Oversights a Property Management Company Can Help Landlords Prevent

Oversights a Property Management Company Can Help Landlords Prevent - Article Banner

Oversights have to be expected from time to time; you’re busy, and mistakes happen. 

However, when you’re renting out a property, those oversights can usually have some serious consequences. They might be expensive. Minor missteps are no big deal. They’re easy to correct. But what about the major oversights that can potentially land you in legal trouble or impact what you earn on your investment property? 

One of the best reasons to partner with a professional Vancouver property management company is to protect yourself from these oversights. Property managers will prevent the common mistakes that are made and point out the blind spots that self-managing landlords often have. 

You can benefit from the experience and systems that come with professional management. We’ve already learned from our own mistakes and oversights; we know how to prevent these disruptions and confusions. 

Let’s take a look at some of the worst oversights for a landlord, and how we can help you prevent them.

Legal Oversights 

Washington State has a lot of laws that are in place to protect tenants. If you don’t know these laws pretty well, it’s easy to miss something. 

A property manager won’t let that happen. We’ll keep you compliant. 

Here are some of the biggest problems that landlords tend to run into. These oversights will not only cost you money, they’ll potentially land you in court. 

  • Fair Housing Laws 

If you’re not up to date on the fair housing laws, there’s a lot of room for error. Not knowing the protected classes, the difference between a pet and a service animal, and what disparate impact means can be a huge oversight. You need to know these laws and how they’re applied in order to protect your property. 

  • Vancouver Lease Agreements

Your lease agreement is going to be the most important document of your tenancy. This will protect you and your tenants and your property. Make sure you have a lease in place, and make sure it’s both legally compliant and legally enforceable in the state of Washington. 

Allowing a tenant to move in without a signed lease is a huge oversight. Pulling a lease template from the internet without ensuring it contains all the necessary language is also an oversight. 

When you have a property manager taking care of the lease agreement, you know it’s going to be thorough, complete, and compliant. Your property manager will provide a lease agreement for tenants to sign that includes a rent collection policy, instructions for maintenance reporting, rules and requirements, and expectations around cleanliness, landscaping, and other situations. Never rely on a verbal agreement. 

  • Security Deposit Oversights 

Security deposit oversights can happen as you’re collecting the deposit, holding it, and especially returning it. In Washington, you have 21 days after the tenant moves out to return the deposit. If you’re withholding money from it, you’ll need to send your tenants a list explaining what you’ve deducted and why. 

  • Eviction Oversights in Vancouver

There’s a process to evictions in Vancouver, and you need to follow it. You can easily make an oversight while serving the notice, filling out the paperwork, and missing something that’s required by the court.  Working with a property manager will reduce the risk that you even need to evict; professionally managed homes are usually less likely to require an eviction. 

If you need to evict a tenant, you have to follow the legal process for evictions. It starts with your reason. You cannot simply decide to evict a tenant in the middle of a lease term. You can only evict them if they’re not paying rent, or if they’ve violated the lease agreement. Then, you’ll serve a notice to your tenants. Your property manager will have legal resources if it does become necessary to evict, but usually the entire process can be avoided. 

One of the worst oversights you can make while evicting your tenants is to do something illegal. Don’t go over to the property and change the locks. We know it’s frustrating when rent isn’t being paid and it feels like your tenants are living for free in your property. You must remain professional, however, and having a property manager managing the eviction on your behalf will give you some distance. 

Pay Attention to your Pricing

Proper pricing is essential, and we’re frequently surprised at how little thought landlords sometimes give to where their rental value should land. 

Your property’s rental value will depend largely on the market, and a lot of landlords make the mistake of ignoring the market and pricing their home according to what they think it’s worth or what they want to earn. Or, they’ll be so desperate to find and keep a tenant that they’ll underprice the home. 

Pricing your property too low means leaving money on the table. It’s also dangerous because you may struggle to ever catch up with the market rents. 

Pricing your property too high means a longer vacancy period. It will take longer to find someone willing to rent your home at a price that’s too high, and you may find yourself losing an entire month’s rent before you lower your asking price and find a tenant. 

These oversights can cost you money.

Take a look at what homes similar to yours are renting for in your neighborhood. Price your home competitively to avoid those long vacancies and be willing to come down on the price if you’re not getting a lot of interest.   

Deferred and Unreported Maintenance in Vancouver Rental Property

Most property management companies will have a plan in place to address every type of maintenance, whether it’s preventative maintenance, emergency repairs, or a routine fix. Some of the most expensive oversights involve deferred maintenance and needed repairs that your tenants have not brought to your attention. These things can be avoided with the help of a management team. 

If you put off repairs or you don’t hear about a leaking sink for a few months, the repairs you’re called upon to make will always be more expensive and complicated than they would have been if you’d responded right away. 

You’ll also face additional deterioration of your entire property. Property managers won’t allow this oversight to happen. We will protect your property and its value and condition by:  

  • Establishing good relationships with residents, and explaining the importance of reporting repair needs right away. By helping your tenants to understand that everything should be documented and reported right away, we’ll keep a better handle on how and when things are repaired. We won’t let small problems become large catastrophes. 
  • Conducting thorough, well-documented inspections. Property managers will document the condition of your property accurately and with inspection technology. 
  • Putting together a preventative maintenance plan so you can have all of your major systems and functions inspected and serviced. Have the heating and cooling system inspected and serviced annually. Get the roof and the gutters cleaned annually. Hire a pest control service to do routine treatments. 

Responsive maintenance can help you avoid the oversight and expense of deferred maintenance. 

Choosing Vendors and Contractors

One of the more common oversights we see with landlords is that they have not put together a list of preferred vendors and contractors to work with when maintenance is needed. 

It’s also a huge mistake not to work with licensed and insured vendors. 

You need to protect yourself, your property, and your residents by working with licensed professionals when work is required. Hiring someone who doesn’t carry the proper insurance can also bring a lot of liability onto your property. What if there’s an injury? If a worker without insurance falls off a ladder, you may be liable for their hospital bills and even their lost wages. If a non-electrician starts rewiring your house and starts a fire, you could find yourself with a huge insurance claim and a lot of property damage.

Avoid this potential oversight by working with a property manager. We have well-screened vendors that we work with, and these professionals are licensed, insured, and dedicated to providing high quality, cost effective maintenance work.

Tenant Screening Mistakes 

Tenant Screening

Tenant screening is one of the most important things you’ll do as a landlord. Your rental experience depends on placing a qualified tenant who pays rent on time, helps you take care of the property, and follows the terms of the lease agreement. 

You won’t find that tenant without a thorough screening process. 

Forget trusting your instincts. You need a documented and consistent screening process so you can carefully check the background and financial stability of each potential tenant without violating any fair housing laws. Establish standard rental criteria and document your process. 

When you partner with a management company, there is less room for error. Property managers screen within fair housing guidelines. We provide a set of standard qualifying rental criteria to every applicant. And, we check:

  • National eviction and criminal databases
  • Credit reports
  • Income
  • Rental references 

Don’t breeze past the tenant screening process. If you cannot be thorough, leverage the resources and experience of a property manager.  

These are some of the most common oversights we see landlords in Vancouver fall victim to. We would love to help you avoid them. Please contact us at Utmost Property Management. We manage homes for investors like you in Vancouver, Camas and the Greater Clark County area.