Frequently Asked Questions
How Do You Market and Show My Property?
As we market your property and schedule showings we will provide you or the current tenants with 24 hour notice of entry. We ask that the property be in showing condition and that you or whoever resides in the property vacate during the showing. Showings are typically 15-25 minutes and the best results come when the house is clean and allows a potential tenant to walk around and freely comment on their feelings about the space.
How Do You Provide Post Showing Feedback?
We will provide you with an update on each showing within 48 hours.
How Do You Screen Applicants?
All potential long term tenants will be required to complete a full application which can be accessed on our website www.apexrentalproperty.com. A background check, credit check, reference check, and employment verification will be completed within 48 hours. We will provide this information to you in a condensed format prior to moving forward with a lease. Once approved, a lease will be drafted and signed by all parties and first month’s rent, last month’s rent and a security deposit equal to one month’s rent will be collected. Both last month’s rent and the security deposit will be held in an escrow account by Apex Luxury Rentals. Please note, since many short term tenants are paying in full prior to moving into the property we do not conduct a full application process.
What Should I do before a Tenant Moves In?
Please remember to fill all oil and propane tanks prior to Tenant moving in. Tenant will be responsible for filling the tanks full at time of move out. This is much easier than gauging a partially filled tank and then haggling over how full it was months ago when Tenant departs. The property should be professionally cleaned prior to Tenant move in. We can arrange our cleaning staff to clean if you would like to utilize that service. The property should be free of all personal items; photos, food, furniture and items that will not be used by Tenant unless otherwise agreed to in the lease. If the property is rented for the long term Tenant will contact the utility companies prior to move in and have accounts changed into their name for the duration of the lease. Please do not contact utility companies to disconnect your own service as this can cause problems. If the property is rented short term and Tenant is responsible for utilities we will discuss with you how best to handle the billing for utilities. If the property is rented furnished you will need to provide two sets of sheets (flat, fitted, pillowcases), blanket, comforter for each bed. You will also need to provide two sets of towels for each guest. Please remember to provide us with three sets of keys for the property; two sets for Tenant and one set for Apex.
What are my Financial Responsibilities During Lease Term?
Once a lease is signed you will still be responsible for all mortgage payments, city taxes, association fees, insurance policy, spring and fall cleanup of exterior grounds, roof raking during winter, repair or replacement of appliances, systems, chimney cleaning, and annual furnace cleaning.
What are the Tenant Financial Responsibilities During Lease Term?
Once a lease is signed the Tenant will be responsible for all rental payments, heat, electricity, cable/internet/telephone, water, sewer, lawn care, snow removal and renters insurance.
What about Property Insurance?
When renting your property you should have a Landlord Insurance Policy in place to cover you in case of damage. Please do not risk being denied for a claim because your homeowners insurance does not cover Tenant damage. This typically adds about 5-10% to your premium.
Are Tenants Required to have Renters Insurance?
We require all long term Tenants to carry renters insurance to cover the replacement cost of their belongings.
How Do I Communicate with Apex?
You will be assigned a property manager who will be your point of contact at Apex. The property manager is available by phone during business hours (9:00am – 5:00pm) and emergencies 24/7. If you have non-emergency questions after business hours we request that you email your property manager. Emails will be returned within 48 hours.
How Do I Get Rent Checks?
Rent checks are mailed from Apex once a month between the 8th and 10th of the month (assuming tenant has paid rent). We suggest you sign up for direct deposit so that checks are received within 2 business days. Direct deposit is a free service. Just go to the website printed on the rent check to sign up.
What Do I Receive for Tax Documents?
At the end of each year you will receive a 1099 reporting the income distributed to you by Apex Luxury Rentals. The deadline is January 31 of each year so please expect the 1099 around that date.
What if there is a Problem Reported in the Property?
Tenants are instructed to contact Apex whenever there is a problem in the home. Apex will notify you of the problem and we will work together to determine the next steps. If it is determined the tenant has broken or damaged the item in question we will bill the tenant. If it is not the responsibility of the tenant the cost of the fix will be deducted from the following months’ rent.
What if Tenant Stops Paying Rent?
In the unfortunate event a tenant continues to reside in a property and stops paying rent you will be notified immediately. Apex prepares a document called a Notice to Quit and follows up with phone calls in an attempt to collect rent. The state of Maine allows a 4% late fee to be added to the rent on the 15th of the month. If further legal steps are needed to collect rent we have a collection specialist and an attorney available to assist. Please note all legal costs are the responsibility of the property owner.
I'm Thinking about Furnishing my Rental Property. Now what?
If you are a landlord thinking about providing a furnished property for tenants it may be tempting to opt for the less expensive furniture and accessories, or maybe some second hand furniture that’s been collecting dust in your basement. Did you know that this could end up costing you much more in the long run? The quality and aesthetic appeal of furnishings you select has a direct correlation to your bottom line. The nicer your property the larger the audience of superior tenants you will attract.
Let’s take a look at some top tips which will ensure that your furnished property meets the exacting standards of tenants who are often willing to pay a premium rent for the convenience of a furnished rental.
Simplicity Is Key
Providing furniture for your tenants means that you will have to cater to a wide range of possible tastes. The secret is in the simple, modern elegance in which a property is pulled together. That is not to say that you should pick lifeless, sterile, minimalistic furniture designs, however, steering clear of items with 1. overly elaborate decorative features or 2. oddball shapes or 3. overstuffed, oversized furniture will help you appeal to a wider audience and end up as easier assets to clean and maintain in the years to come.
When choosing furniture, it is important to establish a coherent design concept which can be carried from room to room. For inspiration, why not book a night in a premier hotel which is run by a large chain: such organizations will typically hire the best interior designers to create a classic combinations of furnishings and lighting which will appeal to the widest possible demographic. If you can unlock their secrets and apply thoughtful design touches to your property, you will be far more likely to get tenants lining up to move in than you would by choosing furniture at random.
Well Stocked Kitchen
As a landlord, it is important to provide a kitchen that is stocked with items that a tenant will need during their stay. One of the main reasons tenants choose to rent a furnished rental rather than a hotel room is the convenience of a kitchen. One of the major complaints a guest has about staying in a hotel every night is having to eat out at every meal. Not only does it cost more money, guests often complain they gain weight as a result. Buying cheap pots and pans made of scratch-able Teflon is one of the biggest mistakes I see people make. Often they will need to be replaced after each guest which costs much more money over time. Rather, buy a quality set of pots and pans such as All-Clad Stainless that will stand the test of time and tenant use. It is important to provide the tenant with enough silverware, dishes, cups, bowls for a few meals so they don’t have to do the dishes every day. If your property sleeps 4 people consider providing 3 sets of items for each guest, so 12 cups, 12 small plates, 12 large plates, you get the idea. This will prevent any aggravation caused by minimal supplies and will cut down on your water and energy bill if a tenant can avoid using the dishwasher frequently.
As a landlord, I can’t stress enough the importance of providing comfortable mattresses. Now I’m not saying you have to buy the most expensive mattresses but choosing something in the mid-range will pay off for you in the long run. If your master bedroom is large enough I’d highly recommend investing in a king size bed. People ask about bed sizes when they are comparing furnished rentals and it’s often difficult to convince someone who has been sleeping on a king mattress at home to “downgrade” to a queen. If you can’t fit a king then a queen is acceptable. I recommend steering clear of full size or double mattresses. They are simply too small for 2 adults and you will lose business. And whatever you do please don’t forget the mattress protector. There is nothing worse than a stained mattress so do yourself a favor and protect your mattresses. Your tenants will thank you!
Keeping Up with Technology
Providing up to date technology will appeal to almost any tenant and often result in a tenant coming back again in the future. For anyone who thinks a box tv may come back in fashion please table that thought. Flat panel tvs are the only way to go; we prefer Samsung or Sony brands. Providing a cable tv service that offers 70-80 channels is always going to pay dividends. I’ve lost count about the number of complaints I hear from tenants about their last experience where the landlord only provided 4-6 channels. Consider providing a DVD player or blu-ray player, or better yet a netflix account. With so many iphones and ipads out there I’d also recommend purchasing a docking station that allows a tenant to charge their device and listen to Pandora at the same time. For $75 you can provide a “bonus” many tenants were not expecting and will enjoy. For a number of our higher end properties we provide Apple Desktop computers as a wow factor.
Some Other Helpful Tips
1. Please make sure your rental is clean. Cabinets and drawers should be free of crumbs, bedding should match, be stain free, and towels should be fresh and stain free. Cleanliness is the biggest complaint from tenants.
2. Provide a washer dryer in the property for tenant use.
3. Use white sheets and towels that can be bleached if needed is highly recommended.
4. Consider having tenants purchase security deposit insurance that will cover any damages and replace stained items.
5. Provide basic cleaning supplies for tenants to use. Remember, if you provide a vacuum tenants will actually use it and help keep your property clean.
6. Consider putting an electronic keypad on your front door so keys aren’t needed. You’ll cut down on tenants calling you in the middle of the night when they lock themselves out.
7. Consider placing beveled edge glass on wooden top surfaces to avoid wear and tear.
8. Make sure your rental has a place for tenants to store clothes. A dresser or closet with adequate shelving is necessary.
If you furnish your rental property with quality items that are comfortable and long lasting you and your tenants will be happy for years to come. Remember, your rental success is directly related to the quality of items you place in the property. Tenants who can move into your property with only a suitcase and find the property clean, modern, and classic will come back again.
What Mistakes Should I Avoid Making as a Landlord?
Landlord Mistake 1: Over-Leveraged, Under-Capitalized
Borrowing as much money as possible when buying or refinancing rental properties may seem like a great idea, but it is all too easy to leverage yourself out of your monthly cash flow. This means you will be in the red as soon as you have a vacancy, or unexpected property repairs, or unpaid rent, or a lawsuit, or a bed bug infestation occurs, or any of the limitless landlord problems that arise. By keeping predictable monthly costs low, and a healthy cash cushion on hand for unexpected expenses, landlords will profit most months and will be prepared for the lean months. At the end of the year, you should show a profit if you keep your predictable monthly expenses (mortgage, taxes, and insurance) at no more than 50% of your month rent.
Landlord Mistake 2: Using a Generic Rental Agreement
Using a generic rental agreement can leave landlords open to lawsuits, unenforceable leases and worse. Many states have special language that must be included within the rental agreement, or state-specific disclosures that must be attached to the lease, and there are even federal lead paint pamphlets that often must be included. Additionally, states place limits on how much a landlord may charge for security deposits, how many days late the rent must be before a late fee can be charged, and countless other restrictions that landlords must know. We suggest either hiring a landlord-tenant attorney or an experienced property management company.
Landlord Mistake 3: Failing to Properly Screen Tenants
When it comes to locating tenants, there can be a lot of bad apples out there, that know how to take advantage of the system. People tend to be fundamentally responsible or fundamentally irresponsible with money; in the mortgage industry they say "an applicant's income tells whether they can pay, but their credit history shows whether they will pay." Remember to verify employment, income, credit history, criminal background, and obtain current and past rental history. You will need all this information later if you end up in court.
Landlord Mistake 4: Ignoring your Rental Properties
The roof is leaking, the washer is not working, and there are ants in my apartment… easy to procrastinate but harder to ignore long term. Addressing tenant concerns and potential problems with your rental properties quickly and effectively, will save you financially and may prevent any possible lawsuits. Send a handyman you trust out to the property to take a look, and more often than not, the tenant was merely overreacting… but you still have to check.
Landlord Mistake 5: Failing to Serve Tenant Violations
While your heartstrings will tug, falling behind on rent is not an option. Patience may be a virtue but real estate investing is a business, and needs to be run like clockwork in order to succeed. Serve the tenants quickly when their rent is not paid, and it will send a strong message.
Follow these steps, and you'll find that your rental business runs smoothly and profitably, with unexpected costs minimized.