How to Attract Quality Tenants

by  –

Even when your communities are 100% occupied, as a property manager, you’re always looking for quality tenants. While it’s a challenge to attract tenants any time, finding those tenants and leasing apartments or homes in the first quarter of the year can be particularly challenging.

But there are ways to attract quality tenants, any time of year. One way that we’ll explore in this two-part blog is to hold an open house. We’ll look at additional ways to attract tenants in a later post.

Used by realtors almost exclusively, the idea of an open house may seem fairly strange to property managers. But the premise of attracting a high number of visitors, including potential tenants can be an excellent marketing strategy that costs little but can pay high dividends. Consider what an open house can bring to your property:

· It will likely attract a large number of visitors to your property. While it’s true that not all of those visitors will be in the market for a rental home at this time, it opens the door for future rental opportunities.
· Remember, prospective tenants may be curious about what an apartment community has to offer, but don’t want to formally view an apartment and fill out an application. However, an open house gives them the opportunity to view apartment homes, pressure free.
· Have a ‘for more information’ sign-up sheet for those interested in the apartment community. Once the open house is complete, leasing agents can follow up with those that indicated interest.
· The tell-your-friend component can work to your advantage. Entertaining those that have no intention of moving into your apartment community can pay off – particularly if they’re impressed enough to tell their friends. Make sure they’re impressed.
· It builds neighborhood collaboration. It’s likely that area business owners and residents will attend your open house, just to see what your property has to offer. Building collaborations with those neighbors can go a long way towards also building your pool of applicants.
· Provide attendees with an incentive to return as an applicant. Create flyers or cards that can be redeemed if they return to the community as an applicant. These can range from a gift card to $50.00 off their first month’s rent.

While an unusual approach to leasing, holding an open house can prove to be beneficial, and can be held throughout the year if desired.

How to Attract Quality Tenants

by  –

Even when your communities are 100% occupied, as a property manager, you’re always looking for quality tenants. While it’s a challenge to attract tenants any time, finding those tenants and leasing apartments or homes in the first quarter of the year can be particularly challenging.

But there are ways to attract quality tenants, any time of year. One way that we’ll explore in this two-part blog is to hold an open house. We’ll look at additional ways to attract tenants in a later post.

Used by realtors almost exclusively, the idea of an open house may seem fairly strange to property managers. But the premise of attracting a high number of visitors, including potential tenants can be an excellent marketing strategy that costs little but can pay high dividends. Consider what an open house can bring to your property:

· It will likely attract a large number of visitors to your property. While it’s true that not all of those visitors will be in the market for a rental home at this time, it opens the door for future rental opportunities.
· Remember, prospective tenants may be curious about what an apartment community has to offer, but don’t want to formally view an apartment and fill out an application. However, an open house gives them the opportunity to view apartment homes, pressure free.
· Have a ‘for more information’ sign-up sheet for those interested in the apartment community. Once the open house is complete, leasing agents can follow up with those that indicated interest.
· The tell-your-friend component can work to your advantage. Entertaining those that have no intention of moving into your apartment community can pay off – particularly if they’re impressed enough to tell their friends. Make sure they’re impressed.
· It builds neighborhood collaboration. It’s likely that area business owners and residents will attend your open house, just to see what your property has to offer. Building collaborations with those neighbors can go a long way towards also building your pool of applicants.
· Provide attendees with an incentive to return as an applicant. Create flyers or cards that can be redeemed if they return to the community as an applicant. These can range from a gift card to $50.00 off their first month’s rent.

While an unusual approach to leasing, holding an open house can prove to be beneficial, and can be held throughout the year if desired.

Bill would provide funding to eliminate old, wood stoves

In California, many air districts fail to meet federal health standards for fine particulate matter, of which wood smoke is a significant source. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, changing out one old, dirty, inefficient wood stove removes as much pollution as removing five old diesel buses from the road.

This year, SB 563 by Sen. Ricardo Lara, D-Bell Gardens, proposes to establish the Wood Smoke Reduction Program, which would include funding to replace old, wood stoves. The California Air Resources Board would administer the program in coordination with local air districts.

SB 563 would offer consumers incentives to replace old, uncertified wood-burning stoves with cleaner, more energy-efficient alternatives, helping reduce greenhouse gas emissions from wood smoke.

CURRENT LOCAL AIR DISTRICT REGULATIONS

Many local air districts now prohibit use of wood-burning devices on “spare the air” days, and some encourage their replacement through limited rebate programs. Generally, properties that have no other source of heat are exempt from “spare the air” days. For a map of all air districts with links to local requirements and programs, click here.

CAA’s “Spare the Air Addendum” (Form 37.0), which spells out compliance duties of tenants, should be used in all air districts.

At this time, only the Bay Area Air Quality Management District requires rental property owners to install alternative sources of heat on properties that rely on wood-burning devices. However, other air districts are likely to follow suit. The Bay Area Air Quality Management District requires all rental properties in “natural gas service areas” to have “a permanently installed source of heat that does not burn wood” by Nov. 1, 2018. On that date, those properties will no longer be exempt from no burn,  “spare the air days.”

The boundaries of the Bay Area district include all of the following counties: Napa, Contra Costa, Alameda, Santa Clara, San Mateo, San Francisco and Marin, and part of Solano and Sonoma counties. The district also requires landlords to provide tenants in units with fireplaces or wood-burning devices with a disclosure regarding the health hazards associated with wood smoke.

More information regarding the Bay Area Air Quality Management District’s rules, including a compliance-assistance hotline, is available here.

CAA’s Residential Fireplace Disclosure Addendum (Form 37.0-BA) contains the notice that must be provided to tenants within the district.

Hearings set for bills that would restrict landlords’ ability to exit business

The Legislature has scheduled hearings this month on a pair of bills that target the Ellis Act, landmark legislation that protects a property owner’s right to exit the rental housing business.

The Ellis Act, passed in 1985, provides an important safety valve for landlords operating in rent controlled jurisdictions.

Before the Ellis Act in 1985, cities could force landlords to continue renting out their properties, even if they were losing money. Preserving the Ellis Act is particularly important today, as some lawmakers are attempting to bring back extreme versions of rent control and take away exemptions for newer apartment buildings.

The bills in question, AB 423 by Assemblyman Rob Bonta, D-Oakland, and AB 982by Assemblyman Richmond Bloom, D-Santa Monica, are scheduled for hearings in the Housing and Community Development Committee on April 5 and April 19, respectively.

AB 423 would exempt residential hotels in Oakland from the Ellis Act, prohibiting them from closing their buildings. Already exempted are San Francisco, Los Angeles, and San Diego.

In a letter to Bonta, the California Apartment Association and allied groups object to requiring owners of residential hotels in Oakland to stay in business despite business hardships or the inability to meet future code mandates for capital improvements.

“We have witnessed owners in these situations struggle with fire sprinkler installations, seismic safety upgrades and other retrofits that are mandated for older housing,” the letter says. “Unless the city can provide funding to assist, we anticipate some of these buildings will struggle to keep the building viable for tenants.”

The other proposal, AB 982, would expand the number of tenants who are entitled to receive a year’s notice from the landlord before the landlord closes the building as allowed under the Ellis Act.

At this point, tenants who have lived in the building for at least one year and who are at least 62 years of age or are disabled are entitled to a year’s notice from the landlord before the building is closed. Other tenants are entitled to a 120-day notice.

AB 982 would extend the one-year notice requirement to all tenants, regardless of age or disability.

HOA Homefront: When laws collide: Child safety or discrimination?

As to swimming pools, unless and until the law changes, HOAs must post the required signs but cannot enforce what that signs say.

Common interest development associations (aka “HOAs”) are governed by both state and federal Fair Housing laws.  Fair Housing laws prohibit “familial status” discrimination, which means singling out children for any disparate treatment. (This prohibition exempts senior communities, which are exempted under Civil Code 51.2.)  A complete ban on children would be a classic example of familial status discrimination.  Another form of such discrimination would be imposing special restrictions upon children and not to adults.

Fair Housing laws prohibit “familial status” discrimination, which means singling out children for any disparate treatment. (This prohibition exempts senior communities, which are exempted under Civil Code 51.2.)  A complete ban on children would be a classic example of familial status discrimination.  Another form of such discrimination would be imposing special restrictions upon children and not to adults.

Most associations and their managers hopefully know that rules specifically targeting children are prohibited under Fair Housing laws. However, in at least one context, state law appears to do just that — single out children for special treatment.  Associations which are not aware of a contradiction in current law could find themselves guilty of familial status discrimination regarding its swimming pools and spas.  California law has for years required that apartments or HOA swimming pools have a posted sign stating: “Children under the age of 14 shall not use

California law has for years required apartments or HOA swimming pools have a posted sign stating: “Children under the age of 14 shall not use the pool without a parent or adult guardian in attendance.” This requirement is currently found in the California Code of Regulations, Title 24 Chapter 31, Section 3120B.4. Another state regulation, Section 3120B.7, requires signs at spa pools reading, “Unsupervised use by children under the age of 14 is prohibited.”

However, associations are not allowed to enforce these two statements. If an association adopts a rule simply quoting the requirement of the two state law-mandated signs, banning unaccompanied kids from pools and spas, the association could be sued for violating Fair Housing laws. Several cases have been decided in federal courts in California over the years, finding that a restriction on unaccompanied children in pools violated Fair Housing laws.

This creates a very difficult dilemma for common interest development associations. On the one hand, a board is apparently being encouraged to warn of a potentially dangerous situation in association pools and spas, but on the other hand, if the association does anything more than simply post the sign, it violates Fair Housing laws. Conscientious boards often ask, what happens if a child drowns in our pool without an adult present, will we be liable? It is difficult to balance the obvious safety issue against the equally valid concern about discrimination.

Court opinions have noted that not all children under the age of 14 are unsafe in swimming pools and banning blanket bans on unaccompanied children.  However, at what age can most children generally validly be considered unsafe in a pool or spa?  The state of California places this age at 13, based on the content of the aforementioned regulations.

Many associations have other potentially hazardous amenities, such as gyms or weight rooms, saunas, and equestrian facilities, which can be very dangerous to a young and inexperienced or immature user.  Is it reasonable that associations cannot try to protect children in such areas because of Fair Housing laws?

When laws collide, the losers may well be exactly the persons the law is trying to protect – the children. For specific steps to try to balance these conflicting policies, consult your association attorney, preferably someone very conversant in Fair Housing laws.

As to swimming pools, unless and until the law changes, HOAs must post the required signs but cannot enforce what that signs say.

California’s war on carbon: Is it winning?

Prevent and Prepare for Springtime Pests

BY JANELLE PENNY –

Ward off an infestation with these tips

Warm weather is on the way, but it brings increased pest activity from insects, arachnids and other annoying invertebrates. It’s easier to prevent nuisance bugs from establishing an infestation, but if they’ve already invaded your facility, don’t panic. Get to know the most common springtime pests and determine how to deal with them with these tips.

Common Springtime Pests

Three key types of pests stay mostly dormant over the winter and emerge in spring, says Jim Fredericks, Chief Entomologist and Vice President of Technical and Regulatory Affairs for the National Pest Management Association: ants, termites and flies. All three lay low when the temperature dips under 50 degrees F. and resurface when the weather is dependably warmer, especially after rainstorms.

“Ants are the No. 1 nuisance pest in the United States,” Fredericks explains. “They don’t completely die out during the cooler months but might be outside of the structure in mulch or landscaping, hiding under rocks or inside using insulation to stay warm.”

Termites can destroy wood in structures year-round but are typically more visible during spring when they emerge to mate and start new colonies, Fredericks says. Flies typically remain dormant all winter but are able to move again and invade structures as temperatures start to rise. “Termite infestations, particularly subterranean termites, build shelter tubes that come out by the building’s foundation. It’s basically a thin mud tube that extends out of the ground a foot or so into the structure. That’s one sure sign of termites,” adds Gene Chafe, General Manager for Senske Services, a landscape maintenance and pest control provider.

Cockroaches and bedbugs are active all year because they’re most active indoors but should still be covered for in spring pest management activities, Fredericks says.

Proactive Steps to Prevent Infestations

The best thing to do is have an integrated pest management program in place that anticipates pests common to your area, inspects accordingly and takes action proactively, Chafe says. Pest management providers can inspect your property on a weekly or monthly basis and identify emerging outbreaks and conditions that encourage infestations, such as moist wood that can attract carpenter ants or leaves blown up against the foundation that provide nesting areas.

In addition to implementing a smart pest management strategy, make sure any screened windows are in good repair to keep flies out. Move garbage cans or designated refuse areas away from the building if possible and keep your compactor room or trash chute clean. Seal entry points and install door sweeps to keep out ants.

Outside, Chafe recommends inspecting your irrigation system while it’s running to check for standing water. Prune bushes 18-24 inches away from the structure and trim trees so that they don’t touch the building. Consider thinner ground cover, as thicker plantings can hide ground-nesting rats and other invaders, Chafe adds.

How to Expel Intruders

Once an infestation has settled in, you need to call in a pest control professional to sort it out before it gets even worse. Practitioners of integrated pest management will start with the least toxic methods to control the population, says Chafe.

Don’t try to take care of the infestation yourself, Fredericks warns. Different insects require different treatments and using the wrong one could backfire. He also suggests checking out the pest guide at pestworld.org to learn more about the habits, habitats and potential threats posed by different species.