Saturday, January 28, 2017

The importance of good move-in inspection documentation

By far the largest source of resident/landlord disputes is the disposition of the resident’s security deposit.  Using proper move-in and move-out documentation procedures is the best tool to protect you and your residents from these kinds of disputes.  

With clear documentation on condition at possession and at move-out, and provisions in the lease that specify expectations and responsibility, you will have an objective baseline for the entire residency.  It can also demonstrate to the residents satisfaction that at move-in, the property is in good condition and any general wear and tear exceptions are noted and agreed.

Even more, with mobile and cloud tools readily available today, landlords can perform detailed inspections with room-by-room condition, photos and notations that can be signed onsite with the tenant in just minutes, with a documented report file that’s saved with the lease information.  These save time and add much detail to the inspection report.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

If you're thinking of selling, check out these stats

The average sale price for Condos in West Seattle -December 2016

If you're thinking of selling this year, stay up with the stats, with RD House Real Estate.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

A first look at property management news in 2017

The new year is still taking shape, but there are already a few notable items rental property owners should be aware of.

1099 deadline changes

Tax season always brings a mixed bag of changes from forms to regulations, and this year is no exception.  Beginning in 2017 (for the 2016 reporting year), many important deadlines will change. Filers  will be required to send 1099-MISC recipient copies and submit the forms to the IRS by January 31, 2017 for both paper and e-filings.  Previously, recipient copies (copy B) were required by January 31, but companies had until February 28 for paper and March 31 for e-file for reporting to the IRS, allowing some additional time for review and any corrections.  However, the new 1099-MISC filing deadline only impacts filers reporting non-employee compensation payments in Box 7, and rental property income is reported in Box 1 (Rents) and Box 3 (Other income).  
For the 2016 filing year, RD-House will be using e-filing for both recipient (property owner) and IRS forms, and will, as we have in the past, report, audit and deliver these by January 31.

New or pending City of Seattle rental regulations

The City Council remains busy proposing and implementing various rental regulations.  

  • The RRIO (Rental Regulation and Inspection Ordinance) was fully implemented as of 12/31 2016, meaning that all rental properties regardless of location or the number of units are now required to be registered with RRIO.   RD-House completed registrations for managed units in 2016, and now have RRIO as a checklist item for onboarding new managements.
  • First in Time Tenant screening and acceptance requirements went into effect on Jan 1, 2017.  This requires acceptance of the first submitted and qualified application for a unit or property.  RD-House has clear acceptance and denial criteria for applicant screenings, and had always operated under this general rule, do we don't forsee any specific impacts with this for our managed properties.
  • Caps on move-in fees (pending vote) at no more than one months rent, in addition to the first months rent.  We are monitoring this item as it is debated by the City Council.
  • Limits on the use of credit, evictions and foreclosure information as screening criteria. This is only proposed at this point, and final legislation and process have not yet been determined.  We are closely monitoring this item as it is debated by the City Council.

Review your annual maintenance checklist

The beginning of the year is a good time to review and plan your property maintenance needs.  For example, individual units should be freshened during a turnover: consider what your painting, re-carpeting, countertops, or appliances might need to be upgraded. Doing this on a regular basis offers a huge perk: You probably won’t be scrambling to replace a conked out furnace in the dead of winter if you’ve been having it cleaned and serviced each fall.
Remember that some maintenance steps are required, according to city or state guidelines.  In Seattle, the RRIO inspection criteria are a good guide.  In addition:

  • Paint common areas every five to seven years. When they start to look worn and paint starts to chip or wear off, or has an uneven sheen, it’s probably time.
  • Re-carpet hallways and other shared spaces every five years. This is about the time carpet will start to unravel and become a tripping hazard.
  • Change light fixtures (not just bulbs) every 10 years or so. Quality fixtures can last for years, but many older ones aren’t compatible with new LED bulbs. Most buildings don’t tend to change the fixtures, however, until it’s time to repaint.
  • Clean the exterior annually, and look for paint or siding wear that may indicate additional maintenance.
  • Clean and inspect downspouts, gutters, and other water-related features annually. Either in the fall when leaves are falling or in the spring after trees flower to avoid debris getting clogged and causing backups.
  • Service and repair furnaces, water heaters and other major systems annually. Check or replace filters, etc. 
  • Touchup landscaping seasonally. Curb appeal is everything: invest in your outdoor plants every season to keep your property looking its best.