Best Tenant Screening Tips for Your Redmond, WA Rental Property

We have screened a lot of tenants over the years, and we want to share some of our most successful techniques so you can save time and manage a more effective tenant screening process as a landlord. There are five questions that we’ll always ask when someone calls to inquire about a vacancy. This is part of our pre-screening process to establish whether or not we want to show them the property. [Read more…]

Should I Sell or Rent my Home When I Relocate? Kirkland, WA Property Management Advice

When people are moving out of state, they often ask if they should hold onto their property and turn it into a rental home. I get asked this question about three or four times a year, and I thought it would be a good idea to explain why I usually encourage people to keep their home and turn it into a rental. [Read more…]

Best Tips for Handling Delinquent Rent Payments – Advice for Landlords in Kirkland, WA

We have a series of steps that landlords in the Kirkland Redmond area can take when they’re handling delinquent rent payments. It starts with tenant communication and ends with eviction, but a lot of things can happen in between. If your tenant is late paying rent, follow these tips. [Read more…]

8 Things Every Lease Agreement Should Cover – Property Management in Redmond, WA

Every lease agreement will have standard clauses and include information such as how much rent must be paid, when it’s due and whether tenants can have pets. Since we are talking about lease agreements, we want to share a few of the things we include that are also important. [Read more…]

Why Choose Windermere Gregory Property Management in Kirkland, WA

Investors and owners looking for a Kirkland area property management company have several choices. There are a handful of duties that most companies do the same, so today we’re pointing out a couple of things that we do differently at Windermere Gregory Property Management in. These are the things that make us your best choice. [Read more…]

Tenant Move in Inspection Report

Question: I recently ended up in small claims court with a tenant. The issue related to differing interpretations of the original condition of the unit as indicated on the move-in inspection checklist. In our case, our units are typically in excellent condition. They regularly have very nice carpets (only a few years old), new paint, newer appliances, etc… When we fill out the checklist, we only note any defects to the property (this means that many lines on the checklist are blank, because there are no defects to describe). Anyway, we lost in court because the judge said that we could not prove that the condition was as we claimed it to be at the time of move-in. What did I do wrong here?

Answer: The only statute describing the checklist requirement is RCW 59.18.260, which states in relevant part, “no deposit may be collected by a landlord unless the rental agreement is in writing and a written checklist or statement specifically describing the condition and cleanliness of or existing damages to the premises and furnishings, including, but not limited to, walls, floors, countertops, carpets, drapes, furniture, and appliances, is provided by the landlord to the tenant at the commencement of the tenancy.” In theory, you did everything absolutely correct. The statute requires you to describe “existing damages to the premises and furnishings,” and theoretically, a whole bunch of blanks on the checklist means that everything was perfect at move-in. However, I regularly hear stories of landlords losing in small claims court because judge did something that seems not to track directly to the law. The only general advice I can give is that you take a deep breath, and remember: 1) The landlord-tenant laws are there to protect the tenants (when in doubt, the landlord usually loses); and 2) You are the one making a claim for damages, which means that the burden of proof is on you to describe the losses that you suffered due to the tenant’s neglect. For that reason, I urge what can only be described as overkill, when completing the inspection checklist. Even for a studio apartment, my initial inspection and checklist preparation would take a half hour or so. I will do a room by room description of the property, and for each one, specifically describe the condition of the walls, doors, ceiling, windows, window coverings and any other features (fireplaces, appliances, etc…). For a single family home, the process often takes a minimum of an hour. You may have gotten a different result on a different day with a different judge. However, since we rarely get to select our judge, we need to be extra careful to document the condition of the property at move-in. I do recommend that you complete every line of the inspection checklist with a detailed description. In addition to (but not as a substitute for) the checklist, many landlords also video record the entire unit or take digital photographs at move-in (keep in mind —your marketing photos may also be evidence of the move-in condition—I used those once myself).   Reprinted from Rental Housing Association newsletter written by Christopher T. Benis, Legal Counsel for Rental Housing Association of Puget Sound.

What does the Landlord have to repair ?

Unfortunately, the law is not specific enough to cover everything. We know that the heating, plumbing, cooking, refrigerator must be fixed promptly, but what about the bedroom door that doesn’t close properly, the sagging gate in the back yard, or the big air gap under the front door ? You don’t have to fix the bedroom door or the sagging gate, but you should make a repair to the front door as the law requires us to keep the property reasonably weather tight. Of course, as a good Property Manager, we will take a look at the bedroom door and the gate and if it appears to be normal wear and tear, we ask the owner to allow us to make a repair. If it appears that the tenants have caused the damage, we will offer to repair it at their expense, otherwise, it will not be repaired and the law does not require it. Most times, a questionable $75 dollar repair will go a long way with a good tenant.

Property Management Kirkland – Pet deposit

when accepting a pet, it is a good idea to get a little extra deposit for the potential damage a pet can cause. I prefer to add the pet deposit onto the standard damage deposit as opposed to a separate deposit. That way, all of the deposit can be used for whatever is needed. If you separate and specify a “pet deposit”, that amount can only be used for damage caused by the pet.

Insurance for your rental property

A couple things I will pass along that has come into play recently in our property management company. Your rental property must have an insurance policy for a rental property. Often times a homeowner will move out of the house, rent it out, and never think to tell their insurance company that it is now a rental. It is a different policy and may give the insurance company a reason to not honor your claim. Another thing to consider is insurance coverage while it is vacant. Some policies will not cover a vacant house. Make sure your policy will cover the property while it is vacant. All rental properties will have some vacancy, whether it is two days or two weeks.

Prepping Your Home for the Holidays

Once the candle on the last jack-o-lantern goes out, it’s officially The Holiday Season. Are you ready?

We have tips for how to prep your rental home for guests and make your home a favorite spot for family and friends to gather over the holiday season.

Cold-weather cleaning
Spring isn’t the only time to give your place a thorough scrub. Before you play host or hostess for holiday gatherings, you’ll want your home to shine as brightly as the season’s lights. Wash windows to let in as much sunshine as possible, mop floors, and dust your home from top to bottom. If necessary, this is also a good time to steam-clean carpets, making floors a welcoming spot to play games and exchange gifts. Don’t forget to make your kitchen shine, too, in preparation for all those wonderful holiday treats and meals.

Preparing for guests
It’s never too early to get your guest accommodations in order. In the guest room, get everything ready for out-of-town visitors. Collect extra pillows and blankets, freshen bedding, clear space in the closet and have fresh towels at the ready. A suitcase stand, either purchased or made by you out of decoratively stacked, vintage suitcases, is a welcoming touch. Place high-quality toiletries in a decorative basket for your guests to enjoy.

Holiday decor
Whether you create it yourself or purchase holiday home decor from your favorite catalog or home store, creating a holiday mood with garlands, greenery and other items will make visitors to your home feel welcome. Holiday plants and pine boughs can be found at your local home improvement shop or florist. If you have vintage ornaments that are wearing out or that have lost their hook holders, place them in a decorative bowl or glass candle holder to let them sparkle. Candles (battery-powered are safest) and small lights add a warm festive glow throughout your home.

Opening your home for the holidays makes the season even warmer. Begin preparing your place now so that it will feel truly welcoming for your seasonal guests!