10 People You’ll Need to Hire to Help You Manage Your Properties

You’ve done it, taken a big leap, put your property on the rental market. The house is ready, looks good, and is going for top dollar in the market because it’s worth it. The applications are pouring in, and you’re feeling good about finding a good tenant.

Have you hired everyone you’re going to need to help maintain this property for you? Take a look at this list and make sure you find the best people for the job.

Plumber

When there’s a big leak or a busted pipe, the tenants will call you. You need a professional who can fix the problem and make sure it stays fixed.

Electrician

The lights go out. An outlet or two stopped working. Only a certified electrician should handle that kind of job or you may have to worry about a house fire.

General Contractor

When the roof needs repair, the handrail to the stairs is wobbly, and other parts of the property need fixing, a good general contractor will make sure everything’s fixed and up to code.

HVAC Service Team

The air conditioner/heating system must be serviced twice a year to make sure it continues to work properly. Tenants must have heat in the winter, and any Floridian knows, no air conditioning in the summer is brutal. Plus, if you do need a repair, it’s better to have someone you trust who can take care of the problem.

Lawn and Landscape Crew

Have a certain standard you want your lawn to meet? Did you promise lawn maintenance as an amenity? Start looking around and narrow it down to the best crew you can find at a reasonable price.

Pest Control

Termites, ants, and other bugs can ruin your property and bring down the quality of living in (and value of) your rental. Routine pest control is a must. When there’s an infestation, you’ll be grateful for your pest control company.

Pool Maintenance Crew

The day-to-day cleaning of the pool may be up to your tenants but when the pump breaks or the chemicals need to be adjusted to keep it safe, you’ll need to call the pool company.

Bill Collector

Got a tenant who still won’t pay the rent? Hire a bill collector who will hound them (legally) until you can go through the eviction process.

Accountant

You need an accountant to help you keep up with how much income you’re receiving from your tenants, your expenses for property maintenance, repair, and upkeep, and who’s paid and who hasn’t.

Attorney

Don’t buy a blank lease from an office supply store. Certain clauses may not be included that you really want – no pets, no smoking, etc. Instead, you’ll need an attorney who can write up a lease that fits what you want and stays within the law so that if your tenant violates the lease, you’ve got a leg to stand on in court.

That’s a lot of people to interview, compare, and ultimately hire. It’s also a lot of money to pay each month for their services. If you have more than one rental property, your costs will be higher. Of course, you could always hire a property management team like the one at ERA American Real Estate. We’ve got the contacts and the vendors, and our attorneys have already looked over our lease agreements. You can focus on what matters – growing your investment income.

4 Things You Don’t Have to Let a Tenant Do and 3 Things You Do

As a landlord, you have duties and responsibilities to follow for your properties and your tenants. You’re required to provide safe housing, give notice before you come to the property, and follow eviction requirements.

It’s common to focus on all the things you have to do, but there are certain things you don’t have to let your tenants do.

What You Can Say No To

No smoking allowed. Put it in the lease agreement and make sure your tenants understand that smoking isn’t allowed in your property. You may allow it outside the home or within a certain distance from the front door – 25 feet or so. If you catch your tenants smoking in your rental, it could be a violation of the lease agreement.

No pets allowed. State it clearly and upfront and make sure it’s in the lease if you won’t allow pets. If you decide to change your mind, stay fair and make the change for all tenants, even if you require an additional pet deposit or monthly pet fee.

No illegal drugs. Legalized marijuana hasn’t arrived in Florida yet like in Colorado. When it does, you may have to make changes based on what’s legal, but for right now, you can clearly state no illegal drugs. Catching your tenant violating this rule is cause for terminating the lease.

No roommates. When you say “no roommates” what you want to do is require that all adults living in the property be listed on the lease agreement and go through the application process. “No roommates” usually means that no one is allowed to move in after the lease has been signed without a new credit application and application fee.

What You Have to Allow

Most of the things you’re required to allow your tenants to do or have are required under Fair Housing laws, especially accessibility requirements for tenants with disabilities. Make sure you know what tenants are allowed to do before you find yourself on the wrong side of the law.

You must allow service animals. Even if you have a strict “no pet” policy, you must allow tenants with disabilities to bring their service animals into the rental. You cannot charge a pet deposit or higher monthly fee for the animal. You can, however, request written verification that the tenant needs a service animal and the animal’s medical records. A tenant is still liable for any damage their service animal does to your property.

You can allow changes to the property. Ramps for tenants in wheelchairs are most common, but if a tenant has a disability and requests a change to make their home more accessible, you must allow it or allow the tenant to break the lease with no penalty (this doesn’t include any security deposit restrictions for potential damage). You can oversee the changes yourself or allow the tenant to take care of it with your final approval of contractor or cost. Either way, the changes must be made in a timely manner.

You may have to allow live-in aides. If a tenant requires a live-in aide for their disability, this aide will not fall under any “no roommate” rule you have in place. This is another accommodation your tenant needs. Damages caused by the aide will still be the tenant’s responsibility as it is with a service animal.

As a landlord it is your responsibility to know and keep up with Fair Housing laws, accessibility requirements, and your duties and responsibilities under the law. It may seem like you have to allow a tenant to do anything they want, but this isn’t true. You are, however, not allowed to discriminate against disabled tenants who need reasonable accommodations because they’re entitled to safe housing just like anyone else.

If trying to remember what’s allowed and what isn’t gives you a headache or keeps you up at night, you need to work with a property management team who can do the worrying for you. Here at ERA American Real Estate, we’re trained to know the requirements for landlords and tenants, we keep up with changes to local, state, and federal laws, and we will make sure that you stay on the right side of the law no matter who rents your property.

4 Things That Get Landlords In Trouble

Renting out your property sounded great at first.

All the headlines said rents were on the rise and inventory was scarce. There were a dozen applicants for every rental in some places. A quick online ad and a blank lease, and you figured you were set.

You were until a tenant asked about a security deposit, called the cops when you showed up unannounced to inspect the property, and threatened to sue you for discrimination. Being a landlord is a lot of work, and there’s a lot you don’t know. To keep yourself out of small claims court and make sure you have great (and paying) tenants, take a look at the four most common things that get landlords in trouble.

Not Following Fair Housing Laws

The federal Fair Housing laws are pretty clear. You cannot discriminate against a potential tenant on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, gender, age, familial status, and physical or mental disability (including alcoholism and past drug addiction). You may already know that, but did you know that discrimination can be more than refusing to rent to someone? Asking questions about when a couple will have children, what church a tenant goes to, and what country they’re from can all potentially be considered violations of the Fair Housing laws.

When you question tenants, only two considerations truly matter. Can they pay their rent and where and how will you find them if they don’t? You have to be careful about the questions you ask that don’t determine either. You also need to remember that whatever questions you ask of one potential tenant, you need to ask of all of them, in order to avoid the perception of discrimination.

Violating the Rights of Your Tenants

The on-going argument of who has more rights – landlords or tenants – will likely never be solved with each side thinking they have less. Regardless of how you feel about the amount of rights a tenant has in the state of Florida, you must know them and abide by them. This includes giving 12 hours’ notice before coming to the property, explaining why you’re coming, and only showing up for specific reasons while notifying the tenants ahead of time.

Any violation of a tenant’s rights could be seen as a violation of the lease. In doing so, you may lose the steady rent of the tenant, the security deposit, and any legal recourse you may have had in your lease. Before you rent, you need to know what you can and can’t do on the property.

Misunderstanding Security Deposits

Nothing is more fraught with angst than security deposits. Tenants want to know when they’ll receive it back, and landlords want to know if you have to give it back. Some landlords don’t understand what they can use a deposit for, either. It all adds up to a big mess for everyone, and sometimes, you wind up in small claims court.

A security deposit is to be used for wear and tear on the property, cleaning the property, and any unpaid rent. If there’s any amount leftover after that, it goes back to the tenant. In Florida, you have a month after the tenant moves to send their security deposit back to them, and you need to be able to show how any portion was spent. What you can’t do is use the security deposit for upgrades, remodels, and any cosmetic changes. Refusing to return the security deposit or taking your time in getting it back to them are not allowed either.

Not Fixing Major Problems

As a landlord it’s your responsibility to maintain the property to meet, at minimum, basic health and safety standards. Your property must be liveable for your tenants. You should also want it to be in good condition so you can continue to ask fair market rent and attract high quality tenants. Keeping a property in good shape isn’t just a legal requirement, it makes good business sense.

Some landlords don’t realize their legal obligation and either ignore tenant reports of problems or delay fixing them. You are required to make important repairs for things like burst pipes or broken heaters in the winter to broken down air conditioners in the summer and everything in between. You also have to deal with environmental hazards that can make the property uninhabitable like mold.

Landlords must also respond when your property becomes a target for or is surrounded by crime. In some cases, tenants who’ve had their home broken into multiple times with no response by the landlord have been awarded damages by the courts to be paid by the landlord. While you’re required to do it for the tenant, remember, you’re also protecting a huge financial asset that you want to continue creating an income for you.

Does it seem a little overwhelming? You might have thought renting your property was as easy as putting out a “For Rent” sign and buying a blank lease from an office supply store. There’s much more to it than that. When you become a landlord, you must follow the law to the letter and do what’s right for your tenants and your property. Managing property can be a full time job, and if you’re unprepared, you can end up in court because you were unaware of a single change in landlord/tenant law.

You don’t have to give up on the dream of renting properties and creating a second income through real estate. What you need is a property management company who understands Florida and federal law, will protect your investment, find the best possible tenants, and always work to keep you and your property in compliance. You need ERA American Real Estate.