The key to selling anything is matching the seller with the buyer. That seems pretty basic, doesn’t it? Today’s renter starts looking for a home on the internet. The most efficient way to market rental homes in the Atlanta Metro is through the First Multiple Listing Service (FMLS) database set up for realtors and through the dozens of internet sites fed by that database. While many property managers in the area may shy away from the time and money required to list all of their rental homes in the MLS, We rely heavily on it. Once entered into the system, it only takes a few days for your property to be featured all over the internet. In addition, realtors across the metro working with prospective tenants will see the availability and show the property. When they bring us a tenant, we pay them – there is no additional cost to you.
Property Viewing for Prospective Tenants
Occasionally we rent a home to someone who has never seen it. They see pictures of it and ask a few questions and send in an application. Much more frequently we show the home to several (sometimes two, sometimes twenty-two) prospects before finally selecting a tenant.
In addition, there are many real estate agents across Atlanta who show our homes to their renter clients. If one of those showings results in a lease, we pay the agent a fee. There is no additional charge to you.
We require an application from each person aged 18 or older residing in our properties. When an applicant submits the application, we get a nationwide criminal background report, a nationwide eviction court history report and a credit report.
We use that information, along with information obtained from the applicant’s employer and landlord (if applicable) to predict how successful they will be as tenants in your home.
Processing applications is both art and science. We are very good at sniffing out application fraud and very successful at only placing well qualified tenants. Our record speaks for itself as we evict well under 1% of the tenants we place.
Approval or Rejection of Prospective Tenants
Before we officially approve an applicant we will discuss the application with the owner. Once we have had that conversation we will notify the tenant and prepare the lease.
In the event that we cannot approve an application, we will notify the tenant in writing.
Preparation of the Lease
While the State of Georgia recognizes verbal leases of less than a year, it could be considered foolish to allow another person to live in your home without a lease. If you find yourself in that position, call us immediately and let us ease you into a better situation. Contracts are written promises. Contracts allow the parties to come to a clear understanding and to make certain that everything that they have discussed is crystal clear to both sides. We use a lease written by experienced real estate attorneys. The lease has been tested in court on numerous occasions and has held up nicely. It is reviewed and updated at least annually to ensure it complies with state law. Once the lease has been prepared, we arrange a meeting with the tenants to review and sign the lease.
Executing the Lease
Most leases are signed in advance of the actual possession date. When tenants sign their lease in advance, we collect the first months rent and hold it in our state mandated and audited escrow account until the tenant moves in and pays the security deposit, which is held in accordance with the laws of Georgia and the terms of the lease. We take the property off the market on the day the lease is signed. In the rare event that the tenants decide not to move in after signing the lease, we distribute the collected rent to the owner as damages and put the property back on the market.
Collection of the Security Deposit
On move-in day, we verify that utilities have been placed in the tenant’s name and collect the security deposit, paid by cashier’s check or money order. If we will be holding the security deposit, we will do the move-in inspection at this time. If you are holding the deposit, we will assist you as you do the move-in inspection. If we manage your property, we always hold the security deposit for your protection.
The move-in inspection is done to document the condition of the property and establish a reference point for evaluating the property condition at move-out time. Simultaneously we will check appliances and plumbing fixtures, help the new tenant become familiar with the home and the location of water cut-offs, breaker boxes, various controls, etc. We will deliver keys, garage remotes and community access cards at this time. When we leave, the terms of the lease are in effect and you have a tenant.
Addressing Concerns of the Tenant
Your tenant will almost certainly have some questions or concerns during his tenancy. We are here to handle those issues for you. Most of the time we take care of the situation with no involvement on your part. Occasionally a tenant will want to modify their lease, and we may need to discuss it with you. Adding a pet is a common example. Maintenance requests from tenants come in on a daily basis. We evaluate the request and decide if it has merit. If it does, we evaluate the cost. Minor items can be handled without your involvement. Major items will need your approval. Whatever the case, we will handle the issue promptly, politely and professionally.
Handling Maintenance Issues
We know that you probably don’t have plumbers, electricians, heating and air conditioning experts, painters, handymen and general contractors on your speed dial, and that’s OK – we do. Our contractors put our clients’ needs at the top of their lists because they like having us as a source of business! When maintenance is performed on your home, we arrange for experts to handle the job. If a maintenance item arises that will cost less than your escrow funds, we can order it and pay for it out of escrow. When we collect the next rent check, we re-establish the maintenance fund. If, however, the maintenance cost exceeds the funds in escrow, we will work with you to make satisfactory financial arrangements that comply with the law.
Enforcing the Terms of the Lease
The entire agreement between the landlord and the tenant is laid out in a written contract called a lease. The start and end dates, the amount of the rent, when the rent is due, when the rent is late, what happens if the rent is late, the pet policy, who maintains the lawn, included appliances… The list goes on. As your property manager, we understand your lease. We are adept at being firm in our enforcement of the tenant’s obligations and being nice at the same time. There is a fine line between protecting the landlord and handling the tenant in a way that will keep them in the home long term. We are experts at walking that line. Keeping your tenants longer is one of our most valuable services to you.
Occasionally legal notice is required in order to comply with the law and the terms of the lease. These notices must be sent in the proper format and in the proper time frame in order to have the desired effect. We take care of these notices for you. Examples would be when the rent is late, when we are filing for eviction, when we are advising the tenants that they have violated a term of the lease, when we are terminating the lease, prior to disbursing a security deposit, etc.
Compliance with State and Federal Laws
Georgia law is fairly landlord friendly. Having said that, it is very important that you understand and follow the law. Landlord-tenant relationships can get strained easily, especially if the tenant runs into difficulties paying the rent on time. When the landlord gets emotional in these situations, violating the tenant’s legal rights is a definite possibility. The last thing you want is for the person who is squatting in your home to have leverage over you. We know the law so you don’t have to. We are happy to explain what we are doing and why whenever you have those questions.
Action to Collect Delinquent Rent
When the rent is late, no one is happy. The tenants are under pressure because they are quickly made aware that they have to pay or go. The landlord is unhappy because they have to pay the mortgage even if the tenants fail to pay the rent. And we are unhappy because we have to do more work than normal. We have a very effective procedure for collecting the rent and appropriate late fees. We keep you informed throughout the process and get your money to you as quickly as possible.
Coordination of the Move-Out
As hard as we try to retain tenants long term, they all move out eventually. When they do, we coordinate with them to get all of your property back – keys, remotes, access cards and the premises. We conduct a move-out inspection and compare the property’s condition with the condition we found at the move-in inspection. We compile a list of things that need to be done to prepare for the next tenant and get the property back on the market. In many cases we are able to market the home prior to the old tenant leaving, but this depends on many factors and is not always the case. Of course we keep you informed throughout the process.
Security Deposit Disposition in accordance with Georgia Law
Once the tenant is out, we have to process the security deposit. The law is very specific about how the deposit must be handled. There is a mandatory timeline that must be followed, and you have to be very careful when keeping any of the tenant’s funds. We understand the law and follow it to a “T” while protecting your interests.