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.

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.

Neighbor Nuisance

One of the most complicated problems we face in property management, happens when two apartment renters living side by side, reach a point of contention about a common problem. This could be regarding TV volume, washer/dryer usage, activities schedule, etc. It could be literally anything that Party A wants to do, when Party B feels disrupted.

Landlords are often saddled with the dubious task of sorting out the pieces in these conflicts, which can be volatile depending on the circumstances. At Castle Management, we have years of experience handling these exact difficulties. The solution to this problem actually began way back when you first met these renters. It is every property manager’s prerogative to establish culture and expectations. When a manager is leasing rental units, it is crucial to explain all the relative details of the property. Getting ahead of these problems early on, and establishing a culture at the property will go a long way towards managing the expectations of your residents. So next time you are stuck in the middle of two angry residents, think about hiring a professional 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.

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.

Having a Chat

It's just a conversation, but it means a lot.

Our property managers sit down with residents thirty to sixty days before a lease runs out. It's a chance to check in: are they happy? What are their plans? What can we do to help them put down roots?

Much of the time it's a formality — they tell us they're looking forward to the new lease. But if we can help them make life a little easier, it often makes a difference. Negotiating a new parking spot, some storage space, clarity on trash pickup — if we can help we do, and that often turns into long-term residents.

Our property managers are neighbors first. That's a big part of the Castle Difference.

The Castle Team

We've told you a lot over the years about how and why Castle hires people.

We don't just want people who are right for the job, of course. We want people who can grow with the job. They might come in with expertise, but they're forever hungry to learn. Recognizing the worth and dignity of our clients, residents, and vendors comes naturally to them.

We look at their experiences and talk to them about the future. We check their references and test them on skills. We're proud to say that when someone new joins the team, they usually stick around for a long time.

But for the first 90 days they're on a probationary period. If they're not right for the job it's quickly obvious, and it's easy for us to let them go. That's the appropriate choice for all involved.

Our job is making the right choices, and that starts with the right people. When you work with Castle, our team is tried, tested, and ready to grow your business.

The Castle Difference: Maximizing Income

It's Castle's job to manage and grow your business. We want you to get the most bang for your buck while giving residents and commercial tenants a place to put down roots.

If one of our properties is a good spot for a cell tower, we lease space to mobile providers and work with them to ensure safe, unobstrusive construction.

We think that allowing pets is good business sense. If owners agree, pets pay a deposit and a small monthly rent.

Parking is always a premium in California, so we charge for parking stalls above what's guaranteed in the lease.

And since every apartment dweller can use extra storage, we rent storage closets when possible.

Income opportunities. Attention to residents. That's the Castle Difference.

Master Keys?

Castle doesn't use master keys — it's a security and liability issue.

If trusted vendors need access to an apartment, we use a lockbox system that guarantees safety. If it's a vendor we don't know well, a property manager controls access to the apartment.

One key, one apartment. That's all we need to say about this one. It's the shortest route to peace of mind.

 

Communication: It’s the Little Things

Castle mostly manages small to medium-sized apartment communities. When a property is only a few residents or families, newcomers can get easily confused; where's the office, for example? Where should they park?

We don't let that happen. All of our communities have clear, professionally-made signs–a map indicates parking and the leasing office, while the office door displays business hours and a round-the-clock contact number. When 'mystery shoppers' rate our properties, sign quality and placement is a key part of the score. 

Long-term relationships are founded on communication, and Castle knows that communication starts without saying a word.

 

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