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.

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.

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.

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.

Spreading Maintenance Costs

It is summertime and the 100 degree heat is here! Inevitably, this means that many of your HVAC units are going to have problems.

Every year, the first big heat wave draws a flurry of tenant-driven work orders regarding their air conditioners. Being good property managers, we immediately attempt to repair the air conditioners. The only problem is there are about 100 broken air conditioners for every 1 certified HVAC technician in the area… And guess what? The shoddy AC units will all break on the same day. This means that your demand will be higher than your manpower, and the technician can’t repair them all in one day, and you are going to have displeased tenants.

At Castle Management, we encourage all of our tenants to test their HVAC units in the Spring. HVAC repairman are readily available in the spring, and often at lesser rates. There is no way to completely prepare against all air conditioner problems that will occur in the summer, but at least we can lessen the load and start attacking the problem in the months leading up to it. As professional property managers, this is exactly the kind of thing we do to save our clients’ money. So think about hiring your own professional property management firm, and consider Castle when you do.

Poo Prints

Today I want to endorse an awesome new service that many property management companies are embracing. Dog Waste Detectives. The company is called Poo Prints, and they specialize in matching dog feces with registered pets.

Essentially, this company makes new residents with dogs submit dog poo samples during the move-in process. The samples are sent to a lab and registered with your property. Then, whenever the property manager finds any dog waste on the property, they poke it with a toothpick and send it off in pre-packaged envelopes to this lab. The lab will send you an email confirming which registered dog has left waste on your property.

Talk about catching them red-handed! You will finally be able to prove and enforce some of your pet waste policies, or make the decision to move on from disrespectful tenants. Some properties have reported a 95% reduction in pet waste as a result. To learn more about this company, please check them out at www.pooprints.com, to learn if they are a good solution for a pet waste problem at your property.

Maintenance Requests 101

In our increasingly litigious country, it is extremely important to be able to prove that you did what you said you did in the housing industry. As with most solutions, it all starts with good communication, and accurate paperwork.

There are the 7 essential elements that every tenant’s maintenance request should have:

1. Has the resident given permission for you to enter the premises if they aren’t home?

2. The nature of the request, as specific as possible.

3. The tenant’s best contact information.

4. Any special instructions? No shoes on carpet, cat tries to escape, etc.

5. The date the request was made.

AFTER WORK IS DONE

6. Write any relevant notes, include any vendor involvement, and indicate the work’s completion date.

7. Save a copy of the work order with the tenant’s file.

If you follow these 7 steps, it will go a long way towards protecting yourself against tenant disputes.

‘Tis the Season

Around this time of year, a lot of people are strapped for extra cash. That often results in an uptick in small crimes within a neighborhood or community. This may seem like something that cannot be managed or controlled, but that is only partly true. While crime cannot be eliminated, a good management team can remove/mask many opportunities for crime. This strategy forces criminals to move on to the next less-vigilant victim. Luckily, Castle Management has a solid approach with a proven track record to keep residents informed of what they can do to decrease this problem, plus a team of property manager watchdogs constantly monitoring all suspicious activity. Because, as property managers, it is our duty to protect the property as best as we can against all negative forces. So if you are thinking to yourself, I never do any of this at my properties, and I don’t know where to begin? If that’s you, then think about hiring a property management firm, and consider Castle when you do.

Doomsday Prepping

If you own property in California, you have probably been hearing rumors about the potential for a very, very wet winter. Weather analysts cite 2015 as an El Nino year, which has caused hammering downpours in certain areas of the state in prior years. You also probably know that with rain, comes water intrusion in many forms. Drips, roof leaks, ponding, flash floods, interior damage, mold, discoloration, lawsuits, tigers, and bears – oh my!

In response, wise property managers are doing everything they can to hedge against these sorts of nightmares. Luckily, Castle Management has been doing this for a long time. We have a methodical, step-by-step approach to ensure that all of our properties' assets are prepared for whatever mother nature may bring. The gist of it includes gutter clean outs, storm drain inspections, soil sloping, proper training, sand bags on hand, sump pumps, etc. You can never be too prepared for natural disasters.

So, if you are thinking to yourself “that sounds like a lot of work, and I’ve never done that before!,” then you should think about hiring a property management company, and consider Castle when you do.

The Risk of Darkness

It is almost that time when the sun starts going down earlier, resulting in more activity in the dark. Naturally, this leads to increased usage in artificial light. Every rental property needs to have adequate artificial light illuminating all the common areas and walkways between all major stops surrounding a dwelling (front door, mail box, utility room, etc). Failure to properly illuminate said area could result in an accident on your property where the owner is holding the bill. In Layman’s terms: someone could trip, then sue you.

Castle Management has an expansive team of highly trained professionals coming out of a balanced infrastructure of property management veterans who have seen and heard it all. If we were lucky enough to manage your account, trust us when we say that managing your lawsuit risk, of any kind, will always be our #1 priority. So think about hiring a property management firm, and consider Castle when you do.

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