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3 Things to Consider Before Investing in a Rental Property

Having a rental property can be a great investment. Not only can it appreciate, but many times the rent you receive from tenants will also cover most (or all) of the mortgage.

Of course, it’s not exactly passive income. You’ll probably be managing renters, hiring yard care and cleaning, and taking care of repairs. Even if you hire a management company, you still need to ensure that these responsibilities are covered.

It’s also important to make sure the investment property you choose sets you up for success. There are a lot of mistakes to avoid. With that in mind, here are three things to consider before investing in a rental property.

Understand the Numbers

Before you invest in any rental property, it’s vital to understand both your financial situation prior to the purchase, as well as, the financial results after the purchase. Let’s look at each one.

Your Starting Financial Status

Before you even think about property investment, make sure you have everything you need—personally and professionally. Are you paying your bills easily? Are you in trouble with debt? Do you have enough cash flow for emergencies, insurance, and retirement for your personal life?

If not, now is not the time to invest in a rental property. You can’t buy a home and expect renters to arrive and bail you out of a difficult situation. You want to invest from a position of strength, not an area of desperation.

Once your personal life is in order, take a look at your savings. Do you have money for a down payment? Can you afford homeowner’s insurance, taxes, fees, and repairs? Remember, the more you borrow, the less your property will return to you.

The Rental Property Itself

Once you’re in the right position to invest in a property, you want to understand the numbers behind each purchase option you evaluate. You need to choose one where the return on investment is strong, to ensure that you will actually have an investment and not a burden on your hands.

Consider the location and size of the property to determine how much rent it will command. Think about whether quality tenants want to live in that area. Don’t overlook the repairs you’ll need to make if it’s not a turnkey property.

Compare your return against your expected expenses to make sure you’re receiving positive cash flow from the property over time. Think about taxes, fees, periodic repairs, and anything you’re paying to a management company. Don’t forget to factor in the mortgage payments as well!

Look for a Desirable Location

High-quality renters are attracted to top-of-the-line spaces. It may seem like a great deal to invest in a run-down property or an undesirable part of town because you can get it for a low price. However, even if the expected (lower) rent is a good return, the truth is that you won’t get quality renters.

You need to find an area that people want to live in long-term. Otherwise, your property will be a revolving door, and you’ll always be looking for new tenants. Each month of vacancy is money out of your pocket and dramatically reduces your return on investment.

Think about the good schools and transit routes in your area and look for desirable properties near those amenities. If you can find something near great restaurants, parks, and entertainment, that’s even better.

Of course, these better properties will cost more. However, knowing that you have a desirable location with long-term tenants will make the financial outcome worthwhile. You will also have the added benefit of appreciation. In more desirable areas, the value of your investment will appreciate much faster than in undesirable areas.

Consider Your Risks

Any investment has a risk of loss. That’s why there’s the possibility of a return! When you’re considering an investment property, you need to think carefully about the risks of renting and be prepared to handle them.

Vacancy is probably the most significant risk. Having months of no tenants means having months of no income, but your expenses will remain the same. It’s important to limit this risk as much as possible by choosing a high-quality property in a desirable area. You should also budget to have some additional cash available in case you face lean times.

You also want to be prepared for major repairs. Sometimes these can be planned, and sometimes they pop up out of nowhere. Having proper insurance and a reserve fund is vital.

Finally, you need to be ready in case you have difficult tenants. Some may pay late, promise to pay but never do so, or even need to be evicted. Handling these issues is time-consuming, so be sure to have a plan in place ahead of time.

Be Prepared Before You Invest

Having a rental property can be highly profitable if you do it well. Once you’ve taken these considerations into account, you’ll be able to tell if you have the right opportunity in front of you.

When you go in with a clear vision, you’ll set yourself up for success.

Position Realty
Office: 480-213-5251

Should You Invest in Short-Term or Long-Term Rental Properties?

The benefits of real estate investing are numerous. That’s why millions of Americans decide to go down that road. However, for someone new to the property investment business, choosing the right strategy can be daunting. That’s why we’ve put together the advantages and disadvantages of both short-term rentals and long-term rentals to help beginner investors decide on the best approach for them.

What Are Short-Term and Long-Term Rentals?

If you are new to real estate investing, you might be wondering about the meaning of short-term rentals. This is a relatively recent type of investment properties which get rented on daily or weekly basis. They have become particularly popular after the emergence of Airbnb.com in 2008 and other similar platforms afterwards. They are also known as Airbnb rentals or vacation rentals.

On the other hand, long-term rentals are investment properties which landlords rent out on monthly basis. Most tenants tend to stay in the same property for years before they decide to move to a new city or before they can afford to buy their own home. Long-term rentals are also called traditional rentals as this is the oldest type of rental properties.

Investing in Short-Term Rental Properties: The Advantages

1. Higher Return on Investment

The first and foremost benefit of buying an investment property to rent out on Airbnb or a similar platform rather than the traditional way is that this brings a higher return on investment. Data from Mashvisor, a real estate data analytics company, shows that the capitalization rate for short-term rentals exceeds the cap rate for long-term ones in the majority of big and small US housing markets. This is a very important factor as investors get into real estate to make money from properties, and the more money they can make, the better.

2. Control Over the Pricing Strategy

Vacation rentals are usually marketed on platforms which allow the host – that is, the investor – to set up a unique rental rate for every day. This allows you to customize your pricing schedule to account for the weekend and holidays as well as for the peak season and the off season. In this way you can decrease the daily rate when demand is slower to push your occupancy rate up and increase the rent when the market is hot in order to make more money. Consequently, you can maximize your rental income and return on investment easily and effectively.

3. In Demand

Airbnb rentals are very much in demand right now. Looking for a more welcoming and less pricey alternative to hotels, many business and leisure travelers decide to stay at short-term rentals, pushing the demand for them up. That’s excellent news from the point of view of real estate investors as more demand means that they can raise the nightly rate and still not compromize the occupancy rate. This, in turn, means higher return.

4. For Personal Use

The last major advantage of investing in a short-term rental as opposed to a traditional one is that you can use it for your own purposes. Because vacation rentals’ availability is marked on daily basis, you can decide when you want to stay at your second home with your friends and family and make those days unavailable for guests. In this way, you not only get to spend your holidays in a home-resembling atmosphere in your favorite location but also save money from expensive hotels.

Investing in Vacation Rentals: The Disadvantages

1. Legal Issues

The main drawback of this rental strategy is that short-term rentals are becoming illegal or at least strictly regulated in more and more markets across the US. The local authorities in many major cities such as San Francisco, San Diego, Los Angeles, New York, Boston, and others have issued regulations which basically eliminated vacation rentals for investment purposes there. Moreover, even if you invest in a location where Airbnb is legal at the moment, there is no guarantee that the situation will not change for the worse in a few months or years.

2. High Turnover

Unlike traditional rentals, vacation homes experience a very high turnover. Guests change every couple of days, which means that you have to clean, tidy up, and restock all the time. This increases your running costs and requires a lot of time and efforts. Being an Airbnb host can be equivalent to a full-time job. However, professional vacation rental management companies offer an affordable solution to this problem. They would take care of all aspects of your short-term rental business in a cost-efficient way, maintaining your income or even increasing it.

Investing in Long-Term Rentals: The Advantages

1. Stability and Predictability

The most important pro of buying a traditional rental property is that it provides a sense of stability and predictability. You have to put efforts into screening tenants well to find good ones and then you should take good care of your property, of course. But as long as you do that, you can expect your tenants to stay for a few years. This means that you will receive your rental income month after month without worrying about vacancies and turnover. This is an important consideration for real estate investors.

2. Few Legal Restrictions

The laws governing the relations between landlords and tenants vary from state to state. Some locations favor the former, while others favor the latter. Nevertheless, there are no places in the US real estate market where long-term rentals are absolutely illegal or where the regulations are so tight or restricting that they become prohibitive for investors. So long as you maintain your property, respond to your tenants’ reasonable requests and concerns, don’t discriminate against them, and pay your taxes diligently, you should be out of trouble.

3. Smaller Initial Investment

If you decide to rent out your investment property on long-term basis, you can decide whether to to furnish it or not. Furnishing an entire house or apartment from scratch requires thousands of dollars, no matter how good you might be at finding deals. You have to provide a comfortable and pleasant environment to be able to compete with other investors in the neighborhood. Nonetheless, you save yourself both money and time when you leave your property unfurnished. You don’t have this option with vacation rentals.

4. Minimal Ongoing Expenses

Similarly, long-term rentals entail lower recurrent expenses than short-term ones. As an Airbnb host, you have to replace the toiletries and water, change the sheets, and clean the property between all guests. Moreover, you have to periodically change any broken pieces of furniture and deal with more frequent damages to your property. Meanwhile, long-term tenants see your rental as their home, so in most cases they cause less damage than short-term guests.

Investing in Traditional Rental Properties: The Disadvantages

1. Difficult Rent Increase

Most states tend to protect tenants and make rent increases very hard. As a landlord, you will most probably face limitations on the frequency of changes in the rental rate as well as the actual size of the increase. This means that you might miss on an opportunity to make more money if demand in your market starts going up.

2. Bad Tenants and Eviction

Even if you apply the most scrutinizing screening process when choosing your tenants, you might still make a mistake and end up with bad tenants. However, most states put significant restrictions on the tools you have at your disposal to deal with them. When your tenants don’t pay rent, you have to give them a notice before you can take any legal action. If you suspect your renters are causing too much damage to your property, you can’t just walk in to check on the property; once again you have to notify them. Not to mention that a supposedly simple eviction process can take months in which you cannot make money from your investment property.

3. Suboptimal Return on Investment

As mentioned above, short-term rentals tend to yield higher return on investment than traditional ones. Nevertheless, this doesn’t mean that you can’t make good money with long-term rentals. As long as you select your market carefully and analyze your investment property diligently, you can make doubled-digit return with this rental strategy.

One of the best things about real estate investing is the diversity of options including the two main rental strategies. While both short-term and long-term rental properties have clear, objective pros and cons, you have to take into consideration your personal preferences and your own personality as a real estate investor before you can decide which one to pursue.

Position Realty
Office: 480-213-5251

IRS gives rental owners clarity on 20% deduction

The IRS on gave owners of rental properties a better idea of how they can qualify for the 20 percent deduction on qualified business income from pass-through entities such as sole proprietorships, partnerships and S corporations.

This deduction is a big, complicated part of the sweeping Tax Cuts and Jobs Act that Congress passed in December 2017. It’s called the qualified business income deduction, or the 199A deduction after its section in the tax code.

The IRS published proposed regulations for this deduction in August, but the section on rental real estate left room for debate. It said that to qualify, a real estate activity must rise to the level of a “trade or business,” an ambiguous term that has no clear or consistent definition in the tax code. The IRS said it would look to its use under section 162(a) of the tax code, but that still left a lot of tax pros arguing about whether people who owned one or a few properties would qualify.

The IRS published final regulations on the overall deduction Friday, but clarified its position on rental real estate in a separate notice.

“The Treasury Department and the IRS are aware that whether a rental real estate enterprise is a trade or business is the subject of uncertainty for some taxpayers,” it said in the notice. “To help mitigate this uncertainty,” the notice contains a proposed revenue procedure that provides a “safe harbor” under which a rental real estate enterprise will be treated as a trade or business under Section 199A and thereby qualify for the 20 percent deduction starting with the 2018 tax year.

The notice outlines numerous requirements, but here’s the big one: Between 2018 and 2022, at least 250 hours of rental services must be performed each year for the business. Starting in 2023, at least 250 hours must be performed in three of the five past years.

Rental services under this definition include advertising the space for rent, negotiating and executing leases, screening tenants, collecting rent, maintenance and repairs, purchasing materials and supervising employees and independent contractors. “Rental services may be performed by owners or by employees, agents, and/or independent contractors,” the notice said.

It added that rental services do not include financial or investment management activities, such as arranging financing, procuring property, studying financial statements and hours spent traveling to and from the real estate.

Also, real estate used by the owner “as a residence for any part of the year” is not eligible for this safe harbor.

More information

To see the notice: https://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-drop/n-19-07.pdf

To see the final regulations on the deduction: https://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-drop/td-reg-107892-18.pdf

It also added that real estate rented under a triple net lease is not eligible. A triple net lease is one that requires the tenant to pay taxes, fees, and insurance, and to be responsible for maintenance in addition to rent and utilities.

4 Ways to Spot a Problem Tenant

When renting a property to someone, unfortunately, you have to be a little judgmental. As a part of your job, you have to be attentive to people’s characteristics and background/history in order to determine if they are the best candidate to rent your property to. Most of the time, a majority of the people you may come across to rent to are decent and good candidates that will end up not being of any trouble at all. While this may be the case, however, this doesn’t mean that you won’t encounter a prospective tenant that could be a problem at some point in your career.

Dealing with someone who shows interest in your property but also displays signs that they could prove to be problematic in the future is not easy by any means. Despite this, if you pay close enough attention, you’ll be able to spot the signs early enough which will ultimately make the process easier. If you are a landlord/property manager nervous about detecting the signs of potential problem tenant, check out my five warning signs below!

Before we delve into how to spot the signs, first, it’s important to recognize what the laws are regarding you, the tenant and your jobs. Lindsey Schober of Zillow makes an important note, stating, “Each state and municipality has unique laws and ordinances. Make sure you have a clear understanding of your landlord rights and responsibilities, tenant rights, and the basic workings of specific notices and eviction procedures. Work with an attorney to set up your policies and procedures.” Once you have a decent understanding of your rights as a landlord as well as the rights of any of your tenants, you will not only feel more confident about the selection process, but you will also feel better about handling a tenant in the case they pose a significant problem.

Now that you have an understanding of your rights and responsibilities, you can easily spot these five problem signs of a potential tenant:

1. Payment History/Credit: One of the determining factors when renting a property to someone is having a decent or good credit score. Though it may be unfair at times, many property managers and landlords use credit scores as a means of determining whether or not a tenant can be reliable in their payments and responsible while living in your property. A warning sign of a bad tenant can be a hesitancy to conduct a credit score or a credit score that shows a history of late payments. According to the staff at Upad, if you think you may have a problem, “Speak to the tenant and ask them if there’s a problem and remind them that the rent should always be paid by the due date. However, if you get a couple of late payments in a row, you should ask them directly if they’re having difficulty with the rent and discuss how you can sort this out.”

2. Friend/Family Member: You may be asking yourself, “what could be so wrong about having a friend or family member as a tenant?” Having a friend or family member as a tenant isn’t an instant horror, however, it can be dangerous. Have you ever heard of the phrase, “don’t mix family and business”? Well, there is a reason why that phrase exists. Unfortunately, in some cases when this happens, it becomes hard to uphold your status as the landlord and makes it harder for you to keep your relationship separate. In the long run, try to avoid this so you ultimately don’t ruin a relationship!

3. Criminal History: Background checks are wonderful things; they tell you anything you could want to know about a possible tenant to help narrow down your selection process. If a prospective tenant has a criminal history that makes you uncomfortable, in a majority of states, you can deny them based on their past criminal offenses. However, in states like California, you cannot discriminate against those who have been convicted of nonviolent crimes, according to Erin Eberlin of the Balance.

4. False Contacts: In almost all cases, most landlords/property managers ask for at least one or a few references to help in evaluating a tenant. Most people do not have a problem with this, however, those who can potentially be problem tenants may provide false contacts like friends or family members to pose as references to make themselves look better. To combat this, Chris of LandlordTalking notes, “One of the best ways to avoid this scam is to ask for multiple landlord references, including the current landlord. Come up with some preliminary questions to ask the contact during the interview. What will seem like small talk may actually tip you off to a fraudulent reference.”

While the process of evaluating a tenant may be difficult and exhausting, to notice the signs of a potentially bad tenant will only prove to help you in the long run. As always, good luck!

Position Realty
Office: 480-213-5251

Five Steps To Avoid Illegally Evicting Your Tenants

One of the biggest risks related to owning investment properties is dealing with an eviction. If a tenant doesn’t pay rent, the simple answer is to evict him.

To a seasoned investor, however, it’s never that simple. Actually evicting a tenant is an extremely complicated and expensive process, and one that should always be avoided.

An eviction is an official legal proceeding, complete with a formal process that needs to be followed exactly in order to have your tenant move out and relinquish the property back to you. Failure to follow your state’s laws on a legal eviction can result in delaying the eviction date, losing a court hearing or owing the tenant money.

Rental property owners will benefit from understanding the legal eviction process in order to protect themselves from breaking the law should they ever go through the process. I also hope to instill the idea that addressing an issue with a bad tenant takes a lot more energy than simply evicting him. I want all investors to understand the importance of finding good tenants and sticking to the lease terms, so you can minimize the risk of dealing with an eviction.

Let’s first take a look at the difference between an illegal and a legal eviction.

An illegal eviction involves:

• Changing the locks.

• Putting your renter’s belongings on the curb or in the garbage.

• Threatening the tenant with an eviction or increased fines.

• Turning off utilities or other services.

A legal eviction includes:

• A court order.

• Official notices.

• Appropriate communication.

• Adherence to state laws.

• Patience.

What Is An Eviction?

An eviction is a lawsuit, sometimes known as an unlawful detainer lawsuit, that a property owner files against a tenant in order to regain possession of a property. Once an eviction lawsuit is filed with the court and a judge rules in favor of the eviction, the property owner can work with law enforcement to remove the tenant by an agreed-upon date per the eviction ruling.

In order for a property owner to win an eviction ruling, the property owner must prove that the tenant violated a lease term, that he gave proper notices to the tenant to fix the violation and that the proper eviction process was followed.

Reasons To Evict A Tenant

A tenant can lawfully be evicted for:

• Failure to pay rent.

• A lease violation (like illegal use, subleasing, unauthorized pet, etc.).

• Damaging the property.

• Threatening the safety of other tenants, neighbors, the property or community.

• Breaking other local housing laws, as outlined in the lease agreement.

A property owner cannot evict a tenant because of personality clashes, minor disagreements or annoying behaviors. If you establish a reasonable need to evict a tenant, you should act immediately and follow your state’s guidelines for a legal eviction.

The Eviction Process

Here is a general overview of the standard eviction process:

1. Establish a legal need to evict a tenant:

Tenant violates a lease term, like failing to pay rent.

2. Notify the tenant:

Landlord provides an official notice to Cure or Quit to the tenant. A Cure Or Quit Notice notifies the tenant of the violation and tells the tenant to either fix the violation within a certain amount of time (cure) or move (quit). This notice should be taped to the door and mailed via certified, first-class mail. You will need to prove in court that you did your best to notify the tenant of the potential eviction proceedings.

In some cases, a property owner or manager can file an eviction with the courts without giving the tenant time to remedy the problem. Such is the case if the property or other people are in immediate danger.

3. File with the court:

If the tenant does not fix the violation outlined in the notice and does not voluntarily move out, the landlord can proceed with filing an eviction lawsuit.

After filing an unlawful detainer lawsuit with the local courthouse, you will receive a date for your eviction hearing and the court will notify the tenant of the summons. Depending on which state you live in and how busy your local courthouse is, this hearing can be anywhere from one week to a few months from your filing date. If it takes a few months for your eviction date, you have to let your tenant continue to live at the property until a judge rules otherwise. Often, a tenant will not pay rent during this time. If this is the case, let’s hope you have a good lost rent policy with your landlord insurance provider.

4. Court hearing:

At the court hearing, you will need to provide proof of the reason for eviction, and that you gave the tenant an official notice to cure or quit. It is also a good idea to bring copies of the lease, rent payment records and records of all communication you have had with the tenant.

If the judge rules in your favor, you will be able to move forward with an eviction by contacting your local law enforcement to escort the tenant out on an agreed-upon date, if needed.

5. Regaining possession of the property:

On the date determined by your eviction hearing, you will officially regain possession of the property. You are allowed to change the locks and proceed with managing any abandoned tenant property per your state’s laws at this time.

As you can see, moving forward with a legal eviction involves a lot of time spent dealing with your local courts. You have to be patient with the court’s timelines and rulings. You also must keep all your communication with your tenant professional during this time, which can be challenging if you are frustrated with your tenant’s behavior.

Evictions are risky because of the unknown timeline from the filing date to the date a tenant will actually be required to leave the property per the court order. The time and money associated with moving forward with an eviction demonstrate the need for approving only the most qualified tenants for your property, minimizing the risk of eviction.

Position Realty
Office: 480-213-5251

Is It Time To Hire A Property Manager For Your Rental

It’s a question that arises sooner or later for most landlords: “Should I manage my own rentals, or outsource the work?”

Keeping on top of rental maintenance is vitally important for any landlord. But for most, it’s not exactly something they enjoy. After all, being on call 24/7 for any repairs and maintenance issues that arise can get tiring after a while, even for the most resilient landlord. Then there’s the issue of time. While in the beginning, doing cleaning, painting and small plumbing jobs might be fine, once you’ve got a few rentals under your belt you’ll quickly find that management can escalate into a full-time job. No wonder 62% of landlords in one recent survey claimed that maintenance was their biggest pain point.

If you find yourself struggling to fit it all in, hiring a property manager is something that may have crossed your mind. But is outsourcing your property management always the best solution? When does it make sense to go it alone, and when should you think about bringing someone else on board?

If you’re on the fence, here are a few questions that can help you determine whether a property manager is the best option for you.

Do I have time to manage my property?

If you’ve reached a stage where you dread answering the phone because you don’t want to deal with yet another tenant maintenance request, it may be time to outsource.

In my line of work, I see it all the time: landlords running themselves ragged, trying to do it all. They have a few properties, but instead of creating passive income streams for themselves, they’ve simply acquired another job — a full-time one at that.

Don’t let your dream of owning rental properties become stifled because you can’t afford to put any more hours in at your properties. Instead, consider outsourcing to a reputable rental management professional who will be able to oversee the properties in your stead.

Do I want to expand my rental property portfolio?

If your goal is to own five, 10 or more rental properties, outsourcing is the fastest way to get there. This is especially true if you’re finding that maintenance and repairs are starting to keep you from high-level tasks like finding and assessing new investment opportunities and properly overseeing your property portfolio.

Will I invest in markets outside of my local area?

While many landlords start out with properties in their own hometown, if you’d like to grow your portfolio, you may wish to take advantage of up-and-coming markets or opportunities that are better than what’s available in your own backyard. However, being a long-distance landlord can bring its own set of unique challenges, even for experienced landlords.

If you’re thinking of investing in an out-of-town property, hiring a professional property manager who will be your eyes and ears on the ground can free you up from the stress that’s often associated with long-distance landlording.

Will a property manager help me be more profitable?

Finally, is hiring a property manager a financially smart decision? If you have one or two local properties, it might make more sense to oversee them yourself. But often, professional landlords find that hiring a property manager to oversee their rentals enables them to invest in more properties than they’d be able to otherwise, helping to maximize returns.

Finding A Reputable Property Manager

Much of your rental property’s success is contingent on how well it’s managed. For landlords who are thinking of outsourcing management or maintenance, finding a reputable and qualified professional is crucial.

Be sure to do your research upfront. Read online reviews. Ask for referrals. And, much like conducting an interview, ask your prospective property managers qualifying questions to ensure you end up with a great match. Here are a few questions you should ask:

1. How much experience do you have?

First, you’ll want to ensure that you find a professional who’s experienced and knowledgeable — one with a proven track record of success. Consider asking how many rental units they are currently responsible for. A low number could indicate that they’re new to the game, or perhaps struggling.

2. How do you structure your fees?

Concerns about cost is one of the main factors that keeps people from outsourcing. And naturally, this should be one of the first questions that you ask. Generally, monthly fees are either fixed or a percentage of the rental yield, often 8-12% of the monthly revenue. Optional packages and additional services could impact the cost, though, so make sure you’re aware of their fees before you commit.

3. Are there any fees when the property is vacant?

If you find a company that charges you while the property sits vacant, be careful. Property managers should have an incentive to keep your rental occupied, and if they’re being paid regardless, then that incentive goes away.

4. How do you screen tenants?

Any property manager worth their salt will not only screen tenants thoroughly, but also have airtight policies and procedures in place to ensure that they do so in a way that’s in compliance with the Fair Housing Act.

5. What’s your average vacancy rate?

Reducing vacancy times is key to maximizing your returns. A reputable property manager should know their average vacancy rates, and will be more than happy to inform you of them. Anything within the two- to three-week window is outstanding.

At the end of the day, the decision to outsource comes down to your personal preferences and investment goals. While first-time landlords can certainly benefit from the cost savings of doing their own work, for experienced landlords, offloading the day-to-day tasks to a professional is something that often makes sense. Many landlords find that it’s a pivotal turning point in their investment career — the decision that’s responsible for allowing them to reclaim their time and focus on growing their investments.

Position Realty
Office: 480-213-5251

How to Attract Renters Using Smart Tech

If you own or manage a rental property, you probably know how hard finding the perfect tenants can be. Attracting the right people to your space is key, and smart tech can help you grab their interest and show yourself to be a prepared and mindful landlord.

Make your space feel modern and updated
Fully updating older rentals is expensive and time-consuming, and it may not be a possibility for you based on your personal budget and time constraints. However, many prospective renters want to see a space that is updated and fresh, even if the building itself is a little older. One way to bring a modern edge to your space is adding in a dose of smart tech with a few well-integrated items.

Smart lightbulbs allow users to adjust lighting conditions to their own preferences. Some come with customizable colors, while others can be dimmed and have their light warmth fine-tuned using a mobile app. There are even smart bulbs which can be voice-controlled. Showing these features to prospective renters can be an impressive touch.

You can also show off things like smart thermostats, which allow for remote control and scheduling, and smart switches, which can help add even more control to existing devices and lights. Plugging items like lamps into smart outlets adds some smarts to even the most mundane appliances, and will create a cutting-edge feel in even a dated home. Best of all, these can save both you and your renters money over time.

Help prospective renters see the possibilities
Especially in short-term rental situations, it can be hard for prospective tenants to picture their lives in a rental space. As a property owner, you can use smart tech to help them get a clearer view of how personalized their stay in your space can be.

Smart speakers with virtual assistants bring some intelligence and control into a space in one compact package. Renters can voice-control other smart tech using the smart speaker as a hub, and they can ask for music, weather, search results, shopping, games, and a whole lot more. These virtual assistants, such as Alexa and Google Assistant, can help renters feel more at-home and control more of the space.

Create a secure environment
When moving to a new place, many renters may feel some anxiety about unfamiliar living situations and neighborhoods. Using tech like smart smoke alarms, leak sensors, and home security systems, you can create an environment that keeps you and the renters in the loop about any potential threats and get ahead of potential dangers with remote warnings. It’s important for potential renters to feel secure, and you can provide that by showing you’ve put time and effort into creating a safe place for your tenants.

The key to using smart tech to attract renters is to make sure you’re in-tune with potential tenants’ needs. Making a space feel up-to-dated, personal, and safe will attract high-quality renters to your property, and can be the beginning of a strong rental relationship.

Position Realty
Office: 480-213-5251

What Landlords Can Do To Avoid Evictions

Evictions are at an all-time high. Pulitzer Prize-winning sociologist and mass eviction researcher Matthew Desmond placed the number at 2.3 million for 2016, offering a combination of reasons: Soaring housing costs coupled with flatlining incomes have come together to make rental properties that much more unaffordable to average families.

More than ever, families are squeezed between the income they produce versus the rent and housing costs they must meet.

In other words, the climbing eviction rate is unsustainable.

Though there are economic and structural reasons for this uptick, there are also tangible steps that landlords can take to attenuate that rise — effective ways landlords can avoid evictions.

Adopting A Proactive Approach

Evictions are not only destructive for tenants. They also negatively impact landlords, too. Neither party benefits from the eviction process. Tenants are tasked with the challenge of securing a new home. For landlords, the eviction process can take weeks or even months of time, cost and stress. It’s in the interest of both parties to avoid this outcome.

Landlords who mishandle the eviction process may receive a countersuit, action that can bury your case into a deeper, more insipid legal quagmire. Landlords must take a proactive, measured approach to avoid this outcome. When I say proactive, what I mean is an approach that prevents evictions in the first place and that puts the risk in your favor.

Create conditions in which the landlord-tenant relationship is healthy, open, honest and, most importantly, reciprocal. Remember — landlords are bound by their obligations as much as tenants are. Even though landlords own the property, they cannot take the law into their own hands. I’ve seen too many cases in which landlords have done precisely that.

A proactive approach is one that manages the concerns of your tenant in a timely, reasonable manner. It’s an approach that reduces landlord-tenant tension. It’s also an approach that seeks to avoid a reactionary response.

In many cases, evictions take place in unnecessary circumstances. Perhaps the tenant has a reasonable case for late rental payments. Perhaps landlords can adopt a more moral approach, one that seeks to understand and come to a sensible, long-term resolution that benefits both tenant and landlord. It doesn’t always have to result in eviction proceedings. Evictions should be avoided whenever possible.

Evictions are, of course, the action of last resort — both tenant and landlord should come to that realization if a dispute, no matter how small, comes to the fore. It’s not always the fault of the tenant. Landlords should realize this and act accordingly.

Always Meeting Obligations

Of course, there are situations in which eviction proceedings are wholly unavoidable. Even then, though, landlords should reflect on how that situation has arisen.

Landlords should ensure that their tenant is of the highest possible standard. Necessary background checks must be performed before leases are signed. It’s simply not enough to take a passive, distant attitude. It never works. But conducting those extra checks can, in the long term, save you weeks if not months of time, stress and cost by avoiding the eviction process. Invest the necessary time upfront, and it always pays off.

Even when things go awry, landlords should think about how that situation has come to pass and what steps, if any, they can take to avoid the same situation developing in the future. Again, it’s often down to being proactive and tackling every potential source of tension and discord in the landlord-tenant relationship.

The perilous increase in eviction rates of late casts a wider shadow over the landlord-tenant relationship, giving us greater cause to reflect on what landlords can do to prevent this often needless outcome. Landlords must be proactive along three fronts:

1. Landlords should guarantee that their tenant comes with the lowest possible risk. Conduct necessary, extra background checks.

2. Landlords should meet their obligations and ensure the landlord-tenant relationship is healthy, free from both hostility and tension.

3. Landlords should be flexible where necessary, seeking a long-term resolution for whatever the source of tension may be.

In cases where all three strategies fail, eviction proceedings are unavoidable. In these circumstances, landlords should always conduct themselves in accordance with the relevant state and local legislation and the tenancy agreement – a professional approach that seeks to streamline the eviction process, while also protecting the landlord against potential counter suits.

Some evictions are avoidable. By appreciating that fact for what it’s worth, landlords can do more to help their situation (and tenant) in both the short and the long term.

Service Animals and Emotional Support Animals: What You Need to Know

Businesses from airlines to restaurants to taxis are finding themselves in hot water due to their lack of understanding the rules governing service and emotional support animals.

It’s important that organizations – and especially, small businesses – know when and how to accommodate people with service animals to ensure that everyone has the safest and most pleasant experience with your company as possible.

Service Animals
According to the Department of Justice, service animals are classified, as a dog – and vary rarely, a miniature horse – that has been “individually trained to do work or perform tasks for an individual with a disability. The work task(s) performed by the dog must be directly related to the person’s disability.” A service dog can be trained to assist an owner with a disability with any number of task from helping someone who is blind navigate walking streets to picking up items for someone with acute arthritis to activating a life-alert button for someone who has epilepsy.

Service animals are not required to wear any type of vest or carry certification, so they may not always be easy to identify by just looking at them. Businesses can ask if a dog is a service animal and what work task they have been trained to perform, if it is not obvious. However, they are not allowed to demand any verification for the dog or inquire about their handler’s disability.

Service dogs are also protected under the Americans with Disabilities Act(ADA) and can accompany their handler to any public place – including office buildings, coffee shops and airplanes, provided they are under control and not a threat to others. Under the ADA, businesses must make “reasonable modifications” of their policies to accommodate trained service dogs. Companies can be fined for violating the rights of people with service animals.

A good way for businesses to think about service animals is as an extension of their owners. The dogs are trained to help their handlers with tasks they may be unable to perform alone. As such, businesses are not allowed to subject service dogs to any fees or restrictions that might apply to regular pets – such as cleaning or transportation fees. Hotels must also allow service dogs and their owners to stay in any room, not just “pet-only” rooms. Essentially, if a human is allowed somewhere, service animals are likely allowed there, too.

Emotional Support Animals
The rules become a bit more challenging around emotional support animals – also known as therapy animals. Emotional support and service animals are not one in the same. The role of an emotional support animal is to provide comfort to its owner and it is not trained to do any specific task. Any animal from a dog to cat or a bird or guinea pig can be considered an emotional support animal and are not covered under the ADA. These animals are considered effective in helping those who suffer from anxiety, depression or even PTSD.

To qualify, owners must receive an approval letter from a mental health professional that the animal provides a therapeutic benefit, and be able to provide that letter if a business requests it. Emotional support animals are allowed in the cabins of airlines at no extra charge and in any rental that falls under the Fair Housing Act, but that is the extent of what federal law requires.

Local laws vary for therapy animals, so it is best to check on the rules in your area before establishing your company policy. For instance, California has more extensive legislation protecting emotional support animals, but New York City isn’t so generous. For instance, in New York employers and landlords must make reasonable accommodations for support animals if you have proper documentation, but they can reject the animal if it poses a threat to the health or safety of others, or if the animal poses a danger of substantial property damage.

California creates three types of support animals with separate rules. The definition of a service dog and an emotional support animal are the same. But a psychiatric service dog is a dog trained to help a person with a mental disability. The tasks it is trained to do is waking someone with clinical depression and making them get out of bed, responding to a panic attack, or alerting an owner to erratic behavior if someone has a bipolar disorder. The protections for this level match those of a regular service dog.

If you do ever encounter a service dog or emotional support animal that is out of control – barking loudly, misbehaving or endangering the safety of other customers – it is perfectly acceptable to ask its owner to bring the animal under control. It is also acceptable to ask them to remove the animal if they are unable to control it. Just as you wouldn’t be expected to allow a human to behave erratically in your place of business, you are not expected to allow a service dog or therapy animal to act that way, either.

Three Misconceptions About Renters’ Insurance

When most people think of insurance, they likely think of some more popular types of policies such as health insurance, auto insurance, and even homeowners insurance. One form of coverage that’s not talked about as often is renters insurance. In fact, with only about 40 percent of renters holding policies, it’s not surprising that there are actually several common misconceptions people have about renters insurance policies.

To clear some things up and show why renters insurance policies can be a smart investment, here are three misconceptions and why they’re wrong:

“Renters insurance only covers your home”
Yes, easily the biggest misconception about renters insurance involves the very fundamentals of such policies. Specifically, tenants seem to think that renters insurance is intended to cover the physical structure of their homes. Since most renters aren’t responsible for these types of damages (their landlords are), they may assume there’s no need for coverage.

In actuality, renters insurance isn’t so much about your home but what’s in it. When you purchase this particular policy, what you’re covering is all of your possessions in the event that they’re damaged or stolen. Moreover, in most cases, the items don’t even need to be in your home at the time they’re damaged in order to be covered.

Other benefits of renters insurance can vary but may include things like liability coverage in the event someone is injured on your property and displacement reimbursement in the event you need to temporarily vacate your home. As a result, renters insurance is a far more comprehensive product than most people may realize.

An average renters insurance policy costs about $15 a month and can go as low as $10.

“It’s insurance, so it’s expensive”
Given the high prices associated with health insurance, auto insurance, and other policies, it’s easy to see why so many people would assume that renters insurance was equally as pricey.

That’s why you may be surprised to learn that studies peg the average renters’ insurance policy at just over $15 a month. This number can go as low as $10 a month in some areas, although prices in more storm-prone regions can be closer to $20 a month. Still, considering the benefits of these policies, it’s likely worth the relatively low price.

It should also be noted that there may be ways to save on your renters’ insurance policy as well. A popular example is the ability to bundle your renters and auto insurance policies in order to secure a discount on one or both. Additionally, with many companies now offering renters insurance policies, a simple way to save is to shop around and compare quotes in order to get the best deal.

“Your policy doesn’t cover the full replacement cost”
This one is actually true in some cases, but it all comes down to whether you have a replacement value or actual cash value (ACV) policy. While it’s true that an ACV policy will factor in things like depreciation and usage when determining how much to pay out on your claim, replacement value policies will provide you what you need to buy the claimed items new. Because of this, although your premium may be a bit higher, it’s often worth it to opt for a replacement value renters insurance policy.

Contrary to some misconceptions and myths that are out there, renters insurance not only provides important and valuable coverage but also comes at an affordable price. As a result, if you rent and don’t yet have a renters insurance policy, perhaps it’s time to protect your stuff and get covered.

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