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!

Things to Consider Before Renting Out Your Property

Things to Consider Before Renting Out Your Property

Single Property Management - Wolfnest Property Management Logo - Salt Lake City Property Management

Things to Consider Before Renting Out Your Property

So you have considered renting out your house, in order to obtain an extra steady amount of monthly cash flow, but have you thought about the other factors that it may come with? So before you decided whether or not to turn your house into a rental property here are some things to consider.

Good Tenants Don’t Come Easily

Finding a good tenant could be a long waiting game, because you don’t just want any tenant you want a good one: who will not only take care of your house, is easily manageable, and will pay rent on time. To create these kinds of exposure, you will most likely use some kind of out source services that will put your listing on the front page, but there will be a monthly fee until your house has become occupied or for however long you decided to continue listing.

Difficult Tenants

A person can be well mannered, looks normal, and has a steady job, but for many unassuming landlord they might become your worst nightmare. It is best to do some further investigation on whether or not you want that person to occupy your house. There are some basic procedures that you can do to avoid any future losses. Request for a referee or perhaps a former landlord’s testimonial, you could also Google the person of interest to get some background information.

What to Include in your Lease

Tenancy agreements are quite standard and follow a general template but keep in mind that it is still your house and your are entitled to adjust your terms and condition accordingly. Besides the guidelines for paying rent, you may want to consider some of the following; general conducts, alterations to the property, proper use of plumbing fixtures, parking ethics, pets, guest, maintenance, and expected conditions upon moving out.

Cost for Maintenance Work

Normal wear and tears are bound to happen no matter what kind of tenant you may have, regardless of the tenant. There will be some kind of upkeep or maintenance that you will be required to do, but your tenant might not share the same thoughts and would like to go a different route on how to fix then. If their case and demands are reasonable then you must meet their request, which might cost you more than what you originally wanted to spend.

These are just a few things that you should think about before considering renting out your property, but why not save yourself from all the headache and hassle that come from managing a property? Why not talk to a real estate agent or property manager about your situation, and let them take care of all these things.

Ten Tips for Landlords

Ten Tips for Landlords

Single Property Management - Wolfnest Property Management Logo - Salt Lake City Property Management

Ten Tips for Landlords

Here are a few tips that landlords or property managers need to be aware of before renting out their property to a tenant.

1. Screen tenants

One of the most important things you can do before renting out your property is to screen the applicant. Don’t rent to anyone before checking for reference, credit history, and background don’t be afraid to get in-depth with the questions, remember this is your property that you are renting out and you want to make sure it’s in good hands.

2.Handle security deposits properly

Right off the start establish a fair system with your tenants on how you will be collecting, holding, and returning the security deposits. Make sure to inspect and documents the condition of the rental unit before the tenant moves in, to avoid any dispute of the security deposits when the tenant moves out. Always make sure that the tenant understands all the conditions in order to obtain the security deposit.

3.Get it in writing

Make sure you use a written lease or month-to-month agreement in writing no matter what kind of relationship you have with that person. Some of the things you should include in your written documents are when and how you handle tenant complaints and repair problems, when the rent will due and if there will be late penalties.

4. Provide secure premises

Don’t let your property or tenant become an easy target for a criminal offense. Keep your property’s security up to date and take responsible steps in protecting it. Most often the best practices to keep your tenant and property safe are fairly simple, just have some proper lighting and trim the landscape, which are not that expensive and can greatly increase your security from criminals.

5. Make repairs

One of the main issues that some tenant and landlords has is staying on top of maintenance and repair when needed or when requested. Make sure you don’t let this happen to you always stay on top of maintenance and repair, if the property is not keep up to date or in good condition the tenant may gain the right to withhold rent. There are other issues that may occur due to lack of maintenance for example a lawsuit due to injuries caused by defective conditions.

6. Provide notice before entering

An important thing to keep in mind, is respect your tenants right. You should notify your tenant before entering the rental unit, and provide as much notice as possible, preferable at least 24 hours.

7. Oversee managers

If you have chosen to hire a manager to oversee your rental unit make sure you have done a full background check on the individual. Make sure to supervise your property manger, because if they were to commit a criminal offense or are incompetent, you may be held financially responsible and not the property manager, do an in-depth background check and list out all the manager’s specific duties to help prevent any kind of problem.

8. Disclose environmental hazards

If there are any kind of hazards such as mold or lead on the property, tell your tenants immediately. More landlords are being held responsible for the tenant’s health due to these toxic environmental exposures. To avoid these kinds of action make sure to upkeep your property, but if this case does occur make sure you inform your tenants right away.

9. Resolve disputes

Always try to work out any kind of disputes with the tenant without involving a lawyer if possible. If you have a dispute with the tenant over deposits, rent, repairs, your access to the building, noise complaints, or any other issue that doesn’t constitute for an immediately warrant eviction, try meeting with your tenant to see if you may resolve the problem together rather than hiring a third party.

10. Obtain insurance

Be sure to purchase enough liability and property insurance, in case any unforeseen accidents were to occur. A well design insurance plan can protect you from lawsuits by tenants for discrimination or injuries as well as losses for your rental property such as fire and storms to burglary and vandalism. With the proper insurance plan you can protect yourself from all these kinds of mishap.

 

How to Maximize Tenant Retention

How to Maximize Tenant Retention

Single Property Management - Wolfnest Property Management Logo - Salt Lake City Property Management

Property Management 

 

How to Maximize Tenant Retention

Finding quality tenant(s) can be a long, tedious process. Most owners would give anything to be guaranteed that the tenant would pay rent on time and take excellent care of their property.  Once you are able to find a great tenant, what can be done to make sure that this tenant never wants to move out of your home? Below are some to tips to maximize tenant retention:

 

  • Respond to maintenance requests in a timely manner – If the furnace goes out in the property in the middle of winter, it is important that it is communicated to the tenant that this will be resolved as soon as possible. Even if the request seems unreasonable, it is important to contact the tenant back in a timely manner to explain your reasoning for not processing the request. It is always best to do what you say that you’re going to do and following up with your tenants shows that you do value them and want them to continue renting your property.
  • 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.
  • Stay in touch with your tenant throughout the year – Many owners will place the tenant in the property and will not talk to them again until it is time to sign a new lease the next year. Contacting the tenant to make sure that they are happy with the property and that everything is working correctly shows the tenant that you truly care about their happiness and that you do not want them to leave. Conducting a semi-annual inspection is a great way to accomplish this.
  • Give your new tenant a welcome packet – It can really go a long way to establishing a good relationship tenant by providing a helpful guide to the property they are renting. This can provide information on how to switch the utilities into their name or how to pay the rent each month.

 

If you would like assistance in keeping the best possible tenant(s) in your property, please consider hiring FRE Property Management. We are the premier property management company in Utah and will provide you with the peace of mind knowing that your investment will be taken care of.

Tips for New Rental Property Owners – Part 2

Tips for New Rental Property Owners – Part 2

Single Property Management - Wolfnest Property Management Logo - Salt Lake City Property Management

Tips for New Rental Property Owners – Part 2

 

As we mentioned in part one of this article, being a new landlord for your rental property can be intimidating. There are several things that you need to learn. Below are several tips that will help you get a better understanding of the property management world:

 

  • Respond Promptly to Maintenance Requests – Tenants will contact you as a landlord for requests that may seem ridiculous, such as a light bulb that has burned out and needs to be replaced. However, it is always a good idea to address the tenant sooner rather than later and explain why you will or will not be fixing the issue. In the event of valid emergency requests, it is good practice to have these fixed as soon as possible. If it is the middle of winter and the furnace goes out, you need to have this addressed ASAP. As a landlord, you will need to determine what is considered an emergency request and what is not, and then prioritize accordingly.
  • Conduct Regular Inspections of the Property – The best way to find out if there are potential maintenance issues with your rental home is to regularly inspect it. This will also let you know how well the tenant is taking care of your property. It is best practice to conduct a walk through inspection once a quarter and a drive by inspection every 1-2 months. You may be thinking that you do not have the time to inspect the property this often, but it could prevent a major maintenance issue and be more than worth it in the long run.
  • Learn the Rules and Regulations – Knowing all of the landlord/tenant laws for Utah can not only be tricky, but also very overwhelming. There are so many different practices that landlords must follow and the last thing that you want is to be sued by your tenant for violating these. You might be thinking, “How can I ever learn all of the landlord/tenant laws for Utah?” The state does have this information available, and while it may take some time to research this, it will more than worth it if it keeps you out of civil court.
  • Insure your Rental Property – It is always a good idea to carry sufficient insurance on your property, just in case there is ever an issue. There are many different kinds of insurance, including hazard and liability, which will cover you for different situations. Having your property covered under good insurance can save you from a lot of future troubles.
  • Employ an Eviction Attorney – If your tenant has not paid his/her rent, do you know who to call to begin eviction proceedings? It is very important to have a good eviction lawyer in place, so in the unfortunate event that you do need to evict, you can get the old tenant out of your property and a new tenant in as soon as possible. There are many laws that must be followed when evicting a tenant and it is always best to leave this to the professionals to comply with. A good eviction attorney will also provide you with your best chance in recovering the rent owed to you by your tenant.

 

Being a rental property owner can very rewarding, but also very stressful. If you would like to discuss the best way to manage your rental or if you are considering hiring a property management company, please contact us at FRE Property Management. We are the premier property management company in Utah and will provide you with the peace of mind knowing that your investment is being taken care of. Contact us today at 801-673-5692.

 

Tips for New Rental Property Owners – Part 1

Tips for New Rental Property Owners – Part 1

Single Property Management - Wolfnest Property Management Logo - Salt Lake City Property Management

Tips for New Rental Property Owners – Part 1

 

Becoming a landlord for the first time can be a very stressful situation. Finding a qualified tenant is probably the first thing on your mind, but it is also very important that you are complying with all the important rules and regulations that go along with rental properties.

 

So what are the most important aspects of being a landlord? Below are some tips that will give you a basic understanding of owning a rental property and what you should focus on to be the best landlord possible:

 

  • Screen Potential Tenants – In order to find the best tenant for your rental, you will have to do a little bit of research. Anytime a potential tenant fills out an application, you should run background and credit checks. It is also very important to contact all references you are provided with. This will give you a great idea of how likely the tenant will be to pay you on time each month.
  • Have a Contact List of Maintenance Partners Ready – It is always a good idea to be proactive and create the relationships with your maintenance partners before any issues arise. This way, if it is 2am and you receive a phone call that your property is flooding due to a broken pipe, you know exactly who to call. This can help to limit the damage you experience before it is too late.
  • Know the Market Rate For Your Property Although you may think that your property is near flawless, you have to look at the situation from a potential tenant(s) perspective. What are the weaknesses of the property? Does it have a good layout? Is the home located in a good location? It is always a good idea to look at other similar homes for rent that are currently on the market. This will help to give you an idea of what your property will actually rent for.
  • Customize Leases – It is very easy to find a generic lease online that you can have your tenants sign. While this will cover you on many of the basics like rent, security deposits, and tenant rights, it may not cover the more in depth issues that you would like to outline (like your pet policy, how you handle late fees, and what maintenance the tenant will be responsible for). If you are not currently
    customizing your leases, you may want to consider starting this practice.
  • Create a Property Inspection Report – By getting a property condition report signed by the tenant at move-in, you can decrease the chances of a dispute when the tenant moves-out. This will help to eliminate the excuse of “that problem was already there when I moved in” from your tenant, as it will show all of the issues the property had before the tenant moved in.

 

Being a rental property owner can be very rewarding, but also very stressful. If you would like to discuss the best way to manage your rental or if you are considering hiring a property management company, please contact us at FRE Property Management. We are the premier property management company in Utah and will provide you with the peace of mind knowing that your investment is being taken care of. Contact us today at 801-673-5692.

 

How should I choose between multiple qualified applicants?

How should I choose between multiple qualified applicants?

Single Property Management - Wolfnest Property Management Logo - Salt Lake City Property Management

While many owners struggle to find qualified tenants for their property, a distinct few may be fortunate enough to have multiple applicants willing to rent their unit. While almost all owners would agree, having multiple qualified potential tenants is a good problem to have; many owners don’t know the exact protocol to follow in order to comply with the Fair Housing Act.

So you have multiple applicants willing to rent your property, what is the first step in order to determine who to rent the property to? First of all, you must create a qualification criteria and apply it equally to all potential tenants. This may be a minimum credit score and minimum income requirement that you will require from your tenants. In addition, you may require documentation of rental payment, as well as one positive reference from a past landlord. The most important aspect is creating a standard and applying this to all applicants.

What if multiple candidates exceed the minimum qualification requirements? In the event that multiple applicants exceed the criteria you have set, you will need to create a fair method to determine the tenant you choose. An example would be selecting the tenant that exceeds the qualification requirements the most. This may be the tenant with the highest credit score, longest documentation of timely rental payments, and/or the most positive references from past landlords. Another example would be selecting the first qualified tenant that was interested in the unit. While there are pros and cons to each, whichever method you choose, be sure to remain consistent and apply to all properties you rent.

Once you determine which applicant you would like to enter into a lease agreement with, be sure to provide written notice to all other applicants. This should include the reason for not renting the unit to the applicant. As long as the reason for denial is not correlated with the applicant’s status in a protected class, you should be in compliance of the Fair Housing Act. In the event it was based on information contained in the applicant’s credit report, you must state this as notice of the denial per the Fair Credit Reporting Act.

The Fair Housing Act can be very confusing and a costly mistake if an owner does not comply.  If you would like to learn more about the Fair Housing Act or if you would like assistance in managing your investment, please consider hiring FRE Property Management. We are the premier property management company in Utah and will provide the peace of mind knowing that your investment will be taken care of. Contact us today at 801-673-5692.