Managing Single Family Homes
When managing a single family home vs. an apartment complex, condo or town-home there are some specific challenges that may not be obvious to either the landlord or the tenant. We like to help all parties understand what is important and also why it is important when it comes to managing the property in question.
The first thing to consider is that the entire property is under one roof with its own yard and as such, it does not share in exterior maintenance through a separate organization.
Many homes often belong to a mandatory HOA association with its own set of rules and standards that, if the community is not deed-only, will be passed down and expected to be adhered to by the new tenant entering the dwelling.
As a management company, the leasing agent must be sure to give the tenant a copy of these rules prior to moving in so they can be aware of any specific rules for the community.
For instance, many communities do not allow vehicles to sit outside the garage area. Another example is that many communities have a rule mandating lawn height. If these items are not adhered to, the tenant (and then ultimately the landlord) can be fined hundreds of dollars for non-compliance in a timely manner. We never want that to happen so we take extra care to make sure that the tenant is aware of any rules.
Since the management company is the mediator letters of non-compliance must be immediately sent when a notice is received. Tenants or homeowners are both called upon to help with compliance.
When it comes to renting out a home, many homeowners look at their financials and see only a few things: Incoming rent minus property management fees, minus property insurance costs and minus annual property tax fees = profit and/or ability to pay mortgage.
But what about the yearly upkeep and maintenance of the home itself? In many cases, the home that is being rented out is one of the largest “investments” that a homeowner has purchased throughout his/her lifetime.
So, why not protect that investment? Below are a few things to consider that, as your property manager, it is our duty to remind you of when needed:
However much you may wish it to be so, Florida’s sun and wonderful liquid sunshine does not suffice as a cleanser for the exterior of your home. A yearly pressure washing service should be employed so that any wear-and-tear on the building’s exterior can be properly noticed and repaired. Mold builds up quickly in our moist environment and is never a good thing to sit on stucco or wood siding for a lengthy amount of time. Once the house has been washed off and WDO rot has been identified, then repairs can be made before the rot spreads.
A few other exterior items that need addressing yearly are sprinkler head maintenance, lawn fertilizer, weed control, tree/bush trimming, mulching and fence panel repairs.
Landlords must understand that when a tenant signs a lease, they are not signing on to maintain the home like they own that home. It is best to consider tenants as minimal-level maintenance providers as that is typically how tenants see themselves.
Every homeowner should have a quarterly lawn service contract that removes weeds, bugs, etc. Fertilizer should be applied at least twice a year and re-mulching or leaf removal is usually needed about every quarter. A tech or lawn service should also be hired to maintain limb, bush and tree heights throughout the year.
One to two visits per year should suffice depending upon the strictness of the HOA (if any). If a sprinkler system has been installed, then the homeowner should be open to sprinkler head repairs (as needed) throughout the year.
As a property manager of Rental Partners in Jax, Florida, homeowners who are away should not underestimate the value of sending a sprinkler or lawn tech to assist with exterior lawn maintenance (for those items mentioned above). A homeowner should not presume that the tenant should or will take care of these things since they have chosen to “rent” rather than own so they do not have to do the items as mentioned above.
Other exterior items that a homeowner needs to maintain responsibility is in the supplying of garbage receptacles, the cleaning out of gutters (if any), screen repair (if not caused by the tenant) and the annual re-caulking of exterior windows. The cleaning of the gutters and re-caulking are especially important to keep the interior of the home high and dry. Major issues start to happen when moisture and water permeate through to the interior of the home.
Honorable mention items would be annual coil cleanings of the exterior a/c unit. This helps to ensure that the a/c is working properly and efficiently throughout the year. The tenant, of course, is responsible for changing out the a/c filter every 4 to 6 weeks (or longer with a HEPA filter) but they are never asked to call an a/c company for repair or upkeep.
Another item that is important is to re-caulk around all water areas inside the home. Many times this is done when the first tenant moves out and the management’s maintenance tech is sent to “turn” the unit and get it rent ready for the new incoming tenant. However, this is a simply a cost that will be passed down to the homeowner and not the last tenant.
Recaulking is not a fee that can be taken out of the previous tenant’s security deposit as this is considered a basic wear-and-tear item that should be done yearly for the protection of the home. This includes a re-caulk around the faucets, the sinks and each and every tub. The original caulk is removed, the area is properly cleaned and new caulked is applied. Again, this will help to keep the interior of the home (including under the cabinets and in the walls) high and dry. A typical annual cost for this service should be between $125-$200. That’s a small price to pay to protect your investment.
Just to touch on a few more items, it is good to mention that hot water heaters need to be flushed out for sediment every few years, water filters on water pumps, sinks and in refrigerators should be changed out regularly and garage doors often need to be serviced to ensure that all springs and electronics are in good working order.
At Rental Partners we can help with organizing all of these tasks to happen when they are supposed to.