apartment, property management, real estate

Fires and Codes

All property owners fear new codes and regulations because of cost.  Unfortunately some can not be avoided and are necessary changes to keep occupants safe.   Retrofitting a building with sprinklers is daunting but should it be required no matter what the cost is?  How about alarms?  Some defects may not be able to be changed as in the high rises in England only having one stair case in high rises.  I can’t imagine any builder allowing that but it seems to be common.

landlord, property management, Uncategorized

Lead Paint Regulation


Landlords criticize expense of city lead-hazard testing proposal.

Lancaster landlords and real estate professionals gave City Council an earful about a proposed lead hazard ordinance Tuesday evening, agreeing that lead is a problem but calling the measure an overly expensive and cumbersome way to solve it.

“This is going to be a cost,” said Gary Neff, owner of City Limits Realty, one of half a dozen business people who spoke.

 Because landlords’ expenses are ultimately borne by tenants, the program should be made as cost-effective as possible, he said.

The ordinance would, among other things, require rental-property owners to certify once every four years that their properties are lead safe or lead free.

Lead-safe properties can have lead paint on the premises, as long as it’s fully encapsulated. Safety would be determined by a swab test, done by the city for $250 or by a qualified private company, which also would cost around $225 to $250.

Rather than vote at the next meeting, Feb. 28, council plans to postpone action until March 14.

That will give officials more time to have discussions with the people who will be affected, said Randy Patterson, director of economic development and neighborhood revitalization.

An email with information on the ordinance will go out shortly to all of the city’s registered landlords, he said.

The city’s motive, he stressed, is public health, namely “the impact of lead paint on children.”

Even small amounts of lead can permanently harm a child’s brain development. Lead paint was banned in 1978. Houses built before that — the majority of the city’s stock — potentially contain lead hazards.

“I am 100 percent for this,” said Noah Miller, a neighborhood activist, landlord and City Council candidate.

However, he warned the council about potential unintended consequences: houses that can’t be sold because of abatement costs, eviction of tenants during abatement, and, of course, the cost.

Neff said it’s easier and safer for landlords to remediate properties when they’re vacant and suggested making implementation of the measure flexible enough to facilitate that.

The city’s existing inspection protocol already checks for peeling paint, landlord Sheldon Weaver said. Instead of more testing, it might be more cost-effective “to just go directly to lead control” when deteriorated paint is found, he said.

Landlord Robert Seuffert said it doesn’t make sense to keep charging property owners every four years if there’s no evidence of a problem.

There are about 10,000 rental units in the city, so at $225 per clearance test, the ordinance imposes a minimum added cost of $2.25 million every four years, he said.

He asked if the city plans to impose a similar mandate on owner-occupied properties next: “Where is the end going to be?”

Councilman James Reichenbach told the landlords that council members recognize that concerns over cost are valid. That’s why City Council is pushing state legislators and the Department of Health for a comprehensive state program.

“This problem is being chronically underfunded,” he said.

apartment, landlord, property management, real estate

Tenant’s Buying Homes

As a property manager, people ask me often “why do people rent if they can afford to buy?”.  I also get asked during different economic cycles if we are gaining vacancies from tenants buying a home.

1st question – People rent for many reasons.  On the higher income scale it is usually because they are in transition.  On the lower income scale it is out of necessity.  There will always be a need for rental properties but the demands change over time.  Right now our communities need low income properties built.  There is definitely a shortage in that area.  We get numerous calls for Section 8 subsidized housing every day.  Private landlords don’t want that business right now because the high end has been so strong.

That may be changing.  Recently I am seeing more tenants buy than I usually do.  I’m losing my high end tenants and I’m not replacing them as quickly as I did over the past ten years.  Part of that is because lending has gotten easier again.  Interest rates are low and people are working.  People who were hurt in the last recession are beginning to bounce back.

Will this lead to higher vacancy rates?  It’s too early to tell.  Right now I can’t tell if it is a seasonal slow down or if overall leasing demand is cooling.  The bigger overall question is who will pick up the needed shortage on the low end.100_1641

apartment, landlord, property management, real estate

Move out pictures

A picture is worth 1,000 words.  In the old days it was difficult to manage move in and move out pictures.  Polaroids, negatives, storing, organizing.  It took a lot of time, money and storage space.

Today there is no excuse.  Take a lot of move in pics and move out pics.  And be ready to defend your charges.  And be ready for nasty reviews on the internet…..”I left this cleaner than it was when I moved in and they kept my whole security deposit!”

I thought this would be a bigger issue with low income rentals.  High end rentals can be worse because the tenants will use greater effort to clear their record, credit and security charges.  The pics below are two recent move outs in $2,000 a month units.  They certainly aren’t the worst I could find but they show a little bit of what we encounter daily.  The second house cost $850 to clean and the tenant blasted me on Google for ripping him off.



landlord, property management, real estate


Every landlord has had a tenant lie to them at some point.  It goes with the job.

“Where did that stain come from?”  “I don’t know.  I think it was here when we moved in.”  “No, I have pictures from the day you moved in and there was no stain on the carpet.  A matter of fact, it was brand new carpet.”

Battles over security deposits have become the hottest item in our business. Just look at our reviews and you will see comments from previous tenants that we ripped them off, stole their money, and were total jerks when they moved out.  Always take before and after pictures.  Store them on your computer with clear notes.  Have the tenants fill out a move in sheet when they lease.  You will still have fights but at least you will have proof.

On the other hand; there are times when you need to give your tenant the benefit of the doubt.  Things happen.  Weird things happen.  They may sound like an obvious lie but….the tenant could be telling the truth and there is no explanation.

I rent my office.  I have a commercial grade double pane (thick) window  in a metal frame that stands between a refrigerator and a wall and needs to be kept to re-install when we vacate.  It is in a corner and has not been moved for three years.  This morning we came in to find the top corner shattered on the wall side with small glass chips all over the floor.  Unless someone broke in over the night, pulled the window out and threw a rock right at that spot we can only assume that a stress fracture finally gave way.  I’m no glass expert but I don’t see any logical reason for this.

I will need to pay for this when I move out and it gets re-installed.  I’m in a commercial lease and I pay for everything.  But it made me think – how many times do I blame a tenant for something that can’t be proven?

Here’s my test – do I have proof?  How long has the tenant lived on the premises?  How good of a tenant are they in payments, cleanliness, cooperation, etc.?  Do I want to charge someone when it can’t be proved what happened (who really put paper towels in the sewer?) and do I want to lose a really good tenant?  There are a number of questions to ask when assigning blame – just make sure it is worth it.  Sometimes weird things happen like exploding glass.


landlord, property management, real estate

Another Protected Class?

Discrimination? Landlord Who Hates Trump Won’t Rent to Donald’s Supporters

Donald Trump
If you support Donald Trump, a Grand Junction, Colorado, man doesn’t want you to rent out his apartment. (Reuters photo)

If you’re looking for a two-bedroom apartment to rent in Grand Junction, Colorado, and you like Donald Trump, don’t even bother calling Mark Holmes.

The avowed liberal activist—who is trying to rally support for several “Gandhi-style” civil disobedience events—is trying to rent out a downtown apartment, right on Main Street, that includes organic garden space, a hot tub and a “great backyard.” It’s even pet-friendly, if your dogs have “references as good as yours,” but if you’re voting for the GOP front-runner, he won’t even consider your application.

“I don’t know what to do anymore about what’s going on in this country,” he told his local newspaper, The Daily Sentinel. “It’s just a mess.

“He’s preaching hate, and he’s preaching … a lot of venom, spit and vinegar. And I live in the top part of the house. I don’t want anybody that even thinks that Donald Trump can be a good president to live in my home.”

Refusing to rent based on someone’s political leanings is entirely legal, since political affiliation isn’t a protected class under the Fair Housing Act. Holmes, however, told the newspaper he already has a potential renter lined up. His ad was meant more as a message to the rest of his community.

“I didn’t do it as a gimmick to rent at all,” he said. “I think people just don’t understand that this is going to happen.”