Allowing a third party to manage your investment property may create some anxiety and questions. Here are some questions that are frequently asked of us by new clients. If you have questions that are not addressed below, please feel free to contact us at your branch location.
What is the first step in our relationship?
There are a few document we will need in order to move forward with the management of your investment property. This will include a fully executed management contract and also, but not limited to, the following documents:Our “Client Questionnaire” Form – This gives us information about the subject property, contact information and other critical details.
- W-9 – The federal government requires we report all rent collected on your behalf and attach it to a social security number.
- California Form 588 Waiver – If you live out of state, or intend to move out of state, if we do not have a signed waiver in file, we are obligated to withhold income on behalf of the state.
- Homeowner’s Association Rules & Regulations – If your rental belongs to a homeowners association, we must provide to the tenant the rules and regulations so they can follow the rules without getting fined.
- Cancelled Check – The CalBRE requires a copy of a cancelled check where proceeds will be sent electronically each month.
- Keys – We recommend you keep one sets of keys, we give the tenants one set, and we keep one set in our office in case of emergency access.
- If Currently Occupied – We will need the current rental contract and contact information for your tenant.
Once you have signed and completed the necessary paperwork, we will set up an appointment at your earliest convenience to view your property and conduct the initial inspection of your rental.
What is our pricing?
What we charge our clients depends on a few factors: the type of property being managed, the number of units for the property, the amount of rent to be collected, the location of the property and if we manage more than one property for an owner. Our fee can be as low as 3% and never above 10%. For any property, we have a minimum monthly fee which will be included in your contract.
We offer two service plans for our clients: ‘a la carte’ whereby we charge a flat monthly fee for our management services and a separate one-time fee tenant acquisition fee to secure a new tenant, or ‘all inclusive’ where for one low fee, usually slightly higher than our ‘a la carte’ pricing, all of our services are included in the fee including the tenant acquisition fee.
Which plan is better for you? It depends. If you expect low tenant turnover, for example, less than one tenant in your property every two years, you may find the ‘a la carte’ a better option. If you own a large multi-unit building, or expect greater tenant turnover, the ‘all inclusive’ may be a better way to go.
We will commit to your pricing in writing as part of our management contract. We strive to be the lowest priced property management company with the best customer service. We even offer a “Price Guarantee”: we will match any competitor’s monthly rate as long as the other fees and tenant acquisition fee are charged in the same manner as we do.
What is the initial inspection?
Whether vacant or occupied, we want to understand your property and be able to speak intelligently about it to you and your tenants in the future. We will meet you at the property if you wish at your earliest convenience to view your rental and complete the initial property inspection.
We will take photos, answer any questions you may have in person, install a rental sign if requested and place a lockbox on the door. We will also give you suggestions on how to make your property “rent ready” if it is not already in that condition.
When do we need the keys?
We require all the keys, at least two sets of them, at the initial inspection. We also recommend that you keep a set of keys as well. Once the property is leased, we will keep one set at our office. If the tenant decides to “re-key” the property for their personal security, it is done at their expense and they must provide two sets of the keys to us. We will then forward you one set. If the property is in a homeowner’s association with community features that require a key, this must be provided to the tenant as well. It is commonplace for a key to a community pool to be “do not duplicate” in which case we would collect a key fee as well.
How long does the initial appointment take?
Depending on the number of questions you may have and the size of your rental, it should take between 45 minutes and 1 hour on average. It does make things go more smoothly if you have read the management contract and this guide before the meeting.
What should you do if you don’t live in the area?
Many of our owners are out of area and even live in out of state. You can mail your keys and documentation to our main operations office at: 1251 Yorba Linda Blvd., Placentia, CA 92870. If you don’t feel comfortable mailing your keys, you may leave them with a neighbor or friend.
When do we start the marketing?
Once we have a fully executed contract, keys, and taken the photos, we are ready to go. If there is a tenant in the property, we will work out showing instructions with them. It is ideal if the property is vacant. Most prospective tenants are looking for a property 3 to 4 weeks before their lease expire or living arrangements change, so we recommend having the property on the market 3 to 4 weeks before it can be occupied by a new tenant.
What kind of marketing do we do?
We use every useful tool in the real estate marketing toolbox to find the next tenant for your property. Your property will be uploaded into the local Multiple Listing Service (MLS) and from there it goes out to thousands of websites throughout the country including Zillow, Trulia, Realtor.com and every conceivable real estate related website. We may also install a ‘for lease’ sign and a combination box for easy access.
How long will it take to get your property leased?
If a rental is priced properly, you should receive applications within the first week or two. Your tenant is not buying your property, so it just needs to be “good enough”. What does matter to prospective tenants is the price. If you searched for management companies before selecting us, price was an important factor in your decision making. The same holds true for tenants. In our market, most tenants don’t negotiate the monthly rent, so if you are asking too much, your rental may sit on the market. We have found that it is best to lower the rent and have a paying tenant paying, than asking too much and have a vacant, non-income producing rental.
How do we determine the leasing price?
We will provide a market analysis of your rental and compare your property to others on the market based on age, size and location. Our goal is to have applications within the first two weeks and have a tenant in your property with 30 days or less of the last vacancy. We suggest that if you don’t have a tenant within two weeks, you should consider lowering the asking rent.
What do we do if the property does not rent in a few weeks?
We continue to market until we find a suitable tenant. Once again, having leased hundreds of properties, if your property is getting adequate exposure through the MLS and the general public is not moving ahead with applications, it is most likely priced too high. It is critical not to ask for rent what your total monthly cost is to carry the property (mortgage, taxes, insurance, etc.), what you neighbor’s tenant may be paying or what you read on the internet. The market of supply and demand determines your rent and very little else.
What do we look for in a tenant?
We use a ‘Better Tenant System’ and look for the following: verifiable income at least 3 times the monthly rent, previous rental history, a criminal background check, and we look at their credit. We are not looking for perfect credit, but a credit history without numerous collection accounts, recent late payments, or a large number of credit cards with high limits.
Can you help select the next tenant?
We will work with you cooperatively if you wish to be involved in the tenant selection process. We do suggest that you do not meet a prospective tenant in person until you have selected that tenant. We don’t want any accusations of discrimination. Most of our owners prefer we find the best tenant and choose the most qualified applicants from the pool we receive on your property.
You have somebody who wants to rent your property, can they call us?
If you have a possible applicant, please forward their information to us. If you decide to lease to that applicant, we reduce our tenant acquisition by one half. Most of our applicants apply online and we are able to respond very quickly to all applications.
What lease contract do we use?
If a tenant does not abide by the terms of the contract, and you wish to regain possession and sue for damages, the contract we use will be critical in a court of law. We use the California Association of Realtors (CAR) lease contract, which is familiar to most every judge in every court and which, if filled out properly, is also ironclad in court. We also include an addendum created by us which provides additional terms, and states in great detail the cost to the tenant for not adhering to the terms of the lease contract.
Who signs the contract?
Either we can sign the rental contract on your behalf or you can sign the documents. Just let your Property Manager your preference. No matter who signs the document, we request you review all lease contracts and addendums and approve their content.
Why do we run a criminal background check on potential tenants?
If you lease your property to a criminal convicted of a violent crime, you could be putting not only your other tenants at risk (if a multi-unit building) you could be putting your personal finances risk as well. But recent laws make it clear you cannot deny everyone with a crime record from leasing your unit. We have to take into consideration the type of crime, how long ago it occurred, and what kind of rehabilitation they have done since the crime. It is then best to run the criminal background check at the same time as the credit check in order to deny an applicant with just cause.
What do we do for our monthly management fee?
The better question may be; what don’t we do? We handle the day to day operations of your property including, but not limited to: handling tenant issues, phone calls, emails, rent collection & accounting, tenant and owner billing, customer service, maintain owner and tenant trust accounts, receive and issue service orders, maintain and operate a full-service maintenance department, delinquent account servicing, eviction coordination, lease renewals, and ease executions. We have a legal obligation to act always in good faith on your behalf and we have a fiduciary responsibility as well to you. As Realtors, we are bound by the Code of Ethics and regulated by the California Bureau of Real Estate.
What do we do for our tenant acquisition fee?
Whether you choose ‘a la carte’ or the ‘all-inclusive’ service plan, if your rental becomes vacant, we will handle the tenant acquisition duties. We prepare the rental for the market, take photos, put it in the MLS, show the property to potential tenants, screen applicants, execute the lease contract and conduct the move-in. Our goal is to find a long-term tenant because every time a rental goes vacant you lose valuable rental income and the cost to prepare the property for market can be expensive.
Do we charge you when your property is vacant?
Never. We only earn a fee when the tenant pays as agreed. If you are not receiving any monthly income, neither are we.
Do we retain the late fee?
Half of it. Rent is due on the 1st and technically late on the 2nd. On most contracts, we issue a late fee penalty after the 5th. Our standard late fee is 5% of the gross rental amount (the state limit is 6%). Once the rental is assessed the late fee is it added to their account and will be paid first was payment is received. We retain 50% of the late fee for the extra work required by us to get the tenant to start paying.
When do you get your check (or proceeds)?
After we receive ‘good’ funds from your tenant, we will send out your physical check or send your proceeds via ACH the next day. Remember, most banks hold your tenant funds for 3 business days after receiving it to ensure the funds do not bounce. The same holds true for your funds: the bank may hold your funds, particularly if they are sent electronically, for 3 days as well. Even if we receive your tenant’s funds on the second day of the month, you may not be able to access your funds for a number of days.
What will your first check look like?
The first check you receive, particularly if we have secured a tenant on your behalf, may be the smallest one you will receive. From your first check, we withhold your reserve (usually $350), we deduct the tenant acquisition fee (as high as 35% of the first month’s rent, if applicable), the first month’s management fee and any pro-rations of rent since the tenant may not move in on the first of the month.
Should you expect the rent proceeds to pay that month’s mortgage?
It is not wise to depend on that month’s proceeds to pay for that month’s mortgage. It may be your tenant is late that month, or worse, there is a big unexpected expense we must pay for. Investors should strive to have a healthy reserve of 6 month’s mortgage payments on hand to cover emergencies, repairs, evictions and potential vacancies.
Why do we require a minimum $350 reserve?
By California Bureau of Real Estate (CalBRE) regulations, a trust account is never allowed to go into the negative. The reserve is our ‘pad’ so you have a balance on hand for us to access for repairs and recurring bills. Usually we take vendor bills and other expenses out of the monthly rental income, but if there is no rent for that month, we need funds on hand to pay your bills. This reserve account belongs to you and is returned to you when we close your account providing you have no outstanding balances.
Do we collect interest on the money held in the trust account?
No. All rent payments go directly into our broker’s trust account which by California law, is a non-interest bearing account. We do not make money or benefit in any way by keeping your rent payments any longer than necessary. Our bank does “analyze” our checking account and waives certain bank fees depending on the balances we carry.
How big a security deposit will we collect from the tenant?
The amount of the security deposit paid by the tenant is completely negotiable. For unfurnished units, the maximum allowable security deposit per California law is 2 month’s rent. For furnished units, the maximum we can request is 3 month’s rent. Our company policy is to collect a minimum of one month’s rent and then increase that amount for pets or other extenuating circumstances. The deposit is held in our broker’s trust account until the tenant moves out and the unit is inspected. If there are no damages, and the unit has only normal wear and tear, we will refund their full deposit. If there are issues, we will deduct from the security deposit at our discretion.
Who keeps the security deposit?
The contract states who keeps the security deposit, either we do on your behalf you can retain it. If you retain it and earn interest on those funds, that money must be given to the tenant once they move out. Also, if you retain the security deposit and the tenant disputes the amount deducted after the move out, you will be expected to go to small claims court should the tenant file a small claims lawsuit because you have the funds on hand. If we retain the security deposit and the tenant disputes what we deduct, we will go to small claims on your behalf to fight their suit at no additional fee.
What happens if the tenant needs to be evicted?
If the tenant is late with rent, we will post a “3 Day Notice to Quit or Pay Rent”. If the tenant has not paid at the end of the 3-day period, we will recommend the eviction of the tenant. If no additional terms have been made, the tenant has not left your property on their own volition or they have defaulted from a payment arrangement, we will forward the tenant’s file to our eviction attorney. You will pay the attorney directly for their services. The process takes about 4 to 6 weeks and we will coordinate the entire transaction, make court appearances, and attend the sheriff lock out at no additional cost to you.
What kind of statements do we send?
You will either receive a paper statement monthly if we send you a physical check for your proceeds, or an email with a link to our management software if you prefer to receive your funds electronically. We also send out a 1099 statement for tax reporting purposes. We can provide samples of our reporting.
Should you contact the tenants or check on the property during the year?
Tenants are legally entitled to “quiet enjoyment” of your property and “quiet and undisturbed” use of the rental. In effect, they become the current legal owners while in possession and you are not able to enter the property or access the lot without their consent. More importantly, you hired us so you could be “arm’s length” distance from your tenants and avoid being involved personally. Contacting your tenants defeats this goal, confuses the tenant and undermines the authority of the Property Manager. If you wish to have access to your property, please contact us.
What do you need to do to get your property rent ready?
We will give you a list of necessary repairs and improvements after our initial inspection. But the property should be freshly painted on the interior (preferably with neutral colors), windows must have coverings, a smoke alarm must be in every bedroom and a carbon monoxide alarm on each level, the water heater must be strapped to code, and of course everything must be in proper working order and in relatively good condition. The nicer your rental, the more money we may be able to get for it and the more satisfied your tenant may be.
Do we have vendors to do small repairs?
We have a sister company, Sierra Maintenance Services, that can handle small jobs on your property. We find that outside handymen pursue the biggest jobs first, and in good economic times, cherry pick their job requests. Sierra is priced competitively, can be there quickly, guarantees their work, and will always provide an estimate before commencing with any work.
Are your vendors priced competitively?
We try to use the best vendors in your area. They know we will provide them work in good economic times and bad and appreciate the volume of work we send their way. Per our contract, usually any repair over $350 requires two bids and your approval (unless an emergency), and we always to keep our owners abreast of any expense we pay on your behalf. Any vendors we use must be licensed and insured and stand by the work they perform. If you have a vendor you have used in the past and want us to use in the future, we will work with them to get approved and in our preferred vendor database. We must vet and vendor to protect you and us from litigious tenants.
Will we call you before doing any repairs?
We take service calls or online requests from tenants and qualify all repairs prior to making a trip to the property. For qualified small repairs under $350 we take of them right away without the requirement of calling you. Emergency repairs also need to be completed right away and do not require prior authorization. All cosmetic repairs or improvements to the property requested by the tenant need to be authorized by the homeowner and your will be given an estimate and you need to sign off before any work is started. Some owners want to be notified if we spend even one dollar and others just want to be contacted for repairs over $350 per the contract, please let us know your preference.
Will we work with your home warranty company?
If you have paid for a home warranty, we will work with them on the property issues they cover. It has been our experience that some home warranty companies are difficult to work with and not necessarily very responsive to the time constraints we face, so if you are considering a renewal of the warranty, we recommend saving that expense.
Do you receive receipts of every bill?
You will receive an invoice for repairs as well as an itemization as part of your monthly statement. All bills are scanned and attached to your file and may be accessed online on your owner portal. You may not receive individual receipts for paint, parts and the like because parts and supplies may come from our warehouse or service trucks.
What kind of insurance do we carry?
We have a general liability policy, errors and omissions, worker’s compensation and all state required insurance. We recommend you consult your insurance person to obtain the best coverage for your property. We ask that we be named as an additionally insured on your policy if feasible and at no additional cost to you.
Whom would you contact if you have questions about your statement?
Your Property Manager should always be first point of contact for any issues. If you are not satisfied with their response or they are unable to answer all your questions, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and one of our customer satisfaction staff will assist you.
Whom should you contact if you have questions about your property or tenant?
Your Property Manager should always be your first call or email. If you are not satisfied with their response, or wish to talk to someone higher up at the company, please email our owner,
Scott P. Brady, at email@example.com. The buck stops there.
Should you allow pets in your rental property?
It depends on the property and the situation, but in most instances, we encourage you to allow pets in your rental and by restricting them you may lessen the possibility of renting your property in a timely manner. We will increase the tenant’s security deposit, do not allow dangerous breeds (such as Pit Bulls, Rottweilers, etc.) for insurance purposes, and will screen potential pets carefully.
Can we help sell your house as well?
Progressive Property Management is a full service real estate company, and if you decide to sell, our sister company, Partners Real Estate Group, is here to assist you. If you were referred to us by a real estate agent or real estate company, we would encourage you to contact them with your real estate needs. Why call us to sell? We are familiar with your property, can easily work with your tenant and utilize all of our resources to close your transaction quickly and efficiently. Need another reason? We will credit you for all property management fees paid up to the date of closing out of our listing fee, if you choose us. We do cap that credit at 1% of the selling price and other details do apply, but suffice it to say, you will save when selling by choosing us.
Thank you for choosing Progressive Property Management, Inc., we know your investment property is a valuable asset and we hope to exceed your management expectations. If there is anything we have forgotten, please contact us.