This happened recently in outside of Fort Collins last month, and sadly, it is not the first time we have heard of rentals and vacant homes being taken hostage by unwanted visitors. There are some tremendous real estate scams out there. Here are a few we have heard of just in the Denver, CO area.
Tenant Bait, Switch and Extortion
In this story, the tenant posed as a real estate agent looking for a property for his clients. The tenant, ‘Garcia’, was not really and agent but was given access to the property, where he promptly began a marijuana growing operation, unbeknownst to the property owner who resides in California. The owner was told that the agent had an organic produce farmer looking for space. Marijuana is legal to grow in Colorado, but, it is still not considered produce. Seven Hispanic men took over the property without permission from the owner and then threatened a racial discrimination lawsuit against him if he didn’t comply with their demands, which included providing a lease to them.
The 40 acre land was converted into a marijuana grow center and Garcia, the mastermind of the extortion deposited over $8,000 into the property owners bank account to force the owner to sign a lease, even though Garcia wasn’t able to provide the required contract documents. The owner felt the issue was resolved and wasn’t willing to be bullied into a lease. He didn’t know that Garcia and his crew had already moved into the property with 245 pot plants. It wasn’t until the out-of-state owner was notified by another real estate agent interested in the property, nearly 3 weeks later, that there were unauthorized tenants, sometimes referred to as ‘squatters’, which is the next story.
Lesson for Landlords gained from this story:
Be certain the person claiming to be an agent, is one. Make sure, especially if you are an out-of-area owner, that you have a good property manager working on your behalf to schedule showings and manage leases.
It’s Mine Now
Wikipedia describes squatting as: “an action of occupying an abandoned or unoccupied area of land or a building, usually residential, that the squatter does not own, rent or otherwise have lawful permission to use.”
However, there are laws involving ‘adverse possession’ that could potentially allow a squatter to be awarded ownership of a property they have been occupying. In the state of Colorado, and the cities of Aurora and Denver, this law allows the property to be taken over after 18 years of occupancy or 7 years if they pay property taxes. This sounds like a very long time, and it is. The spirit of adverse possession was to reduce litigations over property usage and ownership. For example, if homeowner Jerry has been allowing neighbor Tom to use a portion of Jerry’s land for farming and then decides he wants to build a barn in that same area Tom can actually use adverse possession to claim he has openly without contest, used the space for 7 years. The court would likely favor Tom over Jerry under these laws.
The main point here is that the possession needs to be uninterrupted in the time period stipulated, and that the owner is aware of it. Homeowners, especially those from out of state, are being required to evict squatters from their properties, at their own expense.
Lesson for Landlords gained from this story:
Make sure that you are doing a regular inspection of your property to ensure there are no unwanted visitors. Consider using alarms, security and/or a property manager if you aren’t able to do an inspection yourself at least monthly.
Don’t be a victim of tenant scams. A good property management company will screen potential tenants, be there for showings to prevent fraudulent agents or squatters from taking possession of your home and costing you money.
Call 720 989 1996 and let us know your home rental situation.
When discussing investment properties, one of the most common comments that comes up is “I’d like to buy an income property, but I’m not handy.” Many people seem to have a phobia about jumping into real estate investment because of their inability to take care of maintenance needs, but you shouldn’t let that hold you back.
When you partner with Legacy Properties-PM in the Denver, Aurora, Centennial, or Parker areas, you don’t have to break out into a sweat whenever you get a call that something needs to be fixed. First, you won’t even get the call. Tenants will call us directly and we will evaluate the situation. Second, we’ll take care of getting it fixed. Whether we use someone on our staff to take care of the repair, or we need to call in one of our trusted contractors, you don’t need to worry about it.
Does the thought of paying for maintenance leave you concerned about finances? We understand. After all, you are in it for the investment. When things break, it does cost money to fix them, but we make every effort to keep costs down. Our experience gives us the advantage of being able to fix common issues quickly, and for larger jobs, we have relationships with local contractors who will do the job right at a fair price. Many people make a great profit on their rental properties without ever lifting a hammer, so don’t let it stop you.
What else is holding you back when it comes to jumping into real estate investment? The idea of finding responsible tenants for your property? Collecting rent? Dealing with needy tenants? Or possibly having to go through an eviction process? We can take care of all of these issues, so don’t let small issues get in your way. Whether you’re a current property owner who is struggling, or someone who is just starting out, please call 720.989.1996 or contact us. We would love to be part of your team.
If you worry that your home is not rent worthy or “rent ready” you may need property management in Denver to tap into the booming rental market in Denver. Whether you have a single-family home, a condo or townhome, your property manger will go over the details of what you can do. Much of the work that needs to be done may depend on the phase you are in. If you are in the middle of a rehab or complete renovation, you may have questions about whether Denver-area tenants prefer a certain number of bedrooms or a certain floor plan. If you just need to make a few cosmetic repairs or clean, you may be wondering about deep cleaning versus replacement carpet or have patching and painting questions. The bottom line is your tenants want a home that is clean, safe and secure. According to an article by Military.com, there are things you can do to make improvements before you even meet with Legacy Properties-PM, your new residential property management company that will market and show your property as well as screen tenants and enforce an agreed-upon lease.
Making your Colorado rental property safe
The first step to getting your Denver home rental property to be worthy of being on the rental market is to make it safe. Install lights at the entry way and inside the home in darkly-lit hallways. Replace electrical circuits that are a hazard. Have the home inspected for mold or mildew if that’s suspected. To go the extra mile, have a security system installed or at least, good locks on the doors.
Sprucing up your rental home interior
According to a piece by Zillow.com, it’s extremely important to have the carpets professionally cleaned. If you know the carpet is 5 years old, simply rip it up and put down new carpet for your new tenants. Painting a home is also a fairly inexpensive job. More important, make sure there’s no lead paint if your home is an older home.
Checking your budget
Before spending money on any remodeling projects within your Colorado rental home property, check with Legacy Properties-PM, your property manager about how much money you will get in terms of rent income. If you will be able to rent your home out for an extra $100 a month by putting in stainless steel appliances, it may be worth it to buy an appliance package. On the other hand, if a total kitchen renovation costs $50,000, but only increases your rent by $50, it may not be worth the investment.
Whether you own a rental home in Aurora, Lakewood, Parker, Littleton, Highlands Ranch, Centennial, Cherry Creek or Denver, it pays to have a property manger. Your property manger will walk through your home with you to point out any defects or problems that need to be addressed to make it rent ready.
At Legacy Properties-PM, we take pride in being a member of NARPM, the National Association of Residential Property Managers. For more information on property management in Denver and throughout Colorado, pick up the phone and call 720 989 1996 please contact us.