Category Archives: New User Questions

Renter’s Insurance Through Tenant File – It is Critical

We’ve had an overwhelming response by property managers wanting to make sure their tenants are covered with renters insurance!

Now, we’d like to provide you with a sample letter that you can use (or edit) in a mailout:

Dear Residents, 

One of the requirements of your lease is that you must maintain personal liability insurance. The most common way to do this is with a renters insurance policy.

The landlord is not responsible for any damages to your personal property arising from fires, leaks, and other unforeseen events. A renters insurance policy generally will include personal property coverage to protect your belongings. This is an important component of your lease and failure to maintain the required coverage will be consider

ed a breach of the lease and is subject to any and all legal remedies.

If you do not have coverage, please reach out to an insurance provider or visit tenantfile.sureapp.com to get covered. The process is quick and hassle-free.

Sincerely,
Management

* Remember, you can send this email out through the Tenant File Program under the ‘Miscellaneous > Easy Email’ selection.

YOUR TENANTS PAY AS LITTLE AS $9.00 PER MONTH

For more information, click here

SureApp Insurance Graphic - Tenant File

* Renters Insurance is covered through a partnership with Sure. With Sure and their wide partner network including Nationwide, landlords and property managers can provide their tenants with a way to get comprehensive coverage from vetted, reliable partners at the best price — all in one, easy-to-use online app for computers,  iPhone and Android devices.

Questions? Call us at 1-800-398-3904

Property Management Software Developments

Property Management Software Developments As computers, tablets, and phones change rapidly, there are also a lot of property management software developments

Not only does modern technology produce more innovations at a more rapid pace than ever before, it also produces improvements to these innovations at an even more rapid pace. For example, it was only within the last decade that smart phones became a crucial part of our lives. While it may be awhile before something replaces the smart phone as it basically exists today, there is a new incarnation of the smart phone every few years. This rapid development also occurs in the software sector, and property management software is no exception. While property managers, landlords and tenants have only used property management software on a widespread basis for a decade or so, software developments occur frequently. What are the specific areas of this software that are being upgraded? Here is a look at a few areas of focus for property management software innovators.

Easier To Use

Of course, any technological innovator is going to strive to make their technology easier to use. Property management software developers have succeeded in making their software easier to use for both tenants and landlords. The most recent property management software is more user-friendly than ever before. For example, it allows rent payments to be scheduled transferred automatically from bank account to bank account. This is an obvious improvement over the old-fashioned method of hand-writing and mailing checks, but also an improvement over previous incarnations of software that required a tenant to enter credit card information each time they needed to make a payment.

More Options

Another way tech innovators seek to improve their products is by adding new features and options. This is also true of property management software developers. In recent years, for example, software has developed to the point where managers can run automatic tenant screenings via partnerships with credit reporting companies. Because these software companies and developers are working directly with experienced property managers, they are continually finding new ways to make their businesses more efficient.

How The Internet Has Affected Renting Apartments

Renting Apartments with Tenant File

Renting Apartments in the Internet Era

The internet has affected nearly all of us in both our personal and professional lives. Some of these areas get more attention than others. Everyone acknowledges, for example, that the internet has dramatically affected the way we shop, the way we bank and the way we communicate. Another area of our life that has certainly been altered by the internet, though perhaps it receives less attention than the other areas previously mentioned, is when it comes time to rent an apartment. The internet has changed the process of renting an apartment both personally for those who rent and professionally for landlords and property managers. Here is a quick look at the brave new world of apartment hunting.

Tenants

More than ever, tenants are using rental apps to hunt for and procure the perfect apartment. A process that used to take many weeks of circling ads in newspapers and calling properties and landlords to check availability is now whittled down to a quick search on a rental app. These rental apps allow apartment hunters to filter by price range, location and many other factors, making the entire process more efficient.

Landlords

Landlords have also been the beneficiaries of technology’s incursion into the apartment rental process. Many tech-savvy landlords are taking advantage of apartment management software to manage their properties and tenants. This software allows landlords and property managers to both store data and then communicate the data via email to current and prospective tenants. This property management software has never been easier to use. Among the features that are common to these software packages are full email systems, work order systems, tenant files, monthly checklists, built in backup features, point and click reports and word processing options. This software also allows landlords and tenants to send money from bank account to bank account, making the payment process easier for both parties.

Keep Your Tenants Satisfied

Tenant File Blog - Two GirlsShame on you, that is not what this means! As a landlord, you want happy tenants, right? Here are some suggestions on how to do that:

  • Stay up with new technology

One of the best ways to impress your tenants, is to show them that you care about their convenience. To do that, check out the new technologies that are available. Some of those technologies include intelligent door locks that can be programmed and operated from a smart phone. This can also increase security and enable you to change lock combinations easier and faster. Other things that can be controlled by smart phones are thermostats, security systems, and irrigation systems.

  • Build a community

Encourage your tenants to engage with one another. You’ll find that building a tenant community will foster better communication between your tenants and your role as a landlord. For example,  sponsor a pool party in the summer, or holiday events during the winter. Send a communication out to all tenants, and hold a ‘Tenants Night Out’ just for them to get to know each other better. That will help create a family atmosphere where everyone will look out for everyone else.

  • Add amenities

Think outside of the box when thinking about amenities that you can offer to your tenants. What about a bike sharing service for your apartment building? Talk to local yoga studios about offering classes in your exercise room once a week. Add motion controlled lighting and walkway lighting for your your rental.  You can think of more creative ideas to keep your tenants pleasantly surprised.

  • Treat them with respect

This seems obvious, but one of the most common complaints from tenants is that they are treated like second-class citizens by their landlord. We know you are under a lot of pressure – owner demands, late contractors, late rent, bills due … but remember to always deal with your tenants in a calm and respectful manner.

  • Follow through

When a tenants requests anything, first let them know that you received the request, either by text or email. Give them an estimated date, take action promptly, and after it is over, contact the tenant to see if they are happy with the result. This will build trust that will go a very long way.

We hope these suggestions have been helpful to you as a landlord. Keeping your tenants satisfied will result in a long term partnership that will benefit you financially and as a person.

Five Killer Late Fee Collection Tips

rent collection with property manager and tenant

Rent collection can be less of a hassle if you follow these simple steps:

Start Early

The best way to not have to worry about collecting late fees from your tenants is to avoid them in the first place. Because a tenant has a great personality, regularly goes to church, or is a distant cousin doesn’t mean they won’t fail to pay the rent on time. So don’t skip the tenant screening to find out how well the prospective tenant paid his last landlord.

Make it clear, make it tough

One of the best deterrents to avoiding late rent is to have a policy that is clearly stated in the lease. Outline when the rent is due, when it is late, what is the late fee, when does it start, and what actions you will take if the rent check bounces. Be sure to include any exceptions, such as an allowance for holidays and let the prospective know that no other exceptions will be made other than the ones outlined in the lease.

Reward good behavior

Sometimes incentives can work just as well as deterrents for rent collection. Consider including an incentive in your lease that rewards the tenant for paying on time for a year, and include the reward if the tenant renews the lease for another year.

Don’t feed the habit

Of course, there may be understandable reasons that you would break your own rules as in the case of the death an immediate family member, but don’t fall for unsubstantiated excuses .Once you have allowed a late rent without penalty, your tenant may try to get away with it a second or third time. Other tenants may even hear about the exception and try it themselves. Be firm and require the reason in writing.

Heed the warning signs

You might get a call a few days early saying that work is slow, or financial problems are adding up. This is a red flag moment. You might want to suggest that your tenant shouldn’t add to their problems by getting a bad mark on his (or her) credit score by having a late rent added. That statement alone might avoid a late rent situation. The call may be just to ‘feel out’ how firm you will be about the late charge and further action, so be sure to state that you will follow the terms of the lease contract.

If nothing else works for rent collection, you might need to post a ‘Notice to Pay or Quit’ telling the tenant that legal options will be enforced unless rent is paid immediately. Hopefully, you won’t have to evict, but the tenant will be well aware of the inevitable consequences of their actions.

Walk it Out – How to Successfully Conduct Your Walk-Through

We recently talked about the importance of providing a move out checklist for your tenant, and how much easier it’ll make the process for the both of you. Once your tenant is all moved out and the property is empty, the next step on your agenda is to conduct the walk-through.

The walk-through is a very important step in the process because it allows you to assess the condition that your property was left in and determine what your previous tenant is liable for. When conducting the walk-through, you should take a record of what damages and/or issues the tenant may have noticed when first moving in, a report of any maintenance problems they may have had while living there, and the move-out checklist that they completed for you. You may want to consider making a chart where you can document all of these things so as to avoid having to be going back and forth.

The first thing you should pay attention to when doing the walk-through is whether or not your previous tenant did everything that they were responsible for. Look at the checklist and make sure that everything on it is done, because are the things that your tenant was held fully liable for. If something hasn’t been done, make note of it so that you can see if it will need to come out of their security deposit or if you will need to charge them additional for it.

Once you’ve determined what the tenant is still responsible for, look at reports of existing issues, and maintenance problems that may have come up while your tenant was living there. This way, you’ll be able to see if any problems still exist and if repairs held up well. You can then determine was needs to be fixed or replaced before the next tenant moves in.

Moving Out

Moving out can be pretty hectic for both you and your tenants, but it can be made easier! Giving your tenant a checklist for them to follow makes the moving process way simpler. There won’t be any confusion on either end about how things need to be left or what steps the tenant needs to follow. This also helps if something isn’t left as it should be, because you can bring up the checklist to show them exactly what you had expected from them.

What kinds of things should you include on the checklist? The first step is telling them when they need to notify you of their official move-out date, so that you can schedule an inspection after that date. Beyond that, make it clear if they need to re-paint anything that they may have changed from it’s original color, maybe walls, or doors. The checklist should highlight that everything needs to clean, basically returned the way the home was first presented. It’s also very important to make sure that you make it clear on the checklist to have them remove all of their belongings and any trash that may be around the home. Your tenants need to ensure that everything is disposed of and that trash isn’t left around for days.

Your tenant will benefit from this too because they’ll be more likely to get most of their security deposit back once the entire process in completed. If they do everything on the list, you can return them their deposit and save yourself the time and money of doing everything that was needed to be done. If any additional repairs need to be done, use the money from the deposit, and if that doesn’t cover it, you will need to bill your tenant.

Use Tenant Incentives to Create a Win-Win Rental Situation

Happy Tenants

 

 

 

Besides covering the basic lease conditions and provisions, you can also turn your lease into a valuable marketing tool for your business while at the same time providing extra satisfaction for your tenants. By using tenant incentives, you can develop tenant loyalty that will result in longer relationships, on-time payments, better care for your property, assistance with marketing, and possibly an eventual sale to your tenant.

Award special benefits to your tenants the longer they stay.

At each tenant lease anniversary, provide a financial or other type of award, provided they are on time with all of their rent payments. This will encourage them to stay with you longer. For example, you can write into your lease that after the first year, upon renewal of the lease, they will receive a special gift, such as a free carpet cleaning or an interior paint job. While this enhances your property, it will improve tenant satisfaction as well. On the second year, you could offer to plant some new trees or to improve the landscaping in some way. You tenants will know that you care about the property, and this may encourage them to take better care of your property as well. Every year, reward your tenant with something new, and you will develop a long lasting good relationship with your renter.

Provide incentives for your tenants to recommend you to other prospective tenants.

Many landlords do not use the free marketing tools right at their disposal. If you have a satisfied tenant, that tenant can become a valuable asset for your marketing plans. Add a clause to your lease that provides a bonus to your tenant if he or she recommends someone that signs a lease on another rental property. The incentive could be in the form of an added appliance, Internet or networking upgrade, ceiling fan, interior painting, or whatever you feel is worth the savings in marketing costs. Be sure to talk to your renters each time they pay rent and find out what their needs are. By providing the right incentives, eventually you will have a team of renters helping you to rent your property.

Provide an incentive for your tenants to eventually own the house they currently rent, provided they remain in good standing as a tenant.

Provide a small ‘credit’ towards the home purchase each time rent is paid on time. This set amount will be logged into your Tenants’ account (on paper only) and will be used as a lump sum credit only if the Tenant buys the house later. You should write into the lease that the credit can only be used after a set number of years. This will help retain the Tenant, and also provide an incentive for the Tenants to use the accrued credit after the time period has been reached. You can also stipulate that if the rent is ever late, then the accrued ‘credit’ will revert to zero, and will begin to accumulate on the next on-time payment.

Encourage your tenants to make upgrades to your property if they have the skills.

Be sure to write in your lease that repair and improvement requests are in writing. At the time of the lease signing, ask if the tenant has any professional skills, such a painting, plumbing, landscaping. (You do want a use a professional to insure that the job is done properly and that the worked is insured). If that is the case, you can trade for repairs or improvements. Commonly, you will be able to reduce the rent for improvements or provide other incentives, such as mentioned above. Other jobs such as yard work, posting flyers, minor painting, or installing hanging plants can be done for home purchase credits (see above) or by you providing the materials for the job. Most tenants will be willing to do some work to improve the appearance of their rental if you will provide the raw materials.

By including these items in your lease agreement, the tenant will understand that you care about their rental property and these suggestions can provide opportunities for both you and your tenants to save money. Build these incentives into your residential lease agreement to set the tone for a long profitable relationship with your tenant.

Website Wonders

As a property manager, your website is important for all kinds of things. Not only can it showcase what your property has to offer for those looking for a new place, but it can also be a resource for your tenants to take care of their property needs.

Depending on how you set up your website, your tenants will probably be some of the main users. A lot of property managers use their websites as portals for residents to pay rent, check any balances they may have, and put in maintenance requests. Using your website for this purpose is great because it’s quick and easy for both you and your residents.

Your website is a great way to showcase what your property has to offer to those who are looking for a new rental. On your website, you can post pictures of what the property looks like, with floor plans and more pictures of how different units look. The internet is the first place people turn to when they’re looking for anything, so you want to make sure that your website makes a good first impression. Put as much information on your website as you can people can know about the property and not have to be reaching out to you over and over again with the same questions.

Community Amenities

So, a few days ago we talked about different amenities that you should be sure to have on your property for your tenants. Community wide amenities are always good to have because they give your residents a reason to come together while adding a whole other level of appeal to your property. What kind of community amenities should you consider adding to your property?

A community pool is a great idea and definitely a big selling point for people. Maintenance on the swimming isn’t going to be too costly, and your residents will want to stay at your property longer. This is also very appealing for people with children looking for  a new place to lease because kids looooove pools. A pool area is also the perfect place to have an outdoor bar or kitchen! This will totally fly in summer time, and gives you the opportunity to hold community barbecues for your residents.

playgroundIf your property is one where a lot of tenants have children, a playground is definitely something you should consider adding if you don’t already have one. This a community amenity that you won’t cost you a lot to put in place but will make your residents very happy because they’ll feel that your property is a place for the entire family.

If you want to add some recreational space for your adult residents, think about a basketball or tennis court, or even both. This is also a great fitness outlet if you can’t have an on-site gym. You can even hold games and tournaments to bring your residents together!