What Options Do I Have If My Tenant is Breaking a Lease Agreement?

What Options Do I Have If My Tenant is Breaking a Lease Agreement?

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Lease agreements are invaluable legal contracts that allow both the tenant and the property owner to abide by the rules of the tenancy. It’s a form of assurance that the tenant will pay rent until the expiry of the lease and that the landlord won’t raise the rent.

But sometimes tenants don’t hold part of their bargain. A new job, marital issues, new house, and other reasons can force tenants to break lease agreements. Whenever this happens, it is important to know how you can handle the situation to avoid losses.

As a property owner, it is crucial to know what it means when renters breach tenancy agreements. Unless landlords violate the terms of the contract, a tenant is obligated to the terms of an early termination clause.

Still, under some circumstances, there are valid reasons that allow renters to break a lease. In effect, you can either be legally bound to release tenants without any penalties or be in a legal position to seek compensation. Here are some actionable tasks you can do to prevent or handle a broken lease agreement.

Consider A Lease Termination Clause As A Landlord

Including a lease termination clause in the tenancy agreement is the surest way of mitigating financial costs associated with tenants breaking leases. Such a provision would explain and provide a guideline regarding what should be done when renters terminate contracts early. The clause allows renters to give an early notice; this is typically 30-60 days before the intended day of moving out.

Lease termination for landlords is necessary as it gives you a chance to find new tenants while the departing tenant pays for rent. However, most states, including Utah, require landlords to actively search for new occupants to avoid overburdening the current lessee.

The early termination clause allows you to legally bind the tenant to the terms of breaking a lease. You’ll clearly outline the consequences of breaking the lease before the expiry of the term.

Within this clause, you can introduce a buy-out clause that allows the tenant or you to break the lease. In this case, the individual breaking the lease pays a penalty fee, which is equivalent to no more than two month’s rent – as required by the law. If you go with this option, sometimes it ends up being a costly choice if you can’t find a new tenant quickly.

Typically, you have three options as a landlord when a tenant breaks the lease:

  • Subletting – this means allowing the current lessee to sublet the property to another person. When this happens, ensure that the new tenant qualifies as a good tenant. Also, inform the previous renter that the security deposit won’t be available until the end of the original lease.
  • Re-Renting – the law requires you to advertise your property as vacant as soon as you receive a notice from the tenant. You can shift marketing costs to the tenant provided that you have clearly indicated that provision in the early termination clause.
  • The third option is letting the tenant pay for rent balance for the remaining months. This can work if there are a few months (less than 3 months) to the expiry of the lease. Note that the law requires you to mitigate damages when renters break lease agreements, so deliberately leaving the property idle is downright illegal.

 

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Demand for an Early Notice

Regardless of the reason that motivates your tenant to move out before the end of the lease term, you can include in the lease agreement the need to provide an early notice. You can give anywhere between 30 to 60 days depending on what works for you.

Can Tenants Break The Lease?

There are a few situations where the tenant can legally break a lease agreement. In Utah, you cannot subject your tenant to the buy-out or early termination clause if:

  • He/she is an active military duty
  • He/she is a victim of domestic violence
  • Your rental unit is considered inhabitable. Ensure that you meet Salt Lake City area health and safety codes.
  • You harass or violate your tenant’s privacy. You are required to give a 24-hour notice before entering the property. Also, you cannot change locks, tamper with utilities, remove doors/windows, or do anything that violates the tenant’s rights.

When Breaking a Lease is Unjustifiable

You’re legally allowed to hold the tenant to the terms of the lease in case they provide unjustifiable reasons for breaking the contract. Breaking lease is inexcusable if tenants are:

  • Moving to a new house
  • Relocating to a new job/school
  • Moving in with a spouse
  • Moving to be close to family

Terminating a lease agreement can come with unforeseen nightmares. As a property owner, cushion yourself from this by writing a thorough lease agreement containing a legally-binding early termination clause. Another option you can take is to take it off your plate altogether. At Wolfnest, we provide professional property management services that can help you save time and money. We specialize in filling vacant properties, handling tenants, and much more. Start managing properties the Wolfnest way today!

 

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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.

 

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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.

The Key Questions

There are many property managers out there who may claim to be professionals yet they don’t have the talent or the required skill set. So, how do you tell between a professional property manager and an amateur? The easiest way is to know which specific questions to ask a property manager. 

If you’re a landlord or property owner, here are some of the key questions to ask a property manager before hiring them.

How is Your Fee Structure Determined?

This is one of the most important queries you need to ask before hiring a property manager. There may be additional charges that you don’t know about and knowing the company’s fee structure helps you know every cost that you might incur. 

Ask the property manager to clearly define their fee structure. You can also ask how they determine the rent amount of each rental unit that they manage.

What is the Level of Experience in Managing Rental Properties?

You need to know how long the property manager has been in the industry. More experience means more knowledge about the market. Additionally, experienced property managers have more rental units. This is a key pointer to their quality of service as more rental units mean more clients, which should equal better service. 

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 additional 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?

How Do You Protect Your Clients From Liability?

It is important to get a property manager who’ll have a plan on how to protect you from any liability. Go for a property manager who is well versed in legal agreements regarding all types of property in the state or city.

Ask your potential property manager about managing potential crises. For instance, who should cater for emergency maintenance costs?

What Plans Are in Place to Maximize My Investment?

A great property manager will come up with some plans on how to maximize your investments. This is a very important question as property management is all about making profits. You should go with a company that has your best interests at heart.

What Are Your Criteria for Determining the Rent?

Ask the potential property managers how they plan to set the rent for different rental units. This will help you know how much your property is worth and how much you’ll expect to earn every month. 

It is also important to ask what happens when the rental units are vacant. Some property management companies may continue to charge you even when the unit is vacant.

How Can I Cancel the Management Contract?

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. 

You need to know what conditions allow you to terminate the contract. Don’t get locked into something you can’t easily escape.

How Do You Market Properties?

This question helps you know how the company advertises and whether their plan is effective. Great marketing plans ensure more tenants and improve the income you can earn from the property.

What is Your Cost-Saving Strategy?

Before hiring a property manager, you need to know their cost-saving strategies. This is very important as it helps you know whether or not your investment is in good hands. You’ll ultimately 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:
A rental agreement after hiring a property manager.

  1. What do you see as the key factors in keeping a rental property profitable?
  2. What systems do you have in place to effectively handle maintenance issues?
  3. Who handles the maintenance work?
  4. How do you collect rent from tenants?
  5. How do you market vacant properties?
  6. 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.

How Often Are We Going To Communicate?

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.

How To Maximize Tenant Retention

How To Maximize Tenant Retention

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Getting new clients isn’t very easy and each month your property stays vacant is a month you’ve lost income. Did you know improving your tenant retention rates by approximately 5% increases your profits by between 25%-95%? Crazy, right?

But how does a landlord or property owner make their tenants more inclined to stay in their properties? Here are a few ideas that could help you maximize tenant retention.

 

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Begin at Tenant Screening

Tenant screening is the first step to improving your customer retention rate. Finding great tenants means that you’ll avoid many of the issues that sour the relationship between landlords and tenants. 

 

While screening your tenants, make sure to find out a bit of the following:

  • The nature of their employment 
  • How long they plan to stay
  • If they have a family or live alone
  • Their criminal records
  • Credit score

 

These are important factors that will help you know whether or not they are going to become long-term tenants. For better tenant retention rates, go for tenants who have a great history with their past landlords, and are planning to stay for a longer period.

 

Develop a Good Relationship With the Tenants

From the get-go, it’s very easy for tenants to dislike their landlord. But you can develop a great relationship with your tenants to improve the quality of their stay. Tenants who have a great relationship with their landlords will want to stay for a longer period.

 

One of the easiest ways to develop a great relationship with your tenants is by being understanding. Try talking with them as though they are on the same level as you and even when they are late on their rent payment approach them with an understanding tone. 

 

Conduct Research on Why Tenants Are Leaving

This is one of the best ways to learn why tenants are not staying. Finding out why they are leaving gives you very valuable information on how you can improve your tenant retention rates.

 

You can survey the existing tenants by asking them what would make them want to leave. Additionally, you can have exit interviews with tenants who are already vacating to find out their reasons. If it’s something you can fix, try reasoning with them as this might make them stay. 

Continue To Rent The Property Below Market Value

Many owners and property management companies feel that a rent increase should happen every year in order to maximize cash flow. If you are willing to make a small concession to your excellent tenant, it will make them feel valued and will not give them a reason to find a new place to live.

 

Become More Personal

At the end of the day, your tenants are just human, becoming personal lets them see a different version of you. This helps them realize that you are not that different from them. Letting them learn more about your personal life helps deepen the relationship you have with your tenants. 

 

You can become more personal with your tenants by:

  • Sending out holiday and gift cards 
  • Holding regular personal conversations with them
  • Remembering important details about your tenants like their birthdays
  • Letting them know that they can reach out to you at anytime
  • Hosting annual parties where you invite all the tenants 

 

These steps are very important as they’ll help you become closer to your tenants. They will develop a sense of loyalty towards you, making it very hard for them to leave. 

 

Provide Great Incentives

Providing great incentives will improve your tenant retention rates and also attract new tenants. For instance, handle maintenance issues effectively and regularly. You can also go the extra mile to improving your tenants’ living conditions such as installing better insulation in the houses. 

You can also give your tenants gifts just before it’s time for them to renew their lease. Go for something personal that lets them know you are grateful for all the time they have stayed. This will make them feel appreciated and improve the chance of them staying. 

 

Maximize Tenant Retention With Property Management Services

Providing great incentives will improve your tenant retention rates and also attract new tenants. For instance, handle maintenance issues effectively and regularly. You can also go the extra mile to improving your tenants’ living conditions such as installing better insulation in the houses. 

 

You can also give your tenants gifts just before it’s time for them to renew their lease. Go for something personal that lets them know you are grateful for all the time they have stayed. This will make them feel appreciated and improve the chance of them staying. 

 

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10 Tips for First-Time Landlords Who Want Better Relationships With Tenants

10 Tips for First-Time Landlords Who Want Better Relationships With Tenants

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A sky scraper building managed by a first time landlord.
A positive landlord-tenant relationship can reduce many of the problems associated with property management. Tenants who maintain positive relations with their landlord throughout their tenancy are more likely to renew contracts and pay rent on time. Whether you’re a first-time landlord or a seasoned expert, all landlords need a guide to renting their multifamily housing units or investment properties at some point. Here are 10 landlord tips to help develop a better relationship with future and current tenants so that you can get the best experience when renting out your property.

#1. Screen tenants

Tenant screening is one of the most important things you can do before renting out your property. It lets you check the following information about a prospective tenant:

  • Background
  • Reference history
  • Credit history
    • Excellent credit — 750 and above
    • Good credit — 700 to 749
    • Fair credit — 650 to 699
    • Poor credit — 600 to 649
    • Bad credit — anything below 600
  • Employment information

All of this information lets you determine the perfect tenant for your property and mitigate risk. You will able to better understand a prospective tenant’s financial situation and prevent non-payment of rent and even eviction. Although tenant screening might requite an outlay, it should provide you with a good investment return.

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#2. Handle security deposits properly

You don’t need to collect a security deposit by law, but a deposit provides you with a financial safeguard in the event a tenant damages your property or doesn’t pay rent. Here are some security deposit tips:

  • Tell your tenants how you will be collecting, holding, and returning their security deposits. 
  • Inspect and document the condition of your property before the tenant moves in. This will avoid any disputes when the tenant moves out. 
  • Make sure your tenant understands the conditions for obtaining the security deposit at the end of the tenancy. 
  • Keep a tenant’s deposit in a safe place. 
  • Carry out an inspection of your property before you return the deposit. You might want to deduct any cleaning charges or damages from the deposit.

#3. Write a lease or agreement

A written lease or month-to-month agreement provides you and your tenant with peace of mind. You should establish what kind of relationship you have with your tenant, as well as the following information:

  • How you will handle tenant complaints.
  • How you will handle repair problems.
  • When you expect the rent.
  • Late penalties for non-payment of rent.
  • Rules about pets and guests.
  • Fire safety information.
  • Other important information about the tenancy. 

Using a property management service such as Wolfnest will take the stress out of tenant leases and agreements.

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#4. Provide secure premises

There are up to 2.6 million robberies in the United States every year, so you need to protect your property from would-be intruders. Here’s how to do it:

  • Install lighting.
  • Set up security cameras and alarms.
  • Trim landscapes. (This lets criminals know that someone is living in your property).
  • Ask your tenants to take the appropriate steps for safeguarding your property, such as locking doors and closing windows when they leave your home.

#5. Perform Repairs

As a landlord, you need to perform some essential repairs by law. Not making repairs on time can often lead to a breakdown in your relationship with a tenant, so it’s important to stay on top of any maintenance commitments. 

Lawsuits can sometimes arise because of injuries caused by defective conditions in properties. Keep your property in good condition to prevent the chances of this happening. This includes fixing any broken fixtures and fittings at the end of the tenancy. 

A property management service can take care of repairs for you, which will save you time.

#6. Give tenants notice before you enter the property

If tenants are living in your property, you need to provide 48 hours written notice before you enter the unit and 24 hours notice if you are showing the unit to a new tenant or purchaser. Not giving enough notice can lead to a strained relationship with tenants.

This shouldn’t stop you from wanting to enter your property, however. It is important you inspect your unit on a regular basis for damages and to make sure your tenants have all the services they require.

#7. Manage property managers

A property manager can take care of many of the tasks associated with the maintenance of your property, including tenant placement, listings management, and inspections. However, not all property managers are the same.

It’s essential that you carry out a full background check on any potential property manager as they will have full access to your unit at all times. In addition, you may be held financially responsible if a property manager is incompetent, negligent, or carries out a criminal offense.

#8. Disclose environmental hazards

You should tell tenants immediately about any environmental hazards on your property, such as mold or lead-based paint. You could be held responsible for a tenant’s health if a problem arises because of exposure to toxic environments. 

Maintaining your property will reduce any environmental hazards, and a property management service can do all the hard work for you.

#9. Resolve disputes

A home managed by a first time landlord.
There are many disputes that can arise over the course of a tenancy, and you should always try to resolve any problems as quickly as you can. Here are some quick tips:

  • Try to work out disputes without involving a lawyer, if you can. 
  • Talk to your tenant about disputes over rent, repairs, deposits, noise, building access, or issues that don’t require immediate eviction. 
  • Try to solve these problems by meeting your tenant face-to-face without hiring a third party.

#10. Obtain insurance

Insurance provides you with a financial safeguard in case a tenant tries to take you to court for alleged discrimination or injuries. You can also take out insurance to cover any costs associated with burglary, vandalism, fire, or storms. 

There are various insurers that will provide you with the financial protection you need, but shop around for the best cover. Comparing insurers online will help you get the best deals on property and liability insurance. 

These are a few tips for new landlords and a refresher for industry experts. Nonetheless, working with a property management company can help you develop deeper relationships with your tenants. Learn more about Wolfnest’s services or call 801-523-4230.

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Things to Consider When Renting Out Your Property

Things to Consider When Renting Out Your Property

A person's handing over keys to rent out their property.

There are many things to consider when renting out your property. It may seem exciting to get some extra cash flow by turning your home into a rental opportunity, but you need to know what to expect. Have you done this before? Are you familiar with the pros and cons? Do you know what you want in the lease?  Before you decide to go for it and turn your house into a rental property, make sure you know exactly what you are getting yourself into.

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Finding Good Tenants

Becoming a landlord is a big deal. Finding good tenants can be a long, difficult waiting game. You don’t just want any tenant, you want a good one. You need someone who will not only take care of your house, but will pay their rent on time. To market your rental and find the best tenant, you will most likely use some kind of out source services that will make your listing easily accessible to potential tenants. There is sure to be a monthly fee until your house gets rented. However long you decided to continue listing, you will continue to pay.

Although a person can be well mannered, seem normal, and have a steady job, for many unassuming landlords they just may become your worst nightmare. It is best to do some further investigation on whether or not you want that person to occupy your house. 

Some basic procedures that you can do to avoid nightmare tenants are:

  • Credit Check – Make sure their credit is up to par and they are able to pay their rent. If their credit is low, they may not be responsible enough for you to take a chance on.
  • Interview – Have questions lined up to interview your tenant. Meet them face to face and see if this is someone that you would like to be your tenant. Ask them what they would do in different rental problem scenarios.
  • Referrals – Request referrals from past landlords, bosses, and/or past neighbors. They can give you a great insight to who this potential tenant really is.
  • Google them – These are the times we live in! Google them, check out their social media. Get a feel for who they are. Performing a background check isn’t a bad idea either.
  • Use a Rental Agent – The benefits of using a rental agent are plentiful. They take care of the leg work, and you get a great tenant.

Benefits of A Rental Agent

Although you may think you are ready to tackle this new idea of having a rental property, it’s really not for everyone. Getting the best tenants can be hard. Maintaining and managing the property can be hard. If it’s something that you would really like to do – but could go without the headache that can come along with it, use a rental agent to list your rental and check out Wolfnest for your property management needs.

A rental agent can take care of marketing your rental, determining the best price, and help you decide what should go in the lease to best protect you. You don’t have to go at this alone. Use professionals for the best experience.

What to Include in a Rental Lease

Tenancy agreements can vary, but do follow a general template. Keep in mind that it is still your house and you are entitled to adjust your terms and conditions accordingly. Besides rent price and payment dates, there are many other things to consider before renting out your property.  Will you allow pets? Does the tenant have use of the yard? Do they have access to the basement and garage? Will you allow them to paint? Is this lease for 1 year, month to month, or minimum of 2 years? You can customize your property requests, but try to stick to the basics. Otherwise, it will be hard to find a tenant willing to jump through all your hoops.

You may see the benefits of a rental agent if you need some help with this part. They will know what’s standard in your area and what a reasonable price is compared to others nearby. A rental agent will also be able to get your listing seen by many, and rented out quickly.

Cost For Maintenance Work

Normal wear and tear is bound to happen, regardless of the tenant. There will be some kind of upkeep or maintenance that you will be required to do. This should also be clear in the lease terms. Are you going to take care of the lawn maintenance, or is the tenant expected to? Are they required to keep paint colors neutral or repaint before they leave? If these are not clear from the beginning, you could end up taking on a lot of extra work.

Think about if the washer and dryer or refrigerator breaks, that’s on you as the owner. You are expected to repair or replace, and quickly. Same with plumbing and heating. Renters want a place that is low maintenance. Tenants don’t want to be responsible for fixing something that isn’t theirs. That’s part of the joy of renting. 

Having an investment opportunity is a great way to earn extra money, but there are so many things to consider before renting out your property. It can become time consuming and expensive if you get bad tenants or don’t prepare yourself ahead of time. Becoming a landlord doesn’t have to be stressful. Let Wolfnest handle the details of renting out your property. Whether it’s single family or multi family rental properties, our fully trained experts are ready to help you find the best tenants, with minimal vacancies, and increase your ROI for your new rental property. Let Wolfnest help you get started today.

Landlord Insurance Tips That Can Save You Money On Your Rental Property

Landlord Insurance Tips That Can Save You Money On Your Rental Property

A person using landlord insurance tips to save money.

As real estate investors ourselves, learning how to save money on a rental property is crucial to the game. But, sometimes it’s not all about saving money. It’s protecting yourself from any accidents that might happen to your tenants on any of your properties. The good news, with the proper insurance policy, you are covered if anything should go wrong. However, as you might already know, landlord insurance policies can be pretty pricey. Therefore, learning the right landlord insurance tips can save money as a landlord and protect your tail from any future liability issues. This can allow you to reap even more benefits as an investor. Especially when you have the right property management team to help you along the way.

First: What is the difference between Homeowners and Landlord Insurance?

If you believe your homeowner’s insurance will cover your rental property, you are mistaken. Landlords who turn their homes into rental property may be confused with the difference between homeowners and landlord insurance.  Rental agreement length and rental frequency are an important thing to consider when determining if homeowner’s insurance is a better option than landlord insurance. For example, if you have a home that you are temporarily moving out of for a short period of time, then your current homeowner’s policy may cover the tenants living there. The policy could cover certain damages such as a fire or break-in. Depending on the type of policy, some insurers won’t grant a valid homeowner’s insurance policy if you are not living in the home. A local agent or a real estate expert will be able to help you understand the type of outcomes that may or may not be covered by the insurance policy if you were renting your home to tenants. If you plan on renting the property to long-term individuals, then landlord insurance will be needed. Landlord insurance will typically cover the whole property from damages such as fire, water, wind, and/or hail. Homeowners insurance and landlord insurance are very similar but with some key differences including: 

  1. Coverage of personal property. Homeowners insurance may cover personal belongings such as furniture, clothing, and other household items like a computer. Landlord insurance will typically cover items used to service the property. These may include landscape tools to maintain the property or certain appliances. 
  2. Liability coverage on the property. Typically, landlord insurance will cover your liability related to the rented property. If a landlord is found legally responsible for an injury that happened to the tenants in the home, their insurance may help pay for the legal fees or medical expenses. 

Policies will differ depending on the insurance company. Depending on what you are looking for as the landlord, you may choose to just have a standard policy that covers basic building damages (fire, flooding, burst pipes, wind, etc.), additional structures like a shed and/or garage, and landlord liability insurance. More extensive policies are available as well with coverages for additional damages and hazards. 

Saving Money on Landlord Insurance

If you’re a new landlord in the arena or have been one for some time, you know that landlord insurance isn’t cheap. When comparing the price for landlord insurance to homeowners’ insurance, you can expect to pay up to 15% to 25% more! Luckily, there are some ways you can save money on a landlord insurance policy. 

  1. Shop, shop, shop like its black Friday. Getting the best deal on landlord insurance can mean spending a lot of time shopping around. It’s no surprise that policies vary from insurer to insurer. If you are currently with an insurance provider, see if getting a quote from another company lowers your current expense. If not, it may be time to find a new provider. 
  2. Look for discounts like you’re a coupon clipper. As you’re shopping around ask different providers about the discounts that may apply to you. These different discounts may include new customer discounts, multi-policy discounts, loyalty discounts, renovation discounts, referral discounts, and group discounts. Additionally, ask your current insurance provider if you may be eligible for any of these discounts and they may requote you a better deal. 
  3. Add property safety features as if you’re a mall cop. Improving the property’s safety and security may get you a better deal on landlord insurance. This is because you’ve become less of a liability in the insurer’s eyes. Updating the property’s smoke alarm and burglar alarms, adding/updating security cameras, adding motion light sensors, and installing deadbolts or sprinklers can lower your risk as a landlord and ultimately get you a better deal on insurance. 

Remember to not only ask about professional group discounts but also ask if you qualify for a discount membership.

Encourage Your Tenants to Purchase Rental Insurance

Remember, landlord insurance will not cover the tenant’s personal items and belongings. Renters insurance is a cheap and easy solution to protect your tenants from any risk of losing any personal property in an accident such as a collapsed tree or a fire. When you sign a new tenant, you should add renters insurance as a condition in the lease agreement. This may protect you from future liability issues that may happen in an accident. Not to mention your tenant’s assets as well. Encouraging your tenants to purchase a renters policy to cover their items can benefit and protect both parties in case of an emergency.

Don’t Over File Claims

There is a limit for how many claims you may file before your landlord insurance company starts charging you more or cancels your policies altogether. So, one of the best ways to save on landlord insurance is not to file unless you really have to. Filing claims can add up quickly, especially if you own a lot of properties that you rent to tenants! There are cases when filing a claim is more important to do than in other cases. For example, if a person alleges they were injured on the property then this would be a scenario where you would want to file a claim as a landlord. But, other cases like water-damage that is under $10,000 would be a claim you wouldn’t want to file. The reason being, when a property is damaged by water, uncertainties about mold developing in the future will cause some insurers to cancel your policy.  We understand that it can be tough dealing with all of the nuances as a landlord. Finding the best landlord insurance policy can be a time consuming and lengthy process. This time takes you away from investing and building up your portfolio in other properties costing you even more money! Wolfnest is a property management company that takes away the headache of dealing with all the baggage that comes with renting out your real estate investments. And get this, we save you more money than the other guys. Being real estate investors ourselves, we can help you with expert advice and great property management services. Contact us today and let us know how we can help you!

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How to Maximize Property Management Cost Savings

How to Maximize Property Management Cost Savings

A photo of maximizing property management services.

As any good real estate book will tell you, the formula for real estate investing success is some variation of the following: Maximize revenue + Minimize expenses = Maximum Profit. For example, a rent increase would obviously be a move to maximize revenue while price shopping maintenance vendors would be a cost-cutting one. How about paying for professional property management? A cost increase, right? Wrong! In many cases, hiring a Utah property management company to manage your rental property will actually provide you property management cost savings beyond what you pay in management fees! Let’s analyze how:

Establish Long Term Relationships With Your Renters To Increase The Profit From Your Rentals

Truth be told, long-term tenants are not “attracted” but rather “created”. Tenants who renew their lease year after year do so because their current living situation suits their needs. The moment it stops doing so they will move – guaranteed. So the answer to the question of how to create long-term tenants really becomes how to make sure your property continues to meet the needs of your residents.

Many owners new to rental property investing are surprised to hear that their single largest expense of ownership beyond the mortgage isn’t maintenance or repairs; it’s a vacancy. Every day your unit sits vacant you lose potential rental income. So if your Salt Lake City rental property receives $1,000 per month in rent, and it takes you thirty days or more to find a tenant, you just paid for professional property management. Aggressive marketing strategies, professional leasing agents and resident retention programs are just a few of the vacancies reducing benefits offered by professional property management.

So how is a property manager supposed to know how well a property meets the needs of their tenant? Simple, just listen to them. Every time you communicate with your residents, they are giving you clues about what is important to them. Pay attention, keep good notes and respond in a timely manner to tenant concerns and you will increase your renewal rate. Also, these tips will certainly help.

1) Treat your residents with respect. It’s easy to fall into the bad habit of treating your tenants like an inconvenience. After all, every time they call it’s to fix this or complain about that, right? Wrong. It’s an opportunity to listen to their needs. Professional property management companies in Salt Lake City pay attention to what’s important to their tenants and take steps to address their concerns.

2) Go the extra mile. Going above and beyond for your tenants is about the little things. Build goodwill by giving them a small gift at move-in, sending a holiday greeting card, or remembering to wish them a happy birthday. Small gestures like these add a personal touch to an otherwise all-business relationship and can mean the world to some people.

3) Find out what’s important and give it to them. Property management firms in Salt Lake City who put an emphasis on tenant retention usually keep excellent records. Go back through your notes and see what clues they’ve given you about what they value. If you find they’ve had problems with a stubborn appliance, offer to replace it when you reach out to discuss a lease renewal. They will certainly appreciate the gesture, and you’ll find that spending a few hundred dollars replacing an old dishwasher is far cheaper than finding new tenants.

By taking simple steps like these, many Salt Lake City property management companies are able to drastically increase their resident retention. Ask anyone who manages rentals for a living and they’ll tell you that an increase in resident retention equals an increase in your profitability.

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Screening Tenants Who Are Qualified

Statistics show that once a tenant falls two weeks behind on rent, 50% will never catch up leaving you little choice but to evict. Utah evictions can be costly, plus you have the added expense of turnover, which averages $2,500 to $3,500 in Utah and could take three to four weeks! For this reason, it is vital that you screen tenants by conducting criminal background checks and pulling credit reports in addition to qualifying tenants financially. Hiring a qualified Utah property manager will ensure that your tenants undergo rigorous screening before being allowed to occupy your rental. Consider these tips in more detail:

1)  Requesting an application from the potential tenant. Making a solid application can save you from future and financial headaches. You can conduct these screenings on your own by generating a simple rental application or using one you found online. Luckily, a property manager will take care of this for you. They will conduct screenings that will provide you valuable information including: 

  • Employment Status
  • Income Level
  • Personal Finances 
  • Contact Information Form Previous Landlords
  • References
  • Lifestyle Information

2) Running a credit check to gauge financial responsibility. After you run their credit check, you’ll be able to view their credit history and debt. When analyzing their credit history, we look at their history of late payments, any bankruptcy’s, and collection payments. Additionally, we check their current debt to see if they have maxed out credit cards, have a lot of loans, or any unpaid balances. After analyzing these numbers as a whole, we can make an accurate judgment on how financially responsible this individual currently is.

3) Conduct a background check to see a report of a potential tenant’s past. Companies like StarPoint and ScreeningWorks will conduct this report for a fee and will include criminal, eviction, and credit history.  If the potential tenant has been evicted recently, we might ask them for their reasons why and talk to their past landlord. If the eviction details seem valid, we may reconsider renting to that individual. Criminal records can not only protect you as a landlord but other tenants as well. While it’s easy to look past youthful crimes, if the individual has a lengthy or serious record, considering another applicant may be advantageous. 

A professional property management company takes care of all these problems on your behalf. Since Wolfnest has years of experience dealing with tenants and placement, we have the resources and skills to find high-quality long-term tenants for your property.

How Property Managers Help You Save Money On Property Maintenance

As with other areas of life, hiring a professional is usually worth the added expense. For example, you most likely wouldn’t risk representing yourself in court without a law degree or attempt to fix your own car if you aren’t a mechanic. So, with so much as risk, why try to manage your own property without the necessary skills or training? Especially when it’s clear just how much more money you’ll make when your property is managed efficiently. Ways we help you are:

1) Property managers help owners continue to invest. Maintenance calls, filling vacancies or collecting rent takes a lot of time and money if you do it on your own. In order to maximize your rental investment and portfolio, you may want to outsource these services to a company that is an expert in these areas. And a property management company does just that. Let us handle the “dirty work” while you focus on building your portfolio and freeing up your time. 

2) Property managers can get you a better service rate. When replacing a water heater or a new air conditioning unit, chances are you pay the retail price as a landlord. Not to mention a service fee for a professional to install it. A property management firm saves you money when it comes to these services because they partner with top-rated service professionals. That means when your tenants’ water heater breaks, the management team files, orders, and replaces the part without you ever having to lift a finger.

Hiring the right team for property management services can save you a lot of property management costs by managing your property, tenant’s relationships, and time. Wolfnest rental property management services allow you to have peace of mind and truly enjoy the outcomes of your investment. 

 

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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!