Tenant Screening: 4 Steps Every Property Manager Should Complete

Tenant Screening: 4 Steps Every Property Manager Should Complete

How Salt Lake City Property Managers Screen Tenants - Wolfnest Property Management - Salt Lake City Property Management

Screening tenants for a rental property is a crucial responsibility for any rental property manager. So, when interviewing property management firms to decide who will take the best care of your rental, make sure you inquire about their tenant screening process. Taking the time to thoroughly investigate the creditworthiness and rental history of prospective tenants is essential to operating a profitable rental property. The manager you choose should be able to explain the process to you, going through each step to make sure tenants are fairly and thoroughly screened.

Why Screen Tenants?

Having a formal tenant screening process reduces risk and maintains high standards for any rental property. It helps companies and owners meet compliance obligations and can save owners thousands of dollars in lost revenue, court costs, and fees. Evicting a tenant is a complicated process, so finding the right tenant in the beginning can also save owners the hassle and cost of an eviction.

How to Screen a Tenant

After understanding the importance of screening tenants for a rental property, it’s critical that you also understand the process your property manager will be using to screen tenants. There are a few necessary steps that you will want to ensure your property manager is doing. During your property manager interview process, make sure a potential property manager does all of the following during tenant screening:


property management utah

1. Conduct Criminal Background Checks

A good first step when screening tenants for a rental property is to check for a criminal history. Property managers can check state and federal criminal records to determine if a potential tenant has a criminal history. They may also check sex offender registries and terrorist watchlists when considering a tenant. 

Note that just because a potential tenant has a criminal history does not mean they won’t be approved by certain property managers. The opinions of Salt Lake City property managers will vary about what types of offenses are the most relevant, but cases involving drugs or violence have a tendency to repeat themselves.

In certain cases, property managers may still accept a tenant with a criminal history. This may be due to the circumstances surrounding the offense, the age of the individual at the time of the offense, rehabilitation efforts, and other considerations. With each property management candidate, discuss their tenant screening process for criminal background checks and what scenarios they might approve a tenant even with a criminal history. 

2. Run Credit Checks

Credit history is another important area to review during the tenant screening process. By running credit checks, you can see if a prospective tenant pays their bills on time and look into an applicant’s debt. Credit reporting agencies require companies pulling credit data to be “accredited,” so make sure any property management company you are interviewing has this accreditation. 

When looking into a prospective tenant’s credit, some property managers in Salt Lake City go strictly by the score, while others will look beyond the score and check payment history, amounts past due, and the ratio between outstanding balances and credit limits to estimate the monthly debt service. Knowing what different property managers look for in a tenant’s credit is imperative to make sure you are on the same page. 

It’s also important to ensure that any property management companies you are considering understand and comply with any regulations, such as the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). The FCRA is enforced by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and involves how and when you can get and take action on consumer reports. Make sure the rental property manager you hire has a policy in place and follows it.

A visual representation of credit score used in the tenant screening process.

3. Verify Income and Employment

It sounds obvious, but making sure your tenant has a verifiable source of income and can reasonably afford their monthly rental payment is the most important part of the tenant screening process. Experienced property managers will take into account the type of rental and location, when considering a tenant’s income, as they affect rent payments and the type of renter you will want. 

For example, a luxury apartment building in the heart of downtown Salt Lake City will require different income standards than a small rental in a less-desirable part of town. Most Salt Lake City property management companies follow the 3x rent rule and require residents to have at least one year of employment at their current job.

Make sure you understand how potential property managers conduct income and employment verification and how they consider applicants based on the rental property.

4. Check Previous Rental History

Ask any Salt Lake City rental property manager and they’ll confirm that accurately verifying rental history is difficult. Tenants don’t provide contact information unless they know a reference will be positive, and as a result, many routinely provide false information. However, experienced property managers should know the best route to get the most complete and accurate rental history from prospective tenants. 

This can include checking local housing court records to determine if a prospect has had any evictions and knowing the right questions to ask a former landlord. A property manager that knows which questions to ask a former landlord will be able to find valuable insight into what type of tenant you can expect.

Tenant Screening with Wolfnest Property Management

Most professional property managers in Salt Lake City will investigate these four areas with prospective tenants because doing so will drastically reduce the number of “bad tenants” they place. Make sure the management company you choose places an emphasis on tenant screening, or you’ll be learning the most valuable lesson in owning rentals: There is no substitute for a good tenant.

If you’d like more tips on how to avoid placing bad tenants in your Salt Lake City Rental property or are looking for rental property management services, then contact us today! We seek to build partnerships with our clients and work together to meet each specific property’s needs. 

Is Your Utah Lease Agreement Strong Enough?

Is Your Utah Lease Agreement Strong Enough?

A tenant filling out an Utah lease agreement.

Managing your own Utah rental property can be tricky. From maintenance to tenant turnover, there are many factors to consider when managing your own property. One of the first and most important parts of successfully renting your property is a strong lease agreement. This is what sets the tone for both yours and your renter’s experience. The lease dictates what is and is not allowed in the home, as well as the rules the renter must comply with in order to live there. If you’re like most owners, you probably Googled “lease agreement” and printed off the first one that looked good. Unfortunately, this is not a sound practice to follow. The lease agreement is the most important part of successful property management and is typically the root of all major problems. Having a rock-solid lease agreement that outlines expectations, acceptable behavior, and consequences are essential to your success as a rental property owner. At Wolfnest, our property management services include crafting strong rental agreements in Utah and ensuring that your property is protected. If you look at your last lease, do you think it’s strong enough? We’re here to help you evaluate your current lease agreements and help you craft stronger ones.

The Benefits of a Utah Lease Agreement

Many lease agreements available on the Internet are not state-specific, and contain generic clauses that may or may not protect your best interests. The goal of a lease agreement should always be that in the event the owner and tenant find themselves in a court dispute, it clearly outlines what the owner and tenant agreed to do. This is why having a specific Utah lease agreement is best since it protects you against specific state laws or city codes. State- or city-specific clauses help solidify your requirements and can come in handy if you ever find yourself in litigation. For example, if you evict a renter for violating a part of their lease, you must have proof, as well have it clearly defined that they violated the lease. This protects you and makes your case easier to win.

A home that is for rent and needs a rental agreement in Utah.

Crafting the Right Rental Agreement in Utah

Every owner has different rules and preferences for their property, so crafting your own lease agreement ensures that all these requirements are stated. If you’re unsure of what you should include, we’re here to help. We have compiled this helpful list of what elements are outlined in most lease agreements. It doesn’t matter whether you’re for or against each part, but each section must be included. Lease agreements aren’t meant to state everything a tenant can’t do. They should be well-rounded and include what is allowed as well, so every aspect of the lease is clear. So, take note of each part and this should help you determine what will be included in your Utah lease agreement.

Smoking

This is one of the most common clauses included in a lease agreement. Whether you’re for or against smoking, this section needs to be very clear to avoid any confusion. Some items this should address include: 

  • Is the tenant and/or their guests allowed to smoke in or on the property? 
  • Is he/she liable for any damage caused by this?
  • Are only cigarettes and cigars prohibited, or does this include vapes as well?

If this is not outlined and agreed to in the lease agreement, it will be difficult to prove in court and you run the risk of not being compensated for damages.

Late Fees

In addition to establishing when rent is due, it’s important to explicitly state what type of fees occur when rent is not paid on time. This should answer the question of, “How much and when will the tenant be charged for late rent?” By clearly stating this, your tenant will be encouraged to pay rent on time.

Animals

Pets tend to be a hot-button issue among homeowners and landlords. While some landlords are fine with having animals in the home, others do not feel the same way. Whichever side of the debate you’re on, it’s important to make that clearly stated to future tenants. This section should address: 

  • Can the tenant have animals on the property? If so, which kind of animals are allowed?
  • Are there any fees associated with having animals in the home?
  • What are the consequences of having an animal without your permission? 

The “Animals” section should also comply with state and city laws regarding what types and how many animals are allowed within a home. Double-check the law surrounding this and ensure that your lease is in compliance.

Pests

Unfortunately, no home is immune to pests. This section of the lease should determine who is responsible for resolving and infestation and if the tenant can hold the owner responsible for any damages due to the pests.

Right of Entry

Although a lease is primarily for prospective tenants, this section actually applies more to the property manager. This establishes when and if the landlord can enter the property, and if he/she has to give notice before.

Utilities

Last but not least, this section of the lease determines who is responsible for which utilities. Typically, the owner covers some (can include water, sewer, and trash) and the tenant covers the rest (gas, electric, and Internet/cable). This section should explicitly state who pays for what so there is no confusion.

 Property Management and Lease Agreements

A couple receiving keys from property management after signing lease agreement.

Experienced property management companies, such as Wolfnest, can help you craft a strong Utah lease agreement so both you and your property are protected. Our property managers can craft a customized and solid lease agreement no matter what type of property you have. In addition to drafting lease agreements, our experienced property management specialists can help cover the day-to-day operations of your rental so you can save time and money. Contact us today and get started on creating the perfect lease agreement!


What Fees Should You Expect From Property Management Companies in Utah?

What Fees Should You Expect From Property Management Companies in Utah?

A man writing a check to pay property manager fees.

Managing your own property can be exhausting and time-consuming. When property management isn’t your only job, it can be hard to balance taking care of your rental with your career. Most property owners don’t have the time to manage paperwork, keep up on repairs, maintenance, and take care of their property. That’s where a property management company can step in and take the load off.  Hiring an experienced property manager or company can take the stress out of owning a rental, while saving you time and money in the long run. So, if you’re looking into property management companies in Utah, you might be wondering how much these services will cost you. Fortunately, Wolfnest is here to breakdown what fees you can expect and how our property management services can help you get the most from your rental property.

Typical Property Manager Fees

While fees can vary by location and company, there are typical fees that most property management companies in Utah charge. These fees are divided into two categories: owner and tenant. As the names suggest, there are charges that the owner is required to pay and there are fees that fall to the tenant. To start, let’s breakdown what fees the owner can expect.

Set-Up Fee

Another obvious name, this one-time fee is for setting up a new account within the property management company. This can range anywhere from $0 to $300. The wide range can be attributed to whether the company charges a fee per unit or per property. They may also change the fee depending on whether the unit is occupied or not. Additionally, this fee could cover an initial inspection and introductory materials to the existing renters to tell them about their new property manager. A set-up fee is common practice and has become a requirement amongst property management companies in Utah.

Management Fee

A management fee is what you’ll pay each month for your property management services. This is typically a percentage of the gross collected rent, but may also be a flat fee depending on the company. A management fee varies by market, but property management companies in Utah usually charge between 7-10% of the gross collected rent. The services that are covered by this monthly payment include: 

  • Day-to-day management of the property
  • Collecting and processing rent
  • Conducting property inspections
  • Coordinating repairs
  • Communicating with renters
  • Handling emergency maintenance calls 

Property manager fees keep your rental running smoothly and keeps your tenants happy overall. A dedicated property manager can make all the difference.

Maintenance Fee

One of the most common fees that occur in property management are maintenance-related. This can also be one of the most expensive areas of owning a property without an experienced management team. Maintenance is usually sudden and unexpected, so it’s helpful to have a property management company that has relationships with various repair companies. Monthly maintenance fees typically hover around 10% of the rent, but can vary depending on the property management company.

These are the most common fees that owners have to pay for property management services. However, tenants will also have fees. So, what charges can your renters expect from a property management company?

Application Fee

Not every landlord or property management company requires an application fee, but it’s a good idea to have one. Tenant application fees typically range from $30 to $75 per person, and are usually used for background checking. This fee narrows down future tenants to the highest quality applicants. Usually if there’s an application fee, there will be people who can afford it, show interest in the property, and pay for an application. This simple fee also lowers crime rates since this charge could go towards screening. During this process, you can also ask the applicants about their income to assure it won’t be a problem when it comes time to pay rent.

Rental Fees

In addition to the monthly rent, there are other fees that tenants can expect. These include, but are not limited to: 

  • Late fees – Typically 10% of the monthly rent, this is required when a tenant’s rent payment is late and is a fairly common fee amongst rental properties.
  • Month-to-month fees – Once a lease has ended, the renter can choose to stay in the property on a month-to-month basis, in return for paying an additional fee. . This ranges anywhere from $25 to $200 depending on the property.
  • Service of notice fee – If a tenant hasn’t complied with their lease, this fee pays for the process of a property manager posting a notice to fix the violation or risk eviction.

Additional rental fees are at the discretion of the property management company, as well as the owner. These certainly vary from property to property and can be customized to suit the needs of your tenants as you see fit.

Why You Should Pay Property Manager Fees

A home that is managed by a property management company in Utah.

Putting your property in the hands of someone else may seem scary, but it pays off in the long run. At Wolfnest, we understand that you’re busy and managing your property may not be your full time job. Luckily, it is our full time job and our property managers are experienced and professional. So, while property manager fees may seem intimidating, they help your property succeed and stay profitable. If you’re ready to hand over the reins, we’re ready to start managing your property. We offer a variety of services including: 

As one of the premier property management companies in Utah, we know how to help your property succeed. With our proven services, you no longer have to worry about the day-to-day of your property and will still get to enjoy the benefits. So, contact us today and let us help you get the most from your rental property!

Utah Renter’s Guide: Tips for a First-Time Renter

Utah Renter’s Guide: Tips for a First-Time Renter

Wolfnest's Renter's Guide

Starting the process of renting can be intimidating and overwhelming for anyone. Especially if you are a first-time renter, you probably are feeling nervous and are not sure what to expect. As experienced Utah property managers, our job is to understand renting and everything that comes with it. That’s why we put together this renter’s guide. When renting a property from any Utah homeowner, there are several important things to remember. This simple rental checklist will help you find your ideal rental and ensure things run smoothly during the duration of your lease.

 Rental Checklist Step 1: Determining Your Wants and Needs

After you have decided on renting, the next step is to browse different available properties to find the best fit for you. As a first time renter though, there are probably some questions you need to ask yourself before beginning this search.

1. What Type of Property Do I Want to Rent?

There are many different types of rentals available and it’s important to know what you are looking for. Do you want to rent a home or an apartment? How many bedrooms are you looking for? All of these things will affect what types of rentals you begin your search with.

 2. What is Your Budget?

Budgeting is part of a renter's checklist

Another essential step in our renter’s guide is determining a budget. Determine what you are willing to pay for rent and then remember you will have to pay a security deposit, utilities, and possibly renter’s insurance, too. There are many different “formulas” to determine what you can afford for rent, but sometimes these don’t take into consideration your individual circumstances. So, it’s a good idea to look at your income and expenses specifically to determine your budget.

3. Are There Specific Areas You Want to Live In?

You may not be sure of any specific locations you want to live in, especially if you are moving to a new city. In this case, you can look at rentals in many different areas and decide which ones you like. But you also may have specific areas in which you are looking. Determine what these areas are and what you like about them.

 It’s still important to be open to other locations. You may end up loving a location that you never would have considered! By having a list of areas written down, you can make sure you look at various apartments in these locations to see if one of them is the right fit for you.

Rental Checklist Step 2: Touring Rentals

Once you have answered the questions above, the next step in our renter’s guide is touring various rental properties. While touring, make notes about what you like and what you don’t to help you make any difficult decisions. Try to keep an open mind since you never know if you will end up loving a property or location that you didn’t expect. 

Rental Checklist Step 3: Signing the Lease

Once you have found your rental, there are a few more steps in our renter’s guide you should follow to ensure a smooth rental process.

1. Read and understand all of the terms of your lease agreement before signing 

The lease is the most important document between you and the Utah homeowner. It outlines the terms of your tenancy and the responsibilities of both parties. One of the most important steps in this renter’s guide is that you read and understand all of the terms of this agreement because it will be the document used by the courts in any dispute. If you have any questions or don’t understand anything, you should consult a Utah attorney.

Lease agreement as a first time renter

2. Promptly switch the utilities into your name

Your Utah rental agreement will outline which utilities you are responsible for. After signing the lease, you should call the various utility companies and have these switched into your name immediately. 

3. Always document the condition of your property

Taking pictures is a great way to record the condition of your property before you move in and an essential step in the renter’s guide. Typically, your Utah property manager will do this for you, but it is essential that the pictures are date stamped and show any unclean or damaged areas in the home. If this is not done for you, take date stamped photos yourself and keep them in your records.

4. Determine how to pay your rent

If the owner is working with a Utah property management company, they should have the option to pay rent online using ACH transfers. This is very convenient for you as the rent is simply withdrawn from your checking account, saving you the trouble of needing to send a check. If ACH is not an option, you should determine the most efficient way to deliver your check each month to avoid late fees.

5. Learn how to properly submit maintenance requests

If your home is being managed by a Utah Property Management company, they will outline how maintenance requests are to be submitted. Usually, for non-emergency items, a simple maintenance request can be completed online.

6. Never stop paying rent

Even if you feel like your landlord is not fulfilling his/her end of the agreement, you must continue to pay rent and address your concerns through the proper channels. Your Utah property manager can even help you with the proper paperwork. Remember though, that by failing to pay the rent, you open yourself up to possible eviction.

Find Your Dream Rental with this Renter’s Guide

So, now you have all of the information you need to know to find the perfect rental. If you are currently in your search, check out our available rentals here. You can find a variety of properties to fit your specific needs. With our experienced Utah property managers, you get amazing benefits such as automatic bill payment, a 24/7 maintenance hotline, professional service, and more. Contact Wolfnest today and find your dream home! 

What You Need to Know About the Rental Application Process

What You Need to Know About the Rental Application Process

Rental application process

Renting a home from a Salt Lake City property management company can be a very complicated process. While it may seem as simple as submitting a rental application and moving into the home, that is not the case. There is actually a specific process before receiving approval. Each company may vary with their application criteria, but most property management companies follow a similar rental application process. Before you apply for a new rental, it’s important to know what that process is going to look like and what to expect. This helps you plan your move accordingly, while also keeping your expectations reasonable. So, what should you prepare for? Our step-by-step guide is here to help you through the process of applying for a rental property.

Filling Out the Rental Property Application

Before the landlord or property manager can even look at your application, you need to fill one out. This is a standard procedure across the board and should be expected with every rental you apply for. Information needed for this can include, but is not limited to:

  • Your name
  • Current address
  • Employment and income information
  • Contact information (phone number, email address)
  • Photo ID
  • Pets (if applicable)
  • Personal or professional references
  • Previous landlord information
  • Background information

It is also not uncommon for applications to require a fee, so be prepared for this additional charge. This ensures that your application will be processed properly for a background check. Once you’ve filled out and submitted your application, you’ll be playing the waiting game. However, there is a lot going on behind the scenes to look at your application.

The Application Review Process

Rental property application

Once you’ve turned in your application, it’s out of your hands. Sometimes it takes a little while to get an answer, and that’s just because the property manager is ensuring the best tenant gets the property. So, what’s happening while you’re waiting for an answer? Here are the steps property managers take to thoroughly evaluate an application for a rental property.

Step 1: Review All Information Within An Application

This may seem like an obvious step, but the property manager will review all of the information received in the application to ensure that nothing will immediately disqualify the candidate. The factors that may be most closely looked at during this step in the process include:

  • Gross income
  • Past rental history
  • Criminal history

This is the first round of screenings and helps eliminate any less than ideal candidates from the very beginning. When filling out an application, it’s important to be completely honest since you may make it through the first round, but when the manager reviewing the application begins to dive deeper, other information may come up.

Step 2: Generate a Credit and Background Report

Once the initial inspection is done, management will then have a credit and background report generated for each applicant that will be occupying the home. While some property managers will require a minimum credit score, the focus will be on the repayment history over the past two years. This also includes any amounts that are currently past due or in collections. With regards to the background report, the property management company will be looking for any items that may be deemed a threat to the community. This could include drugs or violence but is not limited to that.

Step 3: Verify Employment and Rental History

Once steps one and two are complete and the property manager has reviewed all of the information in the application and credit/background reports, they will then call the candidate’s employer and past landlords to verify monthly income and rental history to ensure that the information provided is accurate. As part of the employment verification, you may be asked to provide a W-2 form, bank statements, or copies of client contracts to provide further proof of employment. If the manager asks for any of these items, it is simply to expedite the process and to verify your employment quicker.

Step 4: The Waiting Game

Once the property manager or management company has completed all these steps the last item on the list is to wait. Credit and employment checks typically take the longest, sometimes as long as 72 hours. While you’re waiting, the property manager is probably also waiting. However, you have every right at the beginning of the process to ask for a time frame regarding the rental application process. An experienced company will usually have a good idea of how long these applications take to get through, so asking upfront could prevent you some anxiety while you’re patiently waiting.

What Happens at the End of the Rental Application Process?

Application for rental

The very last step is approval or denial. Whether you get the rental or not, the property management company will notify you, and hopefully, you’ll end with having a new place to live. While the process may seem long, it’s important for keeping and attracting optimal renters. This makes your prospective rental community an ideal place to live with people you know have been screened and evaluated, so you can enjoy peace of mind. If you’ve been approved, it’s time to sign the lease, but remember to read over this document very carefully. Remember to ask the important questions before signing the dotted line. It’s important to keep in mind that this process is similar from property to property, so find the perfect place for you before beginning these steps all over again. However, you can help streamline this process by promptly filling out any and all parts of the application and providing the required documents as needed.

So, if you’re ready to find a new rental, keep the rental application process in mind so you know what to expect. As we all know with rental hunting, the perfect property is worth the wait.

The True Cost of Tenant Turnover

The True Cost of Tenant Turnover

Preventing tenant turnover

When a tenant moves out, does it cost you anything? The answer is yes. If you have a revolving door of tenants, this could be costing you much more than you think. You may not think about these costs often, but if you have a high turnover rate, it’s time to reevaluate your property. Vacancy directly affects your cash flow, and it’s important to lower your vacancy rate. Tenant turnover should be quick and efficient in order to keep your cash flow where you want it.

Tenant Turnover Rate by the Numbers

We have compiled statistics for Utah rental properties helps us establish a baseline for what is considered typical within the local property management industry. Some of the most surprising statistics have to do with tenant turnover.

  • In Utah, it takes an average of 25 days to complete an eviction
  • 23% of people move in the six months from October through March.
  • 80% of renters that fall a month behind in rent and never catch back up.
  • 78% of Utah rental properties turnover each year.
  • The average cost of getting a unit rent-ready is $1,123.
  • The average cost of tenant turnover is $2,500 – $5,000.

With turnover being such a steep cost, you’re probably wondering where these charges are coming from. There’s a variety of places these costs from, so here’s a breakdown of what to expect with tenant turnover.

Cleaning

Once your renter moves out, it’s important to ensure the property is clean in order to attract new tenants. Depending on if your property has carpet, hardwood, or another type of flooring will affect these costs. For example, if you have carpet, you’ll need to pay for carpet cleaning. While your former tenant should have cleaned before they moved out, this is not always the case, unfortunately. If they have behind any mess, this is now your responsibility to clean. Depending on the severity, you may consider hiring a professional cleaning company. When you have a property management company, they already have established relationships with various types of cleaning companies and can ensure you get the best price. No matter what, this aspect of turnover cannot be overlooked.

Repairs

Repairs are part of property turnover

Unfortunately, not every aspect of your property will be in perfect condition once a tenant moves out. You want to make sure that everything is in working order and the place looks pristine to attract a new tenant. Repairs can be as small as simply filling in holes in the wall, or as large as new flooring. Major repairs can delay the time between tenants, so it’s important to stay on top of your maintenance before you have a vacancy.

Marketing & Showing

In order to help fill your property faster, you need to invest time and money into marketing the property. While there are some rental ads you can post for free, others do require a small fee. You also need to allow time and money for showing the property. A responsible renter will want to see the property before signing a lease, and you want responsible tenants. Coordinating a time to show your place and accounting for travel costs can make this a costly aspect of property turnover.

Application Processing

Once you’ve found a potential tenant, you need to do your due diligence and ensure you’re getting a quality renter. While you should be charging an application fee, you may not be ready to do that yet. With an application, you should be checking credit, criminal, and renting history. This ensures that you’ll receive rent on time, protect your other tenants, and reduce your eviction rate. While an application may seem unnecessary, it saves you money in the long run and ensures a responsible tenant.

Lost Income

When a tenant moves out, you want that vacancy filled as quickly as possible. However, there is no guarantee you’ll be able to fill your available rental that fast. So, in the meantime it’s important to prepare yourself for the loss of income you’ll have for an indefinite amount of time. This also gives more motivation to find a replacement tenant to ensure that you won’t be using any of your savings to cover a mortgage payment.

Preventing Property Turnover

Reducing tenant turnover rate

Did you know that 70% of turnover is avoidable? There are simple measures you can take to keep your tenants happy and keep your units full. While you can’t help if a tenant needs to move out of the city for a job or to be closer to family out of state, you can help ensure a tenant doesn’t leave your property for another one in town. With easy, low-cost tactics, you can keep tenants and prevent property turnover.

Maintain a Positive Relationship

Tenants are more likely to stay in one place if they feel heard and cared for. Establishing good communication is a great way to keep tenants. A part of this is responding to maintenance requests in a timely manner. If you can’t get to a request right away, it’s important to relay that to the tenant and keep them up to date on what’s happening.

Keep Rent Priced Fairly

Pricing your units at market value makes you a competitive property and ensures that tenants want to stay. If you’re charging too much, there’s a higher chance that your tenants will leave for a unit more fairly priced in the city. Don’t undercut yourself in the process, but keeping your property the right price will also keep your tenants.

Property Management and Tenant Turnover

There’s a lot to keep in mind when it comes to tenant turnover, and we understand how overwhelming it can be. So, if you’re ready to reduce your tenant turnover rate, Wolfnest is here to help. With experienced property managers, we can help make your property as profitable as possible. Finding long-term, reliable tenants is an important aspect to reducing turnover, and we can help with that. Contact us today to learn more about our property management services, and what we can do for you.

Our Utah SEO Company

Our Utah SEO Company

Utah SEO

Succeeding in the property management industry in Utah can be difficult due to the many competitors. In order to stand out from the competition, we here at Wolfnest have to make sure both landlords and renters can find our business online. Not only do we have to ensure that our website is simple and easy to use, but we also have to ensure that our potential clients are easily able to find our website in the first place. So, in order to do this, we began working with Firetoss, an agency here in Utah that offers various digital marketing services. Since the beginning of our partnership several years ago and still today, Firetoss helps us continue to build and maintain a strong digital presence with their Utah SEO services.

What Is SEO?

If you are familiar with digital marketing, you have probably heard the term “SEO” before. SEO stands for search engine optimization and is the process of increasing the visibility of your website to search engines, therefore driving more digital traffic to your website. On average, Google processes over 40,000 search queries every second, which translates to over 3.5 billion searches per day. And, that doesn’t even include other search engines such as Bing or Yahoo.

SEO Services

So, what does this mean? It means that users are flocking to search engines to help them find the answers, services, and products they are looking for. But, research shows that users overwhelmingly choose the first few organic listings on the search engine results page (SERP), with click-through rates decreasing to less than 3% after the 6th listing. SEO helps optimize your website, increasing its ranks on the SERPS, and ultimately driving more traffic to your site.

Utah SEO Services

Understanding the importance of SEO, we knew we needed some help with our Utah SEO for our website. Instead of trying to tackle the optimization of our website ourselves, we wanted the expertise of the Firetoss SEO team so that we could focus on the parts of our business that we love- like our customers. By partnering with Firetoss for their digital marketing services, we are able to spend more time managing our rental owners’ properties, solving problems, and keeping our clients happy and satisfied.

Here are some of the ways in which Firetoss helped build and execute our Utah SEO strategy.

Initial Research & Goal Implementation

To fully understand what it is we do here at Wolfnest, the Firetoss marketing team started out by strategizing and researching our industry, business, and website. On top of that, they also researched our competitors, performing a competitive analysis that showed us where we had opportunities to improve and stand out.

Using this information, Firetoss, in collaboration with our team, developed our Utah SEO strategy. By working with us, the experts at Firetoss were able to clearly understand our goals and put a plan in place that would help meet the KPIs we had designated. Having these clear, definable goals gave us a path to success and helped us understand the work Firetoss would be doing going forward for our site.

Technical SEO

Technical SEO services include things like optimizing page speed, ensuring a mobile-friendly site, creating sitemaps, adding structured data, and optimizing image types and sizes. These elements of Utah SEO will help search engines crawl and index your site effectively- which is the first step to ranking.

Things like improving page speed improve the user experience of your site, keeping users on your site as opposed to leaving and choosing a competitor instead. So, why do search engines care about performance? Well, search engines like Google want users to have a great experience too because that helps ensure that users will return to Google as opposed to other search engines. This is why search engines use page speed to help rank websites on their SERP.

These technical issues are only part of SEO digital marketing services, but they are extremely important. And, they take time and expertise to implement. That’s why we chose to have Firetoss take care of these technical fixes instead of investing a large amount of time it would take to do it ourselves.

Digital marketing services

Content and Link Building

Other than technical SEO services, Firetoss helped us improve the content on our site while implementing a strategic link structure as well. Content is a way to provide users fresh, valuable information, increasing the E-A-T (expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness) of your site. This helps in two ways- it builds brand awareness and trust on the user end, and it improves rankings.

With Firetoss, not only were we able to produce more high-quality content like landing pages and blogs, but we were also able to strategically place keywords throughout the content, helping to increase traffic. Keyword optimization includes placing important keywords in the body, headers, URL, image alt text, and meta tags of your pages. And by working with Firetoss, we didn’t have to worry about any of this, as they researched and found the terms with the highest search volume and placed them in the proper elements throughout our site.

Linking is another crucial aspect of Utah SEO, and Firetoss helped create and implement a linking structure for our site, using current and future content. Linking is another way that Google judges authority, and it also helps users and search engines navigate your site.

Wolfnest and Firetoss

Through working with Firetoss, their Utah SEO team was able to transform our website to a potential landlord and/or renter’s dream tool, packed with information, helpful articles, and listings. We are ranked at the top of Google for our desired keywords all thanks to the SEO services Firetoss has to offer. We continue to work with them to maintain our rankings and drive even more customers to our site. So, check out their Utah SEO services!

Questions to Ask a Property Manager Before Hiring In Utah

Questions to Ask a Property Manager Before Hiring In Utah

Questions to ask a property manager before hiring

Hiring a property manager or company is a big investment. Property management is complicated and fast-paced. It takes talent, dedication, and a unique skill set to succeed in the industry. Because of this, you’ll want to make sure you are choosing the right manager for your properties. In order to be completely confident in your choice, it is important to put together a list of questions to ask a property manager before hiring them.

Through these interview questions, you will be able to determine a little bit more about the property manager’s experience, knowledge, and ways of doing business.

Types of Interview Questions for a Property Management Company

There are a few main categories of questions to ask a potential management company for your Utah rental property. You will want to find out about their experience, including their understanding of Utah landlord-tenant law. Each state has different regulations and laws, so you will want to make sure the property manager you choose knows the area well.

You will also want to ask about their methods for managing rental property. The way a property manager chooses to operate will help you foresee what types of tenants will be living in your rental property, how maintenance will be handled, and how vacancies will be filled. It’s important to know these things before signing an agreement so that you and your property manager are on the same page about your property.

Understanding any additional fees they may charge, and how termination works is also important when choosing a property manager. You never want to be stuck in a contract with no way out.

Lastly, communication is the key to any great relationship, so you will also want to know how often and through what methods you will be contacting your property manager. Through these questions, hopefully, you will be able to better determine what kind of property manager is the right fit for you.

Property Management Experience Questions

Experience is about more than just how many units are managed. Ask about any formal training, applicable state licenses, the Utah eviction process, Fair Housing restrictions, what industry associations they are a part of, or how long they have been managing rentals. These types of questions will help you identify if your property manager has a solid foundation of experience to draw from when facing challenges.

Keep in mind, however, that the oldest property management company isn’t always the best. You want a property manager who keeps up with the industry’s best practices and is always on the lookout for what’s new and innovative. For example, Google wasn’t the first search engine, but their groundbreaking features and increasing market share indicate they are the one people prefer to use.

Here are some examples of questions to ask a potential property management company that will help you gain an understanding of their experience and commitment to their clients:

  1. Are you a licensed property manager?
  2. Do you have any certifications?
  3. How long have you been managing properties?
  4. How many properties are you currently managing?
  5. What types of properties are you currently managing?

Interview questions for property management company

Property Management Method Questions

Once you understand the experience level of a property manager or property management company, you’ll want to know the methods in which they manage their properties. This will help you further decide if it is a good fit, or if you should keep looking. Ask open-ended questions about how they manage rental properties. A few examples might include:

  1. What do you see as the key factors in keeping a rental property profitable?
  2. How do you determine a property’s rental amount?
  3. What systems do you have in place to effectively handle maintenance issues?
  4. Who handles the maintenance work?
  5. How do you collect rent from tenants?
  6. How do you market vacant properties?
  7. What are the income and screening requirements for applicants?

Answering questions like these will take some thought on the part of your property manager and you will quickly see how well your Utah property management company knows their industry.

Property Management Termination Questions

One other important question to ask a property manager before hiring is whether the management agreement will include a termination clause. Many property management companies offer a “satisfaction guarantee” that will allow you to cancel the agreement if you are not happy with the service. This helps prevent you from entering into a long-term agreement only to find out you are unhappy with the service.

Property Management Contact Questions

Communication is another important management issues to inquire about. Ask about office hours, how long before they return phone calls, or what type of regular communication you can expect. Typically, a property manager who communicates well will also manage your Utah rental property effectively.

Finding the Perfect Fit

In the end, it’s all about finding the property manager that is right for you. These interview questions for a property management company will help you gain a little more insight into how the manager or company run their business and if it’s a good fit. At Wolfnest, we understand how important this relationship is, and that’s why we pride ourselves on giving owners what they want and need for a successful rental property. With Wolfnest, you can customize your management plan by picking and choosing the specific services that you need. If you are looking for a Utah property management company who will work with you and create a lasting relationship, contact us today.

Why Every Landlord Should Charge Rental Application Fees

Why Every Landlord Should Charge Rental Application Fees

Why Every Landlord Should Charge Rental Application Fees

Once thought to be a tool to price-gouge future residents, rental application fees have actually proven their worth. In 2006, Utah’s Rent Control Prohibition Act was amended to add a list of fees that are set by the market and cannot be regulated or prohibited by the local government. To renters and non-landlords, this change could be seen as a potential money grab by landlords and property management companies. However, in the years following the amended act, rental fees have proven to be well worth it. There a variety of reasons landlords should be charging rental application fees. Overall, it is only beneficial for you as a landlord to begin requiring this fee and we have a few simple reasons as to why.

Why Do Apartments Have Application Fees?

The most common reasoning for this type of fee is generally to cover the expense of conducting a thorough background check. This typically includes:

Pulling a credit report

Reviewing any criminal history

Checking the sex offender registry

Conducting financial qualification

Reviewing any rental history

Background checks may not seem that important, but they are actually extremely helpful to landlords and beneficial to renters. When proper and thorough background checks are conducted the result is lower crime rates. Landlords are more likely to conduct these background checks if they charge fees that cover the cost. If renters are hesitant to pay this fee, it’s good business practice to inform them what this payment is going towards and that if they are rejected, it is refundable. The purpose of rental application fees is not to provide additional income to the landlord, but to screen applicants to ensure responsible tenants.

What is the average application fee for an apartment?

How Much is the Average Application Fee for an Apartment?

While this fee varies from state to state, renters can expect to pay anywhere from $30 to $60. As stated earlier, this pricing is determined by the market and is not dictated by the local government. That means this price can and should fluctuate as necessary. However, it’s in a landlord’s best interest to make it well-known to future renters that this fee is typically per renter over the age of 18, and is not a flat fee for everyone who will be living in the home. Being upfront about all upcoming and existing fees is best practice for successfully managing a property.

Why Are Rental Application Fees a Good Idea?

While there are many benefits for charging application fees, we have three top reasons for this extra charge.

Reduce Risk

This is a broad reason that encompasses many things, but it is important. By placing qualified tenants, you reduce the risk of damage to your property and the property of your other tenants. A successful background screening will bring up reasons why you wouldn’t want an individual renting from you. If they have a poor renting history, you can find this out before it’s too late and your property ends up being ruined. With a criminal background check, you can also reduce the risk of anything happening to your other tenants. A simple fee can save you thousands in damages later on down the road and gives you peace of mind from the first day a new tenant starts renting from you.

Reduce Costs

Unfortunately, thorough background checks aren’t free. Requiring one for every prospective tenant can add up very quickly and you’ll be the one footing the bill. Unexpected fees happen in property management, but this is a cost you can prevent. Requiring future renters to pay for their own screening makes running your business more cost-effective and will save you money in the long run.

Deter Unqualified Renters

Sometimes the rental application fee can serve as a qualifying process by itself. This ultimately saves you time by weeding out potential tenants who don’t think they will qualify before they even fill out the application. Not only do you save money, but this also makes you renter screening process more efficient. When you’re upfront with all prospective renters about the fees that will be required, you gain the trust of those who will qualify and give unqualified renters a chance to find another home.

Why do apartments have application fees

Rental Application Fees Are Important and Necessary

So, by now you should see why application fees are critical to successfully managing any property. At Wolfnest, we take care of the screening, fees, and everything else in between for you. This gives you less time to worry about your rental property and more free time to spend with family, take vacations, and pursue other hobbies. We require an application fee for all future renters and look into a variety of other types of criteria such as employment, income, and credit history. Our goal is to keep your rental property or apartment in prime condition with tenants who feel the same way. We want you to get the most from your investment and we’re here to help achieve that goal. At Wolfnest, we take care of all the small details you may not have time to look into and ensure that your property will be well taken care of. So, a great place to start is requiring a rental application fee and finding the perfect renters for your building or home. Learn more about other property management services we provide and contact us today!

5 Essential Qualities of a Rental Property Management Company

5 Essential Qualities of a Rental Property Management Company

rental property management

While some property and homeowners may believe that all residential property management companies are created equal, this is not the case. Any owner that has had a bad experience with property management can attest to this. It may seem like an owner may save money by employing the management company with the lowest rates, but they risk losing so much more in the long run. That’s why it’s important to put your rental property management in the best hands from the beginning. At Wolfnest, we believe in transparency and exceeding expectations. So, we’ve compiled the top five qualities you should look for when hiring a rental property management company.

Qualities to Look for in Rental Property Management

There are a lot of different factors to consider when choosing who will handle your rental property. While all are important, we have narrowed down the top five that we consider the most important and that will make the biggest difference in your property management experience.

Good Communication Skills

This may not seem that important, but good communication is very important in property management. A great property management company should be able to articulate what is happening with your property at any given time. The property manager interacts with many different people, including tenants, owners, and maintenance partners. So, the manager must be able to keep all parties on the same page. This is especially critical since many times these individuals might be frustrated or angry about something happening at the property. When dealing with these types of situations, it is imperative that the property manager remains calm and respond in a professional manner. If you feel like you can’t talk to your manager, why would you want to put them in charge of the day-to-day of your property? Open and easy communication is the first attribute to look for in a rental property management company.

Honest and Ethical

Since the property management company is collecting rent, security deposits, and other expenses, owners have to put a great deal of trust that the manager will always look out for their best interest. When the management company is hired, they are agreeing to uphold their fiduciary duty and perform the job with the highest level of integrity. This is why it is crucial that the property manager you hire will always consider your needs when making a decision about your property. With good communication skills, you should be able to establish the level of trust needed between you and your rental property management company.

Excellent Follow-Up Skills

In business, it’s extremely important to stay true to your word and do what you say you will. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. If a property manager says they will look into a maintenance issue and get back to you later that day, you expect them to follow-up. When you’re putting your property into the hands of someone else, you expect to be kept in the loop. It can be difficult to let go of control of your property, but sometimes it’s necessary when you have a busy schedule. So, always determine how efficient the company’s follow-up skills are before hiring them. This way, you’ll know what you’re getting into and can find the best property management company for your rental.

Valuable Maintenance Partner Relationships

Unfortunately, something will break and inevitably need to be fixed with every rental property. As an owner, you should have peace of mind knowing your property management company has relationships in place to have these issues resolved correctly and in a timely manner. You should also feel confident enough in the property management company to keep existing relationships you may already have. Maintenance is simply a part of owning any rental property, and part of hiring a management company is transferring the responsibility to them. So, just as you should trust your manager to be honest and ethical, you should also trust them when it comes to valuable maintenance partner relationships.

Knowledgeable on Rules and Regulations

Many owners may not realize there are many local, state, and federal regulations you must adhere to when renting a property. If these are not compiled within the leasing agreement, an owner may be opening themselves up to future lawsuits. One of the perks of hiring a rental property management company is they have knowledge of these regulations. At least, they should. This is an important factor to consider when choosing your property management company. They should already know about these regulations, and how to adhere to them. So, in order to protect yourself in the long run, find a property management company that knows all the ins and outs of the different renting regulations.

Rental Property Management Company

Finding the Right Rental Property Management

While these are the top five qualities to look for, these aren’t the only things to consider. The most important part of finding the right property management is doing your research. It is critical to know what you’re getting into before going into business with a property management company. However, keep these top five qualities in mind:

  • Good communication skills
  • Honest and ethical
  • Excellent follow-up skills
  • Valuable maintenance partner relationships
  • Knowledgeable on rules and regulations

These are a great starting point for anyone looking for a property management company for the first time or reevaluating your current management. So, if these qualities do not describe your current property manager, Wolfnest is here to help. Download our free information packet to find out how we can improve the performance of your rental property.