NEW OWNER COMMON QUESTIONS
Why would an owner use a property management company over doing it themselves?
There are several reasons investors should hire a quality company like SJA Property Management rather than go it alone. The most common reasons include the following:
- We handle all repair issues 24/7, saving you time, money, and stress.
- We have the local market knowledge and rent our homes quickly (under two weeks on average) for more money, saving you thousands in lost rental income.
- We reduce your liabilities by being educated on and correctly applying all the relevant and ever-changing Federal, State, and City landlord-tenant laws and regulations.
- We make tax time easy by providing you with detailed monthly and yearly statements tracking all expenses and deductions.
- We treat your property like a business, enforcing rent collection, properly serving notices, and acting quickly on lease violations.
- We receive calls almost daily from owners who have tried managing their properties on their own. In the end, it’s a lot of work to do it correctly. After owners consider the time, effort, increased liability, and inconvenience factor, they are happy to have us take it off their plate.
What are your qualifications?
SJA Property Management has been in business since 2009. Over that time, we have managed thousands of rentals and tenants. We previously sat on the board of the National Association of Residential Property Managers. We are current board members of the Rental Housing Authority and belong to Washington State Bar Association, and the Northwest Multiple Listing Service. We have earned a knowledgeable reputation in the industry through consistency in service and an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau.
What makes SJA Property Management different from other property management companies in the area?
Here at SJA Property Management, we differentiate ourselves in many ways. Here are just a few reasons we are the industry leader in our market:
- Proven track record of success with over 14 years of local knowledge and expertise
- 8 exclusive owner Happiness Guarantees including no long-term contracts, eviction protection, and more!
- A strong employee-based (not contactor) team model, providing each owner with a single point of contact
- Fully documented policies and procedures, utilizing a workflow system that is repeatable and consistent
- One of the highest rated and most reviewed PM companies in Washington with a stellar reputation for integrity and protecting our client’s interests
- True 24hr 365 property protection with in-house maintenance coordination, using our database of trusted and vetted vendors
- Dedicated leasing agents incentivized to rent our properties quickly
- Industry-leading low vacancy (below 5%) and tenant default rates (98% receivables rate)
When should I start advertising my rental property?
How do you market my rental property?
What needs to be done to prepare a property for the market and a tenant?
How is the rental price determined?
In order to determine the fair market value of a rental home, we first check what comparable properties in the area have rented for, both in our current portfolio as well as other properties on the market. We also factor in a particular neighborhood’s demand and the time of year the property is being marketed. We are professionals and we’ll be able to determine the right price for the property fairly quickly.
Should I accept pets in my rental property?
This will depend on your comfort level. SJA recommends that you consider accepting tenants with pets. Statistics show that around 75% of tenants own a pet, and therefore by not allowing them, you are at a disadvantage in finding a tenant quickly. We use a third-party service PetScreening.com to verify our pets. We require all pets to be licensed in accordance with State and City regulations and have an additional pet liability clause for “restricted breeds.” We do not accept puppies under one year old or any animal with a screening score lower than 2. Additionally, we request a pet deposit when applicable and offer an Animal Protection Guarantee. All SJA Properties are smoke-free.
How do you ensure that only quality tenants rent my home?
Our screening process is very thorough and effective. We personally verify all our screening requirements are met to ensure only the best tenants rent our properties. We check for credit, identification, criminal history (when allowed by Law), debt/rent ratios, past rental history, evictions, job status, income, sex offender status/or registry, providing false information, and bankruptcy. Because of our thorough screening process our default rate is one of the lowest in the industry.
Can I choose which tenants rent my home?
Fair housing laws regulations are very strict and prohibit any discrimination of tenants who members of a protected class. The laws are complex and there are many variations from city to city. SJA Property Management ensures all our owners are in compliance with these laws while still making sure each tenant is extremely well screened.
How are security deposits handled?
Another way SJA Property Management helps protect our owner’s properties is by collecting large security deposits. We require deposit amounts that are approximately equal to one month’s rent. These funds are held in compliance with applicable State and Federal laws. At the end of the tenant’s lease term we will use these funds to pay for any damage to the property over normal wear and tear. All our deductions are supported by the lease agreement and our comprehensive electronic move in and move out reports.
How long should the duration of the lease be?
SJA Property Management requires that all our leases be in writing. As the owner’s representative, we can execute the lease on their behalf. To maximize the appeal to potential tenants we recommend that the lease duration term be at least twelve months. With the owner’s approval, we may increase the lease term or accept leases for less than one year, in order to have the lease expire during a more active time of the year.
How long does it take to rent a property?
We understand that vacancy is one of the biggest expenses for a landlord and we work diligently to rent our properties as soon as possible and we have the horsepower to find tenants quickly. Price and market conditions will also drive vacancy periods. Our goal is to have every property rented within one month from when we started marketing. Currently, we average 14 days to fill a vacancy, which is well below the industry average.
How will I know my property being taken care of by the tenant?
We take several steps to ensure our owner’s properties are being well maintained. Our screening process is very thorough and ensures only the best applicants are approved for our properties. We have well-written leases that protect our client’s best interests and we require large security deposits. At our move-in walkthroughs, we utilize technology to accurately document the home’s condition with many photos and descriptions. We will also perform an initial Rent Ready inspection of the property and then another exterior/interior 40 point review of the property, on a yearly basis. We verify that all the major systems in the house are working properly and that there are no lease violations. We compile an electronic report complete with pictures and send it to our owners, along with our recommended action steps, if needed.
What happens if there is an emergency on the property?
SJA Property Management provides a 24hr emergency service 7 days a week, 365 days a year. We handle the late night calls so you don’t have to. Through an extensive network of vendors and contractors we are able to take care of any issues quickly and efficiently.
How are repairs handled?
How will I receive my rent funds?
We disperse all rent funds into our owner’s accounts through ACH automatic payments. Along with the payment, we email our owners an itemized statement detailing any expenses on their account. Owners will also receive their own personal log in information, where they can log into our cloud based system and review any past statements.
What happens if the tenants do not pay their rent or break the lease?
What does SJA Property Management need to start managing my property?
What type of insurance do I need to get for my property?
The best protection an owner has in the event of a lawsuit brought in conjunction with their rental property, is a landlord insurance policy. We require that our owners carry at least one million dollars of coverage. We also require that SJA Property Management be named as an “Additional Insured” on the policy. Property management agreements require owners to name the property management company as additional insured because the management company does not hold title to the rental property and therefore cannot acquire general liability insurance on property. Without this coverage, a company would be exposed to liability from defects (such as faulty wiring) in the home, resulting in a lawsuit. Often there is no extra premium charge to the property owner to add the management company as additional insured.
What is RRIO and will it impact my property?
RRIO stands for the Rental Registration & Inspection Ordinance. It was established by the Seattle City Council to help ensure that all rental housing in Seattle is safe and fit for habitation. The ordinance states that starting in 2014, all rental property owners in Seattle must register their properties with the City. A list of approved inspectors will make sure all registered rental properties comply with minimum housing and safety standards at least once every 5 – 10 years. SJA Property Management will make sure your rental property complies with the registration requirements and will coordinate the inspection should one occur. The registration fee charged by the City is $175 per rental property and the inspection fee is a separate $160. So far, this requirement only pertains to properties located in the City of Seattle.
How does Landlord insurance work?
Landlord insurance protects your property from damage while also protecting you from personal liability. Let’s look at a few examples of how landlord insurance works.
Property damage example:
- In the event a tree falls on your investment property, causing substantial damage, your landlord insurance can help pay for the repairs or rebuilding. Your property damage coverage has limits, so be sure you are aware of what they are and that you have adequate coverage. If you have a loss of income coverage, you may also be compensated for the rental income you will lose during repairs, which is a nice benefit.
Landlord liability example:
- If your tenant or a guest is injured in a fall at your property and the fall was a result of perceived negligence on the property owner’s part, such as an uneven walkway, a loose railing or a weak step on a stairway, you might have a liability claim on your hands. In this case, the person could file a claim against your insurance policy to cover the costs of medical care and other damages. Your landlord insurance can cover your expenses up to the limits on the liability portion of your plan, (after your deductible amount is met). You may not have been covered under this scenario with a standard homeowner’s policy.
Do I have to have a Landlord insurance and why is it important?
Why does SJA need to be listed as Additional Insured?
So, in essence, Property Management Firms assume all the liabilities of a homeowner because their insurance policies do not offer the same type of protection as a Landlord insurance policy – which covers the investment property. This leaves them vulnerable to claims and lawsuits arising from the property itself. Some examples of where the Property Management firm would not be covered by their insurance policy include someone injuring themselves at the property, burglary, fire, water leaks, etc.
What is the difference between Named Insured, Additional Insured and Additional Interest?
- The term “Named Insured” refers to the owner of the insurance policy and it is the party listed on the Declaration’s Page. The “Named Insured” is the only party that has the authority to make any policy changes, file claims, receive refunds and claim payments, cancel the policy, or make any other such modifications.
- This is probably the single most misunderstood insurance term. It is misused and misapplied on a regular basis. An “Additional Insured” is a party listed on an insurance policy that has some type of liability interest in the property. The “Additional Insured” has absolutely no right or authority to make any policy changes or to cancel the policy. Also, contrary to popular belief, an “Additional Insured” is ONLY afforded liability protection under the liability portion of the policy and there is no coverage whatsoever for physical losses resulting from such things as vandalism, theft, fire, wind and hail, and so on.
- An “Additional Interest” is nothing like the “Additional Insured” though they sound similar. An “Additional Interest” is a party listed in an insurance policy that has an “interest” in being notified whenever a policy cancels or has a major change made to it. In other words, this party is simply being made aware of the change – nothing else. There is absolutely no coverage whatsoever afforded to an Additional Interest.
As you can see, there is a big legal difference between these terms, and having an interest listed incorrectly can have unintended and far-reaching consequences in the event of a loss, default, or other such situation. Your insurance agent should know the difference between these three terms, however, sometimes that is not the case and they may need to be educated.
Is Landlord insurance tax deductible?
Tips when talking to your Insurance Agent
Some of the Insurance providers that can add SJA Property Management as an Additional Insured:
- State Farm
- America Bankers
Let’s recap why you need landlord insurance and why SJA Property Management must be listed as Additional Insured:
- Landlord policy helps protect from financial losses resulting from accidents, natural disasters, injuries, and other liability issues associated with your rental property.
- SJA has a $2MM Errors & Omission Insurance policy (well above the national average) and a separate General Liability Insurance policy.
- It is very common for reputable Property Management firms to require a landlord to add the company as an Additional Insured; at least the ones with more knowledge and experience, which arguably would be the better ones as they understand risk and liability (which is the number one reason you hired a Property Management company in the first place).
- Not all insurance companies allow landlords to add their Property Management company as an Additional Insured.
- Not all insurance companies charge to add a Property Management Company to the policy and in fact, many of them do not.
Disclaimer: It is always recommended that you speak to a local attorney to learn more about local real estate laws and how they can impact you and your home.