What needs to be done to my house before it is ready for rent?
The better condition your property is in, the better quality tenant it will attract. Your property should be presented in the same condition you expect the tenants to return the property in. At the very least, it should be professionally cleaned. It is not always necessary to paint, but you should consider painting any room that has dirty or marred walls. A neutral color is best. It is best to provide clean and functional window coverings, such as blinds, because most tenants will expect some sort of window coverings for privacy and safety. The tenants are expected to maintain the yard in the condition in which it is provided to them. Therefore, the yard should be freshly mowed, weeded, trimmed and the leaves and debris removed. At the onset of our management agreement we will inspect your property, make note of the condition, and recommend necessary maintenance. Any building code, safety or liability items must be taken care of prior to tenant move in. Realty Management Associates will be happy to discuss any repairs or upgrades with you individually.
How will you find tenants and how long will it take?
Realty Management Associates aggressively markets your property “For Rent.” The property is immediately added to our list of available properties and listed on our website and other local & national rental search websites. It will also be featured on our rental hotline where prospective tenants can hear information about your property 24 hours a day. Vacancy lists and professional promotional flyers are produced for distribution to prospective tenants. To maximize the inquiries from drive by traffic, a professional sign will be placed in front of the home. As you can imagine, it is very difficult to speculate how long it will take to rent your property. Many factors must be taken into consideration, such as price, property condition, current market values, time of year and other variables. A property is added to the list of available properties as soon as we receive notice from the existing tenant. RMA will then create a specialized marketing plan and begin actively advertising the property approximately two weeks prior to the anticipated possession date.
Can I say whom I want as tenants for my house?
You may specify whether or not you want tenants with pets or tenants who don’t smoke, however, you cannot discriminate against any protected class under the Federal Fair Housing or local fair housing laws. For example you cannot say you won’t rent to someone with/without children, people with disabilities, or people of a particular nationality or race. The more restrictions placed on tenant approval, the longer it will take to rent your property; we encourage a study of risk versus benefit when considering prospective tenants. We are professionals in leasing and tenant screening, and we have specific criteria that every applicant must meet in order to rent a property. Realty Management Associates will not knowingly place a high-risk tenant in your property.
What happens if the tenant doesn’t pay their rent on time?
More than 95% of tenants pay their rent on time. Rent is due on the first of each month and considered late after the third. If rent has not been paid by that time, we will take the first step in the eviction process, which is to contact the tenant. Unless satisfactory payment arrangements are made, RMA will deliver a “3-day Notice” to pay or vacate. The vast majority of Tenants will immediately pay upon receipt of this notice. If the tenant has not paid by the end of the 3-day notice period, with the owner’s approval we will instruct our attorney to file an Unlawful Detainer action. This is the court order to remove the tenant from the property and will occur within 12 days. We file Unlawful Detainer actions very infrequently; in 2013 only 6 cases were filed out of nearly 250 residents. Unless you subscribe to Realty Management Associates’ Eviction Protection Service, all costs associated with an eviction are your responsibility.
What happens if the tenant leaves before the end of the lease?
The tenant is responsible for rent for the entire term of the lease. If they choose to vacate prior to the expiration date, they will be responsible for rent and other costs until a new tenancy is secured.
How am I protected if the tenant damages the property?
A security deposit taken at move-in is usually adequate to handle most damage that a properly screened tenant may cause. Tenants with excellent credit and references seldom cause much damage and almost never in excess of the security deposit. The horror stories you may have heard about a property being “trashed” generally are less expensive properties that have been rented without the proper application and screening process. Our screening process reports: rental payment history, national risk score, credit report, collection information, public record information, residence history, previous landlord verification, employment verification, social security alerts, and state wide criminal background check. Should the tenants leave the property owing more than is covered by the security deposit, they will be billed. If they do not pay, it will be turned over to a collection agency.
Why am I paying for utilities on my property? Don’t the tenants pay for this?
Utility services around the Treasure Valley vary from community to community. All tenants are required to put gas & electricity in their names and as often as possible water as well, these are services that can be shut off for non-payment with no effect to the owner. However sewer and trash cannot be terminated and a lien can be put on the property. With most single family homes we have a pass through utility charge that the tenants pay with their rent each month to cover this cost.
Can I do my own repairs/maintenance for my property?
Yes, an owner can do their own maintenance. However, no labor cost can be charged for work done on your own property. This can make it difficult to provide accurate invoices for tenant cost at move-out and sometimes slow the turn-over process. And, remember emergencies must be dealt with immediately. Realty Management Associates has relationships with quality vendors that produce an exceptional maintenance value; our service includes the supervision of those vendors.
Who does the repairs on the properties you manage? Can I use my own contractors?
The tenants have responsibility for some of the maintenance on your property. They have to replace burnt out light bulbs, change furnace filters, and change batteries in the smoke detectors. Tenants are usually responsible for the lawn care unless they are in a multi-unit property, one that has a homeowners association with that responsibility, or owner provided gardening service. When repairs need to be done outside the scope of the tenant’s responsibility, one of our vendors handles the job. Anyone doing maintenance on your property is selectively screened and insured for liability and workers compensation to protect you from unnecessary exposure. Files are kept in our office on all sub-contractors with copies of liability and workers compensation insurance. Our workers are available for your property maintenance needs 24 hours a day and their work is guaranteed. Because of the volume of work we do with them, we usually get lower rates than you would get if you called them directly. If you have a preference we can use your contractor, however, as protection for you and us, they would need to provide RMA records for liability and workers compensation insurance and tax ID #’s before a check could be issued.
When do I get my money each month?
The rents are due on the first of the month and are subject to late penalties if not paid by the third. The rental funds must have cleared their banks before we can disburse funds. It is prudent to wait two weeks for such clearance. We begin payment of bills on the 20th and the statements to owners along with their checks go out on the 26th of each month. The statement will include all activity on the account for that month, through the 25th. Our property management software allows you to manage an Owner Portal that gives you on-line access to Cash Flow Statements, receipts and other information related to the property. Funds are delivered to you electronically by direct deposit. We are happy to mail a check if that is more convenient. The statement you receive at the end of December is your year-end statement; this has all the year to date information you need for taxes. We do send a 1099 by January 31st as well.
What happens if my account balance is negative?
We require you to maintain a $300 reserve balance at all times. Negative owner balances are a violation of Trust Accounting; the owner is required to reimburse Realty Management Associates, Inc., CRMC® for any outstanding expenses. Additional management fees are assessed for overdrawn accounts; that fee is based on a rate of 1% per month but not less than $25.00.