Could your rental home be held hostage?

Could your rental home be held hostage?

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.

Read the related article about tenant extortion

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.

Read the related article about Colorado homeowner evicting squatters.

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.

The top 3 reasons property owners change Property Management Companies

The top 3 reasons property owners change Property Management Companies

As a Denver Metro and Aurora Colorado Property Management company, we never want to see our clients go. And there is something bittersweet about getting clients from another property management company. After all, we want our industry well represented and we want people to get a tremendous value from using a property manager, because “a rising tide lifts all boats”.

Here are the top 3 reasons we have found that causes someone to ‘jump ships’ in the property management world.

  1. Lack of Communication

This problem is certainly not unique to the property management industry. In fact, the irony of our super connected world, where you can communicate with people via dozens of methods, we suffer from lack of communication more than ever. You can call, text, email, Facebook message, leave a voice message, write a note, put a note on an invoice… yet somehow, we fail to know the BEST way to communicate with any given person, and therefore communicate in the way we like best, or sometimes, not at all. We can take for granted that the other person somehow heard from So-and-so, or will know the work was done, the bill was paid, etc. by way of NOT receiving something.

Nothing can lose a customer faster than simple lack of communication. Owners want to know expectations and they want to know results. Without these two things, it is like talking to a sail. Eventually, the owner feels ignored and they go looking for someone to talk to, someone who will listen, someone who lets them know they exist and are appreciated.

  1. Too many tenants

There are a lot of costs involved with getting a rental filled. Marketing the property, spending money on conducting background checks, and labor hours to interview prospective clients, are just a few. Owners have to cover these costs, which cuts into their profits.

When an owner is dealing with constant tenant turnover, it is a hassle, and worse, cuts into their profits.

Why is there high tenant turnover? It can be a result of:

Property Management aurora denver coloradoUnqualified tenants. The Property Manager possibly didn’t do a thorough job of screening the applicant. Even though the applicant was able to produce employment verification and the required deposit money, the employer wasn’t contacted. References, including the former landlord, weren’t called. Basically, due diligence wasn’t done and the tenant ended up being low quality. This happens sometimes- people get laid off or have medical emergencies, but when tenant turnover is high, repetitive and habitual, it is an issue with the manager.

Poor Management. If the Property Manager is neglectful of the tenant, this can result in high turnover. Ever heard the term “slumlord”? This is the term that is applied here. When the Property Manager ignores the legitimate needs of the tenant, is belligerent regarding requests or otherwise is problematic with boundaries, laws or ethics, this is a big problem, and tenants won’t stay.

Tenant Dissatisfaction. This goes hand in hand with poor management, but is separate for another reason. Sometimes the needs of the tenant changes- they moved into a one bedroom and now they have a baby on the way and want a second bedroom. This is not something that can be foreseen or controlled. But, when tenant dissatisfaction comes from the property not being maintained, or the rent is too high, those can contribute to tenant turnover. While most people will say their rent is too costly, there is the truth of what the market is barring. If comparable units are going for a third or half of your unit, tenants are likely not going to stay. A good property manager keeps up on the market trends.

  1. Lack of communication between property owner and property management

This has been said already, but needs to be said again because it is so important. Good communication should be the goal of a Property management company. Owners should expect updates on the property including inspections, any changes and always the status of vendor service orders.

Is it too much for a home rental property owner to be given an update on a repair status? We think not.

If the property management company you are using is no longer steering you the way you want to go and you are looking for a change, Legacy Properties-PM would love to help. Want to avoid the pitfalls of poorly managed, high tenant turnover companies? Call 720 989 1996 and contact Legacy Properties-PM today using the form below.

Free Property Assessment

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An Experienced Property Management Company Will Find You the Best Tenant

An Experienced Property Management Company Will Find You the Best Tenant

Finding a tenant for a vacant residential property isn’t rocket science. You advertise the property, take phone calls, set up appointments to show the house or condo, and then fill out paperwork. A general application should get you the information you need, and that’s all there is to it, right? Why hire a property management company when anyone can do that much?

Quite honestly, it’s the experience that makes the difference. At Legacy Properties-PM, we’ve been placing tenants for decades, and you learn a thing or two in that time. Applicants can look relatively equal on paper, so you have to know what to look for.

For instance, sometimes we have several applicants for a vacancy, and they all appear to be responsible people with verified employment and money for a security deposit and first month’s lease. But maybe we happened to take a peek in the car of one of the applicants when they came out to see the property. Clothes, fast food wrappers, and other garbage covered the floor. How a person takes care of their own property is an indicator of how well they will take care of yours.

Another person showed up late to the appointment, and didn’t really give an explanation or apology. That shows a disregard for other people’s time. And yet another spoke rather rudely, and informed us that they would be signing the lease and moving in the next day. It’s never easy to manage a person that doesn’t recognize who is the person in authority in the situation.

None of these criteria are on paper, but experience and a watchful eye provides us information we can use to choose the best tenant for your property. This information, combined with the application, credit report, and background check provides an assurance that your tenant will take care of your property, pay the rent on time, and abide by the terms of the lease.

If you own investment property in the Denver area and would like to know how Legacy Properties-PM’s experienced property management team can help you find the best tenants, call 720.989.1996 or contact us.

How to Find the Best Tenant for Your Investment Property

How to Find the Best Tenant for Your Investment Property

Choosing the best tenant for your investment property can be the difference between loss or profit. As a landlord you want tenants that treat your property like their own. So where do you begin?

Advertise Your Property Wisely

You may not realize it, but advertising is the first step to screening potential tenants. Today landlords have many different ways to get the word out about their property. While putting a rental sign in your window, listing with a realtor, and adding the vacancy to sites like Zillow and Craigslist might be the first thing that comes to mind, don’t overlook the value of social media.

Sites like Twitter and Facebook are a great way to advertise to potential tenants. There’s probably a page on Facebook for landlords in your area to advertise their rentals. Also, don’t overlook the obvious. Word of mouth, print ads, and advertising on bulletin boards have filled rentals. But remember to choose wisely where you advertise. A bulletin board in a coffee shop near a college will attract a different tenant than one in a community center in a stable neighborhood.

Screen Your Tenants Carefully

So your advertising produced a list of prospects. Now it’s time to screen your potential tenants. Many landlords don’t want to offend by asking personal questions, but this isn’t about discrimination. Since you must adhere to the Federal Fair Housing Rules, it’s about protecting your investment. Don’t be afraid to ask hard questions when interviewing. In the very least, conduct a criminal background check verifying the prospect’s name and date of birth with a valid i.d. In addition, run a credit check and verify their income. By taking care of these issues up front, you’ll be able to quickly disqualify the more irresponsible tenants from the more trustworthy ones.

Having to evict a tenant can be aggravating and costly, but with carefully planned advertising and screening it can be prevented. Taking the time to do things properly yourself or by hiring a property management company will get you one step closer to finding the best tenant for your investment property. Call Legacy Properties-PM @ 720.989.1996 or please contact us.

Property Management Tips: How Far Should You Go to Keep a Good Tenant?

Property Management Tips: How Far Should You Go to Keep a Good Tenant?

Any Denver-area property owner who has had a perfect tenant knows it’s an enviable situation. Although some quality tenants leave because of job transfers or to buy a home, there are ways to motivate conscientious tenants so they renew their leases. With quality property management to look after your tenants’ maintenance needs and solve other problems, you can greatly reduce the amount of time your home sits vacant. Also, having a property manager screen potential tenants improves your chances of finding that stellar tenants. Some novice property owners wonder how far they should go to keep a good tenant. According to an article by About Money, there are a few simple tips to follow when you want a tenant to review a lease.

Be prompt about home rental tenant requests

DIY landlords who aren’t handy may have the best of intentions, but it’s not always easy to line up a plumber or electrician on the weekend or holidays. A good property management company immediately responds to requests for repairs. According to About Money, the goal is for a tenant to feel as though they are a top priority. By hiring a property manager, you are showing your tenants that you think they are worth it. For property owners who live out-of-state, the need for property management is even greater.

Keep up with the curb appeal of your Colorado Home Rental

Some real estate investors neglect curb appeal when they aren’t trying to sell a property or flip it for a profit. Landlords may not care as much about the aesthetic appeal of a rental when it’s already leased out. If you want to keep a good tenant happy, rely on your property management company to maintain the yard and entryway. Cleaning or painting the mailbox, filling in mulch, planting native Colorado trees or plants can work wonders on the curb appeal so your tenant feels proud when pulling into the driveway.

Update the interior of your Colorado Home for Rent

If you have owned your rental property for many years or bought an investment property that hasn’t been updated since 1970, invest some money in improvements. The top priorities for your Colorado rental property include safety and energy-efficiency. Next on your list is to make the space more contemporary. You don’t need to completely gut the kitchen to keep a good tenant. However, small efforts such as replacing kitchen or bathroom flooring, adding a new kitchen backsplash or replacing worn carpet can mean a lot to a tenant who was contemplating moving out when the lease expires.

At Legacy Properties-PM, we can help you with all your property management needs in neighborhoods such as Parker, Highlands Ranch, Lakewood, Cherry Creek, Aurora, Littleton and Centennial. We are proud members of the NARPM, the National Association of Residential Property Managers. For more information on real estate investing in Denver, please call 720 989 1996 or contact us.