Frequently Asked Questions
Our FAQ's are broken down into different sections. Click on a link below to go directly to that section:
FAQ About South Florida Real Property Management
Q: What makes South Florida Real Property Management different than any other?
: This is a very common question and we provide a very easy answer. Our team is the most well trained staff in the business. We also offer our Owner Workshop Program, a very unique training program that involves providing seminars to all our owners, which will cover topics like: Rental Investing 101™ (a comprehensive study of the current market conditions) and Building a Foundation in Property Management™ (a comprehensive study of all aspects of property management). These workshops are used as a tool to help you stay up to date with any industry changes that may impact your portfolio. This program will also allow you to gain industry knowledge to better help you gauge a property management or real estate company's level of service.
As an investor, you may also take part in our Rental Portfolio Checkup, an analysis designed to specifically evaluate your rental portfolio, then strategically plan out your investment strategy according to the current real estate market conditions.
You may also choose to have your investment portfolio looked at from a legal stand point. We can refer our owners to one of the leading law firms that specialize in asset protection. They can evaluate and/or create corporate entities that may be used to protect your real estate portfolio.
Q: What types of properties does South Florida Real Property Management manage?
: We primarily focus our services in the residential single family, duplex and midsize multi-family properties (a typical range of 8 to 80 units). This does not exclude our services for providing management to select commercial properties.
Q: What are the office hours of South Florida Real Property Management?
: We are open for business from 9:00am to 5:00pm weekdays. After hours and on weekends we always have an emergency contact on call and available.
Q: How does South Florida Real Property Management handle emergencies?
: A big part of good landlord-tenant relations is availability and a timely response. Our company provides an on-call person 24 hours a day to handle emergencies. We have a preferred list of service vendors who will respond promptly to all emergencies.
Q: How does South Florida Real Property Management perform our bookkeeping and reporting to property owners?
: With our specially designed property management software we are promptly able to send you detailed property reports periodically. Such reports are:
Q: Will South Florida Real Property Management deposit an owner's checks directly into the bank?
- Detailed profit and loss statement and comparison
- Fiscal year budget reports
- Detailed rent roll reports
- Security deposit reports
- Late rent report
- Unit available reports
: We will deposit your distribution check directly into your bank, either by mail or electronic deposit, and mail the monthly statement to you.
Q: How much does South Florida Real Property Management charge for management services?
: We have several services available to fit the needs of any rental owner. You can pick and choose which services you need us to handle for you. Our fees are competitive in the market place; we charge a small percentage (10%) of the monthly rent as a management fee. Our leasing program's fee to find and place a qualified tenant is 50% of the monthly rent and our lease renewal fee to renew a lease with the current tenant is as low as 20%.
There are a lot of property management companies that will advertise lower fees, but offer inferior services and often have hidden costs. Keep in mind, "there are some who know the price of everything but the value of nothing".
Q: Does South Florida Real Property Management charge extra for overseeing maintenance repairs?
: No! This is part of our standard service to you, the owner, and is included in our management fees. We do not accept rebates from vendors, nor do we charge fees to tenants to oversee maintenance repairs.
FAQ About Qualifying Tenants & Marketing the Rental Unit
Q: How long will it take to rent a property?
: There are several factors that influence the rental market, such as location, condition, rental price, demographics and psychographics. Demographics tell us who will rent from us and psychographics tell us why they rent. (To help our property owners better understand the importance of how to evaluate a target rental area and market, we provide a free seminar that covers how to locate and buy rental property.) The demand for affordable housing will only increase over the next few years due to such economic indicators as higher interest rates, less affordable rental housing stock being available to an increasingly large middle income population, specifically due largely to the effect the condo conversion craze has had on supply and demand in our submarket. The ability to find 'blue chip tenants' will only increase. Typically the time frame to rent a unit should take no more than 30-60 days.
Q: How will South Florida Real Property Management market your rental unit?
: Getting your property rented as soon as possible to a qualified tenant is one of our highest priorities. Lost rent because of unnecessary vacancies is cash-flow typically never recovered. Therefore, we use many methods of advertising to give your property the widest possible exposure. These include, but are not limited to:
Q: How does South Florida Real Property Management qualify prospective tenants?
- Yard signs - One of our South Florida Real Property Management yard signs will be placed on the property (if permitted) between two and four weeks prior to a vacancy, or immediately if your property is just being placed on the rental market with our company. This service is provided at no additional charge to our Leasing Service.
- Voice Mail - We will provide professional and trained answering services and voice mail to take inquiries about your property. This is more than just someone answering the phone. Our team has received specialized training to help us relate to a caller, identify their rental needs, encourage the caller to schedule an appointment at the property, pre-qualify the caller, and do all this in accordance of Fair Housing Laws. This service is provided at no additional charge to our Leasing Service.
- News Paper Ads - A classified ad will be placed in the rental section of the local news paper where the property is located with owner's written approval. One of our trained Leasing Specialists will create and design the ad to match the demographics and psychographics in your rental area. It will also comply with Fair Housing Law. (Some of the most common Fair Housing violations are in advertising.) You, the owner, will only be responsible for the hard cost of the newspaper ad. You will have the opportunity to pre-approve this amount. This creation and coordination of the ad is provided at no additional charge to our Leasing Service.
- Internet - Photos and a full description of your property will be placed on our website. Prospective renters can access this site and search by area to find exactly what they want. A flat rate of $25.00 per property will apply.
- Rental spotlight list - Your property description will be added to our rental list. This list of available or upcoming rentals is updated daily and available free of charge to all who come into our office. This list is also faxed and emailed to other offices throughout our company and alliances upon request. This service is provided at no additional charge to our Leasing Service.
- We market with other real estate offices and rental locator services. - Your rental information will be shared with other real estate offices looking to locate rentals for their clients. Your property can be shared with rental locator services to attract as much interest as possible if you wish. Additional fees may be due to the locator service.
: South Florida Real Property Management uses one of the most comprehensive tenant screening services in the nation. Powered by The Landlord Academy, this screening program will evaluate the following areas of a prospect tenant's background:
- Rental records
- Employment verifications
- Court evictions
- Driving record
- Criminal background check
- Retail credit files
- Rental debt collection records
How in-depth you want your tenant screening process to be will be up to you, though we have recommended criteria. We can help you create a personalized screening criteria. We do suggest that all owners read the article provide in this handbook, "Finding a Blue Chip Tenant". This article will provide a more detailed explanation of the impact of finding a good tenant and looks at the liabilities a landlord AND property owner could face if not properly screening tenants.
Q: How long will it take to qualify an applicant?
: Depending on the level of screening, the process could take as little as 15-20min. or it could take as long as one business day. Our team is trained in techniques to close a deal quickly, even if approval is still pending.
Q: Does South Florida Real Property Management guarantee our leasing services?
: We are so confident of our tenant qualification process that we offer the following guarantee to owners: If a tenant qualified by our company breaks the original Lease Agreement within the first year for any reason, we will waive our customary lease fee and re-rent the property to new tenants for FREE!
Q: What if additional persons move into the rental property?
: This is a common and costly problem rental owners face. To proactively address this issue, this is prohibited in our Lease Agreement. If an unauthorized person moves in, a 7-day notice to cure will be served requiring this person move out or be added to the lease, after completing an application and being approved through our tenant screening process, within seven calendar days. Failure to comply can result in the termination of the Lease Agreement.
Q: Does the rent stay the same until a tenant moves out?
: Our management is designed to not only manage the day to day activities of your property, but to maximize its cash flow potential. One key to increasing a property owner's cash-flow and increasing the value of the property is the ability to increase the rents periodically to market rate. Approximately six weeks before the end of each lease period we evaluate the market rent of your property to see how much we should raise the rent to keep it in line with the current market conditions. A lease renewal is presented to the tenant with the new rent amount stipulated. Approximately eighty percent of our tenants accept the new rental rate and renew the lease. Of those who choose to move, it is rarely because of a rent increase. It has been our experience that the increase is profits owners receive through rent increases over time have more than covered the cost of our management fees. Our team constantly conducts market surveys to maintain the ability to keep pace with current market rent conditions. This not only includes an evaluation of rental amount, but also amenities offered, and other competitive factors.
Q: What happens if the tenant doesn't pay the rent?
: This is one of the most frequently asked questions by owners and the subject of greatest concern. The answer is that when a tenant fails to pay the rent and remains in the rental unit, we begin the process to quickly having the tenant removed. Our trained team knows how to file the Florida required legal notices to prepare for an eviction process. We work closely with premier and experienced eviction attorneys to not only make sure you receive fast, excellent service but competitive fees. For more details on how an eviction works, please review the eviction timeline provided in the legal section of this manual by one of our landlord-tenant eviction attorneys. Once the eviction is completed in the court system, the tenant is required to physically move from your property. We coordinate the required performance of the writ of possession by a local sheriff which putts our management company back in possession of the rental unit. Our trained team handles any abandoned property as required by Florida Law. (Left behind property is one of the most costly areas of landlording and where many law suits arise if not handled appropriately.) After that we quickly make the rental unit ready to show and lease again. In fact, at the time of the initial filing we would have begun to advertise and find a new tenant. The eviction process usually takes three to four weeks, "not months" as many would believe. Of course, it can take months if things are handled properly. For our clients, an eviction usually costs the owner an initial legal fee of only $150.00. However, the more relevant question is...How likely is it that an eviction will occur?
Although we can never be 100% certain, the superior property management training our staff receives as Certified Property Management Specialists™, coupled with our experience, industry leading management systems and tenant screening programs, has actually shown that evictions will be experiences significantly less often than by owners self-managing their property or using other management services who do not provide the services we offer, by the trained team we have.
Q: Who is Responsible? Owner or Tenant?
: The amount of owner vs. tenant responsibility is impacted by the number of rental units i.e. single-family rental or multi-family rental. Below provides more detailed questions and answers on this topic.
Q: What happens if the tenant damages the property?
: This is probably the second most frequently asked question by owners. Because of our comprehensive tenant screening program, our tenants are ones who consistently pay the rent on time and take care of the rental property. In the event the tenants do cause damage, they are instructed to repair the damage at their expense. A follow-up inspection by the property manager will determine if the work has been performed properly. If tenant caused damages are discovered at the time the tenant vacates the premises, a claim is made against the security deposit to cover the damage. This is a legal process that must be followed precisely to allow deduction of a security deposit. If not handled correctly and within the allowed time frame, the entire security deposit can be required to be returned to the tenant, regardless of damages.
Q: Who is responsible for the heating/ air conditioning system?
: This is a shared responsibility. The owner is responsible for the major operations of the system when things go wrong that are beyond the control of the tenant. However, the tenant is responsible for changing the filters regularly and keeping the drain line open. System maintenance or repair resulting form tenant abuse, misuse or neglect is the responsibility of the tenant. To help our tenants better understand the level of preventive maintenance we expect them to perform, we provide to them at the move in meeting a preventive maintenance guide that helps explain in detail various preventive maintenance techniques. These responsibilities are also spelled out in our Lease Agreement.
Q: Who is responsible for plumbing repairs?
: Once again, this is a shared responsibility. Owners are responsible for circumstances beyond the tenant's control, i.e. water heater failure, tree roots in the sewer line or worn out fixtures. However, the tenant is responsible for clogged toilets or drains: toilet seats, flappers, and handles: jammed garbage disposals: and any problem resulting from abuse, misuse or neglect. If the premise has a septic tank system, owners are customarily responsible for septic tank pump-outs, sump pump failure and clogged drain fields.
Q: Who is responsible for windows and screens?
: The owner is responsible through the property manager to ensure that these are in good condition when the tenant takes possession. After that, the tenant is responsible for the repair or replacement of broken glass or damage screens, including screen doors and sliding doors. One exception would be if damage occurred because of a natural disaster such as a major storm.
Q: Who is responsible for pest control?
: Our Lease Agreement makes this a tenant responsibility for single family homes and duplexes, except for problems beyond the tenant's control, i.e. termites, carpenter ants, pharaoh ants and rodents. Florida Statues stipulate that for multi-family buildings larger than a duplex, pest control must be an owner's responsibility.
Q: Who takes care of the yard?
: Our single-family Lease Agreement makes this a tenant responsibility and requires the tenant to maintain the yard and shrubs in the same condition the yard was in during move-in, unless the owner chooses to provide complete lawn care for the property.
Many owners now provide chemical lawn service: a quarterly fertilization, weed control, and insect control treatment for about $25 per month.
Hazardous work such as tree trimming is an owner's responsibility and is arranged and scheduled by or property manager. The cost of this service would be the responsibility of the owner and pre-approved by the owner.
Q: Who is responsible for swimming pool service?
: It has been our experience that it is best for this service to be provided by the owner to make sure that the pool is maintained properly. We contract with a pool service company to provide weekly pool services. The cost of this service would be the responsibility of the owner and pre-approved by the owner.
Q: What is your policy on animals?
: Whether or not to accept animals is always the owner's decision. Some owners allow animals, others do not. A non-refundable fee of $100 per animal and an additional $200 security deposit per animal must be paid by the tenant in order to have an animal in the rental unit. Where animals are permitted, only small to medium sized, non-violent, common domesticated animals would be considered. Certain breeds of dogs are not accepted because of liability considerations. Farm animals are not permitted. (Due to Fair Housing Laws persons with disabilities will be allowed a therapy pet with out being charged a pet fee. For more information, please review the Fair Housing Act provided in this manual.)
Q: What does South Florida Real Property Management do when the rental becomes vacant?
: To reduce out of pocket costs to the owner, we promptly conduct a move-out inspection of the rental premises. This allows us to make any appropriate claims against the security deposit for damages made by the tenant and then disburse the deposit accordingly. We immediately prepare the property for re-rent. This process is referred to as the "Punch Out". This typically includes cleaning the carpet, painting the walls, etc. As soon as we are notified the unit will become vacant, we begin advertising for a new tenant. This is often the best time to address major repairs, improvements or upgrades to the rental unit if needed.
Q: What kind of liability insurance should a property owner have?
: If you are converting your personal residence to a rental property, you should change your policy from a homeowner's policy to a landlord's policy (sometimes called a rental dwelling or dwelling fire policy). If your property is already a rental unit, you probably have the right policy, but please check just to be sure. The limits should be in an amount not less than $100,000 per person and $300,000 per occurrence.
If your rental property is in a condominium or two home communities, please do not assume that the condo association policy for the community will adequately cover you or your property. "It will not!" You should have your own liability policy (separate from the association's policy) to make sure that both you and your rental property are adequately protected.
If you do not know an insurance agent we can recommend local independent insurance agents who will be glad to recommend the appropriate policy for you.
It is the policy of South Florida Real Property Management that you, the owner, request your insurance company add South Florida Real Property Management as an "additional insured" to your policy. Most companies make this addition at no additional charge. Some companies have a policy against adding coverage for management agents to your policy. In theses cases South Florida Real Property Management reserves the right to charge the owner's account once each year a nominal insurance charge ($50 for one house) when we are not covered under the owner's policy as an "additional insured".
Q: What is South Florida Real Property Management's Rental Inspection Program?
: In addition to overseeing all maintenance, repairs and handling all tenant relations as part of our regular management responsibilities, we can conduct an annual inspection of the visual interior and exterior of a rental property's property, complete an inspection report and provide a copy of the report to you the owner. Due to the complexity of the inspection the annual inspection is not a part of our normal management services. For a reasonable investment of $125 we gladly perform these very important services.