How To Avoid False Economy In Property Maintenance

How To Avoid False Economy In Property Maintenance

For residential rental properties in Orlando and the surrounding communities, keeping property maintenance costs down is a top concern. It’s essential to keep in mind, though, that some attempts to cut the property maintenance budget may backfire and end up costing you more in the long run. Consider carefully the cost-cutting measures you’re thinking about may turn out to be a false economy.

DIY: Just Because You Can Doesn’t Mean You Should

 Do It Yourself maintenance and repairs can be a slippery slope. If you’re skilled enough to get the job done as fast and as well as a professional contractor, you’re likely to save money by doing it yourself. If you’re skilled but not so fast, you may want to ask yourself whether it’s really worth your time and potential annoyance to your tenants. If the property is vacant, you don’t have to consider the impression you’re making on your tenants, but you may be delaying getting a new tenant in if you can’t get the job as done as fast as a hired contractor. 

That Probably Goes For Tenants, Too 

Allowing tenants to do their own maintenance and repairs may make sense in certain areas, like replacing smoke detector batteries and light bulbs, or handling the yard work. That’s assuming that you do periodic inspections to ensure that they are, in fact, handling those matters. When it comes to bigger repairs, though, it’s probably a better bet for you to hire professionals who have insurance and demonstrated skills. If your tenant does sub-par work on your property, you may be liable later on, if that work fails and causes a problem.

 Should You Repair Or Replace?

When it comes to more expensive-to-replace items like kitchen appliances; mechanicals such as air conditioners, heaters, or water heaters; or flooring, it can be hard to determine whether you’ll benefit most from repairing or replacing at any given point. One point to consider when you’re deciding is whether replacing will help you keep a tenant or earn higher rent from future tenants.

Consider the expected useful life of the item. If it’s near the end of that period, or past it, you’ll probably benefit from replacing it. If it’s well under the expected life, you may find repairs are more cost-effective.

Professionally Managed Property Maintenance

Belmont Management Group provides Orlando area property owners with cost-effective property maintenance and repairs, as part of their residential rental management service. We’ll help keep your property in excellent shape while helping you to realize the best possible profits from your income property. Call or contact us online for a free consultation, and we’ll show you what we can do for you!

 

Note: Please keep in mind that this is an overview of the important points, but by no means does it constitute or cover all of the requirements of managing a comprehensive property maintenance budget.

Make The Most Of Your Property Maintenance Budget

Make The Most Of Your Property Maintenance Budget

Property maintenance is a significant expense for rental property owners, which means that it’s critical to the profitability of that rental that you make smart decisions about what maintenance projects to do and when to do them. Some issues are required by law, and you have to take care of them whenever the need arises: electrical, heating, and safety issues, for example. Other issues, though, may not be legally required, but they’ll help you attract tenants faster and keep them longer, which cuts your costs.

Do As Much As You Can When Units Are Empty

In addition to the required work you need to get done before a new tenant moves in, you may want to consider vacant periods as an opportunity to get other maintenance projects done efficiently and likely at a lower cost than when the unit is occupied. With tenants in place, you or your workers will have to work around their schedule, personal property, and the occupants themselves to get your work done. In an empty unit, you can take advantage of discounted rates when the trades you need to hire are slower: early morning, mid-week, or last call of the day. Get the roof inspected and have any needed repairs done, and have pest control work done while there’s no one to complain about the mess, noise, smell, and inconvenience.

Consider maintenance issues that will help you rent faster and keep good tenants in place longer. Fresh paint, replacing outdated or inefficient bathroom fixtures and kitchen appliances, updating light fixtures, and cleaning and repairing or replacing carpet can all go a long way to making tenants want to move in and stay put.

Professional Rental Property Management For Deeper Savings 

When you work with a rental property management company, you gain advantages when it comes to property maintenance, among other vital issues. Belmont Management Group has negotiated rates with the vendors and contractors who provide the services and materials we use to keep our clients’ rental properties in top shape. For owners, that means that when your property needs repairs or maintenance, you’ll almost always pay less than you would on your own. Call or contact us online to learn more about how working with Belmont Management Group can make your rental property turn a better profit for you.

 

NOTE:

Please keep in mind that this is mostly a summary of the important points, but by no means does it constitute or cover all of the requirements of a compliant property maintenance budget.

Is Your Tenant Screening Process FCRA & FHA Compliant?

Is Your Tenant Screening Process FCRA & FHA Compliant?

Many investment property owners who handle their own tenant screening process and rental decisions are unaware that there are state and federal laws that apply to tenant credit and background checks, and how landlords can use that information to make rental decisions. If you’re not consistently practicing a compliant tenant screening process, you could find yourself facing stiff discrimination fines or vulnerable to civil suit from rejected prospective tenants.

What Does The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FRCA) Have To Do With My Rental? 

You’re not a credit reporting agency, so this may seem weird, but when you order a consumer report on a prospective tenant, you’re certifying to the agency providing the report that you are going to use that information for a legally “permissible purpose,” in this case, tenant screening. So far, so good.

But if you find something in that report that causes you to reject the tenant’s application or require a co-signer, or require additional rent (these are called adverse actions in legal terminology), the FCRA requires you to notify the party in writing of the adverse action and reason. You must provide the contact information for the company who gave you the report, and let the recipient know that they have a right to dispute the report.

Fair Housing Act And Criminal Background Checks For Tenants

Running a criminal background check on a prospective tenant seems like a no-brainer. Who wants to rent to criminals? In practice, though, landlords are limited in how they use information from a criminal background check to take adverse action against a tenant.

  • A tenant can’t be rejected because of an arrest, if no conviction followed.
  • You must be able to demonstrate that a rejection based on criminal record “accurately distinguishes between criminal conduct that indicates a demonstrable risk to resident safety and/or property and criminal conduct that does not.”
  • People with convictions for distribution or manufacture of drugs can be denied based on those convictions. People with convictions for drug possession cannot.
  • Your treatment of criminal issues must be consistent across all applicants. You can’t reject an application from one person with a drug distribution conviction, and then later accept one from another person with the same conviction.
  • Selective use of criminal history to reject applications based on race, national origin, or other protected characteristics is considered discriminatory.

Stay On The Right Side Of The Law With Tenant Screening

The laws that cover tenant screening are complicated and they’re always changing. It’s easy to see how a landlord could end up breaking the law without even knowing it. The Orlando property management experts at Belmont Management Group help their clients stay compliant with all of the applicable laws, so they can rest assured that their investment property business is in good standing and running smoothly. Call or contact us online to learn more about how working with the professional property management team at Belmont Management can make your rental properties turn the best possible profit for you.

 

NOTE:

Please keep in mind that this is mostly a summary of the important points, but by no means does it constitute or cover all of the requirements of a compliant tenant screening program.

Maintenance Tips For Orlando Property Management | Rental Property Managers

Maintenance Tips For Orlando Property Management

If you own rental homes in Orlando, property management probably takes a significant amount of time and attention on your part. Making a sound maintenance plan can help you plan your budget more effectively, build stronger relations with your current tenants, extend the useful life of things like flooring, and make it easier to fill vacancies faster.

Stay On Top Of HVAC Issues

Test the heat and air conditioning before it’s likely that the tenants will be using them extensively. It’s also a good time to change out air filters and ensure your tenants are keeping the vents clean. Discovering any problems with the HVAC system before it becomes an urgent need helps save you money on emergency service calls, and keeps your tenants comfortable and happy. Proper maintenance also helps extend the life of your furnaces and air conditioning units, so you’ll save money in the long run.

Check Out The Outdoor Spaces

Look for any trees that could break and fall during a storm, or damage the roofing by scraping on the roof in the wind. Keep an eye out for any trimming that may need to be done to prevent pests from making a home on your property, and don’t forget to look at outdoor lights that create a safer environment for tenants and their guests.

Roof Check

In early spring, it’s a good idea to have your roof inspected, to make sure everything is secure and sealed before rain and winds arrive. Again, preventive maintenance is more cost-effective than emergency repair calls during a busy time. It’s also a good time to have rain gutters cleaned and downspouts checked out, so you don’t find a problem later, in the middle of a storm.

Keep Detectors In Working Order

Change the batteries in any smoke or carbon monoxide detectors at least once a year, and test each unit. While you have the covers off, make sure the interior of each detector is free of dust, spider webs, and other material that could cause the detector to malfunction later.

Regular Maintenance Keeps Your Property Profitable 

Staying on top of routine maintenance and taking care of repairs when they’re still relatively small helps you see the greatest profit from your investment property. For many owners, rigorous regular maintenance proves to be more of a time investment than they anticipated. Rental property managers in Orlando can help keep costs low while keeping these critical matters under control. Vacancy time is significantly reduced when properties are well-maintained, and tenant retention is better, too. To learn more about Orlando property management services, give Belmont Management Group a call or contact us online for a consultation.

How Professional Property Managers Get You A Better ROI | Orlando, FL

How Professional Property Managers Get You A Better ROI

When many investors buy their first rental properties, they plan to manage those properties themselves. For some owners, that may make sense at first. It doesn’t take long, though, to see how big of a time investment that really represents, and how quickly expenses add up for owners who only have a couple of properties. Rental property managers handle large numbers of properties and they benefit from volume discounts, dedicated staff for issues like maintenance, legal compliance, and collections.

Your Time Is Valuable

Obviously, most investment property owners are capable of managing these issues on their own, but the real question is, how efficiently can they handle them? Professional rental property managers are continually updating their knowledge and have vast experience in applying that knowledge correctly, so they get the job done faster and with a higher degree of accuracy. You could spend hours of your own time researching federal and local laws on complex issues like ADA compliance and service animal requests, in order to know how to correctly respond to a given tenant. That’s not the most efficient use of your time, though, and your time has value. Wasting your own time reduces the real return on your investment in rental property.

Rental Property Managers Bring Better Value

In addition to saving your time, professional rental property managers cut costs for things that have to be done, no matter who is managing the property. By negotiating volume rates from vendors, they get repairs handled at a lower cost than an individual owner can, and in many cases, they get higher priority on the vendors’ service call lists, so the repairs are done sooner.

Rental property managers can also streamline time and costs on matters like advertising vacancies and screening prospective tenants, collecting late payments, handling routine inspections, and taking care of move-out cleanings and repairs. That’s because their team includes people whose entire job is to focus on one of these areas, and you’re paying only for a small amount of that team’s time, expertise, and resources.

Orlando Property Management Delivers Better Profits

If you’ve purchased an investment property in the Orlando area, or you’re researching whether this type of investment makes sense for you, give Belmont Management Group a call or contact us online for a consultation. We’ll explain how your rental property can bring you the best possible profits for the least investment of your time, and lowest ongoing expenses.

Make Rental Property Maintenance Less Stressful | Property Management

How To Make Rental Property Maintenance Less Stressful

If you’re an owner taking care of your own property management in the Orlando area, you’ve probably already learned how much demand on your time and budget rental property maintenance can be. Especially if you own multiple investment properties, maintenance and repairs can eat into your time and sanity very quickly. Planning in advance, before any new need arises, you can get those worries under control.

  • Have a request system – Create a request system that works for you. Maybe you want tenants to make requests by phone at your business office, or to send an email or fill out a form on your website. Whatever works, as long as everyone knows how to make requests properly, and that way you won’t respond to sticky notes on the face of their rent checks.
  • Have vendor contracts in place – It’s important to realize that when you’re doing your own property management and hiring vendors to do maintenance and repairs, you’re essentially acting as a general contractor, and you can benefit by taking some cues from the way general contractors deal with their subs. Make contacts and keep a preferred vendor list, and ask for volume and loyalty discounts. 
  • Track service calls & vendors – Keep detailed records of service calls, including issues and solutions, costs, turn-around time, and any other key information that may help you fine-tune your budget and vendor list in future. 
  • Follow up with resident & share feedback with the vendor – Vendors don’t tend to get a lot of feedback from end-users, so if your tenant has something great to say about one of your vendors, be sure to pass it along. It’s another way to build stronger relationships and loyalty across the board.

Consider Professional Property Management in Orlando

One advantage of working with a professional property management firm is that they should have maintenance professionals on staff, and volume contracts with any outside vendors they use. At Belmont Management Group, we have trained maintenance staff that is familiar with our high standards and expectations, and 24/7 coverage, in case an emergency arises. Call or contact us online to schedule a free consultation and learn more about how working with professional property management can help you earn more while spending less time stressing about your investment property.

Tenant Screening Questions | Orlando Property Management Company

Tenant Screening Questions To Ask Before You Show A Vacancy

Showing vacancies to prospective tenants can be a huge time investment for owners of rental properties. By establishing a set of pre-qualifying questions, publishing them on your website, and consistently asking them of every prospective tenant, you can cut down the amount of time you spend on prospects that will never pan out. By publishing these questions and regularly asking them, you add a layer of protection against allegations of discrimination, right up front.

  • Move-In Date – You know how long you’re willing to hold a vacancy for the right tenant. Maybe it’s two weeks, or maybe as much as a month. Whatever it is, don’t agree to show your property to people who want to move after that time period, and asking a prospect’s move-date up front also allows you to screen out people who need to move before your property will be ready.
  • How Many Occupants Will There Be? – This is one that can generate discrimination complaints if you don’t have a strict policy in place, and you can demonstrate that you follow it. For many rental property owners, two people per bedroom is a maximum they’re comfortable with. Whatever your maximum, per room and per unit, set it, publish it, and stick to it!
  • How Long Of A Lease Do You Want? Most property owners hope to see longer leases, as opposed to shorter ones, though in certain market conditions, signing leases that are too long can be a negative. Make sure your prospects’ expectations are a match for your best interest.
  • Do You Have Pets? – Knowing how many and what type of pets a prospect has up front allows you to offer lease terms that factor having those pets as residents.
  • Do You Know Your Approximate Credit Score? – Not every prospect will know their exact FICO score, but they should at least have an idea of their score range. If you have a hard minimum score, tell them what it is and that it’s non-negotiable before you set an appointment. 
  • Have you viewed the property online/driven by? – It’s amazing how many people will call for a viewing of a place they’ve never driven by or taken a virtual tour of. It’s a simple way to spare everyone’s time, if it’s not a match.

Professional Rental Property Management: The Ultimate Time-Saver

Whether your rental properties are in Winter Park or Orlando, or spread out in between, working with a rental property manager will help free up a great deal of your time. Belmont Management Group provides tenant screening and showing along with maintenance and repairs, inspections, collections, and even evictions. Call or contact us online to schedule a free consultation.

Rental Property Management With 24/7 Property Maintenance & Repairs

Rental Property Management With 24/7 Property Maintenance & Repairs

If you own rental property in the Orlando area, management can be a serious drain on your time and energy. Especially when it comes to keeping on top of property maintenance and repairs, and fielding emergency calls from tenants at 3:00 a.m. When you work with a rental property management company like Belmont Management Group in Winter Park, you can forget about answering those middle-of-the-night calls. We provide 24/7 maintenance and repairs, and better still, we take an active role in keeping your property maintained, so there are fewer repair calls overall.

A Pound Of Prevention 

Because we systematically inspect each of our clients’ rental properties and deal with maintenance issues as they begin, we’re able to prevent small problems from becoming big emergencies. This proactive approach also ensures that each property is in best-possible condition at all times, so tenants are happier and tend to stay longer. Well-maintained properties are also easier to turn around faster between tenants, because there is only a short list of issues to take care of before your property is ready for new tenants to start paying rent.

An Ounce Of Cure

Of course, there are times and circumstances (we’re looking at you, hurricanes) where no amount of property maintenance will prevent the need for emergency repairs. When those situations arise, our maintenance team is on call 24 hours a day to take care of problems immediately, so your property damage is minimized, the property remains habitable in all but the most severe cases, and your tenants see that you take their welfare seriously. When things go wrong, we’ll be there to make them right again as quickly as possible.

Choose Proactive Rental Property Management

From Winter Park condos to Maitland houses, if you own rental property in the greater Orlando area, you can run that property more efficiently and cost-effectively by working with a proactive rental property management company. Belmont Management Group provides full-service management and property maintenance that keeps hassles and costs to a minimum for our clients. Call or contact us online for a consultation, and we’ll explain how rental property management helps you realize a better return on your property investment.

Effective Tenant Screening Heads Off Future Problems

Effective Tenant Screening Heads Off Future Problems

Tenant screening is one area that many owners who manage their own residential rental properties struggle with. If you own a single property or only a couple of properties, you may find it cost-prohibitive to run full background checks on every applicant, and certain services like rental history verification may not be available at all to you as an individual. You know that it’s important to gather all the information you can to make informed decisions about tenants, and yet, getting that information is expensive and time-consuming, if you can get it at all.

Better Marketing Strategies Bring Better Prospects

Another area that presents significant challenges for owners is marketing. There are lots of places to advertise rental properties free, but they’re often riddled with irrelevant ads and they’re not where the responsible tenants you want to attract naturally go looking. Finding good tenants starts as early in the process as choosing where to market your property, and the best outlets usually cost money for individuals to place a listing or ad. Property management companies that run many listings each month typically get a reduced rate, making it more affordable to place their listings in the most desirable outlets.

Professional Property Managers Have Better Screening Tools

Professional property managers like the team at Belmont Management Group run a high volume of tenant screenings, so makes sense for them to pay for more powerful tools to help them do more effective screenings, faster. When your property is managed through a professional management service, you get the benefit of better information at a lower cost, which ultimately means you’re likely to have longer-term tenancies with fewer problems, and less chance of needing to evict tenants. We’ll not only pull a credit report on each prospective tenant, but also run a background check, verify their employment and income, and review their rental history and rent payment history. Vacancies are filled faster, and turnover rates are significantly lower, which ultimately saves you money.

Better Returns On You Investment, Less Hassle

 Owning investment property is never going to bring completely passive income, but working with a professional property management company will definitely help shift the balance toward “less time, better income” for you, the owner. The Belmont Management Group delivers better results for their clients, throughout the leasing and property management process. Call or contact us online for a consultation and we’ll tell you more about how professional property management brings you a better return.

Orlando’s Hot Rental Market Is Good News For Owners

Orlando’s Hot Rental Market Is Good News For Owners

The residential rental market boom continues in central Florida, which is great news for Orlando area property owners. As home purchase prices continue rising and wages stay nearly flat, more low- and middle-income people find themselves unable to purchase a house, which means that they’ll be competing for well-managed, well-maintained rentals. For people who already own income property, or are in a position to purchase, this represents a significant opportunity because this trend is likely to continue for some time.

Rent On The Rise

Though rents and rates of increase vary by city and neighborhood, the overall trend in central Florida is up. In Orlando, apartment rents at the end of August 2018 had climbed to an average of $1,256: one bedrooms averaging $1,109 and two bedrooms averaging $1,339. Rents on single family homes, duplexes, and condos tend to rise even more quickly, because the people renting them are those who would, in a different economic time, be purchasing a house.

Owning & Managing Rental Property Is Real Work

Of course, if making money in rental property was effortless, there would be a lot more people doing it. It’s definitely not a get-rich-quick scheme. Keeping track of leases, insurance, maintenance, scheduled repairs and renovations, and tenant issues is a time-consuming proposition, under the best circumstances. If you’re considering purchasing income property, it’s important to understand that there are real demands on your time, and those demands are ongoing.

If you’ve already had experience managing your own residential rental property, you’ve probably discovered all of this, and you may have also learned how much more challenging things can get when you have tenants who are behind on rent, or require eviction. Property management is far more complicated than it seems at first.

Professional Property Management Will Help 

The professional property managers at Belmont Management Group help you reap the benefits of owning income property without sacrificing all your spare time (and maybe sometime that wasn’t spare, too!) by finding the right tenants, staying on top of the financials, managing maintenance and repairs, and taking care of matters like late fees or evictions, should the need ever arise. Call or contact us online for a consultation.