Home Security Systems – Why Landlords Need Them

Home Security Systems – Why Landlords Need Them

Home security systems are typically a no-brainer. You probably have one installed in your own residence.  But what about your investment properties? There’s obviously an expense involved with having your rental properties monitored, and many landlords decide to forego that expense to maximize their profits.

We encourage landlords to consider installing home security systems in all of their rental properties for a number of reasons.  First, many insurance plans offer a discount for properties that are covered by a monitoring plan. Those discounts add up, and can offset the expense of equipment, installation and monitoring.

It may seem like it would be better to allow your tenants to install equipment if they wish to add a layer of security beyond the functioning door locks. However, few tenants tend to add home security systems because of the expense, and the end result can be a vulnerable asset and unnecessary risk to the occupants of your property.

Speaking of your tenants, having home security systems preinstalled makes your property much more attractive to prospective tenants. Don’t underestimate the value of making prospective tenants feel that safety and security are your priorities as a landlord. Remember, you and your tenants are essentially opting into a relationship - and anything you can do to build trust and respect is a good thing.

And finally, new technologies have made it much less expensive to install viable home security systems. Some systems will even offer the equipment for free or at an incredible discount provided you sign up for their monitoring plan.  And monitoring isn’t a back breaker, either.  Many plans come in under $20/month… and since we’re talking about your investment property… we feel like that’s a great investment.

If you’d like to discuss home security systems with us, we’d be happy to offer our thoughts on the best system for your specific needs.  Contact us here.

Rental Listings – How to Optimize Them

Rental Listings – How to Optimize Them

So you’ve got yourself an investment property, and now it’s time to navigate the world of rental listings to tell the world about your vacancy. There are a few tips that we can offer to help you attract not just prospective tenants… but the RIGHT tenants.

The first tip we can offer for rental listings is the proper use of localized keywords.  Keywords are critical for rental listings because they are essentially “Google food”. If you want to climb the organic search results ladder, then finding the keywords that people are actually searching for is important. And when you’re doing your research, make sure that your rental listings include localized keywords to take advantage of the geo-search elements of Google.

Rental listings with high quality photos absolutely perform better than those with more of an amateur appearance.  We suggest that quality is directly related to the photographer more than the actual camera equipment. With today’s technology, it’s possible to take great photos with your cell phone… but what separates some rental listings from others is the composition of the photography. And for that, we strongly recommend that you go with a professional photographer.

And finally, rental listings that draw attention to the amenities of the property tend to perform better than those who simply assume that prospective tenants already know what’s included.  If your master bath has jets, make sure that you mention it. If your kitchen has accent lighting, tell your audience about it.  This may seem obvious, but we’re constantly surprised at how many rental listings don’t call out the property’s highlights and features.

As Denver’s preferred property managers, we’d be happy to help you develop your rental listings for maximum expected benefits. Please feel free to contact us with any questions you might have here.

Becoming a Landlord – What You Should Know

Becoming a Landlord – What You Should Know

Many people dream of becoming a landlord, owning several investment properties, each of which provides financial security as tenants cover the expense of the mortgage(s) and then some. However, in today’s real estate market, the promise of profit can sometimes be elusive if you don’t pay attention to some fundamentals.

In. most cases, it is advisable to work with a property management company, who can guide you in the decisions that always go along with  becoming a landlord.  We will attempt to cover several of those here.

  1. One does not simply pull a number out of thin air when determining what the rent should be on a given property. Properly assigning rent value is accomplished by determining the actual rental market value of your property. It is common to experience rents that are LESS than enough to cover a mortgage and expenses. Before becoming a landlord, you will want to make sure that it makes financial sense to do so.

2. You will need to set up (and maintain) an expense account to cover things like maintenance, management fees, and the occasional repairs that will need to be made.  The older your house, the more you should budget for your expense account. Many of these expenses can be quite expensive, and as a landlord, you cannot afford to be unable to afford them. If the heater goes out in the middle of winter, you are obligated to replace it post-haste.

3. Finding the right tenant is an art form… and best left to the professionals.  You might think that by becoming a landlord, you’ll have instant access to a ready pool of tenants (ie. family), but in fact… that rarely ever works out well. The greater the level of informality, the more likely you are to experience short or late payments, and many more tenant requests for repairs and/or upgrades. A professional property manager knows how to screen for the right candidates, especially zeroing in on those who will care for the property and pay on time, every time.

4. On the topic of payments, it becomes necessary to consider what happens if/when your tenant fails to pay, or pays late.  In some cases, eviction may be the proper course of action.  However, eviction is not as simple and straightforward as asking your tenant to leave.  There are many laws in place that must be rigidly adhered to. In the event that you have to take your tenant to court - you are responsible for all the attorney fees and court costs. This is another great time to have a professional property manager on your side.

5. Another wake up call to becoming a landlord comes when you realize that between tenants, you are not bringing in any money, but you are still required to cover all of the expenses of maintaining your home. If tenants damage your property, or you haven’t properly maintained it, you will have extra expenses to bring it back into proper condition for rental.  Every day that your home is empty, it’s an expense that must be accounted for.

These are just the tip of the iceberg for those considering becoming a landlord. It’s been stated several times that there’s genuine value in establishing a relationship with a professional property manager.  We stand ready to advise and assist you, should you desire our assistance. Contact us today, and let’s discuss your needs.

Why Renter’s Insurance is So Important

Why Renter’s Insurance is So Important

Many times renters feel like they don’t need or want renter’s insurance.  They view it as just another way for landlords to line their pockets with [our] good money. This article will clear up a few misconceptions about renter’s insurance, and why you really should carry it if you’re renting a home or apartment.

Most landlords make it mandatory for the renter to carry renter’s insurance. However, the fact is, they don’t see a penny of your monthly premium or any of the payout should there be a need to file a claim. So why make it mandatory? In this case, it’s really for your own good.

While it’s true that landlords carry insurance as well – that insurance covers only the structure and land. It does not cover any of the items or personal property within the home itself.

An often-quoted misconception is that renter’s insurance is an expensive consideration.  In most cases, the monthly premiums are less than $20. That’s nothing compared to the average tenant’s “stuff value” of over $20k. You see, everything under the roof has value – and you have the right to claim it for it’s replacement value. That’s your entire CD collection, books etc. Even your kitchen appliances have a value – and you know you’re going to need that spatula sooner, rather than later after an accident.

Here are some of the questions that you should ask you insurance carrier:

  1. Will my insurance cover items that I “share” with my roommate(s)?
  2. Should I video tape or take photos of my possessions?
  3. If so, which ones?
  4. What is the difference between “replacement cost” and “depreciated cost” coverage?
  5. Will I be notified of any rate increases, etc?

There are many places tenants can cut corners to save a buck or two. Renter’s insurance is not one of those places.

If you’d like help with setting up renter’s insurance, we’d be very happy to help make a referral to a quality insurance agent.

Eviction – When it Becomes Necessary

Eviction – When it Becomes Necessary

We all want to believe the best of people – especially tenants who occupy your rental property. And whether the term of the lease has expired, or the lease agreement has been violated in one way or another; if a tenant decides to stop paying but wishes to remain in occupancy of the building – it pays to have a professional property manager to get them out legally.

In the state of Colorado, the first thing you want to do is serve the tenant with a Demand for Compliance or Possession Notice (JDF 101) or a Notice to Quit (JDF 97). You must then wait a certain period of time to go by.

If the tenant had been paying rent, there are differences in the timeline, based upon how long they have been paying. If they’ve paid for more than a year, then you must give them 91 days to vacate. If they’ve paid six months or longer, but not yet a year, then you must offer them 28 days to leave. If they’ve paid for a month or more, but less than six months, you must give them 7 days. If they’ve paid one week or longer, but less than a month, they are afforded 3 days. And, if they’ve paid less than one week, you may give them 1 day to vacate the premises.

In certain circumstances where the tenant has become belligerent, you may need to execute a Complaint in Forcible Entry and Detainer (JDF 99) plus a CRCCP Form 1A (Summons in Forcible Entry and Unlawful Detainer) as well as a CRCCP Form 3 (Answer Under Simplified Civil Procedure).

There will be various fees associated with the filing of these documents as well as associated copies for the court and the tenants. Once you file and pay these fees, the county clerk will schedule a hearing (typically 7-14 days from the point of filing). Tenants must be given a minimum of 7 days between the sate they are served the summons, and the actual court date.

The tenants must show up in court, or you may receive a summary judgment in your favor. If they do show up, they may request a jury trial. Here in Colorado, the judge may require you to enter mediation as well.

Once you do receive a summary judgment, you can file for possession of the property with a Motion for Entry of Judgment (JDF 104). If, after 48 hours, the tenants have still not vacated the property, you may complete a Writ of Restitution (JDF 103) and that’s when the court will order the Sheriff to execute a forcible removal from the property.

All of this is typically frustrating for the landlord, and is best handled by a professional property manager. Here at Legacy Properties-PM, we are well versed with the laws, and are able to handle all of these procedures, should they ever become necessary.

Renter Experience Sets You Apart

Renter Experience Sets You Apart

According to the 2018 Buildium Renter’s Report, a majority of the 22 million new households expected to form by 2030 will be renters. The number of Americans who choose the renter experience over buying is expected to increase exponentially, and is currently nearing the highest historical rate of all time: 37%, set in 1965.

What can landlords and property managers learn from the information gathered in the Renter’s Report? This article will focus on what the report discovered as it relates to the renter experience, and which criteria directly affected a property’s ability to charge more for rent.

First, let’s address the neighborhood. Of the top five neighborhood characteristics that justify higher rents, safety tops the list. 66% of all respondents suggested that a safe neighborhood is the most important factor in choosing where to rent. Landlords would be wise to pay attention to this, and either provide or upgrade their existing security systems to meet renter’s expectations.

40% of respondents said they’d be more interested in a unit that is already equipped with smart cameras or a smart security system. Technology has advanced such to the point where the cost of installation of smart (Internet-enabled) security systems is negligible. And yet, once installed, the monthly increase in lease payments easily justifies whatever the amount.

Narrowing our consideration to building amenities that justify a higher rent, we discover that high-speed Internet attracted more than half of respondents. This was true across all age demographics. And while the FCC prohibits exclusive cable deals within apartment buildings, it may be wise to offer specially negotiated package pricing that your tenants can opt into.

Our biggest surprise came when we put the microscope to the individual unit amenities that most attracted the current batch of renters. Topping the list of desired elements was in-home washer and dryer. And while we certainly see how in-home laundry would make the top-5 list… the fact that it trumped central air conditioning completely blew us away!

Word to the wise landlords and property managers: the demographics of renters today are rapidly shifting, and it’s a brave new world for those who wish to heed the feedback and meet the needs of those who are increasingly demanding more for their rental dollars.

Legacy Properties-PM stands ready and willing to serve you, and all of your rental property needs. Whether you are a landlord or a prospective renter, we’ve got you covered. Feel free to contact us at any time.

Next article: Should I Stay or Should I Go?