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.

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landlord, property management, real estate

Damages

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.

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apartment, property management, real estate

On Line Reviews

On line reviews have become a part of our lives whether we like them or not.  Anyone can write one – even if they have no experience with the product or service.  In fact, the review can be a total lie and there’s not much anyone can do about it.  In response, many people and businesses are writing fake positive reviews to balance out their ratings.

I have had mentally unstable tenants (and owners) write slashing reviews.  I have had parents write negative reviews because they thought we overcharged poor Sally or Johnny.  I’ve had owners who were slum lords slam us for doing repairs and “gasp” charge for them.  Let’s face it, who is going to take time to sit down and write a nice review for their landlord?  I’ve thought about offering gift cards to tenants for writing positive reviews but never followed through with it.

Before there were on line reviews we might receive complaint letters.  When it was a one to one issue, we could try to resolve the conflict.  Now complaints become dirty laundry that anyone can hang out for the community to read.  The article below demonstrates what happens when the dirty laundry becomes a battle:

http://www.multifamilyinsiders.com/multifamily-blogs/apartment-community-wants-to-fine-residents-10-000-for-negative-reviews?utm_source=March+17%2C+2014+Newsletter&utm_campaign=2015-03-17+Newsletter&utm_medium=email

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apartment, landlord, real estate

Charging for Pets

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Man’s best friend is taking a bite out of renters’ wallets.

Pet security deposits register in the hundreds of dollars and are getting steeper. Now, a monthly rental payment ranging from $10 to $50 is quickly becoming the norm, adding to the cost. Apartment managers nationwide say they require some safety net against pet damage, while others won’t allow animals at all.

The rents and deposits pay for dog-poop picker-uppers, cleaning services and more, but some managers say they charge because they can. Many residents decry the move, arguing they are being bilked to keep their cats and canines.

“One out of 50 people will say, ‘I can’t believe you charge pet rent,’ but most accept it,” said Stacy Leighty, who manages over 400 properties in Salem, Oregon, and added the monthly fee after her financial adviser said it would boost revenue and is becoming more widespread.

With millions of people living in apartments, loads of pet owners are facing extra costs. That’s something Fred Lopez, of the small Los Angeles suburb of Hawaiian Gardens, isn’t happy about.

“They are exploiting the fact that more and more people have pets,” he said. “First they ask for a deposit, then rent. How much more are they going to try and squeeze out of us?”

Lopez, his girlfriend and their Pomeranian recently moved from an apartment where the manager charged $50 a month in pet rent. Lopez, 38, called the cost “ludicrous and another way to gouge people for money.”

Two years ago, pet rents were few and far between, said Tammy Kotula, a spokeswoman for Apartments.com, the Chicago-based online listing subscription service that tracks owners and renters.

This year, 78 percent of renters who worked with the company and voluntarily filled out questionnaires said they paid a pet deposit, Kotula said. Of those, 29 percent also paid monthly pet rent. That’s up from 63 percent who paid pet deposits last year — 20 percent of whom also reported paying rent for their animal.

Read more: http://m.cnsnews.com/news/article/spot-will-cost-you-pet-rents-become-apartment-fad

As a note: Crossroads has been charging a $250 pet deposit that is returnable if there are no damage.  At this time, we are also moving toward charging a $10 a month rental upcharge.  We believe pets need to be negotiable (see our other blogs on the subject) but there needs to be protection in place for the owner.  We limit the size and breeds.

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apartment, real estate

Keep your security deposit

Keep your security deposit: 6 tips

Make note of these safeguards to ensure you get your money back when you move out.

By Paula Pant of Trulia

Keep your security deposit: 6 tips (© Epoxydude/Getty Images)

© Epoxydude/Getty Images

 

Do you want to pay an extra one or two months’ rent? Of course not!.

But your security deposit probably represents one to two month’s rent, and countless renters never see that money again. (Bing: Why do renters pay a deposit?)

Here are six tips to avoid losing thousands to lost security deposits.

1. Take photos or video at move-in
The first step to protecting your deposit happens at move-in. Walk through the unit with your landlord and take photos or video of every nook and cranny. Your photos should depict the space at the “macro” level (full rooms) as well as the “micro” level (get close-ups of any existing damage.)

Email the files to your landlord on the same day, so that you both have digital, time-stamped documentation of the condition of the property at move-in. If the video files are too large to email, send it to your landlord via a file-storage website or upload it to a video site as a private video.

Your landlord will appreciate this gesture, as you both share the same goal: You both want solid documentation during move-in so that you won’t get into a brawl during move-out. Your landlord wants the property restored to its move-in condition, so the more you can “prove” that move-in condition, the better — for both of you.

Read More: http://realestate.msn.com/keep-your-security-deposit-6-tips

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apartment, landlord, real estate

Landlord cleans out wrong apartment

Upper East Side resident says landlord cleared out WRONG apartment by accident

Nilay Shroff is suing in Manhattan Supreme Court after his $1,700-per-month home was dumped out, including his clothes, kitchen supplies and passport, according to his lawsuit.

BY AND / NEW YORK DAILY NEWS

PUBLISHED: TUESDAY, MARCH 4, 2014, 10:45 AM
UPDATED: WEDNESDAY, MARCH 5, 2014, 8:51 AM

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PEARL GABEL/PEARL GABEL/ NEW YORK DAILY NEWS

Nilay Shroff’s Upper East Side flat was looted by mistake – he lives in 2D, but 2B was the one his landlord wanted empty. Priceless family photos were among the belongings he lost.

What a difference a D makes.

An Upper East Side software maker says his $1,700-a-month apartment was stripped almost bare in a bizarre mistake — with a lifetime of memories, clothes and furniture shipped to the city dump.

Nilay Shroff, 27, filed suit alleging a massive management mixup sent a cleaning contractor to his apartment 2D instead of nearby 2B inside 409 E. 74th St.

Nilay Shroff charges in a lawsuit that his $1,700-a-month apartment was stripped almost bare in a bizarre mistake.

ENID ALVAREZ/NEW YORK DAILY NEWS

Nilay Shroff charges in a lawsuit that his $1,700-a-month apartment was stripped almost bare in a bizarre mistake.

RELATED: EXCLUSIVE: BLAZ IGNORING NEESON’S INVITE TO TOUR STABLE

“It’s just pure negligence,” Shroff said Tuesday at his since-restocked home. “It’s really ridiculous.”

A shocked Shroff returned home from his IT job with Deloitte & Touche on Oct. 9, 2013, carrying a bagful of groceries. He opened the door, walked inside, and immediately noticed his kitchen table was missing.

Read More: http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/uptown/ues-man-landlord-cleared-wrong-apartment-article-1.1710111

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apartment, landlord, property, real estate

Check out their car

 

carA very effective screening option when reviewing an applicant is to visit their current home to see how it looks.   Believe me, if you want to know if they will be good tenants, this is one of the best ways to check.  You will see their house keeping, how many people are really living there, how they interact with their family members, how they keep the yard and their disposition outside of the rental office.  When I did this I actually caught people lying about everything on their application – their “address” was a vacant lot which meant that their landlord reference was also “fictional”.

The problem with this tactic is that it is time consuming and is not always received well from the applicant.  It can be a hassle and uncomfortable.   The biggest issue can be discriminatory.  If you go to visit one applicant, you better be doing it to everyone.

Here is a sly tactic that is easier to slip in.  People generally keep their car in the same condition as their home.  If their house is junky, so is their car.  If their car is over loaded with people hanging out the windows, guess what?  Don’t make a big show of this.  Find an excuse to walk the applicant back to their car.  Take a paper to them before they drive away.  Step outside and take a quick look.  It doesn’t take long and you don’t need a thorough examination.  Usually a quick glance will tell you a lot.  The type of car compared to their lifestyle/budget etc also says a lot.

I evicted a tenant earlier this month.  He never paid on time and was a disaster.  I was meeting with the owner at the house to discuss repairs.  The same tenant showed up and started a conversation with the owner (he couldn’t see me because I was around the corner).  He wanted to move back in.  He only “moved out” because we weren’t doing repairs.  I looked out the window and saw his souped up Corvette and had enough.  I walked around the corner and said “Hi —-, how are you doing?  Nice car you have there.”  It’s too bad he couldn’t afford his rent.

A car won’t tell you everything about a tenant but it can tell you a lot.  Sam Walton drove an old pickup his entire life.  I bet he always paid his rent.

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