Archive for May, 2012

Kitchen Renovations Part 1

Here are some simple but drastic ways to improve your existing kitchen! Take a look at what a tweaking and effort can do!


Countertops and cabinets are all 80s style but in good condition. The cabinets were repainted and reclaimed wood from shipping pallets were used for the back wall. The whole transformation only costed $60!


Read more about here. Images:


Cabinets were primed and repainted. Shows how much a little reorganization and paint can do!


Read more about it here! Images: An Urban Cottage



Stove and fridge were bought on craigslist Secondhand cabinets from craigslist



Read more about it here! Images: Michelle Chin



Color can really liven up the space! Cabinets were repainted, took out upper cabinets, replaced doors and handles


Read more about it here! Images: Olive & Daisies

Fair Housing Act

Even in today’s society, we live in a place where discrimination against one another still happens each
and every day. One of the most common places that discrimination takes place is within the Real Estate
realm. While certain ethical codes and morals may seem simple and easy enough to follow by anyone
with an unbiased/open state of mind, a simple slip even when unintentional can get property owners
and their agents into a heap of trouble as well as emotionally harming renters at the same time. The
following consist of the major laws that owners must adhere to in order to ensure people are treated
fairly, consistently, and most important of all, equally. These rules, which are passed down in the Civil
Rights Act of 1968 must be adhere to regardless whether you are selling your property, leasing your
property, or financing properties. The following are the major regulations that are within the umbrella
of the Fair Housing Act:

The Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination in any type of Real Estate transaction (sales,
rentals, financing) based on:

o Color,
o Race, “a lot of chinese live in this building”
o National Origin, “we do not accept non-Americans” It would only be a violation if the tenant has a social security number.
o Religion “a lot of Jews live in this building”
o Sex, “we only accept females in this unit”
o Handicap Status, “we do not accept emotional/support pets/animals” deposit cannot be charged on support animals. a higher deposit for handicap access is also a violation
o Familial Status “we cannot accept children on the upper units”
In addition to the above protected classes, some states have the following groups to be under
the protection of Fair Housing Laws:

o Maritial Status,
o Sexual Orientation,
o Age, “seeking older, mature tenants”
o Source of Income,
o Military Status,
o Students. “we cannot accept college students”

While memorizing the above rules and the protected classes will help a landlord gain a better
knowledge in what they should not be conducting when it comes to discrimination, the easiest way to
adhere to all of these rules is to make sure every individual you deal with must be treated equally and
with the same opportunities. No matter if it’s a renter calling you to inquire about an apartment or a
prospective buyer calling you to view a building, simply treat each person the same with openness and
allow each person the same opportunity as the next person. Property owners also need to be aware
that accommodations will also need to be made with certain handicap statuses (under reasonable
modifications and efforts), to make the apartment, the building, the general environment within the
apartment vicinity fit the needs of prospective renters with disabilities. The housing laws require
owners to make, “reasonable” accommodations/modifications (such as accepting service/companion
animals in a “no pets” building or building a ramp to make the building handicap accessible) in order to
allow a person of disability to have equal opportunities as the next person and also to enjoy the full use
of his/her housing.

In the end, regardless whether you are dealing with people under these protective classes or not, every
landlord must remember to always provide each individual with the same opportunities and the full
ability to live in their units. Failure to do so would not only be very costly for you (whether if its actual
damages, punitive damages or civil damages), it will also harm those who are affected by it first hand.
Landlords must also relate all Fair Housing related information to those working for them such as on-
site managers, real estate agents, leasing companies, etc. For more detailed information regarding
Fair Housing Laws and potential penalties if not followed correctly, please visit: US Dept. of Housing & Urban Development

Late Paying Tenants

It is a nightmare for landlords when tenants do not pay their rent on time, or worse, they do not pay at all. This nuisance can lead to filing fees and evictions which is can cost a lot of $$. Here are some ways you, as a landlord, can prevent late rent payments.

  1. Keep your property in good condition. High quality tenants have choices and a poor property will only attract poor quality tenants.
  2. Always verify an applicant’s background.  Ask for pay stubs from their job and a credit check report. Request for a co-signer or proof of other income with bank account statements.
  3. Call their previous landlord and inquire about any previous delinquency.
  4. Keep the details of rent collection in the lease clear. Be sure to include payment due dates, late fees, payment methods, action taken when a check bounces. Consider a 2-5 days grace period, holidays and weekends. Make aware of the consequences that can lead to an eviction notice.
  5. Build a good relationship with your tenants. However, know when to be firm and not be too lenient at the right time.

Your tenant is late on payment, now what? Here are some steps you can follow before it gets out of hand.

  1. Enforce your lease agreement. Always send out a payment notice a day after rent is past due. If you can gather renter’s emails and phones, you can offer to email/text them monthly rent payment reminders.
  2. Always charge a late fee.  The amount is usually no more than 3-5% of rent. If your unit is in a rent controlled area, your housing regulation may determine the amount. You can also opt to moderate increases daily. For example: $5 each day rent is late with a  maximum of 3-5% of rent.
  3. If your tenant does not include the late fees in their rent, your best bet is to deduct the late fees from their security deposit. You can also take the late fee and apply it to the next rent payment and issue an outstanding balance of unpaid rent.
  4. Being consistent will help your case in court or eviction. It will show you are fair to every tenant.
  5. You have the right to inform credit bureaus about any late payment. This can affect their credit score.
  6.  Consider the history of the tenant. If this is a new tenant, you will need to be firm and send the message that late payments would not be tolerated. If this tenant have rented for years and have never paid late, you will need to figure out if this is just a one-time thing.
  7. Contact the tenant personally and find out why they are late on payment. If it is likely to occur again in the future because of a financial situation, you may need to work towards a voluntary move-out.
  8. If the tenant is not following through with their claims, you will need to move forward with a pay rent or quit notice faster.
  9. If you have tried several times and your tenant is unresponsive, you may need to move forward to the next steps faster.
  10. Serve a PAY RENT OR QUIT notice. After a couple weeks, you can ask your tenant to move out in a specific period of time. Usually 15-30 days is fair. However, you cannot ask for late fees or other charges. But it is better to cut your losses now.
  11. Evictions should be your last option. You will need valid reasons and proof to take action. This is expensive, time consuming and not guaranteed due to rental laws favoring tenants in California. If it takes months to evict your tenant, they may get away without paying rent! However, it may be your only choice at this point.

Hopefully these steps will help you reduce the number of late payments! Remember, it is always to take preventative measures before dragging it onto the eviction stage. Unfortunately, sometimes one may have no other option.

Vacancies: Part 2 Filling your Vacancy

Is your unit vacant for multiple months? There are many factors that may contribute to the vacancy of your unit. While some of them, such as location, surroundings, size and timing, you have no control over. There are some steps you can do to reduce the number of days, or even months of your vacancy! Filling a vacancy should be one of your top priorities, because every month your unit is vacant, you are losing hundreds or even thousands of dollars in revenue!

The winter season is generally slower for rentals; this could be due to the holiday season and the cold. Statistics show that more tenants move out during the spring and summer time. If your property is near a university, students often look for housing in spring and fall.

As a landlord, you want a good tenant with good credit reports and a good job. Good tenants also have more options too. Keeping that in mind, here are some steps that can increase the number of prospective tenants considering your unit.

Repairs and Maintenance
This is the time to repair and maintain the property. It is a lot more effective fixing up an empty unit so you won’t inconvenience an existing tenant. Check all the plumbing and piping. Repaint your walls, fix lighting and replace carpets. Update any outdated appliances.

Figure out the fair market price of your unit and price your rent slightly below market price. It doesn’t have to be a lot, you can start off with $10-25 less than the fair market value. This can help you attract more prospective tenants to view your property. To figure out the fair market price, you will need to gather information on the area where your unit is located. Or you can request a free consultation with one of our representatives. E-mail:

You can offer discounts such as 1 or 2 months off if a prospective renter signs and follows with a one or two-year lease. This can reduce the amount of time and loss revenue when a tenant moves out after a year.

Please bear in mind that the higher numbers of restrictions you have, the less applicants your place will attract. Consider allowing section 8 or pets. There is more paperwork for section 8 but it also guarantees rent and often has a lower turnover.

Show the property
Show it often and as soon as possible, make yourself or someone else available and be sure to show it in its best condition. Clean the unit before you show it.

Empty or Lived in.
Depending on your current tenant, it may be better to show the unit empty. However, if your current tenant has a good sense of style, existing furniture and décor may actually enhance the showing and help prospective renters visualize the space better. However, you would need to give your tenant 24-hour notice before showing the unit.

Handling applications
Once you receive applications, check them fast! Some renters may be under a time constraint and may pick the unit that responds the quickest. Be sure to follow up with every one of your applicants and schedule a lease signing as soon as possible before they choose to view more apartments and back out.

Lack of amenities
These are common deal-breakers that prospective tenants are looking for when they are searching for a new place. While some may not be possible to change, if you can improve the situation, definitely look into it.

  • Washing machine and dryers on site, or hook ups – this is easily a deal breaker.
  • Parking – create an extra parking space by allowing tandem parking or utilizing the driveway if it does not block anyone.
  • Dishwasher – Used ones cost less than $300, New approximately $700 + installation fees.
  • Fridge – cheap, you can even buy one on craigslist for $100-300.
  • Air conditioner – a window air conditioner is an additional $200-300. Installation is also easy.
  • Heater/central heating
  • Wheelchair accessibility – If you only have a low staircase, adding a ramp will make your apartment wheelchair assessable.

Hiring a leasing specialist
Expenses on advertising will often more than offset the cost of lost rent for one or more months. As a residential leasing specialist, Apartment Corner only charges when we fill your unit. We are so confident in our performance that both our full-service and lead-generation leasing packages are completely free if you are able to fill your unit before we do. Since your vacancy is our focus, not only do we market your vacant unit to a wider audience, but we are also available 7 days a week, 10am-5pm, to answer calls and show units to tenants. This is why we often operate more efficiently than a larger property manager. When you opt for our services, you do not have to worry about your vacancy and it is safe in our hands. You also have the choice to screen and accept a prospective tenant and rest assured, a quality tenant would sign your lease.

Vacancies: Part 1 Preventing Vacancies

Unfortunately, vacancies are one of the biggest expenses you will face as a rental property owner. For every month your unit is vacant, you are losing hundreds and thousands of dollars! The best way to reduce this expense is to prevent vacancies in the first place! Just like a company, finding new employees is costly, thus good companies try to keep their employees happy to reduce turnover. This applies to your tenants as well!

Moving is a hassle and although sometimes necessary, most people would agree that they do not want to move unless they need to. With the increasing use of the Internet, tenants can hunt for a new apartment conveniently in the comfort of their own home, which also gives them more options if they are unhappy with their current home.

1. Weigh the disadvantages and advantages of a rent increase
One of the most common reasons an existing tenant moves is an increase in rent prices. Is the extra $100-$200 worth it if you will lose 1-2 month worth of rent? Depending on the current market, you may want to avoid this for as long as you want. If you are adamant, consider a smaller increase like $30-50. You want to discourage existing renters from looking for a better bargain.

2. Find out if your tenant is staying before their lease ends
If your tenant is leaving, this will give you time to start advertising your unit and reducing the time of vacancy. Also ask existing tenants for any referrals that may be interested in your upcoming vacancy

3. Offer a discount/promotion if a renter is leaving
Your renter has given you a 30-day notice, you have nothing to lose at this point, but you may offer them a discount or promotion if they sign another lease. Such as 1-2 months free. This way, you will not be lowering their rent beyond the one year-lease. Consider offering a discount for signing a two-year lease too. Or you may also offer to update existing appliances that are outdated.

4. Preventative maintenance
Being quick to respond to leaks, broken appliances, and other issues shows that you are a responsible landlord and that you care about your tenants. A lack of response can leave tenants disgruntled. Maintaining your property brings value to your property and keeps it in tip-top shape. Keep shared areas such as laundry room and courtyards clean and maintained. No one likes a broken laundry machine!
Regular maintenance will also save you money in the long run and cut down on complaints.

5. Improvements to the property
Paint is an inexpensive option to improve the look and feel of a place. If your appliances are outdated or are breaking down, consider upgrading them.

6. Get to know your tenants
Make your tenants feel at home and initiate conversations with them. If you get to know your tenants and establish a relationship with them, this would make them less inclined to leave.

Calculating Rental Vacancy and Credit Loss

How To Calculate Rental Vacancy and Credit Loss
By , Guide

  1. Determine an expected percentage of loss due to vacancy and non-payment by checking that of comparable properties and the recent loss experienced by the subject property.Last year’s vacancy and credit loss from the subject property may have been 3% of net operating income. Other comparable properties experienced an average of 4%. Choose a value in the mix, let’s say 3.60%.
  2. Adjust your net operating income for next year by any anticipated rent increases. If you are anticipating a 5% increase in rent, and net operating income this year is $44,000, then:$44,000 X 1.05 = $46,200
  3. Calculate the expected monetary loss for next year due to vacancy and credit losses:$46,200(net operating income) X .0360 (3.6%) loss estimate = $1663.20.

What You Need

  • Calculator
  • Some estimate(s) of vacancy and credit loss percentages

Source: , Guide