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!


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.

Remodeling Your Rental Property in Utah

Remodeling Your Rental Property in Utah

remodeling rental property

“You have to spend money to make money.” This is an old, common phrase you have probably heard several times. While this can apply to a variety of different businesses and ventures, it is especially true when you begin investing in rental properties. Prospective renters are looking for reasonable rent, especially in Utah, but that doesn’t mean they want to sacrifice amenities like new appliances or hardwood floors. Before you start listing your property for rent, you may want to consider how you can improve your rental.

At Wolfnest, we understand that it can be difficult to dedicate funds to improving an investment that may already be producing for you. However, this can be one of the most important decisions you can make. If you spend your money wisely and remodel your property the right way, you could cover the cost of the remodel in a few short months while increasing your cash flow.

Let’s break this down with an example. Last year, I spent $2,000 on upgrading features and overall remodeling my rental property. As a direct result of renovating the rental property, the monthly rent of my property went from $1,000 to $1,250. By increasing my monthly cash flow by $250, I was able to cover the cost of the property remodeling in eight months, and pocket an extra $1,000 for the remaining four months of the year. So, taking the time to renovate your property can pay off big in the long run.

Remodeling Your Rental Property Inexpensively

While a total overhaul may be necessary in some cases, other times simple, inexpensive upgrades can be sufficient. So, what are some ways you can upgrade your rental property and maximize your rental income?

Replace Door Handles

It’s no surprise that home trends come and go. Some can be difficult to keep up with, but others are a relatively quick fix. One of these is simply upgrading your door handles from an outdated brass to a more contemporary brushed nickel. Brass door handles are typically found in older properties but have fallen out of style and use in new homes. Since you need to change the lock from tenant to tenant anyway, replacing all the handles throughout a property is a simple additional task. Brushed nickel will automatically give the home a fresher look, and update the property overall.

Upgrade Light Fixtures

Depending on what kind of lighting your property already has, this can be a quick fix or a slightly more intensive project. However, lighting can make all the difference. Replacing dated light fixtures with a more modern look can brighten up particular areas within the home. This can help to showcase great accents that you want to be noticed, such as a breakfast nook or other architectural features. Make any property more modern with a simple light fixture upgrade.

Apply a Fresh Coat of Paint

A new paint job is one of the simplest methods of property remodeling. Whether it’s a brand new color or an upgrade of the existing paint, a fresh coat of paint can bring life to any rental property. In addition, you can install new crown molding and instantly give the property a higher-end look. Another option is simply painting the existing crown molding to brighten it up, and draw attention to this particular feature. When it’s as simple as applying some fresh paint, remodeling your rental property is a no brainer.

Completely Renovating a Rental Property

If your property needs a little more intensive remodeling, you can start with small renovations. There are two major areas of the home that we recommend renovating first: the kitchen and the bathroom. These are two areas of the home that are important to renters and can help bring your property to the next level.

The Kitchen

When you start renovating the kitchen, there are a few areas we suggest focusing on first. These include:

        • Replacing laminate flooring with tile
        • Painting the cabinets
        • Upgrading appliances to stainless steel

Upgrading and replacing a few of these things can easily transform a kitchen and make it look brand new. This is a great option for older properties that may not have other amenities available.

property remodeling

The Bathroom

The bathroom can make or break a property for some renters. Cleanliness is very important, and it’s no secret that the older some features are, the dirtier they can look. A few easy upgrades for this section of the home include:

        • Re-tiling the bathtub/shower
        • Replacing laminate countertops with granite
        • Upgrading the showerhead

There are many different things you can do to transform a bathroom, and this is just the beginning. Upgrading parts of the bathroom over a longer period of time helps lower the initial cost. However, some updates are so simple you could have them done in an afternoon.

Why Property Remodeling is Important

Spending the money to remodel a rental property may seem impractical, but I assure you it can be very beneficial if you upgrade the right areas. Whether it’s a simple upgrade or a complete overhaul, any and all updates will only benefit you in the long run. Start with seeing what other owners have done to homes in the area, so you know what is important to renters in your neighborhood. This will also give you a great starting point, and you can plan your renovations well ahead of time. Keeping your property up-to-date will also be lower maintenance requests since you’ll be getting ahead of any broken appliances or other similar issues. As your property management company, Wolfnest is happy to help you decide what to upgrade while running your day-to-day operations. Learn more about our property management services and how Wolfnest can help you transform your rental property.

5 Questions for Your Property Manager

5 Questions for Your Property Manager

Man searching online about property management and questions for property managers.

Finding a good property manager is a difficult task, but it may be one of the most important decisions that you will make after purchasing your rental property. Renting a property can be a significant investment, so you want to hire someone that you can trust completely.

Responsibilities of a Property Manager

Before you begin your journey of finding a good property manager or considering various questions for property managers, you should understand what the responsibilities of a good property manager are.

Rent

First, the property manager oversees rent collected from tenants. With their knowledge of the market where the property is located, they can set the rent at an appropriate level for the property type and location. They will also set the date that rent will be collected and make sure tenants are paying their rent each month. Finding a good property manager will mean that you don’t have to worry about setting or collecting rent from your tenants unless you want to.

Tenants

Property managers are in charge of finding and screening potential tenants. This includes running ads for any vacancies at the property, running credit checks and criminal background checks on potential tenants, setting and handling lease terms, and more. Property managers must have the time and commitment to stay on top of all of these tasks for a successful rental property.

Maintenance and Repairs

Your rental property needs to be kept in safe and habitable conditions and your property manager is the one to determine if this objective is being met. They will see to any maintenance or repairs that need to be handled. However, various property managers operate differently when it comes to maintenance, so pay attention to our questions for property managers below to make sure you and your property manager are on the same page.

Property managers have many other responsibilities, but these are a few of the main ones. Now that you know what your property manager will be handling, the process of finding a good property manager can actually start. Often, finding a good property manager begins by interviewing various property managers and property management companies.

A smiling woman in a business suit representing a property manager.

Interview Questions for a Property Management Company or Manager

So once you begin the process of setting up interviews for potential property managers, what are the most important questions that you should ask in the interviews? Below are five questions to ask property managers before hiring.

1. What do you charge for a management fee?

This may seem like the most obvious question, but it is one of the most important questions for property managers. Property management companies typically charge between 4-10% of the gross monthly rents collected. Some companies charge additional fees, while others only charge the monthly management fee. You will want to discover exactly how much the property management company will be charging you. You don’t want to be hit with unexpected fees after you have entered into a contract with a manager or company. Make sure you are very clear with your property manager on how much you will be paying for their services.

2. What screening is done on potential tenants?

One of the main reasons to hire a property management company is to mitigate the risk associated with entering into a lease with a bad tenant. A good property management company will conduct a thorough background and credit check, as well as verifying all references. This will help ensure that only quality tenants will be living in your property. So, make sure that you ask potential managers how they screen potential tenants. Finding a good property manager means making sure that the tenant screening process is extensive and up to your standards.

3. Does your management agreement include a termination clause?

The last thing that you want to do is enter into a long-term agreement with a property management company only to find out that the property manager is not holding up to their side of the agreement. A quality property management company is confident in their service and will offer a “satisfaction guarantee” that will allow you to cancel the agreement if you are not happy with the service. Without a termination clause, you may be stuck in a contract that you are unhappy with. Don’t let this happen to you- make sure you understand the type of contract you will be entering into before you decide to hire.

4. How many properties does your company manage?

Keep in mind, there is no right or wrong answer to this question for a property manager or company. If the property management company manages several hundred properties, you will know they are successful and have been in business for some time. If the company is smaller, you can expect superior customer service and a more personal relationship with your property manager. You will need to decide which is most important for you as an owner, but the most important thing is that the company has adequate staff to handle their inventory. If the company has a large number of properties you will want to make sure that their firm has the time and resources to handle your property. You never want a property manager who isn’t fully committed to your rental.

5. Will the property management company authorize maintenance requests without consulting the owner?

A good property management company will authorize maintenance requests under a certain dollar amount, without consulting the owner. This allows the management company to maintain the property without having to bother the owner every time there is an issue. Obviously, the company will obtain permission from the owner anytime there is an issue that is going to cost the owner a significant amount of money. When interviewing potential property managers, make sure you understand when they will handle a maintenance request without consulting you. If you have a specific dollar amount in mind, know that they will abide by that number. This will ensure that your property is kept safe and habitable without you having to worry about too much of the maintenance.

Finding a Good Property Manager

These questions will help you find a good property manager that is clear and transparent in his or her services. It is important to find a property manager who you will work well with and that you trust. Your rental property was a large investment, so make sure that it is being cared for in the exact way that you want. Here at Wolfnest, we pride ourselves on giving rental property owners what they want. We let you customize your management plant by picking and choosing only the services you need. This separates us from other Utah property managers, so contact us today to learn more about how we can help manage your rental property.

How To Guarantee The Best Property Management Company

How To Guarantee The Best Property Management Company

Not every property management company is created equally and finding a good manager can be tricky. Here are three simple interview questions on which you can ask a qualified Salt Lake City property manager that most people wouldn’t think to ask. You can always add more as you continue your screening process but asking these questions will help you learn a lot about the person you are hiring so that you can make the best choice possible.

rental properties in utah

1. Does your Salt Lake City property management agent own rentals themselves?:

If the answer to this question is no, then be cautious. Effective rental property management is about blending knowledge with experience, and if someone isn’t committed enough to “own their own product” so to speak – then that should be a giant red flag.

2. What technology does your Salt Lake City property management agent use?:

Like many industries, the management industry has been revolutionized by new technology that improves efficiency and reduces costs. Managers who use services like management software, advertising syndication, and automated showing systems are providing their clients with a level of service that old school managers simply can’t match. This will help you save money and time.

3. Is your Salt Lake City property management agent lenient with tenants?:

If so, I promise their leniency will soon become a problem for you. Tenants will start to pay at their convenience, violate the rules, and generally do what they please if there are not strict consequences for bad behavior. For example, it’s common for a manager to waive a late fee, in order to “be nice”. The problem is that by doing so, they are really only encouraging additional late payments because the tenant has faced no consequences. Stop the problem before it even begins by enforcing rules.

These are only a few of the questions you can ask your potential property manager but these ones are arguably the most important. It is essential to have an understanding of who your property management company is before signing any contracts. Your home is one of the most important aspects of your life and it is advisable to hire the most trusted property management company. If you’d like to learn more about how to qualify a Salt Lake City property management company, then contact us today.