Archives for category: Tips for Landlords

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!

Here on the Rocket Lease blog, we’ve already devoted a little bit of time talking about the overall economy and its effects on the rental market.  But new figures that were recently released by Reis show that the market for apartment rentals may be even more robust that originally thought.  In fact, MarketWatch is predicting that the apartment vacancy rate will fall to 4.6% nationwide by the end of next year.  Up to now, occupancy rates like these have been largely unheard of except in the most competitive markets.  Today, in the notoriously competitive rental market that is New York City, vacancies have fallen this year to a paltry 2.4%.

As with any market trend, there are a lot of factors that contribute to numbers like these.  But probably the most important factor in today’s rental market is the fact that the housing market and the individual finances of most US citizens have simply not recovered to the point where homeownership is once again an option.  In fact, according to an informal survey conducted by apartments.com, an astonishing 33% of people who are looking for rentals on that site are former homeowners.  Clearly, when people are unable to afford the purchase or upkeep of their own home, they will most often find themselves turning to the rental market.

But what do these low vacancy rates mean for property owners and landlords?  Obviously, this kind of rental market – one that works strongly in favor of the landlords – can be a boon to property owners.  Indeed, one of the worst scenarios for a landlord is to find themselves with many vacancies which represent a loss of potential income.  However, that doesn’t mean that in a landlord’s market is a time to rest on your laurels and let the rental applications take care of themselves.  In fact, as the rental market becomes more competitive, it will be more of a challenge and necessity to find the very best tenants among the applicants.  Using an online  rental application system, of course, can be helpful in keeping track of all the applicants that come in and can also insist in quickly sorting and denying applications from those who are not qualified.  This can save you a tremendous amount of time that will be precious when trying to rent an apartment in a competitive market.

Furthermore, during these booming times, it may be a good idea to consider making improvements to your property.  Since you will no doubt have low vacancy rates and therefore be comfortably collecting monthly rents, using this income to make your building more attractive can help to prepare you for the times when business is not quite so quick.  Sure, with a 4% vacancy rate you may not have to offer the best amenities or even the best prices in order to attract tenants.  However, there will come a time when vacancy rates go back up and if you have done your due diligence in upkeep and improvement during the good times, you will more easily be able to weather the bad.

There are many good reasons that you have a tenant sign a lease before allowing them to move in to your rental property.  Surely you have invested a great deal of time and money into your property and you want to protect that investment.  Having a lease with your tenants means making sure you are protected financially in the case of damage to your property but it also means that you are protected if your tenant decides to move out early, leaving you with a vacancy before their lease is up.

Have a tenant break a lease can be frustrating.  You expended effort in finding the right tenant for your vacancy, possibly even turning people away before choosing who you would allow to move in and then that person or family moves out before the term of their lease is up, leaving you back at square one!  The situation can be made even more frustrating since you may actually feel a great deal of sympathy for the tenant who needs to move out.  He or she may have managed to purchase property of their own or may have found a job in another state or may find themselves getting married and moving in with their new spouse.  All of these are joyous occasions and you may feel happy for them even though you are the one facing the consequences of their choices.

But rest assured, as a landlord, you have rights when your tenants break their lease in this manner and you should absolutely exercise them without apology.  When a tenant signs a lease, usually for a year long term, he is entering into a legally binding contract that says he will pay an agreed upon rent in exchange for permission to occupy your property for that entire term.  Just because a tenant decides or is forced to move out before that term is up does not mean the lease simply vanishes and is unenforceable.  Instead, you have the right to insist that your tenant either continue to pay rent for the remainder of the lease, or continue to pay rent until which point he finds a suitable subletter to finish out the duration of the lease.

As a landlord, you may also choose to offer the option of a buyout, which means agreeing on a price for which you will release your tenant from his or her lease agreement.  Be sure to have the document in writing so that there is no confusion in the future.

Making these demands for payment does not make you mean or unreasonable.  These are your rights as a property owner.  If you do plan to demand payment from your tenants who are breaking their lease, be sure to have an attorney on hand in case there is any refusal or difficulties in obtaining your payments.

The messy situation that is a messy lease is a great reason to have  a clear and understandable lease signed by each and every tenant that lays out these terms without question.  Since you may need to consult the lease when your tenants tell you they are moving out, it is helpful to always have a copy at the ready.  There’s no easier way to do this then to use an online apartment lease, through a system like Rocket Lease.  Since the entire lease process is online, including an online signature feature, you won’t have to go searching through overstuffed files or risk a deadly papercut.  Just click into your Rocket Lease dashboard and find out exactly what your tenants agreed to with no questions.