America’s Most Famous Temporary Housing

As a nation, we are preparing to hand over the keys to the White House, one of the world’s most famous home-offices. The White House is an iconic building and National Historic Landmark with a colorful history, but in some ways it is just like any other temporary housing. The standard lease term is four years, with the opportunity for a renewal. The unit boasts 132 rooms and 35 bathrooms, with a private residence on the second floor. We have compiled some more White House history that can instruct today’s landlords in managing a successful rental property.

As her husband’s second term comes to a close, First Lady Michelle Obama recently joked that her family has to “get the old house cleaned up so we can get our security deposit back.” The transfer of the First Family’s belongings is a well-coordinated event, just like the careful attention required when…

Let’s Be Roomies!

How many times have you heard that proposal being made among friends? It is a living arrangement that once was mostly reserved for college students, graduates and other young adults who wanted to save on rent until they moved into more permanent lodgings. Now, it’s an increasingly popular option for 30-something singles and older adults who want to cut living expenses.

The financial advantages seem obvious; yet, are today’s roommates completely thinking things through before co-signing a lease? Do they recognize the challenges that come with sharing a living space long-term, with fairly splitting utility bills, and with dealing with someone else’s leftovers stinking up the refrigerator on a regular basis?

What Happens When Your Tenant Decides to Remodel?

The best tenants are those who treat your rental like it's their own home. They keep the unit clean, handle minor issues like replacing light bulbs without bothering you, and maybe even apply some fresh paint or plant a flower garden.

Then, there are tenants who come to believe that your unit is their own property. Right down to major remodeling without your approval.

You may have heard a story or two. A tenant who built a deck off the house, or replaced kitchen and bath fixtures, or laid new flooring – sometimes surprising the landlord with a bill for the work.

A recent case in New York City sets a new bar for the unbelievable. Property owner CPW Towers is suing Central Park West resident Josefina Berman in Manhattan Supreme Court, seeking an injunction and $85,000 in damages. CPW claims that the 64-year-old tenant apparently decided to 'combine' her rental unit with an adjacent

HUD Proposes Banning Smoking in Public Housing – Should You Follow Suit?

The Department of Housing and Urban Development has proposed banning smoking in all buildings under its control, another nail in the coffin for dwindling US smokers.

While many HUD properties have been voluntarily smoke-free for years (HUD strongly encouraged them to adopt no-smoking policies beginning in 2009), the proposal would ban lit tobacco products in all rental units, indoor communal areas and administrative office buildings. Smoking would also be prohibited in outdoor areas within 25 feet of HUD-owned buildings.

HUD’s proposal, which is currently in the public comment process, will require public housing agencies to implement smoke-free policies within 18 months of a final rule. It will impact residents in over 700,000 units, although the department says that over 500 agencies have already gone smoke-free in at least one of their buildings.

Not affected by the proposed rule are units in mixed-finance buildings (because the public housing agency would not necessarily be the

What Happens When Your Tenants Break Up?

With seven months to go in the lease term, hubby emails you to say that he and his wife are splitting up. He already moved out and he wants his half of the security deposit mailed to his new address.
You head over to your unit and catch the wife coming home from work. She says she's looking for a second job, to be able to cover the rent on her own, adding that she may be a bit late on the next rent payment.
Timeout! Property management is your business, not a charity project. Put aside all emotions – now is not the time to make decisions based on feelings. Maybe you sympathize with the partner who got left behind. Perhaps you’re peeved at with the partner who took off and wants to violate the lease they signed with you. Forget all that the first thing you need to do is protect your asset. Attorney and Minneapolis Star Tribune legal columnist.

7 Ways to Improve Your Landlord-Tenant Relationships for Better ROI

Titans, stripes and polkadots, landlords and tenants… some things just seem destined to clash.

After all, landlords and tenants have plenty of competing interests. Landlords want to charge the maximum rent that the market will bear, tenants want to pay as little as possible. Landlords want to spend the minimum amount of money necessary to keep tenants from leaving, and tenants want the most (and best) property updates they can wring out of the landlord. Landlords want the rent early, tenants would just as soon keep their money in their pocket. And so on.

But pause for a moment to consider how much easier your life would be as a landlord if you could slide the scale to make the relationship more symbiotic, less antagonistic. If your tenants knew you generally cared about them, might they make more of an effort to get you the rent by the first every month?

How to Handle Chronically Late Tenants

Have a tenant who never saw a bill they liked to pay on time? What can you do about it, beyond mailing late rent notices and crossing your fingers?

First, a discussion of late rent fees is in order. If you don’t charge late fees, you should, and the maximum amount allowed in your state, province or municipality. Sometimes this is a percentage (5-10%) of the rent, or it may be restricted to what’s “reasonable” (i.e. whatever the judge ends up thinking is reasonable). The most restrictive laws require late fees to be directly related to the landlord’s expenses incurred due to the late rent (for example, the late fee the landlord pays on their mortgage).

Regardless, make sure your lease agreement includes clauses explicitly outlining what the late fee is, and when it becomes due (commonly after a five day grace period, but this too varies by state, province and municipality). Charge the maximum allowed by law, on the earliest day allowed – you can always forgive late fees later on a case by case basis, but you can’t raise them.

7 Reasons Landlords Should Inspect Rental Properties Every Few Months

You can always count on Murphy’s Law, and nowhere is that more true than in real estate. From failing furnaces to outlaw occupants and pets, plenty can go awry at your property, so savvy landlords know that a property inspection today can prevent major headaches tomorrow. Sure, everyone knows that a walk-through and property inspection is essential to perform with your tenant before a new lease term begins and when that same lease ends. But over the life of the lease, regular property inspections can save money in more ways than one.

Here are the seven reasons why landlords should make regular property inspections.

Tenant Compliance: Is the nice older lady you leased to the only occupant, or did her deadbeat son and his pregnant girlfriend move on in too? Is the renter hoarding moldering magazines and creating a fire hazard? Is there mildew, mold or mice in the kitchen from uncleaned filth? Are there pets residing the in the property, that were not listed in the original lease agreement? Tenant compliance is among the

A Landlord’s Guide to Late Fees, Penalties and Reasonable Charges

"Check's in the mail, he he he." What’s a landlord to do when tenants never bother to pay the rent on time? Rest assured once a tenant pays late and gets away with it, it will happen again. Most landlords, newbies and veterans alike, can agree there should be some consequence to paying the rent past its due date. The question though is how much to charge, and how to structure the late rent fees.

The answer to how much to charge is generally based on what your individual jurisdiction allows (this is usually covered by state or province law, but can also be county-specific). In some states like Maine and Massachusetts, there are timelines in place as well. Massachusetts has statutory law that requires landlords to wait 30 days before charging a late fee. There is currently a House Bill #1670 to change this but it has been stagnant since January 2013.

Sometimes the law only restricts late fees to being "reasonable", defined by the courts as the amount that a "reasonably prudent" landlord

Everything Landlords Need to Know about Rent Control

Rent control is a tenant's dream come true: what could be better than paying $400 in rent for a property worth $600,000? It's not so great for the property owner who can't charge what her property is worth. Aside from "don't buy a property that's rent controlled," here's what all real estate investors and landlords need to know about rent control.

What is Rent Control?

Rent control is usually a local regulation that restricts how much a landlord can charge for rent on a given property, regardless of what neighboring properties rent for, or what the property value might be. This law may impose limits on how often rents are increased, when they may be increased, and by how much.

Also known as a "rent ceiling," few cities in the United States have rent control laws. In California for example, cities like Los Angeles and San Francisco have these laws in place. So does New York City.