More of Widget’s Tips and Tricks in No Particular Order

Written by Apartment Management Magazine on . Posted in Blog

Widget’s Way featuring Patti “Widget”

  • If you are unfortunate enough to receive a letter from your tenants attorney, do not respond, do not pass go, do not collect $200.00. Send the letter to your own legal counsel for review and direction. Sometimes what you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. Sometimes they may try to lead or manipulate you to do the wrong thing, just so they can use it against you. Simply said it is over your pay grade.
  • Remember the tenant’s rent is due on one specific day as per your rental agreement example rent is due on the first of the month. It would then be delinquent on the 2nd of the month. Your grace period is when the late fee is applied to the account, not when the rent is due.   
  • Be very careful whom you speak to. Example if someone other than the tenant on the written agreement starts asking for keys, requesting maintenance, try’s to negotiate terms , etc. remember you should not speak to anyone other than the tenants on the agreement. And you should not disclose any information to anyone other than the named tenants.  Good choice of words might be, unfortunately you are not listed on the rental agreement therefore you cannot act on the residents behalf.  I also cannot discuss any of the tenancy with you because you are not on the contract. This trick also works well with overbearing real estate agents trying to assist their client by telling you how it’s going to be handled.
  • Don’t tell the neighboring residents anything about a tenant you are evicting or what’s going on with them. That is personal private information, so please keep your lips closed.  Good choice of words might be Thank you for bringing that to my attention, I will let our legal counsel know.
  • Stop using email, text messages and your mouth to get you into trouble. Do your job and serve a notice about the issue. Kill a tree. Sending a text message as a 24 hour notice to enter is not valid in a court of law.  Using an email or text or your mouth to terminate tenancy or notify of a lease violation is not valid it can and may be used against you.  Again kill a tree.  The less electronic communication and verbal vomit the less likely the tenants will cry harassment or pull out of context, alter the words in photo shop.  Your job is to serve a notice for violations, so please do that instead of emails, texts etc. If what you are trying to say to your tenant is not possible with a notice then maybe you shouldn’t be saying it.
  • There is 2 parts to a breach of covenant notice that is non-monetary.  That’s right I said two parts.  Example, you serve a 3 day covenant notice for unauthorized pets in a unit. Make sure that you are also serving the 24 hour notice to come in and inspect after the notice expires.  If you get into a court room the tenant’s attorney may ask you “When did you re- inspect and where is your supporting documentation?)  This is not the time to have a bad case of the deer in the headlights look.
  • Remedy upon notification, means correct it yesterday, not tomorrow. So when dealing with a habitability issue remember this the tenant does not owe any rent until it is corrected so don’t dilly dally on the repair, because it is expensive to you!
  • Providing reasonable accommodations when there is a habitability issue at the property.  Please take note when finding them a hotel or a different place to stay during the repairs means they don’t owe rent for that time period, you pay for the hotel, they should also be given a food credit of $10.00 per person per meal per day and reimbursed any laundry expenses.  Please talk to your legal counsel for proper credits to be given, considering the circumstances involved.
  • Please refrain from acting on emotions; I know that it is extremely difficult especially in the heat of the moment or in a conflict. You may feel as if you have been backed into a corner or put on the spot, remember you don’t have to have all the answers in a split second so use a fogging technique such as, Thank you for bringing that to my attention I will make sure that my business partner is aware of your concerns and get back with you.
  • New Law 9/1/19 With landlord tenant laws changing whenever the wind blows, we need to change with them to stay on top of things, in the past we may wait until the 10th or 15th of the month to serve a 3 day notice to pay or quit, on 9/1/19 when the law changes and we are  no longer allowed to count weekends or holidays in the expiration of the notice or also in the answer period of an eviction, we will see this process take longer, So we may need to change our business practice with the law and serve our 3 day notices sooner.  Like on the 2nd of the month if the rent is due on the 1st.
  • Independent rental owners looking to hire a property management company. Please interview them, ask questions, ask to see real-estate license credentials and any other licensing, certifications, fair housing training etc. Remember you as the landlord are ultimately responsible. If the manager violates the law or discriminates that will most likely rest on your shoulders. 
  • Fee management property owners when bringing on a new account and speaking with that owner, for your own benefit and knowledge there are a few very specific questions that you should be asking the owner. Such as, has your tenant reported bed bugs in the last 6 months? Have you received a letter or fine from code enforcement or from the city in the past 6 months? Have you received a call or complaint from fair housing in the past 6 months? Are you currently named in any pending law suits regarding your investment property?
  • Tenant screening the only thing that you have as a tool when screening a tenant that cannot be altered or modified by the tenant is the credit report. Tenants can alter id’s they can buy fake paystubs online; even purchase bogus bank statements on the internet. The phone numbers they provide to you to call and verify the information on the application, you could be calling a friend or family member. Utilize google to get the phone number to verify employment or look on the credit report to see who the current employer is, that credit report tells you so much info, if you just listen to it.

Patti has over 23 years’ experience in the property management industry. She is an independent rental owner, a property manager by trade, and has been a regional property manager for over a decade. Patti is an advisor and considered an expert in the property management industry. Patti is actively involved with several apartment associations; she is a key note speaker at conventions, writes articles for their publications and is an educator in their training classes. She has been invited to judge several different types of industry awards. Patti also holds various certifications and licenses on both a state and on a national level, Including a CA Licensed Real Estate Broker. She is also a repeat guest speaker at UCLA.