Below are answers to some of the most commonly asked questions, and information needed to make this process go as smoothly as possible for new owner-clients.
CLEANING – Tenants are entitled to a clean home upon taking occupancy. Oregon law states that when the carpets are professionally cleaned upon a move-in the tenant’s security deposit can be charged for cleaning upon the move-out. We ask that our owners please have the home and carpets professionally cleaned when vacated and hiring us. We can arrange to have the work done, as long as we have funds in the account to pay the bills as they arrive.
EVICTIONS – One of Owner’s biggest fears can be facing a contentious eviction process. While there are a few “nightmare” cases, the majority of the time a For Cause termination is simply due to a change in the Tenants’ fortunes, and they can no longer afford the rent. Through our Eviction Protection program, we contract with specialized attorneys to handle the process of filing the proper notice, the court appearance and the final settlement.
FEES – In 2010 Oregon law changed so that owners can no longer charge non-refundable fees to tenants, with very specific and limited exception which are for: smoke detector tampering, application to rent, pet waste and trash clean-up, parking infractions, and return checks and pet infractions. Additionally, the maximum amount for these fees is set by law. Non-refundable cleaning fees are not allowed. One exception that recently passed through our lobbying efforts in 2014 is that condominium owners with HOA’s that require “move-in/move-out” fees may now be passed on to the tenants.
KEYS – We will need one key for our office to show the home, and two keys for a new tenant. Please leave the tenant’s keys and any garage door openers in a kitchen drawer upon vacating. If extra keys can’t be made before vacating, we will send a locksmith to the home and charge the account. To provide security, we will send a locksmith to re-key the locks after the first tenant vacates and between subsequent tenants. If there are any deadbolts requiring a key on the interior side of the door, we would like to have these replaced with the single-key type of deadbolt so tenants can escape in a fire without having to locate the keys in an emergency exit.
HOW OWNERS GET PAID – We require, initially, $500 to deposit into the Client Trust Account. If owners request paid advertising (i.e. Oregonian, or high-end search engine services), we will pay those charges when received in our office out of the funds in the account. Paid advertising is rarely necessary, and may only be required for one weekend, or several, depending on how fast the home rents. Once an applicant is approved to rent the home, we require a “Deposit to Hold” security deposit from the applicant within 24 hours to hold the home until they move in. The security deposit is held in our Security Deposit Trust Account until the tenant vacates.
On-Or-Before 20th of each month, we will direct deposit the balance in the Owner’s account with The Garcia Group after retaining a minimum $500 balance. Also, we will provide access to the Owner Portal, which will give access to the Monthly Owner Statements by sending out a secured email link.
Please remember, expenses are paid out of the Owner’s account when incurred. We do not charge against a tenant’s security deposit until 30 days after the tenant has vacated if the charge is an non-reimbursed tenant responsibility.
LANDSCAPING -With regards to the care of landscaping, we HIGHLY recommend using a yard maintenance service that is paid for by the homeowner. Even though the tenant agrees in the rental agreement to mow, weed and water the landscaping, our experience has been the courts routinely throw out claims against tenants for yard care. Neighbors appreciate the look of a clean yard. Also, hiring a professional yard care maintenance service limits the risk of liability claims. Offering a “break in rent” to tenants to do the yard can have negative consequences, including Workman’s Comp violations if there is an accident. Thus, we suggest not to have tenants attempting to maintain the nice shrubbery and trees, (except to water).
LEAVING PERSONAL ITEMS – It is best if all of personal items are removed upon vacating, as we cannot be responsible for these. If the tenants leave items behind as well, and it becomes impossible to tell which items belong to the owner of the home and which belong to the tenant, or if there are damages, when and how they occurred.
MAINTENANCE AND REPAIRS – Our company does employ a part time maintenance coordinator internally who does misc handyman jobs. However, the vast majority of all work is contracted out. With all of the properties under our care, it is not practical to use different contractors for different homes. We work very closely with many companies on a daily basis, and although we do not shop for the cheapest price, we understand what we should be paying for on the scope of work performed. Our vendors are licensed and bonded and carry liability insurance naming us as additionally insured.
The Garcia Group also employs a professional 24/7 tenant maintenance hotline staffed by operators who are trained to listen to repair requests and trouble shoot issues before submitting any work orders. This has greatly reduced the incidents of needless trade calls.
We prefer to limit our maintenance and repair service to solving problems that occur while the home is under our care (as opposed to work done for general remodeling). As such, The Garcia Group bills a 10% oversight charge for repairs and maintenance work contracted through our office when exceeding $1,500 in a calendar month.
PRO-RATED RENTS – When a new tenant moves in on a date that is mid-month, we still require them to pay a full month’s rent. Then, in the following month, they pay for “pro-rated days of occupancy” from that prior month. We do this is to seek their higher level of commitment at the move-in, and (more practically) so that as the rental fee is charged to the Owner’s account, it still allows the Owner to receive partial income for that first month’s tenancy. Be advised, however, that the “net affect” of this policy is that the Owner has 2 months of less than full rental income, which is finally balanced out on the 3rd month once the commissions and pro-rations have run out their course.
SCREENING TENANTS Our experience has shown that many landlords are simply not familiar or up-to-date with local, state and federal guidelines on screening applicants to rent. HUD requirements are straight forward when applied universally across the board. Trouble occurs when random (even well intentioned) exceptions are imposed. Each adult is screened for income, credit, rental history and criminal background to the degree law allows. The Garcia Group screens all applications for rent under pre-established guidelines that are found on our website.
SECURITY SYSTEMS – A growing number of security companies are not allowing tenants to hold contracts for security systems, but instead, the contract must be in the homeowner’s name. Many owners have chosen to disconnect the security system completely and not offer its use with the rental of the home. NOTE: Any adjustments made retroactively should be in accordance with the local fire district codes. We do not have the expertise or knowledge to give advice on particular ordinances and regulations.
SMOKE ALARMS CARBON MONOXIDE (C0) ALARMS All smoke alarms must have a hush feature, and if battery operated, the battery must be a ten year lithium ion battery. CO detectors are required in residences with fire places, gas heat or attached garages. Both types of detectors must be on all levels of a house, including unfinished basements. If they are not currently in place, we will need to install them before we move the first tenant in to protect all parties, including the homeowner.
UTILITIES Electricity, natural gas, garbage, water and sewer stay in the Owner’s name and ON until the home is rented and cancel cable and telephone service upon vacating. Please provide us with the names and telephone numbers of all the utility companies serving the home. After the first tenant vacates, we can have the billings BETWEEN tenants come to The Garcia Group. If the home is located in Multnomah County, there is an ordinance stating the first 32 gallons of trash pickup is the responsibility of the owner of the rental. Please advise the utility companies to begin mailing the bills to us. They should remain in the Owner’s name and addressed as follows:
OWNER Name c/o The Garcia Group P.O. Box 668 West Linn, OR 97068
Please feel free to contact us at anytime regarding these issues or any other concerns that arise in the course of our management contract.