7 Security Deposit Tips for Landlords From Utah Property Managers

7 Security Deposit Tips for Landlords From Utah Property Managers

Cash that is used to pay a security deposit to a Utah property manager.

Almost every rental property requires a security deposit of some kind. A security deposit is a one-time fee that is due at lease signing and acts as a “damage deposit” for a new renter. Typically, the renter will get this money back when they move out if there is no damage to the home or unit they rented. This all sounds pretty simple, right? Unfortunately, obtaining a security deposit from renters can be more difficult than it seems. As experienced Utah property managers, we know all the ins and outs of successfully renting and managing properties. This includes understanding everything from tenant screening to rental application fees to, yes, security deposits. There are some simple things property managers can do in order to avoid any complications when it comes to security deposits for renting a house or property. Luckily, Wolfnest Property Management in Utah is here to help and take care of it for you. So, here are the top tips for landlords to consider. However, if you’re not interested in navigating this yourself, Wolfnest is happy to step in as your rental property management.

Our Tips for Effectively Obtaining a Security Deposit for a Rental Property

1. Know Your State Laws

As a Utah property manager, you need to how much your state law allows you to collect, how quickly it needs to be deposited into a bank, required reports, if there is any interest it will accrue, how should it be paid, and so on. For example, in Utah, there is no limit set for how much a landlord can ask for a deposit and nonrefundable deposits are allowed. According to Utah law, the main purpose of the security deposit is to protect the landlord or property manager from any damage the tenant may cause or any failed rent payments. Potential damage to the property this deposit covers includes:

  • Stained carpets beyond normal wear and tear
  • Broken hardware and cracked tiles
  • Dirt, grime, and dust
  • Walls that need to be painted
  • Damage from animals

2. Charge the Right Amount

Don’t be tempted to charge less for a security deposit, which you are entitled to. It might seem easier to have a lower deposit amount in order to attract more tenants, but you might run into risks and problems down the road. You should always consider what your house or property is worth and consider who your tenants might be. Setting the right amount of security deposit will not only help pay for any damages that may occur to the property, but it can also weed out the financially unstable tenants. This way you will get a tenant that you will want to let live in the rental property. The right amount can also help prevent a tenant from moving out unannounced.

3. Remember a Deposit Isn’t Extra Rent

Security deposits are not extra rent and you shouldn’t treat them as such. Those deposits have to be returned to the departing tenant assuming there is no damage to the unit. This is an important aspect of security deposits for a rental property. Some managers forget this and run into trouble when it’s time for a tenant to move out. If you charge a deposit, you are responsible for returning it to the renter if they earned it back.

4. Establish Trust Accounts

Make sure you establish a trust or escrow account for the security deposit. It is important that your bank knows the deposit account is for security deposits only. This is to help prevent any forfeiture of those funds being accidentally spent on your behalf.

5. Don’t Mix the Account

Make sure you keep the security deposit trust account separate from your own, even though some state laws allow you to mix it with rental payments or turn it over to the rental owners. Try not to mix up the account because it is far too easy to accidentally spend the security funds. As mentioned above, this money isn’t extra rent. It’s also important to remember that the security deposit doesn’t cover any maintenance that may occur during the term of the lease. This is meant for any repairs that may occur once the tenant moves out.

6. Properly Handling Escrow Money

Even if you have been a Utah property manager for many years and have a broker’s license to legally handle escrow money like a security deposit, it doesn’t mean that you should. Get trained or hire a professional who is an expert with escrow fundings, such as Wolfnest.

7. Keep the Property Owners in the Know

When managing a property for someone else, it’s crucial to keep them informed of what you’re doing and why you’re doing it. At Wolfnest, our experienced property managers are professional and knowledgeable when it comes to managing rentals. Through every step of the process, we keep the property owners in the loop so they know exactly what is happening at their rental.

The Importance of a Utah Property Manager

It may initially seem complicated to obtain a security deposit for renting a house or property, but with a Utah property manager, this process is easy. As property managers, we know what to do and how to do it when it comes to obtaining security deposits effectively. As the prime provider of property management in Utah, we have managed many different types of rental properties. Our managers are experienced in handling: 

  • Single-Family Property Management – Our services include comprehensive tenant screening to ensure top-notch renters, move-in/move out inspections, and vacancy marketing to keep your property filled.
  • Multi-Family Property Management – No matter how many units you have, we provide full management services, detailed performance metrics, and extensive staff management. 
  • Portfolio Management for Properties – We’ll help you with strategic portfolio planning, assign you a personal portfolio manager, and include discounted management fees.

Our seven security deposit tips are a great start to understanding and establishing a solid foundation for your property. However, this is just the tip of the iceberg. There are many elements that go into effective property management and our Utah property managers are here to do the job right. Contact us today to learn how we can help you!

What to Do If Your Property is Being Used in a Rental Scam

What to Do If Your Property is Being Used in a Rental Scam

A home for rent that could be part of a rental scam.

Owning, maintaining, and managing an apartment can be an overwhelming task, especially when it isn’t your full-time job. In addition to property upkeep, collecting rent, and finding the right tenants, there’s an additional factor you need to keep in mind: rental scams. If you’ve managed your property for years, you may be wondering, “What is a rental scam and what does that have to do with me?” Unfortunately, if you’ve listed your property online at any point, it could possibly be used for a rental property scam. This could lead people to believe they’ve rented an apartment in your building or lose their money on what they think is your property. So, how do you avoid this and where do you even start? Fortunately, Wolfnest is here to guide you. With many successful years of property management in Utah, our team has seen it all. As your property managers, we can help you navigate this difficult area of managing a rental and help you avoid being part of a rental scam, which gives you one less thing to worry about.

Signs of Rental Scams

First things first, it’s important to understand and recognize the signs of rental scams. Even though you’re not the one looking to rent, it’s crucial to understand what renters are dealing with. There are a lot of scammers that take and use a real listing from an actual rental home and claim it as their own. They will take already written listings and make a few modifications usually by changing the email address or other contact information to include their own information. The listing might even use the same name as the original poster and only change the picture and contact information just to confuse a potential renter. When you’re the one renting out a home, it’s important to recognize that this could happen to your listing and result in you appearing fraudulent later on. Here are the top three telltale signs of a fake rental ad that renters should look out for.

A listing that shows little information and could be signs of rental scams.

1. The Listing Doesn’t Offer Information

Writing an effective rental description is half the battle of listing your available property, especially when you don’t utilize property management services who will write an enticing description for you. Despite that, real rental descriptions usually contain all the information a prospective tenant needs to know, even if it doesn’t come across as sales-focused. When a rental listing contains little to no details, mentioning an attraction that isn’t nearby or omits details on utilities, it’s probably fake. 

 2. Asking to Wire Money

A major sign that a listing is a scam is if the “landlord” requests the potential tenant to wire money. There is no need to send money, no matter what the reason may be. While some justifications for this could include paying a security deposit or application fee, that should be paid when you see the property. This is a huge red flag because once the money is wired, there is no way to get that back.

3. It Sounds Too Good to Be True

A good rule of thumb in finding a home to rent is if the deal sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Most scammers will take all of the real information for a home rental listing, but list the price below the average rental rate in the market. This is an easy sign to tell whether or not the listing could be a possible scam. It’s important to look at other rentals in the area and see what they’re being listed to determine if an ad is fraudulent.

So, how do you ensure that this doesn’t happen to your property? Luckily, our experts at Wolfnest are here to help.

A man providing property manager services.v

Utilizing Property Manager Services to Combat Rental Scams

It doesn’t matter if you own a single-family or multi-family property, our extensive and helpful property management services have you covered. Part of these services includes listing and marketing your property. Since we are actively posting and monitoring your property on a variety of platforms, we are able to keep an eye out for any possible rental scams that are using your house or building for their fraudulent posting. With an active online presence, we are able to catch and shut down these postings before any renters are taken by surprise. Our property management services include keeping an eye on your property both online and in real life. In addition to marketing your rental, utilizing property manager services gives you access to benefits such as detailed performance metrics, day-to-day management services, and a leasing coordinator to fill your rental with high-quality tenants. So, avoid being inadvertently part of a rental listing scam and hire our experienced team to manage your property in every aspect. Enjoy peace of mind and free time with Wolfnest. To learn more, contact us today and we’ll find the right property management services for your rental!

The Eviction Process in Utah: 6 Costs to Consider

The Eviction Process in Utah: 6 Costs to Consider

An eviction notice that is part of the eviction process in Utah.

Do you know how much the eviction process in Utah can cost? On average, the cost of eviction can be upwards of $3,500 and takes anywhere from three to four weeks to complete. Basically, an eviction does not come cheap. Most people believe that an eviction is a fairly simple and affordable process, but the reality is it might actually end up costing the owner more money to evict someone rather than try to meet their demands or compromise. There are certain factors when it comes to eviction, which most people don’t know about. This is where a property manager can step in. When you put your rental in the hands of an experienced property management company, they can help you avoid the eviction process from the very beginning, but we’ll get to that later. To start, let’s breakdown the top six costs to consider when deciding to evict a tenant because unfortunately, it doesn’t come cheap.

1. Legal Fees

If there are any disputes between you and your tenant, you may find yourself in need of a lawyer, which means money out of your pocket. More than likely, you’ll need an experienced lawyer to assist you with the process and make it as smooth as possible. The cost of a lawyer depends on whether or not they charge a flat fee or by the hour. On average, the cost of an eviction case could range anywhere from $200 to $750.

2. Court Costs

Paying for a lawyer is just one part of the legal fees you’ll be paying. The cost of going to court and filing paperwork may range from $100 to $300. All evictions must be filed in court since evicting a tenant without a court order is against the law. Bringing the eviction to court can cause a messy situation that is a headache of its own. In addition to the costs of the actual court, you must take into account what it will cost to attend the court proceedings such as missing work and travel.

3. Downtime

If you make it through the process of an eviction successfully, you have to consider what happens afterward. Be prepared to have a loss of fixed revenue for a period of time. It can vary depending on how well your property manager can promote your home(if you have a property manager), but at the very least you can expect to not have a tenant for at least a month minimum.

4. Loss of Rent

Typically, you will lose two to three months’ worth of rent during the eviction process, sometimes more. This is directly correlated to any downtime you experience when you successfully evict a tenant. Until you can find a new, responsible tenant, your property will surely lose money, which means that your income will be stalled and you’ll be paying out of pocket.

 5. Marketing

If you don’t have a property management company, you will have to start advertising your property or hire someone to do it. The cost of advertising will come out of your own pocket, and so will the cost of hiring someone if you choose to do so. If you want your property filled fast to avoid the aforementioned downtime and loss of rent, marketing the available unit is a must.

6. Set Up

Before a new tenant can move in, you’ll need to repair any damage the evicted tenant may have caused. Ideally, they didn’t cause any damage, but that certainly is not always the case. You may need to spend anywhere from $500 to $2,000 to get the place ready for the next renter. 

While any kind of tenant turnover comes with extra costs, eviction can be pricier than when an average tenant moves out due to their lease ending. So, before you evict a tenant, it’s important to keep these costs in mind. On the other hand, an experienced property management company could help you avoid all of this altogether.

A for rent sign outside of a home that is part of the cost of property management.

The Cost of Property Management Could be Less Than an Eviction

As we said, a property manager could save you money in the long run as they tend to cost less than an eviction. Property managers are experienced at tenant screening, which means they choose the very best candidates right from the start so you don’t have to worry about losing any rental income. They also take care of all the marketing, tenant placement, and day-to-day operations of the rental property. This gives you peace of mind knowing your rental is taken care of, while also helping the property run smoothly. At Wolfnest Property Management, we are experienced in handling all types of properties. We can help you find the best tenants so you don’t have to go through the eviction process in Utah. To learn more, contact us today and we’ll be happy to help you get started with our property management services!

 

Property Management Fees: What to Expect

Property Management Fees: What to Expect

A man writing a check for property management fees.

Before handing over your property to be managed by a third-party, you probably have one question on your mind, “How much does property management cost?” This is a completely reasonable question and can make or break your decision to hire a property manager. While the question is simple, the answer is a little more complex, but simply put: It depends. Every Salt Lake City property management company sets their own pricing, but most companies tend to fall into one of two categories: flat rate and percentage. There are pros and cons to each option, and it’s important to analyze both before deciding which works best for you. In addition, there are also miscellaneous property management fees that you need to be aware of, as they might surprise you. So, let’s dive into both of these to help you find the right option for your property.

Flat Fee Pricing Structure

As the name suggests, this is a set monthly fee that is paid to your property management for their services. This all-inclusive fee covers all the services provided. This option can be ideal for first-time landlords, but flat fee pricing also has its drawbacks.

Pros

The biggest benefit of a flat fee is that it’s the simplest pricing option. The fee is not based on how much income the property is producing. Instead, it is a set amount so, you know exactly what you will be charged every month. You can take comfort knowing that all of the necessary tasks are being handled and that your cost won’t change based on the amount of work being done. With a flat fee, you also don’t have to worry about being charged more based on location. For example, if you rent a property in an affluent area, your property management fees won’t necessarily reflect that. This option provides more control for your investment budget, so you have more financial freedom.

Cons

Although it can be nice to have a set fee each month, you are paying the same amount each month regardless of what work is being done. Salt Lake City property management companies know that most of the work takes place when the property is vacant. Once a tenant moves in, your manager is probably doing little more than processing payments and fielding the occasional maintenance call. During these times, you won’t have incoming rent to offset the cost of maintenance. This is motivation to keep the property filled, but vacancies happen and it’s important to keep this in mind when choosing a flat fee pricing structure.

A woman calculating bills for Salt Lake City property management.

Percentage Pricing Structure

The second option of property management fees is a percentage pricing structure. This simply means that a percentage of the monthly rent is paid to the property management company. These fees range anywhere from 8-12% of the monthly rental income, with additional charges for certain maintenance issues. Of course, there are pros and cons to the percentage pricing structure.

Pros

With a percentage structure, you only pay for work that is actually being done on your behalf. You don’t need to worry that you overpaid for the services you actually received. If you have a low maintenance property with good tenants, then you will likely benefit from this type of pricing.

Cons

While this option can be more affordable at times, it’s important to remember that your monthly fee will fluctuate with a percentage pricing structure. If your property requires a lot of attention or you have problematic tenants, then your management costs could get out of hand. Before agreeing to percentage property management, it’s important to evaluate your property to determine what really will benefit you.

Other Property Management Fees to Consider

In addition to the property management fee, there are other common fees that can be expected. These vary from company to company, but it’s important to be aware of these so you’re not blindsided.

Vacancy

A vacancy fee is common among percentage pricing structures. Since you aren’t being charged the full amount when there is a vacancy, the property management company may collect a smaller amount from you. Essentially, this is a retainer for their services while the property is vacant.

 Leasing

Arguably the most common fee, this is charged when a new tenant applies for your property. This covers drafting a lease agreement, a background check, and any other services to ensure you’re renting to a quality tenant. This fee should typically be lower and is only charged when a new lease is created.

Eviction

Since evicting a tenant can be complicated, it’s no surprise that this is a typical fee. In addition to charging an extra fee, it’s beneficial to have an experienced property management company on your side to handle this process. The price for this service varies but it is well worth it.

A manager calculating property management cost.

How Much Does Property Management Cost?

Unfortunately, this isn’t a simple and straightforward answer. There are many factors to consider when hiring a property management company and determining what pricing structure is best for you. At Wolfnest, we evaluate your property and find the right pricing option for your property. We can customize our services to fit your rental. We provide a variety of property management services including: 

No matter what type of property you own, we have experience managing it and can help you get the most from your rental and pricing structure. Whether it’s percentage or flat rate, there is a right option for every property. As you can see, there are advantages and disadvantages to each type of pricing structure. The option that’s best for you will depend on the specifics of your rental property and your unique management needs. If you don’t know what those needs are, contact our experts today and we are happy to help you get started with your customized property management services!

How a Residential Property Management Company Finds the Best Tenants

How a Residential Property Management Company Finds the Best Tenants

A residential property management company giving keys to a young couple.

If you’ve ever owned a rental property, you know that the quality of your tenants can make or break the experience. Ideally, every tenant would pay rent on time, keep the home clean, and never break anything. Unfortunately, that is not always the case. In addition to handling maintenance requests, lease agreements, and rent collection, finding the right tenant is just one more thing to handle as a landlord. Filling a vacancy with the right renter can be a long, tedious process that takes away from other priorities in your life. With an experienced rental property management company, finding the ideal tenant is one less thing for you to worry about. At Wolfnest, we have a tried and true method of finding the perfect candidate for your vacant rental to ensure that you get paid on time, the unit stays in great shape, and you can have peace of mind.

Benefits of Hiring a Rental Property Management Company

So, what can you do to ensure that your property is only rented to quality tenants? Hiring a good property management company can help eliminate the risk of renting to a bad tenant.  Many homeowners don’t see the value in paying someone to do a job that they believe they could do themselves. The truth is, if a property management company can help an owner avoid entering into an agreement with a bad tenant, they are worth every penny you pay them. So, how will a residential property management company find you a quality tenant? Let’s breakdown how Wolfnest screens potential tenants to find quality renters for your property.

A home for rent that is managed by a rental property management company.

How to Screen Potential Tenants

The most important part of finding the best tenant is in the screening process. By checking key elements, we find the right renter from the very beginning. At Wolfnest, we start with three different types of screenings to get a wide range of information from the very beginning.

1. Background Check

This is common amongst almost all property management companies, as any good property manager should perform a thorough background check on anyone that is interested in renting your property. This will help you identify anyone that is a convicted criminal and keep your other tenants safe. However, it’s important to note that property managers may still lease to someone with a criminal history due to considerations such as the nature of the crime, rehabilitation efforts and the age of the individual at the time of the offense. Your property manager will always keep you in the loop so these exceptions aren’t surprising.

2. Credit Check

Reviewing a potential tenant’s credit report is one of the most important actions to take before entering into a lease agreement. If a potential tenant has a poor credit score and past issues paying their bills on time, you may not want to rent to them. Our experienced property managers run credit checks on every potential renter to ensure that you always have an ideal candidate.

3. Landlord References

It is always prudent to follow up with a potential tenant’s past landlords to determine if they had any issue with other properties they have rented. If the tenant broke belongings in the previous unit, you may be hesitant to rent to this person for fear that they may destroy your property. At Wolfnest, our team reaches out to all references of the potential tenant to learn about their past renting history and to protect your property.

When it comes to screening tenants, this is just the beginning. We take pride in finding you the right renter for your unit. By taking these extra precautions, we keep your rental in good shape, ensure you get rent on time, and help to avoid an eviction.

Wolfnest is Your Residential Property Management Company

No one can ever guarantee that a tenant will be good or bad, but you can take steps to reduce the risk of renting to a bad tenant. As your residential property management company, we make finding the right tenants easier than ever. We do the hard work so you can reap the rewards of renting to a good tenant. Through background, credit, and referral checks, our team finds you the right candidate from the very beginning so you have one less thing to worry about. Whether you have a single-family or multi-family rental, we are experienced in all types of properties and are here to help. To learn more about the steps we take to find you a qualified tenant, contact us today to download our free owner information packet!