Vacancy rates & changes in tenant demographics will pose greater challenges for Do-it-Yourself Landlords in 2014!

They are some telling indicators that renting out your property may be harder in 2014, especially by do-it-yourself landlords even as the overall economics of rental property investing is improving.  Reasons why:

a. More available inventory as newly-constructed multifamily housing comes online – There are markets where supply is climbing quickly so that if the U.S. faces another mild slowdown these markets may be greatly impacted.  Those markets are Dallas, Houston, Austin, San Antonio, Seattle, San Jose, Washington D.C., Tampa, Raleigh and Charlotte.

b. Market conditions are going to vary more widely than ever before – Keeping track of market conditions is getting more difficult as market dynamics break down by neighborhood or even housing community, not by city or state.  Misjudging market dynamics could prove costly in terms of rental pricing, tenant selection and knowing when to sell.

c. Higher quality, more discriminating renters will look for higher service standards in return for higher rents and more stability – While online tools to make being a landlord easier are proliferating, the complexities involved in renting to others are also increasing.  That’s why phoenix professional property management usually pays for itself by reducing vacancy rates, handling repair issues more cheaply and maximizing rents.
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HOA’s – Landlord & Tenant Responsibilites

As a Phoenix Property Manager, we know that not all Home Owners Associations (HOA) have policies and procedures in place when dealing rental properties so it is important to check out the HOA rules prior to leasing your home. If your home is in an HOA, you have certain rights and responsibilities whether you are the tenant or home owner. It is important to research and know your responsibilities.   If you are a home owner of a rental property located within an HOA it is important to now that rules and regulations regarding your rental. Contact the HOA and find out their polices on rental properties prior to leasing your home. Be sure to collect any tenant registration forms that the HOA may require, since they can levy fines against you if not completed in a timely manner. Some HOA’s require the tenant to sign crime free addendum so it always a good idea to collect these forms prior to signing a lease.
Once the property is rented, typically the landlord is the first point of contact and the person held responsible for violations and payments of fines. Landlords within an HOA are responsible for ensuring that their tenant play by the association rules so it is important to quickly relay any information to your tenant so that they can remedy any issues and reimburse the landlord any fines. Additionally, when the information is quickly relayed to the tenant the tenant has the right to challenge or dispute violations and fines. The best way to prevent rule violations and fines is to provide the tenant with a copy of the CC&R’s. Since it is not always easy to deal with tenants that violate the HOA rules and regulations it is important to be sure your lease has a clause requiring compliance with all association rules and regulations. 

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Maintenance & the Arizona Landlord Tenant Act

At RPM West Valley Phoenix, we annually get hundreds of tenant maintenance requests for the properties we service for our Phoenix Rental Property Owners.  These requests can normally be grouped into the following three categories:
  1. Items that the property owner must fix
  2. Optional items that the property owner may decide to fix to increase tenant retention
  3. Items that  property owner really shouldn’t fix

The first items category relates to items that are addressed in section 33-1324 of the AZ Tenant Landlord Act.  These items are essential for the owner to provide for the tenant and need to be fixed when broken.  Some examples include:
  1. Operational A/C – Heater units
  2. Running water
  3. Sewage clean-out/repair when pipes to the city main sewer are obstructed

There is much detail within section 33-1324 that is not addressed as far as timing and details of these repairs however all reasonable efforts to repair quickly need to be utilized.

Category 2 are items that most property owners do repair as they are optional items that can help to keep a tenant in place long after the initial lease expiration.  Some examples include: 
  1. A large gap under/on the side of an exterior door that is allowing large amounts of cold air to escape in the summer
  2. Garage door that is making a really loud noise when opening.  In this situation the door opener is working however the noise can lead to problems down the road and can be very irritating to good tenants
Category 3 are either tenant responsibility items or items that we do not recommend fixing as it can lead to tenants requesting unnecessary and excessive maintenance which can be costly to the property owner.  Some examples include:
  1. Dishwasher is leaving a film on the dishes – this is extremely common in Phoenix due to the very hard water.  Often times adding a special cleaning agent to the dishwasher can greatly improve the cleaning
  2. Drawer in the kitchen is wobbly
  3. Old window screens that do not function properly
Many property owners who self manage do not know what is and isn’t required with regards to maintenance and this can ultimately lead to greatly increased maintenance expense.  At RPM West Valley Phoenix, we are trained on the AZ Tenant Landlord Act and know how to correctly and efficiently respond to all maintenance requests for our Phoenix Rental Property Owners.
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Standing out in the Advertising Crowd!

As a Phoenix Property Manager we know that now that the holidays have pasted when tenant’s begin searching for a new home to rent, most tenants know exactly where to look and most landlords know to post in these places. With everyone posting their available properties in the same place, it is crucial to make sure your advertisement stands out. There are some small tricks that will help you do just that. Often when faced with a long list of properties to consider, most prospective renter narrow there search down in one way or another. Often the first listing to be ruled out are those that lack information. Including photos of your property is a must as some renters won’t even look at your ad if there are not any photos.

Another way to stand out in the crowd is with a compelling headline. The words “Home for rent” tell a prospective renter nothing about your property. Instead include details in your headline that make your property shine. “Spacious, 4 bed / 2.5 bath in Avondale with a Pool”   Be sure to be honest!

Including the square footage of the home, the year built, listing the amenities, along with the location and the date available are very important. Be sure to include pricing information like the rent and security deposit amount and set expectations about utilities. Notate any pet restrictions, background check fees and pet deposit amount. Be up front and descriptive in your ad, and you’ll find a tenant in no time. 

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