Great Lakes Property Management Blog

Do I Need A Property Manager?

System - Monday, January 24, 2022

Owning a rental property can be a great source of additional income. However, it also comes with the added responsibilities of property management, including upkeep, repairs and marketing. If you’re asking yourself “do I need a property manager?” — consider these eight benefits of using a property management company. A property manager will

1. Screen out problem tenants

One of the biggest benefits of property management is that the property manager will handle tenant screening. Experienced property managers see hundreds (or thousands) of applications, so their trained eyes are more likely to notice potential red flags when reviewing an applicant’s paperwork. They’re quickly able to spot good tenant qualities, such as paying rent on time, taking care of the property and more. Letting them manage the tenant screening process can improve your chances of landing a reliable renter.

2. Act as the point of contact for tenant concerns

If something breaks at your property, it’s not always convenient or possible to drive over to the unit to inspect it yourself (especially if it’s in another town or state). A property manager can address problems at all hours of the day and arrange for a service provider to repair or replace the item. Or, if you have a tenant who always seems to have a complaint — be it the noisy neighbors or the dog who relieves itself on the front lawn — you can breathe easy knowing that the property manager is the point of contact for those types of calls.

3. Market your rental

Property managers are skilled at rental marketing, including writing rental ads, taking high-quality photos and hosting open houses. They also have local real estate knowledge and will be able to help you set a competitive rent price. Hiring a property manager with marketing experience can help fill your property sooner and reduce the time it sits vacant. If you plan to market your property yourself, Zillow Rental Manager offers a hassle-free way to list your rental on multiple high-traffic websites. In fact, according to the Zillow Group Consumer Housing Trends Report 20191, 84% of renters use online resources when shopping or searching for a home — so it’s a good idea to list your rental on the right sites to attract those potential tenants.

4. Decrease tenant turnover

Good property management companies know how to keep their renters happy. They are responsive and available, and they take care of problems when they arise. Happy renters are also less likely to look for another place to live and more willing to accept reasonable rent increases. Of tenants who choose to stay in their current lease, 50% think their home is a good value for the price and 40% say they love the place they rent2.

5. Ensure rent is paid on time

Because property management companies deduct their fees from the monthly rent, they are motivated to keep those payments flowing in. Consistent rent collection is key to receiving rent payments on time, and using a property management company will help enforce lease policies if payments aren’t received. If tenants are consistently failing to pay their rent on time (or at all), the property manager will know how to deal with the situation, including issuing an eviction notice if necessary. Payment collection can be a common issue — the typical renter spends 29% of their income on rent, and a significant share of rental households are one large expense away from being unable to pay3.

6. Avoid potential legal issues

Property managers understand landlord-tenant laws and fair housing laws, which can help you avoid potential lawsuits and save time, money and energy in the long run. They will also typically take care of any lawyer fees associated with evictions or property damage issues. If you’re not comfortable handling things like evictions, signing and terminating leases and handling rent and security deposits, you may need property management company expertise.

7. Save you money on maintenance and repair costs

Using a property management company may also come with discounts for maintenance services if the property managers work with a regular service provider or employ an in-house maintenance staff. They can perform regular inspections and find issues before they turn into bigger problems, which will reduce the number of emergency repair bills.

8. Reduce your rental headaches

If someone else is handling the daily management of your rental property and tenants, you’ll have fewer complications and commitments to worry about. If more time and less stress are key to your quality of life, using a property management company can be a great asset.

These are the benefits of property management. Investing in a rental property can contribute to your monthly cash flow and build long-term wealth — but day-to-day property management isn’t for everyone. If you just want additional income from rent and don’t want to be responsible for the details of your rental investment, consider all the property management benefits that you’ll receive for a percentage of your rental income.

Inspecting Your Property For Damage

System - Wednesday, June 2, 2021

When a tenant moves out, inspecting your property for damage — and assessing a cost for it — can be difficult and stressful for everyone involved. While a move-in checklist can help minimize disputes by documenting the condition of the unit before the tenant moves in, ultimately it’s up to you as the landlord to decide what’s normal wear and tear and what the renter needs to pay for.

Your renters aren’t responsible for normal wear and tear on the property, but that’s where things get murky: What exactly is normal wear and tear? It’s difficult to define, even more so because state and local regulations vary considerably (so be sure to research the statutes or exceptions for your area too).

These general guidelines will help you determine whether damages to your rental property are the result of everyday use. 

Stained Carpets

Carpeting has a limited lifetime, especially if it’s a light color. Normal wear and tear for a rental property includes:

  • Shoe markings in the halls and main walkways    
  • Light stains, which are expected over a period of a few years

Many landlords include a provision in the lease stating that carpets will be professionally cleaned at the tenant’s expense after move out, which can eliminate quibbling over minor dirt and stains. If tenants leave the carpets heavily damaged, you may need to deduct repairs or replacement costs from their security deposit. Heavy damage might include:

  • Pet urine    
  • Paint stains   
  • New carpet that’s stained at the end of a one-year lease

Scuffed Walls

Minor markings on the walls can be easily touched up or cleaned, but anything that changes the condition of the wall could be considered damage beyond normal wear and tear for a rental property, such as:

  • Large nail holes    
  • Gouges    
  • Scrapes

You might be able to specify in your lease agreement that tenants can’t insert screws or nails in your walls. Additionally, some jurisdictions require landlords to paint interior walls after a set number of years (at their own expense) regardless of their condition, so check the requirements in your area. Cracked tiles and broken hardware

Damages to these items can be a judgment call. One factor to consider is if they were old or new at the time of move in. If bathroom tiles showed signs of wear and age prior to your current tenant, the cracking could be natural, so it would be unfair to charge a tenant for age-related damage. But if many tiles have cracked in a year, or if they were newly installed before move in, your tenant is responsible for the damage. The same applies to doorknobs, drawer pulls and appliances. Damage from pets

When renting to tenants with pets, most landlords include a pet agreement in the lease and require a higher security deposit or a separate nonrefundable fee to cover any damages. If you’re creating a customizable online lease with Zillow Rental Manager, you have the option to charge a refundable pet deposit or a non-refundable fee, in addition to pet rent, another tactic you can use to offset potential damage. Note that some states prohibit non-refundable pet fees, so be sure to check local regulations before finalizing your lease agreement.

The following aren’t considered normal wear and tear for a rental property:

  • Pet stains   
  • Dug-up yards    
  • Scratch or chew marks on any surfaces, including exterior ones the pet has access to

You can deduct from the security deposit for this kind of damage. Dirt, dust and grime

It’s reasonable to request that tenants clean the unit before they move out. Notify them of what’s expected so they have time to clean and make any necessary repairs before the inspection.

You can charge a cleaning fee if the home is left with:

  • Dirty and smelly bathrooms  
  • Grimy countertops    
  • Expired food in the refrigerator

The bottom line: Know the condition of the unit before a tenant moves in. Take photos or videos of the unit before handing over the keys to your new tenant. When they move out, use the same checklist to assess repairs you need to make.