Archives for category: Landlords

Boston’s North End Has a Noise Problem

Even if you are landlord in the most responsible, timid, and low-key neighborhood in the country, chances are you’ve had to deal with at least one set of noisy tenants. Whether it’s parties, loud exercise equipment, or even particularly raucous, ahem, intimate relations, where there are a lot of people living in close proximity, someone is bound to get to loud.

In Boston, a city councilor has taken to legislation to try to curb the decibels in one of that city’s most densely populated areas, known as the North End. Councilmember Salvatore LaMattina has proposed a city ordinance that would make landlords responsible for the loud behavior of their tenants. It seems that recent years have brought an influx of young professionals and recent college graduates to the North End who decided to bring their frat house habits with them. This has caused much dismay in this historic neighborhood where people complain of frequently being woken up 2 or 3 times per week due to noise on the street and in neighboring buildings.

According to boston.com:

LaMattina’s nuisance control ordinance, filed in late July, would levy fines as follows: for the first offense, the resident, the organizer, and any attendees of a loud party responsible for creating a public nuisance would face a $100 fine. On a second or subsequent offense within one year of the first, a $300 fine would be levied against all the above, plus the owner of the property.

This means that landlords, no matter where they themselves live or who their tenants are, will be held financially responsible for noise complaints filed against their tenants, even if it is a party and the noise is being cause by non-tenants.

As a landlord, you may have had to deal with noise complaints before, between your own tenants. But an ordinance like this is rare. After all, most landlords and property owners who rent out apartments do not live on the premises with their tenants. This makes it impossible to really know about noise issues until they become a problem.

Of course, there are a few ways to address these issues before they explode into problems and you find yourself paying fines. First, it is important to screen tenants before they sign a lease. This means more than just a credit check. Talking to past landlords can be one of the best ways to find out if a tenant is destined to be noisy since most people don’t pick up partying habits overnight. Additionally, having a property manager on site at your building can nip noise issues in the bud before they become real problems. Yes, this may mean losing out on a bit of rental income but if it saves you and your property even one night of contact with the police, it may be well worth the expense.

In the end, it is unlikely that most municipalities will enact the same kind of ordinance that is being proposed in Boston, but taking preventative measures to avoid noisy and disrespectful tenants will never be a waste of time.


It is no secret that the state of the economy in the United States has changed the way virtually everyone thinks about their money. But a new article from Bloomberg suggests that more than anyone, the spending habits of recent college graduates and other young adults have been severely impacted. Whereas previous generations quickly followed their college diplomas with a new car or even a mortgage, today this is rarely the case. Rather, young people have begun to delay or even eliminate these kinds of major purchases from their immediate future plans.

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

The fact is that college graduates and young people today have begun to expect and live with less. Their average salary is lower and they have more student loan debt than any previous generation. For many of them, big spending is just not in the cards. This generation has had to make hard decisions about whether they really need a car payment when they could ride a bike or whether they need a new refrigerator when they could get one on Craigslist, or even rent one. Buying used and spending less have become ingrained in many people’s mind. And buying a house means spending A LOT, which is scary and oftentimes impossible.

Flexibility is Key

Even as the economy begins to recover, it is still difficult to enter or re-enter the workforce. Not only does this threat of longterm unemployment mean that many renters simply do not have the capital to consider buying a home, it also means that when they find a job it may not necessarily be in the zip code, or even the state, where they currently live. This is certainly a major factor in what seems to be a generation of renters. After all, it is much easier to break the lease on an apartment, even if that means a financial penalty, than it is to sell a house. This is why the rental market will mostly likely continue to do business with members of this generation that need both the savings and the flexibility that it offers.

What This Means for Landlords

You may be wondering as a landlord or property owner, how to best go about catering to this vast, educated market, many of whom have the potential to be great tenants. In order to attract this younger generation, it may be important to make a few changes to your property and your process. First, this generation is virtually obsessed with technology. Any way that you can make your property technology-friendly, whether that is online rental applications, free WiFi by the pool, or paying rent via PayPal, will be an attractive feature. The youngest of the generation who are coming straight from college also often tend to want a sense of community, like they may have been used to at the dorms. Community areas like rec rooms or courtyards are good for fostering this kind of feeling. Finally, be amenable to the flexbility that they may need. Of course, you do not want every tenant running off for a job across the country every few months, but you can still be flexible. Being a good landlord to good tenants will see them telling their friends about you and ultimately keep your building full.

Although the economy is on the upswing, it most likely be quite a while until this “recession generation” feels stable enough to plunge into the real estate market en masse. In the meantime, property owners should make an effort to be millennial-friendly whenever possible because they are not going anywhere — except maybe their parents’ basements.

If you were to take all the different types of complaints that landlords and property managers have to deal with on a regular basis, there is no doubt that it would stretch on for miles. From noisy neighbors to weird smells to clogged pipes, there is simply a significant amount of upkeep required to, well, to keep up a rental property.

But whereas clogged pipes are problem easily solved, there are some issues that may be cause for complaint but difficult for you as a property owner (or manager) to resolve for yourself. Like noise from the outside. When you have one tenant complaining about another, it’s easy enough to review leases and have conversations to solve the problem. But when you have a nearby building install a helicopter pad, an airport reroute flight paths, or an inexplicable uptick in local sirens, it can be much more difficult to handle complaints. That’s why we’ve compiled a few tips to help you deal with those noise complaints that don’t have a simple fix.

Soundproof Fencing

One of the more recent technological developments that can help with a noisy building is a soundproof fence. These fences, while not necessarily the most aesthetically pleasing with their solid, usually black, construction, can keep out (or in!) a large percentage of noise. They are even used on construction projects, to block the sound from railways, or even for dog kennels. If your building and noise source are situated in such a way that a fence may be able to help, it is certainly worth considering.

Soundproof Windows

Having good windows with strong seals is a good idea anyway, since it can save you a lot of money on energy. An added bonus is that double paned windows that keep heat and air conditioning inside can also help to keep noise on the outside.

Go to the Source

Depending on what the source of the noise is, you may be able to talk to another property owner and see if they can’t help you to sort out the issue. Whether it is a nearby homeowner with barking dogs or a renter who tends to have parties late into the night, a conversation may be all it takes. Of course, if that doesn’t do the trick, you may have to get the police involved.

Lower the Rent

If the noise is something completely out of your control, there may be nothing you can do at all to fix it. If this is the case, you may consider lowering the rent on your vacant units and even offering a discount to existing tenants so that they don’t bolt as soon as their lease is up.

Don’t Try to Trick New Tenants

Finally, no matter what steps you end up taking in order to correct your noise situation, you shouldn’t not try to trick potential tenants by not notifying them about the problem before they sign a lease. This can lead to all sorts of much worse problems and you’ll be much better off finding a tenant that can handle the noise.

Have you ever had a problem like this at one of your rental properties?  How did you handle it?  Let us know in the comments!

The constant fluctuations of the housing market can mean many things in terms of property investment, rental rates and the life of a landlord. We know, for instance, that there is a higher percentage of renters in the United States than there has been in quite sometime. But what we haven’t addressed is that there are also more landlords. Whether you have found yourself in a property investment deal that didn’t go quite as planned or you’ve moved to another house while your old property has sat on the market for far too long, you yourself may have already become a landlord due to lack of options. The life of a landlord can be financially rewarding, but it can also be complex and draining with many rules, laws and advice to wade through. In this post, we want to distill a few of the more important tips that will lead to a better life for both you and your tenants.
1. Have a Knowledgeable Attorney On Speed Dial

And we don’t mean your friend from high school who now works in criminal law or your neighbor who used to be a paralegal. You should find an attorney who specializes and it intimately familiar with landlord/tenant law and the evictions process. No one wants to think about evictions when you don’t even have a tenant yet, but the fact is that at some point you will have to deal with the process. If you develop a good relationship with an attorney sooner rather than later, it can save you a lot of headache and maybe a few bucks in the future. A good attorney can also help you by reviewing your lease agreement to make sure there aren’t any glaring errors or problems.

2. Consider Professional Property Management

It may seem like an expensive prospect, but the fact is that unless you live next door and can dedicate a significant amount of your time to dealing with your tenants, you will be much better off having the property managed professionally. A trusted manager can fix problems as they arise, collect rents and develop a professional relationship with your tenants so that you can go on living your life without the constant threat of a phone call with and emergency plumbing situation.

3. Set Expectations Right Away

It’s evident from this blog post and the ensuing comments that most landlords agree it’s important to set your expectations up front and not back down, even if it makes you uncomfortable at first. As a landlord, it is important to remember that while you may respect and even like your tenants, you are not friends with them. Insist that they pay their rent in full, on time, from the very beginning. This makes it less likely that they will offer up excuses in the future. You’ve become a landlord to recoup an investment, one way or another, and you won’t be able to do that unless you actually get rent.

4. Find a Good Apartment Application

Having an application system in place before you even put out a yard sign for your vacancy will make your rental process go more smoothly. Of course, we may be a little biased, be we find that an online rental application is much simpler to use than a paper form. You can collect all the information you need – including references, driver’s license number, credit check approval and a new tenant’s contact information – and keep it safely in one place online for future reference. Even if you don’t choose to go online with the process, make sure you have an application ready as soon as tenants start calling.

5. Choose Tenants Wisely

If you’re desperate to start making income from your property, you may want to take the first person who shows an interest, but that is not the best idea. Screen your tenants, run a credit check on your tenants, interview your tenants, call your tenants’ landlords. Make sure they are trustworthy people who are not apt to destroy your property and run off in the middle of the night without paying rent.

Of course, being a landlord is not as simple as five easy tips, but keeping these in mind as you venture into the world of landlord-hood should make your new role a little easier.

Pets are a tricky and sometimes controversial subject. We all know that there are those people who could never live without a warm, furry animal to nuzzle. But there are also those people who are no fan of fur, warmth, nuzzles or any of the other things that come along with having a live animal in your home. For landlords and property owners, there are a whole host of other issues that come along with pets. You may love animals personally, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that you want someone else’s pets causing damage to your rental units, making a racket that bothers your current tenants or otherwise doing the things that animals do.  So what options do you have for renting to tenants with pets?

Ban Pets Outright

Whether it’s due to previous bad experiences or negative expectations, many landlords do not allow pets, end of story. While it’s your right to do that (pet owners are not a protected class of citizens against who you may not discriminate) there are some drawbacks to this solution.

First, it eliminates a big swath of the renting population, meaning you could have a harder time filling vacancies. But furthermore, studies have actually shown that  landlords who allow pets make more money and tenants with pets stay in their rental units longer. Finally, landlords who allow pets are actually able to charge more than those who do not, as well as save money on advertising all because units are simply easier to rent when they allow pets. Basically, current property owners who are having trouble filling vacancies may want to consider changing their pet policies

Filter by Type, Size and Even Breed…

But allowing pets to rent units doesn’t have to mean that you let every renter’s menagerie move in without question. Instead, decide what type of pets would be suitable for your unit and for your building and outline these restrictions as soon as you post an ad for your vacancy. Maybe you’re renting small and quiet places that would be well suited to a cat or two, but wouldn’t really fit a Rottweiler, you can decide to allow cats and not dogs. But maybe you’re renting out a condo with a yard in a family neighborhood and a dog would fit right in, then consider allowing dogs. Many landlords also choose to institute weight limits for apartments so certainly dogs may be eligible while others are not.

…or Just Screen For Yourself

An even more effective strategy for filtering out pets is judging the pet for yourself rather than making strict requirement right off the bat. Meet your potential tenant first and then ask to meet their pet before making your final decision. Two dogs may look exactly the same but one is well-mannered and clearly trained while the other is rambunctious and out of control, but you won’t know which is which unless you meet them.

Be Specific in Your Lease

Make sure your pet policy is clear in your lease. Some tenants may move in without a pet and decide to get one while they are staying with you. If there is no clause in your lease, you may have no recourse for dealing with this new pet, so be sure to be clear.

Collect a Pet Deposit

Even if you love animals and your tenants have only the best behaved tenants, it is true that pets can cause damage. This is exactly why the vast majority of pet-friendly rental units require a pet deposit that is separate from the security deposit. How much you want to charge should depend on the overall cost of the apartment and the fixtures, carpet, etc. that may become damaged. This deposit will protect you in the event you need to do pet-related repairs and most pet owners are more than happy to pay it.

Overall, the issue at hand isn’t really whether or not you like animals, it’s a matter of responsibility and that’s the most important quality in any desirable tenant, whether they have a dog or a cockatoo or a cactus. When you screen your tenants and their pets appropriately, you can quickly being to reap the benefits of being pet-friendly.

It’s no secret to readers of this blog or basically anyone that’s picked up a newspaper in the last 10 years, that the housing market we’re currently facing in the U.S. is virtually unprecedented.  After the housing collapse, many Americans found themselves forced to move out of foreclosed upon homes and, even as the market improves, with credit that is simply not good enough to buy a new home.  This has lead, of course, to a boom in the rental market, which has in turn lead to some surprising investment moves by companies who want to take advantage of this climate.

For instance, a recent article in the New York Times describes Waypoint Real Estate Group, who has a number of offices and inspectors with the sole focus of buying homes that are in foreclosure, fixing them up and marketing them as rental properties.  But Waypoint isn’t doing this in the way that an individual would go about becoming a landlord.  Instead, they’re purchasing homes on a massive scale, with their current operation snapping up five to seven homes every day, mainly through bank auctions.  The homes are bought only after putting some numbers into their proprietary algorithm to determine if the place is actually worth the investment at which point they are bid on and renovated to bring them up to a rentable state.  Waypoint even offers current occupants, the victims of foreclosure, the opportunity to stay in the house and rent it from them once the renovations are complete.

Real Estate experts and economist have mixed feelings about the future of this kind of project, but the fact remains that Waypoint is committed to seeing returns on these properties.  Regardless of what this may mean for local communities (where it could see property values go up initially as fewer homes stand vacant), it does mean that there are going to be a number of new property managers and landlords coming into the game with the aim of earning around an 8% return on their investment in just the first year.

While we can’t say for certain yet whether this influx of new rental property will be a good or bad thing, we can say that Waypoint and other companies like them are going to need to go beyond a real estate estimating system once they become landlords.  Having a great rental property, with new appliances and attractive landscaping, is just one piece of the puzzle.  What they’ll need next is an effective and efficient way to manage the rental applications and leases at all of those properties.  The company plans to buy between 10,000 and 15,000 new properties by the end of next year and must have a plan in place for managing them once all the renovations are complete.  An online rental application coupled with an online leasing system, like that offered oh-so-awesomely by the team here at Rocket Lease, would be a great start for Waypoint and their brethren.  We know that Rocket Lease is a great tool for an individual landlord, but there’s no reason that it can’t help out the real estate fat cats, too!  By allowing themselves to easily track their rental applications and have all their leases in one easy to access place, these companies will be able to better serve their tenants and the communities where their properties exist.

Who You Gonna Call? A Lawyer!

There are a lot of things you want to avoid as a landlord, like delinquent renters, unnecessary paperwork and shifty contractors.  But chief among these for most property owners is a law suit.  Whether you’re being sued for rental discrimination or unlawful eviction, you do not want to be faced with your recent tenants in a courtroom, no matter what the circumstances.

So you can imagine how thrilled a Toms River, New Jersey landlord was to find out he was being sued by a couple that had moved out of his rental home after only a week.  Turns out they thought they should get their security deposit back in full because the landlord didn’t tell them that the house was haunted.

After a week of what the couple has described as eerie noises, flickering lights and slamming doors, Jose Chincilla and his fiancée Michele Callan called in a paranormal expert to diagnose the house as haunted.  The ghost busters (not their technical name, I’m sure) at the Shore Paranormal Research Society decided that the house was indeed haunted and the couple moved out immediately.  You can visit the society’s website to see a video of their highly inconclusive evidence of paranormal activity (which is different from an all out haunting, apparently).

As you might expect, the landlord has a pretty different opinion about the situation.  He is countersuing the couple because he believes what actually scared them away was the prospect of paying their rent every month and the ghost story is just an excuse to break their lease and still get their deposit back.

A tenant certainly has a right to know about the quirks of a unit before they move in, but it’s doubtful that landlords are going to start including a haunting clause in their leases.

What would you do if your tenant told you that your property was haunted?  Would you give the deposit back?