Everyone is using the internet. Online resources are more common than ever, and with the exception of the occasional data breach and social media fight, it’s making life better for most people. Technology is helpful for owners, property managers, and even tenants. When rent can be paid online and inspections can be documented digitally, everyone has a more efficient and pleasant rental experience.
A successful rental process in Santa Cruz depends on both tenants and landlords understanding and meeting their responsibilities. You expect your tenants to pay rent on time, follow the terms laid out in the lease agreement, and to report maintenance as soon as it’s needed.
Landlords who take their responsibilities seriously will have a better and more successful investment experience.
You wouldn’t stick with a doctor who was misdiagnosing all your illnesses. And you wouldn’t keep seeing a mechanic who was overcharging you for the wrong parts when you brought your car in for servicing.
You deserve value. You deserve expertise, and you deserve outstanding customer service.
No one is perfect, and it’s unreasonable for landlords to think that they’ll get everything right when they’re leasing, managing, and maintaining their Santa Cruz rental properties.
Unfortunately, mistakes with your income-producing property are often expensive. You can find yourself facing huge penalties in security deposit disputes, for example. If you violate a fair housing law, you could be looking at a fine that’s over $10,000. Even something that seems like a simple mistake – waiting a week before you send a plumber to address a leak under a sink – can lead to thousands of dollars in extra repair bills.
Most of the common mistakes landlords make are unintentional. You don’t know what you don’t know. This is why it’s so important to work with a professional Santa Cruz property management company. We have already made the mistakes. Our experience, our knowledge, and our ongoing education allows us to catch these common errors before they hurt your property and your bottom line.
Screening Tenants Too Quickly
When a tenant is interested in your property, you likely want to move quickly. The faster you get them approved and moved in, the faster you can begin collecting rent.
Slow down and conduct a thorough background check. A huge mistake lots of landlords make is to rush through the screening process. They think that a simple credit check is enough to satisfy themselves that their tenant is qualified.
You need to measure a tenant’s income against the rental amount to be sure they can afford the rent. Verify that income by asking for paystubs or tax records. You need to do a national eviction check and investigate the rental history so you can be sure they haven’t been problem tenants in the past.
With the right automation, technology, and property management support, you can avoid this mistake and conduct a thorough and rigorous screening process efficiently.
Forgetting Attention to Detail During the Move-In Inspection
The move-in inspection is an important tool in protecting the condition of your property. You need to document exactly what your property looks like before your tenants take possession of it. This will hold them accountable at the end of the lease term. When you take detailed notes and hundreds of photos, you will clearly be able to see the difference between general wear and tear and tenant damage. This will help you avoid conflicts with the security deposit and your move-out expectations.
Many landlords do a simple walk through, without the photos and the videos and the checklist. This makes it too easy for your tenants to say “that was broken when I moved in.”
Communicating Passively with Tenants
Once you have tenants in place, don’t ignore them until they have a problem or stop paying rent. Be proactive with your communication. It’s a huge mistake to wait for your tenants to contact you. Be open and available. Be responsive. Go over the details of the lease agreement with them so they understand your expectations and their responsibilities. Check in once in a while to remind them about air filter changes and to ask if there’s anything they need.
Ignoring Preventative Maintenance
Most landlords understand that they’ll be responsible for responding to emergency maintenance and taking care of routine repairs.
It’s a mistake to forget preventative maintenance.
Have your HVAC system checked and serviced annually. This will help you ensure it’s working properly and it will contribute to a longer lifespan. Set up a recurring pest control service. Walk through the home at least once a year to check for potential deferred or unreported maintenance issues. Have the roof inspected and the gutters cleared of any debris and branches.
With a good preventative maintenance plan, you’ll save money on surprise repair issues, and you’ll also show your tenants that you care about the condition of your rental property.
Not Understanding Local, State, and Federal Rental Laws
Renting out a home in Santa Cruz has become more complex than ever before. You have to understand federal laws such as the Fair Housing Act, Americans with Disabilities Act, and Fair Credit Reporting Act. You have to know why a service animal isn’t a pet and what the difference is between a service animal and a companion animal. You need to understand the state security deposit timelines and the rent control laws that may or may not affect your rental property.
There’s a lot to keep straight, and these laws are always changing. It’s a mistake to assume you’re in compliance.
Working with a Santa Cruz property management company protects you and your asset as well as your tenants. Avoid these common mistakes. Contact us at Real Estate Eight Three One.
The Santa Cruz rental market has always been complex, and this last year has certainly been unique.
While we can absolutely understand the amount of anxiety and hesitation around the challenges that are due to economic shifts and the unexpected global pandemic, we don’t think this means anything negative for the 2021 rental market forecast.
That’s because there are also opportunities. Whether you currently own rental homes in Santa Cruz or you’re thinking about investing, there are some important things to consider when thinking about the state of things and how you can make them work for you. (more…)
No one wants to leave their Santa Cruz rental property vacant for longer than necessary. Not only does it deprive you of rental income, it also leaves your investment at risk.
The dangers of leaving a rental property vacant are more than financial. A long vacancy delivers several additional problems and unintended consequences. You’ll have to pay out-of-pocket for things like utilities and landscaping. You also have to keep the property secure and free from squatters, vandals, and other potential criminal activities. The appliances aren’t being used and there’s no one in the home to let you know when a leak is sprung or something starts to deteriorate.
Don’t put your property at risk for long vacancies and the dangers that come with them. Here’s how you can protect your Santa Cruz investment home. (more…)
Evicting a tenant in Santa Cruz is more challenging than it once was. There are a number of protections in place for tenants who are struggling to pay their rent due to the COVID-19 pandemic. You have to be aware of those before you begin an eviction process.
Even outside of the pandemic, eviction in California requires you to have just cause, otherwise you may find yourself responsible for a relocation payment to your tenants when you make them leave. The most common reasons you can legally evict a tenant in Santa Cruz are:
- Nonpayment of rent.
- Violation of the lease agreement.
- Illegal or criminal activities at the property.
There’s currently a federal moratorium on evictions for tenants who cannot pay due to the pandemic. California has its own law in place, which protects tenants from eviction if they sign a declaration that their financial hardship is due to the pandemic and if they agree to pay a percentage of the rent that’s due.
Understanding the landlord and tenant laws in California is an important part of renting out a property in Santa Cruz. To make the legal landscape even more complicated for owners, these laws change all the time. In 2020 alone, we have seen new rent control and just cause eviction laws. An eviction moratorium went into effect because of the COVID-19 pandemic. (more…)
When you’re choosing a Santa Cruz property manager, there are many questions to ask. The typical questions have to do with fees but there is so much more that goes into choosing the right manager for your property.
One of the most important things to look for is experience. That doesn’t only mean that you want a company that’s been in business for a long time. Experience covers a lot of different things, and if you can find a Santa Cruz property management company that puts its experience to work for its owners, residents, and community – you’re probably working with the right company.
Santa Cruz Property Management Experience: Local Knowledge
Local experience is particularly important. When you work with a local Santa Cruz property manager, you can be sure you’re getting up-to-date knowledge and resources that is specific to the market and the tenant pool. This will help with pricing your rental home and marketing it strategically to high quality tenants. Local property managers will understand the trends of the real estate market and how those things impact what tenants are looking for and what they’re willing to pay for a rental property.
There are many excellent real estate brands with nationwide reach. But, when it comes to managing your local rental property, we think you need a property manager who lives and works in Santa Cruz and understands the unique qualities of this rental market.
Industry Experience and Best Practices
Industry experience is important, too. You want to work with property managers who spend time staying on top of the latest laws, best practices, and industry trends. You need a management company with innovative technology and marketing. You want someone who is efficient and effective, and those are qualities that come from years of experience and continuing professional development.
Before you hire a management company, ask what professional organizations they belong to. A good start would be the National Association of Residential Property Managers (NARPM) and the California Apartment Association (CAA).
Years of experience are only a plus when they are positive. Are they actively invested in the market? What is the pay on time rate for their portfolio of tenants? What is their eviction rate? How have they adjusted to the COVID epidemic? Do they have systems, processes, and procedures that are designed to protect you and your property?
Experience with Your Santa Cruz Investment Property
It’s also important to find a company that is experienced with the type of rental homes you own. When you want to rent out single-family properties in established neighborhoods, a management company that specializes in new construction apartment buildings may not be your best resource. Talk to your property manager about the types of homes they’ve managed and why they’re different from other types of rental properties.
We have some additional suggestions on how to find a great Santa Cruz property management company with the right kind of experience. Contact us at Real Estate Eight Three One for more information.