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VIDEO: Top 6 Common Mistakes Landlords Make When Handling a Tenant’s Security Deposit

In this video you will learn the top 6 common mistakes landlords make when handling a tenant’s security deposit. You can find yourself in a lot of trouble if the deposit isn’t properly used so make sure you catch each one of these tips. 

  1. Collect the right amount for a deposit. A security deposit is all about risk management. Typically an amount equal to one month’s rent is sufficient. Sometimes a particular applicant will be a higher risk than the average person, because of credit or income for example. A double deposit might be necessary to bring the risk down to an acceptable level.  If the risk is still to high with a double deposit then deny their application and move on to the next one. See our video on tenant screening in the comments section below to learn more about screening applicants. 
  2. The deposit must be completely paid when signing the lease. Never let someone pay the deposit over time. By doing so their risk level just went up and your risk coverage just went down. When someone asks if they can pay it over time or sometime later after signing the lease, this should tell you they can’t afford to live there. Simply tell them that is the conclusion you have come to based on their request and move on to another application. 
  3. Do not let the tenant use the deposit to pay rent or other charges. Eventually this may happen AFTER they move out but the deposit is not to be used while the tenant is living in the property. By doing so your risk level would go up because you don’t have the risk protection you had before. Even on their last month they still need to pay rent. If they don’t they should be charged a late fee as usual. The deposit is not to be used on their terms. You don’t want to give up the deposit until after they have moved out and you’ve determined the condition of the property and the status of their account. 
  4. After the tenant moves out wait as long as possible before processing the deposit. You have to process it and return the balance eventually but wait the maximum amount of time you are allowed. Each state may have different laws, but in Utah, the tenant must receive an accounting for the deposit and, if applicable, the return of money within 30 days.  The reason for waiting as long as possible is that sometimes issues are discovered after the initial move out inspection. For example, a clogged bathtub or unpaid utilities. If you rushed to return their deposit early you may be stuck paying these bills yourself. 
  5. Do the math. Often landlords think they can just keep a deposit because of some issue or damage. That may be true and it may not be true. Do the math to find out. You need to determine the actual financial damages. Either there is a balance owed or a balance to return. To determine actual financial damages you will need to calculate losses based on actual invoices, repair bids, and determining the depreciated value of damaged items.  Be fair. Don’t over charge.  Make sure you can back up each item you are charging them for.  Let the math determine if there is money to return or if you need to send them a bill. 
  6. Provide the tenant with a statement. They should be able to see exactly how much was taken out of their deposit and what it was for. Itemize as much as reasonably possible. For example, if you were charged $500 for a handyman to fix a list of repairs simply list those repairs on the statement and put $500 next to the list. You don’t need each repair itemized if you weren’t billed that way. 

You can find more valuable landlord tips like these by watching our other videos and by subscribing to our channel. 

At Kasteel Property Management we do more than just watch your rental property. We Protect it, cultivate it, and help your investment grow. 

 

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Video: 10 Best Improvements to Make on a Rental Property

 

In this video you will learn the 10 best improvements you can make to your rental property that will give you the biggest bang for your buck to keep your vacancy times low and your rents high.  You won’t want to miss the common misconceptions and mistakes people make so make sure you stay until the end.

  1. Use the right carpet.  When replacing carpet, some owners take the approach of either getting something cheap because they assume tenants will destroy it, or installing industrial office carpet that will last, as they say, “30 years or more”.  Both of these approaches assume that you will be renting to terrible tenants; unfortunately it then becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.  This is because the average person wouldn’t want cheap or uncomfortable carpet in their home, so quality tenants will not want to live there.  By assuming the worst of your tenants, you are actually attracting the worst kind of tenants.  These are tenants who don’t really care about their surroundings and will likely not care properly for the home as well, thus costing you more money.  Ask yourself, what would you want in your home?  You don’t need the most expensive carpet and you don’t want the cheapest, but get something mid-priced that is nice.  Then make sure you do a thorough screening of your applicants to find the right tenant that will care for your property.  You can learn more about that in our videos regarding proper screening and common red flags.  See previous blog posts.
  2. Fresh paint when needed.  Re-painting is an expensive maintenance cost and so you only want to do it when necessary, but don’t push if off too long or you won’t attract quality tenants.  Certainly don’t paint after every tenant moves.  Too many coats of paint can become ugly over time and it’s an unnecessary expense.  Instead, think ahead by deciding, after each move out, if the property will need to be repainted after the next round of tenants. Then make a note of it so you can get painting scheduled as soon as you learn the tenants will be moving.  Scheduling it in advance will help avoid excessive vacancy time.  Be aware that if you have one of those properties that has high turn over, it will probably need to be painted more often than if the same tenants live there for several years.  If possible try to coordinate painting to be at the same time you replace the carpet.  The labor costs of painting may be less expensive if they don’t need to tape off the carpet.  Bring it up with your painters when getting a quote.  Also, avoid flat paint. Something like semi-gloss cleans easier and is easier to match when a repair is needed.
  3. Kitchen cabinets.  The kitchen is one of the most important things to prospective tenants.  So when painting, also consider painting your kitchen cabinets.  It’s surprising the new life it gives to a kitchen that otherwise looks like it needs an expensive overhaul.
  4. Update light fixtures, door handles, doors, outlet covers, and light switch covers.  This is often overlooked, but can dramatically change the way a home feels and can quickly update it.  You can also save money by doing this at the same time the home is getting painted.  When painting, all those fixtures are taken down and then put back up after the painting is done.  You can save labor costs by taking the opportunity to update them at the same time that you paint.  Just talk to your painter about it before they get started.
  5. Fully fenced backyard.  Sometimes a backyard can become fully fenced with only a little bit of fencing to close off the side yards.  This creates a lot of appeal, especially for a home that is most likely to attract young families.  A fenced yard is always an important feature to advertise when you can.
  6. A low maintenance yard.  Keep it simple.  If the yard is not too complicated, it can often be the responsibility of the tenants, which will save you money.  A yard with a garden or lots of flower beds and shrubs that tenants are expected to maintain, will decrease your potential tenant pool making it harder to get it filled, or you will have the problem of tenants not keeping up on it and then it will require an overhaul before you can rent it again. Therefore trees, bushes, flowers, and gardens should be minimal and avoided if possible.
  7. Avoid exterior wood.  Wood fencing and decks are expensive to maintain and need repairs more often than synthetic material.  Material like Vinyl and Trek may be more expensive upfront but will save you money over time.  For a rental property you want to keep things low maintenance.
  8. Don’t use cheep materials, especially when you hire out the labor for your maintenance repairs.  Labor is usually more expensive than materials and if you are using cheep materials, it will break down and you will be paying those labor costs again.  This can be applied to light fixtures, door handles, plumbing fixtures, flooring, appliances, and just about everything else.  Remember, if the cost concerns you because you don’t want to pay for expensive things that will then be destroyed by tenants, Pause for graphic then you may need to work on your application screening process, rather than going with cheep repairs.  As mentioned previously, watch our videos Best Practices to Screen Tenants and Top 7 Red Flags When Screening Tenants.  See previous blog posts.
  9. Central Air rather than a swamp cooler or radiant heat is important to a lot of prospective tenants.  People will very often pass on a property that does not have central air.
  10. Updated windows.  Old windows is one of those subtle things that really detract from the feel of a home.  If your windows have old metal frames or are fogged up between the double panes, then it may be time to replace them.  Modern windows brighten up the home and help people feel like the home has been well taken care of.

 

Some of the 10 items mentioned are just part of regular maintenance and others are more applicable for older homes that need to be updated.  It’s important to consider both these things not only for rental properties you already own but also for ones you are considering to buy.  For additional tips on this subject see our video What Type of Rental Property Should I Buy? And please subscribe.

At Kasteel Property Management we do more than just watch your rental property.  We protect it, cultivate it, and help your investment grow.

 

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VIDEO: What Type of Rental Property Should I Buy?

When an investor looks to purchase a rental property, they will need to evaluate what type of property they should buy.  In this video I will teach you how to simplify this process while getting the best return on your investment.

I have seen investors, who in an effort to be thorough, will take great care to seek out as much information as they can regarding all the factors that may affect the cashflow of a potential rental property, put it in a spreadsheet, read over it again and again, until they finally make a decision.

Although there is wisdom in doing this, there is the risk that a delay in decision making will lead to a missed opportunity to purchase a great property. In this video, I will also teach you how to make the decision process short and easy so that you can feel confident in snatching that great investment property before another wise investor picks it up first.

The important thing to know is that while a property may look good on paper based on the obvious factors of square footage, number of bedrooms, and mortgage cost compared to its rental income, there are always unknown variables that can cost you much more than you accounted for.  Such things include hidden maintenance issues, vacancy time, changing market conditions, problem tenants, and the list goes on.  These things can’t always be accounted for on a spreadsheet and can have a big impact on the success of your investment property.

A better strategy is to focus your search on properties that have a reduced number of variables.  This way much of the decision making is done before you even start looking for a property.  Once you do this, then do a quick calculation of the fixed expenses, such as: mortgage payment, HOA Fee, and management fee and compare those with the expected rent income. If the numbers work out, then you can quickly move on it before someone else does.

So, what type of properties have a reduced number of variables?  Let me first mention those with a high number of variables.  Older homes, especially older multiplexes, usually have high maintenance costs, high turn over, lower rents, odd and poorly done improvements, and a history of improper repairs.  I’ve seen many investors buy such properties because initially they look good on a financial spreadsheet, but with all the variables coming into play later, the owner often ends up spending much more on repairs, upkeep, upgrades and yard care than they anticipated.  Even if the home is updated and in great condition, it’s still in an old neighborhood.  This drags its value and appeal down.  This is important because when looking for tenants, I find that those willing to live in areas that are older and rundown, are more often the same people that don’t pass the application screening process, This leads to longer vacancy times and that is a huge expense. If a tenant does pass, it is often just barely.  This can translate into a higher risk of unpaid rent, evictions, drug abuse, and property damage. In addition older homes don’t appreciate as well as something newer.  Both the rents and the property value of an older home is slower to appreciate in a growing market so over time your investment is less profitable than you would have with something newer.

In contrast, I find newer properties are more predictable.  It is usually quick and easy to find a good quality tenant.  This is especially the case with newer condos and townhomes because despite having an HOA fee most of the property expense variables mentioned previously go away or are drastically reduced.  For example: there is much less exposure to maintenance costs.  With condos and townhomes owners are generally not responsible for the roof, lawn, trees, sprinklers, water, fencing, siding, and such things.  When considering those maintenance costs, an HOA Fee seems more like a good deal instead of an extra expense.  Plus many condos and townhomes have the added appeal of community, clubhouse, pool, playgrounds, picnic areas, ball courts, and more.  Drawing in more tenants will reduce your vacancy time and help you find the right tenant.  Because more of your expenses are fixed and there are less variables, condos and townhomes are much more predictable.  This includes knowing what they will rent for.  In addition, an important benefit that is often overlook by landlords is that an HOA is a second set of eyes on your investment property and early detection of a problem can save you money.

The challenge in deciding between older homes vs newer condos and townhomes is seeing past the spreadsheet.  Often the older properties show a better immediate cash flow but will eventually result in more expense and less growth.  The newer homes and HOA properties can initially show a negative cashflow, but are more likely to have a higher return down the road.

You might wonder if a negative cash flowing property is a good idea.  To answer why putting too much emphases on cashflow could cost you tens of thousands of dollars, see our blog post “Should an Investment Property Always Cash Flow?” at this address and listed in the comments below.

When looking at the big picture, the long term benefits of investing in a newer property, especially condos and townhomes, make a much more stable investment with better growth than older properties and houses.

If you’ve found this helpful please like and share and for more helpful information and videos please subscribe.

At Kasteel Property Management we do more than just watch your rental property. We protect it, cultivate it, and help your investment grow.

 

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VIDEO: Evictions. A Landlords Story

 

Many new landlords are intimidated by the eviction process, and often put it off, only to have a tenant who is breaking the lease cost the landlord thousands of dollars.

One example of this, is a landlord we will call Pam.

Pam had been managing her rental herself and contacted me looking for help. Her tenant had not paid rent in 6 months and she didn’t know what to do.  Six months of lost rent cost her $8000!

She explained that the tenant kept making and breaking promises regarding catching up on rent, thus stringing her along.

Not only should this problem have been taken care of immediately, but Pam would likely have never rented to them if she’d known what

red flags to look for.  She didn’t have the right tools in place to conduct a thorough applicant screening.  At Kasteel Property Management we have a thorough screening process that helps to avoid problem tenants.

See the videos at the following links listed in the comments below for more information on how to avoid the wrong tenants.

Pam was wondering if I could start managing for her and take care of the current situation.  I quickly got her signed up as a client and went to work.

The first thing I did was contact the tenant to inform them of the change in management and give them a

3 Day Pay or Vacate Notice.  In Utah, that is the proper first step.  The tenant was informed that if they do not comply with the terms on the Pay or Vacate notice then our attorney would proceed with the next steps to have them removed from the property.

It is possible to be both firm and kind.  We don’t always know what is going on in their life that has led to this point, but it is up to them to seek out resources in their family and community for help.

Our job is to uphold a business agreement according to the lease.  If they decide to move rather than pay, we help them understand that as long as they comply with the terms on the Pay or Vacate notice they will have control of their move out.

If they do not comply then they will quickly loose that control and things will become much more difficult and expensive for them.  Often times people are grateful for the information. In this case, the tenants knew it was serious and they quickly moved out.

We then proceeded with cleaning the unit, maintenance, and changing the locks.  We had it re-rented to a properly screened tenant only a couple short weeks later.

The previous tenant was sent a bill for all the money they owed, was sent to collections, and we eventually collected a big portion of that lost money for our client.  Our client was ecstatic.  When you have the right tools, knowledge, and experience, big problems such as this can usually be quickly fixed and more often prevented.

To avoid the worry, stress, and extra costs of dealing with an eviction, the best thing a landlord can do is have a detailed plan and know the laws before a problem arises.  At Kasteel Property Management we can handle this for you and save you money in the process.

We do more than just watch your rental property.  We protect it, cultivate it, and help your investment grow.

 

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VIDEO: 6 Secrets Property Managers use for Filling a Rental Property

Having a vacancy sit empty or filling it with the wrong tenant can cost you thousands of dollars.   Here are the top 6 strategies we use to fill a vacancy:

  1. A carefully written and detailed ad.  Don’t make it too long or too short.  People are more likely to respond if they know the details but they don’t want to read an ad that is too long. 3-4 paragraphs is good.  Make sure it is organized and easy to read.
  1. A lot of pictures.  Pictures get people’s attention 50% better than text alone and it makes your property more appealing.  Make sure you have good lighting and the pictures are useful. Show things like the front of the home, the kitchen, living room, each bedroom and bathroom, the backyard, and surrounding community.
  1. Maximize the listing’s chance of being found by potential tenants.  The most effective place to advertise is online.  There are dozens of great websites to list your rental.  To get a place filled quickly with the best possible tenant, you will want to use all of them.  This is important, but also time consuming. At Kasteel Property Management we have a secret weapon.  Our software is awesome. After we prepare a great ad, we can instantly send it to all the top listing websites with a single click.  Anyone looking for a home to rent will definitely find our listings.
  1. Answer your phone, texts, and emails quickly.  That may sound like an obvious thing to do but it’s not practiced as often as you might think.  People are always telling me they can’t get a response when calling on a rental property, until they call Kasteel Property Management and then they are thankful to finally talk to someone.  If inquiry’s are not followed up on right away, it doesn’t take long before prospective tenants have moved on.
  1. Show vacancies immediately and make it easy for people to apply right away.  Prospective tenants usually have 10-15 places they are considering.  Besides choosing the place that fits their needs best, they will also naturally gravitate towards whichever ones are the easiest to see and apply for.  You can’t always control if they will like the place but you can be the fastest and easiest place for them to tour and apply. With some modern technology and creativity, Kasteel Property Management is able to show a vacancy immediately and securely.  Also our online app and mobile friendly website allows people to apply quickly and easily right on their phone, tablet, or computer.
  1. Thorough screening.  You don’t want to rent to just anyone.  You need to have a solid plan and specific standards for screening applications.  Follow this link [POINTING TO BOTTOM OF SCREEN] to see our other video that goes into more details about proper and effective screening of applicants.

These 6 tips have proven to be very affective.  One example was somebody that first called me while standing outside a vacant home.  Because I immediately answered the phone, and after taking some security measures, I was able to remotely allow them inside.  While standing inside the home they pulled out their phone, filled out an application, uploaded all the requested documentation and asked if it would be possible to move in that day.  I immediately followed my fast yet thorough process of checks and screenings and found their application met the requirements and was approved.  A lease was emailed to them for electronic signatures and instructions of how to pay the deposit and rent electronically.  They completed everything that was asked of them and were moving in a few short hours after they first called me.  It doesn’t always happen that quickly but at Kasteel Property Management we are capable of meeting that demand without sacrificing the quality of a thorough screening.

At Kasteel Property Management we do more than just watch your rental property. We protect it, cultivate it, and help your investment grow.

 

 

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VIDEO: Top 5 Important Questions and Answers When Hiring a Property Manager

Not all property managers are the same so it’s important to ask a lot of questions because big expenses come from mismanagement. A good management company should be able to prevent a lot of problems before they even happen. They should be proactive, prepared, and organized.

Additional useful links that are mentioned in the video:

How to Pick the Right Property Management Company

FAQs

https://youtu.be/uklwlumgpsg

 

 

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VIDEO: 8 Routine Property Maintenance Tips to Protect Properties – SAVE THOUSANDS!

In today’s video we’re going to talk about eight specific maintenance tips we send to tenants on a regular basis to help prevent maintenance problems & disasters.

The last reminder has saved my clients THOUSANDS of dollars.

One of the first reminders we send tenants is to remove their hose in the fall & winter months. Especially in locations like Utah where there are cold winters, removing your hose can save so much money in the winter months.

This is potentially a BIG PROBLEM. The water in the hose freezes and expands and cracks. When it melts it will get inside the home.

Another routine maintenance tip we send to tenants is that they are responsible for the general upkeep of the yard.

Air filters are a responsibility of the tenant too. We send a reminder to the tenants to make sure to update the air filters.

Another routine reminder is that tenants use their bathroom fans. This keeps the bathroom ventilated and prevents mold, mildew and other problems.

We also remind tenants on how to deal with clogged pipes. These are typically expenses that the tenant would need to pay for if it was something they could have prevented.

There are different types of plungers you can use if you have clogged pipes, drains or toilets.

Updating the batteries on the key pad dead bolts is another maintenance reminder we send to tenants. In a future video we’ll show you how this can be done.

NEVER, EVER use Drano on clogged pipes. They damage the finish on your sink.

 

 

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VIDEO: Top 7 Red Flags to Watch for When Screening Tenants for Rental Properties

Professional property manager Jeff Stinson talks about the top seven red flags to watch for when screening tenants for a rental property. If you aren’t aware of these red flags, you can really get bit hard and lose a lot of money on your rental property. Here are the top 7 red flags to be aware of when screening a tenant:

1. Splitting up the deposit

2. Bullies

3. I’m Special

4. Meeting in person

5. Incomplete applications

6. Someone who’s in a BIG HURRY

7. Let people TALK 🙂

 

 

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VIDEO: Best Practices to SCREEN TENANTS | Kasteel Property Management

What are the best practices to screen tenants for a rental property? In today’s video, Jeff Stinson from Kasteel Property Management goes over some of the best practices to consider when screening tenants for a rental property. He talks about keeping your head straight, not going for the first application that comes around. He covers having the best tools in place to see the history of a rental applicant. And he discusses other strategies you should consider when looking for the best tenants. Remember, you’re not in the business of providing housing for people; you’re looking for a “business partner” to help take care of your property. If you have comments or questions, leave them below or visit us at https://www.kasteelproperty.com.

 

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VIDEO: What Does a Property Manager Do? Good vs. Bad Property Managers

In today’s video we’ll answer a common question: what does a property manager do? And we’ll also talk about the differences between a bad property manager and a really good one. Thanks for watching! If you have any questions or comments, please leave them in the comments below. If you’d like to schedule a consultation, contact us at https://www.kasteelproperty.com