We can start the process immediately. Contact us so we can find out more about you and your property and see if we would be a good match for your wants and expectations regarding management services. We can do all of the paperwork needed electronically and begin the process immediately.
How do you screen a prospective resident after they have submitted an application to rent my property?
This is one of the most important aspects of rental property management. We look at an applicant’s past behavior and assume their future behavior will be the same. An applicant must demonstrate a history of being a good, responsible Resident as well as meeting our financial criteria.
We pull a credit check and review the results looking at income, rental history, credit, employment, family size, pets, and any other stipulations presented in order to make a good decision upon which Resident to rent to. It is our policy to choose the BEST applicant, not always the first. Credit is not the always the most important aspect of screening an applicant and our goal is to ultimately pick a Resident that will be a good fit for us and the Client of the home.
- Resident Employment and Income Verifications
- Eviction and Criminal Reports
- Landlord Verifications
We pull a background check that has access to public records that tell us if the applicant has ever been evicted. This is a level of scrutiny that most other property management companies do not perform.
In the Baltimore MSA, we find that the internet, social media, combined with 3D tours, and top of the line pictures is the most effective marketing tool by far. We push our listings to 47 major websites and craigslist. Most of these websites feed to other smaller sites giving your property a wide range of visibility. We have learned certain tricks to maximize your exposure. We also utilize our prospective resident database and realtor referral network to touch as many people as possible.
The security deposit is approximately one month’s rent and is collected when the Resident is approved to rent the property. The deposit is held by HomeWorks until the Resident departs from the property. Within 45 days after departure, the deposit is returned to the Resident if all provisions of the lease agreement have been met. Payment for damage to the property, due to neglect by the resident, is deducted from the security deposit to cover any cost of repairs. Any deductions from a deposit must be supported by copies of bills for the expenditure, or otherwise authorized in the Lease Agreement.
Everyone who lives in the property must be named on the Lease Agreement. It is our policy that a guest staying with the Resident longer than 14 days is no longer considered to be a guest but a roommate, therefore, if the person is Eighteen (18) years of age or older, he/she must fill out and submit our Rental Application for approval by HomeWorks. Resident(s) must abide by the decision of HomeWorks whether another person or persons can be added to the Rental/Lease Agreement. Failure to do so may result in termination of their lease
Rent payments are due on the 1st day of each month. If a Resident moves into a property during the middle of the month, rent for the month will be pro-rated, and the rent for the ensuing months will be due on the 1st.
We deposit your proceeds directly into your bank account. We send disbursements on the 10th of the month or the next business day. After the 10th we disperse rental proceeds every Friday.
If payment has not been made by the 5th day of the month, we send a text message, email and voice broadcast to the Resident. This process continues until the 10th when we send our delinquent Residents to the rent court agency to start the eviction process.
The most desirable properties, priced well, will not lease quickly if they are not in top condition. Properties must show well and have “curb appeal”. We make sure your property is presented in a clean and attractive condition so that it will catch the attention of a qualified Resident.
Eviction procedures are initiated against the Residents if they have not paid their rent by the 10th day of the month. The provisions of an eviction notice can vary. This first step is filing a Failure To Pay Rent (FTPR) case with the district court. This is done through a rent court agency that we’ve contracted with. Once a court date has been issued the resident will be served with a summons to appear. At that time our agent would appear in court to represent your interests and will make a claim for all monies due. Assuming that judgment is awarded by the judge we must wait 7-10 days depending on jurisdiction to file A Warrant of Restitution. Once we receive the signed warrant back we can schedule the eviction. During this time we encourage the resident to reach out to programs that provide rental assistance to residents.
Often, we are asked what is “additional insured” and why the Client should name the management company as an additional insured.
The First and best line of protection a Client has in the event of a lawsuit brought on by a Resident being injured on the property by faulty wiring or a faulty appliance or anything else is to carry adequate insurance. An additional insured is a person or organization not automatically included as an insured entity under an insurance policy, but for whom insured status is arranged, usually by endorsement.
A Client’s reason for providing additional insured status to others may be a desire to protect the other party because of a close relationship with that party (e.g., employees ) or to comply with a contractual agreement requiring the named insured to do so (e.g., Property Management Agreement or others working in behalf of the Client).
The Property Management Agreement requires Clients to name the property management company as additional insured because the management company does not hold title to the rental property that they are managing and cannot acquire general liability insurance on the property that they don’t own to cover the management company. Ordinarily, there is no extra premium charge to the property Client to add the management company as an additional insured.
Residents may submit maintenance requests though our website, email, mail, or our preferred method of entering in requests through the automated maintenance portal. Studies show that up to 60% of resident turnover is controllable and linked to two major factors, customer service and how maintenance is handled. Check out this in-depth article on how our maintenance process works! We will make sure it is not something the Resident can fix themselves (ex: reset button on the disposal, tripped breaker etc.) before your money is spent on a service call. After determining that it is a legitimate problem, we will send the appropriate service vendor to make the repair. We tell our Residents that we are able to handle most repair requests within 1 to 3 working days, and, in fact, are usually able to do so. Comfort items such as air conditioning, no hot water or heat, receive highest priority and are usually attended to the same or next business day.
This is the greatest fear of most new Clients. We have this in our management agreement – in writing – to abide by our spending limits. Ordinary maintenance and repairs of less than $300 can be paid out of your account without prior specific Client permission, and you will see this in your monthly statement. If we think a repair might exceed $300 and if we are unable to reach you, we may initiate repair work even if it is higher than $300 as stated in the management agreement; for the following cases:
(1) the health or safety of a Resident is an issue;
(2) the property will incur damage if immediate action is not taken,
(3) In instances where there is only one option to consider. We will not leave a Resident waiting without hot water, or a leaking roof while we try to contact you for permission to do the obvious.
Sometimes a Client will raise the issue that we spent $315.00 (for example) when it was not an emergency. Instead of having the Client possibly incur an additional trip fee just for us to get an estimate, and then having to send the company back out to do the repair it makes more financial sense to agree to the repair at the time the technician is on-site. This saves the Resident time, the Client money, and we are all better off because of this. Imagine if you were a Resident – you take off work on a Tuesday afternoon and the tech shows up to look at your garbage disposal. It needs approximately $315.00 worth of work to be fixed. If we were unable to approve this job, the tech would have to leave your home and then come back another day to do the work….again making the Resident take off work to accommodate a $15.00 technicality. Come renewal time – Residents remember these things and could cost both of us an excellent Resident.
We always tell the maintenance companies to alert us if the repair is going to be over $300. Sometimes the maintenance company may think that the repair will not go over $300, but after they get working on the repair, they find that there is more to fix than they could see before they started the job. It would not make good sense and it could be a safety issue if the company had to leave an air conditioner or dishwasher, etc. torn apart while we waited for your permission to ok the additional $50.00(for example) and then the maintenance company could charge another trip charge on top of the extra money for the repairs. This would not be in your (the Clients) best interest – or the Resident.
We give them an opportunity to correct the situation, and usually they will. If a problem persists, we will make a decision based on that specific situation to take more drastic measures that could include eviction if needed. Prior to pushing towards an eviction, the courts will require an “Opportunity to Cure” the defect. Example – if they have an un-authorized pet in the home – we would have to send them formal correspondence to remove the pet by a certain date, then inspect the home to ensure compliance. If they fail to comply, our case is solid and eviction over the matter would be more justified with the proper documentation.
Unless otherwise stated in the Property Management Agreement or restricted by property limitations, all utilities used on the premises are paid for by the Resident. New Residents are required to use our utility concierge service. This is provided free of charge to all Residents and they are required to submit proof that they have transferred the utilities before they are allowed to move in. During periods of vacancy, utilities can be placed in the company’s name, and the resulting usage will be charged to the Client’s account. Having the electricity on greatly enhances the showing of your property when darkness arrives early in the evening and during hot weather.
All rental units including apartments, duplexes, condos, and single-family homes must have smoke detectors as required by the Maryland Property Code.
Unless otherwise recommended by the manufacturer’s published instructions, single- and multiple-stations smoke alarms shall be replaced when they fail to respond to operability tests but shall not remain in service longer than 10 years from the date of manufacture.
Responsible residents are valuable assets to both of us. A satisfied resident can bring us referral business and will be more inclined to care for your property as if it was their own. As the owner of the property, it is best that you avoid direct communication with the resident and refer all inquiries to our office. We maintain a diplomatic relationship, between you and your Resident. We do understand that this is your home and asset and there are some Clients who prefer to be best friends with their residents. However, we don’t recommend this as when something happens that requires strict action – we find that Residents will mommy/daddy us. We tell them “NO – you can’t pay late this month because you overspent money last month.” They don’t like that answer and turn around and contact the Client. If the Client gives in to the Resident, it ruins our ability to enforce anything – defeating the purpose of why you hire a property manager in the first place.
Frequently, we get asked why Clients have to wait so long to get their rent proceeds when rent is due on the 1st of the month. We think that it is a good question! Yes, our lease agreement states that the rent is due on the 1st of the month. We give the resident a grace Therefore, the Resident s have to midnight on the 4th before they are considered to be late with their rent. The bank then has to post these deposits to our account, which again, if it falls on a weekend or a holiday, does not happen until the following Monday, or workday for the bank. Therefore, if the funds for us to send you your money are not credited or put into our account before we send out checks then some of the checks we send out could be returned for Nonsufficient funds, causing numerous other problems for all of us. You should receive your rent proceeds no later than the 10th to the 12th providing the property is occupied and the rent has been paid on time. Disbursements are made by ACH direct deposit into the Clients’ accounts.
All leases are in writing and normally cover a period of one year or may be longer depending on when the lease renews. We will do this whenever possible to avoid having a winter vacancy. Leases longer than two years are approved after discussion with the Client.
After a prospective resident has been shown a property and has expressed a desire to lease it – They must complete our rental application. The prospective Resident must also submit a non-refundable Application Fee. The application fee is retained by the company to handle the cost of processing the application. Upon approval of the application, HomeWorks will collect the Security Deposit for that property. No property is taken off the market until an application is fully approved and a security deposit is in hand to us via certified funds.
We typically hold a $300 reserve for all properties that we manage to help cover any small repair items that come up.
Unlike other property management companies – HomeWorks CAN manage your home that has a swimming pool. We suggest building enough cash flow into the lease to provide a regular professional pool cleaning service to ensure the pool is being maintained correctly. This service will be contracted by the Client or property manager and access will be granted by the Residents.
We prefer that the Clients do not use a Home Warranty Company to make repairs at their rental property. It is possible for us to accommodate a home warranty – but read this first! There is a HUGE problem in the home warranty industry, and the public is becoming savvy to it. Try searching Google with the name of your favorite home warranty company and the word `complaints’ or `fraud’. You will be amazed. Find out how many people feel like they got burned, turned down wrongfully, or got seriously bad service.
Almost Every time we call a home warranty company for a problem, they deny the service either on grounds of lack of maintenance or abnormal wear and tear and if they do accept it, they rarely send a vendor who shows up on time and acts in a professional manor. How do you define abnormal wear and tear and lack of maintenance? When it comes to exclusions and small print, Warranty contracts say a claim can be denied for lack of maintenance, improper maintenance, improper installation, pre-existing problems, code violations and numerous other reasons. Warranties are typically purchased by home sellers or their real estate agents to avoid lawsuits if something breaks in the first year. Not to be confused with a builder’s warranty, a so-called home warranty — Actually a service contract — is typically purchased for existing homes, especially homes sold by real estate agents. These service contracts generally cost $400 to $600 for a year-long basic-coverage plan that includes items like ceiling fans, water heaters, and furnaces.
The contracts come with loopholes. You need to carefully read your service agreement to determine what is and what isn’t covered. Coverage for plumbing, for example, typically ends at your home’s foundation, so leaks or breakages beyond that would be your responsibility. “Pre-existing” problems typically aren’t covered, nor are breakdowns that result from poor maintenance or improper installation. The contract also may require that a system be upgraded to current building code standards — at the home Client’s expense — before they agree to consider repairs. People who have had problems with the home warranty companies say that the more expensive the repair or replacement, the more likely home warranty companies are to invoke these exclusion clauses. You don’t have control over who does the work. The home warranty provider contracts with local service companies to perform the actual inspections and repairs. You don’t get to choose, and scheduling repairs can sometimes be a trial taking days for immediate service. The service technician may also try to sell you unneeded services.
So what is a homeowner to do? Many consumer advocates would say it’s better to “self-insure” — setting aside a reasonable sum each year to cover routine maintenance and finding reliable local contractors to do the work. You can’t shift all the risk of home repairs to a home warranty company because, as noted above, many repairs won’t be covered by your agreement. So when might a home warranty make sense? If you are trying to sell a house, a home warranty can give buyers some peace of mind and may reduce the chances of your being sued should an appliance or system break down after the sale.
We have had hundreds of problems with home warranties.
An example: we had a bathroom faucet that needed to be replaced; we called the Home Warranty Company. After paying the $55 deductible, their contractor refused to make the repair. So, we had our plumber go out and they made the repair for $65. We have experienced this over and over where the Clients are spending money on deductibles and then we have to send out our maintenance people to fix the problem.
On another property, a dishwasher repair was needed. The home warranty company took 3 months and had to make 15 trips out to the property to repair the dishwasher. If you were the Resident how would you feel? Would you be renewing your lease with this landlord anytime soon?
On one property the A/C went out in the summer and it took 21 trips and 3 months before the warranty company finally replaced the A/C. You can be sure the Residents moved as soon as their lease agreement was up.
Often, they will leave Residents hanging without heat or A/C for days while they go through their “second opinion” process. If, as a property management company, we wanted to damage our reputation with as many Residents as possible by providing the lousiest repair service possible, there is no better way to accomplish that than by using a warranty company on all service calls. They simply are not compatible with the level of service we demand of our vendors.
Our Clients have been burned so many times in years past that we finally decided we had enough and said “no more”. Nothing affects the reputation of a property management company more than the manner in which repairs are handled. Residents judge us by almost no other measure. It, therefore, makes little sense to entrust vendors we don’t know, whom we have no relationship with or control over, with the reputation of our company and the relationship with your Resident. Instead, when repairs are needed, we will send our trusted vendors with whom established relationships exists, and they will provide the quality service we require in a professional and timely manner. That said, if we determine through our own vendor that a covered mechanical item in your home has failed, or is in need of costly repair, we will endeavor to get whatever Home Warranty company you have out to honor the warranty, provided that they accomplish the service call and repair in a time frame and manner that is reasonable and just to all parties. Residents have more rights now than they ever have had in the past and Judges are normally on the side of the Residents and if repairs are not made timely, Clients can find themselves on the wrong side of the legal system. It is hard enough to try to use a home warranty on the home that you live in. It is not cost effective or practical to use a home warranty on a rental property
The actual maintenance expenses for the home are the responsibility of the Client. Every effort is made to control maintenance costs while maintaining the integrity and value of the property. While the property is occupied, the Residents are required to notify our office of any problems. If the estimated cost to repair exceeds the maximum that is allowed in the Management Agreement, the Client is contacted for permission to make the necessary repairs. (Except as outlined in the agreement)
We believe that you hire a property manager to manage the property for you, not to assist you in managing it yourself. We can offer a turnkey style of property management service which is most appreciated by those Clients who prefer to be “out of the loop” on all but the most important matters related to the management and leasing of the property. We don’t have to pester you with small details, questions, information or “updates” about your property or Residents, except for those matters which will have a significant impact on your monthly cash flow. Instead, we can simply take care of the things you have entrusted us to handle on your behalf.
We do not! We have access to “all-around” maintenance technicians who are skilled in a wide range of home repairs including air-conditioning, light plumbing and electrical. We save our Clients money by using these technicians for the majority of multi-trade and make-ready tasks. Another benefit of using these technicians is the opportunity for checking out the general condition of the property – something that a single trade vendor will not do for you. We believe we have developed a very sensible approach to handling repairs and that you will realize cost savings that other property management companies simply cannot deliver.