Property Manager basic tool box

Property Manager basic tool box

 A property manager tool box, is a crucial piece of equipment for all property managers and landlords.
I cannot tell you the amount of times Shelly and I were grateful to have some basic tools with us.
I do want to point out that we hire out almost all of our maintenance, however, sometimes if there is an emergency or small repair, we want to have some basic items on hand.
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I wanted to write about what you need at all times.The first step is to go to any local hardware store or Canadian Tire and pick up a small to medium size tool box.
It should be large enough to carry the items I am about to suggest, but small enough to fit easily in the trunk of your car.

The items I am about to suggest are the minimum, you can carry more, but do not carry any less.

  1. Lock lubricant / deicer – we have gone to show or inspect many properties and the key sticks in the door.  With a little bit of lubricant, you can avoid a future service call, or frustration from your tenant.  People will not often do this automatically.  I attended a service call one day for a sticky lock and when I arrived to check it out, I noticed a can of WD-40 in the apartment.  The tenants could have easily fixed there own problem, I am still not sure why they even had WD-40.
  2. Appliance touch up paint – Appliance touch up paint is one of my favorite discoveries as a landlord / property manager.  It can make a stove, fridge, bathtub, sink etc.. look awesome, with very minimal effort.  It comes in a small bottle, and can work wonders on chipped appliances or bathroom fixtures.
  3. 60 watt light bulb – this should be self explanatory
  4. Set of screw drivers – When it comes to carrying screwdrivers, it is a good idea to get a decent variety.  If you only want to buy a few, then I would at the very least have a mid-sized Phillips, a small flat head, and a small Robertson.  The Phillips screws are very common in door locks and cupboard hinges.
  5. Vice grips – If you are only going to carry on set, a medium pair will do
  6. Adjustable wrench – medium size
  7. Measuring tape – it will be common for you to have to measure a room, or for blinds, appliances, etc..
  8. Channel lock pliers – these can be used for a variety of things
  9. Needle nose pliers – medium size
  10. Hammer – hammers always come in handy
  11. Nails – I recommend a couple of sizes, and a small variety of screws is good to have also
  12. Duct tape – duct tape can be used to temporarily repair just about anything.  Make sure to buy the higher quality brand name kind.
  13. Pen – you need to always be ready to take notes
  14. Pencil – make sure it is sharpened
  15. Note pad – you can get a small one from a dollar store
  16. Black Marker – a fine point one is best
  17. Plastic tie wraps – these are good to hold just about anything together
  18. Hose clamps – 4″ is good to have for dryer vents, I would also recommend a few small ones, they can come in handy for plumbing repair

That sums up the basic list for a property manager or landlord that just needs enough for emergency repairs, or small repairs.

Michael P Currie
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Should you raise your tenants rent?

Should you raise your tenants rent?

Here is the question:

Should you raise your tenants rent?

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It sounds simple and many books I have read and depending on where you live, many people will say “yes” raise it the maximum allowed for your area every year.

Nova Scotia (where we currently live) does not have rent control.  We do have guidelines and lead time rules that layout when you can levy increases, we also have an annual allowable amount, but other than that, it is market regulated, more details on how it is done in Nova Scotia at:http://www.novascotia.ca/sns/access/land/residential-tenancies/allowable-rent-increase.asp

The question landlords need to ask themselves, is not can I raise the rent? but more Should you raise the rent?

I know a lot of larger companies make it a policy to have annual rent increases.  If a company has 5000 units and they raise all the rents by $1.00 per month, it would definitely have a large impact on the bottom line.

In the small landlord market, there are other factors to consider than just the monthly revenue.

I want to use an example of a person with 100 units or less.

The answer to the question is not simple, because you need to ask yourself some important questions:

  1. What is the real market rent for the unit?
  2. Is the current tenant paying market rent or close to market rent?
  3. What is the vacancy rate in the area (can you fill the unit quickly if the tenant leaves)?
  4. What will it cost to get the unit ready for another tenant (make sure to factor in the cost of advertising and time it takes to show the unit)?
  5. What is the tenants profile (are they a good fit for the unit?  Have they been there for a long time?)
  6. Is it worth the risk of having to find and take a chance with a new tenant, if the current one leaves?

Each question is extremely important to ask yourself.

The reason is this:

What I find to be the key to success in the landlord / property management business is to have happy, long term tenants who pay the rent on time, look after the property and do not call you to complain.

I will agree that most tenants are like this, however, I have also experienced some not so great tenants, so when I get a great tenant I really appreciate them.

I also evaluate the true cost of replacing a tenant.  This is especially important for small landlords, and people operating in competitive rental markets.

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Here is a simple example that should make you think:

Example 1 – Bill  a long term low maintenance tenant has been renting from you for five years.  You inherited him with the building, and he was paying a bit below market when you bought the place five years ago.  You raised the rent when you bought the property, but have not since then.  The other units in the building that have turned over in the past five years are commanding more rent.

Should you be raising Bill’s rent on an annual basis, or at anytime?

What will it cost if he leaves?

If Bill has been renting for a long time, significant upgrades could be required before a new tenant moves in.

If you need to do a kitchen upgrade, paint, some flooring etc.., it could cost between $1000 – $5000.

Lets say it is going to cost $2500.  If you increase the rent $50 per month and he leaves.  If you can now get $100 more per month to bring it up to market value, it will take 25 months, or just over two years to breakeven.  That does not factor that the new tenant may not be as great, also since the average time for tenancy is two years, they could leave and you could be doing another turnover.

In the end, it will be up to you and the regulations in the area.  Just make sure to look at the big picture, before you make your decision.

Michael P Currie

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Should you buy holiday gifts for your tenants?

Should you buy holiday gifts for your tenants?

Should you buy holiday gifts for your tenants?

There are many variables when it comes to buying gifts for your tenants.  This question can be answered with a simple yes, no or maybe.

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When we first started buying rental properties we sent out holiday cards every year.  I think if we stopped now, our long term tenants would find it strange.  As we grew we have hired some outside property managers for some of our properties, so we are distant from the tenants.

We may know some of them to see them from being around the properties for inspections, maintenance and renovations, however, for the most part we do not know them very well.

I do have to say that if you can do it, it is money well spent.  The properties that Shelly and I manage can all expect to get holiday cards with a small thank you.

It is a great time of the year to show appreciation to our customers (tenants).  It is important to show gratitude towards your tenants, because without them you would not have a business, or a property management job.

We also like to slip a gift card from a local coffee shop or restaurant in with the card.  We feel it enhances the tenants experience renting from you.

I know it can seem like a big expense (about $12 per unit), however, the customer service value you will receive with this kind gesture will be worth the expense.

It is not something you have to do, but I urge you to consider it.

Michael P Currie

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