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.

Happy Presidents’ Day

On this day we honor all of the Presidents of our great country. If it weren’t for them, our country would not be what it is today!

New Years’ Bumbles

It is the new year, which means a new legal date of 2016 needs to be written on all legal contracts. Many times, good, hard-working private landlords try and enforce legalities on their tenants for unpaid rent, lease violations, etc. Only to have their cases thrown out in court due to improper contract dating. When that happens, private landlords suffer massive financial losses. Don’t be one of those guys… hire a professional property management company to handle your affairs, and consider Castle when you do.

Summer Safety in California

The 4th of July is approaching quickly, and this is the driest California has been in many years. That means the risk of accidental fires is very high. Combine that threat with a nation of liquored-up partiers setting off illegal fireworks, and property owners are staring at a legitimate risk this holiday.

There are several safety precautions landlords can take to protect their investments, but their best bet is to educate the tenants. It is incumbent upon the property owner to always look out for their own best interests, because renters will normally have other priorities. The issue is that a lot of smaller, private landlords do not have the infrastructure to maintain steady communication with their residents about their tenancy. That is exactly what a good management service offers. So consider handing the keys of your investment property over to a professional property manager, and keep Castle in mind when you do.

The BART Location Factor

Selecting which apartment to rent is a daunting task. There are a hundred different variables that are important to each prospective resident. Here in the Bay Area, the proximity to BART is a very important factor. But an underrated BART location factor is it’s precise location on the BART line.

If you are commuting to San Francisco every day via BART, then riding BART is a big part of your life. Some people spend up to 3 hours per day on BART. As such, it is important to try and maximize your time on BART. The farther East on the BART line you get, the more available BART seats there are on weekday mornings. That means that you are much likelier to actually get a seat on BART, where you can spend an hour in the morning getting something done.

Think about it. If you start your day on the Eastern end of a BART line, you will always get a seat in the morning, and will always be able to read, work on your laptop, study, whatever for an extra hour every single day. That’s 5 more personal hours per week compared to someone that gets standing room only BART rides (which are more and more common as you move westward towards the city). Of course, your BART ride will be a bit longer, but the net gain will still be in your favor (assuming you will only live in East Bay).

So if you are planning to move into an apartment complex near BART, ask yourself what kind of daily BART experience are you looking for? Do you like to stand for 45 minutes? Or get personal work done for an hour? The choice is up to you.

Happy Holidays!

We wish you and your loved ones all a very happy and safe holiday season.

Choosing the Right Lease

A few years back we examined what lease is right for you. The question never goes away, so let's look again.

Residents naturally prefer the stability of term leases. They also provide steady income for our clients and allow us to plan for vacancies.

But some landlords (and their attorneys) insist on month-to-month or six-month leases, as they make it easier to get problem tenants out the door. Castle doesn't run into this issue much, as our screening process makes for strong, stable communities.

We listen to our clients, of course, but we advise you to consider term leases whenever possible. We stagger them to keep vacancy rates low, and terms often help a resident put down roots.



Sitting Down Together

Castle isn't in the hotel business, of course; we create long-term homes for our residents and profit for our clients. But we've learned something from hotels.

They like say that 'your rate is set in your lobby.' It means you're as good as your first impression.

We live by this rule in every building we manage. Even in the smallest apartment communities, we always set up a professional leasing office. And we do mean professional. It's distinct, first of all — we never work from the property manager's home. There's a desk and matching visitor chairs. It's well-lit, with framed floor plans on the walls and no extraneous clutter.

Outside, a clear vinyl sign on the door marks the office and lists business hours. It all makes for a place to think, write, and share ideas — a place that inspires confidence.

Castle is a team of professionals. When you rent with us or trust us with your business, that's obvious. But it begins with the room where we sit down together.

Back to Fair Housing

California law requires real estate brokers to complete 45 hours of continuing education every four years in order to renew their licenses. The curriculum is heavy on fair housing, consumer service and customer protection.

Many of us at Castle are real estate brokers. Some of us aren't. But our staff undergoes a top-to-bottom fair housing refresher every two years.

Yes: we all keep up to date on fair housing laws, whether the law requires it or not.

Federal and state housing laws ban discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, marital status, national origin, ancestry, disability, sexual orientation or other personal characteristics not related to responsibility. What’s that last part mean? As property managers, we'll screen residents based on substantive, documented facts that impact our communities. If someone is abusive to our staff, has a criminal record or a history of bad debts, we’re not obligated to rent to them.

Castle treats our clients, residents and vendors with fairness and respect. Every day, no exceptions. That means going above and beyond the letter of the law. That's the Castle Difference.


Cash For Keys

Short of nonpayment of rent or illegal activity, it's hard to evict people. Residents have many legal rights, and the eviction process can be long and costly.

Castle doesn't grapple with the problem a lot, because our screening process lets us choose people who will be good neighbors. Occasionally, though, we want to encourage a resident to move on. We may simply refuse to renew the lease, or in rare cases we'll offer the resident a "Cash For Keys" deal. This generally means that in return for leaving the apartment clean and intact within 30-90 days, we'll return the resident's security deposit. Depending on circumstances, we may also include a small amount for moving or temporary living expenses.

We use Cash For Keys sparingly. If we offer a resident incentive to leave, it's because all other mediation efforts have failed. But when we reach out it's usually successful, and always cheaper than a drawn-out eviction process.

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