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

Phone Etiquette Tips

In the age of Twitter and Facebook, the art of the phone call is underrated. After all, most of us communicate via text these days, be it via SMS or social media. And while phone calls to grandma over the holidays might be traditional, if that’s the only one you make all year, you’re bound to get rusty! Scott Safadi of Cal Bay Property Management recommends brushing up on your phone skills, even if you’re not likely to use them very often. Keep these phone etiquette tips in mind the next time you find yourself answering the office phone:
Give Your Full Attention
Phone calls shouldn’t take more than a few minutes, especially if you’re handling a prospective applicant. Keep things short, but give the person your full attention throughout the duration of the call. Even the best multitaskers can appear rude when their replies sound distracted or when sounds of a keyboard leak through the call.
Prequalify When Possible
There’s no use wasting your time or the prospective tenant’s time – try to prequalify over the phone when possible. If you know your non-negotiables, be upfront about them. Ask about pets if you have breed or weigh restrictions, and be sure your timelines match up – no one wants to wait months for the next available unit.
Get Their Name
Apartment hunters are likely calling an entire list of potential properties looking for a place to live. Asking for their name, using it throughout the conversation and remembering them in person when they come in can give you an edge. It shows you care – and that they’re not just a number to you and your office.
– Scott Safadi, Cal Bay Property Management

Breed Restriction Policies: Do They Make Sense?

dog-1369266The debate about pit bulls has waged for years. Critics of the breed argue the dogs are predisposed to violence and therefore are more likely to attack people. Animal lovers, however, challenge that idea, claiming that dog owners – not pit bulls themselves – are to blame for bites and attacks.
Left in the middle of the debate are property managers. More and more communities are placing breed restriction policies in their leases. While many such policies limit the ownership of a pet over a certain weight, some explicitly forbid breeds like Rottweilers, pit bulls and German Shepherds.
At Cal Bay Property Management, we appreciate just how nuanced this argument can get. On one hand, there’s no denying pit bulls cause many of the thousands of dog bite injuries each year. On the other, a dog’s exact genetic background can be difficult to know. The term pit bull itself can refer to several different breeds of dogs.
No matter where you stand on the issue, it is important to do your due diligence before deciding on a policy for your community.
– Scott Safadi

3 Must-Have Smartphone Apps for Landlords

Skip the paper check list and try one of these apps!

Skip the paper check list and try one of these apps!

Being a landlord has never been easier, thanks to new technological trends. Automatic bill paying makes collecting rent payments each month way more efficient, but that’s really just the start. These are just three examples of the way the role is shifting – for the better.

Got an iPhone? You’re in luck. This app is your key to unlocking your potential new tenant’s background. If they’ve been evicted or blacklisted by agents or landlords, you’ll learn about it fast.

The Landlord App
Keep track of your current tenants and find new ones with this app. Manage rent payments and schedule utility bills right from your phone. You can even link associated properties, making this a one stop shop.

Knowing your competition is invaluable as a landlord, which is why Rightmove is such a useful tool! Free on both the Android and iPhone app stores, the app helps keep you in touch with your rental market fluctuations. Use GPS to track details of local properties and their prices.

– Scott Safardi, Cal Bay Property Management

Making Business Deals over Text Message? Cal Bay Property Management recommends against.

Scott Safadi of Cal Bay Property Management does not recommend making business deals over text. In fact, he doesn’t like text messaging in business at all. If you want to go electronic, stick with email. Emails don’t leave your inbox until you move them. Text messages come and go like the breeze.

If you insist on handling your dealings over text, be aware that a text message can be considered a legal binding contract so when conducting business over text, make sure not to make promises you do not intend to keep.

Scott Safadi founds this article about some recent court rulings where the courts determined that a text message was a binding legal contract. Text Message as a Legal Contract

Rent Control Update by Scott Safadi of Cal Bay Property Management

Rent Control Update by Scott Safadi of Cal Bay Property Management:

Rent control measures were defeated in both San Mateo and Burlingame, but with widespread support, the rent control measure passed in Mountain View. Effective immediately, rents in Mountain View cannot be increased more than the current CPI index, with a floor of 2% and a ceiling of 5%. This means that we can expect rent increase maximums in Mountain View to hover between 2-3% indefinitely.

What does a strict rent control policy really mean for renters and landlords? For renters, it means stability. Renters will be able to count on their living expenses remaining fairly steady. For landlords, the horizon is considerably more bleak. The issues for landlords appear after a down cycle in the rental market. When rents fall dramatically, like they did in 2002 and again in 2009, the challenge is getting rents back up afterwards. Rents fell as much as 50-60% in 2009. So, if you were renting a 1BR in Sunnyvale for $1,500 in 2001, in 2003, you were getting $1,000. At 2%/year, your rents would have risen to $1,148 by the time the next downturn took place in 2009. With the natural economic cycle we experience in capitalist America, rents in rent controlled cities will forever be depressed following the first big drop in rents that takes place after the enaction of rent control. Landlords will not again have an incentive to modernize and upgrade their buildings. This will be especially damaging when considering that the bulk of apartment stock in the Bay Area was built in the 1960’s. Cities should be wanting landlords to be able to upgrade & modernize buildings. Landlords will have no incentive to do so under some of these new rent control policies.

Scott Safadi on the state of the rental market

Scott Safadi of Cal Bay Property Management has been witnessing a softening in the Bay Area rental market throughout the course of 2016. This softening was inevitable given the astronomical rent increases that we have seen over the past five years. Scott Safadi does not believe that it is a matter of hitting a price ceiling. Rather, it’s an indicator of a slowing in job growth, specifically in the high paying tech sector. Housing prices continue to rise and are at levels where most renters do not have the luxury to decide whether to purchase or continue to rent. 10% or 20% down is simply unrealistic for most, so renting continues to be a strong option. Read the article below for some more data.

Biz Journal Article on Rent Slowdown

Scott Safadi on Lease Lengths

Traditionally, landlords have always tried to get 12 month leases. Typically, if a shorter lease length is offered, the monthly rent rate goes up. Scott Safadi believes that this does not always have to be the case. It is often in the landlords interest to create a shorter-term lease. For example, a landlord never wants a tenant to move out during the months of November and December because so few people move during those months that it is very hard to fill a vacancy.

That being said, if put in a position to sign a new lease commencing December 1, Scott Safadi would advise offering either a seven or eight month lease at the same rate as the 12 month lease option. Tenants will often take this option to increase their flexibility and provides the landlord with an option to offer that tenant a new 12 month lease the following summer or to raise the rent at that time if the rent that was achieved in December was below-market due to the seasonal slowness.