Tag Archive for: rental management

How to Handle Security Deposits in Your Rental Property

There is a new law in 2014 that affects how landlords are required to handle security deposits in Utah, so you’ll want to forget everything you knew before and focus on what is currently required. Now, you have 30 days to send the security deposit back to your tenant. If they aren’t getting the security deposit back, you’ll need to send a letter explaining that. The deposit or the letter has to go to the last known address. In the past, you had to wait for the tenant to provide you with a forwarding address, but now you cannot wait.

When your tenants move out without giving you a forwarding address, the last known address you’ll be sending the deposit to is probably the address of your property or unit, where they had been living. You might send it and get it returned to you and if that happens, just file it until you do get a forwarding address.

There are essentially three types of letters you can send and your tenant will get one of these three. The first type of letter is one that says ‘congratulations, you’re getting your whole security deposit back.’ You’ll include the check with that letter. The second type of letter will say ‘congratulations, you’re getting most of your security deposit back, but there was some damage to the property, and this is what we kept.’ The third type of letter will explain that the charges for damage exceeded the amount of the security deposit and you’ll be pursuing legal action to recover the rest of what is owed.

When the tenants don’t receive their deposit back, the tenants have to send you notification in writing. This is also a change. They have to give you a forwarding address and let you know they are requesting their security deposit. Once they notify you, get that deposit back right away. In the state of Utah, you will be penalized for not getting that deposit back to them. You’ll need to refund their full deposit plus a $100 fee. Also, if they take you to court and win, you’ll be responsible for their legal costs. That’s not something you want to deal with, so send back that deposit in a timely manner.

The changes in laws regarding security deposits can be hard to keep up with. If you have any questions or need any help, please contact us today.

How to Spot and Avoid Craigslist And Classifieds Scams

There are nefarious and shady things that can happen when you advertise your rental property online. Of course there are really only two ways to advertise these days; with a sign in front of your property or online. Obviously, advertising online is going to give you a larger return on your investment.

Here is what’s happening: third parties are taking your ad and changing it so the contact info is their contact info, asking tenants to pay them a deposit and then promising send keys to the property in the mail. You and I would probably not fall for something like that, but a lot of people are in fact taking that bait. It costs you a prospective tenant because you aren’t the one getting the deposit.

The best way to avoid these scams is by putting watermarks on your photos. That way, a third party or a scam artist cannot take your photos and use them for their own advertising. At Advanced Solutions Property Management, we have a watermark with our website splashed across the middle of our photos. It’s not so dark that you can’t see the picture, but it will deter anyone from stealing our photos and using our properties to lure people into sending them money.

There is not much else you can do to avoid these scams. It’s important to know that they are out there and to protect yourself against these scams that are allowing dishonest people to collect deposits from people who think they are renting your property.

If you have any questions about these scams, or need help in protecting yourself and your property, please contact us at Advanced Solutions Property Management, and we will do whatever we can to help you out.

Who Should Pay for Utilities in My Rental Home?

Determining who pays for utilities in your Salt Lake City rental home is something you need to decide at the beginning of the relationship you have with your tenant. It’s a contractual issue and something that must be included in your lease. There are a couple of different ways to think about who should pay for utilities.

If you talk to city or conservation groups, they will tell you that 100 percent of the utilities should be charged to the tenant exclusively. That is because they will use less of a resource if they have to pay for that resource. You can include utility payments in the rental payment, or keep the utilities out of the rent and make it a separate charge the tenants pay.

At Advanced Solutions Property Management, we recommend keeping utilities out of the rent. You don’t want to combine them because you don’t want to give tenants a reason to think that your rent is inflated. Here’s an example: if a potential tenant is driving down the street and he looks at two units that are similar and one includes utilities but the other one doesn’t, he’ll look at the one that does not include utilities first. The unit that includes utilities might actually be a better deal, but the tenant isn’t going to read the fine print. The tenant is looking only at the base rental price.

We recommend that you have a base rental price for the unit that you advertise. The tenant can then compare that to other rents. Then, have the utility charges included later. In our leases, we require the tenant to pay for all utilities. You can have a utility fee if you’d rather, but however you workout the utility payments, make sure there is a base rental price from which you are working. The utilities should always be added later.

If you have any questions about how to handle the utilities in your rental home, please contact us at Advanced Solutions Property Management, and we’ll do what we can to help you out.

Dealing with Abandonment in Your Rental Property

Abandonment occurs when your tenants abruptly leave the property, usually because they are not paying rent. There are two different types of abandonment, and in today’s blog we are going to explain them and tell you how to handle each type of abandonment.

1 Day Abandonment

When the tenant leaves without making a rent payment and takes all their stuff with them, it’s a 1 day abandonment and it’s easy to manage. You will show up at the property after one day and enter with your key, as your lease should stipulate is acceptable. Before going in, call out that the owner is checking for occupancy. When you get no response and you’re able to see that the place is empty, you’ll know the tenant has abandoned the home. Rent might be past due, but at least your tenant is gone. You can immediately take possession of the property, clean it up and turn it around. You’ll move on quickly.

15 Day Abandonment

When a tenant is late with rent, you post a 3 Day Notice to Pay or Quit. After those days pass, you go over to the property to check out occupancy because the tenants have not paid and they have not contacted you. You want to see if they are still there before you continue with your legal action. After knocking and getting no response, you can enter with your key and stick your head in the door to see if anyone is there. When there are no visible signs that the tenant has been in the property recently, but their stuff is still there, you’ll have to do a 15 Day Abandonment. Look for signs that they are not living there anymore. There might be rotting food in the fridge. After 15 days, you need to go to the property and post an Abandoned Premise form on the door. This gives the tenants 24 hours to get their stuff that’s still in there. When the 24 hours pass and the belongings are still there, you can move it out. You’ll have to store it for the number of days required by Utah law, but you will have an empty property and you can take possession.

If you have any questions about how to handle abandonment in your rental home, please contact us at Advanced Solutions Property Management, and we’ll be happy to help you.

4 Signs You Should Fire Your Current Property Management Company

Our topic today is identifying reasons that you might want to consider changing your property manager. Before we get into details, it’s important to understand that it’s not a good idea to change property managers as soon as you have a minor issue. A lot of times, better communication is all that’s needed. If you can figure out the problem you’re having, it makes more sense to stay with your current property manager who knows the house and its history. However, there are certain things that might make you think it’s time for a change.

1. Property Manager Communication Problems

If you call your property manager and you don’t hear back that same day, or it takes them a few days to respond to an email, that’s a problem. You want real time answers and assistance and you don’t want to be left waiting for help. Your property manager should have emergency numbers in case there is something an owner needs right away. Usually, the questions we get are accounting related or pertaining to something that may be going on at the property. However, we believe that those questions also require a prompt response.

2. Property Maintenance Delays

When you have a tenant who keeps putting in a lot of work requests and there is no action on the part of the property manager, that’s another big problem and a good time to re-think your property management company. Most owners don’t talk directly to tenants, but when you have information that a property management company isn’t paying attention to problems, act on it. Those delays will only lead to larger damage and bigger costs down the road.

3. Lack of Transparency

Charges that show up on your account that are unexplained should also be a cause for concern. Property management billing issues should be explained in detail, and if costs are getting tacked on and you’re not sure why, your property manager owes you an explanation. Understanding what you are getting billed for is extremely important.

4. Technology

If your property management company isn’t using modern accounting techniques, you may want to switch companies. Back in the day, it was perfectly acceptable to use the shoe box full of receipts system. However today, everything is done online. At Advanced Solutions Property Management, we have the latest and greatest accounting software and it helps with collecting rent, managing reconciliations and dispersing payments to our owners right away. We can account for every dollar that is spent, and there is never a question about how your money is being handled. If your property management company needs an upgrade, start looking elsewhere.

If you have any questions about property management in Salt Lake City, please contact us at Advanced Solutions Property Management, and we would be happy to share more information.

Tenant Screening Methods You Need To Know

The screening process and the background check during your lease up are obviously important. The due diligence you do on the front end as we call it is the most important part of your work as a landlord or a property manager. If you don’t take the time to do these things correctly up front, you will definitely pay for it at the back end. It is really crucial that you put the time and effort into tenant screening. This will give you a much better experience as a landlord and a better time down the road. Most of the people who come to us while managing properties on their own did not do the work up front and then they find themselves having problems with a tenant in one of their properties. Don’t skimp on the screening work.

As an owner, you should be using the state of the art background screening tools that are available to landlords and property managers. There are a lot of different companies you can use and basically with the click of a mouse you can find out everything you need to know about a potential tenant. It’s almost scary how fast we can find out what we need to know.

Make sure your tenants fill out the application completely. Stress to your applicants that it has to be 100 percent complete. No box or line can be left unanswered. You are requesting all of this information for a reason, and if information is left out, you are not going to be able to process the application.

Once you have the completed application, you can move forward with the background check. The company we use often gives us our results right away. Then, we can go through those results and get an idea of credit, criminal and background information. You always want to start with a good credit score. If it’s not perfect, that’s okay; you can meet that risk by charging a higher security deposit if necessary. You just want to know where exactly the applicant stands financially.

These are the elements we are talking about when we discuss tenant screening and lease up. Most property management companies, Advanced Solutions Property Management included, will provide lease up services as an a la carte item if you do not want to contract for full service property management. If you have issues with finding and screening a tenant, we can help you.

Please contact us at Advanced Solutions Property Management for more information, or if you have any questions about effective property management.