The Myndful Investor

Landlord / Rental Properties

10 Rules for Successful Real Estate Investing and the Importance of Management

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The Impact of COVID-19 on Real Estate Legislation

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Fire Prevention Tips (and Best Practices) for Landlords

Fire is always a risk, but it’s especially top of mind now given all the wildfires in the West and Mountain States. 

There are things landlords can do to prevent fires and reduce their likelihood, and there are things landlords can explain to their tenants to keep them safe. Fire prevention is yet another reason to maintain a good relationship with their tenants because it encourages cooperation. 

Remember, your investment is their home; they don’t want it to burn down either!

What Can Landlords Do to Prevent Fire?

These are things landlords can take care of themselves to help prevent fires and reduce potential fire damage. 

Preventative fire tips for rental homes

1. Obey Local Fire Codes 

Following local fire codes and ordinances will help you avoid fines, keep your tenants safe, and likely keep you from violating terms of your insurance.

2. Establish House Rules 

Make rules of your own that tenants are expected to follow. Write the rules out and distribute them to your tenants when you give them their lease and via email. Explain the rules to your tenants in person since you shouldn’t assume they’ll read them. If there are children in the household, make sure they are present, and learn these lessons.

Remind your tenants of common causes of fires:

 

  • Stovetops
  • Heating equipment
  • Candles
  • Electrical Fires
  • Unattended
  • Cigarettes

3. Conduct Regular Fire Safety Checks 

Checking smoke and C02 detectors can be a part of your inspection. This is also an excellent opportunity to scope out the apartment in general.

4. Provide Fire Extinguishers 

Put fire extinguishers in every kitchen and make sure your tenants know how to use them. Not every fire extinguisher works in the same way!

5. Consider a Fire Blanket 

Fire blankets are made out of fire retardant material and are placed over fires to smother them. They can be more useful for those who aren't experienced using fire extinguishers. They should not, however, be used to extinguish an oil/fat fire (like one caused by a deep-fryer) since they may end up covered in burning oil. 

6. Consider a Smoking Ban 

You have the right to prohibit smoking inside or outside your property. If you choose to do so, put it in your lease and inform your tenant verbally. If the stipulation is not in your lease agreement, it cannot be enforced.

7. Grilling Rules 

Grilling rules for fire prevention in rental home

You have the right to prohibit grilling. Like a smoking ban, the ban must be in the lease agreement. If you choose not to disallow grilling, then explain grilling best practices to your tenants:

  • Don’t grill too close to home.
  • Don’t grill on balconies.
  • Don’t leave grills unattended.
  • Make sure grills are properly turned off after use.

8. Post an Escape Plan 

Your escape plan should be clearly explained, posted, and include emergency numbers and contact information. 

9. Require Tenants Carry Insurance 

Renters insurance only costs a couple hundred dollars a year, but they can help policyholders cover the cost of personal items in the event of a fire, theft, natural disasters, etc. 

10. Encourage Tenants to Report Issues 

A tenant isn’t guaranteed to report an issue, which can be dangerous if it’s a fire hazard, water leak, etc. Fostering a positive relationship with tenants and responding to complaints quickly and effectively will encourage them to report issues.

11. Repairs 

Repair structural components such as fireplaces, chimneys, electrical cables, and plumbing systems. Also consider making fixes to or replacing your HVAC unit (heating, ventilation and air conditioning), which if left unattended, can overheat and result in a fire as well. It is also important to routinely check the wiring of your unit, check for overheating and clean out dirty air filters. These are all potential issues that could result in a house fire but could be easily prevented.

12. Fireproof Your Landscaping 

Make sure to follow fire prevention best practices for your landscaping.

  • No brush, debris, overgrowth, or tree branches near your home that could catch fire. 
  • Grass must be no greater than four inches within a perimeter of 100 feet of your property.
  • Keep your roof and gutters clean as well.
  • Keep a distance between things that can catch fire: trees, shrubs, patio furniture, woodpiles, etc.
  • Remove dead trees, shrubs, etc. 
  • Make sure to allow for room between shrubs and trees because foliage can create an avenue for the fire to move from the ground to the brush, and then to the treetops. 

13. Inspect Kitchen Appliances 

Check the state of your electrical appliances, even the microwave. Check vents for dust, pet hair, and other debris. 

14. Install Sprinklers: 

Residential fire sprinklers can contain and potentially put out a fire in less time than it might take for the fire department to get there.

15. Document 

Keep track of everything you do to reduce the likelihood of fire to reduce your legal liability at your property

What Can Tenants Do to Prevent Fires

You should put together a list of fire prevention measures your tenants can take. Make sure to provide the list in person, via email and go over it verbally and that any children are also present.  

Communicating fire prevention tips to resident


You can break up the list into the following three categories:

1. Overall Tenant Fire Safety Tips

  • Use surge protectors.
  • Don’t overload circuits or extension cords.
  • Replace frayed or cracked electrical cords.
  • Don’t run cords under rugs or between rooms.
  • Don’t put space heaters near flammable things like drapes or bedding.
  • Turn off space heaters when leaving the room or sleeping.
  • Don’t smoke in bed or leave cigarettes unattended.
  • Keep lighters and matches away from children.
  • Don’t store flammable materials like gasoline cans or propane tanks in your home.
  • Make sure Christmas trees and decorations aren’t near exits or heating sources.
  • Plug major appliances right into the outlet.
  • Keep fire exits clear.

2. Kitchen Fire Safety

  • Don’t leave food unattended on the stovetop.
  • Keep potholders and towels away from flames.
  • Avoid loose-fitting sleeves while cooking.
  • Turn any cooking appliances off after using them (stove, oven, etc.).
  • Keep a fire extinguisher in the kitchen.

3. Laundry Room Fire Safety

  • Have your dryer installed or at least serviced by a professional.
  • Don’t use the dryer without a lint filter.
  • Always clean the lint filter and remove the lint around the drum.
  • Make sure the plug and outlet are the right ones and that the connection is proper.
  • Don’t run the dryer while you're away from the house or sleeping.

Bottom Line on Landlord Fire Prevention

Taking as many precautions as possible will decrease the likelihood of your investment being destroyed by a fire. Many of these precautions are also acts of maintenance that will keep your investment looking good and prevent them from depreciating. 


A well-maintained home is a fireproof home!


To learn more about fire prevention tips in your local area, contact our on-the-ground property management team who can help keep you prepared for the fire season at your rental home.

Read also at Reddit and Scoop.it!

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Tips on How to Expand Your Real Estate Portfolio in the Current Market

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10 Steps To Avoid Vacancy And Lease Your Rental Property Quickly

Minimizing vacancy time is a priority for landlords trying to maximize their return, but it is even more important during a pandemic when every dollar counts. The key to reducing the time between a renter moving out and a new tenant moving in is utilizing technology to make the process quick and convenient. A tech savvy property management company using self-showings, online applications, and virtual leasing can reduce vacancy time.

Part 1: Pre-Leasing, Advertising and Minimizing Vacancy 

Step 1- Determine if Pre-Leasing your Property is an Option

Implementing pre-leasing strategies can result in your property being leased before your current tenant moves out. If you are using a property management company, they may already have marketing materials for your property ready to start advertising immediately.

Every day the unit is vacant is money lost, and pre-leasing can help to minimize the days between renters.  You will still need a few days between renters to get your rental property rent ready and complete the cleaning process, but having a tenant ready to go right after is a huge advantage.

Mynd offers pre-leasing when we can and if there are photos and video available to begin marketing the property.

Step 2- Minimize Vacancies by Advertising your Properties

Advertising your Property the Right Way

  • Optimized property description – Be sure that the listings are optimized so they can be found in search and highlight any unique features to attract more interest.
  • Great Photos – Professional photos in listings and advertising are the crucial first impression of the property.
  • Video/Virtual Tours. Video of the property allows potential tenants to preview the property from the comfort of home at their convenience. This minimizes showing a property to someone who immediately dislikes the layout of the home. Prequalifying people by having them view the video and photos before scheduling an onsite tour saves time for both property managers and the potential tenants.
  • Syndicate your Rental Property Across 40+ Sites – A tech savvy property management company has the means to syndicate a listing across multiple platforms quickly. Assets such as photos, videos, and descriptions are loaded in one place and pushed out to all the platforms. This technology-driven solution results in your property being listed in multiple places quickly.

Each of these advertising tools gets more eyeballs on your property. The more potential renters you reach, the larger number of applicants you will have to choose from. Video is a powerful tool in its ability to bring the property to people virtually. You want to cast a wide web and quickly capture as many interested renters as possible.

Certain platforms may perform well in one market and not in another. A local property management company like Mynd knows what works best for marketing a property in their specific area.

Part 2: Virtual tours and Self-Showings 

Step 3- Consider Virtual Tours and Self-showings 

 During a pandemic there are additional challenges associated with showing a property safely. Virtual tours and showings are welcome alternatives to actual onsite visits to the property.

 

Self-Guided Tours

Mynd offers self-guided tours of properties for rent. Someone interested in the property can select an appointment from a schedule online. There is an ID verification process, so we know who is going into the property, and they are given a temporary access code.

Statistics show that self-showings increase the conversion rate of a prospective renter to a tenant because a lot of the friction of the process is removed. They don’t feel the pressures of a salesperson, and they can better schedule the tour when it is convenient for them.

Self guided tours increase conversions and reduce vacancies in rental property

 

Video and 3-D Tours of Rental Property

Video allows the property to be seen by more people. The ease of sharing a link with someone vs scheduling an onsite tour is a huge advantage in reaching a wider audience.

Video tours are a great way for potential renters to view multiple properties from the comfort of home. They love the convenience and time saved. No more running around to see properties they instantly aren’t interested in because of a layout or other reasons. People relocating from out of town can easily tour properties without the time and cost of traveling.

Video tours give potential renters the ability to narrow their list of properties and schedule self-showings themselves.  It is a safe showing process to offer during a pandemic because it doesn’t require any interaction from a salesperson or property manager.  

Rental property video tours allow potential tenants to tour a property from the comfort of home

Step 4- How to Setup Self-Showings 

Once a potential renter finds a property they would like to view in person, they simply select an appointment time online to register for a self-showing.  During the signup, Mynd collects ID and credit card information. They are then given an access code that works with a smart lock on the property. The code is temporary and only works during their scheduled visit.

 

How safe is allowing self-showing?

Mynd knows who is at the property and when they are there. Every step is tracked so there is an information trail. The process is very convenient for the renters, and it is a safe process for everyone.

Online Application Process

Once the tenant had decided on a property and is ready to apply, they can do that online at their convenience.

Mynd offers online application for a rental property.

 

Part 3: Screening Residents and Lease Agreements

 

Step 5 - Screen your Prospective Residents 

How do you know if a potential tenant is right for your property? The tenant screening process is an important step to ensure you get a quality resident in your home. There are several tools available to help screen applicants.

Some property management companies use a FICO score which only tells you the applicant’s credit score. It is important to look at several factors, so Mynd uses data from Transunion to create a resident score to evaluate a potential tenant.

Running a criminal background check is another layer of information to consider. However, in some areas it is illegal to run that report on an applicant.

As a landlord, it is important to know the laws that apply to applications and what you can and can’t do in your area. There are questions you can’t ask on an application, and you don’t want to end up dealing with an expensive lawsuit.  Good property management companies understand the laws and regulations to ensure you are complying. Mynd has in-house legal counsel to ensure the application process follows the laws.

The more thorough the screening, the better chance of getting the highest quality tenant in your property that is going to pay their rent on time.

Step 6 - Sign a Lease Agreement as Soon as Possible

Once you have a tenant ready to sign a lease, it is important that the lease signing process be quick and easy. At Mynd, our lease signing process is done completely online.  In addition to the website option, Mynd also has an app available for mobile phones or iPads because the goal is to make the process as frictionless as possible for the applicant.

 

Digital leasing offers:

  • Ease of use on multiple platforms
  • Applicants can apply at their convenience
  • Help is available if they have questions
  • Remote process during a pandemic
  • No delay waiting for fax or paperwork to fill out

Part 4: Avoiding Fraud and Moving Resident’s into the Property

 

Step 7- Avoid Leasing Fraud 

When looking for a property to rent, it is important to know that you are dealing with the actual owner or property management company advertising it.  How can you tell if you are dealing with the right person and not someone claiming to own it? It is important that you, the property owner, can also clearly communicate this to your prospective residents.

Considering branding the listing with your name or some other unique feature so that the prospects can easily identify the unit. At Mynd, all photos will be watermarked with the Mynd brand, smart lockboxes will have our sticker on them, and the signs will have our logo and information on them. Applications and lease signing are all done online through our website or app.

Mynd does everything they can to make it clear who you are dealing with on a listing and brands all promotion material to reduce the potential for fraud.

 

Step 8 - Get your Residents Moved-in to the Property 

Once the tenant has an application approved, it is important that the next step, signing the lease, happens quickly in order to keep the momentum going. The digital lease signing process makes it easy to move the resident through the next step.   Once the digital lease is signed, the tenant books a move-in date online. Again, the goal is to move through this process quickly.

Mynd then works around the move-in date to make sure the cleaning, keys, etc. are ready for the big move-in day.

This seamless process moves the tenant step by step through the process with minimal time between. You don’t want to lose a quality tenant because you took too long, so keeping the momentum going is key. Using technology speeds up the process, and significantly reduce the time it takes to place a new tenant.  Tenants love it because they can complete the process quickly from home on their own time.

 

Part 5: Lease Renewal and Laws to Avoid Violations 

 

Step 9- Lease Renewal- Keep your Current Tenants in the Property

As an owner, you want to keep a quality tenant if possible and avoid turnover at your rental property. Getting them to renew a lease saves all the time and effort of finding another tenant, screening them, getting the home rent ready, etc. Keeping the current tenants means no lost rent during the vacancy time.

 

Most important lease renewal tasks:

  • Having an automated notification is important so you don’t miss the renewal date.
  • Having a team to recommend what rate should be in the lease renewal.

At Mynd we will re-evaluate the market to see if it is a good time to increase rent or if you need to decrease rent to avoid them moving out for a better deal. The market determines rates, and you want to stay competitive.

 

Step 10 - Follow Laws, Rules and Regulations to Avoid Leasing Violations 

How do you know if it is illegal to run a background check? What questions can you ask on an application?  The laws and regulations are constantly changing. COVID-19 has added even more rules and regulations that apply to evictions or rent increases depending on where your property is located.  As a landlord you must follow all the laws that apply to your rental property.

You can research the laws online yourself. However, this can be dangerous as there might also be dated information online. It can be a lot of pressure to rely on your own research, especially since much of the information is written using legal terminology.

As the owner of a rental property you own a business that is governed by laws, and you must comply with them. You can do the research yourself or hire a property management company like Mynd who can take care of this for you. Not only can that give you peace of mind that your investment is in good hands, you can also reclaim some of your time back as well.  

Ready to Hire a Property Manager?

Mynd property management is ready to be your partner. Whether you are looking to expand your investment portfolio or need management services, contact us today. We offer a three-tired pricing plan, so you can choose the one that best fits your needs.

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