FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Property repairs and maintenance can be handled by personnel working for the property management company or with outside vendors. Nothing affects the reputation of a property management company more than the manner in which repairs are handled. Tenants judge a property manager by almost no other measure. Therefore it is important that managers have access to multiple vendors to balance the load of service calls and provide the best level of service at competitive rates.
Property Repairs and Maintenance – Lindsay Leasing
At Lindsay Leasing property repairs and maintenance are managed with a Lindsay Leasing property manager who has access to a pool of vendors. This strategy provides owners with peace of mind knowing that repairs and maintenance are being handled by a competent property manager and not by a sales person who manages his property on the side. When repairs or maintenance are needed, we will send a trusted vendor and they will provide the quality service we require in a professional and timely manner.
How does Lindsay Leasing handle repair requests from tenants?
All non-emergency repair requests are reported to us in writing, as required in the lease agreement. We provide tenants with a convenient online repair request form. We strive to respond to and complete most ordinary repair requests within 1 to 3 business days if approved by the owner. However, before spending your money on a service call, we attempt to troubleshoot and solve the problem. We may visit the property if need be without charge to you. Once it’s determined that a legitimate problem exists, and that a service call is needed, we send a vendor who is affordable, reliable and provides quality workmanship. If an emergency issue arises, tenants have direct access by phone to a property manager 24/7.
Lindsay Leasing does not mark up invoices or receive any compensation or kick-backs from our vendors. In some cases our vendors actually provide a discount to our owners for using their services.
Will you use my brother-in-law to perform repairs, he’s fairly handy?
No, we only use our qualified vendors. We are not able for liability reasons to use your friends or relatives to perform work on your home unless they are in fact licensed vendors (see below).
Will you use my favorite plumber, HVAC company, etc. each time a repair is needed?
We are happy to invite your qualified vendors to join our vendor portfolio. We will try to use your preferred vendors under most circumstances providing they are responsive and available to perform the work in a timely manner.
Will you use my home warranty company or call authorized vendors if my appliances are covered under warranty?
Yes. A list of all appliances covered under warranty or service contracts will need to be provided to us and kept up to date within our owner accessible vendor database.
Listing cancellation policies vary among property management firms. Some charge between $100 to $500 to cancel a rental listing. Some agencies will collect “owners funds” at the signing of the listing agreement. This money is held in escrow for repairs and maintenance, but can also be used as a cancellation fee. There is a significant amount of time and money invested by all parties to contract, prepare and market a rental property. So it is understandable why some firms charge a cancellation fee.
Listing Cancellation Policy – Lindsay Leasing
Under its listing cancellation policy, Lindsay Leasing does not charge you a cancellation fee for canceling your listing. You can cancel at any time for any reason without penalty. Most owners have a legitimate reason for doing so, such as remaining in the property for employment or medical reasons, undertaking major renovations, or deciding to sell the property. Lindsay Leasing believes that if you cancel you should not be penalized for it. Lindsay Leasing will charge its commissions if a tenant is procured prior to cancellation.
We encourage you to carefully evaluate your options before signing an agreement. When we enter into a contract to represent your property we do so with a 100% commitment to perform according to our obligations. Our goal is to meet and or exceed your expectations. Having the option to cancel without penalty is an option we hope you will not have to exercise. Lindsay Leasing’s no-charge listing cancellation policy provides you the peace of mind knowing that if your situation changes we understand.
Property management billing systems differ from agency to agency. Some managers send a statement in the mail or email, others only send statements upon request. Some managers, such as Lindsay Leasing, use online portals or “cloud storage” to securely store your statements.
Property Management Billing System – Lindsay Leasing
The property management billing system at Lindsay Leasing provides owners 24/7 access to billing, statements, receipts and more. With your online portal you can stay abreast of everything concerning your property conveniently from your home or any location with internet access. Keeping track of your investment property records is a snap with Lindsay Leasing. There is no additional charge for this valuable service. Click here to see a sample owners portal. Use firstname.lastname@example.org as the login.
- Quarterly and year-to-date statements outlining all expenditures and income regarding your property
- Property photos for advertising, appliance replacements, repairs, and inspections
- Property details such as utility vendors, property specs, vendor days of service and more
- Account information regarding your Lindsay Leasing service plan including selected management options and billing cycles
- Property-related documents such as maintenance records, appliance warranties and instructions, HOA documents, and other property-related documents
Lindsay Leasing with its property management billing system and reports help you prepare for tax time. All your records regarding income and expenses are neatly stored in a single, accessible location. From income statements to vendor receipts, you’ll find everything you need when the time comes.
Rent payment methods differ from agency to agency. Some managers collect rent from tenants via personal checks and pay owners via checks as well. Some agencies utilize electronic payments for either or both transactions.
Lindsay Leasing – Rent Payment
Lindsay Leasing collects rent via electronic payments and pays you via electronic deposit ensuring you get funded in the least amount of time. On average you can expect to receive funds in your bank account within 4-5 business days after rent is paid.
Snail Mail and Paper Checks
When tenants mail rent payment checks, you can expect to wait up to two weeks or more to receive your money. First, the management company has to receive, deposit, and have cleared funds before issuing you a check. Check runs occur twice monthly, usually on the 10th, 15th or 20th. If a particular rental payment has not been deposited with cleared funds when check runs occur, you may have to wait until the following check run. Once the check is mailed to you it may be another week before the check arrives. Then you have to take it to the bank, deposit it, and wait for cleared funds. This whole process gets very drawn out if you live outside the United States or are traveling extensively.
Lindsay Leasing utilizes electronic banking. This ensures that you get paid in a timely manner month in and month out. We are not waiting for checks to be mailed, deposited, and cleared. Nor are you waiting for checks to be printed, mailed, deposited, and cleared. Depending on the time the rent is due (1st or 15th) your monthly proceeds will be electronically deposited directly to your bank account each month within 4-5 business days after the rent is paid. Our payment processing systems send you an email every month informing you when your payment was processed and when the funds will be deposited. It’s kind of like having a personal assistant working behind the scenes for you.
A lease agreement is the single most important document to protect your real estate investment. A lease agreement defines the terms and conditions and spells out important rights and duties for both the landlord and tenant as required by the most recent Florida Residential Landlord and Tenant Act. Professional property managers generally use a lease agreement prepared by a real estate attorney who maintains the language. Alternatively, you can download a lease off the internet, use the lease agreement provided by the Florida Bar, or Realtors may us the Florida Realtors Association lease agreement.
Lease Agreements – Lindsay Leasing
Lindsay Leasing uses a lease agreement prepared by an attorney specializing in landlord/tenant law practices. There is a small fee charged by the attorney and our firm for the preparation of this lease. The lease is strictly enforced, including late fees, pet policy, unauthorized occupants, vehicle limits, home owner association rules, lease term, and all other terms and conditions of the lease agreement. The lease also includes a mold addendum and a pet addendum if a pet is allowed. If we become aware of a lease violation, the tenant promptly receives a violation notice and is required to cure the violation to avoid further action.
Most importantly, an attorney-prepared lease followed up with proper notifications puts you in a better position should anything go wrong. If nothing goes wrong consider the attorney-prepared lease a small cost of doing business.
Tenant screening can be done in-house or outsourced with a background and credit check company. Outsourcing tenant screening to a third party provides consistency across an office with many agents, while an in-house screening may provide additional details.
Lindsay Leasing – Tenant Screening
Lindsay Leasing conducts tenant screening in-house. We gain first hand knowledge by communicating directly with landlords and employers. In-house tenant screening provides you with an advantage as to whether or not an applicant is a good or bad risk. We also have direct access to all background and credit information versus a summary report. Because we pull credit reports directly, our office must take and pass a periodic Fair Credit Reporting Act exam to ensure we understand and follow appropriate regulations. When reviewing the information we are looking for many facets to determine if the applicant is qualified.
We call the applicant’s current/previous landlords and ask about the applicant’s payment history, whether there were bounced checks, late payments, unauthorized roommates, pets, noise, damage, etc. If the former landlord is a private homeowner (instead of a professional property manager), we may pull County tax records to verify that the person listed as the landlord is in fact the owner. We may also run a MLS search on the tenant’s former addresses to see if there were any MLS sales or rental activity that contradicts the rental time frame listed on the application. These two additional cross-checks can screen out applicants providing inaccurate information.
To verify an applicant’s identity, the information provided by the applicant is compared to several data sources. We use a product called ID Verify together with these databases as part of an ID verification and scoring algorithm. The Social Security Administration’s Death Master File is checked, SSN Validation is performed, the applicant’s address is validated, and the applicant is checked against the OFAC WatchList. This ID verification product also produces a score that ranges from 400 to 800. The closer the score is to 400, the more likely the risk of fraud.
As part of our tenant screening process, we contact the employer to verify employment and/or ask the applicant for a recent check stub. If the applicant is self-employed we request other documentation to satisfy proof of income. We recommend that income be at least three times the monthly rent to qualify.
Criminal Background, Eviction and Terrorist Database Search
We perform a criminal background check on each applicant as well as an eviction history search and federal terrorist database search. Most good applicants will sail through the tenant screening process and be approved. Otherwise, the tenant screening process may reveal “red flags” which we look into further. Commonly, an applicant may qualify based on income and rental history, but have poor credit. In some instances, if the applicant is a reasonable risk the additional security deposit equal to at least one month’s rent is required to take the property off the market. In all instances we are very thorough with our tenant screening and will never let an urgency to rent diminish our screening requirements.
Declined Rental Applications
After concluding our tenant screening, occasionally an applicant is declined for credit, income, or other background reasons. As licensed Florida real estate agents, we follow all governmental regulations as it pertains to tenant screening. The Federal Fair Housing Law prohibits us from discriminating against applicants because of their race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status, or national origin. More information can be found at HUD.GOV. Applicants who are denied for credit reasons receive a denial letter from Lindsay Leasing. More information about consumer rights can be found here Fair Reporting Act (FCRA). More information about consumer credit reporting can be found at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) website as well.
The average time to rent a property depends on many factors including the property location, condition and rental rate to name a few. Additionally, supply and demand, time of year, terms of the lease and agent’s track record and responsiveness impact the time on market. Generally speaking most managers can rent a property within 30-60 days.
Lindsay Leasing – Average Time to Rent a Property
At Lindsay Leasing the average time to a rent property is 14 days. We understand that every day the property sits vacant is a day of lost rent. Additionally, the broker is also the listing agent and therefore you can be assured that the property is being marketed in the best way possible. Our online marketing program includes over 50 websites including MLS, Trulia, Zillow, Hotpads to name a few. We show 7 days a week including the accommodation of evening appointments.
The two most significant factors impacting time on market are the following…
Property Location and Condition
Additional external factors affecting the average time to rent a property include: easy access to employment, shopping, good schools, entertainment, restaurants and area amenities. In addition, if the community and neighborhood homes are in good condition then more prospects will be interested in the property. If the external factors draw prospects to your rental property, then you want to make certain your property is in its best condition to clinch the deal. Would you want to rent a property that has numerous nail holes in the walls, has mismatched paint or non-neutral colors, is missing window treatments, stains in the carpeting, burnt light bulbs, or a yard in poor condition? Renters are people like you and me and take pride in their homes even if they don’t own them. Spruce up your home so it rents quickly to the best tenants at the best price.
Rental Rate (Price)
In addition to location and condition, pricing affects the average time to rent a property. It is a two way street….owners want good tenants and well qualified tenants want good properties at competitive prices. Pricing it too high and the property can sit on the market. High pricing can also lead less desirable prospects knowing that they may need to pay more for a property in order to lease it. Owners get nervous when a property has sat too long and then jump at the first offer. Prospects that have good credit/background understand that owners want to attract their interest. It is a two way street….owners want good tenants and well qualified tenants want good properties at a competitive price. On the flip side, pricing the property too low can also lead to problems. This tactic may also attract less qualified prospects.
Marketing rental property is conducted by most managers via internet advertising and Multiple Listing Service (MLS). Some may place signs in the yard if the community permits, create fliers, advertise in print publications and advertise on paid and free rental listing websites. Today’s tenants search online for properties in a variety of different places. Therefore, it is important to advertise on a multitude of websites in order to maximize interest levels.
Lindsay Leasing – Marketing Rental Property
We will list the property in the MLS with quality photos and details of property. Many Realtors use MLS to find properties for clients looking to rent. Also, MLS feeds into various websites and ensures that a large audience of potential tenants have the opportunity to see the property.
We will produce a virtual tour on all seasonal and annual properties that are large enough to warrant a 360 panorama tour ($100+ value). This allows prospects to view the property layout and views, which still photography cannot communicate.
If permitted by owner and/or community we will install a “For Lease” sign in the yard (single family homes only). This is a great way to target those rental prospects driving through the neighborhood. Ask your agent for pros and cons regarding this method of advertising.
Lindsay Leasing is available 24 x 7. Showings are conducted 7 days a week with evening appointments considered and all calls are returned by end of business day. In most cases we return calls within 2 hours. A quick response to all inquiries is imperative to a successful marketing campaign. Tenants are always on the lookout for potential properties and will not wait for call backs before moving on to the next property. When interviewing a prospective rental agency ask if they show evenings and weekends when many tenants are looking. Lindsay Leasing understands this and will work on weekends or after 5 pm to ensure the property is marketed effectively.
Lindsay Leasing will market your property extensively through internet and social media marketing campaign (see below graphic). These are websites where your property may be marketed.
MLS, Zillow, Trulia, Realtor.com, HotPads, Facebook, Instagram, Craigslist, Postlets and so much more…
Rental rates are determined by many factors. A rental rate analysis begins by gathering current listings and historical listing data. Homes that are active on the market, as well as those leased within the last year all play into your rental property’s rent price. This data can be collected from multiple sources but typically Multiple Listing Service (MLS) is the most accurate as it shows both the asking and leased price.
Lindsay Leasing – Rental Rates
Lindsay Leasing will provide a Comparable Market Analysis (CMA) providing price per square foot, days on market, asking price, leased price and more. Each time your home comes up for rent, we will perform a market analysis to determine how much homes similar to yours have been renting for recently. Once we determine a starting value, we add or subtract based on the time of year, competition from other available rental homes near yours, the condition of the property (older vs. newer carpet, age of appliances, floor plan, etc.), and other relevant market factors.
As a general rule, we believe it’s a good idea set your rental rate at market value and rent quickly. Savvy tenants conduct research or utilize a Realtor to help price rentals so they are armed with actual rental rates. They know if a property is priced above or below market. Vacancy is your worst enemy and we work hard to prevent excess vacancy loss. Vacancies can occur before a lease or in-between leases if a renewal rate forces the existing tenant to move. It is much more cost-effective to keep an existing tenant than find a new one due to commissions and vacancy between tenants.
When establishing rental rates we recommend pricing at market. When setting a rental rate above market you should calculate your upside and downside scenario to determine if it makes good business sense. The potential upside is the difference in rent between market and asking. For example, if market rent is $1200 and you decide to price at $1300, then the potential upside is $1200 ($100 x 12 months). If a property rents at the higher price in the same amount of time it would have rented at market price you’d earn $1200 extra. For the downside, if a property eventually leases at market rate, which is what happens most often, it will cost you approximately $40 per day for every day the property sits had it been listed at market rate. This is in addition to utilities that you pay until a tenant moves-in.
Professional property management is a service for rental property owners who do not have the time, know-how, or inclination to manage all or a portion of what’s involved in operating a rental property. The benefits of having a property manager are many. A property manager handles everything from preparing your rental property and finding a tenant, to managing tenant relations and overseeing property repairs and maintenance. The daily operations of a rental real estate investment can be time consuming and stressful. A successful manager is one that is detail oriented, able to deal with stressful situations and is versed in issues that may go wrong in a property.
Lindsay Leasing – Professional Property Management
At Lindsay Leasing you will have two professionals representing you and your property. Your rental agent handles all facets related to leasing your property. Your property manager handles all property-related issues. This separation of duties ensures you have the most qualified individual working on your behalf. Either individual is also experienced at each others responsibilities and is always available as a back up in time sensitive situations.
There is much work at hand before renting a property. First we evaluate what needs to be done and how to best position the property for maximum returns. All property specifications, utilities, warranties and other pertinent information is documented. The owner’s online portal, accounting, and electronic banking is setup. In addition to determining the scope of work, Lindsay Leasing can assist with vendors and project management. Finally, we transition the property into the rental market and begin the next phase—finding a tenant.
Once a property is prepared properly, we start the tenant procurement process. Finding a qualified tenant involves several steps. We begin by photographing and marketing the property. By pre-qualifying all prospective tenants we reduce the burden and inconvenience on existing tenants and waste less time. Once we have someone who is interested, our online rental application makes it convenient for applicants to apply. Background and credit checks are performed in-house to minimize turn-around time. After an applicant is screened and approved by you we start the paperwork. We handle the lease, HOA applications, taxes, and move-in documentation.
Property managers have seen and heard it all and are experts at dealing with issues such as late rent payments, requests to terminate early, unapproved home modifications, and security deposit claims. An owner that is not willing to deal with the stress of managing a tenant should consider a property manager. In the long run a good manager will minimize the risk of issues and may even save an owner money in the long run.
Repairs and Maintenance
Property managers are the owner’s eyes and ears. They work with vendors to remedy issues in a timely manner so that tenants are happy and hopefully renew their lease. Typically managers have many vendors they work with on a regular basis. At Lindsay Leasing our vendors are terrific. They are appropriately licensed and insured, affordable and provide a level of service that is above the rest.