Blog Posts in Category: Property Management

09/12/2018

Rent Range Values for 2018 Updates

Noticeably with recent research, rents have been down in Berkeley and Oakland. With vacancies and aggressive marketing tactics people still can’t afford to live in the newly built apartments/ lofts that have been sprouting up across the East Bay. After rents have been increasing over recent years, they started to decline in June and have dropped ever since. Two industry groups – Apartment List and Zumper – are reporting that median rents in Berkeley fell anywhere from 3.8% to 15.9% in 2017, and dropped from 10.9% to a shocking 15% in Oakland. In contrast to those reports, rents went up in 8 of the largest 10 cities including Concord, Walnut Creek and Pleasant Hill, and El Cerrito, according to Zillow. Per an article from Zillow, Sam Sorokin, a Manager of about 1,000 apartments in Berkeley and Oakland confirmed the industry reports of rents dropping, although believed the decline was a mere 5.8%. He calculated that number by looking at people who first started renting in August 2016 and moved out in August 2017. His company ultimately had to lower rents to attract tenants. Something’s up,” said Sorokin. “All the economic indicators are great: strong job market, good wages, we’re not in a recession. Things just aren’t renting for as much.”“Sorokin said he thinks the drop in rents reflects what he and other building advocates have long been saying: constructing more housing creates more competition, which lowers rents.”“In 2017, a tipping point has happened,” said Sorokin. “The new construction has caused the rents to decline. There is no other reason I can think of.” (www.berkeleyside.com) Most of the newer apartments are aimed toward upper-income residents. They offer amenities like bamboo floors, stainless steel appliances, views, decks and in-house or nearby gyms. The recent complexes that have been completed in Berkeley in the past three years include: The Dwight and Garden Village (both on Dwight Way) Stonefire Apartments on Milvia Street, Addison Arts and Avalon Berkeley (both on Addison Street), The Higby on San Pablo Avenue, Berkeley Apartments-Touriel and the Aquatic (both on University Avenue) and Varsity Berkeley on Durant Avenue. According to the article on www.berkeleyside.com, “When these upscale complexes were first completed the apartments were snapped up because there was a pent-up demand for newer units”, said Sorokin. Many foreign students at UC Berkeley, whose parents could afford to pay high rents, moved in.” “These people paying high tuition – their parents are loaded,” said Sorokin. “They don’t want to live in some funky, ’60s style apartment. They want nice places.” But now that so many of these units are available, the demand has dropped, he said. Units are sitting empty. So some property managers are offering a month’s free rent or are dropping prices to lure new tenants. Developers are feeling the pressure to fill buildings, too. They want to convert their more expensive construction loans to traditional bank loans, and that cannot happen until a complex is filled, he said. Lowered rents reflect those pressures. (www.berkeleyside.com)   more...

05/30/2018

What Makes New Oakland Buyout Ordinance so Important?

The Oakland City Council has passed the Tenant Move Out Agreement Ordinance (“Ordinance”.) This new law significantly changes the way landlords can approach and buy out tenants residing in their rental units. It is important to note that the Ordinance applies to all rental units in Oakland, including units otherwise exempt from rent or eviction controls, like single family homes and new construction. The only exemption is for publicly-owned and operated housing units, which typically operate under different tenancy laws anyways. The law will also not be applicable to situations where there is no “tenancy”, such as giving money to a family member to move out, or paying a “squatter” to vacate property they have taken over. The Ordinance is effective May 1, 2018.   Before Buyout   Disclosure Form   Landlords may no longer offer buyouts to tenants informally or on the spot. Landlords must undertake a robust disclosure process and register with Oakland’s Rent Adjustment Program (RAP) before making any buyout offer. Even accidentally violating the Ordinance can incur penalties of at least $500 per violation, in addition to any violations of the overlapping Tenant Protection Ordinance. Compliance with the Ordinance requires service on the tenant of a form developed by the RAP. The Disclosure Form is currently available on the RAP website. This Disclosure Form enumerates an extensive list of tenants’ rights in buyout negotiations, such as: The tenant can refuse to negotiate a buyout. The tenant may rescind the buyout (change their mind) up to 25 days after signing the agreement (but cannot rescind once they actually move out.) The tenant may be entitled to the relocation payments. The landlord is required to keep careful records of the Disclosure Form. Once executed by the landlord, the form must be provided to the tenant within 3 days, with proof of service. Copies of each form and the corresponding proof of service must be retained in the landlord’s records for at least 5 years. It will be convenient for many landlords to issue this form upon the commencement of a tenancy, as part of the rental agreement. Please note that although the form prepared by the RAP contains a space for the tenant to sign to confirm receipt, this signature appears to be for record keeping purposes only. The landlord’s obligation to disclose is complete when this form is delivered to the tenant, regardless if it is accepted – hence the landlord’s obligation to keep a record of service for 5 years.   Certification Form   In addition to disclosure to the tenant prior to negotiations, the landlord must also register with the RAP by filing a Certification Form. This form includes the owner’s name and contact information, the unit which may be subject to buyout negotiations, the date that the tenant in the unit received the Disclosure Form, and the dates of any other move out agreements “with any current or prior tenants at the property” “completed to the best of the owner’s recollection and knowledge.” The Certification Form is also available on the RAP website. There appears to be no limit to how far back in time landlords must go when reporting prior buyout negotiations. It is also unclear what the penalty might be if the landlord incorrectly identifies or omits a buyout negotiation with a current or prior tenant, but the Ordinance does authorize the City Attorney to file civil actions against landlords who violate any provision of the Ordinance. Landlords should note that the registration information collected pursuant to the Ordinance may be released, published, or otherwise made publicly available, which may or may not have personal information redacted. The City explicitly does not guarantee that personal or private information will not be released, including information contained within the buyout agreements themselves. Landlords should consider carefully what personal or business information they disclose on any papers filed with the City.   During Buyout   Formation   The Ordinance provides several steps to standardize buyout agreements. First, the Ordinance requires all agreements be in writing, and in Spanish or Chinese if the tenant is proficient in those languages rather than English. In the case of a rental agreement not in English, the buyout agreement would be in the language of the rental agreement. If the buyout agreement is in multiple languages, all copies should be presented to the tenant at the same time, rather than a belated translation afterward. When signed, a copy of the agreement is to be given to “each” tenant “immediately” following execution. It is unclear what giving a copy “immediately” means, especially when there may be multiple tenants involved in the buyout, but landlords may wish to arrange the signing of the agreement in a place where a copy machine is available, with all tenants present, so that there is minimal delay. Landlords are required to create and retain a proof of service of this executed copy of the agreement for an unspecified period of time. Second, the Ordinance requires certain recitals of tenants’ rights verbatim from the Ordinance, which generally correspond to the disclosures required before the buyout negotiations. This language is to be in 14 point font above the tenant’s signature, although it would likely fill at least an entire page all by itself. See Sections 8.22.740.B.1-6 of the Oakland Municipal Code, available at the RAP website, for the precise language to use. Third, the Ordinance requires that agreements “must be for greater than the amount of the relocation payments to which the tenant may be entitled under Oakland, state, or federal law.” This appears to impose some kind of floor on the value paid under the Ordinance, but this vague language is unclear on what the floor would be. As of the date of this article, relocation payments are required for landlords who evict tenants to move into the unit (owner move-in), when tenants are displaced to remediate code violations, following condo conversions, or when the property is being removed from the rental market under the Ellis Act. However, because a buyout may occur without (or instead of) any of those circumstances, it is uncertain if those require payments are implicated by this Ordinance. Landlords are therefore recommended to pay at least 1 cent more than the amounts enumerated in the Uniform Relocation Ordinance to avoid a potential violation.   Rescission   Under the Ordinance, tenants have an absolute right to rescind an agreement after they sign it. By default, tenants may rescind up to 25 days after signing. However, they can agree to reduce the rescission period to 15 days. To rescind, the tenant must notify the landlord in writing, and if there are multiple tenants, all tenants must agree. Mailed rescissions are effective if they are postmarked on or before the last day of the rescission period, and all money paid under the buyout must be refunded to the landlord. If the tenant determines that the buyout agreement is defective in some way under the Ordinance, the rescission period is extended to six months. In the written notice of rescission, the tenant must explain the defects in the agreement. After receiving notice, the landlord has 5 days to “offer the unit back to the tenant or respond with reasons why the Move Out Agreement may not be rescinded.” However, the Ordinance also states that a tenant may not rescind a buyout after they move out, even if the buyout was defective. The contradiction between the landlord’s stated obligation to offer the unit back to the tenant after rescission, and the tenant’s inability to claim rescission after vacating has no clear answer and may have to be resolved through further regulations or litigation. Since tenants still have civil remedies available in the case of vacating following a defective buyout agreement, landlords should consult with an attorney before allowing a tenant back into the unit following vacancy and rescission.   After Buyout   After an agreement is negotiated and completed, the landlord must file the buyout agreement with the RAP between 25-45 days. This means the landlord must wait the full statutory rescission period (25 days), and then has 20 days to file the agreement (45 days total). Landlords should mark their calendars and set a reminder to avoid missing this deadline, and remember that the information contained in the agreements may become public at a future date. Rescinded agreements are not filed with the RAP and may be discarded. However, the fact that buyout negotiations occurred in that unit must be disclosed on any certification form filed with the RAP.   Enforcement   Penalties for violating the Ordinance are steep. The City is empowered to levy fines and file civil suits against landlords who violate the Ordinance, even if no tenant complains. If a tenant does have a complaint for a landlord violating the Ordinance, the landlord is liable for any actual damages to the tenant, or $500, whichever is greater. If the landlord “willfully” violated the Ordinance, then the penalty is triple actual damages, or $1,000, whichever is greater. Elderly or disabled tenants may always claim triple actual damages, or $1,000 or $1,500 minimum damages for each non-willful or willful violation, respectively. Catastrophically ill tenants are entitled to even more, with triple actual damages, or $1,500 or $2,000 for each non-willful or willful violation, whichever is greater. If the landlord wishes to challenge a tenant’s claim of protected status and enhanced penalties, the landlord can challenge that status using the same procedure as for just cause evictions, and may also raise the issue in a resulting civil proceeding.   Other Provisions   As stated in the disclosure form provided to tenants, landlords should be aware that offering more than one buyout to the same tenant within six months is considered harassment under the Tenant Protection Ordinance, with concordant penalties. Landlords are prohibited from retaliating against tenants who refuse a buyout. If a landlord is considering offering a buyout before issuing a termination notice, expect a retaliation defense if the tenant refuses to vacate following the notice. The Ordinance is somewhat flexible when it comes to landlord/tenant communications and forms of notice. In particular, use of email is acceptable, but only if both sides agree. Landlords who favor electronic communications should consider consent to email as a term to include in rental agreements. Without any agreement, notices served under the ordinance must by registered, first class mail.   Conclusion   As of May 1, 2018, buyout negotiations in Oakland are now nearly as heavily regulated as rent increases or evictions. The RAP is involved both before and after each and every buyout, and all buyouts are now a matter of public record, including any buyouts which preceded the ordinance. All landlords in the city should immediately create a record of their past buyouts, and create an organized file for all the necessary proofs of service. It is clear from the content of the Ordinance that the City and the RAP do not want landlords negotiating buyouts with their tenants. All of the responsibilities for deadlines and disclosures rest on landlords, who risk stiff penalties for even accidental violations. Landlords should consult with an attorney prior to any buyout negotiations to evaluate whether the landlord has fully disclosed, certified, and complied with the Ordinance.     more...

04/04/2018

How to Keep a Competitive Edge in Rental Market

The surplus in rental units in the Bay Area is growing, and it’s more important than ever to keep your unit the cream of the crop when leasing. In the past few years, the Bay Area rental market has been flourishing. With new companies opening and job seekers coming all over the world, it used to be easier to quickly rent out vacant units. However, there has been a trending shift lately. Companies and start-ups are finding alternative cities to plant their roots and places with less expensive leases. And the jobs are going with them. So what does this mean for homeowners with vacancies? With Bay Area rents at an all time high, we could expect rental rates to cool off in the future. The way things are going, and with the current quality of vacant units, there is a surplus of rental units. As property managers, we notice that rental unit competition is getting stiffer. As much as homeowners want to rent out their unit, so do the homeowners next door and down the street. On top of this, in order to stay ahead of the competition, vacant units are increasingly getting full remodels in bathrooms, kitchens and even curb appeal. Here are a few ways to keep your property’s competitive edge in the market and get the most returns on your investment. Bathroom The bathroom is a place of cleanliness, and keeping it simple and clean can help stir a potential tenant’s decision to rent. The good news is you don’t have to break the bank when doing a bathroom remodel. For one, keeping the plumbing where it already saves you a couple thousand dollars. Instead of replacing a whole toilet, replacing the toilet seat and cover can save hundreds of dollars. Lighting also makes a big difference, especially those around vanity mirrors. In addition, a new coat of paint can turn things around nicely as well to give the feeling of novelty. Fans and ventilation upkeep is also important as this helps prevent mold growth. Faucets, countertops, tubs/showers, cabinetry, and flooring are the more costly projects but can make a huge difference when getting a renter. The least that can be done is making sure these amenities are clean. Homeadvisor has a helpful overview guide on costs   Kitchen The most common renovation requests we get in the kitchen are gas/stove range, refrigerator, and cabinetry work. If these appliances were ordered and installed not too long ago, one of the best options is to do a deep clean to give that novel feeling. If we’re talking about full renovations, much of the costs will come from designing, installation, and appliances. Here’s a helpful guide for overview costs Curb Appeal They say you can’t judge a book by its cover, but seeing a well-kept curb appeal can make a huge difference. If you really want to keep a competitive edge in the rental market, make the statement with updated yard and landscaping. Again, you don’t have to break the bank; using low-maintenance plants along with native plants can help keep prospective tenants. Lease Term Flexibility As you know, leases are commonly drawn up as a 1-year deal. However, striking up a different deal may win a prospective tenant over. One popular option we are seeing is a 2-year lease with guaranteed no annual rent increase the following year. Not to mention giving a concession such as half or a whole month off of rent is another common tactic to find tenants. Pet Although owners have a right to not allow pets, this option is becoming more common. We understand that pets may cause some damage to the property, which is why pet deposits exist. Keeping this option open will help bring in a different set of potential tenants.   Copyright © 2017 Advent Properties, Inc.   more...

02/09/2018

What Homeowners Should Know About Tax Reform

Remember that Tax Cuts and Jobs Act that was put into law in December 2017? We sure do, and there were a couple things we need to share about it. As a summary, the new law is a reform for individuals and businesses, by lowering many taxes paid in some income brackets. There were also so changes in the Real Estate industry, which is summarized in the infographic below.   Copyright © 2017 Advent Properties, Inc. Privacy Policy By Okralabs, NYC 1600 MacArthur Blvd. Oakland, CA 94602 Tel - +510.250.7918 Fax - +800.507.6593
150 Post Street, Suite 600, San Francisco, CA 94108 Tel - +415.347.5658 Fax - +800.507.6593   more...

11/28/2017

How to Get your Security Deposit Back

It's hard to imagine where to even begin when moving out your home. Between the yes and no questions of "Do I reallllly need this?" and "I forgot I even had this", one question you may ask is "How do I get my Security Deposit back?". It's a significant and expensive question that has crossed the mind. After all, a pretty penny went towards the security deposit; why not try to get most of it back? Part of the series of common maintenance items anyone can do, we've created a list of tasks that can help maximize returning your deposit. We understand that it can be overwhelming at times, so a steady pace and the right tools can make anything achievable   KITCHEN Clean refrigerator, shelves, crisper, under crisper and underfoot guard. Clean and defrost freezer. Clean Cabinet Doors Inside and Out Clean tiles and faucet fixtures. Clean floor (including under the refrigerator and stove). Check and clean garbage disposal (if applicable). Clean stove, hood, vent, and filter (all should be grease free). Clean all counter tops. LIVING ROOM, DINING ROOM, BEDROOMS, CLOSET, AND HALLWAYS Vacuum carpet, including edges. Shampoo the carpets if necessary. Carpets are preferably cleaned professionally to avoid damage. Clean baseboards and woodwork throughout the unit. Clean all blinds. Clean windows and windowsills (inside and out wherever possible). Clean and vacuum sliding window tracks. Clean air conditioner BATHROOMS Clean medicine cabinet out completely Clean mirrors Clean window and windowsill Clean all tile Clean floor Clean Bathtub, Shower, shower doors Clean all drawer/cabinets & vanity Clean hardware on faucets/shower Clean toilet inside & Out including enclosed base FIXTURES Clean ceiling fan blades Light cover Outlet Covers need to be installed GARAGE AND PARKING STALLS Stain-free from any car oil GARBAGE AND DEBRIS Remove and dispose of any debris.     more...

10/24/2017

10 Common Repairs You Need to Remember

Owning a home means performing repairs – it’s part and parcel of the job. We’ve gathered a list of 10 typical repairs that you’ll want to remember if you’re looking to keep your property in top shape. Tackle That Toilet Don’t automatically blame the water pressure. If your toilet isn’t flushing up to your standards, it’s almost certainly sediment and calcium clogging the holes under the rim. You can fix this by scrubbing the area with a stiff-bristled brush. Paint Has Power For effects large and small, you can’t beat a simple paint job. Keep in mind, however, that when you haul out your brushes and rollers, sloppy paint jobs are as detrimental as sharp ones are beneficial. Good preparation – removal of fixtures or hardware that may impede your paint job, clean walls, and masking built-ins, baseboards, and moldings – is key. Give Grout New Life It happens: good grout goes bad. Take heart: using a grout-removal attachment on a rotary tool can help you remove all the grout from a shower in just a few hours. Replacing it with new color-coordinated grout can offer new life in place of that old look. Count on Caulk That sealant known as caulk is a heroic protector of floors and walls – but over the years it can deteriorate or discolor, exposing your home to the perils of moisture and mold. It’s time to install new stuff – but make sure that you completely remove the old caulk first or the new bead won’t stick. As with painting, preparation here is particularly important. Those Darn Doors Squeaking? Sticking? Don’t worry – fixing crazy-making doors can be made easy with a rotary tool and the correct attachment. If your door is sticking, use a Dremel XPR to shave the edge; if it’s squeaking, rub petroleum jelly on the hinges. Fix That Faucet The average home wastes a jaw-dropping 11,000 gallons of water each year due to drips and leaks, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. You can start the repair process by simply shutting off the faucet’s water supply – the shutoff valve is never far – and then determine your type of faucet. Compression-style faucets are most common, but keep in mind that repair procedures will differ depending on your specific brand. Shore Up Water Heaters Leaking water heaters can usually be traced to rusting at the bottom; since there is no efficient repair for this, you’ll need to replace the unit. Consider doing so with a newer, more energy-efficient model. Care for Climate Control No one wants their air conditioning conking out in the middle of summer, or their heating system faltering in the dead of winter. Before weather becomes extreme, be certain that your climate control is working properly – or stock up on fans, blankets, and patience. Don’t Dither with the Disposal Keep garbage disposals in good condition by running cold water while in use in order to move the waste down the drain; this will help grease and fats harden and congeal. Since hot water does just the opposite, avoid using it. Refine Your Floorboards It makes sense that what’s underfoot is going to get scratched. You can handle light scratches with steel wool, but break out the sandpaper for the bigger jobs.   more...

09/12/2017

13 Things You Didn't Know About Apartment Hunting

Apartment hunting shouldn’t be painful. With that in mind, we at Advent have pulled together a few under-the-radar suggestions to make the process go that much more smoothly: Maintain good communication with leasing agents. This is a critical part of working together as a team, keeping everyone updated, and ensuring everyone is on the same page during the leasing process. Read. Don’t simply skim the rental ad or lease agreement – it contains information that will affect you in the future. Instead, do your due diligence in making sure that the unit provides exactly what you’re seeking, whether that’s laundry facilities or a pet-friendly policy. Once you sign the lease, make sure to read all the details, including those on utilities and addendums. Know your Fair Housing laws. Understand that these hold all real estate services to a strict policy so that everyone is treated equitably. Take pictures to jog your memory. There may be details you will either miss or forget. Pictures help. Measure the unit if you’re seriously considering it. That way you’ll know for sure whether your favorite velour couch will fit through the door. Don’t hesitate if you want to apply. Rental applications are reviewed on a first-come, first-served basis – but remember to physically tour the unit before starting the process. Check for cellular service. This is an overlooked but important item. Do you really want to pace around your apartment dropping calls every five minutes? Price and location are your two major factors when it comes to narrowing the search. These are biggies. If you don’t know that, you should. As you’re narrowing your search, also consider the management company or owner as well as specific amenities you’re seeking. Be realistic. Sunken fire pits and concierge service aren’t guaranteed, but if you look carefully, you’ll get what you need. Pay attention to fees. They’re not just put in the lease for kicks. You’ll have to pay them. Understand community rules and lease-termination policies. This can save a lot of heartache, conflict, and possible court fees down the road. If you may consider subletting in the future, make sure you can do it. See above. This too will save you some heartache and a possible conflict with your landlord or management company. Finally, check your unit for pre-existing damage when you move in. You’ll have to sign off on the move-in condition. Be sure you understand what it is so that you won’t wind up paying for someone else’s damages down the road.   more...

09/12/2017

How to Update and Retain Classic Charm

Buying property in the Bay Area often means you’re getting a place with wonderful old-school charm – but how do you keep that alive when giving the home a contemporary revamp? It’s an endeavor that may take some balance and forethought, but rest assured it can be done. Here are a few things to keep in mind throughout the process. Know What You’re Getting Into You’re not buying a brand-new tract house. Living in a period home means learning to accept the quirks that come along with the charm. If your must-haves include flawless climate control or perfectly level floors, you may be out of luck. Renovations can do a lot, but they’re not a cure-all or a time machine. In other words: be realistic. You didn’t buy new. You’re not getting new. Work with what you have. Pick the Right People Restoring an older home is part art, part science, and you need someone who can understand and harness that. Do your research before settling on any particular contractor and be sure to meet with potential candidates to ensure that you’re comfortable with them and their style. Additionally, talk to people who have experience updating older homes. They’ll have specialized knowledge that can help make the process as smooth as possible. Finally, work with people who share your goal for the home. You don’t want to butt heads with the person you hire. Start Small, Stay Smart If you keep a reasonable scope of work from the beginning, you’re less likely to get overwhelmed by renovations. This is particularly important if you’re on a budget – and really, who isn’t to some degree? Start with a reasonable expectation of renovation – and consider buying smaller as well, a decision that will in turn give you fewer ground to cover. You’ll also want to consider resale value when running your numbers. Be careful not to overspend in ways that won’t increase the return on your investment. Some Quirks are Your Friend You’re not going to make your home totally modern – that’s not why you bought it. Chances are you like many of its quirks, so do yourself a favor and embrace even the ones that might prove annoying time and again. It’s your property. If you’re going to live with it, you should like it.   more...

09/12/2017

Why Your Home's Era Matters

As a property owner, you should know that maintenance is not a one-size-fits-all endeavor. Rather, your home’s era and style dictate what you’ll need to do to keep it in top shape. Let’s look at a few different types of home design and the specific property-maintenance tips that accompany them. Tudor While the Tudor style first developed centuries ago, its modern usage with reference to home architecture came into play in the 19th century through a combination of late Gothic and Elizabethan elements in addition to Tudor-type details. It’s important to remember that these homes – often timber-framed – can be prone to decay. This means preventative maintenance is the name of the game. Potential problems here include dampness that could cause rotting, sagging beams that might bear too much weight, timbers that have been cut improperly during renovations, and signs of fungal attack or beetle infestation. Moreover, timber is likely present even where it is not visible – in joists, windows, and lintels above doors, for example. Make sure to contact a qualified surveyor or structural engineer for a complete evaluation of the work ahead. First steps when it comes to checking a timber frame for damage: • Look for moisture, which is timber’s biggest enemy, and try to figure out its source; • Use a penknife to prod for possible infestations – if the timber is sound, you won’t be able to penetrate it; • Maintain treated and painted beams by removing dust and dirt with a soft brush or damp cloth; do not use linseed oil, whose stickiness attracts dirt. Mid-Century Modern This popular pre-war style and its mix of natural materials such as brick, wood, and stone demand a combination of common and unique maintenance tasks. It’s important that you take the time to understand your property and its needs rather than simply rushing to repair damages. This can undercut the value of the home as well as the sanctity of its period details. Experts recommend drafting an inspection checklist to streamline the identification and repair processes. Here are some of the elements this list should include: • Six-Month Inspection: ​ o Clean debris from gutters and spouts; o Clean and clear roofings and flashings, checking for rust, water, or other damage; o Check for cracks or damage in chimney bases and foundations. • Annual Inspection: o Check for weaknesses in chimney tops; o Note all scaling or cracks in masonry, both painted and unpainted; o Inspect all mortar joints, windows, doors, and claddings (also known as sidings) Victorian The picturesque Victorian style took hold in the mid-to-late 19th century; the name refers to the reign of Queen Victoria from 1837 to 1901. You’ll find plenty of these in the Bay Area, and while they’re beautiful, they have their own set of unique maintenance tips that you’ll want to get to know. For example, a Victorian’s early cavity walls were built to fight moisture along with improving insulation. However, these days such walls can corrode, eating away at the stability of the home in general. A few others: • Victorian architecture’s signature ornate decorative details are beautiful, but can also be dangerous if not properly maintained – ignore repair on these at your own (and your tenants’) risk; • Made to emulate early Roman floors, Victorian decorative floor tiles catch your eye and can also drain your wallet if covered with carpet or underlay, both of which trap moisture; • Keep slate roofing material and iron nails healthy by using felt to prevent corrosion and rusting.   more...

08/25/2017

What You Should Know About Owner Move-Ins

As a property owner, it’s incumbent upon you to know the ins and outs of owner move-ins. Typically owners are forbidden from taking possession of a residential rental unit other than in the event of a “just cause” such as wanting the property for personal use or use by a spouse, domestic partner, child, parent, or grandparent. For an owner to take possession under a just cause, several conditions must be met. These include the following: The property must be used as the principal residence of the owner or the owner’s relative(s). An owner move-in in good faith will take place after other residences are sold or existing tenancies are terminated. To be eligible for an owner move-in, you must be an owner of record. This excludes silent partners or beneficiaries under a living or revocable trust. According to Measure EE, Oakland’s Just Cause for Eviction Ordinance, an owner of record holds interest equal to or greater than 33 percent in the property at the time of eviction notice up to and including the tenant’s surrender of possession of the unit. Three-year occupancy is required under Measure EE unless there is a good-faith reason for said occupancy failing to last this entire time. Under good faith, owners may be advised to offer the unit back to the evicted tenant due to such circumstances. Only one owner move-in is permitted every three years. Additionally, should a similar vacant unit come online before or during the eviction process and an owner decide not to occupy it, this could create a presumption of bad faith – and a possible court case. Occupancy must be taken within three months of the tenant vacating the premises. That said, if the eviction is done on behalf of a relative, that person does not fall under the same requirement. Protected groups cannot be evicted under an owner move-in. Specifically, if a tenant has resided in the unit five or more years and is either 60 years of age or older, disabled, or catastrophically ill, they fall under this category. Only one owner move-in is permitted per building. Once this occurs, no other unit may be subject to an owner move-in unless disability or hardship is proven to the proper authorities. Owner move-in notices must: Be 60-day notices at minimum Disclose all property owned by the intended future occupants Disclose any homeowner’s tax exemption claimed by the intended occupants.   more...

08/25/2017

Top Five Repair Mistakes Made by Sellers

If you think that you’re saving cost and effort by selling a home with outstanding repairs, think again. Not only will this tactic decrease a home’s value, but the buyer may opt to request a credit to complete the repairs. So without ado, we present the top five repair-related mistakes made by sellers – and you’re going to want to look at this as a list of what to avoid when you put that For Sale sign in your yard. Properly Prepare the Home for Sale Your home may be your castle, but that castle better be clean as a whistle and smell good too when you go to put it on the market. Take a long, hard look at your home to determine what needs to be done. First off, odors – does your place smell like pets or cigarette smoke? If so, you need to hire a professional cleaning service to take of that, stat. Next, you’ve got to take a deep breath and declutter. Take the pictures and knick-knacks off the walls; take a scrubber to bathrooms and kitchens. In addition, you need to make sure your home has enough curb appeal to woo in potential buyers. Image matters here. But on the Other Hand … Don’t go overboard when it comes to home improvement prior to the sale. You should not fool yourself that by improving or maintaining your home, you’re adding an equal dollar value. In fact, when it comes to the latter, you’re not necessarily adding dollar value – it’s just what your buyers expect. Good Lighting Makes a Difference Sometimes selling a home comes down to whether or not you’ve got burnt-out bulbs in your lighting fixtures. In other words, if your home appears dark and dim, it will depress sellers to the point where they will move on to other prospects. This is an easy one – in addition to ensuring that you have working light fixtures, open those curtains, clean your windows, and let the sunlight in! Have Your Home Inspected No property is perfect – don’t you want to know about those flaws before the buyer discovers them? This advance notice gives you the chance to take care of important repairs, or at least communicate them to the buyer, rather than letting them find out after the fact. Home inspections – done properly and on schedule – will give your buyers the confidence they should have in you and your property. And Finally, Remember the Golden Rule Tell the truth. Providing false information – or no information at all – to buyers is lying, pure and simple. Maintain your integrity and let them know what they’re going to be dealing with if they buy your property – and assume that if you do lie, you’ll eventually be discovered anyway.   more...

08/04/2017

What You Don’t Know About Bay Area Rent Control

In the Bay Area, rent control is not a one-size-fits-all concept. Regulations vary city by city, and as a property owner, it’s vital that you know which ones apply to you. Here’s a rundown on rent control in some of the largest Bay Area cities. San Francisco Rent control covers most San Francisco tenants. The annual allowable rent increase for the period spanning March 1, 2017 to February 28, 2018 is 2.2 percent. Moreover, tenants covered by rent control may only be evicted for just cause, which includes nonpayment or habitual late rent payment, nuisance or substantial building damage, or demolition of the building. Other major components of San Francisco rent control include: • Landlords are eligible to petition for other increases such as capital improvements, which can be passed on to a tenant for a maximum increase of 10 percent. • Tenants can petition the San Francisco Rent Board for decreased rent if the landlord fails to provide services that are either legally required or mutually agreed upon – for example, utilities, parking, or storage space. Likewise, they can petition for lesser rent if the premises are not maintained as safe and habitable. Berkeley Like San Francisco, Berkeley’s rent-control ordinance regulates residential rents and requires landlords to only evict for specified good-cause reasons. Most buildings with two or more residential rental units or more that were built before June 30, 1980 are covered; in addition, tenants of single-family homes have both rent control and eviction control if they have lived in the unit since January 1, 1996. The types of units that have neither rent control nor eviction control include: • Units in a two-unit property where one unit was owner occupied on December 31, 1979 and one unit is currently owner-occupied. • Units where the tenant shares a bathroom and kitchen with an owner who maintains the unit as his principal place of residence. Oakland Oakland tenants living in buildings with two or more units built before 1983 are covered by rent control, with the following exceptions: • Those who rent a unit in a single-family home or condominium unit from the owner. • Those who live in a two- or three-unit building with a landlord who has lived in one of the units for more than two years • Those living in any form of government subsidized housing – however, this category may still be covered by the Just Cause for Eviction Ordinance. Hayward A landlord who owns at least five units in the City of Hayward – any kind of common ownership and any percentage of ownership – falls under the Hayward Residential Rent Stabilization Ordinance. The following units are not part of rent control: • Accommodations in hospitals, extended-care facilities, and dormitories. • Publicly funded housing projects. • All units built after July 1, 1979. • Accommodations in motels, hotels, inns, tourist houses, rooming houses, and boarding houses – unless occupied for more than 30 days. • Cooperative housing owned by a majority of the residents. Fremont In July 2017, the Fremont City Council backed away from pursuing rent-control laws similar to the rest of the cities listed above. However, there are three ordinances that may be considered applicable: • Affordable Housing Ordinance, which fosters adequate amounts of housing for people at all economic levels. • Mobile Home Rent Stabilization Ordinance, which limits rent increases at mobile home parks to one per year. • Residential Rent Increase Dispute Resolution, which applies to all housing units and provides steps that can be taken to resolve rent-increase disputes.   more...

08/04/2017

Why You Should Hire a Property Manager

You can handle your property on your own … right? Perhaps not. Turns out we all need a helping hand, and unless you as an owner want to spend far too much time managing business matters, it’s time to hire a property manager. With homeownership at 63.5 percent and slowly decreasing over the last decade, according to a 2016 Real Trends presentation by Steve Murray, steady nationwide rental growth is putting upward pressure on the need for property managers. Here are a few other reasons you need a property manager: When selling, you have the edge since property managers already know all the ins and outs. This not only saves time and effort, but can help you maximize your value since your property manager likely knows how to make the most of what you’ve got. An understanding of local city laws makes property managers indispensable. A smart property manager will help you steer clear of lawsuits by helping you navigate the multiple laws and regulations when renting and maintaining property while keeping the property updated and in compliance. Moreover, property managers have the know-how to advise and consult owners on tax deductions, which in turn holds the potential to save you a significant amount come April 15. Marketing your property through select and targeted channels simplifies the search for great tenants by offering a focused experience tailored to your needs. Property managers understand how to fill properties by looking in the right places and creating smart, compelling advertising materials designed to catch and hold attention. Finding and managing the right tenants is right in a property manager’s wheelhouse. He or she will handle all the details, from security checks to landlord references. Additionally, they take care of the tenant-landlord relationship, including maintenance, inspections, and issues that arise along the way. Setting competitive rental rates is a specialty of a good property management firm, which will take on a comprehensive survey of the market to nail down the right price for your property – one that will expertly walk that line between maintaining low vacancy rates and maximizing monthly income. Property managers value your time and peace of mind, allowing you to invest your efforts in other things. We treat your property as our own and work hard to ensure that it remains as pristine as possible. Savvy investors know when to outsource. Property management is one of those jobs.   more...

08/04/2017

How to Treat Your Property Like a Small Business

If you’re trying to keep your rental property occupied year-round, consider taking some inspiration from your favorite small businesses. After all, they have learned to be detail-oriented and thorough when it comes not only to purchases and staffing, but also with their time and effort. Lift a page from their book and you’ll see your business take a decided leap upward. Hire the Right People Many small businesses make a practice of hiring freelancers to tackle specific business-related tasks. A few such freelancers who may be applicable to property management are: •  Property management service companies are your go-to – particularly when you don’t live in the same area as your rental property. Such firms are qualified to manage all tenant-related responsibilities, guest experiences, and maintenance issues. • Professional photographers who can provide high-quality shots represent a small investment that can pay off big going forward. Make sure you trust a photographer’s artistic sense and judgment and they’ll become a major tool in your arsenal. • Maintenance professionals and contractors can handily take the place of a full-time staffer dedicated to upkeep. Sites such as Craigslist and Angie’s List allow you to post jobs and also hire professionals for tasks such as cleaning, plumbing, and installations. Does It Add Long-Term Value? With every new element you add to your rental property, you’re making a long-term investment. It’s therefore important that you make purchases mindfully in order to be certain that you will see a return on the investment. Here are a few questions to ask yourself when considering a purchase for your rental property: • Does it add long-term value? • Will guests use it? • What costs, if any, will be added as a result? These include insurance and taxes. • Are extra costs worth it to you at this point in the game? • Does this investment have a high upside? Other Tips and Tricks Here are a few other ideas used successfully by small businesses – and these ideas can translate beautifully into owning and managing a property: • Consider converting one room in your rental property into office space to diversify possible uses – and consult your property manager for the legalities surrounding this move. • Use online tools to handle your web presence, thereby freeing you up to pursue more property-specific tasks. • Automate your redundant tasks such as updating online calendars after a booking, sending emails to guests upon a booking, and updating listings and availability calendars on various outlets. Many if not most of these tasks can be handled by vacation rental dashboards. Your property is your small business. Treat it as such!   more...

08/04/2017

How to Keep Your Tenants Happy

As a property owner, you’ll find your tenants a main priority – and occasionally a source of stress. Given that you’re counting on your tenants in many ways – primarily to pay the rent so that you can in turn make the bills – it’s key to keep your tenants satisfied. Here are a few tips on doing just that. Maintain Open Communication Swing that door wide and allow your tenants to communicate freely with you. Address all problems quickly – that includes repairs – and don’t hesitate to answer the phone and/or respond to emails promptly. Your or your property manager should make it a priority to respond to tenants within 24 hours at latest. Don’t Dilly-Dally with Deferred Maintenance Tenants should know that you’re committed to keeping your property in good shape – and, in fact, this will often entice them to stay longer. Make yourself available for maintenance requests and handle them in a timely manner, while at the same time making cosmetic improvements such as a paint job and professional carpet cleaning on a reasonable schedule. Finally, take your time getting the right furnishings for your property – in the end, this will cost less than having to keep fixing old ones. Maintain Professionalism Think about the qualities you’re seeking in a tenant – respectful, responsive, and mature – and know that they’re likely looking for the same in you. A little friendliness and flexibility will go a long way in establishing professional demeanor and a good landlord-tenant relationship. Promptly Deal with Disruptive Tenants There’s always that one rotten apple. If you’re a landlord long enough, you’ll find it – but you can mitigate the damage from a difficult tenant. Nothing pushes away good tenants more quickly than an obnoxious neighbor who stomps on the floor, yells incessantly, and thinks nothing of playing the drums at three in the morning. Don’t let that happen. Let Tenants Know They’re Appreciated Without overstepping boundaries, it can be touching for one’s landlord to be considerate and thoughtful. A holiday card, for example, is a small sign of appreciation that will be remembered.
1600 MacArthur Blvd. Oakland, CA 94602 Tel - +510.250.7918 Fax - +800.507.6593   more...