Frequently Asked Questions - for Owners
We receive a lot of questions about our business and how we operate -- often from property owners shopping for a property management company. As landlords ourselves who have hired property management companies in the past, we provide some suggestions on what to look for in a good property management company.
You might be surprised by some of our suggestions — like the fact that property management fees are barely relevant to the discussion!
Below are some of the more frequently asked questions we receive.
Q: Why choose Full Service Property Management, PLLC?
A: Because we are Seattle's premier property management firm! We have some very unique qualities other companies do not possess. Many of our staff our landlords themselves. We treat each property as if it is our own. With over 30+ years "in the trenches", you gain the benefit of not having to relearn expensive lessons. We relieve the stress of managing rentals AND deliver higher profitability to you while maintaining and increasing asset value. As a local company with a local interest, we stay atop of market changes for you.
Q: Do you offer fee discounts for multiple properties or larger buildings?
A: Yes. Our fee structure is designed to be very competitive and flexible for various situations.
Q: How much will my property rent for??
A: That is a very good question. We not only perform a rigorous comparative market analysis (CMA) for your property, we go one step further. We merge data from the most recent Census Bureau to develop a strategic leasing plan that maximizes the rent while reducing vacancy time. You can request a free, no-obligation, rental valuation estimate from us as well.
Q: How do you screen tenants?
A: Because tenant screening is such a critical step, we apply a thorough, proprietary, tenant screening process to each applicant. We run each application through a 50-state database for credit, civil, and criminal complaints. But because this process is so critical to our operations, we go two steps further. First, we rely heavily upon the personal interview during the showing of the property. While the prospect is checking out the house, we are checking them out! Second, we personally verify previous and/or current landlords. This is a key step as it allows us to delve into the applicant's background deeper than just getting an 'Accept' or 'Decline' from a computer model. We also verify income with pay stubs or other documentation. We have a full list of tenant screening criteria we base our decision on. We do not accept Section 8 vouchers for several good reasons, none of them related to tenants.
Q: How long will it take to lease up my property?
A: That is impossible to say. Each property is unique in its location, amenities, and features it offers. In addition, market conditions will also dictate lease up times. 2-6 weeks is a good starting point, but in no way represents what may actually be the time required for your property. We've had property get rented in much less — and much more — time than that! If a property remains vacant for very long, we will contact you to discuss options. Pricing your property competitively and having it in the best condition possible for showing are crucial to effective marketing.
Q: How long does it take to turnover a property?
It takes a week at a minimum to do the make ready inspection, clean the home, and clean the carpets. Additional repairs could lengthen that time.
Q: Who pay utilities?
In a house the tenant is responsible for all utilities. Water will stay with the property. We ask the owner to have a copy of the water bill sent to the property address for the tenants to pay and another copy sent to the owner. If the owner sees a past due balance we ask to be notified immediatyely.
In a multi-family property such as apartment, condo, or townhome where utilities may be included in HOA dues we charge a monthly utility surcharge in addition to the rent to cover the cost of utiltiies.
Q: Can you help with staging of my property?
A: Yes, we do that all the time. The presentation of your property is a key element in getting it rented quickly and at top dollar.
Q: How do you advertise? Who pays for it?
A: We use the Internet extensively. We employ search engines to drive prospects to our website, and we advertise our vacant properties on several Internet-based rental listing services such as Craigslist and Zillow. (Our advertising strategies are fully described here.) We also use yard signs to capture residents in the local area. These advertising strategies are all included free to owners and landlords. If you wish to place your property in either newspaper classifieds or fee-based Internet rental sites, we can do so and pass the fee through to you.
Q: Should I allow pets, smoking, and children?
A: We love pets -- we just aren't convinced all tenants know how to care for a pet inside. For that reason we leave that decision up to each owner. We typically advise owners that if there is carpet in the dwelling to not allow pets unless the carpet is near the end of its useful life where replacement is imminent. If pets are allowed, we collect pet rent and a bump in the security deposit.
We typically permit a "limited smoking policy" that permits the Tenants to smoke outside the home/unit. But ultimately the choice is yours and we will implement whatever policy you prefer.
Children, or family size, is a protected class under Fair Housing Laws. As such we do not (nor cannot) discriminate based on family structure or size. We are a fair and honest management company that seeks to find the best possible candidate regardless of family size or other protected classes.
Q: What are service animals?
A: Service animals are a relatively new class of occupant that the law in Washington has only vaguely defined. Some people with a physical or mental disability have found that a service animal helps them with their condition. The law has gone one step further by saying that a landlord cannot discriminate against someone with a service animal. In short, the animal is not technically a "pet" and must be treated the same as any other occupant.
Q: What happens if the rent is not received on time?
A: If rent has not been paid by the 5th then we give the tenant a call or email. If we do not hear from them then we issue a 3-day Pay Rent or Vacate Notice. After 3 days is up, if the rent is still not paid, we begin eviction proceedings. We work diligently with our tenants to avoid eviction and get tenants with past due rent on a repayment plan. Sometimes if the rent is not paid on time then you, the owner or landlord, may not receive a check for that month. For that reason we recommend Owners and Landlords keep an extra month's mortgage payment in their bank account.
Q: What happens if the tenants break the lease?
A: We have written in our lease that Tenants who break their lesae will forfeit their security deposit and one month's rent. Under the WA State Landlord-Tenant Act, the Tenant is also responsible for all costs in re-leasing the property, including any unpaid rent due for the remaining time on the lease, plus any costs associated with re-leasing the property, including commissions and advertising costs.
Q: How are security deposits handled?
A: Security deposits are held by us in a trust account. When the tenant moves out, we retain that portion of the deposit necessary to restore the property into a 'rentable condition' except for normal wear and tear. Any balance is returned to the tenant. 'Normal wear and tear' is a vague term that the courts have typically danced around. Our appraoch is to treat everyone fairly. If the tenant makes a concerted effort to clean up after themselves and respect the property then we will often give them the benefit of teh doubt when it comes to what is 'normal' wear and tear.
Q: Can you help me with my difficult tenants?
A: Most certainly. We have helped many landlords get out of a sticky situation with a tenant. With over 30 years experience, we are still seeing new things. But we have developed skill sets we can apply to most situations so things don't get ugly.
Q: When can I expect my check and monthly reports?
A: We have two methods of funds transfer. Checks, or ACH bank transfers, go out usually on the 7th of each month, depending on weekends. Expect ACH bank transfers to take 3-4 days to clear. We email monthly reports at the same time. We also post an archived copy of each report to your private, secure account on our website.
Q: How do you handle insurance?
A: We ask that Full Service Property Management, PLLC be added as an additional insured on the property's landlord insurance policy. There is typically no extra charge for doing this.
Q: How is maintenance of the property handled?
A: We take the maintenance of our properties very seriously. We have internalized the maintenance with our own maintenance division in order to control both quality and cost. Our local maintenance staff is trained on how to make repairs quickly and efficiently, and which materials to use to achieve the best results. If the job is outside our capability then we will hire a contractor and supervise their work. However, you are not required to use us. You can do the work yourself or hire anyone you want. With any repair over $300 we get your approval first before proceeding.
Q: Is the $300 retainage every month?
A: No. This is a rolling balance to cover any incidental costs that may come up over the course of the month.
Q: Do you offer properties for sale?
A: Yes. We have experienced realtors on staff who can help you through the entire sale process. Simply call or email us and we will have someone contact you.
If you like what you read then contact us for a free consultation on how we can best service your property management needs.