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8 Steps to Firing Your Property Management Company

How to Fire Your Property Management Company!

You hired a property manager for specific reasons. Your rentals may have started taking up too much time. You may have found it difficult getting repairs done in a timely manner. Poor tenant quality may have caused costly turnovers. You may have wanted to scale your business and couldn’t do it and manage the property.

Whatever your reason was in the beginning may not be the same reason you are looking to move on to a new property management company. Unfortunately, for most people the thought of having to fire anyone is difficult and uncomfortable. Here is a quick how-to explanation of the steps you’ll need to take when you want to fire your property management company.

8 Steps to Firing Your Property Management Company

1. Review your contract terms

When considering changing companies it’s a good idea to really read through your current contract and review all the terms. Most contracts have clauses for selling property, length of contract and possible termination fees.  If you are okay with any penalties there may be for terminating your current contract, then you can start finding a new company.  If not, you may want to go to your current company to discuss the issues and find a solution.

2. Interview new management companies

Before cutting the cord, you’ll want to interview 3 or 4 management companies you’re considering for hire. Questions you may want to ask to determine if they are a fit for you are:

  • Have you managed similar properties?
  • How do you handle maintenance and repairs?
  • How quickly do you respond to tenants?
  • Are you on call 24/7/365?
  • How often will you be at the properties?
  • In which manner do you handle emergencies?
  • How do you manage tenant relationships?
  • Are you familiar with local laws pertaining to my properties?
  • What do you do to fill vacancies and estimated down time?
  • What kind of record keeping and accounting do you provide?
  • Also be sure to ask questions regarding the issues you have with your current management company.

3. Hire the best fit

If you find a company you feel will be a good fit, start the contract process before firing your current company. You want to make sure you don’t have downtime in management, especially since you don’t want it to fall back on your shoulders. When you find a new company you like and you think you can work with, hire them.

4. Terminate your current contract 

You’ll want to write a professional termination letter to your current company. Be very specific as to the reason you are terminating the contract. Point out clauses in your contract showing you have valid concerns. Provide any evidence you may have showing mis-management of your rental property. Indicate when the contract is to terminate according to your contract terms.

5. Change of management forms

Your current company may have specific things they handled for you which needed approval from you. If there are any businesses that require a form to change control to a new management company ask your current company for a change in management form. This will allow the new company to take over and make decisions for you.

6. Contact companies where the manager represents you

Be sure to notify banks, utilities, insurance and any other company you have given permission to work with the management company on your behalf. You’ll want to fill out any form or notice to give them all the new contact information for the new company.

7. Inform your tenants

You can send your tenants a letter letting them know there is a change in management.  Give them all of the important information they need for the new company.  Especially how they can contact them and how and where they will be paying rent. Most companies will also send out their own communication but tenants will be skeptical if they haven’t heard from you first.

8. Start the new relationship on the right foot

You’ll want to have a very frank discussion about what you expect from your new management company. Talk about the issues you had with the old company and how you expect to avoid the same problems in the future. If the new company knows your expectations up front, it will be easier to discuss issues if they arise.

Property management companies are in the business to serve their property owners. If you feel something is not going properly, open the lines of communication and have a discussion to solve the problem.  If you are currently dealing with management issues, contact Day Property Management www.daypropertymanagement.com to see how they can help. Fill out the contact form at www.daypropertymanagement.com/contact or call 920-968-0626.

When enough is enough and you need to hire a property management company! (The property owners dilemma)

The Property Owners Dilemma

 

Are you being called over to your rental property time and time again? Constant repair requests, hunting down your rent payment or checking on “decorating” you allowed your tenant to do lead to frustration and resentment.

 

Do these issues have you thinking about selling your property and moving out of the area? If tenants pains, repair nightmares and changes in landlord law have you questioning your ownership…there are ways to solve your management headaches and keep your property at the same time.

 

The common problems most property owners face revolve around tenants, repairs, record keeping and budget. A vacant building may have its own challenges, but throw people in the mix and you never know what you are going to get.

4 Reasons to Hire a Property Management Company

1. Your tenants are not adhering to the lease

Most owners feel they are a good judge of character. Showing the property to potential renters and chatting with them, they’ll know if the potential renters should become renters. As a result they go with their gut and skimp on doing criminal background checks, credit checks and calling references.

Unfortunately, the lack of a process and tenant screening can lead to renting to habitual property destroyers. You’ll be hunting down every rent payment. Dealing with constant lease violations, like having long term guests or pets when the lease forbids it. They may be treating your rental like their own personal garbage dump.

When you hire a property management company like Day Property Management, all potential tenants are put through a rigorous screening process. 

This eliminates those who have had previous evictions, poor credit history showing unreliable bill payment and other law suits. These are possible indicators showing they didn’t respect the previous rental they lived in. And you don’t want them living in your property.

Professional property management companies have talked to hundreds of people. Through those conversations, they have become experts in reading people. What they miss in conversation is uncovered in the background checks.

Management companies go into every lease with your business in mind.

They set rent levels to what is appropriate to the current housing market.  No guessing what your rent should be. They know the market value of rental units and will ask for more when it’s appropriate. You’ll receive your security deposits before your tenants move in. Not over time as extra payments to their monthly rent. Management companies enforce the terms of your lease. They charge all late fees automatically and have a system to send the appropriate notices for late payment.

Landlords who manage privately, often have a hard time evicting their tenants. Especially with tenants who know the landlord law better than they know it themselves. You won’t have the “should I or shouldn’t I” conversations with your management company.

If tenants violate their lease, they receive the appropriate notices to fix the problem or decide to move. Property management companies can even represent you in court keeping you out of the unpleasantries all together.

 

2. Repairs are constant, you are paying too much for contractors, or cutting corners due to lack of funds.

 

Repairs are a necessity when you own rental property.  

As a landlord, you must keep all fixtures in your units safe, functional and in good working order. However, when the tenant calls you at 1AM because they only now noticed a toiled leak turn into a flooded bathroom, you may wish you had never given out your phone number.

Emergencies do happen! They can be complete accidents. It is helpful to fix issues when they are small inconveniences instead of large repairs. A repair escrow should be set up to save money for those larger repairs if and when they happen.

Property management companies are able to address issues as they are informed of them. 

Repairs are not put off until they have time to fix it.  If a tenant calls with a repair issue, the management company can evaluate the priority of the repair and get it done.

Often, management companies have separate property maintenance divisions or partnerships they count on to help keep your properties in good repair. Day Property Management is able to do exactly that with Integrated Property Solutions. This division of property management is able to handle any maintenance issue the tenant discusses with the management company.

This also eliminates a big issue many landlords have, hiring whoever is available at the time. This can mean an on-call repair man who may charge extra fees for after-hour calls or weekend calls. Or hiring your buddies unemployed brother because he did the plumbing or electrical in his own house and can save you some money. A potentially more dangerous option is allowing the tenant to fix it. All options put you in a hard situations as a landlord, paying too much, cutting corners or violating city code to get the repair done cheap.

If the management company doesn’t have a division or partnership with a maintenance company, they do have trusted contractors they have worked with. They know these contractors will fix it correctly and for a reasonable amount.

 

3. You are not tracking all of your expenses 

Bookkeeping and keeping track of your budget is a secondary job as a property owner. 

If you are the type of owner to throw the receipts in a box until tax time, you are not alone. Keeping track of your spending and what is coming out of your pocket can make or break you. Property management companies can set a budget to help with this situation. Unless an emergency comes up, you can schedule repairs appropriately saving you time and money.

4. Staying informed and acting according to state landlord law

 

There are local and state laws all landlords need to follow.

Staying on the right side of landlord law will protect your rights as an owner and your tenants’ rights. The laws change frequently. Unless you go searching for the changes, you would have a hard time staying up to date. A violation of any of these laws could result in fines you’ll need to pay. While you might get by for a while, one law savvy tenant could find a way to use it against you… it happens.

Combat it by hiring a property management company. They know how to protect your rights and the tenants’ rights. They keep everyone honest and on the correct side of the law. And when necessary, they handle all evictions for their property owners,

 

Property management companies like Day Property Management work with rental units of every size from single-family homes to multi-family apartment complexes. To get a quote for management, call to schedule a meeting.  920-968-0626. Or visit our contact page and fill out the form.

Spring Cleaning Projects to Keep Your Rental Full

Spring Cleaning Projects to Keep Your Rental Full

Spring is the perfect time to kick the snow from your boots and tend to the outside of the rental properties you own. The sun is shining, the ground is starting to thaw and along with dead landscape hiding under the snow is showing its ugly brown leaves.

If you have vacant rental properties or are going to have tenants leaving soon, sprucing up the outside of your properties can be a great investment in getting your units filled quickly.

 

Here are some ideas of the projects you should do to make your rental looking top notch.

Outside landscaping

Our plants from last year are not looking very good. If you have annuals, take the time to pull out those dead plants and plant new ones. Clean up and prune perennials to allow new growth to flourish. Having your lawn thatched and gathering up all the dead grass may look bare for a week but once the sun hits the uncovered grass, your lawn will fill in and start greening up.

Outside of your building

Washing the siding from all the grime and sap which might have accumulated and froze over the winter is now going to be dirty.  Power washing your siding will have the rental looking well maintained and clean. Cleaning gutters will help keep water away from your foundations when the spring rains begin.  At the same time, you can look at the roof and siding for any major issues or repairs necessary.

Touch-up caulking and painting

The change in temperatures of Wisconsin takes a toll on paint around windows, on decks or your siding if you have painted siding. Taking the time now to scrap and paint will keep your property protected from damage and looking great. Homes settle a little bit with the changing ground temperatures. If you notice any gapping between your windows and doors and the siding, you can seal the gaps with clear caulking. This will keep your rental heating and cooling costs down by addressing air flow leaking issues.

 

Some inside maintenance you should take care of for current tenants:

Heating and Cooling Tune Ups

Having a maintenance crew give your HVAC a once over will keep your furnace running optimally. Then you’ll know the A/C will do its job when it gets warmer outside. Swapping out furnace filters will go a long way to keep the furnace and A/C functioning well.

Tenant Concerns

If your tenant mentioned any repairs needed, now would be a great time to fix them. Leaking pipes, light fixtures, and switches not functioning or taking care of any pests which may have found a way in will keep you on the tenants good side.

Lawn Mower Tune Up

If your tenant normally takes care of the lawn in the spring, summer, and fall, making sure the equipment is in working order will keep you from receiving fines from the city, or having to mow the lawn yourself.

Taking care of these maintenance items now will keep your properties looking great year after year. At Day Property Managment,  http://www.daypropertymanagement we partner with Integrated Property Solutions to handle rental maintenance for the landlords who work with us.  Give us a call today at 920-968-0626 to get your properties scheduled for spring cleaning.

5 Steps to Spring Cleaning as a Tenant

5 Steps To Spring Cleaning as a Tenant

 

As winter starts to fade, the sun starts to shine more and warmer temperatures creep in, we often feel like throwing open the windows to let the fresh air of spring revive our homes. When you take a look around at the dust on window sills and salty dirt accumulating on the doorway rug…you know it’s time for spring cleaning.

As tenants you always wonder if you should or should not do something to the rental property or will it affect your lease. In this case, there is no reason to put off a deep cleaning until you plan to move. Giving your home a good deep clean in the spring and fall will not only keep you healthy, you’ll find any maintenance issues to address with the landlord or property management company to keep you safe.

 

Here are the deep cleaning items you should do to renew your home and spirits after a long winter. 

Step 1Prepare. 

Purchase all the cleaning supplies you’ll need to tackle the toughest jobs from dusting ceiling fans, washing windows to degreasing the oven. This may involve cleaners, dusters, wipes or cleaning cloths, mop, broom and a good working vacuum.

 Step 2 Start with the trash.

Old mail, receipts, magazines you’ve read, and newspapers you’ve looked through all tend to pile up. Start by throwing away all the trash hiding under beds, in couch cushions and in your general living space. Recycle the plastic and paper in their correct bins. You’ll start to feel a little less gloomy as your space becomes cleaner.

 Step 3 Prioritize.

Tidy up the items which need to be put away. Then you can focus on the items which need a good deep cleaning. You may feel like you want to clean your whole house in one day. Don’t fall into that trap. Cleaning can take its toll on you so focus one step at a time.

 Step 4 From High to Low.

It doesn’t make sense to vacuum and then dust. You’re going to have dust flying and falling from ceiling fans and door and window frames onto the floor.

 

Use this list for the order of cleaning and you wont be doing double the work.

 

Start with dusting

Those ceiling fans, door frames, window frames and sills can all use some love after months of non-use. Move on to dusting cabinets and shelving and any other exposed flat surfaces. This includes furnace filters. If you have access to replacement filters and the furnace, taking out the old filter and putting in a new one will have your air less dusty too.

 

Give the Walls a little love

Walls take a beating. They accumulate dirt from messy hands, grime from messier hands and scuff marks from chairs and furniture bumping against them. A solution of 50% vinegar and water will get your walls looking fresh without harming paint and deodorize the room too.

 

Windows

Washing windows is not a favorite job anyone likes to do, but the clear glass can really brighten up your rooms and make them more inviting. Don’t forget to take a brush after the window screens to clean off any debris or bugs who found shelter during the winter.

 

Floors and Carpets

sweeping up anything lying around is your first step. For any tile, vinyl or linoleum flooring, mopping up all the salt and grime from winter can have your floors shining in no time. Take rugs outside to shake off and then vacuum. For any room with carpeting, start with a new vacuum bag and slowly vacuum the carpets. We are not talking your quick clean up job when someone is coming over to visit. Let the brush in the vacuum do its job and get the area good and clean while vacuuming slowly. It’s amazing how good the carpet looks and feels by spending a few extra minutes in each room. If your carpets are extra dirty, renting a steam cleaner at the local hardware store might be worth it to have really clean carpets.

 

Scrubbing

Have you put off really scrubbing the shower walls and doors. While you are in cleaning mode, giving your shower a good scrub will have your whole home feeling like the day you moved in.

 

Step 5— Closets, Cabinets and Storage. 

You may not equate spring cleaning with going through the items stuffed to the back of the closet or cabinet during the winter. Spring is the perfect time to pull those items out and really taking a look at what you want to keep. Get rid of clothing that doesn’t fit anymore or items you know you won’t be using. Donate anything in good condition and say goodbye to the rest.

 

If you’ve made it through these 5 steps to spring cleaning as a tenant, you’ve likely come across items you’ll want to bring up to your property management company or landlord. Did you notice any dripping pipes or faucets? Any damage to flooring or walls? Are all of your light fixtures and ceiling fans functioning? This is a great item before everyone is busy with outside maintenance to handle any inside maintenance.

 

Some property management companies do their own maintenance or have a maintenance partner. Day Property Management works with Integrated Property Solutions to handle all of their tenants maintenance requests. You can reach Day Property Management at 920-968-0626

What the 2018 Tax Reform Means for Rental Property Owners

What the 2018 Tax Reform Means for Rental Property Owners

 

There are only 2 things you can be sure of in life…death and taxes at least according to Benjamin Franklin in 1789. As a rental property owner, you may feel like this is evident every tax season. However, in 2018, tax law went through an overhaul.

We will break down the bad, the good and the best news of the 2018 Tax Reform and what it means for rental owners.

Full disclosure, we are not accountants and we are not offering tax advice. We are landlords, property owners and property managers like yourself.

We’ve decided to look into the tax reform as much for our own knowledge as sharing it with you. We found a nice breakdown of the new tax law by Brandon Hall, Owner of The Real Estate CPA.[i]

 

Here are some of the deductions eliminated from the bill.

 

  • One deduction eliminated with this bill is the Domestic Production Activity Deduction or DPAD. This was a deduction based on wages paid to crews during the course of doing business. This specifically affects developers, flippers and builders who can no longer deduct their labor costs. Yet, with the new pass-through law, if you have an LLC, LLP, S-Corp or any of the other types that pass to individual income, you’ll receive a deduction that way. We discuss the pass through law a little later.
  • There was an elimination of a 10% credit of the Rehabilitation Tax. This affects real estate investors who develop pre-1936 buildings. It is now only available if the structure is certified as a historic building, where a 20% credit is applied.
  • There is a change to 1031 exchanges. Previously… property owners would use what’s called a cost segregation study to identify personal property components to depreciate over a shorter time instead of purchasing a like-kind property. This is no longer the case. Now, only “Real Property” will qualify for a 1031 exchange.

 

 

Some changes real estate investors can take advantage of.

 

  • Rental owners whom have LLCs, LLPs, sole proprietorships or owned individually, gain a new tax deduction with this bill. These business, are pass through businesses because the income “passes through” to the owner’s individual tax returns using individual tax rates; under this bill these landlords can now deduct an amount equal to 20% of their net rental income.

This is in addition to all your other rental-related deductions. If you qualify for this deduction, you’re effectively taxed on only 80% of your rental income. Thus, the effective rate for taxpayers in the top 37% tax bracket is 29.5%.[ii]

  • Depreciation for assets with less than 20 years of useful life will qualify for a bonus depreciation of 100% during that time period.

 

Some examples include:
  • Carpet
  • Appliances
  • Land improvements like landscaping and driveways
  • Equipments and tools use at the property
  • Computers and Software

 

One important thing to note, is since this is a bonus depreciation it is subject to a recapture tax when you sell the asset. Which means you may have to pay it back someday even if you are not paying tax on it this year.

 

  • A few sources online had misinterpreted a provision regarding self-employment tax for landlords. Originally, it was thought that rental property owners would pay a new 15.3% self employment tax. This is not the case and net rental income is still not subject to self-employment taxes.
  • There is no change for itemized deductions for rental property owners. Business can deduct expenses from rental properties. This change to itemized deductions relates to primary and secondary residences. You can view the exact details at com.
  • There is also no change for property depreciation. The useful life of residential rental property is 27.5 years. Commercial property has a useful life of 39 years.
  • There was no change to the capital gains amounts of selling personal property in Section 121. The amounts stayed the same at $250K for single taxpayers and $500K for married couples filing jointly in which the owner lived there for 2 of the last 5 years.

 

 

Big changes for owners of non-residential commercial property owners and short term rentals, and gifting large estates.

 

  • Changes to Section 179 allows you to write off the entire cost of specific property. The aggregate cost amount has gone up from $500k to $1 Million. Non-residential property owners such as commercial property owners or short term rental property like an AirBnb property have a big advantage. Some expenses considered are roofs, HVACs, fire systems, security systems or other big time improvements.
  • If you have a large estate, you can now give more as a lifetime gift. The amount has gone from $5M to $10M per person. This doubling relates to the Lifetime Gift Exclusion only. There is a difference between the annual gift about of $14K and the change to the lifetime gift.
  • There are other changes that may affect you as in individual but not necessarily a rental property owner most importantly the revised tax brackets.

 

This what they look like now.

These changes all start as of January 1, 2018 and go until 2025. There may be loopholes that develop as CPAs start their filings and navigating the new law so be sure to ask your tax professional any questions or advice that may improve your situation.

Your property management company should be able to help you with documentation of larger renovations and items which may be tax deductible. Day Property Management is available for questions by any of the property owners they partner with. To start working with Day Property Management contact us by filling out our form at www.daypropertymanagement.com/contact-us or call us at 920-968-0626.

 

[i]https://www.therealestatecpa.com/2017/12/23/proposal-law-whats-new-tax-legislation/

[ii]https://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/how-the-republican-tax-plan-affects-landlords.html

11 Common Issues Tenants Face and How to Fix Them

11 Common Issues Tenants Face and How to Fix Them

 

When it comes to renting, landlords often have the upper hand with tenants.  Most rental property owners are good people. Some have made too many poor choices in renters, they are now cynical and have a hard time seeing tenants differently. As a result, they may not even follow their own landlord guidelines and make an O.K. rental unit a horrible place to live.

 

As a tenant, take those sour grapes and turn it into something worth drinking. We’ll start at the top with the hardest issues to fix.


Finding a rental property in the ideal location for you
 

When you start looking for a place to rent there are certain things you like to keep in mind, how close to work or school is it? Am I close to amenities like a grocery store or gas station? The problem with rentals is they aren’t always close to anything. They may be in a very nice neighborhood but it takes an extra 15 minutes to reach an interstate or loop. They may be in a very rough neighborhood and you don’t necessarily feel safe walking around at night. You’ll need to make a list of the absolute must haves in your rental before starting to look. It will help you weed out properties even before you set-up a showing.

 

High rental amounts

Unfortunately for tenants, the housing market is in a trend of increasing rents. The supply is low and the demand it high. This creates competition for rental units and as a result, landlords can ask more than they may have previously asked for in the past. The other driver for the rental amount is location and type of building.

  • Are you looking for a single-family home? You’re going to pay more to have the privacy and peace of mind.
  • Are you looking at a unit in a newer building? You’re going to pay more for that new carpet smell. Take a hard look at your budget and what you are willing to give up.
  • Do you really need your own yard? If not then a home may not be as important and a duplex or apartment unit would be fine.

 

If new carpet isn’t a necessity, finding something older will be easier on your checkbook.

 

 

High security deposits

In Wisconsin, there are no state laws as to how much of a security deposit a property owner can require. Tenant’s need to decided if they are willing to part with another month’s rent or possibly a year’s rent in advance to live in the property.

 

Incomplete return of security deposits

There are laws in Wisconsin to regulate what a landlord or property management company can and can’t keep from a security deposit when a tenant moves out.

 

According to The Wisconsin Way property owners can only keep deposits used for repair or replacement due to:

  • Tenant damage, waste or neglect of the premises;
  • Nonpayment of rent;
  • Non-payment of actual amounts the tenant owes the landlord for utility services provided by the landlord, and;
  • Nonpayment of government utility charges or mobile home parking fees.
  • There can be a “Nonstandard Rental Provision,” to permit the landlord to withhold the security deposit for other reasons than those listed but it can’t be for any costs related to “normal wear and tear.”

 

Repair requests go unanswered

The good news is you’ve found a place to call home. Unfortunately, there are some repairs needed and you’re not sure what to do about it. There is a process you can go through.  First, call and ask. If the repair was not something either of you agreed to or brought up before you moved into the unit, you’ll need to ask the landlord to fix it. If the first call doesn’t work, ask for a meeting and get the repair request and specific time frame in writing.  Worse case, you can bring your paperwork to the housing department to force the landlord to complete the repair.

 

Now that we’ve covered the issues that cause the most amount of stress and anxiety for tenants, let’s tackle some of the personal preference issues.

 

 

Bland color scheme—If it’s not white, it’s beige, what can you do?

You can always ask if you can paint. Some landlords will let you, but you may also have to paint it back before you move out. If painting and re-painting is out of the question, start by adding colorful accessories. Personalize your space with items you like. Pictures, pillows, blankets, baskets filled with colorful items will make the space feel more like you and less like a blank slate.

 

Small, uninspiring kitchens—add some helpful, colorful, items.

Rental units don’t always have more than a galley kitchen. Small and functional but not necessarily easy to use. Invest in economical items like over and under the counter storage units for cooking utensils. Utilize all the space you can above the cabinets by adding your own storage containers.  Again you can add pictures, towels, and containers in bright colors to liven up the space.

 

Tiny, uninviting bathrooms—create your own space

Bathrooms in rental units can be small and crowded. The only way two people can fit into some of the spaces is if one is standing in the shower. Make the space look larger by adding a couple mirrors to create the illusion of space. They will also reflect more light in the space keeping the gloomy feeling away. Brightly colored and patterned towels, shower curtain and bath soap can have your tiny bathroom feeling like a spa.

 

Lack of storage inside—space saving organizers can make your life easier

There is no lack of different types of containers and organization units on the market to help make your life easier. Investing a couple dollars into free standing wardrobes, book shelves, shoe and coat racks can have all of your items neatly tucked away. This gives you your closet space for outside clothes, appliance storage and hard to hide items. There are always hidden places under beds, couches and chairs to store bins if you need to. You can also buy furniture with extra storage options like hallow trunks that can be a coffee table and storage. Ottomans, and tables with lots of space and drawers can eliminate items that just get strewn around like blankets and magazines.

 

Lack of yard outside—unless you have children or a pet, consider the necessity of more than a place to put a small grill or a couple of chairs.

Not all rental properties, like apartment buildings, have yards. You may share a common courtyard or green space but is it necessary. If this a problem, you can walk your dog down the street to take care of their bathroom needs. A park within driving distance can be a nice stop to bring your kids a couple times a week when the weather is nice. When it’s not they might be able to play in the common area.

 

If you are working with a property management company and have a concern about a rental property you are considering renting or currently renting, be sure to speak up. Property managers don’t know there is a problem if you don’t bring it to their attention. Most management companies can address any concern you have.  Day Property Management www.daypropertymanagement.com is available 24/7 for major issues by calling 920-968-0626.  Tenants can also visit their renters’ portal and send a message to the management company.

6 Landlord and Tenant Responsibilities During Winter Months in Wisconsin

6 Landlord and Tenant Responsibilities During Winter Months in Wisconsin

 

Brrrr…. Winter is upon us in full force.  While the weather isn’t horrible in Appleton, we have seen sleet, ice, snow and slush in an ongoing cycle.

Winter brings challenges to a rental relationship between landlords and tenants. Most of the problems arise from rental lease agreements being unclear about who is responsible for what during the winter and the rights of both landlords and tenants.

There are 6 main questions tenants have about renting during winter months in Wisconsin.

  1. Who is responsible for snow removal?

Generally, your lease should tell you if you are responsible for mowing the lawn, shoveling the snow, general and safe maintenance of outside walkways and parking spaces. However, if it’s not written in and you haven’t made any verbal agreements with your landlord, check in with them to be sure. You don’t want to pay extra city fines for not shoveling the sidewalk or driveway if it was your responsibility.

Most apartment buildings have a crew come through to clear parking lots and sidewalks but again this isn’t a given. If you are unclear, make a call to your property management company or landlord.

 

  1. What happens if I fall on the ice outside my building?

Leases should address who is responsible to keep the walkways and driveways clear.  If there is language about havi“exclusive possession” of the yard, the tenant is responsible for the walkways and driveways. This means if a tenant slips and falls on ice, they were responsible for clearing, any injury remediation is on them.

If it was the landlords responsibility, the tenant can write them a letter, informing the landlord of the issue and they should take care of removing the ice. Many landlords provide ice melt for the tenant to use as they need to during the winter and are not aware when ice builds up.  A friendly phone call to the landlord or property management company can have tenant’s sidewalks clear again.

If tenants are still experiencing problems after informing the property owner, they can call the authorities and have them address the landlord.

On the other hand, if snow removal and clear sidewalks and driveways are in the lease and the tenant is responsible but not taking care of it; landlords can evict with proper notices.

 

  1. What happen if I can’t pay the heating bill and the utility company turns off the heat?

If the lease states, tenants pay the heating costs and they are unable to do so, they will also be responsible for any repair issues that may arise. One example is if pipes freeze due to having the heat turned off the tenant will have to pay to have them thawed or replaced if pipes rupture.

If a tenant knows they will be unable to pay for heating costs, they should contact their landlord or property management company. There are budget programs and assistance tenants can use to help them with winter heating costs.

 

  1. Can I move during the winter?

If your lease expires during the winter months and you want to move, you are free to do so.  If you wish to stay on month-to-month until the weather is nice and it will be a more pleasant moving experience, most leases allow for the extended time.

However, you must then follow the month-to-month requirements on moving out by giving the correct notice.  Read your lease carefully if you are planning on making any changes to your lease dates.

 

  1. Can a landlord evict me during the winter?

The short answer is yes. A landlord can evict you at any time for lease violations as long as they follow the proper notice guidelines.  However, most landlords do not like having a vacant unit in the winter and may have clauses in the lease stating they will not evict due to certain terms.  Read your lease carefully and be a responsible tenant.

 

  1. What are the landlord’s responsibilities for keeping the heat on during the winter?

If property owners pay for the heating costs in a rental unit, the heat must maintain at least 67°F.  According to Wisconsin Law the statue says it’s the landlord’s duty to maintain and repair “all equipment under the landlord’s control necessary to supply services that the landlord has expressly or impliedly agreed to furnish to the tenant, such as heat…,”. You can access the full statue here.

This means landlords must repair or replace heating systems so they work properly to maintain 67°F.   If tenants notice their temperature falling below the maintenance temp, a friendly phone call or letter to the landlord or management company should have this taken care of.

Your lease agreement should have all of these questions answered for you. You may have also signed a Nonstandard Rental Agreement when you signed the lease.  If you signed the Nonstandard Rental Agreement, you signed a contract and it holds legally like the Residential Lease Agreement signature binds legally.  Review both to understand and clarify which responsibilities are yours and which are the landlords.

If you have questions about any of your responsibilities, contact your landlord or property management company such as Day Property Management.  They can tell you what your lease says and who is responsible for winter maintenance.

4 Ways To Fill Winter Vacancies

 4 Ways to fill Winter Vacancies

(What to do with down time)

 

In the rental business, vacancies are your “out of order” sign.

If you have a vacant unit, as a property owner, you:

  • Make no money
  • Are unable to pay bills
  • Are unable to make repairs

Vacancies are the kiss of death for rentals.  Having a vacancy in the winter is a double loss.  You do not bring in rental payments and your expenses are higher due to keeping a vacant unit warm and time spent to make frequent visits.

While the unit is vacant make sure to do the following maintenance items to keep it in rentable condition and not worry about unnecessary repairs.

First, make sure the heat is set to 60°F.  This will keep the unit warm enough to stop the water pipes from freezing.

Second, if you don’t think you will fill the unit, turn the water off and drain the faucets and toilets.  This will again prevent freezing and prevent flooding if there is a leak with no one to see it.

Third, you’ll want to make regular visits to your empty units.  Visit at least once a week to make sure there are no plumbing, electrical or infestation issues.  Empty units are havens during the winter for mice and other critters looking for a warm place to stay.

Lastly, you’ll be responsible for the snow removal while you have a vacant unit.  Have the shovels and salt ready to keep your sidewalks clear.

What are some ways you can fill those winter vacancies fast?

You may want to take any applicant you get to have someone living in your vacant units.  However, this is unadvisable.  Much like any other time of the year, bending your rental criteria and hastily accepting an unqualified tenant will cost you more money in the end.  Your quick judgment could lead to eviction and cost more time and money.  Don’t do it.

 

Here are the 4 tips you should use to fill those empty units fast!

 

  • Lower the price—You don’t want it sitting empty and a qualified tenant will appreciate the lower rental payments. This way you are not compromising your qualifications, but accepting less in rent.

 

  • Vary lease terms—You don’t want to repeat winter vacancies year after year. Consider going to a 16 month or 18 month lease term. Giving you a possible turnover in the summer or fall, both easier seasons to find tenants.  You could also shorten your lease to a 6-8 month term giving you the same results of a summer turnover or yearly lease extension.

 

  • Focus on January— If you have some down time, do some extra repairs and replacements you may have been putting off and focus on having the unit available January 1st. From Thanksgiving to Christmas, people are not focusing on moving, even if they have to. The holidays have people overspending and not planning ahead. Waiting until January 1st may have new prospects looking for housing.  By keeping up on those repairs will allow you to raise your rents to qualified tenants.

 

  • Offer a bonus gift— If you are advertising during the holidays you could offer to give them a free month by signing a longer lease or a gift of a free TV or cable/internet for a specific period of time with a year lease. As we said the holidays often have people a little over extended, they may be able to afford rent normally but any little bit helps with other expenses. Giving back $200, may be half your rent but is less expensive than another vacant month and appreciated by tenants.

 

As a landlord, you can look at how your rentals are doing overall and change up the lease terms to work best for you. You have the right to add clauses about moving during the winter months. Consult your lawyer to make sure your contract will stand up to an eviction if necessary.

If you are working with a property management company, like Day Property Management, www.daypropertymanagement.com, they will have insights as to what is working in your local community to keep tenants happy and attracting new tenants. Contact us today to see how we can help you fill your vacancies. Call 920-968-0626 or fill out our contact form.

4 Steps to Preventing Eviction Nightmares

4 Steps to Preventing Eviction Nightmares

 

When you purchase your first rental property and start meeting with potential tenants, you have stars in your eyes.  You greet everyone like they are your friend and speak to everyone with kindness and respect.  Even people who may scare you a bit.  After all everyone needs to live somewhere, why not your rental…right?

It may take months and if you are lucky years, but sooner or later, if you self-manage, you will have to deal with bad tenants.  Tenants you are constantly chasing for their rent payment.  Tenants who let their kids color with permanent marker all over your freshly painted walls.  Tenants who let their pets use your brand-new carpet as their backyard.

Your best intentions change. Your ideas of helping your community with safe, clean, and functioning rental property gets set aside when you see your property turn over and you have walls with more holes in them than unharmed walls.

 

These 4 steps can keep bad tenants away from your rentals.

 

  1. Have a multi-step screening process. Qualify your potential tenant every step of the way.

 

Did they arrive on time for the showing?

Did they act appropriately as you walked through the unit?

Were they prepared with an application fee?

 

Scrutinize their application.  You can do this with a variety of different checks and balances.

Yes, they take time but when you are rehabbing a unit due to evicting a bad tenant you’ll wish you spent an extra hour on your screening process.

Write out your criteria and stick to it, no matter what story your applicant gives you.

  • Run a background check—if they have an eviction from other properties, you may want to pass on them as well. Any criminal history can cause problems for other tenants, neighbors, or yourself if the police are contacting you regularly.
  • Run a credit check—if they have a history of late payments or are behind on other payments more than likely they won’t pay you either.
  • Call their references—This can be frustrating and takes time, but you need to talk to previous landlords and find out why they moved from the property.
  • Drive by their current residence—Are they keeping the yard clean? Do they have personal property stacked on the porch? These might be indicators showing they won’t take care of your property either.
  • Verify their income—check your states rental laws, but if rent is more than 1/3 of their take home pay they can’t afford your unit. Don’t make them decide between paying rent and paying for groceries or gas.

Don’t be afraid to say “No”.  You don’t want to put yourself or your tenants into a situation they can’t afford.

 

  1. Always have your tenants sign a lease

 

Do not have verbal agreements with your tenants ever. You can not prove conversations. How you remember the conversation may be different than how your tenants remember it.

Don’t leave the fate of your rental income up to chance.  Have a lease with all of the property rules and regulations.  Check with your state’s rental laws, but most require a lease to explain the cost of rent, what’s included for the rental amount, when it’s due and who it get’s mailed to, if you charge late fees, when and how much.

Explain who is in charge of repairs, what happens when their friends stay with them too long or when they can move in or have to move out.

This leaves nothing to interpretation on either side and safeguards both you and your tenants. When you speak with landlords who have had a lot of tenant issues, tend to be landlords who didn’t have a lease.

Tenants walk all over flexible landlords. Once you agree to something outside the lease agreement, you can expect your tenant to push you a little further next time.  The lease allows you to hold them to written contract agreements.

 

  1. Be the “manager”

If you have trouble enforcing the rules in the lease, don’t introduce yourself as an owner, be the property manager.  This allows you wiggle room when talking with tenants. If a tenant requests something you can say you have to “check with the owner” for an answer.

 

  1. If they violate the lease, evict them.

 

No landlord wants to evict a tenant.  You rented to them with the intentions of having them live in your property for a good long while.

When tenants start violating the written policies in their lease, your only option is to evict. If you don’t their behavior will get worse and you’ll wish you would have moved forward with an eviction at the time.

You’ll find new tenants and they will find another place to live.

If you have a hard time putting any of these steps into practice, hiring a professional property management company, like Day Property Management would be an excellent option for you.

You eliminate the hassle of running ads, going to showings, screening applicants, signing leases, collecting rent and evicting tenants when they don’t follow through.

These daily tasks are what cause landlords headaches and frustration.

Property management companies follow rental laws. They protect owner and tenant rights at all times through every transaction.

To see how we customize a property management package for you, contact us today.  Call 920-968-0626 or fill out our contact form here.

5 Ways Property Management Companies Help Tenants

5 Ways Property Management Companies Help Tenants

When you are considering finding a home or apartment to rent, most people turn to the local paper or online listings on craigslist to start their search.  From there you have to make a string of calls to try and set appointments to see the home or ask questions about information not in the rental ad.  This leads to phone tag, frustration and still not finding a rental fit for your needs.

When looking for a place to rent, people hardly ever think about property management companies being able to help them.  Most of the time people see, property management companies as big businesses who help landlords manage their rental property and not an advocate for tenants themselves.  Let’s take a look at some of the ways property management companies like Day Property Management LLC can facilitate tenants.

 

5 Ways Property Management Companies Help Tenants

 

Relocating

Are you new to the area or have lived outside of the area for an extended period of time and are looking to move back? Are looking for a place to rent and unsure where to start?  Look no further.  A local property management company can be an easy first step and often the only one you’ll need to take.

Many management companies handle a variety of rental property from single family homes, condominiums, apartments of all sizes and budgets.

They are also a huge time saver to someone relocating.  One or two calls with them explaining what you are looking for and in the type of location you want will give you multiple results to look at.  Often they also know the best areas, even if you’re not entirely sure,  for the type of property you are looking to rent.

You can schedule multiple showings back to back when you are dealing with one company, You can also apply the same day.

 

Rental Process

Is this your first time renting?  Or have you rented before but you were not sure what you signed when you signed your Residential Lease Agreement?  A management company handles showings, applications, people moving-in and out on a daily basis.

What might seem daunting to you, is the daily job at a management company.  When you work with the right company, they explain the whole process with you, from application to moving-in .A tenant should always be treated with respect and feel comfortable to ask questions when they don’t know how something works.

Some companies such as Day Property Management LLC have moved tenant features into a nice online portal.  Tenants can access their portal 24/7.  So after you move in you can contact the management company about repairs or pay your rent online.

 

Professional Treatment

A property management company should be professional and helpful to perspective tenants, current tenants and property owners alike.  If you are working with a company or a private owner self-managing and you don’t feel like your concerns are being heard.  You need to find a company who treats everyone’s needs appropriately.

When looking for rental property, not knowing the area or being new to renting can come with its own set of challenges.  You want to work with a company who understands those needs and works through them with you to find a home fitting your location, budget and amenities.

 

Customer Service

A good property management company will listen to all tenant and landlord concerns and discuss any changes to be made.  They treat everyone with respect and courtesy.  They should help both tenants and landlords make the best decisions about the rental property, repairs and lease agreements.  Good customer service can go a long way to defusing landlord/tenant disagreements, helping someone find the right rental property or discussing repair issues with tenants and property owners.  After all, property management is a business and as such needs to be professional toward clients and tenants alike.

 

The Right Housing Fit

Property management companies not only provide current tenants with safe, clean, functional housing within their budget, they will also help prospective tenants search out such properties.  If the property management company has been around long enough, they work with a variety of property owners with different types of rentals available.

Budget is always a consideration when showing rental units to a perspective tenant.  When working with a reputable management company you will not be shown a rental property outside of your price range.  After all they want you to be as comfortable with your monthly rental payments as you are living in the home.  They follow the Wisconsin Way guidelines of a rental payment not being more than 30% of your net income.  This way they safe guard you as a tenant to make sure you don’t become “rent poor” and they safeguard the properties they manage by having responsible tenants fulfilling their lease agreements.

 

By having a variety of properties available at any given time, property management companies can find you a house, apartment or condominium with the correct number of bedrooms and bathrooms, in your desired area of town and within your budget.

Whether relocating or looking for a new area of town to live in, start your search by using a property management company like Day Property Management LLC.

Your rental search time will be 90% easier and 100% faster without making endless phone calls and not finding the right home for you.

To see how a management company can facilitate your search for the perfect rental visit our contact us page today by clicking here Or give us a call at Day Property Management LLC 920-968-0626.

 

 

 

 

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