Monday, February 13, 2012

When Tenants Sublease Without Your Knowledge

Just because you don’t allow subleasing in your rental units doesn’t mean your tenants won’t do it—for a number of reasons. Perhaps they landed a new job in another city, or want to move in with a significant other, or maybe the apartment of their dreams became available. Tenants sometimes want to move before the lease is up; and rather than breaking the lease, finding someone to move in and take it over is a better option. For them.

When your tenants sublease without your knowledge, they have prevented you from conducting your usual due diligence on the people who are living on your property. You don’t know if they have a good rental or credit history. You have no way of knowing if they will take care of your property or be good neighbors. You don’t even know if they have jobs.

How do landlords find out about sublessors? Sometimes, the rent checks keep coming in from your tenant, because the sublease tenant is paying him or her. In other cases, thetenant will have the sublessor send their own checks directly to you. If you accept online payments, your tenant can simply give the sublessor the login and password, and they can pay out of their own account. Depending on the e-pay service, you may or may not have access to the name on the account.

When faced with an unauthorized sublease situation, the landlord holds all the cards. If your lease clearly states “no subleasing,” then you have recourse and can likely starteviction proceedings against the original tenant. And in most sublease agreements, thesublessor only has rights to occupy as long as the original tenant does.

Check with your attorney for all the details, but in most cases, landlords are never under any obligation to accept a sublessor if the lease prohibits it.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Property Management Tips: Staying Ahead of Maintenence

Whole volumes could be written about the difference between “damage” and “wear and tear;” but every landlord knows that tenants can be hard on a rental property. Most landlords have walked into a rental unit for a move-out inspection and been shocked at the damage they discover.

Don’t fall into the habit of performing all damage repairs and maintenance when you’re between tenants. Granted, that’s the best time to clean carpets, repair floors, and replace appliances. But it’s too easy to feel pressured if your tenant is anxious to move in. That’s when small problems and repairs will be neglected.

Conducting periodic inspections and continually maintaining your rental property is the only way to stay ahead of the game—and protect its value. The old adage, “a stitch in time saves nine,” has never been so true. Repair expenses just keep rising; between labor costs and materials, you’re definitely going to be better off fixing a problem while it’s small.

Keep these repair supplies in your vehicle to take care of issues while they’re manageable:
  • Hinges and latches (standard sizes and colors for all your rental unit will make this easier) 
  • Paint and brushes or shoe-polish-like applicators 
  • Floor scratch cover 
  • Rhino Glue 
  • Duct Tap 
  • Spackle 
  • Extra linoleum tiles 
  • Basic tools 
  • Garbage Bags 
During periodic inspections, do a quick check on window locks and frames, door knobs, locks, hinges and frames, woodwork and trim, and cabinet doors. Tighten any that need it. Look up at the ceiling and inside kitchen and bathroom cabinets for signs of water damage. Listen to the toilet to see if it’s running. Drips and leaking toilets are easily repaired, and if caught early, can prevent serious damage later. See to scuffs and chips on walls and cover with a bit of paint.

If you have a great handyman you can call on for jobs that are above your skill level, great! If not, you should develop a relationship with one. Ask around your network for recommendations. Electricians and plumbers specializing in quick response or small jobs are also valuable to have in your contact list. You never know when you’ll need any of these pros.

By keeping on top of rental property maintenance, you’re doing yourself a big favor when you’re pressed for time between tenants—and you could be preventing the headaches and repair bills that come from neglecting rental property.