Blog Posts By Date: August 2017

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...