Make the Most of Any Rental Unit: Property Upgrades and Maintenance

The key to maintaining a profitable rental unit can often time come down to maintaining and upgrading wisely. While some in-unit changes likely aren’t worth the money, many are. Often times, investing more initially will pay off over the long run. Here is a list of recommended changes and best practices that won’t break the bank over the long run. These changes will allow any landlord to keep the rent high and ensure less tenant turnover.

Focus on curb appeal.

  • Changes include landscaping, power washing, and repainting the exterior. This can be particularly helpful when it comes time to place a new tenant in your unit.

Upgrade the appliances.

  • This is a purchase that should be viewed as an investment, as band-aiding problems can be expensive long-term, cause tenant dissatisfaction and become a headache for you, the property owner.

1Add backsplashes in the kitchen.

  • This is a cheap addition that will light up any kitchen and provide a quality feel to the room.

Wash carpets instead of always replacing.

  • A professional carpet cleaner can make even the dingiest of carpets appear brand new. Give this a show before choosing to replace immediately.

Invest in high-quality fixtures.

  • Not only will this provide your tenant with a more polished look, the investment will pay off in the long run as less maintenance/replacement will be required. Band-aiding issues will most likely become more expensive in the long run.

Install new shutters or curtains.

  • Old shutters and curtains can make even the nicest of units appear worn and dated. Consider newer, more modern options to get the most out of your unit.

Keep it clean!

  • Perhaps the most important item on any landlord’s list is often the most overlooked. Always thoroughly clean between tenants to ensure your unit does not wear prematurely. It is recommended that a professional deep clean be done between each tenant.
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City Living on a Budget

As urban centers continue to see rents skyrocket, it is important for many to learn how to live in a city on a budget. Here are some tips to get you started:

1. Build a real budget and stick to it.

Learvest is a financial planning tool created by a Harvard Business alum. Their team recommends at 50/20/30 rule.

50% of income should go towards fixed costs (this will largely include rent)

20% should go towards paying off debt or be put into savings

30% should be used for flexible costs (entertainment, eating out, etc)

2. Think about what your rent includes and take advantage of these offerings.

Think about what rent includes. Are utilities included? Do you have a gym? Is parking included? Is public transportation readily accessible nearby? Do you have access to free laundry?

These are all money savers that can lower your effective rent.

3. Reduce transportation costs

A car can easily zap your budget. Financing/leasing costs, gasoline costs, maintenance, and insurance add up very quickly. Instead, opt for public transportation and perhaps look into a bus pass. A bicycle can pay itself off in no time and prove to be a worthwhile investment.

4. Eat-in more frequently.

While it can be tempting to try the array of restaurants that come with living in a larger city, make a concerted effort to cook your own food. This can save hundreds of dollars per month. Try to make cooking a fun event and include friends when possible. Likewise, packing a lunch during the day can also have the potential to save hundreds of dollars per month.

 

 

Private Owner Perspective: Why List Through An Agent?

Screen Shot 2017-11-20 at 10.09.46 AMThere are quite a few steps typically required for any private landlord to procure a quality tenant: marketing, conducting showings, screening tenants, and preparing lease documents, among others.

While seasoned private landlords might even enjoy the aforementioned processes, many landlords would simply prefer their unit be rented in a timely manner by a high-quality tenant.

The most obvious obstacle for any private landlord in this situation is time. It can be significantly difficult to juggle a full-time job, schedule showings, conduct showings, screen tenants and prepare documents.

Furthermore, there is a certain level of expertise and experience that a private landlord might want to have before tackling the necessary steps towards attaining a new tenant. For example, if a landlord has never drafted a lease on his or her own, an experienced agent can step in and do this on his or her behalf.

Marketing rentals is also a facet of the procuring process that agents may assist with. Both verbiage and listing flow are critical components to successfully attracting tenants when marketing online, and rental agents know what has been tested in the marketplace and works.

While agents have mastered the use public listing sites such as Zillow and Craigslist, they also have access to the Multiple Listing Service (MLS), increasing visibility in ways the typical private owner simply cannot.

For screening purposes, Rental Beast provides both landlords and agents with a new ‘Apply Now’ function. Screening traditionally has been a burdensome process.

Screen Shot 2017-11-20 at 10.31.14 AMNow, landlords and agents have the ability to seamlessly screen tenants via Rental Beast’s online application and integrated partnership with Transunion. It is important to note that only private landlords are able to view sensitive application results, even if a given application was triggered by a partner agent on behalf of the landlord.

We at Rental Beast understand that private landlords, regardless of experience level, like to control the tenant selection process with varying degrees of firsthand involvement.

Rental Beast lends a landlord the flexibility to simultaneously market a property on his or her own, and receive agent assistance via the Rental Beast platform.

With Rental Beast, a landlord will only pay the brokerage commission once he or she has decided to accept a tenant procured by the agent and the lease is officially signed. In the meantime, landlords are able to proceed exactly as they were before. There is no upfront fee that will be collected.

We hope this post helps you, the private landlord, decide what avenue is best for both yourself and your rental property. Rental Beast can serve as a zero-risk solution that both maximizes visibility on your property and lends you the ability to receive agent assistance.

Screen Shot 2017-11-20 at 10.31.14 AM

 

Managing Applications Online

Long gone are the days of multiple hard-copy applications and burdensome, time-consuming vetting processes. Multiple online services have now made the application process a breeze for landlords.

The top benefits of managing applications online:

  1. Generate More Applicants

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Online applications are easily shareable and can be posted on a multitude of social media channels. Connect with tech-savvy, young consumers who are accustomed to using the internet. As a landlord, the more applicants you are able to easily generate, the more comfortable you will be with the tenant you accept.

  1. Save Time and Be Organized

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Life is much easier for a landlord who doesn’t have to print, mail, deliver and sort through hard-copy applications. Instead, digital applications are neatly organized in a single, easily accessible place.

  1. Security

1Sensitive information from hopeful applicants will be stored in a secure location, yet can still be easily accessed by landlords on the go. For applicants, this means peace of mind that only the correct people who are legally able to see their information actually do.

As a caveat, landlords will want to review the online application form of choice and what specific information is being collected. Rental Beast offers landlords a thorough application process with checks conducted directly through TransUnion.

It is also recommended that landlords reach out to applicants prior to filling out the online application. Submitting a substantial amount of personal information can be off-putting to some renters and can, therefore, lead to a lack of pertinent or comprehensive data.

4. Be Kept in the Loop as an Agent

1On Rental Beast’s unique application platform, agents are able to stay informed regarding where a client’s application stands in the process. While an agent won’t be able to access or see a client’s personal information (only the landlord will), he or she will remain a party to the entire process and won’t be kept in the dark.

 

 

An Introduction to the FFHA and ADA

Happy 4th of July, everyone!

Who’s ready for a brief history lesson on two historic acts of legislation that affect both renters and landlords all across America?

The United States Government has created multiple pieces of legislation that protect consumers from unlawful discrimination. This article will introduce, and briefly touch on, how The Federal Fair Housing Act of 1968 and The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 affect both renters and landlords. While general information and requirements will be discussed, this article is by no means fully comprehensive and professional advice should be sought when necessary.

1The Federal Fair Housing Act was created in 1968 to protect buyers and renters from landlord discrimination. In short, the FFHA mandates that a landlord may not dissuade, steer, preclude, evict or reject renters or buyers for discriminatory reasons because of their race, color, religion, sex, familial status or national origin. For example, it is illegal for a landlord to write in an advertisement, “no kids allowed.” It is likewise illegal for a tenant to be rejected based on maintaining this familial status.

Protected classes were further expanded with the creation of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. In short, the ADA protects tenants with disabilities that were not initially covered under the FFHA. Protected disabilities include, but are not limited to: mobility impairments, hearing impairments, visual impairments, mental illness, HIV, AIDS and mental retardation. Likewise, a landlord may never dissuade, steer, preclude, evict or reject renters or buyers because of ADA-covered disabilities.

The ADA additionally requires that landlords create ‘reasonable accommodations’ for renters with disabilities. For example, in the instance that a mobility-impaired tenant may require a wheelchair ramp, a landlord is required by law to accommodate this person, as long as the request doesn’t create an undue financial burden.

According to Rent Post, “Landlords are responsible for paying for accommodations, though many common ones are free or low cost. Tenants are usually responsible for paying for structural modifications unless the dwelling is listed as a federally assisted housing structure.”

Disclaimer: this article is not fully comprehensive with respect to legislation affecting landlords. This piece serves to provide a basic understanding of two historic acts of legislation. Always seek expert advice when necessary.

Concessions on the rise

short-sale-foreclosure-options-rental-propertiesConcessions are not typically at the top of any hopeful renter’s list of criteria. With both the quantity and quality of concessions increasing nationally, most renters critically underestimate the value and prevalence of these available benefits. Concessions may include, but are not limited to, a free month’s rent, lowered security deposits and lowered monthly payments for longer lease agreements.

You might ask, why would any landlord give away free stuff? From the standpoint of a private landlord or management company, concessions can help attract quality tenants in a highly competitive marketplace and ensure monthly rent will not be lowered. Vacancy rates nationally are at their highest levels since late 2015. As a result, landlords continue to utilize concessions to maintain a competitive advantage in the marketplace.

The fact is, more and more rental units nationally are continuing to offer concessions. According to a presentation at the most recent NMHC Research Forum, 38.6% of rental units nationally are now offering free rent for four to eight weeks, up 7% year-over-year. Furthermore, more than 10% of rental properties are currently offering upwards of eight weeks rent-free. For the renter, this means more money in their pocket at the time of signing.

How might a hopeful renter find a unit that both matches their criteria and offers a quality concession? Rental Beast’s partner agents have access to the most comprehensive concession information available via the Rental Beast database of over 4,500,000 listings nationwide. As such, utilizing the Rental Beast platform is the optimal way for any potential renter to obtain the most value possible while available rental inventory continues to increase nationally.