22nd March 2011

Low Maintenance Landscaping for Rental Properties

As a landlord, it falls upon me to control the expenses associated with holding property for rent. One of the expenses that can be relentless, especially in central Florida, is landscaping costs. As you can imagine, during the Florida summer (or rainy season as it’s sometimes called) anything planted in the yard of a rental property grows like crazy.

As far as maintenance goes, it’s usually the tenant’s responsibility, per the lease agreement, to maintain the yard in a manner consistent with the rest of the neighborhood. This works well if the tenant is conscientious and cares what the yard looks like. As a landlord, I can wholeheartedly say that this is usually not the case. Usually, the tenant will completely ignore the yard maintenance until they receive a notice from the city threatening them with a fine if they don’t cut the grass. The grass and yard is usually then ruined and can not be re-rented due to it’s lacking curb appeal.

One way to avoid this situation is to plant native species of plants at a rental property. For instance, be sure that everything including the ground covering, trees, shrubs and flowers are all native to the region where the rental property is. This way, nothing will grow out-of-control and with proper planning all the foliage will look like it belongs there. You will also avoid dumping chemicals into the ground that contaminate the Floridian aquifer.

Another great thing is that native ground covering is MUCH more tolerant of drought conditions that can sometimes occur in Florida. In most cases it will stay green while all the neighbors have large brown patches in their lawns due to the hot, sunny weather. In extreme cases the ground covering will dry out and turn brown but in a more uniform manner. Then, when it rains eventually, everything magically turns green again.

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16th March 2011

Making Your Small Landlord Business Run Like The Big Guys

Owning rental property is one of the surest ways to financial freedom, but with it comes mountains of paperwork and hours of property management that can be quite a chore. It’s amazing how fast that back office work can pile up, even if you have only a few units.  There are the rent checks coming in, the expense checks going out, taxes each year, legal documents, deeds, mortgages, and enough contracts to keep you reading for years; not to mention the physical maintenance your units need from time to time.

Whether you run your business from one of your properties or from your kitchen table – these tips, combined with the latest technology, will help you tame the tiger in your back office and make your small business run more like the big guys.

Bookkeeping and Accounting

State and federal laws require every business, and individual sole proprietor, to file a minimum amount of paperwork each year. Large apartment developers and owners have the finances to outsource most of their accounting and bookkeeping functions, but that’s not usually an option for the owner of just a few units; the margin just isn’t there.

Thankfully, bookkeeping and accounting are two of the more basic functions, and whether you realize it or not you probably have more accounting experience than you need to run a successful landlord business.  Accounting is really a matter of simple math; tracking the dollars in and the dollars out. To help you with that math are a host of software providers that offer inexpensive programs to keep your accounting organized and on time. Read the rest of this entry »

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20th December 2010

The Smell of Desperation

So we’ve had one of our properties for rent for a few months now. Most of that time was taken up rehabbing the property from the last dirtbag tenant. We’ve got the property listed in the local Multiple Listing Service (MLS) and also on Rentals.com. Besides a sign in the yard, that’s the only advertising we’ve done and this is due to a couple of reasons:

First, typically if a potential tenant is using a computer to find a place to rent, they’re trying to be efficient because their time is valuable to them. As in, they’re not sitting around waiting for their next disability/unemployment/welfare check. Read the rest of this entry »

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7th October 2010

No More Bees In My Bonnet…uh, Shed.

So in a previous post I mentioned that honey bees had set up shop in the floor of a storage shed at one of my properties. The Bees Are GoneWell, today was their day of reckoning. I didn’t want to just kill the bees due to the already ominous sounding Colony Collapse Disorder so I called in my local bee keeper, Lyndon Jones of Trevena Bee Farms.

Apparently this Colony Collapse Disorder was confounding scientists until recently. Now they know that it is caused by a fungus and a virus which kills the bees. Read more here.

Read the rest of this entry »

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17th August 2010

Property Management Software Solutions

Recently, in response to a request from a friend, I embarked on a search for property management software. My friend had been using a package called RentRight for many years and was now faced with replacing one of the computers attached to her in-house local area network (LAN.)

Since RentRight is such an old program and is no longer in development by its owner Domin-8, we were looking to find a package that would run on Windows 7 and would also work well with her legacy Novell Netware server.

Now, before you laugh at the fact that they are still running Novell Netware, consider the fact that I’ve seen countless Novell installations where the uptime is on the order of years, not months. This means that the server has been running continuously, without being rebooted, for YEARS. Show me ANY Microsoft server installation that can do that and I’ll shut up right now……..no takers? Ok then…. Read the rest of this entry »

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