Monthly Archives: January 2016

Design Trends That Make People say … ‘No!’

By Justin M. Riordan, Spade and Archer Design Agency Design trends are just that: trendy. They change from day to day, year to year, and decade to decade. The ones that are popular now won’t be soon. The ones that were popular years ago aren’t now and the ones that were popular decades ago are […]

Signing Contracts

WHO SHOULD SIGN
CONTRACTS?


QUESTION: Who is supposed to sign contracts with vendors? An attorney once told me that any board member can sign a contract, so long as the board approves. Our treasurer insists the president is the only one who can sign the contract. Who is correct?

ANSWER: The attorney is correct.

One Signature. A contract signed by any officer, whether authorized or not, will be deemed valid if the vendor reasonably relied on the signature. In addition, an association can be bound by a single signature or no signature if the association partially performed the contract’s obligations, or accepted the benefits of the contract, or subsequently ratified the contract in its meeting minutes.

Two Signatures. How can vendors protect themselves from a rogue director signing agreements? The Corporations Code calls for two signatures from officers–one signer being the president or vice president and the other one the secretary or treasurer. (Corp. Code §7214.) In the event the corporation were to challenge the authority of the signers and attempt to void the contract, the signatures of two officers…

provides a conclusive…evidentiary presumption of authority on the part of the specified corporate officers to execute the document in question on behalf of the corporation. (Snukal v. Flightways Manufacturing, Inc. (2000) 23 Cal.4th 754, 783.)

Minutes. If officers wish to protect themselves against claims they acted without authority, they should ensure meeting minutes record the board’s approval of the contract and their authorizing of officers to sign it.

Signature Blocks. To protect officers against the perception they are personally signing a contract on their own behalf (making them personally parties to the contract), the signature block should have the name of the association as the party followed by the name and title of the officer signing on behalf of the association. For example:

The Sunrise Homeowners Association, Inc.

By: __________________________
John Doe, President

This makes it clear the HOA is a party to the contract, not the president. There should be additional language in the opening paragraph of the contract identifying the association, not the officers, as parties.

RECOMMENDATION: To avoid expensive legal problems, all contracts should be reviewed by legal counsel. To reiterate, ALL contracts should be reviewed by legal counsel.

FEEDBACK


Board Packets.  Do former board members have to return board packets they had during their term or can they keep them and do with them what they want? -William C.

RESPONSE: Past directors cannot do whatever they want with board packets since they often contain sensitive information. Past directors have three options: (i) return them to the association, (ii) shred them, or (iii) keep them in a secure location and visit them each night to reminisce about their glory days as board members.

Mailbox Rule. When was the Civil Code on the ‘mailbox rule’ written – during Ben Franklin’s era? The proper term would be ‘letter carrier’ or ‘mail carrier’, NOT ‘postman.’ In case you didn’t notice, many ‘postmen’ are women!! :-)  -Beth B.

RESPONSE: Much of of the Code was drafted in the 1800’s–gunfighters, railroads and no emails. The good old days.


 
Adrian Adams, Esq.
ADAMS | STIRLING
A Professional Law Corporation

We’re friendly lawyers–boards and managers can reach us at (800) 464-2817 (800) 464-2817 or info@AdamsStirling.com.

Protecting The Carpets In Your Rental Home From Pets

You may be devoted to your furry, four-legged family member, but few would argue that he could wreak havoc on your carpet if he wanted to. If you are living in a pet friendly rental home, you have probably paid a bigger than usual deposit to cover extra wear and tear, but if the actions of your pet lead to a carpet replacement, you may be more out of pocket than you ever expected.

The carpeting in a room can make or break the décor and offers guests one of their first impressions of your home. Owning indoor animals means that you must take extra measures to keep it looking nice and clean. Some of the best ways to protect your carpet from your pet require a little bit of preparation and some extra care.

Accident Patrol

You may think that you have Fido fully trained, but it always makes sense to keep a close eye on corners or other out of the way areas where he may have relieved himself without your knowledge. A friend of mine with several pets was very excited to get new carpet a few years ago and confidently told the workers that came to do the labor that her well trained dogs never urinated anywhere except outside. When the old carpet was pulled up, they found that her dogs had actually designated a few corners in the home as an indoor bathroom from time to time and she never knew.

Black Light Flashlight

Because you cannot follow your pet every minute of the day, the best way to check for trouble spots is to get an black light flashlight that makes urine spots light up when the overhead lights are off. Such flashlights are inexpensive and found at most pet stores. This is also an effective way to find the source of any suspicious smells that you can clean up using special products designed for pet odors.

Area Rugs

Area rugs are a good way to keep your carpet clean, especially if you have pets that like to come and go and may track in mud and dirt. Patterned rugs are ideal since they forgive the odd smudge of dirt or drift of pet fur. Just don’t forget to clean them regularly as you would carpet.

Regular Carpet Cleaning

It is a good idea to get your carpets professionally cleaned every six months, but a smaller residential carpet steamer is ideal to have on hand for spot cleaning. When you make appointments, look for a company that specializes in pet odors and deodorizing to take care of any pet-related smells.

Pet Vacuum

Pet hair can accumulate on carpets and furniture and will clog up your vacuum just as quickly. Purchasing a vacuum that is designed to take care of pet hair will keep your surfaces fur free and clean.

Scratching

A very determined cat can pull up the fibers on an entire section of carpet in short order. When I moved into my current home, my landlords had to replace a section of carpet outside the master bedroom, where a needy kitty had pulled up all the carpet under the door in an attempt to get into the room. Make sure that your cat has a carpet lined scratching post, so it will leave your floor (and the furniture) alone.

The post Protecting The Carpets In Your Rental Home From Pets appeared first on RentPrep.

9 Essential Insurance Policies Landlords Should Consider

Essential forms of insurance that landlords need - from fire to flood to windstorm insuranceInsurance protects against risks rental property owners cannot afford to incur. Individual landlords typically cannot bear the cost of the total destruction of a rental property out of pocket, nor can they typically withstand a judgment for $1 million or more in the event someone is hurt or killed on their property.

But no single insurance policy can take care of every risk a landlord faces. The art of risk management is combining multiple insurance plans from different vendors to create a meaningful safety net for a wide variety of potential risks.

Here are the most important forms of coverage that just about any rental property owner needs:

Landlords Insurance

Don’t rent out a property without it. Some landlords make the mistake of buying a home, getting standard homeowners insurance coverage, and thinking that will do the trick. It won’t.

Homeowners insurance only protects the resident owner and his or her family. It does not protect tenants, and in the event a tenant is injured or harmed on the property, it will not pay benefits. The tenant will not have an insurance company to pay hospital bills or take care of other damages. They will have no recourse but to sue you, the landlord, to compensate them for whatever transpired on your property – and they will likely get a judgment against you. Without insurance in place, you run the risk of having assets seized or being forced to declare bankruptcy. The risk is potentially devastating, both to you and to the tenant.

For the best coverage, look for policies that cover “all risks” and provide protection in the event of loss of rental income. This is vital if you rely on the rent you receive for income or to keep up the property insurance and tax payments on your investment property.

Flood Insurance

Some people assume that damage from floods is covered under a homeowners or landlords insurance policy. That’s only true for flooding caused by something like an exploding pipe. If the flood happens because of a rainstorm, flash flood or a river jumping its banks, you will be out of luck – unless you have flood insurance.

Flood insurance has two components: structure and contents. Coverage is limited for basements and other areas below ground.

Normally, landlords purchase flood insurance from their usual property and casualty insurance agent via the National Flood Insurance Program.

You don’t have to own flood insurance. You are free to “go naked,” if you like, but if you carry a mortgage on the property, or plan on cashing out some equity, expect mortgage companies to require it before they will finance a loan on the property.

Windstorm Insurance

This is extremely important in coastal areas that are subject to hurricanes or other tropical storm risk. Standard, off-the-shelf homeowners and landlords insurance don’t cover this risk. To protect yourself, you’ll need to buy it separately.

Most coastal areas have state-sponsored programs that provide a backstop to limit insurers’ losses in the event of a major storm. They do this to ensure that there is a market, and that insurance carriers compete for it.

Speak with your insurance professional for specific information.

Get the most out of your rental properties – have a professional property manager be your rent collector, maintenance mogul and conflict resolver >>

Vacant Property Insurance

Is the home sitting unoccupied between tenants for more than 60 days? If so, your property may have an elevated risk of damage from vandalism, vagrancy, squatting, flooding or mold. Unless you can arrange for a short-term house sitter, you may need to get special vacant property insurance in place.

Fire Insurance

This coverage provides the cost of repairing or rebuilding structures damaged or destroyed by fire and their contents. A fire insurance policy will typically have four components: dwelling, other structures, loss of use, and personal property. However, your tenant should be responsible for his or her own property in most cases – likely by obtaining a renter’s policy.

Many fire insurance policies also protect you in the event a fire on your property spreads and causes damage to others. You will probably want to get this coverage, especially if your property is in an area at elevated risk of wildfires.

Earthquake Insurance

Again, this is a specialized and location-specific risk, for the most part. Standard homeowners and landlord insurance won’t cover you.

Sinkhole Insurance

Sinkholes are a major issue in parts of Florida. They are also occasionally seen in places like Tennessee, Kentucky, Ohio, Michigan and Pennsylvania. Basic landlord and homeowner policies don’t cover this hazard. You need to obtain separate coverage, or purchase a rider.

Personal Umbrella Policy (PUP)

This inexpensive and vital form of insurance coverage steps in when your basic insurance policies have paid out their maximums. You can get a lot of protection against a wide variety of potential hazards for very little money in premiums.

Commercial Umbrella Insurance

Do you rent out more than four properties? Congratulations. You are no longer a “small landlord” for the purposes of insurance underwriting! When the number of properties you own rises above five, most carriers consider you to be a small commercial enterprise. You’ll need to get special commercial umbrella insurance coverage.

Why Landlords Should Identify and Resolve Tenant Pain Points

A good business person tries to get inside their customer’s head to figure out what makes them happy and what drives them to seek out their product or service. One way to do this is to identify the customer’s “pain points.” These are concerns or problems that the customer has and is looking for a solution. If businesses can identify these pain points, they can then be the ones to provide the solution, thereby boosting business and developing loyal customers.

As a landlord, you are in the same situation—trying to figure out what your tenant (who is really your customer) is suffering from and then do what you can to alleviate that conflict, fear, discomfort, frustration and worry.

How to Identify Tenant Pain Points

Solving your current or prospective tenant’s problems means identifying those pain points that they want relief from. When you discover that, you’ll be in a much better position to center your rental property’s amenities on meeting those needs. You can also focus your vacant rental property marketing to best address those pain points.

Here are 3 ways to discover your current tenant’s pain points:

  1. Ask for an Informal Interview
    If you are on good terms with your tenant, consider including an informal interview during a semi-annual inspection, for example. You can talk to them about what problems are bothering them, ask questions about the rental property and ask how they might want you to help them.
  2. Administer a Survey
    For multiple properties, you can create a survey, either on paper or online. This gives tenants a chance to think about their pain points and give more thoughtful answers.
  3. Research Online
    You can figure out some of the industry’s biggest issues between tenants and landlords online. RentPrep, for example, provides plenty of articles on landlord issues. The two blog articles that have by far generated the most comments from tenants across the country are here and here. Read tenant forums and keep up to date on your state’s landlord/tenant groups to get in the know.

It’s never easy to do market research, but that’s exactly what this is. Of course it doesn’t mean that you have to alleviate every single problem or inconvenience for your tenant, but it does give you a chance to see what motivates applicants or convinces tenants to renew a lease agreement. Any good business person quickly learns that by knowing their customers better, their business becomes better.

10 Common Tenant Pain Points

Every customer has pain points, and these are the motivators for them to seek out products and services that can solve their problems.  In an investment property business, the applicant or the tenant is looking for solutions on where to live and selecting the best place that will meet their needs. In order to find and retain quality tenants, you need to do your best problem solving and discover the driving forces behind their pain.

Here are 10 very common tenant pain points that landlords may want to investigate workable ways to alleviate:

  1. Fear of getting “kicked out” for something they didn’t do.
  2. Not being able to contact the landlord when needed, whether in an emergency or for more traditional needs like repair requests.
  3. Worrying that the landlord will change the rules or make new rules that they don’t like.
  4. Getting stuck with a big bill or blamed for damage they didn’t do.
  5. Dealing with a landlord who acts nosy, or without respect, or like a dictator when they just want to be left alone.
  6. Having the rental property in disrepair with appliances or systems out of commission for long periods of time.
  7. Living next to loud or obnoxious neighbors.
  8. The landlord won’t be “fair,” which could be anything from going back on a verbal agreement to making exceptions for some tenants and not others on the rules.
  9. Any situation that jeopardizes their own health and safety or that of their family.
  10. Not getting all or most of their deposit back when they move out.

These are real fears that most tenants have, and alleviating these fears may be as simple as including certain language in the lease agreement. Of course, individual tenants will have an even longer list of pain points specific to their own needs, but these larger issues are best met by thoughtful and savvy landlords who want to keep their customers/tenants satisfied. You can also discuss some of these before signing the lease as some “common conflicts” that you’ve experienced in the past and how you personally deal with them.

As the landlord/tenant relationship moves forward, your actions and conversations should reinforce your position while also working to relieve their fears.

Examples of Tenant Pain Points and Landlord Resolutions

Identifying tenant pain points is one thing, but resolving them without compromising your position or your budget is another. Once landlords have figured out some prominent pain points, there are plenty of different ways to address them to the satisfaction of both parties. Here are three examples:

Health and Safety

One example of identifying and relieving tenant pain points could go like this. A landlord owns a small, 2-bedroom single family home on a busy street within walking distance to a fine elementary school. She realizes that her tenant avatar is most likely a younger family with small children who are looking for a quality place but for some reason, she’s not attracting that kind of avatar with her current marketing.

Pain points for young parents include worrying about children’s health and safety, so the landlord might consider making changes to the property to better alleviate those fears. She could put in a fence around the backyard to give kids a safe place to play. She should implement some permanent child-proofing features throughout the home. The landlord might even consider turning one of the larger bedroom into two small ones, making it a 3-bedroom place. These changes to make the property more attractive to young families should meet any future tenant’s pain points and satisfies their desire to keep their growing family safe and happy.

Financially Burdened and Unfair

Another example of identifying and resolving pain points for a tenant might take place during a tenant interview when he relates to the landlord a horror story about their last home and pest infestation. The tenant said that they repeatedly requested the landlord to do something about the bedbug infestation they were experiencing, but with no results and little communication in return.

The frustrated tenant ended up paying for all pest control, then asked the landlord for compensation, which resulted in a huge conflict. A smart landlord would see that the tenant absolutely does not want something like that to happen again. The landlord might agree to set up an affordable, semi-annual treatment program for the rental property with a local pest control company, and perhaps write up an addendum to the lease agreement that the landlord pays for the routine treatment, but they will split the cost of any extermination treatments.

City-specific Problems

Yet another example of resolving tenant pain points might be see with a landlord who owns an urban rental property in an area that attracts lots of young professionals who seek roommates to offset the expensive cost of renting. The landlord reads a renter’s forum for the neighborhood in his city that attracts renters who complain a lot about where they are living and share some of the problems. The pain points the landlord sees the most often for properties similar to his include lack of decent parking, the high need for fast internet connections and experiences with being “stuck” with all the rent when a roommate bails out or doesn’t pay their part of the rent.

This landlord can address current and future tenant pain points by securing quality parking that is fair for all tenants, arranging for good internet and including it in the rent, and setting up roommate leases that don’t penalize each individual.

Here at RentPrep, we keep reminding our readers that investing in property is essentially running a business, and it’s always a good idea to take the best marketing tactics and lessons from the business world and apply them to this unique setting. Addressing customer pain points becomes a smart and savvy way to attract and keep high quality tenants, which means less turnover and more profit for landlords.

The post Why Landlords Should Identify and Resolve Tenant Pain Points appeared first on RentPrep.

How To Cut Heating Costs In Your Rental Home

I grew up in a home with a father who was much more warm-blooded than his household of daughters and as a result, he was also very conscientious of our heating bill. When we would complain that the house was cold and ask if we could turn up the heat, he told us to put on a sweater or go sit by the fire.

When I moved into a home where I was responsible for the utilities, I gained a lot more sympathy for the frugality of my parents. Heating an entire home can be expensive and depending on layout and the way your house is built, you might be reaching for the thermostat more than you want.

When you own your home, you can make more permanent changes that help you save money on your heating bills, like double-paned windows or better insulation, but when you are in a rental property, you are more at the mercy of your landlord and the house, as is. You may be surprised to know that there are things you can do to keep the heat in and your costs down without making major changes.

Weather Stripping

These narrow pieces of foam, called weather stripping, installed in door jambs and around windows can go a long way toward eliminating drafts in your home. This is likely something that your landlord should keep on top of, but it is also inexpensive to do yourself if you are finding gaps or worn spots. If you find cracks in between windows and the wall, these can be sealed with caulk (check with your landlord first though.)

Curtains

Not surprisingly, windows are particularly cold spots because there is no insulation between the inside and the outside. They can account for up to 25 percent of heat loss in the home. While large windows in your rental home are great for natural light, they can be hard on your wallet. Installing curtains that can easily be opened and closed can act as a barrier between the window and your room. Draw the curtains at night when temperatures drop the most.

Power Outlets

They are in every room of your home, and are actually one of sneakiest sources for drafts. Because the area around outlets are usually not well insulated for safety reasons, you could have cold air seeping into the room and not even realize it. Solve this dilemma by detaching the cover plate from the wall and placing a pre-cut foam gasket around over the outlet or switch and simply replace the plate. Gaskets are inexpensive and found at almost any home improvement store.

Space Heaters and Heat Redirection

While it isn’t financially sensible to have both the central heat turned up AND a space heater on, you can make it work for you if you turn the thermostat down and stick to one or two rooms in the rental property. Experts suggest that you can save 3 percent of heating costs for every degree below 70. On the other hand, space heaters cost an estimated 14 cents per hour to run. Similarly, closing the vents in rooms you aren’t using will direct more of the heat from the furnace to places that you are actually using. Heating up every room will take a lot more energy than focusing on just one or two.

Fireplaces

While the costs of running a gas fireplace often can be high, a real wood fireplace can warm up one or two rooms at a time, while also creating a cozy ambiance as a bonus. If you are able to build a fire, make sure you are working with a properly cleaned out chimney. If you don’t know, ask your landlord. It should be looked at every year as part of winterizing the property. If you have a fireplace and choose not to use it, make sure that your heat isn’t escaping up and out by blocking the chimney. Again, this is an area where you should check with your landlord, but there are options like inflatable chimney balloons that can save some homeowners up to $100 per year in utilities.

Keeping the heat in your rental home and your money in your wallet where it belongs is a good way to relax without the guilt (or multiple sweaters). Understanding how to employ a few basic measures during the winter months will not only save you money now, but could amount to thousands over the years.

The post How To Cut Heating Costs In Your Rental Home appeared first on RentPrep.

Design Tricks to Transform a Family Room with Wood Paneling

By Charlene Storozuk, guest contributor As a home stager, sometimes you have to work with what you’ve got. I was given free rein in this family room with one exception: The husband insisted that the wood paneling stay. What is it about men and wood paneling? There, I said it.  Maybe I’m stereotyping, but I […]

Easier-To-Understand Mortgage Disclosures Benefit Consumers and Community Associations

It is often difficult to decipher all of the information and terms on a mortgage loan disclosure. Yet with a signature, they bind us far into our futures. On October 3, 2015, those disclosure requirements changed for the better. They have been simplified so that mortgage terms will be easier to understand for consumers. Likewise, regulations affecting the reporting of community association fees and charges have been relaxed so that lenders can rely on several different sources to compile the information needed for disclosing community association fees and charges.

The Dodd-Frank Act
In response to the recent recession, the Dodd–Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (the Dodd-Frank Act) was signed into federal law by President Barack Obama on July 21, 2010. The Dodd-Frank Act made the most significant changes to financial regulation in the United States since the Great Depression. On December 2, 2009, the proposed bill was introduced in the House of Representatives by then Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank, and in the Senate Banking Committee by former Chairman Chris Dodd. The Dodd-Frank Act implements changes that, among other things, affect the oversight and supervision of financial institutions, including how information is disclosed to consumers during the mortgage loan process.

The Know-Before-You-Owe Rule
The Dodd-Frank Act directs the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (the Bureau) to publish rules and forms that combine certain disclosures that consumers receive in connection with applying for and closing on a mortgage loan. The Dodd Frank Act requires the Bureau to issue federal regulations protecting consumers from abusive financial products and services. The Bureau’s Know-Before-You-Owe rule protects consumers who are financing the purchase of a home or refinancing an existing mortgage loan by (1) improving consumer understanding of the mortgage lending process, (2) helping consumers shop for the best mortgage by making loan comparisons easy to understand, and (3) preventing surprises at the closing table through early disclosure of fees.

The Know-Before-You-Owe rule is the most substantive change in the mortgage lending and closing process in decades. Lenders and title companies must, by law, comply with the rule’s new requirements or risk significant fines for non-compliance.

October 3, 2015 Amendments
However, the Know-Before-You-Owe rule, while protective to consumers, was somewhat confusing and difficult to understand. As a result, effective October 3, 2015, the Bureau amended these regulations to establish new disclosure requirements and forms that are intended to be easier for consumers to understand. The Bureau created two new forms: (1) the Loan Estimate, and (2) the Closing Disclosure. Lenders will be required to give consumers these forms for mortgage applications submitted on or after August 1, 2015. The changes seek to simplify and improve disclosure forms for mortgage transactions.

Impact on Community Associations
The October 3, 2015 amendments will benefit community associations as well as consumers. Specifically, lenders must provide assessment and other association charges, as available, to the consumer via the Loan Estimate. Examples of association charges reported on the Loan Estimate include the following:

1. Dollar amount of regular assessments
2. Dollar amount of special assessments
3. Dollar amount of transfer fees
4. Miscellaneous move-in/transition fees charged at closing

Lenders must comply with strict timelines when delivering the Loan Estimate and Closing Disclosure to consumers. Lenders must provide consumers a written Loan Estimate within four (4) days of a consumer’s request and consumers must be provided a Closing Disclosure three (3) days prior to closing. Failure to comply with these timelines can lead to substantial fines being imposed on the lender by the Bureau.

As the Bureau developed the Know-Before-You-Owe disclosures, the Community Associations Institute (CAI) advocated for flexibility in disclosing community association assessments on the Loan Estimate form. CAI argued it would be inefficient and burdensome for associations to provide assessment information on the same property to multiple lenders as consumers shopped for the best mortgage loan. Responding to CAI’s concerns, the Bureau will allow lenders to use a “best-information-available” standard for association information when preparing a Loan Estimate. A lender may obtain association information from the following sources:

1. The MLS listing
2. The seller
3. The resale disclosure certificate/estoppel
4. Real estate agent
5. Title company
6. Community website
7. Community association or its managing agent
8. Other sources

While the Bureau does not allow the use of the “best-information-available” standard for preparation of the Closing Disclosure (lenders and title companies must verify all association charges and ensure all information on the Closing Disclosure is accurate), the best-information-available concept for the Loan Estimate disclosure is beneficial as it relates to community associations. In addition, community associations and community managers can help the process by ensuring information submitted to lenders is accurate and timely and by providing a copy of the community association fee schedule with all completed uniform mortgage questionnaires, resale disclosure documents, estoppels, and pay-off letters to settlement agencies, attorneys. The community association can and should also post the community’s fee schedule on the community association website.

Ultimately, these amendments to the Know-Before-You-Owe disclosure process are positive and helpful to consumers, lenders and community associations.

Brian Moreno, Esq.

Brian Moreno, Esq.

Brian D. Moreno, Esq. is a senior associate at Swedelson Gottlieb and an experienced litigator and community association attorney, having practiced common interest development law since 2003. Moreno has been a featured speaker at CAI events (including the 2015 National CAI Law Conference), as well as an approved instructor for various chapters in Southern California.

In 2013, Moreno was the 20th California attorney to be admitted to CAI’s College of Community Association Lawyers. He serves as the Co-Chair of the Programs Committee for the Greater Los Angeles Chapter, as well as a member of the Education Committee for CAI’s Greater Inland Empire Chapter. He is also a member of the California Legislative Action Committee‘s Public Relations Committee and serves on CAI’s National Law Seminar Planning Committee.

 


Landlord’s Guide to Flooring in a Rental Property

Flooring in a rental property is a topic that all landlords–no matter how many properties they own–need to know about. For landlords who are contemplating renovating a newly purchased investment property or looking to remodel an existing one, there are many choices to make. One of the most important features to consider in any renovation is the flooring in a rental property. Landlords and property owners should educate themselves on the different types of flooring out there, and what works best for the property and the types of tenants that will be living there.

Choosing proper flooring in a rental property is a fine line between making a place appealing and keeping its value while holding up to lots of use and possible abuse. Different flooring is best suited for different parts of the property, and most landlords know that carpet in the bathroom is a bad idea. However, flooring products have come a long way in recent years with advanced technology and new innovations, so landlords have more choices than ever. That being said, landlords need to choose flooring that is best for the property, and not necessarily what they would select for their own homes.

Landlords can save themselves a lot of time, stress and money when they become familiar with some of the most popular flooring options for rental properties and learn about the pros and cons for each type of material.

Carpet

Pros: Easy to install and one of the most affordable options for flooring in a rental property. Carpet is also soft, warm and welcoming. Another advantage about carpet is that the padding and the fibers keep noise down, especially in multi-unit properties.

Cons: Carpet needs cleaned frequently by a professional service. Also, it wears out faster than some other flooring options and may not be the best choice for high traffic areas. Because it holds onto moisture, it’s not a good idea to install in bathrooms and kitchens. It can also harbor allergens, dust and even small pests like fleas. Tears, stains and burns are not easy to fix or repair.

Vinyl

Pros: Extremely popular and quite affordable, vinyl is part of the resilient flooring group. It is highly versatile and moisture resistant, making it ideal for bathrooms, laundry areas and kitchens. It’s moisture resistant and easy to clean with standard. Vinyl is softer for the feet than other options like tile, stone and wood and absorbs noise better than the other materials. Vinyl also comes in a wide range of colors and patterns, from faux tile to imitation stone and wood. Sheet vinyl, solid vinyl tile and luxury vinyl tile are all options with different prices.

Cons: Vinyl can be gouged by sharp objects or ripped if furniture is dragged across it. Nicks, rips and cuts can’t really be repaired in sheet vinyl, while vinyl tile fares better. Vinyl is also difficult to remove and replace if the property owner wants to upgrade. Because it is inexpensive, vinyl doesn’t do much to boost a property’s resale value. It can also discolor when exposed to UV rays and when it comes in contact with rubber (like a rubber-backed bath mat).

Tile

Pros: Durable and long-lasting, tile is an excellent option for kitchens and bathrooms especially. It’s waterproof, very easy to clean and won’t harbor germs. Ceramic tile is impervious to scratches and hold up well in the highest traffic areas.  Tile comes in many sizes and colors, giving landlords plenty of design options.

Cons: Tile is very hard, so it’s not as comfortable to stand or walk on. Also, many people dislike the cold feeling underfoot, especially in the winter. Tile is also one of the more costly flooring options. Unlike most other flooring options, tile has no sound-absorbing properties so it can make noise in a room echo more. While waterproof, tiles may become slippery when wet. Tile can also crack if something heavy drops onto it, and repairing tile is difficult.

Hardwood

Pros: Most people love the warm look and the beauty of hardwood flooring. The good news is that it is durable and moisture resistant. Hardwood flooring is “softer” than some other flooring options like tile and stone, making it more comfortable to the feet. It is definitely easy to clean and brings a classic look into any home. This type of flooring lasts for years, because it just needs sanded and refinished to look as good as new. Hardwood flooring can also boost a property’s resale value.

Cons: Hardwood flooring can be pricey, but it lasts for a long time with only minimal repairs needed. The range of colors is limited to natural wood, so there are fewer décor options. It’s also possible to scratch the hardwood with spiked or high-heeled shoes, a vacuum’s power brush head and even pet nails. UV rays can fade hardwood over time. Also, if improperly cared for, such as using the wrong cleaning products, the wood can become damaged.

Laminate

Pros: Created out of composite material with a highly detailed photo surface giving it a quality look, laminate is rapidly gaining in popularity. Laminate is extremely affordable and it’s possible to get the luxury look of tile, stone or wood with laminate flooring. Because of the way it is manufactured, laminate is very durable and is nearly impervious to scratches, scrapes and dents. Installation is a breeze as well. Laminate’s easy care makes it a top choice for residential flooring in just about every room in the place.

Cons: Laminate is not quite as moisture resistant as many other flooring options. Also, there is a range in quality on the market, from very cheap to expensive. Many people find it hard underfoot and it can be slippery as well. Laminate flooring is “floating” which means it is not attached to the flooring below, and has been known to pop or have a more hollow sound when walking. Also, this type of flooring for a rental property, while long lasting, isn’t as durable as stone or hardwood.

Engineered Hardwood

Pros: Unlike laminate, engineered hardwood flooring is created with a real wood veneer. This solid layer of wood brings nearly the same characteristics as a hardwood floor. Engineered hardwood also has less acoustic challenges, meaning that it better absorbs noise. It is extra strong, very durable and cleans up easily. It’s like a combo between the warmth and beauty of wood and the long-lasting and less expensive laminate.

Cons: More expensive than laminate, engineered hardwood is subject to many of the same issues as hardwood, such as scratching and UV discoloration. Engineered hardwood flooring cannot be sealed and sanded like hardwood flooring, but some brands can be lightly treated for minor scratches this way. Improper cleaning can lead to problems as with hardwood.

Whether landlords are looking to purchase an investment property, researching renovations or wondering whether to replace problem flooring, they should definitely take into consideration that tenants may not care as much about a rental property as an owner does. If the flooring in a rental property does need special care, landlords should make sure the tenants know it and guide them as needed.

When deciding on what type of flooring in a rental property to get, landlords have many factors to consider, that include cost, durability, ease of cleaning, and resiliency to wear and tear. With education, landlords will make the right choice for the flooring in a rental property.

The post Landlord’s Guide to Flooring in a Rental Property appeared first on RentPrep.

13 Ways to Enhance Your HOA’s Curb Appeal

We love interior improvements. But if you can’t get people to come to your condo or homeowner association to actually look at any units, these wonderful interior features aren’t going to move the needle when it comes to property values and rental rates.

hoa curb appeal

Furthermore, if you don’t take control of your property’s curbside appearance, you may well fail to attract the best quality owners and renters.

When you’re determined to improve property values throughout your condo or homeowner association by enhancing curb appeal, here are some principles to keep in mind.

1. Get the driver’s eye view of the property. Look at the property from the street, ideally with someone else who is looking at the property for the first time. Someone new to the property may notice flaws that you have grown accustomed to. Be hypercritical. Are you truly putting your best foot forward? Attention to detail is important.

2. Assert control. If previous boards have been lax about enforcing standards, your association could have any number of issues. Your first step is to take back the association from those whose actions are dragging property values down – as well as the fortunes of the entire organization.

This is going to require a mixture of tact and determination. As a board member, you must look out for the interests of the membership as a whole. Anything less would be a breach of fiduciary duty. So you’re going to have to enforce the CC&Rs against some individuals – and be willing to risk upsetting them – in order to protect the association’s interest.

3. Develop a coherent and enforceable architectural policy. Most associations have at least the basics. Can yours be improved without undue disruption? It may be that previous boards didn’t give you the appropriate CC&Rs and other documents that you need to protect your property from neglectful residents. Take an inventory of what powers you need in order to meaningfully increase curb appeal and control negative behavior from residents. Do you need stronger parking or vehicle provisions? Flags and signage?

Need a maintenance guru or curb appeal expert? Professional association managers can help >>

4. Get buy-in. To make a big impact, you need to bring some people with you. It’s better for residents to be pulling a condo or homeowner association board along rather than the other way round. Volunteerism is powerful. One excellent way to get buy-in is to form one or more committees composed of association members. For example, create a landscaping committee of residents to advise the association board on relevant measures and to help with execution of the plans the board approves.

5. Spruce up the gardening and landscaping. This is pretty easy to do – once. But if you don’t plan ahead, you can get yourself into trouble. Some beautification projects require ongoing maintenance, and you have to budget for that. Seasonal flowers aren’t free, and they have to be replanted. Some plants require more watering than others, which is a problem in drought-stricken areas and deserts. And water isn’t free, either. Look for plants that survive with native rainfall or are relatively hardy.

You may need to resource a gray-water capture and recycling system. This is a significant short-term expenditure, but it may make sense over the long term.

Whatever you choose to do, follow through and maintain it well. If you skimp on the visible things, prospective buyers and tenants will wonder what else you’ve been failing to maintain. If they consider your property at all.

6. Pressure-wash regularly. Clean off walls, concrete areas, and trim and signage. Make sure you use the appropriate detergents for the surfaces. And work it into the maintenance schedule.

7. Resurface or repaint parking lots. Retarring and repainting can go a long way to making an older property look new again. If you can’t resurface, at least restripe.

8. Consider your grassy areas. Yes, we all love lawns. But if you can’t maintain it because of water restrictions, maybe it’s time for a change. Alternative uses for grassy areas include additional parking or units, tennis courts, storage areas/garages, basketball courts, or an indoor recreation room or pavilion. If there are noticeable trails in the grass, indicating traffic areas, put in walkways.

9. Add lighting. How does your place look at night? Good, warm lighting is essential. First, it deters crime and makes the property safer for residents. Second, light sells. Consider using rope lighting to add definition or draw the eye to attractive features. If you have a flagpole, light up the flag. Aim for warm, inviting and safe.

10. Clean obsessively. Be especially aggressive with your cleaning and maintenance efforts near trash collection points and compactors, around the leasing office, and anywhere workers take breaks. Staff extra people the day before trash day and that morning, because that’s when you have more trash piling up. If it’s a problem every week, maybe you need to pay for more trash pickups.

11. Pay attention to color. Pick a color scheme and stick to it. But make sure the contrast pops. That includes the contrast between flowers and surrounding vegetation and the contrast between trim and walls. Take advantage of color theory and trend research and let it work for you.

12. Check address and building numbering. Pretend you’ve never been there before. Are the building numbers clear and visible both day and night?

13. Festoon. Consider inexpensive enhancements like birdfeeders, birdbaths, mailbox stands, pots and planters, and fire pits.