Friday, December 30, 2011

Landlords & Locks: New Laws for Illinois 2012

The laws defining when locks or re-keying should take place are getting harder in 2012, and failure to comply offers a harsh penalty. Take a look at the new law that will take effect on January 1, 2012:
"The State of Illinois, by way of Public Act 097-0470, just amended the Illinois Landlord and Tenant Act, adding new section 765 ILCS 705/15, effective January 1, 2012, requiring landlords in counties with a population in excess of 3 million people (ie. Cook County) to change or re-key the locks on a dwelling unit after a tenancy ends. Exempt from the law are (1) owner occupied buildings containing four or fewer units or (2) rentals of a room in a private home.
The law basically requires covered landlords to change or re-key the locks when a tenant moves out and before a new tenant moves in. There is an exception when the tenant, by way of lease, has obtained the right to change or re-key the dwelling unit. The changing or re-keying must occur after the dwelling unit has been vacated and on or before the day a new tenant takes possession. The law defines “changing or re-keying” as any of the following (1) replacing the lock; (2) replacing the locking or cylinder mechanism in the lock so a different key must be used to unlock the lock; (3) changing the combination on a combination or digital lock; (4) changing an electronic lock so that the means or method of unlocking the lock is changed; or (5) changing the means of gaining access to the locked unit so it is not identical to the prior tenant’s means of gaining access to the unit."
As stated before - failure to comply offers a harsh penalty: A landlord who violates the law is liable to the tenant for any damages the tenant may incur if a theft occurs at the dwelling unit that is attributable to the landlord’s failure to rekey or change the lock.

This means that landlords and property managers should be prepared to change or re-key locks at the end of each tenancy, no matter what. This isn't unreasonable by any means, but this needs to be factored into time and costs for each new tenant.

source: …

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

The Landlord's New Year's Resolution for 2012

It’s time to put together your New Year’s Resolutions for 2012. And while you are probably anexcellent landlord in every way, you may be considering making a few improvements in the New Year. To help, we’ve compiled a list of landlord behaviors to avoid:
  1. Avoid the temptation to go through your tenants’ private spaces. Sounds silly, since tenants have the right to privacy, even though they live in your property. But when a tenant recently reported coming home and finding the contents of her closet on the floor, along with a note saying that, quote, "over-stuffing will break the door", it apparently needs to be addressed.
  2. Don’t show up at your tenant’s door without the appropriate notice, as specified by the law and in the lease. Even if you’re already in the neighborhood, and you just want to stop in and change the furnace filter, and it will only take a moment, avoid this bad habit. Unless you see an imminent threat to your tenant’s safety, you need to give them proper notice.
  3. Avoid being like the San Francisco landlord who is being sued for $10 million by his tenants for failing to deal with bugs and mold. We’ll never be able to completely eradicate the rats, bedbugs, cockroaches, and other creepy crawlies that most people do not enjoy having around. But it’s a landlord’s duty to provide a safe and habitable living unit. And mold is a serious health hazard, especially for those with asthma or compromised immune systems. So if your tenants report a problem with bugs or mold, take care of it.
  4. Don’t discriminate against your tenants or prospective tenants. Raise your awareness of what constitutes discrimination—because it’s illegal. For example, one Ohio landlord recently got in trouble for her “White Only” pool sign. She said it’s an antique, and must have thought it was harmless, but one tenant didn’t find it to be harmless. The landlord has been fined by the state Civil Rights Commission, and is appealing the charges
Landlords aren’t perfect—and neither are tenants. But it’s important to keep a professional business relationship with your tenants—keep that in mind as you go into the New Year!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Are You Flipping a House? It could still be profitable

Property Management Firm in Chicago and Northern Illinois

In a tight economy, there are still people who invest in real estate. Some of them just have a lot of money that they can spend, but others must borrow money and get loans. This latter group represents the majority of people who invest, but many people who want to get involved are hesitant now. Will they still be able to get loans? Can they actually make any money doing that anymore? If you have those kinds of questions, you should know that it can still be profitable to flip houses – but there are some hurdles.

First, it’s important to note that people who want to fix up and flip houses can’t really expect to get the kind of profit they were seeing when housing was booming. The prices were greatly inflated then, and they’ve come down quite a lot since that time. You can still make a profit, but don’t expect to get rich. Some people still do quite well, but if you’re just getting into it you may struggle and have a harder time. Working with someone who’s been doing it for a while can be a much better choice, so you can learn all you need to know.

With interest rates under five percent, borrowing money to buy a house, fix it up, and flip it isn’t too painful. Where you may run into trouble is getting the house sold again. Of course, many investors are still buying houses and fixing them up, only to rent them out. When the housing market recovers – and it will – then they’ll sell the house instead of renting it. Until that time, the rental income pays the mortgage that they have on the house, and they can continue to buy more houses to fix up and rent for a while, until they sell them for a good profit later.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Got Horders? Here's how to handle them

Northern Illinois Residential Property Management

So you have a tenant that pays their rent on time but is just a huge slob. Is their messiness causing problems for other tenants or creating a nuisance on your property? In extreme situations hoarding and cluttering can get out of control. We’ve all seen the newscasts with homes full of junk and even garbage and no one wants that person for a tenant. But if you already have that tenant you may have a hard time getting rid of them.

Hoarding and cluttering are often symptoms of medical conditions and in these situations your tenant may be protected by both the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Fair Housing Amendments Act (FHAA). If this is the case you should involve an attorney to help you with eviction proceedings or to help you and your tenant work out a reasonable compromise.

As with all medical conditions, mental and physical, there are different reasons for hoarding and cluttering and different requirements. Someone may simply be having a difficult time at the moment and will be able to clean up after themselves soon. Some people may rely on others for help with cleaning and so some leeway must be provided. And others are true hoarders who compulsively acquire things.

The key is to handle hoarders and clutterers as you would any other tenant until you learn differently, at which point you will have to work to find a reasonable compromise or have your attorney help you navigate through the eviction process.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Managing your Properties is a huge job: Ask for help!

Chicago Residential Property Management

If you have a home or apartment that you want to rent out, it might not be something that you want to do on your own. That’s especially true if you don’t live in the same city or town as the rental property. You can’t just drive past it and check to see whether the tenants are keeping up with the place, and you won’t be available to go by and fix things if there are problems. With that in mind, you may want to consider a property management company. Your first thought might be that it’s expensive, but it actually isn’t when you take into account everything that the property management company does for you.

When you need something fixed at the property, or if the tenant is late with the rent, you don’t have to deal with it. It’s not your problem, and you can simply focus on the things that you’re doing in your own life rather than be concerned about what’s taking place at your rental property. If you have more than one property, that’s an even better reason to allow a company to manage them for you.

It can be difficult to keep track of a lot of rental properties, and hiring a asset or property management firm that is set up for that sort of thing is one of the best ways to be sure that your rent is collected on time and that any problems with the property are promptly taken care of. You don’t have to go it alone, and you don’t need to be afraid to buy rental properties because you’re concerned about how you’ll manage them. Go out and invest, and then find a great company that can help you take care of any properties you purchase.