Monthly Archives: January 2014

Our Super Bowl 2014: Seattle & Denver Compete For Best Place to Own Investment Property

Super Bowl XLVIII is this weekend. Woot!

Football Championship

For those of us who aren’t Roman-numerally fluent, that’s Super Bowl 48. And in just a few days, the Seattle Seahawks and the Denver Broncos will be duking it out for a Super Bowl ring at Metlife Stadium in New Jersey. Doing what we do at APM (what the heck do we do? Find out here), we started to wonder how these two great cities would do if they were duking it out for best place to own investment property.

Both cities are known for their epic outdoor scenery and active lifestyles while maintaining the benefits of urban living. And they seem to be pretty similar–their populations are 634,264 (Denver) and 634,535 (Seattle), they both came out of economic depressions when gold was discovered, and both are in states that have legalized recreational marijuana sales (which has been a pretty hot topic lately).

But there are some differences.

So, if you are looking to buy a Seattle or Denver investment property for a rental or a second home, or to move to either place, please read on! Of course we’ll look at real-estate data, but we’re also going to take a peek at fun stuff, like skiing and beer.

FIRST QUARTER: Real Estate and Rental Property

Seattle Gets A Field Goal (3 pts), Denver Gets A Safety (2 pts)

Seattle and Denver are both good places for landlords and real estate investors to make money. So, does Seattle rental property beat out Denver rental property? To find out, we looked at the Rental Health Index we created last year. The index uses various governmental data sources to rank the nation’s 75 biggest cities as hot spots or sleepers for investment real estate and rental properties.

And the winner?

Seattle-but barely.

The Emerald City ranked #27 in the nation and Denver #29. Housing values made the difference. They’re increasing faster in Seattle than in Denver, with Seattle ranking 20th in the nation with an appreciation rate of 5.7% compared to The Mile-High City’s more sluggish 3.4 percent appreciation, placing it at #56.

The great news for both cities is that Denver and Seattle are among the fastest-growing metropolitan areas in the nation. The RHI indicates Denver’s job market grew 2.64 percent from July 2012 to July 2013, while Seattle’s job market grew slightly more, up 2.93 percent during the study period.

SECOND QUARTER: Recreation

Seattle & Denver Each Get a Touchdown (6 pts each), But Seattle Gets an Extra Point

Seattle and Denver both offer fantastic recreational opportunities if you are active and love the outdoors. Does one have an advantage over the other? It depends on what you are looking for. When it comes to the overall city for outdoor lovers, Seattle outranks Denver. Seattle’s waterfront location on the Puget Sound provides ample water-based recreation, such as kayaking, paddleboarding, fishing, and even scuba diving. And Seattle is known for being very bike friendly. The Burke-Gilman trail, ample bike lanes, and ability to ride year round landed it at #10 best bike city in a recent survey, beating out Denver at #14.

Skiing

If you’re looking to travel outside the city, nearby mountains in both Seattle and Denver offer great snow sports. Although Seattle is located near the North Cascade Mountains, and is close to Snoqualmie Summit, Denver offers more and better skiing. In a ranking of large cities with the most ski resorts within four hours, Denver squeezed out Seattle for the best skiing, snowboarding, and mountaineering, taking the #1 spot over Seattle’s #2. Finally, if you’re a mountain biker, epic trails are within a couple of hours of both cities.

THIRD QUARTER: Lifestyle

Seattle & Denver each get a touchdown (6 pts each) and a field goal (3 pts each).

Beer is good. At least, that’s what the populations of Denver and Seattle seem to think. Both cities produce an impressive assortment of craft beers and microbrews. Denver is also known for it’s location near bigger brewers, such as Coors Beer, which may or may not be a good thing depending on your status as a beer snob and your politics.

In Travel & Leisure’s America’s Favorite Cities survey, Denver ranked #2 for Best Beer City. Although there are only a few breweries in the city of Denver, there’s an impressive number outside the city, so we’ll cut Denver some slack and give them points for having lots of good beer nearby. Plus Denver hosts the Great American Beer Festival every year, and it’s the largest beer festival in the nation, which is impressive. Seattle, coming in at #4 in the survey, boasts several local breweries, including Maritime Pacific Brewing in Ballard, Pyramid, and Fremont Brewing. However, in CNN’s list of the 8 Best Beer Towns, Denver ranked #5, and poor Seattle didn’t even make the list.

Score: Denver gets a touchdown, Seattle gets a field goal.

Seattle Loves Dogs More Than Denver. Well, at least according to Estately, which ranked the top 17 dog cities. According to Estately, when looking at factors such as weather, Walk Score, doggie-activities, size of yards, dog-focused Meet-Up groups, and number of dog sitters, Seattle ranks #3, with Denver lagging behind at #16.

Puppy

How did Seattle beat out Denver (or send Denver to the dogs? sorry, I couldn’t resist) Seattle boasts 14 dog parks compared to Denver’s 9. And further tipping the scales in favor of Seattle is that the city allows dogs on buses, ferries, and light rail, and there are 32 Meet Up groups for dog lovers. Apparently Denver’s so-called “300 days of sunshine” weren’t enough to boost it past Seattle, at least according to Estately.

Score: Seattle gets a touchdown, Denver gets a field goal.

FOURTH QUARTER: Education

Denver & Seattle Each Get a Field Goal (3 pts each)

And what about public education? Seattle beats Denver on test scores, according to?Greatschools.org, which?reports that Denver scores 5 out of 10 points, while Seattle scores 6 out of 10. However, Seattle beats Denver in graduation rates. In 2012 the Seattle public high school graduation rate was 73%, while Denver’s was 58.8 percent. However, these rank close to one another so each receives a field goal.

GAME OVER. Final Score?
Seattle: 22 Denver: 20

Perhaps I should have mentioned at the outset that allpropertymanagement.com is a Seattle-based company, and I lived in the city for ten years?

On the flip side, I left Seattle because the weather really did bum me out! And Denver is one of my favorite cities! I’ve been there a few times on my way to Fruita and Moab to ride my mountain bike, and I have to say, Denver has a great feel. Downtown Denver has great pedestrian areas and fantastic food. If I had to pick a city to live in again, or to buy a second home in, I’m pretty sure it would be Denver.

The fact is that both Seattle and Denver each have great sports teams and enthusiastic fans, amazing recreational activities, and they each present considerable lifestyle and investment opportunities.

Cheers and enjoy the game!

A NOTE: So, I realize I could have picked other categories to review – what would you have picked?



By Tracey March

Insurance For Your Rental Property: Real Estate Investment Basics

Insurance for your rental property is an often overlooked part in real estate investing. Making the most of your real estate investment is more than scouting for a fantastic property in a nice location and taking in only the right kind of tenants. You should also secure your rental property against damage with the appropriate insurance coverage. And yes, you might need to buy a separate insurance policy.

Keeping the Right People Informed

If you used to live in the house that you now intend to rent out, then it is most likely that you already have a homeowners’ insurance coverage on the property. But most homeowners’ policies only cover owner-occupied properties. So you have to inform your insurance carrier about your plans to rent your house or else you might not be entitled to any claim made on the rental property.

Insurance for your rental property is essential in keeping yourself and your investment able to withstand damage and harm.

Short-term Could be Unattractive

A homeowners’ insurance policy may cover rental properties if you intend to rent out your house for only a couple of weeks every year. But that is not likely to be the case unless you own a vacation property that will attract tenants only during the tourist season. Also, whether your existing homeowners’ policy will also cover your rental property depends on the insurance carrier. There are some carriers who do not provide coverage for even short-term leases.

Rental Strategies

In this context, it is worth mentioning that there can be one instance where an existing homeowners’ policy will also cover the rental space. If you live in the same premises as your tenant, like when you rent out one portion of your house, then you can bolster your existing homeowners’ policy with an additional “unit rented to others” cover.

So, now that you know that you will probably need to buy separate insurance for your rental property, keep in mind some facts:

An insurance policy for your rental property might cost more than a homeowners’ policy.

The very fact that an owner doesn’t reside in the house and thus won’t be able to take appropriate care of the property is enough to “unsettle” insurers and drive up the premium prices. Plan on insurance for your rental property in your overall budget.

Insurance policies for rental properties are usually of three types: DP-1, DP-2, and DP-3.

  • The DP-1 policy is the most basic type and will usually cover fire damage and vandalism.
  • The DP-2 policy for rental units additionally covers damage from wind, floods and hailstorms. Real estate investors whose properties are located in hurricane-prone regions can buy this policy.
  • The DP-3 or the “open peril” policy provides coverage for any peril that has not been specifically mentioned as being excluded.

A DP-1 policy only provides actual cash value on a rental property. On the other hand, the DP-3 policy provides the replacement cost, thereby making this policy a more lucrative option for landlords.

Landlords can purchase insurance policies for equipment, appliances and systems.

There are other kinds of policies that protect landlords from damages caused by the breakdown of equipment like furnaces, boilers, and air-conditioning units.

Landlords may choose to buy liability coverage to protect themselves.

It’s especially important to have this in the event of lawsuits for slip-and-fall accidents or animal bite incidents that have occurred at their rental premises. Liability coverage will help take care of things like medical bills and lost wages.

Landlords may qualify for compensation for loss of rental income on a case-by-case basis.

Landlords generally can’t reclaim financial losses due to vacancies, but several insurance companies do allow compensation for instances where the property must be vacated to carry out repair work for any damage that is covered by the renter’s policy.

Knowledge is Power

The above-mentioned bits of information about the insurance options available to landlords will help you organize your funds so that you can make your real estate investment yield realistic returns.

What kind of insurance for your rental property do you find works best for your situation? Share this article and let us know how you handle insurance in the comments below.

Read more on Insurance For Your Rental Property: Real Estate Investment Basics

What I learned at the Annual CAI Law Seminar



I recently returned from the annual CAI Law Seminar held over four days in Las Vegas-a tough job to be sure but someone has to do it!

This year's law seminar was the largest in the event's 35-year history with over 600 people registered to attend. Despite the polar vortex delaying some attendees, the buzz of excitement was evident from the very first day of registration through the last event held on Saturday. For many of us who attended, the excitement started even before we landed in Nevada as we played around with our incredibly cool Law Seminar App, setting up our profiles, creating our schedules and more.

The sheer magnitude of this event was impressive. There are many who say that organizing lawyers and other professionals is akin to herding cats but you would have to disagree looking at how the seminar was handled from start to finish. There were many people involved with the planning and execution of an event this large and they are all to be commended for an incredibly well done job.

Each day brought a packed schedule of course offerings exploring the trends and practices in community association law for attorneys, managers, insurance professionals and others in the industry. It wasn't always easy to decide which of the concurrent sessions to attend. Did I want to learn more about parking, pets and pools and the nuances associated with each of those  under the Fair Housing Act or did I want to sit in on the practical tips for effective and efficient association litigation management?

Ethics for Associations and the Attorney's Role was a course that had many "aha" moments and, given my social media activities, Maximizing Technology for Associations was not a session I was likely to miss. One of the highlights of the event for me and many others with whom I spoke was the keynote address given by Dan Abrams, the chief legal affairs anchor for ABC News. It's always a good thing to hear a respected journalist speak your language!

The event was presented by the College of Community Association Lawyers (CCAL) of which I am a proud member.  CCAL was established in 1993 to acknowledge CAI member attorneys who have distinguished themselves through contributions to the evolution or practice of community association law and who have committed themselves to the highest standards of professional and ethical conduct in the practice of community association law.

I can't speak for how other industries handle their annual conferences as I have been immersed in this one for over two decades now. However, this annual law seminar always makes me proud of my career choice and honored to be surrounded by the caliber of people who also dedicate their lives to making the community association concept and lifestyle successful.




Rental Health Index

There are no guarantees when it comes to rental property investments.House market 1

The housing market is well into its recovery, property values have increased, and the bargain basement investment opportunities of a few years ago are waning.

However, as a real estate investor, you still want value. And finding value is more difficult now that the obvious “hot deal” investment properties have been snapped up.

But you can make informed decisions.

We believe that where you invest your money needs a more analytical approach than before. That’s why, in 2013, All Property Management spent significant time and resources developing our
“Rental Health Index.”

The Rental Health Index merges several relevant data sources to arm rental property investors with the critical information that they need to make rental investment decisions.

To identify which cities are the best for rental property investments, we combined official data from the following sources:

  • US Census Bureau
  • US Department of Housing & Urban Development
  • CNN Money and CoreLogic
  • US Bureau of Labor & Statistics

We then ranked 75 cities for several factors influencing the value of a rental property, including vacancy rate, annual rent increases, capitalization rate, appreciation, and job growth. Averaging the ranks, the resulting information reveals the best cities for rental investment.

While there really are no guarantees when it comes to investing, being armed with comprehensive and current marketplace information is the first step in making a sound investment decision.

And our Rental Health Index does just that.

Check out our other articles featuring the top ten cities for residential property rental income!

1. Grand Rapids Now Best City In The Nation For Residential Property Income

2. Bakersfield Now Second Best City In The Nation For Residential Property Income

3. Albuquerque Now Third Best City In The Nation For Residential Property Income

4. Rochester Now Fourth Best City In The Nation For Residential Property Income

5. Worcester Now Fifth Best City In The Nation For Residential Property Income

6. Atlanta Now Sixth Best City In The Nation For Residential Property Income

7. Minneapolis Now Seventh Best City In The Nation For Residential Property Income

8. Columbia Now Eighth Best City In The Nation For Residential Property Income

9. Salt Lake City Now Ninth Best City In The Nation For Residential Property Income

10. Toledo Now Tenth Best City In The Nation For Residential Property Income

3 Steps to Get Rid of Unapproved Roommates

While a specific landlord’s options are always limited by the specific facts of the situation and the terms of the lease, landlords that find themselves in situations in which they need to evict one or more unauthorized tenants typically find they do not have free reign to do so. What are a landlord’s options in this situation?

Unapproved Roommates Squeeze In

Many landlords have found themselves in a situation like the following:

A tenant signs a lease for a residential property.  Either at the lease signing or shortly thereafter, the tenant announces that he or she plans to have a roommate move in.  The landlord, who is busy, thinks little of the announcement except to file it away for future reference.  The new roommate or roommates move in without signing the lease, and after some time, the original tenant moves out and replaces himself with another person – all without getting a formal “okay” from the landlord.

Soon after the original tenant leaves, the landlord begins receiving complaints from neighbors about noise, traffic, and other problems.  The landlord would like to get rid of the now-entirely-unauthorized tenants – but what can the landlord do within the bounds of the law? 

Here are 3 steps on what landlords can do to get rid of unapproved roommates:

Step #1. Give Notice

If the lease contains a specific notice provision, the landlord should act on it as soon as possible by giving notice to the current tenants that they will have to move out of the premises.  In many situations, notice may be a sufficient remedy, especially if the tenants are not causing damage to the property or there have been few or no complaints about their behavior.

If the lease has no notice provision, the landlord may have to give notice according to the laws of the state in which the property is located.  In these situations, notice may be the length of a rent-payment period or longer.  If the rent period is relatively short – a month or less – this notice may be adequate for the landlord’s needs; otherwise, other remedies may need to be pursued.

Step #2. Pursue Eviction

The landlord may have the opportunity to pursue an eviction on the basis that there are unapproved tenants living in the unit, if the lease allows for eviction on this basis.  If the lease does not currently contain such a clause, however, the landlord may have no such option.  The landlord may also be out of luck if a court finds that the landlord has waived the clause through prior inaction – such as by allowing unapproved tenants to live on the property in the past.

Step #3. Call the Police

Law enforcement involvement is not appropriate in all situations.  If the tenants are merely unapproved but are engaged in no active wrongdoing, the police should not be considered an option.  However, if a landlord has good reason to believe the tenants are involved in criminal behavior, such as drug use or trafficking, the smart landlord should strongly consider getting the police involved.  If criminal activity is occurring, the landlord may have the right to pursue an expedited eviction of the tenants – whether or not they are unapproved.

Note: This article is provided for informational purposes only.  No information provided in this article should be considered legal advice.  If you have legal questions, please consult an attorney who is licensed to practice law in your area.

Have you encountered unapproved roommates in your rental units? How did you handle it? Please share this article and let us know what happened and how you handled it in the comments section below.

Read more on 3 Steps to Get Rid of Unapproved Roommates

The Reorganized Davis-Stirling Act: How it Benefits Community Association Members

As the presiding officer of my HOA’s Board of Directors, it’s important that I, along with my fellow board members, have a good understanding of the basic governance documents we draw upon. Including those such as our CC&Rs, our By-Laws, our Policies and Procedures, and especially an adequate understanding of the Davis-Stirling Act, which allow us to perform our fiduciary duties to the best of our abilities. Admittedly, there have been times in the past when we were challenged in trying to understand some of the contents of each of those documents, and even challenged sometimes with something as basic as the order in which their contents are arranged.

We were able to manage, change the order and content of our CC&Rs, By-Laws, and Policies and Procedures because they “belonged” to us. However, we could not alter the primary governing document for community associations – the Davis-Stirling Act – which defines, regulates and helps HOAs to understand California law as it applies to our community associations, thus helping us to better govern our HOAs.

Going back to its inception almost 30 years ago, the Davis-Stirling Act has gone through several important revisions, with the most recent update making it significantly easier for board members to comprehend and use as a reference tool. Based on a more simplistic, yet logical organizational design of its contents, the Davis-Stirling Act has quickly proven to be an easy-to-read reference document, as well as an excellent guide to administering the best possible governance of our HOA by my board. Ultimately, we, as directors, along with our 10,000+ residents who reside here, reap the benefits of all the work put into the latest revision to the Davis-Stirling Act, by embracing the use of a much better-written and organized document. We graciously thank the California Law Revision Commission for their tireless work in this effort and producing such a valuable document. A complete history of the CLRC’s review and recommendations can be found here.

The CLRC’s re-write of the Davis-Stirling Act was intended to provide the following benefits to homeowners who are members of community associations:

  1. Related topics were grouped together to make them easier to find and use.  For example, annual disclosure requirements were previously found at various locations throughout the Act in Sections 1363.005, 1365, 1365.5, 1365.2.5, 1363.05, 1363.850, 1369.590, 1378, 1365.1, and 1363. These disclosures are now found all together in Sections 5300 to 5320.
  2. Sections that were confusing were revised for clarity, without changing their substance.
  3. Sections that were excessively long were divided into shorter sections.
  4. Terminology was standardized and simplified. For example, a “meeting of the board of directors of the association” has been changed to “board meeting.”
  5. Substantive improvements were made, but are primarily considered minor and non-controversial. The new Act:establishes a hierarchy for the authority of the governing documents;extends the right to owners to make certain modifications to the home to accommodate a disability;
    • establishes a list of conflicts of interest that disqualify board members from voting on certain matters;
    • revises and clarifies provisions regarding notice and delivery both from the association to its members, and from the members to the association;
    • extends ballot retention following an election from 9 to 12 months (and so now is consistent with the timeframe in which an owner may contest an election);
    • adds governing documents to the definition of “association records” which a member has the right to request;
    • requires whenever an association has recorded an assessment lien in error, the association must release the lien and reverse all costs, fees and interest;
    • requires the board have a hearing before charging a member with the cost of damage to the common area caused by the member;
    • expands the court’s discretion to consider a party’s refusal to participate in alternative dispute resolution so that it applies to any enforcement action in which fees and costs may be awarded; and
    • confirms the association is not required to reimburse the member for temporary housing if the owner is dislodged due to common area repairs.

The new Act is found at Civil Code Sections 4000-6150. To download a free Conversion Chart, comparing the old Act to the new, click here. Visit www.caiclac.com to download our new Davis-Stirling Act Toolkit.

Robert Riddick is a retired IT executive who, upon retirement, became involved in his HOA as a way of “giving back” to his community. Currently his HOA’s president, Robert joined the board in 2007 and previously served as treasurer and vice president. In addition, he is a past president of the Greater Inland Empire chapter of CAI, being the first homeowner board member in 24 years to serve as chapter president. He is currently also serving his fifth year as a board member of CAI-GRIE and is the current chair for the chapter’s Legislative Support Committee (LSC), as well as the chapter’s CLAC liaison. Over the past two years, Robert served as a member of the CAI National Board of Trustees and is currently serving his fourth year as a member of the CAI National Community Association Volunteer Committee (CAVC). He earned his CMCA designation in 2011 and he was inducted into the CAI-GRIE Hall of Fame in 2013. Robert is a veteran of the USAF, an avid boxing fan, and a year-round boater.

Head-Shot - June 2011-3


How Does Your Tenant Contact You?

Whenever I hear the term “property management” my stomach cringes a little bit. The thought of paying someone 10% a month to manage my property just doesn’t sit well with me (probably because I’m so cheap). So if you’re like me and you’ve decided to manage your property all by yourself, you’ve probably already had countless encounters with your tenant.

Some Tenants Contact You More Than Others

Most people who only own one or two properties don’t mind managing them themselves since in an ideal situation, it’s very little work. In a perfect landlord world, you would get a check on the first of every month and never hear from your tenant. But of course that doesn’t always happen. In fact, whenever I see my tenant’s name come up on my phone’s caller ID, it’s usually a bad thing.

If your tenants have been screened properly, they shouldn’t be too needy. But if you happen to get a bad one that’s constantly bugging you, you’ll wish that you provided tenant contact guidelines up front.

Don’t Treat Tenants Like Friends

One of the biggest mistakes a landlord can make is getting too friendly with their tenant. You don’t have to treat them like dirt, but remember that your rental property is a business. If you develop an emotional relationship with your tenant, it will be a lot harder to evict them if they’re late on rent or to charge them when they put a hole in your wall.

You should be friendly and courteous to your tenants, but don’t take it too far.

Communicate First by E-mail and Text

I don’t like taking phone calls from my tenants, since it’s not my job to respond at the drop of a hat to whatever they need. I prefer that they leave a voicemail or contact me by e-mail or text. That way, I have some time to assess what they need and decide if it’s something I can take care of quickly or if I need to do a little research before I call them back.

Most of the time when your tenant contacts you, it’s because they need something so it’s important to take your time and assess each situation carefully. Obviously some scenarios will require your attention faster than others, but as long as you respond in a timely manner, your tenant should stay happy.

Create a Tenant Contact Plan

Creating a contact plan could be as simple as verbally letting your tenant know when and how to contact you. It could also involve a more formal agreement that needs to be signed by both parties. Since I only own one property, I established the contact plan up front and modify it later if needed.

If you live near your tenant or even on the other side of the wall in a duplex-type setup, then it’s imperative that you let them know when they can and can’t knock on your door. The last thing you want is a tenant banging on your door at 3:00 a.m. because they broke the garbage disposal. That can wait until the morning.

Establishing how your tenant contacts you is a critical step in managing your property so that you get the information you need at the appropriate times, while your tenant feels like they are being heard on issues regarding the rental unit.

How do you set up communication options with your tenants? Please share this article and let me know your methods in the comments below.

Photo Credit: publicdomainpictures.net

Read more on How Does Your Tenant Contact You?

New Hampshire Tackles Bed Bug Infestations With New Law

Bed bug infestations in rental units are an itchy, crawling nightmare for landlords and tenants alike.  The bed bug’s preferred meal is human blood, and bed bugs are particularly well-adapted for getting it. They thrive at temperatures near seventy degrees, they’re nocturnal, and they can hide in even the smallest cracks. Their immunity to most pesticides and ability to live for a year or more without a meal make bed bugs hard to kill.

As one of many states seeing an uptick in bed bug infestations in rental units, New Hampshire recently passed a law requiring greater scrutiny and responsiveness from landlords who receive tenant reports about bed bug infestations. The new law, which took effect January 1, 2014, is based on legislative findings that bed bugs “cause measureable economic loss to property owners and occupants, as well as significant physical and emotional suffering to occupants.”

Key Provisions of the New Hampshire Law

Inspection and Remediation

The new law imposes a responsibility on the part of landlords to inspect premises for bed bugs following a report and, if bed bugs are found, to take “remediation” steps. The new law defines “remediation” as “action taken by the landlord that substantially reduces the presence of bed bugs  in a dwelling unit for a period of at least sixty days.” Landlords do not have to win the bed bug battle within 60 days, but the steps they take need to be effective ones.

Entry to the Premises

The new law includes bed bug infestations as one of the reasons a landlord may cite for making an emergency entry for repairs. To justify an emergency entry for bed bug purposes, the entry must occur within 72 hours of the time the landlord received notice that there may be bed bugs on the premises. Tenants may not “willfully refuse” entry to landlords for bed bug inspection or treatment.

Deadlines for Response to Bed Bug Reports

Landlords have 7 days under the new law to respond to a tenant’s report that bed bugs may be present in a rental unit.

Liability for Costs

In most cases, landlords must bear the cost of treating a bed bug infestation. However, if the tenant is responsible for the infestation, the landlord may be able to recoup the costs of treatment from the tenant. The new law contains specific steps landlords must take to seek reimbursement of the costs of bed bug treatment from tenants.

Updates to Housing Codes

In addition, New Hampshire localities are tasked with updating their housing codes to reflect the unique problems bed bugs pose. Any new local legal requirements for bed bug protection or remediation cannot, however, be less strict than requirements for dealing with other types of insect infestations.

Although New Hampshire’s law is one of the first state laws to deal specifically with bed bug infestations, New Hampshire is not likely to be the last state to tackle the problem via legislation. Landlords in every state would be wise to respond promptly to complaints about bed bugs in order to protect their rental property from damage and to protect their own legal position if a tenant complains to a court.

Note: This article is provided for informational purposes only. No information provided in this article should be considered legal advice. If you have legal questions, please consult an attorney who is licensed to practice law in your area.

What are your thoughts about your own state enacting this kind of law? Please share this article and let us know your opinions in the comments below.

Photo credit: Piotr Naskrecki

Read more on New Hampshire Tackles Bed Bug Infestations With New Law

10 Ways to Spot a Passive Aggressive Tenant

You’ve probably encountered passive aggressive co-workers, bosses and even relatives, but a passive aggressive tenant can mean a whole host of problems for you as a landlord.

When your tenant acts passive aggressively toward you, other tenants and even to maintenance workers, it can cost you time and money to deal with the results. Learn what passive aggressive behavior to look for in your tenants and how to deal with them effectively.

What is Passive Aggressive Behavior?

Passive aggressive behavior is when someone expresses hostility or manipulation through deliberate confusion, complication or inaction.

The behavior is not directly confrontational–in other words, it’s a no-conflict way that some people adapt to deal with problems and issues they face. When tenants act passive aggressively, it generally means that they are deliberately complicating your efforts in managing, maintaining or otherwise running your property. It’s a form of harassment and intimidation, and you don’t have to tolerate it.

10 Examples of Passive Aggressive Tenant Behavior

Passive aggressive tenants undermine your ability to manage your property effectively.

Tenants with passive aggressive behavior usually appear polite and non-offensive to your face but do or say things that sabotage your efforts with other tenants, contractors and service personnel.

Here are 10 red flags in tenant behavior that can tip you off to a passive aggressive personality:

  1. The tenant doesn’t respond to your written requests and may withhold information you request, such as a copy of their rental insurance policy.
  2. The tenant enthusiastically agrees with you and fakes compliance, then privately neglects to do so.
  3. The tenant employs the silent treatment and doesn’t inform you of important property matters, such as waiting for minor repairs to get bigger, then try to pin you down for free rent or other favor as “payback” for not doing the repair in a timely matter.
  4. The tenant attempts to manipulate you into changing your policy with an excuse or story, such as asking you to waive the late fee for rent because they had an emergency come up.
  5. The tenant goes over your head and contacts building inspectors, law enforcement or other authority to get you “in trouble.”
  6. The tenant diminishes other tenants by complaining to you about their behavior, or spread gossip or rumors, especially to pull the spotlight form their own bad behavior.
  7. The tenant sabotages other tenants and then files complaints, especially when the other tenants have notified you of legitimate complaints first.
  8. The tenant thwarts your efforts to re-rent the apartment, such as not cleaning the unit, not cleaning up after a pet or otherwise discourages prospective tenants.
  9. The tenant, when confronted, casts blame everywhere but with himself, insisting on a misunderstanding or claims to have forgotten.
  10. The tenant politely notifies you of potential legal action, claiming that his or her attorney recommended you follow a certain course of action or else they could sue you.

Dealing With Passive Aggressive Tenants

It is critical that you deal quickly and directly with tenants who use passive-aggressive strategies.

If you maintain a high level of professional behavior, both in person and in writing, you can nip passive aggressive behavior in the bud. Don’t engage or encourage their behavior, and keep all conversations rooted in fact. Document everything and keep a clear paper trail.

Further turn the tables on a passive aggressive tenant by setting deadlines for action or compliance, then sticking to them. Stay neutral in your attitude, sending them the signal that you are not falling for their manipulative measures.

When the passive aggressive tenant sees that you are not the type of landlord who puts up with passive aggressive behavior, they may just back off to avoid penalties.

Let’s hear your stories about the worst passive aggressive tenants you’ve ever had and what they did to undermine you! Share this article and tell us about your experiences in the comments section.

Read more on 10 Ways to Spot a Passive Aggressive Tenant

7 Critical Ways Rental Owners Can Prepare for Extreme Cold

Wild Winter

You read the news so you probably know that a few weeks ago temperatures during the “Polar Vortex,” adjusted for wind chill, dipped to -50F in parts of the US. Just when you thought it was over, the east coast is being slammed with another snowstorm.

Wow.

The impact of these extremely cold temperatures on rental owners is expensive and time-consuming. Property managers in Chicago found themselves dealing with rental properties subjected to subzero temperatures for 37 straight hours. In Minneapolis, subzero temperatures persisted for 62 straight hours. From burst pipes to inadequate heating to icy pathways to leaking roofs caused by ice dams, landlords and property managers over a huge swath of the country found themselves dealing with emergency repairs.

Arctic Blast 2014 is not over. But it is a good, if harsh, reminder that you shouldn’t get left out in the cold when it comes to…well…the cold!

Here are 7 critical and possibly life-saving things you should do to your rental property before the next extreme cold bout.

1. Prepare an emergency kit before winter.

  • Include rock salt or cat litter, snow shovels. Consider including a hairdryer you no longer need to help unfreeze water pipes.
  • Schedule this on your calendar for no later than October, and follow through.
  • Don’t wait until hours before a storm hits when supplies are low.

2. Winterize your rental property.

  • Check that the insulation in your rental is appropriate for the area.
  • Make sure pipes are properly insulated.
  • Consider wrapping water pipes in heat tape if they have frozen in the past. In my old house, where winter temperatures frequently dropped below zero, we ended up wrapping some water pipes in heat tape to make sure they didn’t freeze in winter. If you do this, make sure you check the heat tape before every winter season.
  • If your rental roof is susceptible to ice dams, which can lead to expensive leaks, consult with a roofer on ice dam prevention. Again consider using heat tape- it’s a much cheaper alternative to redesigning the roof.
  • Check for dead tree branches that might break off and cause damage, or worse, injure someone, and have them removed.
  • Check for drafts and repair caulking and weather stripping.
  • Close valves supplying outside faucets and open outdoor hose bibs to drain water.

3. Winterize your car.

You may end up having to make an emergency trip to your rental, so you need to make sure your vehicle is up to the task. Make sure all systems are in good working order, and then do these things:

  • Check antifreeze levels.
  • Install good winter tires.
  • Put together an emergency car kit including shovel, ice scraper, flashlight, road salt/sand, emergency flares, water, blanket, and other items you think necessary.

4. Implement and commit to your rental inspection schedule.

  • Seriously. This is a particular challenge for do-it-yourself landlords who have other jobs, but it’s important (and a good reason to hire a property management company if you don’t have the time). Calendar your inspections every 6 months and follow through.
  • Plan inspections before winter (to identify any issues to fix before the temperatures drop) and in the spring (to identify any winter damage).
  • Hire a professional to inspect your HVAC systems annually, replace filters, check vents/ducts, and check for carbon monoxide leaks.
  • Also inspect plumbing, gutters, and smoke detectors.

5. Communicate with your tenants.

  • If a winter storm is coming, confirm your tenants are aware.
  • If frozen pipes are a possibility, ask tenants to leave faucets on a low drip until the freezing temperatures rise. If they are planning on going away during the freeze, as them to set thermostats at a minimum of 55 degrees.
  • Remind tenants that it is important they report any winter storm damage as soon as possible.

6. Have a snow removal plan in place.

  • Your lease agreement might require your tenants to do snow removal, or you might be responsible for it, depending on state laws and local ordinances. Regardless, make sure that you do have a plan and that the person responsible for snow removal is actually doing it in a timely manner.
  • If you are responsible for snow removal, store the equipment you need, such as shovels and rock salt, at the rental property to make it easier.
  • Be aware that if someone slips and falls on ice on your property, you could get sued. Having a snow removal plan that is consistently followed could help mitigate damages.
  • Confirm with your insurance agent that you have good liability insurance.

7. If your tenant tells you that water pipes have frozen, set about unfreezing them quickly.

  • Turn off the main stop tap.
  • Open the faucet closest to the area of the pipe you suspect is frozen.
  • Using a hairdryer, hot water bottle or heat packs, apply heat. Never use an open flame or heat gun.
  • Once thawed out, check for damage, and if it all looks good, open the main stop tap and turn on faucets to check they’re working.
  • NOTE: Frozen pipes are generally considered an emergency situation and it’s likely you have a right of entry in that situation, but double check the state and local laws that apply to you.

The weather in 2014 is extreme and is not showing any signs of letting up. Dealing with property issues during this season can be difficult, but there are ways to prepare for it and mitigate further damage. Check out our blog on 5 Critical End-of-Year Must Do’s Rental Owners Can’t Ignore for further tips on how to winterize your property.

By Tracey March