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November 29, 2017

The Dichotomy of Tenants & Toilets

Ahhh….tenants and toilets.  The two things absolutely critical in rental properties. Each is a dichotomy, too. Tenants provide the Revenue….Toilets provide the means to take waste of out your house. Tenants can break down and not behave….toilets can also break down and not behave. Both can create icky mucky messes that you have to clean up. Some messes are simple to clean up, such as a tenant paying rent late or a toilet clogging up. Some messes are ultimate disasters, such as a tenant trashing a property beyond recognition or a toilet on 2nd floor of a home overflowing for days into 1st floor of a home. Smart Landlords plan for Tenants and Toilets to misbehave and budget accordingly with both money resources and time resources.  Money resources including paying for well-drafted lease agreements and professional services like property management and vendors.  Time resources such as mid-lease audits and preventative […]
September 29, 2017

Assistance Animals….some clarification from recent large settlement.

“…….for purposes of reasonable accommodation requests, neither the FHA nor Section 504 requires an assistance animal to be individually trained or certified.” Reread that first sentence….how does this impact your rental processes? Service animals and assistance animals are, indeed, valuable and necessary for many individuals dealing with visible physical health issues as well as not-readily visible physical and/or mental health issues.  The proper protocols for housing providers to interact and accommodate tenants with these animals has hopefully just gotten a bit clearer with this recent lawsuit settlement between HUD and a California housing provider. Here’s the link to the announcement.  I would encourage you to read through it to get a solid understanding of what it means for landlords and property managers: https://portal.hud.gov/hudportal/HUD?src=/press/press_releases_media_advisories/2017/HUDNo_17-060 In addition to the Fair Housing Act’s requirements, in April 2013 HUD did reaffirm that housing providers must provide reasonable accommodations to people with disabilities who require […]
April 18, 2017

Surprising things once you retire…..

We’re all racing towards Financial Freedom. Here’s an interesting article by a fella who arrived there early and the 10 things that surprised him once he quit his job. Enjoy and here’s to your pursuit of Financial Freedom! http://www.businessinsider.com/early-retiree-shares-10-things-that-surprised-him-after-he-quit-his-job-2017-4?utm_content=bufferdc7c8&utm_medium=social&utm_source=facebook.com&utm_campaign=buffer-ti
April 18, 2017

What if the rental market had a “Correction?”

Here’s the latest rental stats….like previous months, not much of a surprise as the rental market metrics continue to be strong. YTD Rental Stats But what if the rental market in your area had a major correction? How would you survive if the rental prices for your properties dropped by 30%? Do you have sufficient cash reserves to ride out extended vacancy months of 3, 4, even 6 months? Do you know what your Break Even is on each of your rental units? And Here’s the most important question: If you don’t know the answers to these questions, what do you think your mental anxiety will be like and your level of stomach acid will be like when we DO have this correction?  
February 2, 2017

Chuck Yeager: A very slow test pilot who broke the sound barrier.

The Right Stuff.  Astronauts.  Jet planes.  Test pilots. The stuff of childhood dreams.  The stuff adults might want to study again. Chuck Yeager was one of my childhood hero’s and still is one of my adult hero’s, but not simply because he broke the sound barrier.  If you’ve ever read his autobiography, you get a picture of a self-deprecating, fun-loving, Appalachian born man who was born to fill his destiny in history.  He loved to fly.  He had the physical abilities for it.  And he had grit.  Plenty of it. But the real story of Yeager’s success and place in history is that it shouldn’t have happened to him.  Instead, probability says there should be a street named for him at Edwards Air Force Base in California.  Dozens of test pilots with college degrees and more “stick time” than Yeager have streets in their names there.  (Streets at that base […]
July 8, 2016

In Case of Emergency…

Run rental properties long enough and it will happen to you. You rent to a wonderful person who pays their rent on time each month, never complains, and keeps the property spotless. I’m talking a true breath of fresh air. Ahhhhhhhhh……… Then, all of a sudden, she misses the rent payment.  Weird, huh?  She’s never missed a payment.  So like a good landlord or property manager you call her and you get voicemail.  Two days go by without any return call.  Completely not like her. You send her an email.  No response. You send her a text message.  Still zero communication. Now a bit of panic starts to set in.  You leave her another voicemail saying you’d like to stop by to talk with her on Thursday after work.  Your mind starts wandering thinking things like “Did she move out in the middle of the night and just not tell […]
June 9, 2015

The Cost of Your New Water Heater will make your blood boil.

Landlords and Home Owners–get ready to open your wallet deeper. All water heaters available for purchase after April 16, 2015 will be taller and wider than prior models in order to achieve the required efficiency ratings ordered by The Department of Energy (DOE) back in 2010.  The law is just now in effect. Most manufacturers report that the retail price will increase 25%. But that’s not the only cost you could be incurring.  The new sizes of the tanks will make replacement a logistical challenge in tight spaces.  It may require reframing a utility room, doors, and HVAC run changes. So be prepared for the new costs and inconveniences, swallow hard, and realize there is not a dag nabbit thing you can do except stomp your feet and pay up. Dan Baldini is the Founder of Polaris Real Estate & Polaris Property Management, LLC and is also an Adjunct Professor in the College of Business Finance Department […]
May 19, 2015

Why you MUST collect Security Deposit and 1st Month rent at time of lease signing

  One of the most frequent questions I receive from novice landlords is what funds to collect at lease signing. As fast as an Indy 500 car slams into the 3rd turn wall I respond with “Security Deposit PLUS 1st Month’s rent”. The reasons are simple for why you should require both to be paid at once but they all congeal into one simple concept: RISK MANAGEMENT Successful real estate leasing is almost all about risk management and the simplest way to minimize this risk is to force the tenant to have skin in the game.  Collecting essentially 2 months rent value at time of lease signing is plenty of skin for most tenants. It also sets the stage for the tenants to expect a certain standard of engagement with you as the landlord–you aren’t joking around with an important business transaction. Finally, it is an excellent secondary screening method–after all, if they don’t have […]
March 11, 2015

Why Polaris Property Management screens EVERY adult…..

          It has always been our consistent practice and methodology to require a rental application on every adult who is going to live in one of our landlord properties, even if they are not financially contributing to the rent payments.  We check employment income, eviction databases, and a bunch of other data points, but 3 reports are absolutely critical to come back “clean”… Criminal history Sex Offender history OFAC history We feel  it is imperative not just for the landlord’s risk exposure, but also for the neighbors and our staff and vendors who will be interacting with the occupants. Where sometimes tenants get a bit bent out of shape is when an adult child “boomerangs” back home after high school or college.  Yes, we still require them to submit an application to get checked. Same goes for a new roommate. As you can surmise, top-notch property management includes a […]
March 10, 2015

Why you need to require renter’s insurance from your tenants.

Renters insurance isn’t just to cover the Tenant’s personal property….and this picture proves it. This is the result of a heavy crystal serving platter falling off the top of the refrigerator onto a SOLID SURFACE COUNTERTOP. The platter impacted the countertop with enough force to literally shatter the countertop and also cut the laminate flooring.  The landlord is looking at a mandatory replacement of the ENTIRE countertop as well as new flooring, too.  Likely an $8,000 repair. Fortunately, we have always required in our lease agreement that Tenants have renters insurance.  But this next point is critical….We also require the Tenants name the Landlord as an Additional Insured and our property management company as a Certificate Holder.  Doing so keeps us informed to any policy changes or lapses in coverage. We are now working with the Tenant’s insurance adjuster on getting it replaced and a huge expense has been avoided […]