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How to Make Your Rental Property Stand Out

make-rental-property-stand-out

If you’re a rental property owner, you probably always find yourself creating strategies to make your property stand out. Especially in the wake of increasing competition in the real estate industry.

Making a few adjustments can make a great difference in helping your property attract tenants. Long-term renters are looking for properties that are updated and come with modern and efficient facilities. If your property is competitive, you're guaranteed a steady rental income.

If you're looking for ways to make your property attractive to renters, the following simple but effective tips will be of great help.

 

Maintain Your Property

Whenever your property falls vacant, you need to keep up with maintenance and ensure basic property upkeep is not ignored. Investing some money in basic maintenance will keep your property in a pristine condition.

Basic things you can do include cleaning the carpets, thoroughly scrubbing each section of the house, and wiping window sills and baseboards. Examine each room and take note of areas that need to be repaired. Even the smallest issues such as a toilet not flushing properly, or a loose doorknob should be addressed.

 

Secure Your Property

When tenants move into a new property, there is always some uneasiness about security. One way to solve this issue is to install a modern home security system that will make your tenants feel at ease.

When at your property for viewing, your potential renters should realize you've invested in a sophisticated and modern home security system that will detect and prevent any unauthorized entry. If your property has all the necessary security installations, you do not only get a tenant quickly, you can also justify renting it out at a higher rate.

security-safety-rental-property-upgrades

 

Update the Rental Property’s Fixtures & Design

Doing small updates on your rental property can make a huge difference. You can do simple upgrades such as replacing old ceiling fans or other fixtures with newer ones. Having an eye for design is a plus because it gives your property a great transformation and that in turn gives it a fresh new attractive appearance.

If you don't have an eye for design, you can seek help from an interior design expert or a friend or family member with a creative mind. Upgrading the fixtures will definitely boost the appearance of your rental property.

 

Install Environmentally-Friendly Appliances

Modern properties are increasingly adopting green energy. Make your rental property more attractive by using energy-efficient appliances. This not only helps to conserve energy but also helps your tenants save money on electricity bills.

Nowadays, most home appliances such as washing machines, and refrigerators, as well as toilets, have energy-saving models. Not only that, some states offer tax rebates for an environmentally efficient home.

laundry-machines-green-energy

 

Boost the Rental Property’s Curb Appeal

Even though you might have a beautiful house, the lack of curb appeal might complicate your chances of renting out your property. When looking for a tenant, first impressions count. You want for your tenant to be impressed by the exterior of your property before they even come in. Some awesome ideas for improving your curb appeal include removal of weed, debris or trash around the property.

The lawn should be properly manicured, and outdoor light fixtures and address numbers should be in good condition. Try and trim fences for a tidy look, remove chipped paint, repair any hard areas such as brick or concrete walkways and add seasonal flowers.

Another quick tip would be to choose an out-of-sight spot for dumping garbage.

If you don't have the time to do all this on your own, hire a landscaping expert or company to take care of beautifying your property exterior.

 

Do a Paint Makeover

Painting is one of the simplest ways to restore a property and make it look new and attractive. Paint can completely transform a space since, with a fresh coat of paint, you can restore walls, brighten dull rooms, as well as clearly highlight impressive architectural features.

Semi-gloss or satin is a great choice of paint as it helps to remove crayon marks, grease, scuff marks, and grease stains. Ordinary paint takes a lot longer as you first have to paint over stains to get rid of them before applying another coat of paint.

work-paint-maintenance-repairs

For the exterior, you need to carefully choose a paint that will best highlight the features of your property. In addition, you should choose a paint that is durable and will be able to withstand harsh weather conditions. Houses with fresh and nice coats of paint are difficult to ignore.  

 

There you go! Tips to transform your rental property and make it enticing for renters. The best news is you don't need to spend so much money to make these simple and quick changes.

09-25-2018
T-Square Real Estate Services, Inc.
09-25-2018
How to Raise Rent on Your Seattle Rental Property

raise-rent-seattle-property

Have you ever asked your boss for a raise?

Have you brokered a deal with a big client?

If you have, then you may already know that it’s no easy task. Raising the rent on your tenants can seem just as difficult.

Increasing the monthly rent on your Seattle rental property is something that you will inevitably experience. For the process to be successful, planning is key. It isn’t uncommon for complaints to arise after you have raised your property’s rent. No one likes to be charged more for the “same” thing.

There are many reasons that might prompt you to raise the rent. In Seattle, common reasons include:

  • Expenses on your property have increased

If your regular monthly expenses have increased, you definitely need to increase your rental fee. Such expenses include mortgage payment, property management fees, Homeowner Association (HOA) dues, insurance, and property taxes.

Did you spend money-adding backsplashes, installing wood flooring, replacing doors, adding a fresh coat of paint, or replacing cabinet doors? Or, are you planning to make some major upgrades? If so, it is a justification to raise the rent.

  • Comparable rents have gone up

Are rental fees rising all around you? If so, then you should too.

  • The current lease term has ended

Even if you don't have any justification to raise the rent, you should always remember to raise the rent at the end of the current lease term. Most tenants expect the rent to increase slightly at every lease renewal time of say $20 to $50 or so. However, if you raise it to say $250 after not having raised it for 5 years, it’s likely that you will get complaints. Generally, you should increase the rent by about 3% to 5% each year.

Understanding When to Raise Rent

rental-rate-analysis

As already mentioned, always raise the rent at the end of every lease term, whether it is tied to a lease renewal or to a renter moving out. Conduct a comparative market analysis to understand what similar properties are charging.

Then, factor in other distinguishing factors that your property may have. This will ensure that you get the right Return of Investment (ROI) on your asset.

However, leave room for negotiation with your current tenant, especially if they are good. As a Seattle landlord, you certainly know that finding good tenants isn’t an easy walk in the park.

 

If the tenant is good, also consider the following two things:

  • Check if the rental fees for similar properties in your neighborhood have increased, but only minimally. If so, you have the option to price your competition out of the market by simply not raising the rent.
  • Whether other properties are providing promotions and incentives to prospective tenants. If they are significant, the competition could be really tough.

On the other hand, if rental fees have significantly gone up, your renters will likely expect – and accept – a reasonable rent raise. If you do lose them, it may be possible to get new ones at a nice rent increase.

 

Calculating the Rent Increase

When you have considered raising the rental fee, the next question is, how much should you raise the rent?

The answer is – it depends.

According to a market report, rents increased by 12.5% from 2011 to 2016. But, markets vary dramatically, even within the same metropolis. That is why it pays to analyze the market prior to raising the rent.

You could hire a local real estate agent to help you in this regard. Or, you could choose to perform a comparative market analysis yourself.

Charging the right rent will attract the best, most qualified number of prospective tenants. That means stable income and low turnover costs. On the other hand, charging a lower rent can mean leaving money on the table, and charging a higher rent can mean a longer vacancy period.

Your goal should be to remain as competitive as possible. Generally speaking, you should raise the rent by around 3% to 5% every year. Of course, you should also factor in market forces.

When calculating the amount to increase the rent by, consider the following things:

  • Your cash flow.

Cash flow matters. In fact, it’s likely the reason you became a landlord. When you are making money from your Seattle rental property, it means that your cash flow is positive. This essentially means that your investment is profitable.

  • Similar properties in your area.

Have rentals similar to yours charging more? If they are, increase your cost as well.

  • Seattle local housing laws.

Generally, landlords must give their tenants a 30-day notice prior to raising their rental fee. In Seattle, however, the notice period depends on the rent increase amount.

If the rent increase is less than 10%, then you need to give your tenant the normal 30-day notice. However, for a rent increase exceeding 10%, then you need to give your tenant a 60-day notice.

 

Compliance with Seattle Fair Housing Rules

seattle-fair-housing-laws

As with all aspects of being a landlord, ensure you are compliant with Seattle discrimination laws. 

Check Out: http://tsquareproperties.net/overview-of-the-landlord-tenant-laws-in-washington-state 

 

In Seattle, protected classes include:

  • Military status
  • Use of a service animal
  • Sexual orientation
  • Sex
  • Religion
  • Race
  • Political ideology
  • Parental status
  • National Origin
  • Marital Status
  • Gender Identity
  • Disability
  • Creed
  • Color
  • Breastfeeding in a public place
  • Ancestry
  • Age

Essentially, you should not increase rental fees based on a tenant characteristic. For example, it is discriminative to raise the rent on tenants of a certain familial status or race. Likewise, you cannot increase the rent to punish a tenant that complained to the city about your inability to make needed repairs.

In Seattle, you are restricted from raising rent for a set period if your tenant has:

  • Been involved in a tenant’s organization
  • Filed an official complaint to a government authority
  • Or, has exercised a legal right

If you raise the rent after the tenant has done any of the above, a court may assume it’s a retaliatory act.

 

Informing Your Tenant of the Rent Raise

Make the communication as clear and professional as possible. Also, don’t leave any room for confusion, argument, or negotiation. The best way to inform your tenant is through a written notice.

No tenant will appreciate a rent increase. But, if you make the process structured, you will likely get through it will less backlash. With a little bit of luck, this article will help you achieve just that.

08-20-2018
09-25-2018
5 Tips for Managing Your Rental Properties

Rental property owner doing taxes

How you manage your properties is going to either make or break your chances for success. If managed properly, a rental property can help you on the path to a successful financial future. However, if incorrectly managed, it will fall into shambles.

Here are five tips to make your investment a success.

1.   Pay your taxes.

To have a successful investment property, you need to meet your tax obligations.

Because it is a property, there are many deductions involving depreciation that you are allowed to take. And, since it’s a business, you can often deduct home office expenses as well.

If you aren’t skilled in investment property tax law, it’s in your best interest to hire an accountant. The accountant will help you adhere to IRS requirements with regards to property deductions and other legalities.

2.   Consider hiring a property manager.

A landlord’s job is a tough one, no doubt. It can be overwhelming and time-consuming. To solve this problem, think about hiring a property manager.

A competent property manager will handle all property details for you. They will thoroughly vet all rental applicants and place the best ones on your property. They will ensure your property is in its best condition at all times.

And above all, they will be your no-nonsense rent collector and will take immediate action when rent is late.

A property manager can do as much or as little as you want. They can handle everything if you want. Or, they can handle specific tasks only.

Hiring a property manager is an important decision. As such, you want to weigh the financial benefits and challenges of doing so. Bear in mind that choosing the right manager is also important. So screen them, just as you would potential renters.

3.   Follow the law.

Washington State Laws

Every US state has a law that guides the relationship between landlords and tenants. Understanding it is key to your success as a landlord.

For instance, by following your state-specific law, you are able to understand all matters regarding a tenant’s security deposits. It will guide you on how much to collect, how to store it, and when to return it among other things.

The law will also guide you on how to handle lease violations.

Aside from understanding the statewide landlord-tenant law, you also need to be familiar with local laws as well.

4.   Keep the tenant turnover low.

A low tenant turnover is another contributor to property success. A high tenant turnover means a greater expense for the property owner. The expense is generally in the form of advertising, redecorating, and uncollected rents.

A low tenant turnover, on the contrary, means you won’t have to constantly spend money to attract new tenants. This is because your tenants will be renting for longer periods. For tenants to rent longer, it means that they are satisfied with their quality of living.

There are simple things you can do to maintain a low tenant turnover. You can begin by finding and placing high-quality tenants in your properties. This means having a thorough tenant screening process in place.

Secondly, you can ensure you respond to maintenance and repair requests promptly. Tenants hate landlords who don’t respond to or who blow off complaints.

Thirdly, you can ask for referrals from your existing tenants. If you already have a few great tenants, you can ask them to refer their friends.

5.   Keep up with maintenance and inspections.

Keeping up with tenants’ maintenance requests is the key to your success. It is important for two reasons. First, if your property isn’t maintained, you will have a hard time finding and keeping quality tenants.

Think about it. Would long-term, quality tenants want to rent a property that does not meet their high expectations? Of course not!

Second, the landlord-tenant law obligates you to ensure your property meets certain standards. Specifically, it must meet the basic safety and health standards. No tenant would want to live in a property with constant plumbing issues or one that is infested with pests.

Keeping up with property inspections is also key to your success as a rental property owner. Property inspections will give you a great opportunity to document lease violations at your property or unreported damage.

Whether you hire professionals or do it yourself, there are different types of rental property inspections. They include:

  • Move-In Inspection. This will help you document the property’s condition prior to the new tenant moving in.
  • Move-Out Inspection. This will help you document the property’s condition at the end of their tenancy.
  • Seasonal Inspection. This will help you address the myriad of maintenance challenges that each season brings.
  • Drive-By Inspection. This will allow you to simply pass by your property at any time and check the exterior condition of the property. Unlike the others, it doesn’t require coordinating with the tenants.

Maintenance

There you have it, 5 top tips for managing your rental properties. Remember, you can choose to be completely hands-on, or you can choose to outsource everything to a property manager.

08-07-2018
09-25-2018
Top 5 Questions to Ask Potential Seattle Tenants [and What Not to Ask]

question-ask-potential-renters

It’s every landlord’s dream to get a good tenant. A good tenant is drama-free, clean, honest, creditworthy, respectful, responsible, and above everything else, is able to pay rent without issues.

Getting a good Seattle tenant is not easily a walk in the park. As a landlord looking for a new tenant, you need to do a lot. You need to verify the prospective renter’s creditworthiness, check their criminal and rental history, and more. Needless to say, the tenant verification process can be rather time-consuming.

To save time, you need to ask the right questions. The right questions will help screen the good renters from the bad immediately. In this article, we’ll discuss 5 questions landlords can ask potential tenants as well as questions landlords cannot ask.

 

5 Good Questions to Ask Prospective Seattle Tenants

tenant-screening-questionnaire

1.  “What’s your reason for moving?”

Tenants may want to move for various reasons. For example:

  • Moving due to changes in their relationship status.

Those getting married may be looking to move to a larger place, while those undergoing a separation or divorce may be looking to downsize.

  • Moving because they want to be located in a different neighborhood.

They may want to switch school districts, want to experience a new location or they may feel their current neighborhood has become unsafe.

  • Moving due to issues with neighbors.

For whatever reason, they may feel unsafe around a neighbor or may have noise complaints.

  • Tenants may move due to maintenance issues.

They may be tired of dealing with pest problems, leaky roofs, or clogged drains.

  • A renter might have to move because they are dealing with a job relocation.
  • If a tenant is looking for more space or less space they may also choose to move.

When asking this question to potential renters, you want to look for legitimate reasons for moving. Watch out for things like moving because of an eviction. A renter who has broken a lease term once is likely to do it again.

 

2.  “When do you want to move in?”

This is another question that you need to ask your potential Seattle tenants. It will help you learn more about them. Since most landlords require a 30-days’ notice to end a tenancy, a prospective tenant wishing to move in immediately may signal something suspicious.

That being said, there are certain situations that can cause a tenant to move in a hurry. For example, domestic abuse, a sudden job transfer, or a pay cut.

Otherwise, always look for someone who starts their search at least a month before moving in. Such tenants are likely to be responsible.

 

3.  “How much money do you make every month?”

When screening tenants, one important thing to look for is the tenant’s income. The income will show you whether or not the tenant will be able to pay rent without issues.

Generally, look for a renter whose income is at least thrice the monthly rent. That is, look for a person who is making no less than $3,000 a month if the monthly rent is $1,000.

Checking the renter’s income is, however, half the story. You will need to also check how much debt they have. To get such details, you need to run a credit check on them. This will, however, require the renter's consent.

 

4.  “Will you be able to pay the first month’s rent and security deposit upon move-in?”

In general, before exchanging keys, you should make sure that you have received the full first month’s rent and security deposit, as well as any other fees. A good example of a fee is a pet deposit fee.

When screening potential Seattle tenants, always make sure they have enough money up front to cover all initial fees. If a tenant seems hesitant to make a commitment, chances are their financial situation isn’t good.

Such a tenant is likely to cause problems if you permit them to move in and then pay the money later.

 

5.  “Do you currently have pets?”

Last but not the least in the rental questionnaire, ask the tenant whether they currently have pets. This can be a huge time saver. This is because if you have a “no pet” policy, it will immediately disqualify such a tenant.

However, if you allow pets, make sure they agree with your policies. Such policies may have guidelines that dictate the type, size, and weight of the pet allowed. Also, make sure they know the repercussions of not adhering to the policies imposed upon the rental or lease agreement.

For example, let them know that they risk being fined or even being evicted if they act contrary to the rules.

 

Questions Landlords Cannot Ask Potential Seattle Tenants

man-hand-holding-phone-coffee-cup-table

As a landlord, there are also certain questions that are illegal to ask potential tenants. Generally speaking, these are questions that that touch on Fair Housing Rules. The Fair Housing Act is a federal act in the U.S. that shields tenants from housing discrimination.

Simply put, the Act prohibits discrimination based on certain specific characteristics. In Washington State, for example, such characteristics include disability, familial status, national origin, sex, religion, color, race, sexual orientation, marital status, or gender identity.

Essentially, what this means is that you can’t ask potential Seattle tenants questions such as the following:

  • “Are you gay, divorced, or married?” 

    This is a question that touches on the renter’s familial status. Familial status is a protected class under the Federal Fair Housing Act.

  • “What is your first language?” or, “Where were your parents born?”

    Both questions are discriminative as they seek to know the renter’s national origin.

  • “Do you think you would fit in? There aren’t a lot of temples around here.”

    This question assumes a tenants spiritual and religious beliefs. Under the Federal Fair Housing Act, a tenant’s religion should be none of your business.

  • “Your skin is dark. Are you sure that you’d feel comfortable around here?”

    You shouldn’t use a tenant’s color as a qualifying standard. It’s illegal.

Besides the Federal Fair Housing Act, it is illegal to ask a prospective tenant whether they have ever been arrested or not. You could, however, ask them whether they have been convicted of a crime.

Also, make sure you are up to date on the Washington State landlord-tenant law before carrying out any tenant screening questions.

 

Asking the right questions to prospective tenants will improve your chances of landing a good tenant for your Seattle rental property. On the other hand, asking the wrong questions can land you in legal hot soup. Hopefully, with this guide, you will be able to do the right thing and prepare you for questions to ask possible renters.

06-28-2018
Tenant Screening
06-28-2018
Hiring a Property Manager vs. Self-Managing: What's Better?

hiring-property-manager-vs-self-managing

As a landlord, one of the biggest decisions you’ll make is whether you should self-manage or hire a property manager.

When you invest in rental properties, the key is to make sure that every aspect of the business is handled efficiently. Therefore, making the right decision is important.

Decision making isn’t easy. That is why today we’ll compare the advantages of each to help you make the right choice.

 

Benefits of Working with a Professional Property Management Company

There are many benefits when working with a professional property management company. Some of them are:

  • Proper legal backing

Property management companies are in the business of dealing with all rental property related matters, including legal issues. When a tenant fails to pay rent or causes excessive property damage, you may need to take your tenant to court. A management company will handle this for you.

  • Money management

By being directly involved in your property’s financial activities, you can rest assured the finances are in order.

  • Better and wider networking

Property management companies know the ins-and-outs of the rental property business. They have social connections that enable them to get better pricing on services, contractors, and materials.

  • Minimal vacancies

The right property management company will advertise your rentals aggressively across many platforms. With plenty of exposure, you have the opportunity to place top-notch tenants in your property.

  • Timesaving

Employing a property management company will free up your time to do the things you enjoy. You’ll be free of countless hours normally spent marketing vacant properties, annual inspections, or late-night emergency repairs.

  • Fluid infrastructures

Property management companies come as an all-in-one management package. They will help you with tenant screening, rent collection, and even eviction procedures.

 

Benefits of Self-Managing a Property

If you choose to manage your rental properties yourself, keep in mind there’s a lot of work to be done. This doesn’t, however, mean that there aren’t a host of benefits to gain while managing your own rentals.

Self-managing your rental properties will help you:

•    Avoid victimizing yourself

Sadly, not every management company is run ethically. Some engage in unsavory activities such as pocket rent from “vacant units” or receive kickbacks from contractors.

While chances of this happening are slim, doing your thorough research beforehand is necessary.

•    Direct involvement in day-to-day decisions and activities

You’ll have control over things like how to collect the rent from each of your tenants, which contractors to hire for maintenance issues, and where to advertise your vacant rentals.

Making the right decisions will require you to be well-versed in matters regarding rental properties. For example, conducting background checks, evicting problem tenants, and legal knowledge regarding local landlord-tenant laws.

•    Save on management fees

Generally, management companies will charge you 10% for their services. This is an expense that you can save by managing the property yourself.

However, you’ll be left to handle all expenses related to leasing your rental property. For example, legal matters, property upkeep and maintenance, tenant-screening services, and advertisement fees. All these tasks can seem overwhelming.

Ultimately, you may end up spending more by managing the property yourself despite saving on a monthly management fee.

 

Becoming Your Own Property Manager

laptop-computer-writting-girl-table-cafe

If you choose to manage the property yourself, make sure you are familiar with fair housing rules and landlord-tenant law.

Fair housing rules are straightforward. The rules make it illegal to discriminate against a tenant based on certain protected characteristics.

Generally, such protected characteristics include sex, familial status, gender, national origin, disability or race.

In addition, you also need to be knowledgeable when it comes to creating important documents such as the rental application form and the lease or rental agreement.

You’ll also want to come up with certain policies. For instance, whether you accept roommates and pets, when late fees will apply, and when to file for an eviction.

 

Hiring a Property Manager

business-professionals-group-desk-meeting

Use caution if you decide to use a management company. To better your chances of getting the right manager, you could:

  • Look up professional directories on the internet. Visit the National Association of Residential Property Managers (NARPM) website and click “Property Managers. Or visit the website of the Institute of Real Estate Management (IREM) and click “Find a Professional.”
  • You could also get recommendations from colleagues and your local apartment association.

Regardless of which method you use, vetting them before hiring them is critical. Preferably, ask them specific questions. Such questions may include:

  • How long they’ve been in business? Ideally, choose a company that has been in operation for more than five years.
  • How do they handle maintenance requests?
  • What is their average occupancy length? Preferably, you want to have most tenants renew their lease, or at a minimum stay for the full lease term.
  • What is their average owner retention rate? Shoot for companies with above 97% owner retention rate.
  • What percent of the security deposit do they usually refund? The percentage should be high. Otherwise, it may indicate a problem with their tenant screening process.
  • What is their average eviction rate? A vacancy rate for a good management company should not exceed five percent.
  • What percentage of their tenants renew their leases? Usually, the lease renewal rate for a good property manager will be eighty percent or higher.
  • Do they guarantee occupancy? If the manager can’t guarantee tenants will stick around for a certain period, chances are that their screening process is flawed.
  • What is their rental marketing strategy? Marketing has now moved past classified newspaper ads and road signs. Nowadays, people consume most of their content online. Look for a management company that makes use of SEO, PPC, email and social media marketing strategies among others.

 

Each option has plenty of benefits that will help you succeed in the rental property business. Ultimately, the decision to hire a property management company or self-manage your rental property is largely a personal one.

Whichever route you choose, make sure you have a diligently executed plan. 

05-18-2018
05-18-2018
Security Deposit Laws in Washington State

washington-state-security-deposit-law

Majority of the lease and rental agreements in Washington State need a security deposit. Typically a month’s rent, security deposits help cushion landlords against property damage in excess of normal wear and tear.

Security deposits are often a source of friction between tenants and landlords. To help prevent issues when returning it, it’s important that both landlords and tenants familiarize themselves with the security deposit laws in their state.

Fortunately, Washington security deposit laws are pretty straightforward. So, if you are a landlord or renter in Washington, here’s a summary of the security deposit laws you should know of.

 

1.   Maximum Security Deposit Amount

The Washington rental laws don’t limit the amount a landlord can ask a renter as a security deposit. This means that a landlord is free to charge whatever amount he or she sees fit. You should, however, check to see if there are any local laws that define the statutory limit on security deposits.

 

2.   Requirements For Collecting a Security Deposits

Before collecting a tenant’s security deposit, a landlord in Washington must do the following:

  • Include a written checklist. The purpose of a checklist is to document the property’s condition before a new renter moves in. After the documentation, each party must sign it.

In Washington State, if a landlord fails to include this written checklist, the landlord might be required to return the entire security deposit amount to the tenant in addition to other penalties.  

  • Have a written lease or rental agreement. The Washington landlord is also required to have a written agreement with the renter. A lease is a contractual agreement between a landlord and a renter. It stipulates landlord and tenant rights and responsibilities, as well as other conditions.

Among these conditions are reasons the landlord can withhold all or a portion of a renter’s security deposit. Just like the checklist, it must be signed by both parties.

 

3.   Requirements After Collecting a Security Deposits

money-garden-dirt-tools

Washington landlords must provide the tenant with written notice after collecting and depositing their security deposit. The notice must include two things. The name and address of the institution where the deposit is being held. As well as a written receipt stating the security deposit amount.

If for whatever reason the landlord moves the security deposit to another institution during an existing tenancy, the landlord must again provide the renter with a written notice containing the name and address of the new institution.

 

4.   Storing a Tenant’s Security Deposit in Washington State

The Washington State landlord-tenant law provides landlords three options for storing a tenant’s security deposit. In the first option, the landlord can keep a tenant’s security deposit with an escrow agent. The agent must be licensed and located within Washington State.

As a second option, landlords can keep a tenant’s security deposit in a nationally recognized financial institution. Examples of such financial institutions include credit unions, loans and savings associations, trust companies and banks.

In the third option, landlords can keep the deposit in a trust account. Such an account must be set up only for the purposes of storing the security deposits of the renter.

If the account is interest bearing, the interest is payable to the landlord by default. However, different terms can apply if both the renter and landlord agree. The agreement reached should be in writing.

 

5.   Nonrefundable Fees

bedroom-bed-pillow-painting-window-tv

First off, nonrefundable fees are different from nonrefundable deposits. While a deposit is, by definition, refundable, the nonrefundable fee is usually a surcharge on top of the initial security deposit.

Washington landlords can charge renters nonrefundable fees. An example of a nonrefundable fee could be a charge for having a pet on the property. To charge a nonrefundable fee, the landlord must include it in a lease or rental agreement. It should be in writing.

Furthermore, these fees must clearly be spelled out in the lease or rental agreement as nonrefundable. A nonrefundable fee may be reimbursed back to the renter in either of these situations. One, if it’s not clearly listed as nonrefundable in the lease or rental agreement. And two, if the landlord and renter don’t have a written lease or rental agreement.

 

6.   Returning a Tenant’s Security Deposit in Washington

couch-pillow-balcony-room

WA landlord-tenant law on deposit refunds, states that once a renter vacates the rental property, a landlord has 14 days to return the renter’s deposit. The deposit returned may be whole or partial. If a partial deposit is returned, the landlord must explain the deductions as well as their costs to the tenant in a security deposit return letter.

The landlord must then send the notice alongside the remaining security deposit to the tenant. There are various ways in which a landlord can deliver the deposit and statement to the renter.

First, by hand delivering it to the tenant’s last known address. Second, by meeting up with the past tenant and personally delivering it. And third, by mailing the documents via the United States first-class mail service.

Failure by the landlord to follow these rules may attract penalties. In addition to paying for the tenant’s court costs and attorney fees, the landlord may be liable for paying the tenant up to twice the security deposit amount.

On the other hand, if the tenant chooses to abandon the property, these rules may apply.

 

7.   A Walk-Through Inspection

computer-smart-phone-note-books-pen

Before a renter’s move-out in the state of Washington, a walk-through inspection isn’t required. That being said, both the landlord and tenant must sign off on a checklist detailing the property’s condition before a renter’s security deposit is collected.

 

8.   Reasons to Keep a Tenant’s Security Deposit

A Washington landlord may be able to keep all or part of the renter’s security deposit in certain conditions. Common reasons include property damage, unpaid rent, and other lease violations. The property damage must be in excess of normal wear and tear.

 

9.   Change in Washington Property Ownership

In the event the property changes hands, the outgoing landlord must hand over all tenants’ deposits to the incoming landlord. The outgoing landlord must also inform the tenant with the Change of Management/Ownership notice. After the transfer, the incoming landlord then becomes responsible for the resident’s security deposits.

 

This overview of the Washington security deposit laws is only meant to be informational. If you need more help, please seek professional services from a qualified Washington attorney. 

04-26-2018
04-26-2018
Overview of the Landlord-Tenant Laws in Washington State

overview-landlord-tenant-laws-washington-state

Understanding the landlord-tenant laws in Washington State is important. In the state of Washington, these laws are pretty straightforward. If properly understood, both tenants and landlords should be able to solve many legal issues on their own.

At T-Square Properties, we specialize in providing property management services to Seattle and the surrounding areas. We are well-versed when it comes to the rental laws in Washington State. So to help, we’ve created an overview of the landlord-tenant laws to get you started.

 

Washington Small Claims Court

In a Small Claims Court, a person may sue up to $5,000. Unlike in other courts, a dispute here could be resolved in a much shorter time, usually about half an hour.

Court procedures are quick, inexpensive, informal, and uncomplicated. In a Washington State small claims court, a lawyer isn’t necessary. In fact, they can only be present if the judge allows them.

 

Washington State Security Deposit Limit and Return

Most rental agreements and residential leases in Washington State require a security deposit. A security deposit is any money a landlord takes from a tenant other than the advance payment of rent. Landlords mostly use it to cover property damage.

Here are the important security deposit laws to be familiar with in Washington State.

  • A landlord is free to charge any reasonable amount of security deposit. There’s no cap on the maximum.
  • Washington landlords can charge tenants nonrefundable fees. To charge it, both the landlord and tenant must have a written rental agreement or lease.
  • A landlord may keep a tenant’s security deposit for excessive property damage, unpaid rent, and other lease violations.
  • Landlords must provide the tenant with a security deposit receipt after collecting and depositing their security deposit.
  • In case of property ownership, landlords must transfer all renter’s security deposits to the new owner.
  • The landlord has 14 days to return a tenant’s security deposit once they move out.
  • In Washington, a walk-through inspection isn’t required.

 

Washington State Fair Housing Rules

property-windows-doors

Renters in Washington are protected against discrimination because of their military/veteran status, marital status, sex/gender identity, religion/creed, national origin, color, race and familial status.

Washington Law against Discrimination and Fair Housing Act govern Washington fair housing laws.

Fair housing laws prohibit the following actions:

  • Retaliating against a resident or applicant because he/she has asserted fair housing rights or has been a witness in a fair housing investigation.
  • Enforcing a neutral rule or policy that has a disproportionately adverse effect on a protected class.
  • Failing to meet access requirements, refusing to allow a disabled resident make reasonable changes, or failing to provide reasonable accommodations to a disabled person.
  • Advertising in a way that indicates a preference for a certain class of people.
  • Fair housing laws also protect applicants and residents who live with people in protected groups.
  • Lying about the availability of a rental unit or refusing to rent to someone because of their protected class.

 

Washington State Landlord-Tenant Laws on Landlord Retaliation

books-hammer-court-judge-law

Retaliation against renters asserting their rights under the landlord-tenant law is prohibited under the landlord-tenant act. Acts that can be considered retaliatory include:

  • Making a renter’s stay unpleasant. For example, refusing to make repairs to a renter’s unit or restricting their access to a previous common washer and dryer.
  • Harassing the tenant.
  • Increasing the rent.
  • Failing to renew the tenant’s lease.

 

Washington State Domestic Violence Laws

According to Washington state laws, domestic violence is any criminal act committed by a “family or household member” against another. There are five basic categories of domestic violence: neglect, economic control, sexual assault, emotional abuse, and physical violence.

Examples of crimes associated with domestic violence include:

  • False imprisonment
  • Stalking or cyberstalking
  • Violation of protection order
  • Rape
  • Interfering with the reporting of domestic violence
  • Kidnapping
  • Property damage
  • Criminal trespass
  • Burglary
  • Coercion
  • Reckless endangerment
  • Manslaughter or murder
  • Assault

Felony domestic violence offenses are punishable by more than one year in jail. Demeanors are punishable by up to three months in jail and a $1,000 fine. Gross misdemeanors are punishable by up to one year in jail and a $5,000 fine.

 

Landlord Rights to Access Rental Property in Washington 

Tenants in Washington have a right to quiet enjoyment of their home. According to Washington state laws, landlords must give their tenants a 48-hours’ notice to enter a rental unit. This isn’t however necessary in case of emergencies. And if the landlord is showing the property to prospective tenants, then they must give a 24-hours’ notice.

The time of entry by the landlord must be reasonable. Washington State rental law states that the notice must contain a telephone address which the renter can use to reach the landlord in case of any objections or a reschedule. The notice must also specify exact dates and time for entry.

Landlords commonly enter a rental unit to:

  • Conduct unit inspections
  • Make repairs
  • Show the apartment
  • Provide services
  • Deliver large packages
  • Decorate, alter or improve the rental unit
  • Check for lease violations
  • Check if the tenant has violated safety or health codes
  • Under court orders, and
  • If the renter has abandoned the premises

 

Washington State Eviction Rules

Renters in Washington can be evicted for various reasons, including nonpayment of rent, lease violation, and property damage. To evict a renter, landlords must follow the right legal procedure.

In Washington, self-evictions are illegal. Evictions can only be done through a court order. Otherwise, they would be illegal. An example of an act that’s illegal is the landlord changing the rental unit locks.

Depending on the reason for eviction, there are several different types of eviction notices in Washington State that landlords can serve tenants. Common types of notices in Washington include:

Type of Notice

Reason for eviction

Three-day notice

Nonpayment of rent

Ten-day notice

Lease violation(s)

Three-day notice

Nuisance or disturbance

Twenty-day notice

Lease termination

See RCW 59.12.040 and RCW 59.12.030.

Although they vary, evictions in Washington State generally take about three weeks.  

 

Washington State Lease Agreement

desk-writing-pen-paper-signature

A Washington State lease agreement is a contractual agreement between a landlord and a tenant. It outlines the relationship’s terms, such as:

  • Which utilities are covered
  • Rules about pets
  • Rent amount
  • The length of the tenancy
  • Repair policy and procedures
  • Security deposit amount and what it covers
  • Roommate and guest policies, and so on

 

This overview of Washington State’s rental laws is only meant to be informational. For specific questions, please consult professional services. 

03-19-2018
Washington State Landlord-Tenant Laws
03-19-2018
What You Need to Know about Living in Redmond WA

Once you get settled in Redmond, you’ll wonder why you didn’t move there sooner. Redmond is a city in King County, Washington. It’s only 16 miles east of Seattle. According to a previous census, its population is at 62,458.

Redmond Washington Sign 

Redmond is the ‘tech capital’ of Washington State. It’s the home of tech giants such as Microsoft, AT&T, Nintendo and Spacelab Medical. It has a lot to offer everyone, from outdoor enthusiasts to art lovers to families with children or anyone looking for a fresh start.

Read on to discover everything you need to know about making Redmond your new home sweet home.

Residents

Residents of this beautiful city comprise mostly of:

  • Wealthy married couples with no children
  • High-income, kid-free couples living in the suburbs
  • Younger suburban singles
  • High-income singles living in the suburbs
  • High-income immigrants living in the suburban areas

Activities & Attractions

  • Redmond Town Center - This is undoubtedly the hub of the city. It embodies all of the values that Redmond holds dear: high-quality goods, kid-friendly shops and activities, gathering spaces, and community events.
  • Reading with Rover: This is a therapy dog program. Bring your kids for holiday events like trick-or-treating and visits with Santa, the Easter Bunny, and so on.
  • Uncle’s Games - It’s a great place for families and friends to gather to play games and socialize.  
  • Marymoor Park - Features an endless list of activities such as festivals, movies, and concerts.
  • Big Picture - A great place for entertainment where you can watch a movie on a recliner while having refreshing drinks brought in for you.
  • Redmond Derby Days - The city plays host to a number of exciting annual events such as Derby Days. It’s an annual competition event that features arts, foods, parades, contests, races, and more.
  • Redmond Saturday Market - A haven for foodies, the market features over 70 food vendors. Offerings include a wide variety of food such as crepes, pizza, pulled pork sandwiches and more.

Schools

Redmond boasts some of the top-rated schools in Washington State. While the average national graduation rate is 82%, the Districts graduation rate is at 91%.

Top performing schools include:

  • Faith Lutheran School
  • Cascadia Montessori School
  • The Overlake School
  • Redmond High School
  • The Bear Creek School

The secondary campus of Lake Washington Technical College and The DigiPen Institute of Technology call Redmond home.

Crime

Redmond is one of the safest places in Washington, according to a report by Safewise. Its crime rate is two times less than that of the rest of the state. Without a doubt, Redmond is a place where you can rest easy at night.

Unemployment

You will love the unemployment rate. At just 3.4%, it’s about half that of the national average. Redmond also has an impressive job growth of about 2.64%.

Nintendo Headquarters

Photo courtesy of Pyrenil (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Nintendo_of_America_Headquarters.jpg)

Cost of Living in Redmond Washington

Living in Redmond doesn’t come cheap. The median home price in Redmond is about $505,200. Compared to the rest of the city, this town’s cost of living is 68.6% higher, according to Spirling’s Best Places.

Weather

Redmond, similar to most of the Pacific Northwest, enjoys mild weather most of the year. Typically, summers are dry and warm while winters are wet and cool. And snowfall occurs once in a while.

Neighborhoods

Home to software gurus, suburban denizens and nature enthusiasts, Redmond also offers a fine choice of neighborhoods to choose from. They are as follows:

Downtown

Downtown Redmond is the heart of the area. It’s vibrant and bustling. The median home price is around $699,300. The district offers a wide variety of activities including shopping, fine dining, and seasonal events.

Willow-Rose Hill

This is one of Redmond’s largest neighborhood. The median home price is about $608,100. For nightlife, dining, and shopping, you’ll need to travel to either Redmond, Kirkland or Seattle.

Overlake

Located West of Redmond, Overlake boasts of being the largest employment centers in the state. As such, the neighborhood attracts hordes of highly skilled people with diverse backgrounds. Besides being the home to Nintendo and Microsoft, Overlake is also home to King County’s largest park.

The park features many outdoor activities including numerous walking and biking trails, velodrome, rock climbing, as well as a lake. The average home price here is about $712,600.

Sammamish Valley

Sammamish Valley is a productive agricultural area as well as a recreational destination. The median home price is about $1,240,000. Bordered by Earlmont and Willows neighborhoods, Sammamish Valley offers a lot of activities for people to enjoy.

They include Sammamish Valley Fall Harvest Celebration, and the Sammamish Valley Celebration of Lavender and the Arts.

Bear Creek

Bear Creek has a diverse land use makeup. To the north and west are residential homes. To the center is made up resource lands and to the east is the Bear Creek Park. The neighborhood offers a number of outdoor activities including the Bear Creek Country Club – one of Washington’s nicest courses.

Other facts about Redmond, WA

  • Logging was the First Industry
  • It’s the bicycle capital of the Northwest
  • It has a bridge that floats
  • Has a diversity of culture

 

There you have it: important things to know about living in Redmond. Evidently, Redmond is a great place to live, work, play and thrive!  

 

02-23-2018
Living Redmond Washington
03-12-2018
Eviction Process Washington State - Overview of WA Eviction Laws

As a landlord, you'll have to deal with troublesome tenants in your rental property every now and then. Most tenant troubles can be solved with a reprimand or two.

With some tenants, however, you may have to do a little more. If you have someone who consistently violates the terms of their lease agreement, eviction may be your best recourse. Here's a landlord's guide to the eviction process in Washington State.

washington-state-rental-property

 

Types of Eviction Notices in Washington State for Termination with Cause

In order to evict a tenant, you must first have a valid reason. Legal reasons for termination include:

  • Nonpayment of rent
  • Failure to comply with a lease term
  • Waste or nuisance
  • Committing an illegal act
  • Expiration of a lease

Before you evict a tenant, you must first give them a notice. The type of notice will vary depending on the cause of eviction. Common notices to vacate are:

  • A 3-day notice to pay or move out

Most evictions happen because of nonpayment of rent. A 3-day notice informs the tenant that they have three days to pay their rent due or leave. Failure by the tenant to act within this time frame means that you can proceed with the eviction lawsuit.

  • 10-Day notice to comply or vacate

This notice is given when the tenant violates any of the terms of the lease agreement. The notice gives tenants 10 days to resolve the violation or leave. If the tenant refuses to do either, you can then go ahead and file an eviction lawsuit against them.

  • 3-Day notice for nuisance or waste

This notice is given to tenants who conduct illegal activities, cause nuisance or litter on the property. You should only serve this notice when these violations are severe enough to warrant an eviction. For example, a tenant who's had multiple arrests can be considered a nuisance.

  • 20-Day notice to terminate a tenancy

In Washington, the eviction notice is 20 days for month-to-month leases. You should serve this notice at least 20 days before the last date of the rental period.

In all these cases, you must not evict a tenant if it's for retaliatory or discriminatory reasons. Otherwise, the tenant has cause to sue you in court.

eviction-notice-washington

 

Types of Eviction Notices in Washington State for Termination Without Cause

If you want to terminate a lease agreement without cause, you must wait until the lease term expires. In some cases, the Washington state eviction laws require you to give the tenant a written notice to move out.

  • Month-to-month tenancy

If the tenancy is on a month-to-month basis, you must give the tenant a "Notice of Termination of Tenancy." This notice is also known as a "20-day Eviction Notice" in Washington State.  Once the 20 days have lapsed, you may file a lawsuit.

  • Fixed-term lease

Here, you don't need to issue a notice to end the tenancy. This is because a fixed term lease agreement expressly specifies when the tenancy ends.

 

Serving an Eviction Notice in Washington State

In Washington, you must serve the notice in one of the following ways:

  • Personal delivery to the tenant
  • Delivering to the tenant via an employee, manager or another adult
  • By personally leaving the notice with an adult at the rental unit
  • By delivering it via certified and regular mail

It's advisable that you personally serve the notice to a tenant in the presence of a witness.

 

Serving a Summons and Complaint

Unlike an eviction notice, a summons and complaint cannot be served to the tenant personally. Instead, it can only be served by a neutral third party like a sheriff.

After receiving the summons, a tenant must file a written response within a specified period. In Washington, tenants have one week to do it. Otherwise, they automatically lose the eviction case.

 

Show Cause Hearing

In this case, the burden solely lies on the tenant. A show cause hearing requires the tenant to give reasons why an eviction shouldn't be carried out. If the tenant fails to show up in court, the property returns back to you.

washington-state-eviction-laws

 

Tenant's Defenses to an Eviction in Washington State

Even when you have a legal cause to evict them, a tenant may still choose to fight an eviction. Common defenses tenants use to fight a notice to vacate in Washington State include:

  • The allegations are false.
  • The lease provision allegedly violated is unreasonable.
  • The breach of a lease provision isn't substantial enough to warrant an eviction.
  • The notice was improper.
  • The notice was improperly served.
  • The eviction violates the Fair Housing Act.
  • The eviction is a retaliatory act.
  • The landlord waived the eviction by accepting any part of the rent.

 

Removal of the Tenant from the Washington Property

You can only remove a tenant from your property by winning an eviction lawsuit. And even then, only an authorized person, such as a law enforcement officer, can perform the eviction.

Washington state eviction laws make self-evictions illegal. You cannot:

  • Threaten the tenant
  • Remove the tenant's personal belongings
  • Padlock the doors and windows
  • Shut off utilities

Doing any of these can land you a hefty fine. In some instances, you may be fined up to $500 for each day the tenant's property is in your possession.

 

Removal by Writ of Restitution

Assuming you win the case, the judge will decide how much the tenant owes, including court costs, attorney fees, and rent.

Once a writ of restitution is served, the tenant will only have 3 or 4 days to vacate. If the tenant fails to move out within that timeframe, the sheriff will carry out the eviction.

The Washington landlord-tenant laws require you to store any property that's left behind after an eviction. Any hauling and storage costs will be shouldered by the tenant.

 

When dealing with problematic tenants, there are times when eviction is your best course. If that's the case for you right now, keep the tips above in mind, and you'll do just fine.

01-18-2018
WA Eviction Process
01-18-2018
Breaking a Lease in Washington State| Tenant Rights and Regulations

When you leave before the expiry of a fixed-term rental agreement without paying for the remainder of the rent due under the lease, it's known as breaking the lease.

If your reason for breaking the lease in Washington is justified, you need to provide relevant notice to the landlord. Otherwise, you may need to negotiate with the landlord especially if you're under a longer lease, like one that lasts for a year. Doing this will help you mitigate against any legal and financial repercussions.

It goes without saying that knowing your rights as a tenant under the Washington state law is vital. Be that as it may, the terms of the lease or rental agreement ultimately dictate the consequences of breaking a lease.

Our team here at T-Square Property Management would like to inform you on what you need to know about breaking a lease in Washington State.

signing-lease-washington

 

Renters Rights and Responsibilities When Signing a Lease in Washington

A rental agreement obligates both you and your landlord for a specific period of time. In Washington State, unless a lease runs out, a landlord cannot raise the rent or change other terms unless allowed in the lease.

Your landlord also cannot force you to move out, unless you violate the Washington lease agreement. And even then, he has to follow the due legal process. For example, under the Washington Rev. Code Ann. § 59.12.030(3) statute, the landlord is required to serve you a 3-day notice to pay the rent or leave. And if you cause any serious damage to the rental unit, the landlord is mandated to serve you with an unconditional quit notice.

As a tenant, you're legally bound to pay rent for the full lease term (usually one year), regardless of whether you continue living in the rental unit or not. There are some exceptions, though. They are as follows.

 

When Breaking a Lease is Legally Justified in Washington State

There are instances in which you can legally break the rental agreement before the lease term ends.

  • Unlawful harassment by your landlord or landlord's agent

Under Washington state laws, a landlord is required to give a one- or two-day notice prior to entering rental property. If your landlord repeatedly violates your rights to privacy, you have good reason to break it.

You may also break the lease if your landlord does things like changing the locks, turning off your utilities, or removing your windows. A judge might rule that you have been "constructively evicted," and therefore rule in your favor.

  • You are a victim of Stalking or Domestic Violence

Under Washington State Rental laws, you can break a lease if you're a victim of domestic violence or stalking. There's a caveat though: You need to show proof of these crimes, like a police report.

  • As a response to a repair concern that the landlord isn't taking action to fix within a specified timeframe

A court would probably rule that you have been "constructively evicted" if your landlord fails to provide habitable housing. It's your right as a tenant to live in habitable housing under local and state housing codes.

Washington law (Wash. Rev. Code Ann. § § 59.18.100, .110, .115) sets the procedure you should follow before being justified to break the lease.

  • A call to military service

You have a right to break a lease if you enter active military service after signing a rental agreement. You're required to give your landlord a written notice stipulating your intent. Once the landlord is in possession of the notice, you will have 30 days before your tenancy ends.

There may be a number of other serious reasons renters choose to break their lease, including:

  • Concerns about safety or security
  • Noise or other nuisance
  • Irreconcilable problems with neighbors or management
  • Health reasons

As serious as these reasons may be, the Act that guides the landlord-tenant relationship doesn't explicitly allow renters to terminate a lease for these reasons. So what happens when breaking a lease isn't justified?

 

When Breaking a Lease in Washington is not Legally Justified

Prohibited

Even with the absence of a legal justification to break your lease, you may still be off the hook when paying due rent. This is because under Washington landlord-tenant law, the landlord has a responsibility to make reasonable efforts to re-rent your unit.

In other words, you may not have to pay the total remaining rent due under the lease. You'll only pay the rent that the landlord loses as a result of you terminating the lease. And if the landlord has to re-rent the unit at a lower amount than the one originally stated in the lease, you'll have to compensate for the difference.

Other charges that you may have to pay the landlord include:

  • The cost of advertising the property, and;
  • Tenant screening costs. The landlord doesn't need to relax standards for acceptable tenants.

You'll only be liable for the amount of time the unit was vacant if your landlord is able to fill the vacancy early. However, if it takes a longer time to get a new tenant, the costs could be substantial.

When you break the lease, you aren't typically entitled to your security deposit. It's the first thing the landlord turns to when recovering the money you owe.

 

Ways to Minimize Your Financial Responsibility When You Break a Lease

There are several ways to minimize your financial responsibility when you move out and lack legal justification. Don't just move out and pray that your landlord gets a replacement. Instead, assist the landlord in his efforts to get a new tenant.

This may even help you earn a good reference from the landlord when you're looking for another rental property.

So how do you help the landlord? You can start by giving advance notice as early as possible. This will give enough time to negotiate any terms for early termination, and for the landlord find a new tenant.

Ideally, you can even offer the landlord a replacement tenant. The tenant should be qualified, though.

 

Conclusion

Always read the terms and fine print of your lease agreement carefully. For example, read your lease to see if it includes a termination fee or a specific forfeiture of your deposit for breaking your lease. Know your rights, know the rules and regulations, and follow them to the best of your ability.

12-19-2017
12-19-2017
The Best Seattle Neighbourhoods for Families

As a Seattle business and property management company we know it’s a tricky process selecting the best neighborhood to live in. Especially in a city celebrated for its extraordinary communities steeped in neighborhood pride.  In the end, choosing the best neighborhood for your family will have you juggling priorities, so we compiled a list of some of Seattle’s best neighborhoods to help. 

Below is a guide to the 7 best neighborhoods in Seattle for families. In choosing, we considered schools, affordability, yards, housing, views, walkability, amenities, accessibility and more.

 

1. Greenwood

 coffee-shop

If you’re a young family looking to buy your first home, begin your search here. Greenwood has in the recent past become a hot spot for prospective homeowners migrating north due to affordable housing. 

Greenwood is known for its numerous specialty stores, coffee houses, restaurants, and bars. The community hosts many events that appeal to citizens and families alike. Activities and attractions include:

  • Greenwood car show – An event held every June for auto enthusiasts. 
  • Monthly artworks – This event showcases the local artistry and interesting businesses along Greenwood Avenue.
  • Seafair – It is held in August every year. It is a parade adorned with the local police and Seafair pirates.
  • Taproot Theatre – This is undoubtedly one of the largest mid-size theatre companies in Seattle. It puts on plays, on their stage; organizes performances, in schools and clubs; and offers classes to budding actors.

 

2. Capitol Hill

Depending on how you feel about condominiums, the Capitol Hill neighborhood’s precipitous growth can inspire delight. It is an ideal place for artist types who want to live amid a mix of clubs, theatres, and bars. 

Its population has shot above 50,000, and this doesn’t include the doves who come here for the nightlife and restaurants. 

The culture in Capitol Hill is quite diverse. To begin with, it is home to a sizeable number of gay and lesbian hot spots making it Seattle’s “gayborhood”. Also, it features a plethora of musical culture thanks to the numerous fringe theatres and live music held in bars. 

 

3. Mount Baker

rowing-boat

This is a neighborhood located in southeast Seattle. It is bounded by Columbia to the south, Rainier Valley to the west, Leschi to the North, and Lake Washington to the east. The neighborhood has a rowing team and a community club. 

The atmosphere around Mount Baker is pretty quiet, especially on the side of Lake Washington. In fact, you wouldn’t think you’re in the middle of a huge city. Activities and attractions for your family include:

  • The Community Clubhouse
  • Genesee Park
  • Sayers Memorial Park
  • Repast Bakery
  • Emerald City Fish and Chips

Other cool things in Mount Baker include Penumbra Beer Bash, Bicycle Sundays on Lake Washington, and Kid’s Holiday Cooking Classes.  

 

4. Ballard

Ballard is famous for transforming into a hip, family-friendly foodie enclave from an independent-minded Scandinavian village. This up and coming Seattle neighborhood is an ideal mix of urban and neighborhood living. 

Families love it here because of the great school districts offered. There are many restaurants lined up on the Ballard Avenue, which mostly specialize in seafood. Also, for when you’re not partaking of the deliciousness… Check out: 

  • Ballard Breweries
  • Discovery Park
  • The Edith Macefield House 
  • Woodland Park Zoo
  • Seattle Fish Ladder
  • Ballard Historic District
  • Golden Gardens Beach Park 
  • Hiram M. Chittenden Ballard Locks
  • Ballard Farmers Market

​​

5. Beacon Hill

playground

You can’t go wrong with Beacon Hill if a kid-friendly neighborhood is what you’re after. It’s a great place to start (or raise) a family, thanks to good schools, plenty of playgrounds and parks. Beacon Hill is rich in history and brims with significance. 

The collection of small restaurants and shops allow residents to stay in the neighborhood while still meeting their basic needs. Popular attractions in Beacon Hill include:

  • Black Heritage Trail
  • Boston Common
  • Esplanade
  • Nicholas House Museum
  • State House
  • Park Street Church

​​

6. Lower Queen Anne

Lower Queen Anne is known for its various cultural and music festivals. There's a gazillion of things that families moving here may like. These range from restaurants, schools, and events, to attractions, culture and more. 

Some favorite things to do and see in Lower Queen Anne include:

  • Space Needle – This is the place to be if you’re looking for a gorgeous view of Seattle from the sky and a fancy spot to eat. 
  • Pacific Science Center – This is arguably one of the best places to take the family for an afternoon. It includes an IMAX theater, a butterfly house, and planetarium. Kids will also love touching living marine animals, and enjoy the dinosaur exhibit. 
  • Seattle Center – This is the musical heart of Seattle, where Bumbershoot and Northwest FolkLife take place. The Seattle Center also hosts a variety of cultural festivals including the Japanese Cultural Festival and Cherry Blossom Festival. 
  • Kerry Park – Is a great place to catch some picturesque sunsets without feeling like a tourist. You’ll see beautiful views of downtown, Elliot Bay, and sometimes Mount Rainer. 

Other cool things in Queen Ann include Free Scoop Day, Good Mugs of Hot Chocolate, and Back to School Deals. 

 

7. Columbia City

museum-flight

Named after Christopher Columbus, this neighborhood aspired to be great from the beginning. There’s a lot to do in Columbia City. Activities and attractions include:

  • Chihuly Garden and Glass – There’re many areas to see here. Some including, beautiful glass creations to enjoy. There’re also galleries and gardens as well as a gift shop to pick up a souvenir. 
  • Museum of Flight – There’re over 150 exhibits showcased here. Potential pilots can steer a lunar lander, pilot a WW II bi-plane, or fly with the Blue Angels. It’s a fun gateway for families. 
  • Seattle Art Museum – The museum houses nearly 25,000 pieces of fine-art. There’s also an extensive collection of both modern and ethnic art. 

Cool things in Columbia City include The Makery, Jazz Night School, and Back to School Deals. 

 

Conclusion

Seattle is a great city, no doubt. In addition to featuring great neighborhoods, the Emerald City is also one of the nation’s cleanest metropolis to raise your family in. It also has strong adherence to better environmental standards and ranks high for energy efficiency. 

Seattle area is the sixth best place to live in the United States, according to U.S. News & World Report’s annual index

11-28-2017
12-05-2017
How Clean Does My Rental Need to Be When I Move Out?

You have already concluded your tenancy and are in a hurry to move out. It’s an exciting moment- moving out of your old place into a new one.

The last thing you want is anything that can hold you back; like cleaning up the rental. It might be tempting to leave a huge mess behind but there are consequences to it; your landlord may cut your deposit.

Of course, this is not something you would want to happen. Furthermore, it’s your obligation as a tenant to leave a clean rental, just the way you found it.

Here are some rental cleaning tips that will ensure you get your full deposit back.

 

1. Make It Look Like It Did the First Time You Moved In

Clean

When you first moved in, you found every single inch of the rental spotlessly clean. If you would have found it in a mess, you would have definitely raised a complaint to the landlord. So, it makes sense to leave the rental super clean in preparation for the next tenant.

The floor or carpet will seem a little old and worn out, but this is absolutely acceptable. What’s not acceptable is leaving the carpet or floor with a huge stain. The landlord might deduct from your deposit. So be sure to leave everything in good condition.

 

2. What to Clean: A Cleaning Checklist

Clean up as much as possible and remove all your belongings prior to cleaning. It will make it easier to clean since there will be fewer items to work around, and will also help you complete a more thorough cleaning job.

Kitchen

• Clean all kitchen appliances, cabinets and liners

• Clean and shine up the faucet and sink

• Clean and sanitize all countertops

• Clean the dishwasher if you have one

• Unplug all appliances and sweep behind them

• Scrub the floor and walls

 

Bathroom

• Clean the toilets, sinks, faucets, bathtubs, and showers

• Scrub the bathroom floors; remove scum off bathroom floor tiles, clean the shower and tub, bleach the grout

• Vacuum the surface of the exhaust fan to remove dust

• Clean the mirror with a glass cleaner

 

Bedroom/Living Room

• Dust, sweep, vacuum, and mop every single inch of the living room and bedroom

• Wipe down the windows and the walls

• Remove floor or carpet stains

Even if you have cleaned the entire place, don’t forget to remove all the trash. Otherwise, your landlord will charge you for its removal.

 

3. Revisit Your Rental Agreement

Agreement

Your rental agreement may contain important details regarding some of the things you need to do before moving out. Review the agreement and check if there is a move-out checklist.

If you rented your house or apartment from a management company, ask them if they have a mover’s checklist to ensure you clean up as required. They may also have this information on their website, make sure you read through.

Most landlords or management firms require the tenants to do a final walk-through to ensure the property is left in good condition. So, be sure to read through the procedure.

 

4. I Don’t Have Time to Clean- What Options Do I Have?

Moving out can be overwhelming, tiresome, and might take you a lot of time to complete. If you have a job or business to manage, you might not find time to clean the place.

In such a case, you can opt to hire a cleaning company to do the cleaning for you. Be sure to provide the cleaning team with a copy of your landlord’s move-out cleaning checklist. You can also create one if you can’t get one from the landlord.

Before hiring the cleaning company, it’s important to negotiate the cost of the project to avoid surprises once the job is done. Also, hire a company that can clean the place at a respectable cost.

And if you decide to do the cleaning yourself, be sure to schedule the cleaning during the last paid month of your tenancy. It’s much more convenient as you will be able to do the final walk-through and give back the keys.

 

5. Will I Get the Full Deposit When Moving Out?

Yes. You will get your full deposit back, but only if you have cleaned up properly and returned the rental to its former glory. However, if you leave a mess behind or any damage, the landlord has the right to cut your deposit to pay for repair charges. The charges may include cleaning up the whole house/apartment, carpet cleaning to remove hard stains, repairing broken appliances or repainting the walls.

Because every state has put in place specific rental laws regarding what the landlord is supposed to deduct, make sure you confirm with your state to ensure your deposit is not reduced unfairly.

 

10-17-2017
T-Square Properties
Property Management
12-19-2017
Top 8 Reasons You Should Move to Seattle

Ranked fourth for growth among the fifty biggest U.S cities by U.S Census, the Emerald city is undoubtedly the crown jewel of the Pacific Northwest.

It is cuddled up between the Cascade and Olympic Mountain ranges, along the shores of Lake Washington and Puget Sound.

So what is it that makes all those outdoor fanatics, hipsters, and techies enamored?

Let’s find out below.

1. Seattle Food Scene

Food in Seattle

Northwest cities have excelled when it comes to providing ample amounts of breakfast joints to choose from. Usual orders taken at a café during weekend mornings include bacon, eggs, and waffles.

Seattle’s chefs and entrepreneurs are also continually coming up with more options, from high-end fare to tasty, cheap eats.

While Seattle may have grown to become a world-class city, it has still retained its charm as a “quaint fishing village.”

It is still the preferred location to get a killer basket of battered salmon fillets and salmon fish, oyster shooters, or chips.

 

2. Weather

Most people who end up living in Seattle will probably tell you it’s because of the fine weather year-round.

The natural beauty created by the steady supply of rain falling from the clouds makes it one of the most alluring places in the country, from majestic mountains to verdant forests.

High temperatures average 58.8 degrees. While everywhere else deals with the unpleasantly hot weather, Seattle is usually one of the coolest spots in the country with summer months being extremely pleasant.

Also, while the rest of the country is in a deep freeze, Seattle is one of the warmest areas with low temperatures averaging 45.1 degrees.

 

3. Schooling

Seattleites are well read. With at least 53,872 students each year, the Seattle School District is the state’s largest. The school system includes 6 service schools, 12 high schools, 10 middle schools, 10 K-8 schools, and 60 elementary schools.

Seattle is also home to numerous community colleges and three universities. The universities are – Seattle Pacific University, Seattle University, and the University of Washington.

 

4. Touristy Places

Seattle is home to iconic landmarks and attractions. Of course, if you are moving to the crown jewel of the Pacific Northwest, you’ll probably spend your first year checking out some of the great places it has to offer for tourists.

Space Needle is an obvious one. Once the tallest structures west of the Mississippi River, the Space Needle is an icon of Seattle.

Other than that, Seattle is home to The Key Arena, Pike Place Market, the Museum of Pop Culture, Chihuly Garden, the Seattle Children’s Museum, and the Pacific Science Center.

 

5. Hiking

Hiking in Seattle

You’ll find a lot of options for fun and exploration nearby when it comes to getting out of town for a weekend getaway. Washington State is home to 3 national parks and a whopping 186 state parks.

Mount Rainier is among the most impressive and well-known attractions, and it only takes about an hour and 41 minutes to get there from Seattle Center.

Its altitude is around 14,410 feet above sea level. It is open year-round and anyone from casual day hikers to serious mountain climbers will find it a favorite hiking destination.

Other top hiking destinations include Olympic National Parks and North Cascades.

 

6. Seattle Transit

There’s no way to sugar-coat this, traffic in Seattle is out-and-out terrible and it is the only sure thing that will test your patience. Be that as it may, the State of Washington and the City of Seattle have a wide array of transportation options to help you easily navigate around the city.

With services like Link Light Rail, King County Metro Transit, Seattle Streetcars, Seattle Center Monorails, Taxis, Ride Sharing and much more getting around the city in fashion isn’t hard. 

 

7. Seattleites Love Their Coffee

Coffee Maker

Caffeine here is as undeniable and inescapable as the clouds. There’re coffee shops on seemingly every block of the city. In fact, market research firm NPD Group ranked Seattleites as among those who consume the most coffee in America.

Seattle being the home to Starbucks has more than one hundred locations in the city alone. Aside from Starbucks, other local favorites include Victrola Coffee Roasters, Espresso Vivace, Ballard Coffee Works, and Caffe Vita.

 

8. Seattle Is a City of Neighborhoods

Rainier Beach, the U District, Capitol Hill, Ballard, Beacon Hill, Fremont, Greenwood, Lake City, Queen Anne, First Hill, Columbia City, Georgetown.

Seattle’s cities are distinct with each one having its own culture and personality.

If you can, do some exploring first before deciding where you want to eventually live.

 

If you're looking for a place to rent once you make the move, we would be happy to help you!

09-29-2017
10-17-2017
How to Screen Tenants

Most Seattle landlords have a pretty good picture of the ideal tenant. It is someone who pays their rent when they are supposed to, treats the property as if it were their own, and isn’t a disruption to the neighbors. While there is no guarantee that every tenant meets these criteria, screening your prospective tenants helps find those who are the right fit. When you advertise your rental, you can include your requirements and expectations. That way, per fair housing laws, these same screening requirements are applied to all applicants.

 

Advertising Your Rental

The rental advertisement is a great place to start the screening process. You can include not only basic property information like square footage, number of bathrooms and bedrooms, and if you will accept pets. You can list the deposit and rental fees, and whether you will require background checks and/or a credit report. Fully disclosing all this information will help to eliminate prospective renters who do not meet the requirements of your ideal renter.

 

Contacting Your Prospective Tenant

After you’ve received applications, you’ll want to contact any potential tenants. You can call them and review the guidelines from your ad on things like pets and smokers. You can also reiterate your expectations for rent and the required security deposit, and go over the terms of the lease. This is also a good opportunity to ask the applicant additional qualifying questions like how many people will live in the apartment, or what is the reason for the move.

 

Gather More Information

gather-information

When you make contact with the applicant initially, if the conversation goes well, gather more information. You should get thetenant’s full name, email address, and phone number. Ask them where they live now and how to reach their current landlord. You can also ask for the contact information of their previous landlords. You can request that they complete a formal application and ask for permission to run background and credit checks before approving their rental application.

 

Review their Rental History

Contact your prospective tenant’s previous landlords. If there were issues with the last few landlords, then there is a good chance you will have issues too. Some of the questions to ask include whether they were ever late on the rent, or how well they maintained the property. Ask them if they know the reason the tenant is moving and whether they were given adequate notice. Additionally, you can find out if they had a history of complaining or how well they got along with the neighbors. The answers to these questions will help you get a better idea of who your prospective tenant is.

 

Understanding the Fair Housing Laws

A critical piece of being a landlord is knowing the fair housing laws. Even if you don’t intentionally discriminate, you could still find yourself involved in a lawsuit. If you need help deciphering these laws, get help from an attorney. The Fair Housing Laws state that you cannot reject a candidate based on race, religion, sex, or ethnic background. Nor can you reject someone because they are disabled or have children. You can read more about the Fair Housing Act here.

 

When It Is Okay to Reject a Tenant

It is not okay to reject a tenant for the reasons listed above, however, that doesn’t mean that you can’t screen tenants. There are many acceptable reasons to reject a potential tenant. If they do not earn enough money to cover the rent, have poor credit, or their background check shows unfavorable information, you can reject them. Additionally, if too many people will be living in the home, you can reject them based on occupancy limits.

 

Application Information

The application that you give prospective tenants should include important information like their social security number and driver’s license number. Also, make sure the application includes sections for employment history, credit, bank accounts and income. Have a section that asks for information on bankruptcies and evictions. You’ll also want references (in addition to landlords). You must be specific about your criteria and put it in writing so that you are compliant with the fair housing laws. For example, if you require good credit, list on the application that this is a requirement. This goes for other criteria too, such minimum income requirements or non-smokers only.

 

Verify the Information

interviewOnce you get the application back, verify the information that the applicant includes. Confirm that they work where they say they do, and how much they make. With permission, run credit checks with companies like TransUnion, Experian or Equifax. This will give you information on whether they pay their bills on time, had a bankruptcy, or other issues. The police department or court where the applicant currently lives can help you with the background check.

 

Get to Know Your Applicant

Finally, spend a little time getting to know your applicant. Meet them for a property tour and ask any questions you might have missed in your first conversation. One good question is why they chose your property. Questions like this will give you some insight into their personality and whether they will fit well with other tenants living on the property.

 

If you're looking for help with tenant screening in Seattle or the surrounding areas, don't hesistate to reach out to T-Square Properties. We would love to assist you. 

08-30-2017
08-30-2017
How Often Should a Landlord Inspect a Rental Property in Seattle?

Seattle Rental Property

As a landlord, you are entrusting the use of your Seattle property to your tenants. After careful screening, you hope your renters keep your unit clean and follow the rules. It makes sense to conduct periodic surveys to protect your investment and make sure your tenants meet your expectations. Surveys can put your mind at ease by indicating that there are no ongoing issues such as property damage, dangerous conditions or lease violations. Regular surveys also benefit the tenants by turning up any repairs or other problems that need your attention. 

So how often should you review the condition your rental property?

Know the Law

Just because you have the right to enter your property, it does not mean that you can show up unannounced any time you want to inspect the unit. You can consult with a local real estate attorney to learn about right of entry laws. While landlords are allowed to enter the rental property, there are some restrictions. The key is to be “reasonable.”

  • Landlord’s Rights

Laws for entering the premises vary from state to state. For Seattle properties in Washington State, the landlord’s right of entry is spelled out in the WA State Residential Landlord-Tenant Act 59.18.150. A landlord has the right to drive, bicycle or walk by the property at any time. With proper notice, a Landlord may enter the unit to inspect the premises and make repairs. You may also provide agreed upon services and allow contractors to see the unit. When the time comes to rent to another tenant or sell the property, you may show the unit to a prospective renter or purchaser.

  • Tenant’s Rights

Tenants have the right to “quiet enjoyment” of their dwelling. You must notify the tenants in advance when you intend to visit and provide them with contact information to change the time, unless there is an emergency. Many landlords inspect their property from one to three times annually. More than a reasonable number of inspections means that you need a good reason to enter. Landlord visits must occur during reasonable hours and last a reasonable amount of time.

What to Look For

Your surveys may turn up all kinds of problems, both minor and major. Encourage your tenant to be present so you can address any issues together.

Here are some things to look for to mitigate property damage, minimize loss of income and detect any lease violations.

  • Unauthorized Residents

A periodic visit with proper notice may turn up evidence of unauthorized people living in your rental unit. Unauthorized residents do not appear on the lease and have not been screened. Allowing unvetted strangers to have full access to your property and common areas can invite problems and pose a safety risk, especially if you have a unit in an apartment building. You may also discover an an unauthorized pet or evidence of a pet living in the unit as well.

  • Safety Hazards

Pay close attention if your tenants complain about safety concerns. You don’t want to be held liable if there are safety issues that need to be addressed. Make sure the carbon monoxide and smoke detectors are working properly. Look for blocked access to doors and windows, overloaded electrical outlets, and shaky stair rails. Wall heaters blocked by the Tenant’s furniture can also cause a problem, and may indicate that the heating system is not working properly. It is a good practice to use a checklist and note any concerns.

  • Needed Repairs

Some minor repairs, if left unchecked, can lead to major damage and a major expense for you. Look for leaky faucets, fixtures and toilets.  Check the condition of all the caulking around sinks and bathtubs.  Be sure to examine the roof. Inspect the water heater for puddles to prevent a flood if it breaks. Make sure the dryer is not clogged with lint, which can start a fire. You should also look for signs of pest infestation. Left untreated, pests can become a major problem.Encourage your tenants to report needed repairs in a timely manner. 

  • Signs of Criminal Activity

Unfortunately, a visit to your property can turn up evidence of criminal activity taking place right in your rental unit. A common problem is drug manufacturing. You might notice an unusual smell, empty soda bottles and windows that are completely covered.

Working with your Tenant

It can make things easier if you discuss the inspection schedule with your tenants when they sign the lease. Although not necessary, you can put the schedule in the lease, in writing, so there are no misunderstandings. Emphasize that your inspections can benefit the tenants by allowing you to detect and make repairs. If you conduct an inspection and find a problem serious enough to start eviction proceedings, think before you confront the tenants in their home. A better idea is to leave the premises and contact your attorney to discuss the next steps.

Move-In and Move-Out

In the State of Washington, a Landlord must have a move-in condition report signed by the Tenant whenever collecting a Security Deposit. If your tenants are moving out it may, or may not, be appropriate to schedule an inspection around a month before the termination of the lease. This may give your tenants the opportunity to correct any issues prior to the disbursement of the Security Deposit.

07-24-2017
07-24-2017
How to Advertise Your Seattle Rental Property Successfully

Inside of Seattle Rental property

While it’s common knowledge that internet resources are a great way to reach potential tenants in Seattle, you may get lucky with “old school” methods. The most effective type of advertising for your rental depends on what kind of property you have, where it is located, how quickly you need to find a tenant, and, of course, your budget.

Sometimes it takes a combination of strategies to advertise your rental successfully. While it’s a good idea to have a marketing plan in mind that focuses on websites and social media, traditional methods like word of mouth or a simple “For Rent” sign may attract just the renter you are looking for.

·         ♦ Signage

If you have an apartment near a college, on a main street or in a busy apartment complex, signage might work for you. A “For Rent” signin the window is a good way to advertise your unit in an area that gets lots of car and foot traffic, especially if your building looks inviting from the outside. Be sure to include a phone numberlarge enough to be visible from the street.

·         ♦ Classified Newspaper Ads

This traditional method can target your market with a newspaper that is geared toward the demographic of your renters. For example, if you are expecting your tenant to be a student at a local college, advertise in the college campus newspaper. Choose a newspaper that attracts multiple rental listings. Advertise on Sunday or on the day the newspaper has the largest real estate section.  As an added plus, many newspapers are now online as well.

·         ♦ Renter Magazines

If you are an investor with a limited number of residential investment properties, it makes sense to advertise in local magazines featuring local listings. Thumb through the magazine to see if it caters to landlords with properties similar to yours. National magazines are another option, but keep in mind that they are designed for property owners offering multiple units in a variety of areas.

·         ♦ Bulletin Boards

If your building or a nearby supermarket or café provides a bulletin board for public use, a flyer or an index card may bring in a renter. If you go with a flyer, try placing your phone number on a bottom “fringe” so people who are interested can simply tear your number and take it home.  Keep your ideal potential tenant in mind. If you own an upscale property, place your flyer at a pricey fitness center in the neighborhood. If not, the local laundromat may be more effective in attractingyour renter.

·         ♦ Social Media

Use your personal social media accounts like Facebook and Twitter to let your friends know that you have a rental available. Include a link that gives the details of the property and a virtual tour. If you have an investment company, set up a Facebook page highlighting your rental properties. YouTube is another avenue that can provide potential renters with video information about your property.

·         ♦ Rental Websites

There is a growing list of rental websites that can advertise your Seattle rental successfully.

Craigslist

The importance of listing your unit on Craigslist cannot be overstated, since the site is often the first thing that comes to mind when potential tenants are looking for a property in Seattle. Listings are based on location for a user-friendly experience. Fill in all the information, and make sure you have attractive photos and a virtual walk-through as well. It is a good idea to renew your Craigslist post daily to keep it fresh and ahead of the competition. The time spent is likely to be worth the effort.

Zillow Rental Manager

Individual landlords and property managers with apartments of fewer than 50 rental units can use Zillow Rental Manager. The website allows you to input details that are shared with other sites. Incoming leads include particulars like income, credit score and pet information, allowing you to contact those who are qualified and suited to your property. When your unit goes back on the market, the information repopulates so you simply designatethe listing available.  

⇒ Some Additional Websites

You might try these other websites to list your rental. Some sites are specific to Seattle.

►  Rent.com: A free rental site with a large selection of apartments.

►  Trulia: Provides maps, school ratings and other neighborhood information to renters.

►  Seattle Rentals: Lists hundreds of properties from local landlords.

►  Apartments.com: Renters type in the maximum amount of rent they wish to pay and receive suggestions.

►  Hotpads: An interactive map helps renters find units in the location of interest.

·         Hire a Professional Property Manager

If you are not finding success with other methods, or if you don’t want the hassle of dealing with potential renters, you can list your unit with a local Professional Property Manager. Many Professional Property Managerswill put your property on the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) allowing other real estate professionals to  research your property.. Although a Property Manager may include additional costs, by using the professional, you will save yourself all the hassle and time of doing it yourself.

06-21-2017
07-27-2017
Top Tips When Buying Investment Property in Seattle

When the housing market turns around, investors turn to property as an investment strategy. Investing in real estate has some advantages over other types of investment. You have the opportunity to enjoy a positive cash flow while creating equity in your property and sheltering your gains from state and federal income tax. 

Investment Property in Seattle

But before you buy investment property in Seattle, it pays to do your homework so you can avoid common real estate investment mistakes.

Here are Some Tips For Purchasing Investment Property in Seattle:

Consider the Metrics

When you look at a property for investment, think about its potential to generate wealth. Consider vacancy rates, where local residents are employed, historical growth trends, population growth and demographics. Look for red flags, like a major employer cutting back on jobs in the neighborhood. Predict who is likely to be looking for a home in the community   – young professionals, families, or retirees – and purchase the type of home they may be interested in renting. 

Conduct a Rent Survey

Do the math and determine how much rent you need to collect so your investment property works for you. Conduct a careful rent survey to discover if the property has realistic potential. Look at comparable properties in the neighborhood and learn how much they are currently charging for rent. Then see if there is enough demand for rental units like the property you are considering by surveying current occupancy rates.

Have the Property Inspected

Look over the property and take note of any problems you notice. Does the basement flood after a rain, or does it have a musty odor? Is the roof in good condition, and are the appliances in working order? You will also need to assess whether the electrical system meets local building codes and if the plumbing is up to par. Unless you are a professional, it pays to enlist the services of a qualified home inspector who can evaluate the home for structural and other problems. Hiring a pro can save you a lot of time, headaches and money down the road.

Seattle Real Estate

Assemble a Team

Successful real estate investors have an experienced team of professionals on their side to support their business. Find a good real estate agentwho knows the local market, an appraiser who can provide an honest evaluation of properties you are interested in, an attorney who specializes in real estate and a trusted lender who can provide financing for both you and your prospective buyers. Since buying a rental property means you will need to do routine maintenance, repairs and even remodeling, add an electrician, plumber, painter, HVAC contractor and others to your team. As an alternative, you can look to hire a property management company to do this for you. 

Judge Cash Flow Properly

Investors need to take all the necessary maintenance, repairs and renovation costs into consideration when buying an investment property. You may want to allocate more than the estimates in case costs run over. If you are like many other investors in rental property, you may want to hire a professional property manager to take care of the property. Make sure to figure in property management fees when judging your cash flow so you will cover expenses. Avoid surprises by interviewing property managers ahead of time to learn about their services and fees.

Have an Exit Strategy

Of course, you need to buy the right property at the right price for the neighborhood, but buying is only one part of investing. The other part is planning an exit strategy for when and how you will sell so you can purchase your next property. You may want to purchase a property in need of repair, restore it to all its glory, and then sell at a higher price within the year. Or, you might hold on to the property, rent it out and then sell at a later date to offset the cost of renovation. Take financing into consideration when you think about the timing of your exit strategy. If you have a balloon payment or an adjustable rate mortgage set to go up, it can make sense to sell beforehand.

Establish Your Options

Say you do have an exit strategy, but it doesn’t work out. The bottom might fall out of the real estate market just at the time you were planning to sell, and the local rental market might be flooded at the same time. You will be glad you researched your options ahead of buying a rental property. If the house isn’t selling and you can’t get the cash flow you expected in rent, you might offer a buyer a lease-purchase deal. Or, you can go to the wholesale option and sell the property to another investor, albeit at a price that is below market. You may make a smaller profit, but selling at a critical time will allow you to cut your losses in monthly carrying costs.

By using these tips as a guideline you can go a long way in preventing unnecessary costs for rental property investors in Seattle. If you would like help buying an investment property in Seattle contact us today!

05-24-2017
08-09-2017
Spring Cleaning Tips for Your Rental Property

The month of May is synonymous with the beginning of spring. It's the ideal time for both landlords and tenants to inspectthe general condition of the rental property. Many landlords would rather call for professional help to ensure

Girl clipping hedges on propertythat their property is thoroughly cleaned. However, this is not a viable option for everyone, especially if you're on a budget.  Likewise, if you are the type of property owner who would rather clean your rental property on your own there is nothing wrong with that. In fact, by doing so, you'll be able to save money and set your schedule depending on when it's most convenient for you. A clean and well maintained property is essential if you're looking to attract high quality tenants. That being said, here are some of the best spring cleaning tips for your rental property in Seattle.

 

6 Tips for Successful Spring Cleaning

Tip #1: General Cleanup 

A lot of property owners in Seattle dread the winter months. No doubt about that, as it's the time of year where general wear and tear on the landscaping happens. There is also debris accumulation that usually takes place in the gutter. In situations like this, hiring an expert is advised because they have the knowledge on how best to clean the property. They can also pinpoint the problems that happened during winter. However, if you'd rather do it yourself, we have some guidance for you.

You can start by clearing your property of the clutterthat's piled-up over the past months. In fact, this is probably the most important thing that you can do! There's a reason why it's called spring cleaning.

One of the best ways to do that is by making three piles: trash, donate, and keep. As you come across items, put them in their respective piles. Then, put away the items in the keep pile and throw away the ones in the trash pile. As for the donate pile, it would come in handy if you have already prepared a box for it. As you separate these items, make sure the piles do not get too big as it would be harder for you to keep up if it does.

Tip #2: Garbage Disposal Cleaning

In rental properties, disposals usually need extra attention, especially if they already have an awful smell. This can easily be remedied by cutting up a lemon and grinding it up in your disposal. This would help in eliminating odors. You can also try adding some salt and ice cubesin order to clean up the leftover residue. 

Tip #3: Have You Cleared Out the Gutters?

picture of a gutterClogged gutters are usually the cause of leakage and poor drainage. This could contribute to a number of problems, such as foundation issues and even basement flooding. You can easily save yourself from experiencing any of this by keeping the gutters clear of gunk. This would allow the rainwater to flow freely and be diverted away from the foundation. As you clean, try to inspect the gutters to see if there are holes, cracks, and other damages. If you find any, these should be repaired as soon as possible.

Tip #4: Make Sure That the Air Is Clean

If your rental property is located in Seattle, chances are, it has gotten a little musty because of winter. This also means now is the ideal time to turn on your dehumidifier or air filter. Don't forget to open the windows as you 'clean' the air. This simple property maintenance will be greatly appreciated by your tenants.

Tip #5: The Furnace Air Filters Should Also be Cleaned and Replaced

Aside from cleaning the air you have to pay attention to the air filters. Make sure that there isn't any dust accumulation, because if there is; then it might be time to replace your air filter. Dirty, clogged air filters not only degrade the air quality in your property, they also raise the cost of your energy bill. By periodically replacing your air filters you'll ensure that your HVAC system is performing at maximum efficiency, allowing you to save on costly repairs in the future.

Tip #6: Spruce Up the Landscape

As you think about spring, the first thing that usually comes to mind are the 'gardens’.If you're looking to 

pink flowers

attract new tenants to your rental property, the front yard is not a place to overlook. This will be prospective tenants' first impression of your property, so you want to make sure it's looking its best. Planting colorful flowers would make it look more inviting, but take extra care to ensure that you clear any bushes or trees as well. 

 

Final Words

As the season of spring enters, take the opportunity to do a thorough spring cleaning.By maintaining your property, not only will it help you attract high quality tenants, it will also help keep future repair costs in check.By following these tips mentioned above you should be well on your way to a well-maintained property.

 

05-01-2017
05-01-2017
How to find Affordable Property Management in Seattle

If you plan on owning many rental properties in Seattle, you may be looking for an affordable property management company. You would want a manager who has the right skills, experience, and competence to handle every aspect of rental property management. Moreover, he or she must act in the best interest of the owner. Even though there are many management firms in Seattle, you need to be diligent when shopping for one. After all, not everyone who claims to be a responsible rental property manager is truthful. The following are some helpful tips that you can use to identify quality and affordable property management in Seattle.

6 Areas to Consider When Looking for Property Management

Get referrals from various sources

An easy way of identifying a property management company is to ask other people for referrals. These could be existing landlords, realtors, members of Property Owners Associations, family members, friends and work colleagues. Just approach them and ask for referrals or contact information ofproperty managers that they have worked with. One advantage of asking people you know for leads is that they will rarely mislead you. If anything, their suggestions will be subjective since it will be based primarily on their personal experiences. However, you can use this as starting point in your search. If during your research, you come across names that keep recurring, then the said contractors are probably dependable and worth interviewing.

Let your fingers do the walking

Thanks to the internet, you can literally find the names of affordable property management firms in Seattle by simply 

searching for an affordable property manager onlineconducting an online search. All you need to do is type into a search engine and instantly you will be bombarded with their contacts and website links. From there, you can follow up the links to their respective websites or online listing platforms to learn more about the individual service providers. The beauty with online searches is that you can customize the research to your specific needs. Some of these search variables include property location, size, and type. Consequently, it becomes easy for you to determine whether a particular company is worth your time or not.


Ascertain their reputation

You wouldn't want to hire a property management company that has a checkered reputation. Besides giving you a difficult time, such a manager is likely to mismanage your property and chase away high-quality tenants. After short listing the companies you may wish to hire, take the time to find out what other people think of them. You can conveniently get that information by going over the customer reviews and ratings on the Seattle property manager’s website, popular review sites, social media posts, as well as online listing platforms.

Examine their work

checklist

As mentioned above, not all who claim to be managers are good ones. You need to find out the quality of their services. You can do that by assessing the condition of the properties they manage as well as examining the vacancy advertising and tenant screening strategies. You should also ask for references of owners they currently work with.

Find out how they charge

If you want to find affordable property management, you must consider how the manager charges for his or her services. Ordinarily, most would cost anywhere between seven and ten percent of the total rental income. However, the focus should not just be to identify the one with the lowest quote. 

Microscope of qualityInstead, make an ‘apples to apples’ comparison of the services the companies offer. It is worth noting that a lower quote does not necessarily mean affordable service. It might be an indication of the level of competency of the manager or quality of service that he or she renders. You must find out exactly what the company will do for that price and opt for someone who offers the best value for the dollar.

 

Scrutinize their property management agreement

Most, if not all, credible property managers have professionally crafted management agreements which clarify the terms, cost, and duration of the contract. Furthermore, the agreement points out the duties, responsibilities, and liabilities of each party. Since the agreement is a legally binding document, you need to take time to review it thoroughly. Make sure it matches your property management requirements. If you have any questions or concerns it is important to point them out, as these could be possible points of conflict in the future.

While it may take a little work to find an affordable property management company, it's important you perform your due diligence to avoid headaches in the future. Investing in your property was a very careful and serious decision, no different to the consideration that should be given to the property management company you entrust with it.

Hopefully these tips help you with your decision and if you have any additional questions about property management we would be happy to help you.

04-29-2017
04-29-2017
Renting to Tenants with Pets

A large percentage of Seattle area tenants come with some kind of a pet.  Most pets (and responsible pet owners) are not a problem in rental properties.  However, if you're a landlord in the Seattle area, you more than likely are somewhat apprehensive when it comes to pets in your property.  The good news is that the risks can be minimized by following these tips:  

 8 Tips to Make Renting to Tenants with Pets Successful

1. Have the Prospective Tenant e-mail or Text a Picture of the Pet

This will allow you to better verify the pet is an acceptable and agreed upon breed/size and give you a document that can be referred to if it is ever discovered the pet is changed or replaced.Keeping pets under control in a rental property
 

2. Check Pet References

Aside from the actual interview and screening of the tenant, it is also important to check on references from past landlords. It's ideal to call all their former landlords to have an idea if their pets have caused an issue in the past. Likewise, this will give you an idea of how the pet behaved in its previous home. If the tenant cannot provide a reference, then you should be cautious about renting the property.

3. Have a Clear Pet Policy

If you're going to rent a property in the Seattle area, it's important that your lease agreement includes the groundrules. Make sure that the pet policy is also clear. That means that your lease should explain what constitutes damage to the property, such as stained carpets or scratched woodwork. There may be instances where the pet would behave antisocially, a lease or pet addendum should clearly state the consequences of this.

Child playing with dog

You should always have a clear plan to deal with misbehaving or dangerous pets.

4. Emphasize the Tenant’s Personal responsibility for the Pets behavior

Make sure that it is clear the pet owner is responsible for any all damage caused by their pet.  This might include property damage or perhaps medical expenses in the case of a dog attack.

5.  Charge an additional refundable deposit for each pet rather than a fee or “pet rent”

Refundable deposits tend to give the tenant an incentive for being a responsible pet owner.  After all, they will be able to get their entire deposit back if their pet does more damage.  To the contrary, a non-refundable fee or “pet rent” will likely give a less responsible tenant a bit of an entitlement mentality, perhaps thinking, “since I’m paying extra for my pet, the landlord should expect some extra damage”. 

6. Limit the Type of Breeds a Pet Owner Can Bring

In the Seattle area, most rental properties don't allow their tenants to keep aggressive dogs, such as Pit Bull, German Shepard, Doberman, etc. There's a reason for that; aggressive breeds are known to have a history of hurting someone. That means if the landlord has rented the home to an owner with an aggressive breed then there's a risk of being held liable if the neighbors or other tenants have been attacked. In addition, many insurance companies exclude specific “vicious” breeds from coverage.  It is a best practice to limit the breeds accepted by you to those accepted by the insurance industry.  

7. Provide weight limitations: 

It is perfectly acceptable to provide pet weight restrictions.  If your personal preference is to have only small pets, perhaps a 25-pound weight limitation would be appropriate.

8. Provide Age Limitations: 

There is widely known that puppies (or other young pets) are more prone to destructive tendencies.  It is a good practice to prohibit pets that are under a certain age, perhaps 12 months. 

Lease agreement

Final Words

Every landlord seems to have different personal preferences or definitions for what constitutes a suitable pet for their home.  It is important for a landlord to explore what they are most comfortable with.   Much of this decision may be reliant on the type of property being rented (i.e. Condominium vs. a fenced back yard).  In any case, following these basic steps and precautions will help to greatly limit exposure to any additional damage.   

03-30-2017
03-30-2017
Tips to Keep Your Home Safe

“There’s no place like home. There’s no place like home.”

Dorothy’s infamous refrain from The Wizard of Oz rings true in the hearts of many a homeowner, both in Kansas and far from it. These four walls hold family and memories, heirlooms and heritage, both priceless and irreplaceable.

Your home is an investment. The money you put into it comes back to you in value. Plus, your home houses commodities far more precious and worthy of protection. Going off that train of thought, you might be asking yourself, “How do I increase the value of my home?” or “How do I increase my home security?” In reality, they’re not mutually exclusive ideas. Let’s consider a few key ways to increase both value and security at home at the same time.

 

Change Your Locks

Moving into a new house, or replacing a misplaced key, calls for the changing of the guard. Always switch out your locks, even if you think you’ll find that missing key someday. Even if you haven’t lost your key, it might make sense to change your locks after a period of time just to ensure your safety. Updating to state of the art lock designs ensures your home is protected by the latest technologies. Key code locks offer the ability to change entry codes for temporary entrants or periodically for basic security. A secure home proves to be one of value. After all, there is no price equal to feeling safe where one lives.

Use a Safe

A sturdy safe is an important second line of defense for your home and valuables. If a burglar is able to get around your locks and other security measures, a safe can stop them from swiping those invaluable family heirlooms and rainy-day cash. Consider an investment in a fire-rated safe to house your most precious documents and other items.Install a safe

Reinforce entries.

The first floor windows, front and back doors present the greatest opportunities for thieves to enter your home. Replace front and back doors with sturdy options with interior hinges to resist tampering. And, opt for solid surfaces rather than windows or glass side panels to deter intruders.

Reinforcing windows

Furthermore, one-inch deadbolt locks on all exterior doors are recommended for increased strength and protection. And, metal bars securing sliding doors prevent forced entry. To address windows, consider window locks and break-resistant glass.

Finally, energy-efficient doors and windows add dollars to your budget in decreased heating costs. Plus, the increased curb appeal and energy savings bring value to your property.

Mix-Up Your Entry Codes

If you have a keypad installed on your door, be sure to change your home entry codes every few weeks. It’s a smart practice, but one that can be hard to remember on a regular basis. Consider setting an alarm on your smartphone or purchase a product which automatically changes the codes for you periodically.

Update Your Lighting

Modern outdoor lighting options bring security, personality and value to your home. Well lit entries and outdoor spaces give intruders little space to hide. Walk your yard at dark to visually discern where lighting is needed. Exterior and landscaping light boosts your home’s curb appeal and value. Consider motion activated fixtures for energy savings. Make sure to choose a lighting option that’s both bright and has decorative appeal, rather than a dim lit that may have better aesthetic appeal.

Upgrade Your Garage Door

Your garage door can be a penetrable point in your home as well. Installing an electric garage door opener or updating your current system can be a smart way to secure your house and the people in it. These days, you can find “high tech” options that give you the ability to open the door without ever leaving your car via Android and iPhone apps. Speaking of high tech, those new keypad locks installed on your other doors may be able to lock through your phone as well, allowing you to lock up from a distance should you forget to on your way out the door in the morning.

With an upgrade to your garage door, curb appeal gets a boost as well. After all, a sizeable portion of your home’s front exterior belongs to the garage door. This new entry allows you to express your personality

Install a Security System

Homes lacking alarm systems are three times more likely to be burglarized than those with them. In fact, often the stickers or yard signs placed in prime entry locations prove valuable in preventing unwanted visitors. Alarm systems, security cameras, motion lights and the like protect your property whether you are sound asleep or away for the night.These systems offer added assurance to parents when children are home alone.

Protecting your home with these simple keys guards you from the storm that results after an intruder finds his or her way into your family’s safe space.

All of these different security measures we’ve discussed will help guard your home and your family should the unthinkable ever happen. Plus, energy efficient options and curb appeal enhancing choices earn value for your home. Most importantly, you’ll be able to sleep soundly knowing that you’re safe from whatever intruders may try to throw your way.

 

Guest post provided by Sevan Locks & Doors

03-24-2017
03-24-2017
Tips for being a great tenant in Seattle

As a follow up of our last monthly blog post Tips for being a great landlord in Seattle here is the opposite end of the spectrum :)

Every Seattle landlord wishes for high-quality renters. Hence, they take every prospective applicant through thorough tenant screening procedures to determine the perfect fit. Prospecting tenants should do all they can to impress the property owners by excelling past the selection process and becoming great tenants. If you are a renter, the following are exciting tips on how you can be a great tenant in Seattle.

Honesty Pays

When renting property, you will have to provide personal information about yourself. Such may include credit history, employment background, income status, criminal history, as well as past tenancy records. Even though you wish to provide a positive impression, it is in your best interest for you to provide truthful and factual information. After all, your landlord will further investigate you, to determine whether or not you meet the criteria. Moreover, even if you manage to get through the screening using falsified records, eventually the truth will come out, leaving you in an embarrassing situation.

Go through the lease agreement

Every prudent landlord has a well-crafted lease agreement, which tenants must sign before moving into the house. Bearing

Picture of tenancy agreement in mind that the agreement is legally binding, and will be a major determinant of the tenancy relationship, it is critical that a renter understands what the clauses therein state. Take your time and scrutinize each and every clause in the contract and make sure you not only know them but that you are willing to abide by them as well. If the agreement has provisions that are unclear or make you uncomfortable, seek clarification. Only sign a rental lease whose terms you fully understand.


Be conversant with the Seattle rental laws

A novel way of being a great tenant is to understand the local landlord-tenant statutes. Such familiarization will inform you of your rights, limits, and duties. Furthermore, it will protect both you and your landlord from contravening the law. For instance, knowledge of the 'Just Cause' legislation enlightens a tenant of what can warrant an eviction. As a result, the tenant can do all in his or her power to avoid violating those acts. It is worth noting also that the State of Washington does not have rent controls, which means a property owner can increase the rent as he or she deems fit. However, many municipalities govern the amount of a rent increase in a specified time period.

Pay rent promptly

A primary source of disagreements between tenants and landlords is late or unpaid rent. For this reason, if you wish to be a great Seattle renter, be sure to pay your rent promptly, using the allowable methods on the lease agreement. A brilliant trick is to prioritize your rent expenses above all the other expenditures that you might have. 

Payment of rent

Maintain respectful interaction with the landlord or agent

Throughout the tenancy period, make an effort to preserve constant communication with the property owner or management company. Such communication helps to form a personable, yet professional relationship. However, try and limit the interactions to a need-to basis. For instance when the landlord calls or pays you a visit, when you wish to send seasonal greetings, or when you want to air your concerns on relevant matters. In all of these interactions, make sure to use courteous, professional language and follow the proper communication procedures.

Keep all documents safe

When you enter into a Seattle lease agreement, make it a habit of safeguarding all documents relating to the tenancy. These include the rental contract, records of the condition of the property when you moved in, rent payment receipts, bill payments, as well as payment vouchers for repairs and maintenance services. Likewise, if there are any new agreements which you and the landlord enter into, but are not in the lease contract, make sure you have them in writing. 

Take good care of the property

Handing over keys

Once you move into the property, you assume full responsibility for it throughout the lease. For this reason, handle the asset with great care, like you would your own. Do not damage or misuse it. By so doing, you will ensure a mutually beneficial landlord-tenant relationship, and also minimize the cost and frequency of carrying out maintenance services. Be sure to familiarize yourself with how to operate the appliances and any other functional items in the home.

 

Notify the owner of your plan to move out or terminate the lease in good time

When you enter into a Seattle rental agreement, the assumption is that you will occupy the property to the end of the lease period. However, nothing bars a tenant from terminating the contract before its maturity. Nonetheless, as a sign of good faith, it is only fair for you to inform the landlord of your intention well in advance, so that he or she can follow through to ensure a flawless and friendly lease termination. Besides, bearing in mind that in the future you might require favorable referrals from previous landlords, it is in your favor to end the agreement well.

03-16-2017
03-16-2017
Tips to help you Choose a Lanscaping Contractor

Installing new landscaping or making improvements to existing features is a major financial investment. There is great potential to increase the value of your home and to create a more enjoyable outdoor environment for you and your family to spend time in, so it's important to choose the right company for the job.  

Flowers in Everett Wa

Scope of the Job

The first step in finding a landscape contractor is to determine what your goals are. Most contractors specialize in certain areas, so it pays to look for one that is an expert in what you need to have done. Some are hardscape specialists, focusing on building decks, patios, driveways, fences, and retaining walls. Others are focused more on the plantscape and may specialize in lawns, Japanese gardens, edible gardens or any number of other garden styles. If you don't know what you want, start by hiring a landscape designer to help you come up with a plan.

Legal Matters

When reaching out to a landscape contractor, don't hang up the phone until you've asked them if they are licensed and insured for the type of work that you are requesting. Most states have a professional licensing program for landscape contractors, in which case it is mandatory that they be licensed. If this is not the case in your state, ask about their training, any certificates or degrees they hold, as well as their membership in professional landscape associations. Before you hire anyone, ask for a copy of their insurance binder and license and call the number provided on the documents to verify their validity.

The Process. Making Contact

Asking friends for referrals is a great way to start, asking a top rated management firm with BBB, that may manage your HOA, COA is also a great way , but you can also keep your eyes open for newly installed landscaping as you drive around town and attempt to find out who did the work. Often, the landscape company will post a sign in the yard they have just completed advertising their phone number and website.
Local nurseries are also in the habit of recommending reputable contractors to their customers. Contractors generally will meet with you at least once free of charge to discuss your project and many give free estimates.

Interviewing and Selecting

Try to find at least three or four contractors to come for an initial consultation to discuss your needs and explain their services. Ask them to bring a portfolio of photos of past landscape projects and prepare a list of questions in advance that cover these topics:

Years in Business

While contractors who have been in business for decades have experience and reputation behind them, new contractors with just a few years of experience may have fresh ideas and potentially cost less as they are just starting out.

Project Experience

Find out the contractor's experience level with the type of project you have in mind. This is just as important as their overall experience in the profession. The more specialized the project is, the more you need to check their credentials for doing that type of work.

Approach to Project

This is where you will really get a sense of the person you're dealing with and their competence with the type of work you desire. Someone who answers with great detail and a clear passion for what they're saying is likely to be a great match.

Permit Knowledge

Landscape contractors should be well-versed in what does and does not require a permit. In most places, this includes decks and fences, sheds, gazebos and pools. Their familiarity with this aspect is a good sign of how experienced they are.

Ballpark Costs

Don't hold them to it, but you certainly want to have an idea of what the bottom line will be. Ask what they have charged for projects of a similar scope in the past.

Length of Time to Complete Project

A major landscape installation can really disrupt your life - the yard will temporarily look like a bomb has gone of, the driveway may be blocked, it can be noisy, workers will invade your yard. In short, it takes over your life and you want to know that they are flexible and communicative enough to work with you on your scheduling needs and that they will start and do it until it is done, without taking a break for two weeks in the middle to go do another job.

Work Guarantees

Things like decks, patios and irrigation systems should come with some sort of warranty for defects in craftsmanship and improper installation. Plants are less likely to be covered because they are subject to weather, pests, disease and other forces outside the control of the contractor. Just make sure they are clear about what is and is not covered.

Post Installation Maintenance

It's ideal when the same company that installs the landscaping can also maintain it, because they will be aware of all the little details that a newcomer will not. However, if they don't offer maintenance service, it's no reason to not use them; it's just good to know up front.


Making the Final Decision


Listen to their responses and try to get a sense of their overall personality, professionalism, and competence. Trust your initial gut feelings, but also make sure to get numbers of past clients to serve as references.
You may choose to request a formal quote from as many of the candidates as you feel confident about - don't waste your time with any that make you feel uncomfortable or behave overzealously in attempting to sell themselves. Ultimately, go with the lowest price, best qualified candidate whose references confirmed that they are able to complete work in a timely and professional manner.


Establishing Agreements

When you receive a formal quote from the contractor, look over it carefully and read all the fine print. It should cover the entire scope of work involved in step-by-step detail, from initial clearing and grading to the final clean-up, including the removal of debris.
Ideally, each step of the project includes numbers for labor and materials specified in the contract. It should also specify that the contractor will be responsible for obtaining any necessary permits, unless other agreements have been made in advance. The contract should also spell out a timeline for the project, and include a payment schedule.


Closing the Deal

The choice of a landscape contractor is one of the first steps in the process of having the property you've always dreamed of and will have a large influence on the value and quality of the finished product, as well your satisfaction with the process at every step of the way.

Before you make the final decision to sign the contract and write a retainer check, ask yourself :
Has the contractor demonstrated that they have the experience and qualifications for every bit of the work involved?
Do they seem like they will be friendly and enjoyable to work with and offer responsive customer service during and after the installation?
Have they answered all your questions?
If the answer to all these questions is yes, you have probably made the right decision on who to hire and should rest well knowing that you have turned over every stone in the process. In a short time, you will be enjoying your new landscape!

Guest Post Submitted by All Seasons Landscaping Inc. All seasons is a local landscaping company servicing Snohomish and King Counties.

03-09-2017
07-20-2017
Tips for Being a Great Landlord in Seattle

Even though being a landlord in Seattle, Washington is rewarding, it comes with a myriad of responsibilities. For instance, you have to comply with the numerous rules, regulations and city ordinances related to property ownership and landlords-tenants relations. Such include the Seattle DCI, the Seattle’s Housing and Building Maintenance Code (HBMC), and the RRIO (Rental Registration and Inspection Ordinance). 

Furthermore, it is important to strike a delicate balance between keeping your tenants happy, maintaining the appeal of your property and ensuring the rental income flows profitably without interruptions. Lastly, you have to handle property-advertising, tenant screening, creating and signing lease agreements, as well as managing rent collections and eviction of bad tenants. Bearing all these in mind, how can you ensure you remain a good rental property owner?

6 Tips for Landlords in Seattle:

i. Handle your assets like a business investment

Treat your investment property like an investment

Many owners erroneously treat their rental properties like a pass time hobby as opposed to a business. Consequently, they fail to exert enough effort to see it thrive. Avoid falling into such a snare, and treat your rental property as a business you intend to grow and profit. Such an approach will help you implement systems and structures guaranteed to help your business flourish. For instance, create a reliable system for rent collection, managing repairs or maintenance requests, advertising vacancies and screening tenants.

ii. Have a customized lease

A source of conflict between the tenants and landlords emanate from unclear rules. For this reason, take the time to create a rental agreement that clearly defines your expectations of the tenant in as far as using your property goes.The agreement could address matters like rent, security deposit, maintenance, inspections and pets. The presence of clear-cut rules helps to eliminate unnecessary tenant-landlord frictions.

Seattle rental agreement

When customizing the lease, make sure not to include illegal provisions or clauses that contravene with Washington State or Seattle landlord-tenant laws. If you are not sure what to add, it helps to get an attorney who is familiar with the said legislation to review the contract.

iii. Thoroughly screen prospective tenants

As long as you have problematic tenants, you will always have challenges, no matter how hard you try in being a good landlord in Seattle. Therefore, make it a habit of thoroughly screening all your tenants before qualifying them. Only approve those who  meet your screening criteria. Always be sure to follow the Fair Housing laws, and consider requesting for previous landlord referrals. Such vigorous screening reduces the chances of experiencing problematic tenants, late rent payments, damaged property or costly tenant evictions.

iv. Make your tenants happy

A proven way of being a great Seattle landlord is to keep your clients happy. Happy renters tend to stay in a house longer than disgruntled ones. Practical ways of doing that include respecting their privacy, treating all tenants with respect, honesty, and fairness, as well as listening to, and promptly attending to their concerns. Some issues, however, might be out of your control. For instance, a resident in the neighboring house, which isn't yours, might be playing loud music at odd hour inconveniencing your tenants. In such a  situation, the best you can do is try to mediate between the two neighbors. 

v. Get the rent right

An efficient way to succeed in Seattle’s rental market is to charge the right amount of rent. Even though you might wish to charge a higher price, overpricing your assets will cause potential quality tenants to rebuff your properties. Use the prevailing rental market rates in the area to establish your rent prices. Similarly, know what the Seattle laws have to say about the Security deposit, and overdue rent.

Seattle property managers should use strategies

Additionally, make it simple for your tenants to pay their rents on time. For instance, you could provide several payment options including electronic rent payments. Lastly, make it clear to the residents what your policy on late rent is. For instance, does it attract any fees, and if so how much is the penalty, and how is it computed. You could also give incentives to tenants who pay their rent on time or in advance.

vi. Hire a Competent Property Manager

Running a successful rental property business in Seattle is quite involved. Many experienced owners prefer to hand over the responsibility to  Professional Property Management companies. If you are a landlord in Seattle, instead of struggling to manage your rentals, consider having a professional do it for you. The manager has experience of what it takes to attract desirable tenants, collect rental income on time, maintain the property’s aesthetic pull and even handle tenant evictions.

Furthermore, the manager is conversant with Landlord-Tenant laws. They are, therefore, able to handle different rental issues in a smooth manner devoid of legal suits or costly disagreement. Besides, the manager will make your rental property business professional and appealing to quality tenants.

If you're interested in Seattle property management services visit our homepage to find out more information!

01-30-2017
Landlord Tips
05-24-2017
Submitting a Successful Rental Application

When most people see a rental advertisement, they mistakenly presume that getting the property will be as straightforward as calling the phone number on the ad, and availing the rent and security deposit. In reality, however, it is a little more complicated than that.

Tips Submitting Successful Rental Application

For starters, there is a high demand for rental properties, which means you will not be the only one interested in moving into the property. Secondly, although the landlord desires to fill the vacant unit as quickly as possible, he or she wants nothing short of high-quality residents. Therefore, the owner will rigorously screen all applicants and scrutinize their rental application documents to identify qualified tenants. 

In fact, many landlords determine their tenants, depending solely on the rental application. For this reason, it is critical to know how to prepare and present a successful request when looking for a house to rent.

Steps for submitting a successful Rental Application 

1. Make a lasting first impression

Bearing in mind that you are most probably not the only interested applicant, leave nothing to chance. Do all you can to strike a good rapport as soon as possible with the property owner or agent. For instance, dress presentably and arrive early for the showing. Moreover, be polite, friendly, charming and enthusiastic during the showing.  It is always best to start off on a positive!

Lasting first impressions

2. Read and Understand the Landlord’s Screening Criteria

Once you decide that you want the property, the next step is to fill out the rental application. Although the application documents serve one primary purpose; to help landlords and/or the screening companydetermine if the applicant will likely have the means to pay rent, take care of the property, and be a responsible tenant, they might differ in content, structure, and requirements. It is, therefore, prudent to take the time to understand the owner’s screening criteria and application guidelines to ensure that you satisfy the requirements. Doing so will help boost your chances of sailing past all the vetting stages. 

3. Fill out the application form as honestly and completely as possible

The Rental Application can be a downloadable copy or an online form. Whichever the case might be, take your time and fill it out accurately, completely, and truthfully.. Naturally, you might want to sound persuasive. However, when it comes to rental property, honesty facts remains the best policy. Remember, the screening company is going to do a comprehensive background check on you. If they discovers any contradiction or discrepancy during the screening, your application may be disqualified. 

Read the rental application

4. Attach all the necessary documents 

Use the landlord’s screening criteria as a guide to assemble all the required documentation. Many tenants, probably motivated by the urge to impress, often provide additional documents which the landlord or agent did not demand. Refrain from doing that and only provide the requested documents. If you feel the landlord did not ask for documents which you believe can help boost your chances, it is prudent to mention those documents in your discussions with the landlord. But generally speaking, stick to the guide.

Some of the relevant documents include

i. Reference Letters

You may need to provide good references from real estate agents, property managers, employers, colleagues, previous landlords and former neighbors. The references will demonstrate to the agent that you are a reliable and trustworthy resident that they can count on to pay their monthly rent and keep the property in good condition.

ii. Payslips or Proof of Income

You need to convince the screening company that you are financially stable and able to pay the rent. Effective ways of doing that include availing your past pay slips, bank statements, or even an employment letter from your employer.

Successful rental application

iii. Proof of Identification

The screening company needs to confirm that you are indeed who you claim to be. Hence, they might request you attach a photo and copies of your identification documents such as the Governement Issued ID, drivers’ license, or passport.

iv. Pet references

In case you have a pet, you might have to provide a pet reference from your current or previous landlord, detailing the condition in which you left the property and the level of disturbance if any, your pet caused. Some landlords might also require a pet deposit or purchase pet liability renter’s insurance.

Pets

v. Deposit or Rental Ledger

In addition to the references from your previous landlord or property agents, you may need to provide a summary of your rent payment history. In most cases, how far the payment history should go will depend on the agent and the length of duration that you have been a tenant. If this is required, the details of what is required will be included in the rental application, so make sure to read the application in its entirety. 

vi. Credit Rating 

When it comes to credit score, various property managers might approach it differently. Some would ask you to provide your current credit score rating, while others might run your credit check themselves. If the check reveals a poor score, some landlords might out rightly reject your application. Others, however, may ask you to provide a financial guarantor who has excellent credit. If you know that your credit score may be an issue, try to arrange for a financial guarantor before submitting your rental application in order to make the process as easy as possible.

5. Verify your application before submitting

Before you tender your application, it is prudent to review it and confirm that it is worth sending. Ask yourself whether it meets the landlord’s screening criteria, if you have included all the necessary documents, and whether the information is accurate and devoid of grammatical and spelling errors.

6. Follow-up

At least three days after submitting your tenant application documents, send a follow-up to the landlord or agent inquiring about the fate of your request. While at it, respectfully reiterate to them your desire to lease the property, and your willingness to produce any additional information they may require to guarantee a successful rental application.

If you follow these guidelines while preparing your rental application, it should give you an advantage over many other applicants. While a successful rental application alone may not lead to securing the property, it definitely helps the screening company’s decision in deciding whether you are qualified to rent the property. 

12-13-2016
T-Square Properties
Property Management
12-13-2016
The Benefits of Hiring a Property Management Company

Hiring Property Management

Seattle has one of the best real estate markets in the US. In 2015 alone, over one million new renters signed rental lease agreements in the city. This increased demand for housing naturally attracts property investors and higher rental prices. In fact, the prices have shot up significantly, with some properties even witnessing unprecedented percentage increments. With this new found fortune, it is easy to conclude that Seattle landlords are a happy lot. Well not all of them are. Even though the market seems to be on a bubble, some property owners still have to ensure the investment stays in good condition, deal with problematic tenants, handle the finances, source quality clients and comply with regulations. Furthermore, they have to compete with other landlords in the area. 

No wonder knowledgeable property owners contract experienced property management companies to run the investments. If you are a property owner, you too should consider hiring a competent property management company and enjoy the following benefits.

1) Peace of Mind

Managing a rental property is challenging and at times utterly frustrating, more so when you have difficult clients, or you are unable to attract tenants to your property. There is also always the likelihood of property damages and other complications arising. If you, as the property owner, try to address these issues by yourself, you can certainly become stressed and overwhelmed. However, by enlisting a reliable property manager you will have transferred all the rent related headaches to him or her. Leaving you peaceful and free to attend to other equally important matters.

Seattle property management

2) Active Property Marketing and Advertising

A frustrating time for a rental property owner is when the home becomes vacant, and there are no interested clients. At such a time, most landlords have to interrupt their daily schedules to market and advertise the vacant property. The opportunity cost of the empty house doubles since besides missing out on the rental income, the landlord has to commit his/her time and resources. Fortunately, you can avoid all these challenges with the help of a competent property manager. They know what kind of advertising and marketing tools are ideal and useful on your property.

3) Quality Tenant Screening and Placement

Every landlord longs for good quality occupants for his or her property. Unfortunately, most rental property owners have trouble screening new tenants carefully. This can happen either due to the urgency of filling the vacant property or lack of screening skills. Consequently, the tenant may end up being problematic much to the dismay of the landlord. Property managers, however, have a well-developed screening criteria that is equally applied to all prospective tenants. The screening criteria can easily pick out the red flags and weed out the potentially problematic tenants, leaving you with quality clients. In addition, in the rare case that there is a disgruntled tenant they will have the pleasure of dealing with their issues.

4) Avoid Legal Problems

A troublesome tenant can easily get a landlord into serious legal and financial problems. For instance, the tenant could sue for lease termination, eviction or seek compensation for injuries resulting from the landlord’s negligence. Professional property managers are conversant with various Seattle rental property codes and regulations such as the HBMC (Housing and Building Maintenance Code) and the RRIO (Rental Registration and Inspection Ordinance). They will offer advice on the best course of action concerning tenant screening, evictions, lease terminations, security deposit handling, rent collection as well as property safety and hygiene. Their up-to-date knowledge will keep you from facing legal suits or paying hefty fines.

5) Improved tenant retention

Even high-quality tenants can choose not to extend their lease if they are unhappy with the property. If you want your clients to stay to the full length of the lease and even seek for a contract extension, look for a qualified property management firm. Most property managers have sufficient tenant-retention policies, which guarantees the tenant stays happy and willing to extend the contract beyond the lease period.

6) Improved Accounting and Bookkeeping

A property management company will keep accurate financial records on your behalf. Such records include rental incomes, penalties, as well as expenses for repairs and utility services. Moreover, the firm will help you with your taxation filing, identify your tax deductible areas and also aid in the preparation of the claim doc.

Property managers take care of accounting

7) Tighter rental collection processes

The success or failure of your rental property investment depends largely on how you handle the rental income. The tenant must comply with the rent payment terms such as making payments in time. At times as a landlord, you can be too lenient in accommodating late payments, which might act to your disadvantage. However, if you contract a property management company, the firm will strictly enforce the rent payment terms, penalize the tenant for late payments or returned checks and even serve the occupant with an eviction notice when needed. They take the stress out of having to chase after your tenants for rent each month.

Overall, a property management company allows you to relax and enjoy passive income from your investment rather than spending your time and effort maintaining your property and keeping your tenants satisfied. 

10-25-2016
T-Square Properties
Property Management
10-25-2016
Adding a Property Manager as Additional Insured on the Owner’s Insurance Policy

One of the most important reasons landlords hire a property manager is to help limit exposure to and manage the inherent risk of owning rental property. 

Often, questions arise as to why it’s important to add the property manager as Additional Insured on the Homeowner’s or Property Owner’s insurance policy.  Some of the key questions are addressed below.  

Why should I list my Property Manager as Additional Insured on my Insurance Policy?

Experienced and well informed management firms are increasingly requiring the property owner to add the Property Management Company as Additional Insured on the owner policy.  While often overlooked out of convenience or misinformation, it is a very important element of an overall risk management strategy not only for the property management company but also for the property owner. 

What does “Additional Insured” mean?

The Additional Insured verbiage on a homeowner’s policy simply means that the coverage is extended not only to the owner of the property but also to the listed agent or Management Company.  Some insurance agents and property managers will confuse “Additional Insured” with “Additional Interest”.  They sound similar but are vastly different.  “Additional Interest” does not extend coverage but will simply notify the property manager of policy renewals, cancellations, or policy changes.   Another common misconception is that the Additional Insured verbiage will provide the property management firm with a financial interest in the property.  Unlike a mortgage holder, the property management company does not have, or want, a financial interest in the property but nevertheless has a very insurable interest from a premises liability standpoint such as personal injury on the premises. 

Why is adding the Property Manager as Additional Insured important to the property owner?

When a property manager is hired they take on almost all of the responsibilities as if they were the homeowner.  As such, if something were to go wrong, such as personal injury, the Property Manager is often the target, in place of the owner, of any resultant litigation. 

For this reason, almost all reputable property management firms have a strong indemnification and hold harmless clause as part of their management agreement.  If the management company is properly listed as Additional Insured, the coverage will automatically be extended to both parties as needed. 

In the worst of cases, if a major litigation claim takes place, it is likely that both Property Manager and Owner would be named as co-defendants.  Having the owner policy extended to both, would create a unified defense, with one insurance company defending both, streamlining the defense process and significantly reducing total legal expenses for all for which the owner (or the insurance company) is ultimately responsible.  

Why is the Additional Insured endorsement on the owner’s policy important to the Management Company?

Most Property Management firms carry General Liability Insurance as well as Professional Liability insurance which will offer protection from a financial loss caused by a mistake or wrongful act by the Management Firm.  However, these policies don’t provide protection against matters concerning the home itself.  This leaves the property manager vulnerable to claims regarding someone injuring themselves at the property, burglary, fire, water leaks, etc.   When coverage is effectively extended to the Property Manager through the Additional Insured endorsement, the problem is solved.

Without the Additional Insured endorsement, the management company could be left to fend for itself and then seek reimbursement from the owner directly (or their insurance) for any losses under the indemnification clause.  Needless to say, this alternative would be exponentially more expensive and time consuming for all. 

Are Insurance Companies willing to add the property manager to the owner’s policy as Additional Insured?

Most of the larger insurance companies understand that doing so is in their customer’s best interest and will add the property management firm upon request for little or no additional cost.   However, some of the smaller or specialized companies view adding a third party to the policy as taking on additional risk and refuse to do so.   While there may be some merit to their viewpoint, it can be argued that using a professional management company will reduce overall risk and that since the owner is indemnifying the management company, they would eventually be faced with a payout on behalf of their customer.   Accordingly, their total cost of a payout could be significantly reduced if they are in control of the claim from the beginning.

Helpful Tips for Setting Up Insurance For Your Rental Property:

·Make sure that your Insurance Agent understands that you are requesting the Property Management Firm be added as “Additional Insured”, not merely “Additional Interest”.

·Ask if there is an additional charge for the “Additional Insured” endorsement.  If there is you may want to shop around but remember that the overall cost effectiveness of your policy may still be better even with an additional fee.

·Ask your Insurance Agent if there are any other products their companies offer that may be useful to you, i.e., lost rent protection, upgraded commercial policy, etc. 

·If your property management company is contending that an Additional Insured endorsement on your policy is not important, carefully question their rationale and be sure you’ve contemplated the risk.

If we can answer any further questions please contact the T-Square Properties Office at 425.485.1800 or info@tsquaremanagement.com.

Disclaimer:  It is always recommended that you seek the advice of a local attorney to more about real estate laws and how they can impact you and your property.

10-25-2016
T-Square Properties
Property Management
10-25-2016

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