Tag: Residential Property Management

Residential Property Management Services Explained

Consumers require residential property management services for a variety of reasons. Some buy rental properties and need management of the property. Other consumers will be absent from their homes for an extended period. Even if you leave for a three-week vacation, someone should be looking after your home for you. We will review these issues and others in the following post.

Residential Property Insurance Requirements

Many homeowners just close their doors and leave for their vacation. They are very excited about getting away. Many do not give a seconds thought about looking after their home. Many insurance companies have specific requirements about vacant homes. The requirements depends on the company, the time of year, where you live and your heating system. They may want checks on your home every day. Call your residential insurance company to confirm your requirements to maintain insurance on your home. Even condominium owners need to do this.

Temporary Absence Management

Many residential property management services companies will offer services to home owners in this situation. They can check your home for water leaks, power outages, heating system failures and break-ins. Have them check your home and report back to you after every visit. You will need a report especially if you need to make a claim to your insurance company. They want to know that someone is checking your home.

Extended Absence

If you are going to be away for a long period of time, it is important to arrange for residential property management services. They will check for water leaks, heating system malfunction, complete landscape management, snow removal and even water the plants. Consumers can arrange for all of the services they need. They can leave with confidence that their home is looked after.

Rental Residential Property Management Services

Many consumers purchase rental properties as investments. Some consumers will manage their own properties. Others do not want to deal with tenants or some of the problems that arise. This is where residential property management services can put your mind at ease. Some of the services that are included are:

  • Tenant selection and approval
  • Rent check collection
  • Deposit to bank accounts
  • Property management services
  • Property repairs
  • Regular monthly reporting

Property management covers all of the things that most consumers take for granted about maintaining a home. This area of services may include the following depending on the building type:

  • Cutting the lawn
  • Hedges and shrub maintenance
  • Maintain watering system
  • Routine repairs to appliances
  • Painting and cleaning after tenants leave
  • Management of special projects e.g. window replacement etc.

Summary

Regardless of the residential property management services that are required, there is a property management solution. Make a list of the services that will be needed for your situation. Decide the time frame involved. Call your insurance company to confirm their minimum requirements. Make sure that you will receive appropriate documentation from the residential property management company if you will need it to make an insurance claim.


Residential and Commercial Property Management

Residential and Commercial Property ManagementThe management of residential and commercial properties is similar in some ways and very different in others. If you happen to be a landlord of residential properties, either single family homes, town homes or apartment buildings you will want to consider hiring a property manager who is familiar with managing residential properties. There are various bylaws and government laws that are specific to residential property and you need companies that have the experience and knowledge on what is required and how to deal with these requirements. The tenants are also very different and have many different needs, come from various income strata’s and there are also many more of them as well.

Commercial Property Management

Commercial property management can be anything from large corporate malls to large office buildings that require building upgrades and modifications to meet the customer’s professional requirements. Long term leases with rental guarantees etc would be the order of the day and competition ruling the rent levels and the services provided. Managers deal with far fewer tenants. In some cases the building may be rented by one large tenant, while in others floors may be subdivided to accommodate multiple tenants.

Residential Property Management

Residential property management on the other hand is governed by the rent levels that the market will bear along with what increases the government will allow in many cases. Many more tenants to deal with per building and perhaps even many owners if it is a multi unit condo for example with many owners for the individual units. In some cases there may be a group of investors who purchase a building and then hire a management company to manage the rental building for them. With multiple objectives on one side and multiple needs on the other, the job of being a residential property manager can be quite complicated and time-consuming. This leads many property managers of residential homes to charge more per door than they would for a single owner building.

Professional Systems

In both cases professional level cash flow tracking systems, asset tracking systems and a method of reporting that meets the needs of the owners and / or the board of directors of a condominium board. Condominiums represent another type of property management, were the property manager is hired to manage all of the common elements of the building and has virtually nothing to do with the interior of the units. Some units could even be rented and managed by different property management companies all together. This also adds complexity in terms of finger pointing on some issues.

Hire Experienced People

A property management company must have the right people in place to manage all different sorts of situations and buildings. If you are a customer, paying attention to the kinds of buildings currently managed and the level of skills, reporting etc is important. You may also want to talk with current customers of the property management company to confirm satisfaction levels and ensure that their customers are satisfied with the services provided.

The type of information that is needed and provided may be quite different depending on the owners and the property management companies. the number one objective is to provide excellent customer service to both tenants and owners. But sometimes you cannot satisfy everyone and that then becomes the biggest challenge of all. Property managers must first make sure they are following the laws, they must be fair and honest and they must answer to the person or group that pays them. Ultimately that is what it comes down to . Doing what is right, what is fair to all parties  and making sure that to the extent you can everyone’s expectations are met. If they are not met, you had better have a good reason and a good explanation to explain why it is not the way they would like to be!


Property Management Information

Property Management InformationOwners of rental buildings want a lot of property management information from their property managers. They look for regular reports at the end of each month. Rent rolls, status reports on various activities, annual reports, tax reports for filing with the government, rental reports to substantiate rent increases and a host of additional information that is needed from time to time. Most of all they want to make sure that there are no surprises. That they are kept abreast of all issues that could develop into serious problems requiring their attention. They also need reports and information on maintenance activities along with any improvements that have been completed.

Property Management Information – End of the Month Reports

At the end of each month, property management information should include a total income and expense report. It should show the rental income for the month and the year to date numbers. It should also show the expenses in the same format for all categories that have been agreed will be tracked and reported on. Anything that is not tracked will be lumped into a general category which will also be monitored. Rental units rented and the rent collected, end of lease projections, empty units, and collection activities should also be reported. They also want to be made aware of any special issues that should be brought to their attention. For example renters that skipped on their rent, renters that are behind on their rent, damage reports, repairs that were needed and so on.

Status Reports

There may be various projects and upgrades that are underway. A status report is usually provided to give owners who cannot get to the property an update. Pictures may be included and a discussion of any issues that have come up along with decisions that may be pending should be included. Some owners will want a monthly meeting to review this information. This meeting can be accomplished face to face if they are in the same city, however more often it will be a quick conference call which saves everyone time.

Annual Reports

Annual reports summarizing the year and projections for the coming year are also needed. These reports allow owners to budget properly and prepare financial cash flows if needed to cover under runs or large maintenance issues that may be needed. This is the time when budgets are discussed for the coming year. Every line item is often gone over and adjusted based on inflation, specific needs of the property and even specific agendas of the owners. Property managers usually prepare an initial budget which is then reviewed with the owners and adjustments made.

Tax Reports

Tax reports are also provided on an annual basis as part of the annual property management information flow. These reports can be provided to accountants who will incorporate the appropriate cash flows into the owners income tax reports to the government. This is an extremely important element that must be completed. Depending on the arrangement and the skill sets available at the property managers office, these reports may be prepared in-house or they may be sent out to a 3rd party accountant to prepare on everyone’s behalf on an impartial basis. This should not be construed as an audit. It is a tax report based on the information provided to the accountant.

If there is only one owner, discussions and decisions are often very straight forward and can be conducted easily. If there are multiple owners, the decisions take longer because of the discussion that is needed to come to a resolution on any item. This is just a natural phenomenon that should be accounted for in any schedule by the property manager in dealing with things like budgets, tax reports and any decisions that are needed. Often a board of directors will interface with the property manager and go over all of the property management information. The job of the board is to review all reports and make sure that results are in line with expectations for the budget and for the owners.


Vacant Home Property Management

Vacant Home Property ManagementVacant Home Property Management

We recently received an email from a client who was looking for someone to look after their home for a one year period. This person is with the armed forces and is being posted out of the country for a period of one year. They have obviously decided that they do not want to rent their home to someone while they are away and they also want to be able to return from time to time during vacation periods and other time periods. They need a number of services which we will discuss in this post.

Vacant Home Property Management Services

They are taking the right approach to ensure that their home is looked after while they are away. This is where vacant home property management comes in, regardless of whether you have a friend, a neighbor or a family member look after the home. There are two really important things to consider when you hire someone or ask a favor of someone. First you need to always check with your insurance company to ensure that you meet their requirements for monitoring while the home is vacant. Failure to have the home monitored adequately could void your home insurance and void any claim you might have while you are away. Each insurance company is different in their requirements. Some want the water turned off and they want someone to check on the home every day. While other insurance companies are ok as long as someone checks on the home at least once per week. We will touch on pricing in our next post, Charges for Vacant Home Management.

The second item to consider that is important is who you have look after your home while you are away. Regardless of who you have do this important task, they need to be dependable. They need to be able to always check your home according to the schedule you set and they need to be able to deliver a report to you after each visit. This is so important because if there is a claim to you insurance company, you will need to be able to confirm that someone was visiting the house according to the schedule they require. Hopefully there will be no situations that require the involvement of the insurance company etc, however these same people should also be able to deal with these situations under your direction.

Choose your home sitter or property manager carefully and not just on price alone. Price is important, however you really need to make sure that you have the services you need. Most professional companies will have a checklist that they will walk you through to confirm all details associated with management of your home. After all, your home is your most valuable possession as are the the things in it. Why would you take a chance with your most important possession.

What are Insurance Companies Concerned About

For most insurance companies the major worry is water damage from leaking pipes. If you live in a cold climate were the pipes could freeze you are going to need someone to check more often unless you drain the pipes and turn the water off. Of course they want the security of the home confirmed each time, but the big worry is whether the furnace is working and the temperature is high enough inside the home to avoid water freezing in the pipes. This is where a professional property management company can really help you. They should visit your home on a regular schedule defined by you and they should also provide you with a report confirming that someone from the property management firm visited the home and verified the security, the temperature inside the home and that there are no water leaks.

They are also concerned about break-ins, however there is not much you can do about this other than make sure that the home looks like it is lived in. Make sure that all newspapers and flyers are taken in every day and that the lawn is cut on a regular basis. These are dead give indicators to a vacant home. Some home owners will also arrange for lights on timers to come on at regular scheduled intervals in the rooms that you use. It makes no sense to have lights on in rooms that you do not use normally. Have the lights and timers in the rooms that you use and follow your regular schedule.

In our next post we will discuss Charges for Vacant Home Management. If you have comments on this post please leave them. We love to get comments that our readers will enjoy and find helpful.

 


Residential Home Management Check Lists

Residential Home Management Check ListsAs a property manager of a home on behalf of a client, what are the things you need to pay attention to? There are many, but some are more important than others and we will try to cover a few of these here. This web site is aimed at the home owner and although this particular post is about property manager’s, we thought it would be useful to understand how a property manager looks at the job! If you understand the other person’s objective, then you will have a better perspective on how to deal with property managers and what to look for when hiring a property manager! This is important for a number of reasons – peace of mind, financial and contractual!

Primary Focus of a Property Manager

It does not matter what anyone tries to tell you, the fundamental focus of a property manager is to make money. If they cannot make a profit in the services they are offering to you, they may just refuse to take you on or keep you on as a client. If you can recognize this fundamental truth, then you may be able to get the services you need at a price that you can afford! It is all about compromise and negotiation after that.

Most property managers will talk about the great service they offer, the reports they provide and the communications they provide to you the client. They will indicate that this is their number one objective.  Avoiding putting this down on paper in a contract is one way of retaining some control over what is contractually required. If you want something done, make sure it is listed in the contract, for how much, when it is to be done and to what level of quality! This may seem like overkill or indicate that you may not trust a person. It is really just a professional way to do business.

Residential Home Management Check Lists

With that said, we collected a list of things that can be considered when you provide services as a property manager to look after someone’s  home while they are away on vacation:

  • Frequency of visits to your clients home
    • Daily, 48 hours , 72 hours etc
  • Reporting requirements
    • Paper record
    • Email
    • Text msg
    • How soon after each visit
  • Specific items to check while in the home
    • Doors
    • Windows
    • Alarm system
    • heating system
    • Water leaks
    • Snow load
    • Pool
  • What to do in case of an emergency
    • Contact emergency contact
    • Call police
    • Advise insurance company
    • Call family , family friend or neighbor
  • Phone numbers to call
    • Your emergency number
    • Your insurance company
    • Police
  • Authority to make repairs
    • Specified limit with no authority
    • Temporary repairs to prevent further damage
  • Other Services that you may require
    • Water plants indoors
    • Water gardens outdoors
    • lawn care
    • Pool care
    • Snow removal
    • etc

These are the basics and everyone who needs their homes looked after will have more items to add to the list based on their own particular situation. We have not addressed pets in this case, however for those that need these services, you should add feeding, medicine requirements, exercise and emergency veterinary directions. As a property manager you will need to decide what services you will after including looking after pets, dog walking etc. Not everyone wants to take on the responsibility of looking after pets.

Providing Services as a Property Manager

Always have a contract and spell out the terms you need to have in it regarding the services you are offering to a residential consumer. This is a great way to manage expectations and avoid customer disappointment. We always include a questionnaire which we ask the client to fill in were they outline exactly what they need and any special instructions they wish to provide.  This is basic communications were you make it clear to both what is needed. I even have the client sign or initial each page.

Permission slips with the associated information are also included to allow us to contact insurance companies, alarm companies and veterinarians that might be needed in case of an emergency with one of the pets.

While this is not a complete checklist, it is a general guideline were we urge both parties to communicate the services provided and the services needed so that there are no misunderstandings.

Your comments are welcome.

 


Residential Property Management Ottawa

Residential Property Management OttawaThere are many residential property management companies in the city of  Ottawa. How do you know which one to utilize and contract with to manage the rental of your home or apartment, your investment property? Perhaps you just need someone to look after your home while you are away on vacation to satisfy your insurance company!

Ottawa property management companies offer a variety of services. Some are city-wide while others cover only specific areas of the city. This is designed to minimize travel costs and the subsequent charges to their customers. There are very large property management companies and there are small mom and pop companies in the city of Ottawa.

Residential Property Management Ottawa Services

Some of the basic services that you need to consider are:

Administration:

  • rent collection in trust
  • payment of invoices, property taxes, utilities, insurance
  • monthly reports, annual reports
  • maintenance of property records
  • cash flow management
  • property inspections
  • receive and respond to tenet inquiries 24/7
  • representation on all rent review matters

Leasing:

  • advertising of rental unit
  • receive leasing inquires 24/7
  • schedule showing of property
  • complete rental application
  • tenant screening process
  • execute lease
  • collect deposits and post-dated checks

Residential Property Management Ottawa Companies

Here is a brief list of some of the companies in the city of Ottawa that provide residential property management services

  • Sleepwell Management
  • Marklyn Property Management
  • Taggart Realty Management
  • CLV Group
  • District Realty
  • Gow Property Management
  • Megacorp Property Management Inc
  • Woodbridge Management
  • Apollo Property Management
  • Metcalfe Realty Company Limited
  • Just Imagine Realty Inc
  • Affordable Property Managément
  • Merkburn Holdings Ltd
  • Immogest Property Management Inc
  • Attaché National Capital Management
  • Rest Easy Property Management
  • Elk Property Management
  • Deerpark Management Limited
  • Executive Home Mgmt
  • A Premiere Property Management Associates
  • Axia Property Management
  • Capital Concierge
  • Sentinel Management
  • Beauregard Property Management corp
  • Reid Property Management Ltd

While we cannot vouch for any of these companies we urge you to review our post about residential property management to understand some of the things you should take into account when you are considering hiring a property management company. This list has a lot of common sense items on it that you may find helpful when you are interviewing some of these companies.

About Ottawa

Ottawa has approximately a million people living in the area and is spread out along the Ottawa river. Hiring a local company that is based in your area may mean that you can get a more competitive price, however be careful that you do not sacrifice services to yourself or your tenant to get a lower price. It could end up costing you a lot more money in lost rent or damages that you must repair if your tenant causes a lot of damage and then skips out with out your property managers knowledge.

If you are leaving on vacation for a few weeks, check with your insurance company to see what the requirements are for someone checking on your home. Failure to have some one check on your home could mean that your home insurance is invalid and any claims may be denied.

If you are a property manage and do not see your name on the list, leave us a comment and we will be happy to add it.


Residential Property Management

Property ManagementIn every major city and most small cities and towns across the country there are Property Management firms offering a variety of services to clients who need to have someone look after their home, their apartment or their rental property.  You can have an excellent service or end up with a nightmare if you are not careful.

Hopefully some of the things we talk about in this web site will help you in your selection of a residential property management company for your home while you are away or for a rental property that you own.

This web site is focused on property management for urban consumers who are either renting a home out to a 3rd party and want someone to look after the rental and the management of their home, the rental contract etc or are leaving their home vacant for a long period and need someone to look after their home while they are away.

This latter group comprises snow birds who are spending the winter in the south, business people who are away traveling or people who have been transferred to other locales. Property managers also looks after rentals in the same city that you live in as well as properties that are located in other cities from were you live.

What Should You Look For in Property Management Company

There are numerous items to consider and we have tried to list some of the more important things in this post. If we miss any that you feel are important, please leave us a comment so that we can update this post to alert our readers.

  • Contract that states the services they will provide to you
  • Rental philosophy that matches with you and the type of person you want to rent to
  • Regular reports that clearly show revenue and expenses
  • Final annual report you can use for tax purposes
  • Emergency number to call for your renter and yourself
  • Designated contact for you to call
  • Process for collecting rents, payment of bills and deposit of rents to your account
  • Reasonable property management fees
  • Advertising costs are prorate across all rental units they manage
  • Emergency repair process
  • Repair approval process
  • Handy men at reasonable rates for standard repairs
  • References from other property owners
  • Monthly, quarterly reports that meet your needs

These are just a few of the areas you want to consider. We will discuss some of them in more detail to give you a flavor for what we are considering in these items.

Rental Philosophy

At one time we had a property manager who believed that having a low vacancy rate was the right way to manage a property. Yes, the property was always rented, however the people we rented to were not some of the best people to have in our units. All of the bad things that you can imagine occurred. They skipped town, they had a lot of damage in the unit, they missed rental payments and on and on.

It is very difficult in some jurisdictions to collect from these delinquents and it costs more money to collect from them for missed rent and money to cover damages. We came to the conclusion it was better to have a unit sit vacant for a month while we found a better class of tenant who had great references and was not going to wreck the place! The cash flow was usually better even though the unit sat vacant for a month.

Property Management Reports

  • Look for regular reports that meet your needs. They should include:
  • Monthly cash flow for your unit
  • Quarterly cash flow for your rental unit
  • Comparison to forecast so that you can see how you are doing
  • Annual statement for tax purposes
  • A managers report in narrative summarizing activity concerning your property

This seems like a lot, but it is necessary to ensure that there are no surprises. Some people will not hear anything regarding their property for an entire year and then get a big surprise when they find they have to pay more money for major repairs or that cash flow is not what they expected.

Property Management Contacts

This applies equally to your renter as well as yourself. The renter needs to have someone they can contact in case of an emergency to solve his or her problems. If there is a water leak on a long weekend, you want it fixed that day and not after everyone comes back to work. Also if you the owner have a question, who do you call to get answers to your queries about information given to you on the property management reports. Remember to not be a pest either. Be professional and business like in your dealing with the property manager.

References for Property Managers

Always get references, although sometimes that may be suspect. Spend an hour talking to other owners to compare notes. There are two fundamental things to look for:

  • Does the owner you are speaking with have the same business approach as you do
  • If so, are they satisfied with the service they get from the property management firm?

There is really no sense in speaking with someone who never talks to the property manager, does not want reports and only wants to be called if there is a problem. Of course they will be happy with a property manager who never calls them and gives them the annual report they need for their taxes. I am exaggerating a bit here, but hopefully you get the point.

If you both want monthly results with an accounting report and a narrative report and the person you are speaking with finds the reports meet their needs, then there is a better chance that you will also be satisfied with the firm you are considering.

As we said earlier, if there are major thoughts missing in this post about property managers, please feel free to leave a comment.

 

 


Residential Property Management Categories

Residential Property Management CategoriesBelieve it or not most people are concerned about someone breaking into their homes while they are away on vacation or business. The reality is that there is more danger of damage from a variety of other things than what you might not think of. One of the main ones is that your insurance company may require someone to check on your home every couple of days. They need to make sure that the furnace is running and that there is no leaking water. This could be a condition of insurability so we tell everyone to check with their insurance company. Determine what is actually required before they head off on vacation for a couple of weeks. They are all different.

Residential Property Management Categories

There are lots of reasons for hiring someone or arranging with a neighbor or family member to look after your home while you are away. These categories cover the occasional all the way through the full time professional. The following list comprises some of the main reasons why you may want to consider having some one do this on your behalf ( In all cases except for pets, we assume you are gone for a week or more):

  • Pets at home ( Have someone come in to feed and care for your pets)
  • Insurance requirements (24/48/72 hour intervals)
  • Landscaping ( including cut the grass, water the plants)
  • Water indoor plants
  • Make the home look lived in(lights on timers, move lights)
  • Pick up the mail ( hold or send to the homeowner)
  • Remove advertising and papers from front step
  • Check on the water, including sump pumps
  • Turn on the water to fill traps(if vacant for more than 2 weeks)
  • Check security of the home
  • Snow removal
  • Check on the home and report to the home owner
  • Monitor home improvement while the homeowner is away
  • Rent the home
  • Rental property management

There are probably many other reasons for having someone look after your home while you are away or if you plan to rent your home out to someone while you leave the country. It also may be a vacation property or an investment property. If you are reading this post and notice something missing please feel free to leave us a comment.

Additional Property Management Requirements

The requirements are also much different depending on whether you have a traditional home with a front and back yard, vs. a townhouse, a condo or a rental property. The time of year also is a factor since you must arrange for someone to cut the lawn and trim during the summer , while the winter requires someone to clear the snow from the walkway and driveway if you live in areas that receive snow. These all need to be taken into account if you planning on hiring a residential property manager, a house sitter or arranging for some one to look after you home while you are away.

We will be developing customized checklists for people in these various categories.  If they do not quite fit or you have a special situation that we have not covered, please leave us a comment and we will update our lists. We plan on issuing a new post every two weeks so stay tuned to watch for our latest post.

 


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