Property Management is very simple principle. You find a (good) tenant, that pays on time, maintains the property and leaves the property in the condition they took over the property. Simple right?
Unfortunately that is not the case. After taking over numerous properties with various issues over the last 20 years, our company has compiled some of the more common mistakes we see property owners make when managing their property.
Now I know everyone is going to read that line and say. "well I know or have had a great tenant that was one of the above," and yes their are many instances where this can work out well. The issue we see isnt the fact they rent to family. The issue we are really talking about is having a less than steller leasing process when renting to family, friends, co-workers.
Common examples are;
Verbal leases - Hey you remember everything that we agreed upon a year ago right?........
Lack of lease enforcement - Listen, I had some extra holiday expenses, can I just pay you next week?
There is a key quote that we always keep in mind. If relationships strain, be willing to sacrifice the rent or sacrifice the relationship. Very few times can you salvage both.
To avoid this make sure you follow the same process with family and friends that you would with any other tenant. Qualify them on the same standards and financial requirements you would with other prospect. Make sure communications and agreements are in writing. NO VERBAL AGREEMENTS. Treat this as a business transaction and you can avoid many of the pitfalls of renting to friends and family.
We have reviewed all types of leases. Many times the leases originate from a google search and some wordsmithing on microsoft word. We have seen one page leases and we have seen 30 page leases, both of which were either ineffective or borderline questionable. Remember real estate laws vary from State to State, so that google search document may have given you a lease from New York, Florida or a state that may have provisions that may not coincide with California.
Editors note; HomeTeam Property Management only uses Attorney reviewed contracts that are reviewed and modified to reflect current state real estate laws.
Make sure you use contracts that are specific for California. In addition to that make sure to know when the contract was last updated. Laws change yearly and often times those changes need to be reflected on the lease agreement.
The shoebox of records does not cut it here. Good and accurate record keeping isnt only for maintaing clean accounting records. It is also to reduce your liability and to keep track of equipment that needs to be repaired or replaced.
A very common example
Smoke detectors - As many of you may have noticed, the number of recent fires and also the spike in fatal fires. Below is a chart from the National Fire Protection Association.
A simple question I ask property owners is, "When was the last time the batteries were changed in the smoke detector?"
Unfortunately many times both property owners and tenants do not know. There is huge risk. and often times these risks are not apparent until its too late.
Have a log of all maintenance, communications, receipts, invoices, contracts, etc. in one location. Whether it is a binder, file cabinet or other organization method. It would also be prudent to have a extra electronic copy or 2nd printed copy in a seperate location.
Editor Note: We have a fully electronic system with print copies and electronic files as back ups.
4. Leave the emotions at the door
Its often too easy to be emotionally connected to a property or a situation. It happens for a number of reasons, but here are a few;
You or your family grew up in the house. Its hard to imagine anyone else living in the property any differently then how you lived in it.
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