Adult Swim

The week after Memorial Day has a special meaning to most residential communities because it’s typically the week when pool season officially starts. Children shriek for joy, while property managers fight away their tears. Because pool season is no cake walk. California’s health department has very strict code enforcement for anyone operating a pool for the public, and property managers would be wise to adhere to the rules. Because nothing will upset your residents quite like a pool that gets shut down on a 100 degree day. 

So what is the best way to make sure that your pool is up to snuff? Maintenance and care. Pools that do not drain over the cold season should be maintained weekly by a professional. Some property management companies use their own crew, but most outsource this job to pool service providers due to the amount of responsibilities. The chemicals need to be vigorously maintained, and the pool signage needs to be updated every 1-2 years, depending on the new signage requirements in your county. Lastly, the fence and the gate surrounding the pool needs to be in tiptop shape. Remember that a faulty pool gate could spell huge problems should a child wander in unsupervised. Do not put yourself in that situation. Following and enforcing all the pool rules 100% of the time is the best way to keep your hands clean. Otherwise, be prepared for the consequences.

Collections

It is not uncommon for a tenant to owe their landlord money when they vacate. On rare occasions the former tenant will make arrangements to pay the balance off. But typically, we must contact them to make arrangements for collection. But how does a property manager go about posturing for this in an effective way? Well, the first step towards collecting real debt began way back at the application process. The application carries the most useful data when trying to find a debtor. Their social security number, bank info, date of birth, former addresses, etc. This data combined with a thorough and accurate move out report will give the corporate office and/or the collection agents all the bullets they need to try and collect the debt. The best way you can assist this process is by always collecting good information from the tenant and trying your best to make sure you have a tangible FORWARDING ADDRESS when the tenant vacates. Those tools will greatly increase your ability to collect old debt.

The Resident’s Bill of Rights

As members of the California Apartment Association, we take pride in providing quality rental homes for our residents. Treating residents with respect and dignity is the cornerstone of any solid community.  We value our residents and recognize our partnership with them in maintaining the rental housing industry. We believe residents should be aware of their rights in this partnership. Therefore, we believe the following:

  1. A Resident has the right to be treated fairly and equitably when applying for, living in, and vacating a rental residence.
  2. A Resident has the right to be given notice prior to any entrance into a rental residence by a rental property owner or manager, except in an emergency.
  3. A Resident has the right, upon written request to the rental property owner or manager, to a prompt response to requests for repairs.
  4. A Resident has the right to a written notice from the rental property owner or manager prior to any rent adjustment.
  5. A Resident has the right to the return of any security deposit that may have been collected by the rental property owner or manager and a good faith accounting of any charges against that deposit within 21 days after the rental residence has been vacated.

Maintenance Requests

Maintenance requests should be prioritized by need.  Habitability issues come first:  Leaks, stoves, working plumbing. Followed by convenience issues: A/C, hot water, microwave.  Lastly aesthetic issues: settling cracks, window trim, interior door knobs, light fixtures, screens, fans. 

All maintenance requests need to be in writing.  Work orders should be filled out properly by either the manager or the resident.  The work order should be as detailed as possible, and have all relevant information.  This should include the tenant’s contact information, pet information, any relevant data related to the repair, and an appointment time (if applicable).  Try not to tie your maintenance technician’s hands by locking them down to 2:15 PM appointment, rather try to give them a range of time that the tenant agrees to.

I Think My Resident Skipped Out, What Now?

If you suspect a resident has vacated the premises without giving proper notice, then you must first verify that they have indeed left.  If your voicemails have gone unreturned, then you may post a 24 hour notice to enter on their door, and enter the following day.  Based on what has been left inside of the unit, it is possible to verify if the resident is no longer living there.  For example, are the utilities turned off?  If so, you may move forward with possession. Just make sure that you take a lot of photos of the unit.  If the tenant has skipped out, you may charge the tenant 30 days’ worth of rent on their ledger to compensate for lack of notice (in California).  Then you may proceed with turning the unit over for the next resident.

THE LEASING OFFICE HUNT

There is an old expression in the hotel business, “we set our prices at the lobby.” This means that the way you design and furnish your office directly affects a prospective tenant’s opinion regarding your property’s market rates, even before they see the apartment. You can set positive and realistic expectations by making sure that your office is clean, tidy, with pleasant aromas. Your office should be freshly painted with nice floors, framed floorplans hanging on the walls, and very few personal items. Your office hours should be clearly posted with all relevant phone numbers and have a “will return by” clock.

Secondly, make sure that your prospects can find the leasing office with ease. You don’t want them focusing their energy on finding the office, rather than evaluating your product. Creating an easy-to-follow path to the office, followed by a top-notch office interior, will markedly improve your leasing efforts. Let your prospects relax as they peruse their new homes, rather than hunting for the leasing office.

Sandbaggin’ It

Tis the season to prep for rain! Remember all that rain California had last year? We do too… It seems like only yesterday we were celebrating the long days of summer. But the seasons have changed, and the winter rains are coming back. At Castle Management, we make sure that all of our properties are properly stocked for the elements. This includes a few tools and basic maintenance plans, and also a nice supply of sandbags. Sandbags are a great first defense to water intrusion, especially when the heavy rain hits. Protecting your property’s perimeter will go a long way towards keeping your property and your tenants dry. If you don’t have a comprehensive approach to water prevention, then think about hiring a professional property management company. And consider Castle when you do.

Budget Time

The end of the calendar year forces us to look towards the future. A future that will bring changes. Some good, some bad. But for property managers, it also means budget season.

The Bay Area has endured a lot of changes over the last few years. Rental rates appear to have settled down a bit, and property owners should have a pretty good idea about their building’s income potential for 2017. A solid budget can help your building accomplish primary goals with ease, and can afford you secondary goals if properly instituted.

At Castle Management, we have been managing buildings and their budgets for almost 30 years. We have internal resources that can help you get your building’s budget straightened out. When you don’t budget, you are opening your property up for chaos. Chaos creates stress. Stress creates problems, and then primary goals won’t get accomplished.

If you think your property could benefit from a professional budget or a professional property manager, then think about hiring one! And consider Castle when you do.

The bedbugs are coming! THE BEDBUGS ARE COMING!!!

Bedbugs are a growing epidemic in the property management industry due to increased international travel and the pest’s growing resistance to chemical treatments. Ridding an apartment of bedbugs is a hefty expense, and this problem should not be taken lightly. If a tenant has bedbugs, you need to call your property’s pest control vendor immediately to inspect the suspected unit AND the adjoining neighboring units. Bedbugs can move between units quite easily, especially in older buildings. So it is imperative that you make sure these problems are handled swiftly and all encompassing. A bedbug problem that is not handled effectively can quickly become an epidemic in a building and cost an owner thousands and thousands of dollars. Luckily, Castle Management has a staff with plenty of experience handling bedbugs (more experience than we wanted!), but it has molded us into bona fide bedbug extermination planners. So if you have a property that needs some expertise in handling your bedbug or other pest problems, think about hiring a professional property management company. And consider Castle when you do.

Happy Fall

May this autumn bring you a harvest of fun times and laughter with family and friends!

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