The Right Screening Tool Can Ensure Protection of an Asset

The Right Screening Tool Can Ensure Protection of an Asset

An effective screening tool can pay dividends for property management companies. A tool that provides an applicant’s rental payment history as well as identity screening and transactional identification protects PMCs and is a catalyst to a successful community.

The better the renter, the most likely that management won’t be left holding the bag because of uninsured damage.

“It’s been proven there is a direct correlation between credit quality of the resident and the amount of damage that they may leave behind in insurable losses and uninsurable losses that a deposit is intended to cover,” says Ian McIntosh, Industry Principal, LeasingDesk Risk Mitigation at RealPage, Inc.

Finding the right resident, asset protection a growing concern

Finding the right balance of quality tenants while minimizing risk and exposure with limited impact to leasing agents and consumers is a growing concern in rental housing today. Not all screening tools paint a true picture of the applicant, and of those who are approved only 40 percent purchase renter’s insurance policies, according to RealPage, Inc.

Recent demand has provided PMCs a great opportunity to maintain high occupancies. In a good market, properties typically don’t have to lower screening thresholds and take on more risk just to fill assets.

But not all applicants are desirable tenants, even if they possess good credit scores. Rental payment history that includes late payments, whether or not deposits have been paid and damage-related charges may not always show up on a credit report. Such information can be just as big of a red flag as a questionable credit report.

Rental payment histories tell more about applicants

Good rental payment histories often are an indicator of applicants who are less likely to cause damage and purchase a renter’s insurance policy, McIntosh said. A property is most vulnerable when damage occurs by an uninsured resident, and, unfortunately, damages like fire, smoke, water and even pet damages may be unrecoverable or require the expense of a collection agency or attorney to resolve.

McIntosh says a quality screening tool enables management companies to better mitigate risk in a fast-paced rental housing environment.

A robust screening tool that includes rental payment history profiles helps properties identify higher quality tenants and keeps pace with applicants who are calling just as quickly as properties are available. Ideally, McIntosh says, property managers should rely on a tool that returns thorough results in just seconds so the application process continues to flow. Along the way, screening should focus on identity, transactional identification and renter history.

Anything less may not deliver the best paying renter to the property.

Asset Protection Plan can fill the gap when tenant-caused damage occurs

While screening offers big protection, it’s not the only line of defense against unwanted property damage that may not be fully covered by liability insurance.

Damage from kitchen fires, water and smoke from a patio grill require costly repairs, but these expenses typically fall below a policy deductible and are paid directly out of a property’s operating budget.

Propertyware Asset Protection is a new offering from Propertyware that provides a win-win for property managers and owners by providing up to $100,000 in coverage for owners assets. It includes guaranteed acceptance coverage against accidental tenant-caused damage that avoids costly out-of-pocket expenses, can protect tenants against owner claims and is integrated with Propertyware for compliance tracking.

It’s just another way that property managers can ensure that their assets are protected.

Higher resident quality should correlate to less losses

Still, attempting to head off damage down the road is good business.

Online leasing has helped by streamlining screening so properties can choose better tenants. PMCs learn what kind of applicant is knocking at the door, and whether he or she will enable the property to add to or maintain its value.

“It’s about the overall credit quality of the tenants, which drives bottom-line revenue because they have better folks in there,” McIntosh said. “Higher resident quality should correlate to less losses. Overall it, it Improves the asset quality and value.”

The Big Sort: What To Do With 2 Million Tons of Fire Debris

Piles of fire debris in Santa RosaPiles of fire debris await removal in a Santa Rosa parking lot.

California’s biggest disaster cleanup in a century is now three-quarters complete, according to the Army Corps of Engineers. And like the North Bay fires that caused it, this massive response is one for the record books.

“It is a very complicated debris removal operation,” California Office of Emergency Services director Mark Ghilarducci told a Santa Rosa Town Hall in January. “The largest debris clearance operation we’ve seen since the 1906 earthquake.”

But unlike after the 1906 quake, when people dumped debris in the bay and took bricks home in wheelbarrows to shore up their own property, current laws require that debris be safely removed, for the environment and public health. State and local officials also say they hope to recycle or re-use about half the recovered material.

Millions of tons went to landfills and recycling centers. (Craig Miller/KQED)Debris Measured in Bridge WeightsLast October, ten to eleven thousand structures burned, on about six thousand parcels of land, spread out across 250 square miles, in four counties. All those numbers add up to about $1 billion in contracts to clean up Sonoma, Napa, Lake and Mendocino counties, issued by the Army Corps of Engineers under the authority of the Federal Emergency Management Agency. (CalRecycle, a state agency, is handling fire clean-up in three additional counties.)‘It’s the largest debris clearance operation we’ve seen since the 1906 earthquake’Mark Ghilarducci, CalOESA typical residential parcel yields 200 to 250 tons of material. By the time cleanup is complete, thousands of truck trips will have removed about 2 million tons of debris: that’s double the weight of the Golden Gate Bridge.Tricky BusinessHousehold hazardous waste was the first problem to tackle: the propane tanks, motor oil, pesticides, paint hanging around garages or sheds. The Environmental Protection Agency and state toxic regulators helped crews pick it out of the rubble safely; they finished last fall.In a second phase, Army Corps contractors are separating concrete from ash and metal, for transport to different places. It’s finicky work.“I’m picking up rebar in little pieces; that’s a four-five-foot bucket and you’re trying to pick up a little bicycle or a night awning or a chair or something,” explained Kenny Drew, who was operating an excavator for contractor Ghilotti Bros. in Santa Rosa’s Coffey Park neighborhood. “We grab what we can, push it into a pile, separate that, and the rest goes to the dumps.”Excavator operator Kenny Drew slings burned lawnmower into a dump truck. Metals are among the debris that can be recycled. “

Trump administration proposes food boxes instead of food stamps

For starters, let’s not compare this to Blue Apron.

grocery shopping, reading labels

SNAP recipients will have fewer chances to choose fresh fruits and vegetables under the proposed changes to the program. (Photo: CandyBox Images/Shutterstock)

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), a program that used to be known as food stamps and is still often referred to that way, allows earning a low income to purchase food with an Electronic Benefit card (EBT).

There are restrictions on what can be purchased using SNAP benefits. No alcohol or tobacco products can be bought. No pet food, paper goods or cleaning supplies. Prepared foods that are ready to eat can’t be purchased either. Other than that, the benefits can be used for anything the USDA determines is food, including junk food and luxury items (like steak or lobster).

In the 2019 budget proposal unveiled earlier this week, the Trump administration says it wants anyone who receives at least $90 a month in benefits to get about half of their benefits delivered to them in the form of a box, according to NPR.

The items in the box would be pre-determined, would contain no fresh fruits or vegetables, and would include “shelf-stable milk, ready to eat cereals, pasta, peanut butter, beans and canned fruit and vegetables.”

White House compares plan to ‘Blue Apron’

The Director of the Office of Management and Budget Mick Mulvaney said it’s a “Blue Apron-type program where you actually receive the food instead of receive the cash,” according to Fortune.

The Blue Apron comparison falls flat and it’s the epitome of a phrase that we hear all too often lately: “tone deaf.” There is absolutely nothing similar about Blue Apron and the proposed box of canned goods and shelf-stable milk.

Blue Apron is a meal delivery service, not a food delivery service. Those who choose to subscribe to Blue Apron can pick the meals that appeal to them, and all of the ingredients (most of them fresh) are delivered in perfectly measured portions, along with easy-to-follow directions, ready to throw together to make an entire meal.

In comparison, what Mulvaney calls “America’s Harvest Box” provides no choices. There’s no indication that families will be able to choose the foods they want in the box based on dietary choices, allergy restrictions, or personal preference. Will vegetarian households receive canned chicken? Will families who can’t allow dairy products in the house because a child will go into anaphylactic shock be required to accept shelf-stable milk?

The questions

In the day or so since the budget proposal was released many, many questions have been brought up that have, so far, gone unanswered. Here are several that I have (in addition to the ones I asked above), or that I’ve seen raised in various articles or on social media.

  • What’s the cost of delivering these boxes?
  • Who will get the contracts for the delivery? (Maybe giving living wage jobs to people who are currently on SNAP be a requirement to get the contract.)
  • If boxes need to be picked up, what happens when a family doesn’t have transportation to get there?
  • What will become of grocery stores and markets in low-income areas that rely on SNAP purchases to stay afloat?
  • Who will get the contracts to produce these foods?
  • Some SNAP recipients are homeless. How will they get their boxes and how will they store food when they get it? How would they cook foods that must be cooked?
  • What happens to people who live in a home or apartment but have their electricity or gas turned off, often because of landlord issues. What happens when the only food they have is food they’re unable to cook?
  • How is it that the political party that was opposed to the Obama administration adding healthier, fresh foods to school lunches — saying the government shouldn’t tell people what they can eat — now wants to tell low-income families what they must eat?

The list of questions could go on and on, and the questions I’m asking here don’t begin to address the topic of human dignity.

The outcry over this proposal is loud, but it could be louder. Congress must vote on this, and before they do, we have the opportunity to contact our representatives in the House and the Senate and let them know how we’d like them to vote. I’m on it. Are you?

San Jose Lets Residents Try Their Hand at Balancing the City Budget

Residents using the Balancing Act website must decide what spending to cut in order to balance the budget.

Think it’s hard putting together your personal budget? Try doing it for the largest city in the Bay Area.

San Jose has put together a new website where residents can try to balance the city’s budget for the upcoming year using a program called Balancing Act.

On the website, residents can see the city’s revenue streams (such as property and sales taxes) alongside what the city spends on things like public safety, parks and housing. They then have to try to decide what spending they would eliminate to balance the budget.

Mayor Sam Liccardo said one of the issues the city faces when it comes to balancing the budget is that more residents live in the city than work there, reducing the taxes the city can bring in.

“We’re challenged here in San Jose because as a city with the worst jobs-to-housing balance of any major city in the country, we know we need more jobs in order to provide services,” Liccardo said at a community event on Saturday. “On the other hand, there a lot of folks who are pretty fed up with growth, and we understand why they are.”

Liccardo will lay out his priorities for the city’s 2018-19 city budget in mid-March, but before then he’s using this website to see where residents would like the city to focus its spending. Around 40 San Jose residents listened to Liccardo as he walked them through last year’s budget, explained the breakdown of city funds, and discussed some of the budget constraints at the Mayfair Community Center over the weekend.

San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo directs residents to a new website where they can tell the city how they would build a city budget.
San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo directs residents to a new website where they can tell the city how they would build a city budget. (Alyssa Jeong Perry/KQED)

After his presentation, residents were on their own to craft their San Jose budget.

“I’m concerned about police funding. I know San Jose has had trouble with the police funding,” said South San Jose’s Kevin Kelleher. So he chose to give more money to police by cutting money for transportation, but he still ended up with a deficit of $3 million.

Liccardo says allowing residents to try to balance the budget themselves helps them understand the intricacies of running a city with restricted funding.

“We’re required to make trade-offs, as we do in life in our own personal budgets,” he said. “It’s important for us to really get a clear picture of priorities within that constrained budget rather than a wish list.”

When they’re done crafting their own San Jose budget online, residents can submit their proposals, giving Liccardo and his staff a picture of what the public would like to see done with city funds.

“It’s helpful to enable us to understand whether what we think the community wants is really what the community wants,” Liccardo said.

How to Get a Jump Start on Your Spring To-Do List

Spring ChecklistIn the winter months, there is only so much that can be done to improve your rental property buildings and their surrounding grounds. Especially if you live in a cold, snowy climate, the typical outdoor upkeep and spring upgrades will just have to wait until the snow melts.

You don’t have to waste this precious off-season time, however. Use the winter months to plan what you’ll be doing when the snow is gone so you can be ready as soon as the weather permits. Here are a few things to consider when kickstarting your spring checklist:

  1. Complete Those Unfinished Autumn Projects
    If there were things you didn’t get to before the weather chilled, now’s the time to make sure you’re preparing to pick them back up. Make a good list, take inventory of any tenant complaints or questions that have gone unresolved, and focus on addressing those first. While you might not be able to complete those things until the snow melts, you can certainly focus on creating a timeline, processing any proper paperwork, and gathering the necessary tools. The more prepared you are by the end of winter, the more quickly you’ll be able to tackle the important things when the weather is right.
  2. Check for Winter Damage
    It’s often that the perils of winter bring damage to buildings and other common areas. Whether it’s caused by extreme cold or heavy snow and ice, you’ll need to start carefully assessing everything that has been buried for weeks or even months. Determine whether there is any serious or significant damage that needs to be fixed immediately. If you spot serious issues, you may need to correct those things before you can get to your list of unfinished items from the fall. Reprioritizing in this way will help prevent any further damage and keep buildings and renters safe in the meantime.
  3. Gather The Right Tools and Supplies
    When you know what kinds of projects you’ll be undertaking, you can shift your focus to acquiring the right tools. It’s likely that your to-do list includes items from the previous fall, along with anything you’ve noted throughout the winter, and standard maintenance projects fit for the spring. Of course, there can also be surprise projects you’ll need to handle. It can be hard to have all the necessary supplies for something you aren’t prepared for – but looking back on your past winter-to-spring transitions can help. There will likely be common projects you’ve been repeating most spring seasons, and you can base your shopping based on those trends.
  4. Make A Plan With Your Team
    Preparation is not just about tools and supplies. You and your maintenance team also need to be prepared. Take stock of what you have to do and who you will need to get the job done. That way, you can hire new people, if necessary, and get in touch with the right people who may work part-time or on a seasonal basis. By having them available and ready when the snow melts, you won’t spend a lot of extra time trying to get people and things organized. Set a date to get started, and your team will be able to hit the ground running.Preparing your properties for spring doesn’t have to be difficult. It is, however, very important for property managers, renters, and owners. The more you organized you are during the winter months, the easier it will be come springtime. By the time the snow finally melts, you be armed with a plan for your strongest season yet.

13 cozy cabins nestled in the snow

A lit-up cabin in Finland's Lapland region

A cabin in the snow with the lights on is a beacon to coziness. (Photo: Iris van den Broek/Shutterstock)

There are few things more romantic than the notion of waiting out a snowfall inside a rustic cabin. Ensconced a warm wooden home, enjoying the fun of being indoors while showing Old Man Winter who’s the boss — a cozy, warm cabin is simply the best place to be.

But if a cabin isn’t in the cards for you, or you’re just nostalgic for winters gone by, take a peek at these cabins that blend so perfectly into the winter landscape.

(Photo: Sveter/Wikimedia Commons)

A cabin near Ulriken, the tallest of seven mountains that surround Bergen, Norway.

(Photo: Wonderlane/Wikimedia Commons)

Nothing says winter in Alaska like a heavy snowfall on Christmas.

(Photo: Rick Cooper/Wikimedia Commons)

Good luck getting to this Lake Tahoe cabin.

(Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

Or to these cabins in Mjølfjell, Norway.

(Photo: Joerg Koch/AFP/Getty Images)

Just a nice snowy forest scene near the German town of Wildbad Kreuth.

(Photo: Markus Aeschimann/flickr)

Sledding down this slope in Arosa, Switzerland, is probably a real thrill.

(Photo: Joseph/flickr)

Even the U.S. Forest Service can’t escape the snow, but these cabins in Juneau, Alaska, make it look so … hygge.

(Photo: Chris/flickr)

Given it’s the northernmost region of Finland, Lapland cabins are well-acquainted with snow.

(Photo: Dave_S./flickr)

It turns out the cabins in southern areas of Finland, like this one in Selkie, are used to snow, too.

(Photo: Sky Cinema/Shutterstock)

Snow and sea are sights to behold at this Swedish cabin perched near the Baltic Sea.

(Photo: ForestWander/Wikimedia Commons)

This rustic cabin is a sanctuary during a storm in West Virginia.

(Photo: Grigvovan/Shutterstock)

A lodge-like cabin seemed like a good place to beat the winter in Sortavala, Russia.

(Photo: Marie Linner/Shutterstock)

It’s hard to miss this black cabin in Trysil, Norway, even during a snowstorm.

Fed Slaps Unusual Penalty On Wells Fargo Following ‘Widespread Consumer Abuses’

The Fed restricted Wells Fargo’s growth and called for the replacement of four board members following a widespread scandal that saw millions of fake accounts opened. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

In a rare move, the Federal Reserve announced Friday that it is restricting Wells Fargo’s growth and demanding the replacement of four board members in response to “widespread consumer abuses and compliance breakdowns” at the bank.

“Until the firm makes sufficient improvements, it will be restricted from growing any larger than its total asset size as of the end of 2017,” the Fed said in a statement. This is first time the Fed has placed a cap on the overall growth of a firm.

Wells Fargo says it has $1.9 trillion in assets.

The move to snuff its growth comes after the bank admitted in 2016 to creating potentially millions of fake bank accounts at the expense of unsuspecting customers.

NPR’s Chris Arnold has reported a “toxic high-pressure sales culture at the bank” drove workers to dupe consumers all while helping the bank’s bottom line.

The Fed said Friday that Wells Fargo’s business strategy prioritized its own growth at the expense of risk management resulting in compliance breakdowns. It is ordering the bank to “improve its governance and risk management processes, including strengthening the effectiveness of oversight by its board of directors.”

In the meantime, Wells Fargo is permitted to continue accepting customer deposits and make consumer loans, the Fed said.

Wells Fargo said complying with the consent order is its number one priority and has already taken steps get there. It plans to present a plan for improvement to the Fed within two months.

CEO Tim Sloan said in a statement, “Although one part of the consent order restricts our company’s asset growth, we remain financially strong and flexible and are confident we can fully serve your needs.”

But the bank estimated that its total earnings could drop by as much as $400 million this year.

The move represents Fed Chair Janet Yellen’s swan song. Saturday is her last day as head of the Fed when she steps down to make way for Jerome Powell, who takes over on Monday.

“We cannot tolerate pervasive and persistent misconduct at any bank and the consumers harmed by Wells Fargo expect that robust and comprehensive reforms will be put in place to make certain that the abuses do not occur again,” Yellen said in a statement.

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