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Landlord – Frequently Asked Questions

What’s my property worth?

That’s a great question! Feel free to contact us by phone, email, or fill out a Rental Price Evaluation request and we’ll let you know.

What if I don’t agree with the value you set for my home?

We try our best to evaluate each property and provide the optimal rental valuation. We factor in location, property type, size, bedrooms, condition, age, amenities, and similar property market saturation into our property valuations. But we understand that our valuation may not jive with your expectations. If this is the case, we are more than happy to try a higher rental value (within reason) and report potential tenant feedback to you.

How long will it take to rent my home?

Placement time varies. Some homes rent in a day, others in 90 days. We monitor each property’s activity and do our best to note each time we receive a phone call, general inquiry, email, and tenant feedback. We use this information to suggest marketing changes, price reductions, specials, or repairs if the property is not renting in a timely fashion.

Do I have to pay for advertising?

NO! The finder’s fee includes the cost of internet advertising (Trulia, Zillow, Hotpads, and more!), a physical rental sign placed at the property, and Rently marketing and scheduling in select markets.

If you would like us to advertise in a different venue we are more than happy to look into it. If you would like us to advertise your property in the local paper, The Press Enterprise, we would be happy to oblige. However, we can only provide one (1) week of advertising for free. Additional weekly advertisements will be at owners expense. We have discovered that traditional paper advertising has a lower return on investment (calls/emails per ad) than internet advertising.

Additionally, at your request, we can place your property on the local MLS (CRMLS). However, as the MLS is used by real estate agents, we will need permission to offer a commission. In most cases commissions range from $150-250.

How do you screen tenants?

Our tenant screening is very extensive. We run credit reports on all of our tenants and require them to be in good overall credit standing based on current outstanding debt. Our core tenant requirements are as follows:

  • Collective income no less than three times the rental price
  • No bankruptcies in the past two years (must be discharged)
  • No open collections other than medical
  • No judgments
  • No Federal or State tax liens
  • No prior evictions
  • Criminal record subject to property owner approval

In addition to running the standard credit report we also run bankruptcy, eviction, foreclosure, and criminal checks. We are so confident in our tenant selection process that we guarantee that the tenant we select will not default. If our selected tenant defaults at any time during the lease we will pay for the eviction!

However, we understand that some owners maybe a little more lenient in the tenant selection process. As such, we welcome landlord participation in the tenant selection process. If you are willing to work outside of our core tenant requirements, please let us know. We will contact you on a case-by-case basis to discuss potential tenants that do not meet our requirements. If you choose to select one of these tenants, however, we will not cover the cost of eviction should eviction be required. With that said, we can require these tenants to pay an additional security deposit to cover the cost of eviction.

Do I have to pay for utilities?

No. We generally require tenants to cover all utilities. You may include some, or all, utilities at your discretion. Most landlords cover pool or spa maintenance. We do, however, require landlords to pay any and all HOA dues.

When do I get paid?

Unless you agree to a special payment arrangement, tenants are required to pay the rent between the 1st and the 5th of every month. We mail or deposit your rent check between the 6th and 12th of every month.

How do I get paid?

We mail or deposit rent checks to your selected location and make them available for pick-up at your request.

What happens if my tenant pays late?

If your tenant has not paid the rent by the 5th of the month we contact them by phone and post a three day notice at the property. Tenants are charged a per-day late fee as outlined by California law. We do our best to collect these late fees but cannot forward a late fee to you until we have received it from the tenant. Furthermore, we cannot deduct any outstanding late fees from the security deposit until the tenant has vacated.

More importantly, 1st Rate Rentals does not charge for collecting late rents. Other management companies charge a fee or keep some (or all) of the late fee. We believe that part of our job of a property management company is to collect the rent, late or not.

Consider this: if a property management company makes money from collecting late rents, what incentive do they have to place a quality tenant in your property? They make money when you don’t get paid on time!

What happens if we need to evict a tenant?

If 1st Rate Rentals selected the tenant, 1st Rate Rentals will pay for and execute the eviction. If you placed the tenants (a takeover lease) or accepted a tenant that did not meet 1st Rate Rentals core tenant requirements, then the cost of the eviction is the landlord’s responsibility. However, 1st Rate Rentals will execute the eviction on your behalf.

Who holds onto the security deposit?

1st Rate Rentals holds all security deposits in a non-interest-bearing trust account.

How do you handle maintenance and repairs?

1st Rate Rentals is frequently adding and vetting quality maintenance and repair contractors to its list of independent contractors. Should maintenance or a repair be required, 1st Rate Rentals will be sure to have a quality contractor to complete the job. Additionally, 1st Rate Rentals will front up to $250 (depending on current tenant status) to cover the cost of any repair. We will then deduct the repair cost from the following month rent distribution and provide the original invoice with your rent check. Of course, as the landlord you are more than welcome to complete your own repairs or use your own contractors.

That being said, there are two categories of property repairs: landlord responsible and tenant responsible.

Landlord responsible repairs are required repairs that were out of the tenant’s control. These are typically roof issues, plumbing breaks and leaks, air conditioner malfunctions, water heater failures, and stove malfunctions.

Tenant responsible repairs are damages that were caused by the tenant. These are often clogged drains, broken knobs, stained carpeting, and holes in walls. If we suspect the tenant was the cause of the breakdown, we will charge the tenant for the cost of repair. However, in these instances, we are required to provide the tenant an opportunity to hire their own contractor and repair it themselves.

How do you handle tenant damage after move-out?

Prior to the tenant moving out we inspect the property and inform the tenant of any potential issues so that they may repair these issues prior to forfeiting the keys. This inspection usually cures much of the potential damage that is noted after move-out.

Once the tenant vacates the property we complete an extensive property inspection, comparing it to our move-in inspection, and note any damage that exceeds typical wear and tear. Once we have compiled a list of required repairs we will have our contractors complete these repairs and deduct the repair cost from the security deposit. If damages exceed the security deposit we will invoice the tenant the additional cost of these repairs. However, it is up to the landlord to cover the cost of repairs that exceed the security deposit, and then take the tenant to small claims court to recoup their loss. 1st Rate Rentals will provide all required documentation and aid in the small claims case. However, taking a tenant to small claims court for excessive damage is uncommon.

Moreover, it is important to note that some repairs will be prorated. By law some items, regardless of how clean or nice they were before the tenant occupied the property, cannot be charged in full if they were not new upon tenant move-in.

What kind of inspections do you do?

1st Rate Rentals completes extensive move-in and move-out inspections. These inspections are room-by-room inspections that cover all aspects of the property, inside and out. We photograph the exterior of the home, front and rear yards, all appliances, fixtures, flooring, and walls. Additionally, we complete annual inspections upon lease renewal and biannual drive-by inspections.

How long are your contracts?

There are actually two contracts involved when renting a property through 1st Rate Rentals. The first contract is between the landlord and 1st Rate Rentals. This contract outlines the upfront cost associated with working with 1st Rate Rentals, what 1st Rate Rentals will be providing, the cost to break the contract after a tenant has been procured, and how long 1st Rate Rentals has to procure a tenant.

The second contract is between 1st Rate Rentals, the Landlord, and the Tenant. This contract is no less than one (1) year in length. Upon agreement with the landlord and the tenant this contract can either be extended in one (1) year intervals or be converted to a month to month agreement after the initial one (1) year term.

This all sounds great! How do I get started?

You can fill out a Rental Price Evaluation, or contact us by email, phone, fax, or text message which can be accessed.