Summer Maintenance Projects to Prep for Autumn

Can you feel that in the air? It’s fall. Well, maybe not quite yet, but there’s no denying that the daily high temperatures are trending downwards, the air feels crisper and store shelves are lined with back-to-school supplies. But what does fall mean for a property manager?
There is a certain level of maintenance expected for every month of your property management, but with fall just around the corner, now is the time to double down on summer chores. Since potential new renters will likely be shopping around for new places before the school year starts, your community has the potential to be overrun with prospective tenants. Get the place in shape before they arrive! Scott Safadi of Cal Bay Property Management recommends tackling these projects first:
Landscaping
Summer is a time of bright sun and heavy afternoon thunderstorms. Chances are good, your gardens are thriving right now. Perhaps they’ve even grown a bit faster than you can keep up with! Take on overgrown hedges and gardens full of weeds before the cooler temperatures set in. Not only will it look neater, you won’t have to worry about heavy tree limbs breaking or dying this fall and winter.
Fireplace Cleaning
For most people, there’s nothing quite like a warm fire on a cool autumn evening. If you’ve got fireplaces in your units, it pays to have them serviced between tenants. Call a chimney sweep to remove built up soot and clean the inside. It not only looks better, it provides a safer spot for fires all year long.
General Inspection
Though quarterly inspections of your property are always recommended, the end-of-summer inspection is perhaps the most important. After a summer of the HVAC systems working overtime to cool the apartment homes in your community, they could probably use a little TLC. While you’re at it, check out the condition of your roof, the gutters and check windows and doors for cracks. Truly thorough inspections will even include a check of the insulation in the home. Since insulation can wear down and become less effective over time, it’s important to check out its condition before the colder months come.
However you decide to maintain your property for the upcoming fall season, do so thoroughly and diligently. Your tenants, both new and old, will thank you!
– Scott Safadi, Cal Bay Property Management

Top 5 Reasons to Hire a Property Manager

Being a landlord can be a full time job, especially if you manage an entire building or small community of homes. If you have a lot of outside obligations beyond your role as landlord, the daily tasks of maintenance, marketing and paperwork can quickly overwhelm you. That’s why Scott Safadi of Cal Bay Property Management advocates for landlords handing the reigns over to an experienced property manager. Here are five reasons to hire a property manager today:
 
1. More free time. If you’re seriously considering hiring a property manager, this is probably on the front of your mind already. You’ve got enough to do without having to answer phone calls and emails all hours of the day and night. Hire a professional, and you’ll no longer have to struggle with your work/life balance. You’ll sleep easy at night, knowing you’re in good hands.
2. Higher quality tenants. Because a professional property manager has the experience and time to devote to screening tenants, you’ll see a huge boost in the quality of the folks living on your property. A good property manager will perform the background checks, interviews and reference checks needed to understand what a tenant is really life. When is the last time you had the chance to do all of that?
3. Fewer legal issues to worry about. A good property management company is updated on all the latest landlord-tenant laws and can easily navigate the legal waters when challenged by a tenant. Hiring an expert property manager means resting assured that you’re taken care of, from a legal perspective.
4. Fewer maintenance worries. As a landlord, you’re aware of all the things around your property that need maintained. From the lawn to the dishwasher to the plumbing system, it seems like one thing or another is always breaking down. A good property manager can oversee necessary maintenance chores and is usually in touch with excellent contractors they can call over at a moment’s notice.
 

 

5. No more faking it ’til you make it. Many landlords find themselves thrust into their job with little experience or background in the industry. By hiring a property manager, you hire an ally with the expertise you need to be successful.
So what are you waiting for? Start researching area property management companies before you need one!
– Scott Safadi, Cal Bay Property Management

Air Conditioning Rights: How to Handle an HVAC Repair in the Heat of Summer

We’re facing some of the hottest temperatures of the year this month, so when air conditioners break down or stop cooling apartments as they should, life can be rough. Understandably, tenants become irritated and impatient when their HVAC system isn’t working as it should. So how do you handle breakages?
In California, landlords are required to provide adequate heat in the winter, but there are no requirements for providing air conditioning. That said, very few people want to live in a home without AC in the summer, so if you’re including it in your lease, make sure you include language about repair responsibilities.
So what should those repair responsibilities be? Scott Safadi of Cal Bay Property Management advocates for operating under the “golden rule.” Just as we are taught as children, it’s important to treat others the way we would like to be treated. So while it’s totally legal to fix a tenant’s air conditioning in a vague but “reasonable” amount of time, it’s best to keep tenants in the loop about their timeline.
If the forecast has temperatures into the uppers 80s, 90s and beyond, it’s best to shell out the cash as soon as possible to call in a repairman. You risk angering your tenant if you don’t. While you’ll be within your legal right to wait, you face potentially nasty reviews from them on social media. The last thing any landlord wants to be accused of is being apathetic!
Instead, fix the AC in a timely manner. Not only will you prevent harsh reviews from being posted, you may in fact win over your tenants in a new way. Turn a negative into an opportunity to prove what a great place to live your community truly is. Most people understand that air conditioners break and will be reasonable in their expectations for repairs. Bowl them over by going above and beyond and fixing their AC as soon as possible. This is how you create truly appreciative tenants who are incredibly grateful for your help.
If they ask how they can repay your kindness, simply ask them to tell their friends about how much they love living in your community!
– Scott Safadi, Cal Bay Property Management

Vacation Prep: Your Guide to Delegating

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We’re about halfway through the summer season, and if you’re like us, you’re ready to hit the road for a summer vacation with your family. Property managers can often struggle to find the time to take their vacation days, with maintenance duties, new tenants to woo and leases to renew. Without delegating, you’d probably never take a day off! Which is why the art and skill of delegation is so critical if you’re going to head out of town this summer. Scott Safadi of Cal Bay Property Management has tips property managers need before they take time off this season.

Choose Your Substitute
Just as your teachers would take days off and leave a substitute teacher in your place back in high school, you should be selecting one person to fill in for you. While it’s great if you have a whole team of people shouldering your duties, you should leave just one person with ultimate authority over helming your ship. Inevitably, there will be squabbles over who is in charge. Selecting just one person will put those fights to bed before they ever begin.
So who should you pick? Only you can answer that question, but we recommend selecting someone experienced, responsible and cool-headed. It should be obvious!
Notify Your Tenants and Contractors
Whether you make an official announcement or simply set your work email account to auto-reply to incoming message while you’re away, it pays to keep people in the loop about your absence. If you’re in the process of convincing a potential new tenant to sign their lease, be frank about your vacation and pair them with a responsible staff member who can take over the negotiations. People will be much more understanding than you’d expect! After all, who doesn’t love a vacation?
Create Your Backup Plans
If something goes wrong while you’re away, will your team be up to handling it? If you’ve trained your staff well, the answer should be yes. But if you’re feeling anything less than 100% confident, consider asking a colleague to serve as an emergency contact. This could be a mentor in the industry or even a manager of a neighboring property. Your staff should be running the show, but if something serious crops up that they feel ill-equipped to deal with, having a seasoned professional there to take the reigns can be a real life-saver.
– Scott Safadi, Cal Bay Property Management

Putting Instagram to Work for Your Community

The image sharing social network Instagram has been around for a few years. Chances are good, you’re already sharing cute photos of your kids and delicious pictures of your weekly Sunday brunch. But could your favorite way to share photos also be the key to attracting new tenants?

Cal Bay Property Management’s Scott Safadi says yes. We live in a visual world and more emphasis is placed on images than ever before. Platforms like Twitter can be a great way to share news and engage with potential tenants, Instagram requires you to put your money where your mouth is — metaphorically speaking, of course!

If you don’t have great content to share, your Instagram won’t be very successful. With pretty photos of your community, though, the platform can be the lead generation tool you’ve been looking for!
So what’s the secret? Resist the urge to only photograph your community. While photos of your units and amenities are helpful, expand out your content to local attractions and restaurants. Since location is so critical in determining whether a person wants to live in your community, you’ve got to sell your neighborhood on top of your apartments.
Also consider the role video plays on Instagram. Where else can you get an autoplaying stream of your finest features? Showcase the very best action shots you can get of your apartment. Perhaps you’ll hone in on the jacuzzi action happening at your hot tub, or even film the breeze blowing through pretty trees in the area. Not everything needs to be a direct commercial for your community! Your videos don’t have to be long, either. Anything between 3 and 60 seconds is the perfect length for a video on Instagram.
Resist the urge to make your Instagram presence too perfect. While professionalism is always necessary, layering on heavy filters can set off alarm bells for savvy viewers. After all, nothing screams phony like a heavily-filtered image trying to sell you something. Post images like that and you’re on the fast track to being unfollowed.
Whatever your Instagram strategy, remember your hashtags! They help attract Instagram users to your page and give your brand some flavor. Embrace #flashbackfridays by posting early images of your property. Not sure how to create your very own marketing hashtag? Check out one of the many hashtag generators online for guidance.
– Scott Safadi, Cal Bay Property Management

Soundproof Your Rental Units with These 4 Tips

When neighbors are noisy, apartment life can be hell. Virtually all of us have experienced the frustration that comes with loud neighbors. From sports fans shouting at their favorite team playing on television to dogs barking to late night parties, these intrusions can be truly infuriating. A good landlord knows that soundproofing walls will go a long way to prevent conflict between tenants. But how to go about soundproofing? Scott Safadi of Cal Bay Property Management has four tips for you. Follow them and you’ll be on your way to peace and quiet in your community!

  1. Check your heat ducts and vents.  Sound waves travel like water, and the waves are constantly looking for the path of least resistance. When voices and other noises travel though duct work, though, they can become amplified by the hollow metal space. Acoustical insulation can help keep this echoing effect to a minimum. Landlords should also consider replacing duct work near vents with lined duct work and lined grills.
  2. Install thick carpet and carpet pads. Many downstairs neighbors grow frustrated by the footfalls of the residents above them. Even if the tenant isn’t stomping around, thin carpets and hardwood floors carry every small sound. Consider investing in thick carpets and carpet pads to help mask the sounds.
  3. Install fiberglass insulation. Though not a quick, easy or cheap option, this insulation can help save on energy bills on top of limit the sounds that travel between rental units.
  4. Install pre-built doors and windows designed for soundproofing. While this sounds like quite the investment, the specialized soundproof equipment can go a long way to prevent tenant conflict for years after the initial installation process.

If you’re not in a place where you can afford a bunch of soundproofing upgrades right now, it can help to talk with noisy tenants. Many times, they don’t even realize they’re being overly loud. There are many ways tenants can help to soundproof their own spaces, too. Pictures, tapestries and draperies can help absorb noise coming from an apartment. For extra sensitive tenants tired of hearing from their neighbors, suggest a white, pink or brown noise machine for their apartment. Though these devices can get expensive at the high end of the market, a simple bluetooth speaker and an iPhone app are all you need to start blocking out noisy neighbors!

— Scott Safadi, Cal Bay Property Management

Should You Ask Tenants for a Pet Resume?

Your resume is often synonymous with your first impression: when it lands on a hiring manager’s desk, your fate lies in how well you come across on paper. Good or bad, thick or thin, your resume reflects your work history, your skill set and your education. A lot about your background is revealed before you ever set foot in the office for an interview.

It might sound strange, but applying this idea to your tenants could come in handy. Property managers have conducted background checks on applicants for years, but asking for a resume isn’t standard operating procedure. Property managers may, however, benefit from asking for pet resumes. Given the increasing numbers of dog bite insurance claims — they accounted for more than one third of all homeowner liability pay outs in 2014 — understanding a pooch’s past could come in handy.

Pet friendly communities are different than pet tolerant ones. Even if you believe pets to be a welcome addition to your community, there’s no denying the inherent dangers associated with allowing animals in your rentals. Not only is there the increased risk of property damage to consider, there’s the very real possibility that a dog might bite or seriously attack someone while on your property. And though the pet owner would be primarily responsible for damages, property owners have been found liable in some cases.

That’s where the pet resume comes in. You don’t need to ask for a literal resume. Instead, ask your potential new tenant about the dog’s background. Ask how long they’ve had the dog, what breed it is, where they adopted the dog from and if it has a violent history. If you’re nervous about asking such a direct question regarding the pup’s propensity for violence, consider asking instead about the dog’s temperament. Understanding how vocal, energetic and friendly the dog is will help you get an idea of what kind of pet you’d be allowing on your property.

Scott Safadi of Cal Bay Property Management recommends leaning into these discussions, as uncomfortable as they may be. It’s better to get the full picture of the dog’s history and likelihood for violence before you allow it on your property. Consider asking about the dog’s grooming needs, too. While you might not need to know the details of Fido’s trims and baths, the answer can reveal a lot about the level of care a dog owner provides.

– Scott Safadi, Cal Bay Property Management