Mistakes are easy to make when you are managing your own property instead of hiring a professional property manager. We are going to share the four biggest mistakes that we have seen self managers make, and perhaps it will help you decide whether you want to try to do it on your own, or reach out to an expert to take care of things. 

Legal Knowledge

There are different laws for different states, and one of the greatest mistakes made by self managers is not knowing those laws. You have to pay attention to city ordinances, county regulations and of course federal laws. There are housing codes and fair housing laws to stay on top of. Fair housing tends to be one of the most frequently violated laws in property management. You’re also required to follow the mandates of the Attorney General in both North Carolina and South Carolina. A lot of homeowners don’t know these laws; they don’t know that in North Carolina there is a Tenant Deposit Act they have to follow whether they use a management company or not. When you rent out your house, you have to put that security deposit in an escrow account that is titled “escrow.” You have to keep the accounting and be able to show what has been taken out and why. Lots of self managers get confused about whether you can deduct normal wear and tear from the security deposit. In North Carolina, you cannot do that but in South Carolina you can.

Understanding what you can and cannot do and paying attention to the strict time period are important parts of managing property. You have to return the security deposit in 30 days. You might not know these things and you might not have the time to learn them. When you don’t have a real estate license and you’re not taking continuing education classes and staying involved with the Realtors Association, it can be hard to access this information. We are attending seminars and meetings and conferences all the time, so we have a lot more information at our fingertips than a regular homeowner who has other things to do.

Pricing and Marketability

Property managers really know the area that your house is in and we have a good sense of how the rental market has been performing. A lot of times, a homeowner will think their house is worth more than the neighbor’s house because it has certain features that the neighbor’s house doesn’t. You have to look at the entire neighborhood and compare houses that are very similar to your own. Property managers have access to the Multiple Listing Service (MLS), which means we can see all of the homes available in the area. That information stays on the site forever, so we can compare what amenities and upgrades were added to a home over the years to bring it more value.

Our extensive knowledge about the market and our experience pricing rental homes gives property managers an edge in ensuring your home is advertised with the right price. We know the market area and we know the neighborhoods. Pricing is a balancing act. You have to price it right at the right time so it doesn’t sit vacant too long. You don’t want to underprice it either because then you aren’t maximizing your profits. It might be hard for self managers to see the trends in the market and understand why you should charge $50 more or take the price down just a bit after it’s been on the market for a few weeks without anyone interested in it.

Security Deposit

North Carolina is a tenant-friendly state, and the laws regarding security deposits demonstrate that. You cannot charge anything out of the security deposit that pertains to normal wear and tear, even if damage is caused related to wear and tear. There is no real definition of wear and tear and there are no guidelines or bullets provided on how a property manager should distinguish wear and tear from damage. It’s easy for a self manager to make mistakes. You won’t be told when you can charge and when you can’t. That comes with experience. A property manager handling 20 move outs per month and returning those security deposits routinely will know what is normal wear and tear and what is tenant damage. We know what to take out of the security deposit and what the property owner will have to pay for. This is experience that comes from exposure.

The tenant’s security deposit has to be held in escrow. You cannot use it or mingle it with your own personal funds. When the tenant moves out, you have to return it within 30 days. If you aren’t able to do that, send them a letter explaining that you are still assessing the damage to the house, and you will send the deposit as soon as that is done. Be careful about what and how you charge. If you tell them you are charging $500 from the $1,000 security deposit, they are going to push back. First of all, $500 is a lot of money for touch up paint and second, unless there is nail polish or marker on the walls, touching up the paint is simple wear and tear. Scuffs from moving or hanging pictures are considered the owner’s responsibility, and if tenants think you improperly withheld money from the security deposit, they can file a lawsuit or a complaint.

Turn Key Process

Turn key means quickly getting your property ready for a new tenant when an existing tenant moves out. Once the current tenant leaves, you return the security deposit, which can happen within just a few days, depending on what needs to be done at the property. Then, you check out the property. Many self managers think that new carpet and new paint is required every single time you move from one tenant to the next. It’s not. As long as the carpet is clean and looks good, you can keep it for the next tenant.

What you don’t want is carpet or flooring that is damaged, walls that have giant marks or other damage and missing appliances. These are the things you do need to address before a new tenant moves in. We always recommend painting your walls a neutral color. Not everyone is going to want purple walls. Clean the carpets if you’re not going to replace them and just make sure the place is ready.

Waiting on contractors is often a problem for self managers. Property managers have access to contractors that can fix your property quickly and affordably. You always want to use vendors who are licensed and insured. If the person painting your house falls and hurts himself and he isn’t insured, you are going to be liable. Our vendors give us competitive pricing because of the volume of work we give them. We don’t have to haggle or ask for better prices, we get them right away. That’s a huge advantage property managers have.

These are just a few of the mistakes that self managers make. They are bound to happen due to a simple lack of knowledge and experience. If you have any questions, please contact us at Carolinas Metro Realty.

Ready to talk to a Charlotte Property Management Professional?

Call or text us at (704) 343-8842 during business hours.

We guarantee that a team member will be on the other end to answer any questions you may have.

APPLICANT RESOURCES

We appreciate your interest in our available homes for lease offered by Carolinas Metro Realty. In order to qualify for one of our rental properties you must submit a rental application. The rental application must be completed by each person age 18 years and older who will occupy the property. Applicants are required to complete the application in its entirety and submit all specified documents.

Leases are granted on a first-approved application basis. CMR will process your application and notify you if you qualify to lease the desired property. Allow two business days for the rental application to be processed. If any additional information is needed a representative will contact you.

Carolinas Metro Realty does not guarantee the availability of any property and will not reserve or hold property. All our properties will remain available for lease until a holding fee has been remitted and a lease document is signed.

QUALIFICATIONS

CMR performs background examinations that include, but are not limited to, the following: credit score; employment verification; criminal records and rental history.

Each adult (over 18 years of age) applicant must have a valid Social Security Number and photo ID
Applicants must have verifiable monthly income of three times (3x) the monthly rental rate
Any non-employment income such as child support must be guaranteed and proven with official documentation
A full credit report will be processed and evaluated to be approved
The last two, at minimum, rental verifications will be requested. Each must show rent payments were made on time and home was left in an acceptable condition.
Prior evictions must be paid off and cannot be in the last 7 years

WHAT WOULD CAUSE AN AUTOMATIC DECLINE?

Evictions
Unpaid balances due to Landlords
Unpaid utility bills
Insufficient income
Non-discharged bankruptcies
Unsatisfactory rental references
The following felonies within the last 7 years:

1. Illegal manufacture or distribution of controlled substances

2. Felonies that resulted in bodily harm or intentional damage or destruction of property

3. Sexual offenses of any kind for any time period

OWNER FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS


Can CMR sell my rental house or apartment?

Yes, we have a full-time sales department and a working relationship with many Realtors® in the local market. We also facilitate sales between the property owner and the tenant.

Do I have to allow pets in my rental property?

Each property owner can decide to accept or deny pets.

How can CMR help me if I'm thinking about purchasing investment property?

CMR works with investors to help identify investment residential and commercial properties based on their personalized needs. Once property is selected, our real estate brokers will help negotiate contracts for the purchase or lease of the property, securing the most beneficial terms. We will handle all the contracts, inspections and other details of the purchase on behalf of our investors and assist with leasing services after property is acquired. Please contact our team for additional information.

How does CMR market vacancies?

www.CarolinasMetro.com

All CMR agent sites such as: 123CharlotteHomes.com www.carolinahome.com www.Realtor.com www.Zillow.com

In Office Services such as: Lead Management Vacancy Flyers Referrals

How does Lease with option to purchase works and what is required?

A contract which gives one the right to lease property at a certain sum with the option to purchase at a future date.

When a person rents with an option to buy, he or she rents a home from its owner and lives in the home as a tenant until he or she exercises the option to purchase the home and become the owner.

A contract to lease with an option to buy, called a lease purchase or lease option agreement, is a typical rental agreement but includes the option provision. Usually, the option agreement allows the renter to purchase the home at any time or at certain time intervals (after three years of paying timely rent, for example) by serving the owner of the home with written notice of his intent to exercise the option. Generally, the option agreement also gives the renter the right of first refusal, which means that the owner of the house cannot sell it to a third party unless the renter has first been offered and declined to exercise the option to buy. Typically, upon signing the contract, the renter must pay the owner a non-refundable lease option deposit. The option can be drafted so that there is only certain time period during which it can be exercised (30 days after the first of the year, for instance) or so that it expires completely after a period of years.

There are many advantages to leasing with an option to purchase for both the buyer and the seller. Because the terms of a lease purchase agreement typically apply some rent paid to the cost of purchasing the home, the seller is essentially financing the purchase of the home. This allows the buyer to purchase a house without an extensive credit and finance check, and the seller to sell her home quickly and still get all or nearly all of her asking price (this is especially beneficial during a sluggish market).

Depending on the market, the buyer can negotiate lower rent (in exchange for making higher mortgage payment later) or the seller can negotiate higher rent because he is basically financing a purchase. (This aspect really depends on the negotiating skills of the respective parties). As well, such a contract is relatively risk-free for both sides. The first right of refusal clause prevents the owner from selling the house out from under the renter. The option deposit and time limits allow the owner to still make a sale if the renter is unable or unwilling to purchase the home.

How much rent can I get for my house/condo/duplex/apartment?

Rental rates are directly related to competing units in the immediate area and other factors. Any of our Property Investment Managers will be glad to assist with this very important question via phone (704-405-0634) or e-mail ManagementInquiry@CarolinasMetro.com.

What is CMR's Collection Procedures?

Majority of our properties have rent due on the 1st of the month and late on the 6th. First notices are mailed on the 6th of each month or next business day. Second notices are mailed on the 10th of each month or next business day. With prior owner’s approval, court cases are initiated against all delinquent residents on the 21st of each month. Note that due to our rigorous screening and consistent collection procedures, evictions are rare at CMR.

When does an owner get his/her check?

You will not have to wait on your monthly rental proceeds; we make every effort to insure your funds are received no later than the 15th of the current month. Direct deposit of an owner’s monthly check is available at no additional charge. In addition, the property owner will receive an itemized accounting statement for each property and invoices we paid that month on owner’s behalf.

Who holds the Security Deposit(s)?

N.C. General Statutes require that security deposits be segregated from other funds and held in a separate escrow account in a bank or savings & loan. CMR maintains all security deposits in a separate escrow account and is the fiduciary under N.C. General Statutes. The security deposit cannot be disbursed to anyone until a resident vacates and then it can only be disbursed to either the owner or the previous resident. Please refer to our Management Agreement for more complete details regarding security deposit procedures.

Why should I hire a professional property management company to manage my rental property?

If you lack the time or expertise needed for day-to-day management of your commercial or residential real estate investments, an expert Property Manager can help you.

A PROPERTY MANAGEMENT COMPANY CAN HELP YOU: Market your rental property to minimize vacancies and maximize income (Property managers make their livings because they know the rental market, what comparable properties are renting for, and what potential renters are willing to pay for a rental property. They have the marketing knowledge to reach potential renters and they have the experience and resources to weed out potential bad renters);

Fill vacancies with the best possible tenants;

Maintain and keep your rental property in good condition (link: Property managers handle and coordinate routine repairs as well as emergency repairs. They have the experience to avoid unnecessary repairs to save you money);

Track income and expenses to determine profitability;

Negotiate rental agreements;

Collect rent and track tenant deposits;

Comply with federal, state and local laws; and

Respond to tenant requests and deal with problem tenants

In short, Property Managers help you make the most from your rental property and they can save you time, money, and headache.

TENANT RESOURCES


CMR strives to provide an extensive list of resident services to meet the different needs of individual residents in all of our units.

Please report non-emergency maintenance issues via our online form or phone (704) 405-0634 or fax (704) 665-5826. Messages left via voicemail after-hours will be returned the next business day. Please include your daytime phone number with all maintenance requests.

ELECTRICITY

Duke Power Company 526 South Church Street Charlotte, N.C. 28202

Useful Links

  • 24-hour Customer Service Line: 704-594-9400
  • Deposit required for connection. Deposits vary depending on credit history and type of service. Deposit may be waived with good credit and/or a letter from a previous power company.
  • To turn on new service (Open An Account): Click here
  • To transfer service: Click here
  • To close an account: Click here
  • Automated Payment Plan (APP): Click here or call 704-594-9400
  • Equal Payment Plan (EPP): Click here or call 704-594-9400
  • Payment Locations (for payments only): Click here

NATURAL GAS

Piedmont Natural Gas Company, Inc. 4339 South Tryon Street Charlotte, N.C. 28217

Useful Links

  • 24-hour Customer Information Center: 704-525-3882 or 1-800-752-7504
  • Deposit required and varies depending on type of service and anticipated usage.
  • To turn on new service (Open An Account): Click here
  • To transfer service: Click here
  • To close an account: Click here
  • Automated Payment Plan (APP): Click here or call 704-594-9400
  • Equal Payment Plan (EPP): Click here or call 704-594-9400
  • Payment Locations (for payments only): Click here

WATER & SEWER

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Utilities Department (CMUD) 600 East Fourth Street Charlotte, N.C. 28202

Useful Links

  • Customer Service: 8 am to 6 pm: 704-336-2211
  • Connection fee of $32.50 will appear on your first month’s bill.
  • Online New Service Request: Click here
  • Automated Payment Plan (APP): Click here

TELEPHONE

Local telephone service is primarily provided by Bell South. Other telephone companies to operate in the local market. See the Customer Guide section of any local phone book for a complete list of Local Service Providers.

Bell South 200 S. College Street Charlotte, N.C. 28202 Sales, billing & service: 704-780-2355 or 1-800-767-2355 24-hour Automated Customer Service: 704-780-2500

There is no deposit. However, there will be a connection fee based on the type of service and it will appear on your first month’s bill. You will need to select a long distance carrier separately.

Useful Links

  • Ordering Options Online: Click here
  • DSL and Dial-Up Internet Access: Click here
  • Bell South also provides an Automated Payments service, you will be required to register to use this option: Click here

CABLE TV

The primary cable television provider is Time Warner Cable but there are several other providers.

Time Warner Cable 316 East Morehead St. Charlotte, N.C. 28202 Customer Service: 704-377-9600

There will be an installation fee and first month’s charge to be paid at the time of hookup. Installation is By Appointment Only. Charges vary depending on the type of service.

Useful Links

GARBAGE COLLECTION

Solid Waste Services Department City of Charlotte 100 Ott Street Charlotte, N.C. 28205 Customer Service: 704-336-2673

Within the city limits, garbage collection is included in city property taxes. Roll-out & recycling contains are provided by the City and are rolled or placed at the curb once a week. Information on the day of the week for pickup is available through Customer Service. Apartments and some condominiums typically have dumpsters onsite.

Useful Links

  • Collection Schedule, Recycling, Bulky Items, Yard Waste, Dead Animals & FAQs: Click here
  • For information about when your garbage (inside the City limits) will be picked up, click here for the current Collection Schedule Zone Map.

DRIVER'S LICENSE & VEHICLE REGISTRATION

Useful Links

  • N. C. Dept. of Motor Vehicles
  • 1100 New Bern Ave
  • Raleigh, N.C. 27699
  • 24-hour Customer Service Line: 919-715-7000
  • NC Dept of Motor Vehicles Newcomers Guide: Click here
  • NC Dept of Motor Vehicles Office Locations: Click here

DRIVER LICENSE

  • New to North Carolina: Click here
  • Moving Within North Carolina: Drivers must notify the DMV of all address changes within 60 days after the change occurs. You must visit a driver license office within the time period to obtain a duplicate license reflecting your new address. Click herefor a list of the DMV offices.

VEHICLE REGISTRATION

  • New to North Carolina: Click here
  • Moving Within North Carolina: You must inform the NC DMV of a change of address within 60 days. The Change of Address Form (MVR-24A) is available online. Just Click here for a copy.

CHANGE OF ADDRESS

U.S. Postal Service

Useful Links

Tenant FAQs

Are there any utilities included in the rent?

Although there are exceptions, utilities are the responsibility of the tenant.

Can I install a fence?

Possibly, but this requires our prior approval. In addition to prior approval, it is also important to obtain the proper permits and inspections.

Can I paint, hang wallpaper?

Perhaps, however, you will need our approval prior to beginning any project. You may be required to return the property to its original condition upon move out.

Can I pay my rent online?

Yes you can! Payment can be made from your bank savings or checking account and should be done at least 48 hours prior to payment due date. Login information and your password will be emailed to you by move-in date.

How do I call if I have a maintenance issue?

You can call our office at 704-405-0634, or you can make a maintenance request online through the TENANT PORTAL. We do monitor phone calls and emails nights and weekends in case of emergencies. All maintenance issues must go through our office. If you call a repairman yourself, you will not be reimbursed.

My children have been begging me for a pet?

When I signed the lease it said no pets allowed. What do I do? It depends on whether pets are allowed on the property. It could be as simple as paying the pet fee and amending your lease. Call our office to discuss. 704-405-0634.

My job is transferring me to another state, but I still have 6 months on my lease. What do I do?

Unfortunately, you are responsible for making rental payments through the end of the lease. However, if we are able to find a new tenant, then you can be released from further obligation.

My lease is up and I'm moving out. What do I need to do?

You are expected to leave the property in the same or better condition it was in when you moved in. At the minimum, you will need to make sure that you have cleaned the kitchen (including appliances and countertops) and bathrooms, that you have swept and mopped floors, carpets are vacuumed, and that all trash has been removed from the property. If carpets are dirty, you will need to have them cleaned. If you have painted, you may need to return them to their original color. Before painting, be sure to patch any holes in the walls caused by hanging pictures, and/or any other damaged areas. Doing these things will help us in returning your security deposit more quickly.

My lease is up in 3 months, but I love living here! Is it possible to extend my lease?

In most cases, the answer is yes! In most cases, it is possible to sign a new lease. New terms may apply.

My sister and her husband are splitting up. It's OK for her to move in, right

Typically your lease states that only persons that have signed the lease and their children may occupy the premises without prior approval. In this case, an additional person may be allowed, but we will need to do criminal screening on anyone over the age of 18.

When will I receive my deposit?

Your security deposit will be returned to you within 30 days of moving out of the property, less any cost of repairs. If there are damages to the property, then the cost of repairs will be deducted before returning the balance to you. You cannot skip paying last month’s rent and use your security deposit for payment.

Who takes care of the lawn?

In most cases, lawn care is the responsibility of the tenant. Grass must not be allowed to become unsightly. Any penalties or assessments caused by tenant’s failure to keep the lawn and landscaping properly maintained will be passed along to the tenant.

 

John recently joined Gordon Property Management’s maintenance team. He works with Alen in repairing and maintaining residential real estate for GPM’s clients.

Messages for John can be left with Nanette at (415) 554-8812 x 202 or by Email: maintenance@gpmsf.com

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