Category Archives for "Manage Decatur homes"

Decatur Property Management – Attracting Good Tenants

Young man and woman with baby

Preparing Your Decatur Rental Property

Renting your Investment Home in Decatur is important, but attracting good, long-term tenants is vital.

Before you begin marketing your Decatur property for lease, take a critical look at the overall condition of your home.  Renters have certain expectations when they are searching for a place and Condition matters!   

Here are a few essential preparations that will help attract good, qualified tenants :

  • Curb Appeal - The exterior appearance of your investment property is your first chance to make a great First Impression.  Make sure that shrubs are trimmed, lawn mowed, flower beds cleaned.  Paint or pressure wash the exterior if necessary.
  • Door Locks/Garage - It's always a good idea to change the locks after each tenant vacates.  Check all locks and windows to make sure they operate properly.  Make sure all Garage Openers or Gate Keys are working properly. 
  • Appliances - Make sure the Stove, Refrigerator and Dishwasher are clean and in working order.  Move the Washer/Dryer and make sure it is clean behind and underneath.  Check the Dryer filters and outside vents.
  • HVAC/Plumbing - Have a reputable HVAC contractor service your heating system. Leave some extra furnace filters for the tenants to change.  Check for any plumbing leaks under sinks and replace any defective parts. 
  • Paint or Wash Walls - The interior of your Decatur property should be as inviting as the exterior.  Re-paint walls and baseboards if necessary and check particularly for dirt around light switches and door frames.
  • Bathrooms/Kitchens - Bathrooms and kitchens should be spotless and all fixtures should shine.Check if bathroom caulk needs to be redone or towel racks tightened.   
  • Smoke Detectors/Lightbulbs - Replace all smoke detector batteries and check they are active.  Wash all chandeliers and light fixtures and make sure all lightbulbs are in working order
  • Clean and Vacuum - Wash hardwood floors and clean all baseboards and window sills, vacuum carpets or have them steam-cleaned.  Clean all exterior windows, inside and out.
  • Chimneys/Fireplace- If you have a working fireplace, have a reputable chimney sweep clean after each tenant vacates.

Checklist for Prospective Tenants

Small house representing Emory rental property

If you plan to lease a property in the Emory Area or in Decatur, you should know what may be expected before you complete an application to rent a home.

Finding the right home in the Emory Area where you want to live is an obvious first step, but prospective tenants often have to pass stringent credit and background checks. In popular neighborhoods where rental properties are at a premium, there may be tough competition for a desirable home. It's best to be prepared in advance:

  • Check your credit - most credit companies allow you to have one free credit check per year.  Here are the phone numbers for the major credit card companies:
  • While it is always advisable to see a rental property before you decide to lease, this may not be possible if you live out of town.  In this case, arrange to have a colleague or friend view it for you.
  • Don't lie on the Application - if you have had bankruptcy, credit issues, or disputes with previous landlords, discuss these with your Decatur Property Manager.  Some landlords are more lenient than others.
  • If you have Pets, let the Property Manager know before you fill out the Application. Many landlords do not accept pets, or may require a Pet Deposit if they do accept them.
  • If you want to be in a certain School District, check with the School yourself to make sure the property you want to lease is located in that District.
  • If you are concerned about safety in the neighborhood of the rental property, call the local Police Department.
  • You will be required to complete a Rental Application for most properties.  Some Property Managers also require a copy of your Driver's License, recent pay stubs, or bank statements if you are self-employed. Check with your Decatur Property Manager for more specific details.
  • Be aware of money requirements - Most Property Managers require a Security Deposit of one month, plus the first month's rent. Some  landlords  require a Security Deposit plus first and last month's rent.  In addition, if the landlord accepts Pets, there will be an additional Pet Deposit.

Emory Area Property Management – Maintenance

Repainting fence of rental property near Emory University

.One of the most  critical services that a good Property Manager performs for their client, is making sure their Investment property is well maintained.

If you have qualified, happy tenants in your Emory area property, it is important to keep them happy and to handle requested repairs in a timely manner.  Your investor's property is a valuable asset and regular maintenance will assure it stays that way.

Property Managers can schedule regular HVAC maintenance, annual termite inspections, or arrange for lawn service when requested.  Managers often handle projects that range from simple repairs like replacing a garbage disposal or other relatively routine repairs, to overseeing major projects like painting, floor refinishing, roof replacement or other major remodeling.​

​Management Agreements for Emory area investors should include language that specifies how involved the Emory Property Manager will be in maintaining the property.  It should also indicate whether the Manager has authority to order certain repairs without notifying the investor.  For example, the Management Agreement might give authorization to the Manager to make minor repairs up to $200.

Before undertaking a major project, qualified  property managers should obtain multiple bids and discuss them thoroughly with the owner of the property.  Written permission should be given by the investor before any work is ordered, and a provision made for payment of the work clearly indicated.  On large projects, the investor often pays by credit card or sends a check to the Property Manager.  Any payments made by the Property Manager for repairs should be reflected on the Monthly Report and the Annual Year-end Report for tax purposes.

It is essential to have a signed Management Agreement that incorporates all of the provisions for maintaining an investor's property. If unforeseen repair or maintenance issues occur that are outside the scope of the Management Agreement, it is best to check with your owner for guidance.

Atlanta Property Management Background Checks

Computer and phone in process of screening rental applicants

Emory Decatur Property Management always recommends that prospective tenants be thoroughly screened through credit, criminal and prior landlord reference checks.

It's easier to prevent a potential problem from occurring when considering a new tenant than it is to try to evict them later.  Because property managers represent investors who trust them to obtain qualified tenants for their properties, extreme care must be utilized during the screening process.

Screening begins with an Application completed by the applicant, giving written permission to obtain a credit report, criminal background, and former landlord reference information.  Here are a few good policies to follow when dealing with applicants:

  • ​Never accept a credit report provided by an applicant, as some credit reports have been sucessfully altered
  • Always check Landlord References, two references are better than one

While many applicants look promising on paper, a thorough check might show previous late rent payments, bad credit, eviction proceedings, or criminal activity.  It's important to evaluate every aspect of the appliant's ability to pay the rent and to be a viable tenant, without violating any provision of the Fair Housing Act.

In fact, ​a recent U.S Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) guidance policy recommends exercising caution when  considering criminal history for prospective applicants. According to a National Association of Realtors (NAR) publication, the guidance suggests "housing providers should create thoughtful policies and practices that are tailored to serve a substantial, legitimate and nondiscrimatory interest of the housing provider, such as resident safety and the protection of property".

Black Front Door of rental property with Fall Leaves

Atlanta Rental Property

Careful review of the prospective tenant's credit, ability to pay, criminal history, and past landlord references should be made in every case.

With appropriate due diligence during the screening process, the ultimate goal will be​ achieved - a new tenant who pays their rent on time and maintains the property.

Removing Tenant Property Could Be Illegal!

Gavel and Legal Court Order

What happens if a tenant who owes you money moves out of your Decatur rental property in the dead of night?

​You happen to stop by your rental property in Decatur shortly thereafter and discover an unoccupied home.  The place is in terrible condition with debris on the floor, dirty dishes in the sink and on the counters,  a filthy refrigerator with food inside.  Clothes and other items are strewn about.  The tenants also left numerous personal property items behind - some of value and some obviously trash.  Your tenants have definitely abandoned the premises and are long gone!

After you've calmed down, your first impulse might be to start clearing the property, disposing of items, and cleaning it up for the next tenants.

Before you fill up the trash cans, you may need to consider filing an Eviction Order with the Court to be safe, as there are eviction laws in most states that protect the personal property of tenants, even if it appears they have abandoned their personal property.

Once you have a Court Order giving you back possession of the rental unit, you​ can lawfully remove the tenant's belongings, according to the Georgia Landlord Tenant Handbook published by the State of Georgia Department of Community Affairs.  

If you have questions regarding the legality or eviction process, contact a qualified real estate attorney.​

Handling Tenant Evictions in Georgia – the Lease Rules!

Decatur woman writing check to property owner

Property managers who have worked with tenants for a number of years have quite a few interesting stories about evicting tenants!

We do extensive credit and background screening on our tenants, so the majority of them are credit-worthy, responsible renters, who pay their rent on time and take care of the property. Then, there is the exception –

One memorable tenant notified us 60 days prior to the end of their lease that they would not be renewing. We subsequently began advertising the property for new tenants, showed prospective tenants the property, completed the application and screening process, collected a Security Deposit and signed a Lease with new tenants.

Not so fast – first, our present tenant wanted an extension of two weeks to complete their move, then they complained that the movers wanted too much money so they couldn’t move. The property was in chaos with boxes everywhere and packed solid with personal items from the attic to the basement. Every day there was a new reason they couldn’t be out on time. Since we had already committed to new renters, we had no choice but to insist that they be out on the last day of their lease. We had doubts that they would ever vacate!

In Georgia, the Lease details all the terms, including when a tenant is in breach of contract. On the last day of the month before the tenant was to vacate the premises, we gave the tenant written notice they would be in breach of contract if the property was not vacated on time, and that we would file with DeKalb County Court for an Eviction Notice. Miraculously, the were out on the specified date and the need for an Eviction order dissolved.

If you are a Landlord in Georgia, the real estate laws provide for a quick Eviction process compared to other states. I would suggestion two things:

  • Have your tenant sign a comprehensive Lease and,
  • If you are faced with the possibility of evicting a tenant, check the Georgia law procedure on evictions before you do anything – a good real estate attorney can help.

What Can a Decatur Property Manager Do For You?

Decatur businessman with pink pig on head

Managing your own Decatur investment property is often difficult, especially if you need time for a demanding full-time job, a busy family life, and want some precious down time.

Investor[1]
Those annoying tenant requests always seem to come at critical times – just when you are leaving for vacation or an important business trip.

You may have inherited a family home or become a new Decatur investor. Your Decatur home may need repairs or updates – someone will need to meet the workmen.

When your property is ready, you will need to advertise for new tenants – someone will need to screen them carefully by requiring credit, background, criminal checks, employment and more.

  • How will you market your home for tenants?
  • Who will prepare the Lease?
  • Who will hold the Security Deposit?
  • How will the rent be collected?
  • Who will answer the midnight calls from tenants?
  • Who will you use for handymen, electricians, plumbers, etc?
  • If your tenant gets locked out, who will provide an extra key?
  • What records and reports will you keep?

All these items can be professionally handled by an experienced Decatur property manager who knows your neighborhood…..plus more:

  • We can schedule period inspections of your property
  • We can make sure tenants are following the terms of the lease – no unauthorized additional tenants, pets, or painting
  • We can schedule regular HVAC inspections
  • We can prepare any changes to the Lease
  • We can prepare Monthly and Year-end Reports for your records
  • We can schedule necessary repairs
  • We can oversee installation of new carpets, or schedule painters
  • We can initiate all advertising and marketing
  • We can provide strict screening of all tenants

Managing Residential Property Near Emory University

Green knitted house with red roof sitting on a log

You may need a little assistance in managing your Emory area investment home or Decatur property – particularly if  you have moved away from the Atlanta area.

Some investors and owners do successfully manage their own properties.  An experienced Decatur property manager, however, can save you many headaches, like those calls in the middle of the night to syfon water out of a flooded basement or an alarm going off that your tenant can’t locate.  Tenants have called me recently for both of these issues and they need to be handled quickly.

Managing property for other people requires special skills:

  • A very thick skin helps -a property manager acts as a Mediator between the Owner and the Tenant
  • Organization is essential – must be able to set priorities and use follow-up systems
  • Good accounting systems and payment systems
  • A Dedicated Trust Account – regularly balanced
  •  The ability to check credit, background and references
  • Preparation of Leases, Amendments, Move In/Move Our Agreements
  • Great Handymen, Painters, Electricians, etc. – know who to call

A good Property Manager can:

  • Make sure the Heating and Air Conditioning are regularly serviced
  • Make regular inspections of your property
  • Arrange to have a leak repaired or a garbage disposal installed
  • Supervise repairs that often need to be done when a tenant moves out and another moves in
  • Keep you informed of conditions that affect your property

If you are managing your own property or  inherited a home you would like to lease in the Decatur or Emory area, consider hiring a professional Property Manager.

Landlord Responsibilities for Decatur Owners

Orange For Rent Sign with White Letters representing Emory property management services

 

According to Georgia and Federal Law, if you own investment property near Emory University or in Decatur, certain responsibilities fall on your shoulders.

As long as you are not involved in a federal government housing program which have additional requirements,  here are some concerns you should consider:

  • You are required to inform your Decatur renters of the presence of lead based paint on your property.  Lead based paint was banned in 1978 so any newer home is unlikely to contain lead paint.
  • Fair Housing laws also require that you  avoid  discrimination of any kind in leasing your property – – race. color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status or disability.
  • You should be aware that Military service personnel are allowed to break their lease if they are deployed.

Many townhome and condo communities in Dekalb County control how many units are allowed to be leased, and in some cases restrict all property owners from leasing their property if it is not owner occupied.  Local housing authorities may also have restrictions that could affect your rental property.  For example, they could restrict  how many unrelated adults may occupy a property, etc.

Local laws  require you to maintain your property in so that it is safe and habitable. Keeping yourDecatur property and the grounds in good repair is important to protect your investment.   This is what your tenants expect as well.

Screen your prospective tenants carefully by requiring credit, background and criminal checks.  Checking references and employment is also critical.  Once your tenants have occupied the property, they have the right to use, occupy and enjoy the premises in accordance with the terms of the Lease.  Except in case of emergency, this means you can’t just pop by without giving appropriate notice to your tenant.

Check with your local housing office or zoning office if you have specific questions.