing for criminal hiding places.
    • Make sure all railings are secure and there are antislip or caution guards in place. Before every wet season do a routine check to ensure tenants will not slip or tumble when grabbing a failing railing.
  • Structure Safety:
    • Check for overgrown tree branches or roots that can cause structural damage, hire a professional to address an area, if need-be.
    • Hire a licensed professional inspect the roof for missing or loose shingles, even slight damage can lead to deterioration of the structure’s insulation, wood or drywall. This can make electrical, plumbing and HVAC systems vulnerable.

To ensure a safe property throughout tenancy, provide seasonal safety inspections and be sure to provide an easy way for tenants to submit maintenance requests so you can address them any health or safety concerns appropriately.

Always to respond to any requests in a timely manner and to take them seriously. This will ensure that you will not only be providing the legal habitability and safety requirements, but also encourages tenants to place a request before a minor issue becomes a major–and expensive–repair. If major repair is not addressed appropriately, some states allow tenants to withhold rent (or even sue).

Due to the serious nature of maintenance repairs in regards to safety, save yourself a sticky situation in the future and keep records of any safety inspections you perform. This paperwork will serve as legal documents in the event that anything happens to your rental, so be sure that you have electronic copies–particularly if your office is within your rental buildings. Your rental software should offer unlimited cloud-based storage for these documents, making them accessible in the event you need documentation of the properties condition in the future.

Author Bio

Brentnie Daggett HeadshotBrentnie Daggett

Brentnie is a writer and contributor for Rentec Direct, providers of management software and tenant screening services. Brentnie is always ready to share relevant industry news and tips for new and experienced landlords alike. To learn more about Brentnie and to discover more great tips for rental management visit www.rentecdirect.com.

Why Tenants Want to Move, and Why Some Don’t

Written by Landlord Property Management Magazine on . Posted in Blog

Tenants Moving

Leading rental listing service Apartments.com recently asked more than 1,500 renters to describe why they would or would not move in 2014.

The results reveals both shifting trends in renter behavior, and a more lighthearted look at celebrity neighbor preferences.

Affordability, neighborhood and apartment size topped the list of reasons people said they are moving; close to half (46 percent) of former homeowners said they prefer renting; and internet listing services and word of mouth were named as the top two resources for renters during their apartment search.

“This year, both economic and lifestyle factors seem to be on the minds of most renters planning to move,” said Dick Burke, president of Apartments.com. “Many helpful online tools, like Apartments.com, are available to help renters make informed and responsible decisions with highly personalized searches, online video walk-throughs, the ability to post and read reviews and apps for iPhone and Android.”

Why are people moving in 2014? And, why aren’t they?

This year, moving decisions were heavily steered by economic factors. Shopping for a less expensive apartment topped the list of reasons renters are planning to move, while affordability topped the list for why renters are staying put. Other popular responses rounding out the top five reasons for whether or not to move included renter preferences, personal tastes, job security and family issues.

Apartments.com details the top five reasons survey respondents said they are moving in 2014:

Shopping for a less expensive apartment: 24.6%
Wanting to live in a different neighborhood: 13.6%
Looking for a bigger apartment: 12%
Change in marital status: 11.6%
Looking for a smaller apartment, or to live alone: 10%

When asked to check all that apply, the top five reasons that renters said they aren’t moving in 2014:

Can’t afford to move elsewhere: 47.3%
Like the neighborhood they live in: 40.8%
Like the apartment building they live in: 40.8%
Have job security: 22.5%
Like their neighbors: 12.4%

The 2014 Moving Trends Survey also shows that winning the lottery, a job loss or promotion, relationship changes, and noisy or annoying neighbors are the top reasons that would cause settled tenants to change their minds and move. Only 13% believed they could find something more affordable.

Why are previous homeowners choosing to rent in 2014?

Supporting a rapidly growing trend, close to half of all renters (44.1 percent) previously owned a home, up from 35.1 percent in 2013 and 33.6 percent in 2012. Interestingly, homeownership preferences are split right down the middle in 2014:

54 percent of former homeowners wish they still owned a home
46 percent of former homeowners prefer renting
51.2 percent of renters (who have never owned a home) prefer renting
48.8 percent of renters (who have never owned a home) would like to own a home right now

When asked to check all that apply, the majority of survey respondents see the following as benefits of renting vs. owning:

No unexpected repairs (leaky toilet, clogged sink, etc.): 59.9%
No or low maintenance (don’t need to shovel a driveway, cut grass, etc.): 51.4%
Flexibility to move: 51.3%

There was a sizable increase this year in previous homeowners who indicated that they are choosing to rent mainly because they cannot afford homeownership anymore, while the flexibility renting offers in choosing where to live remained as the number two reason for the third year in a row. Apartments.com provides the top five reasons former homeowners are choosing to rent in 2014, and compares these results to its 2013 survey. The statistics indicate the economy continues to be a driving factor for this group of renters:

Can’t afford homeownership anymore: 21.5% (up from 14.2% in 2013)
Flexibility renting offers in choosing where to live: 15% (down slightly from 15.7% in 2013)
Lost home due to foreclosure or divorce: 13% (up from 11.2% in 2013)
To relocate for employment: 12.4% (down from 13.3% in 2013)
Because renting is more affordable: 10.4% (down significantly from 22.2% in 2013)
Who will renters share their apartments with in 2014?

One area that seems to be a constant is renter living arrangements, which have remained nearly identical for the past three years:

Husband/wife/significant other and/or kids: 47.6%
Living alone: 42.6%
Roommate(s): 9.8%

Celebrity Preferences

Only 12 percent of renters planning to stay put in 2014 would change their minds (and move out) if Miley Cyrus moved in as their neighbor. “Apparently, most renters wouldn’t mind if guests at Miley’s parties have their hands in the air like they don’t care!” said Tammy Kotula, public relations and promotions manager, Apartments.com.

More renters would prefer Dakota Fanning (23.4 percent) as their celebrity renter neighbor than Ashley Greene (12.9 percent). Also, Chris Noth (15.1 percent) would be preferred as a celebrity renter neighbor over Nick Jonas (8.2 percent).

Source: Apartments.com

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