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Security Deposit Laws Landlords Should Know – Property Management Atlanta

Web Admin - Wednesday, February 08, 2017

A major part of Atlanta property management is the security deposit and all the Georgia laws pertaining to that deposit. Today, we’re addressing what you need to know. 

What Is a Security Deposit?

 
The security deposit is collected by the landlord or any of the Atlanta property management companies doing business in the area. We take this deposit from the tenant to protect against any damages that might occur during the occupancy.  

Property Management Companies in Atlanta

 
Anyone who manages properties for others must have a Georgia real estate license. The security deposit must be held in an escrow account registered with the Georgia Real Estate Commission. If a person individually or collectively with their spouse and children owns properties over 10 units, the same standard applies to how a security deposit is held. Or, you may post a certified bond with the clerk in the county where your properties are located. 

Using Security Deposit Funds 


This money is not to be used during occupancy. If the tenant incurs a late fee one month with a late rent payment, you cannot take it out of the security deposit. You also cannot use this money for any repairs and upgrades that you want to make to the property during occupancy. 

What Are Security Deposit Dates? 


Before collecting the security deposit, it’s important that the tenants have an opportunity to inspect the property for existing damage. Within 3 days of the termination of the lease, the landlord or the property manager is required to do a move out inspection. This determines the damage in excess of what was there at the time of move in. Provide an estimate of damages and costs within 5 days of that inspection, and make sure both parties sign off. Before and after photos can be helpful in avoiding disputes. Use the security deposit to pay for any damages responsible to the tenant. If money is still owed to the tenant, you have 30 days to return it. If you don’t follow the rules, you will forfeit any right to the security deposit, and you can be liable for up to 3 times the amount of that deposit. 

If you have any questions, please contact us at Solutions Realty Network.

Tenant Bankruptcy: Atlanta Property Management Tips for Landlords

Web Admin - Wednesday, February 01, 2017

Bankruptcies are not pleasant for anyone, but they can be specifically difficult for landlords. There are a few things that you need to be prepared for when your tenant declares bankruptcy.  

My Tenant Filed for Bankruptcy – Now What?

 
You might be in a situation where your tenant has declared bankruptcy, but left you out of the action and still continues to pay rent. That’s good news, but it doesn’t always happen that way. Sometimes, if there is a tenant bankruptcy, that tenant isn’t going to be able to continue paying rent. If this happens, you need to know how to deal with that.  

Automatic Stay and Bankruptcy Court


When your tenant declares bankruptcy, you’ll receive an automatic stay, and your first step will be to file for a lift stay. However, you cannot go straight to the magistrate for it. In Georgia, bankruptcy court supersedes the courts at the local level, which means you have to hire a lawyer for help with this process. That’s going to be more money out of your pocket, but unfortunately, you will need the lawyer. Property management companies in Atlanta can refer you and assist with this process. 

Rental Property Management Atlanta: Lift Stay 


Once you file for the lift stay, it will still take two to three months for you to remove the tenant and get your property back. Eventually, you will receive the lift stay from the courts and you can then file it in order to remove the tenant. This process will take four months minimum, but it can go six months to a year if things are not handled correctly by you, or if the tenant is trying to play games that you cannot figure out. You really need to use an Atlanta property manager to help you get through something like this. 

If you have any questions about what to do when you’re facing a tenant bankruptcy, please contact us at Solutions Realty Network, your Atlanta property management experts.

Why Landlords Should NOT Enter Tenant-Occupied Rentals – Atlanta Property Management

Web Admin - Wednesday, January 25, 2017


The landlord right of entry is a tricky subject to address, and one of the questions I hate talking about the most. An owner should not go into a tenant home, and there are a few good reasons for that. We will often have out of town owners call us to let us know that they will be here, and they want to show up at the house and walk through the property. I know it’s the owner’s house, but you hired an Atlanta property manager to protect you. You don’t want to go into that occupied home. It’s not a good idea.

 

Landlord’s Rights to Enter Property 


When a landlord enters a tenant occupied property, it causes a go-around opportunity for tenants. The tenants will try to create another relationship that we will have to manage. Tenants will go around us straight to the owner and try to get away with something that we might not allow. For example, if the landlord is physically present, it may be easy to give the okay on something that we have already prohibited in the lease. So, we don’t want that conflict of interest introduced to another party. It can be an issue. 

Atlanta Property Management Companies 


A house is an emotional investment for an owner, but not for a property manager. So, if an owner goes into the home and something seems a little off, it’s easy to become upset and emotional. That doesn’t happen with the property manager. We recommend that owners not have keys to the house for liability reasons. Make it a practice not to go into the house, and let the property manager handle it. Property management companies in Atlanta have things in place with documents and pictures so you know your house is in good shape. Let us handle it. 

If you have any questions about why you should not go into your tenant-occupied rental property, please contact us at Solutions Realty Network, your Atlanta property management experts. We’d be happy to tell you more about this.

A Day in the Life of a Leasing Agent... Answering the Crazy Questions

Solutions Realty Network - Monday, April 11, 2016

  

By Patty Middleton

It all starts when the phone rings, “Can I see the property now?”, “What do I need in order to move in?”, “Is this a safe neighborhood?”  These are just some of the questions that you will have to come up with answers for in a split second. How do you answer these questions and abide by the License laws, State laws, Fair Housing and Ethics? So, here are some of the crazy questions that I deal with on a regular basis every day:

  • Can I see the property now, like right now, I’m sitting in the driveway? Appointments are needed to keep some order in your day. You need to show property in order to lease it but you can’t be everywhere at once. Scheduling by area is important so that you are not running all over and backtracking all day. Try to schedule multiple appointments for the same property during the same time-frame. There’s not enough hours in the day and there’s just ONE of me!
  • What do I need in order to move in today, my moving truck is packed and ready to go since my landlord evicted me? This is based individually on your broker’s policies and procedures. It’s always a good idea to try to do a quick per-qualification with the potential leasee over the phone….Important questions to ask; “Do you have an open bankruptcy?”, “Do you have good rental history?”, “Does your income support the rental price?” You may or may not get straight answers from the leasee but at least you have made the attempt to get some answers up front.
  • Is this a safe neighborhood, I think I saw the house down the street on the news/would you live here? This is not a question we can answer but you have to say something. Advise them to do their due diligence and make their own evaluation of the neighborhood by visiting at different times on different days. Talk to the neighbors. Crime statistics can be obtained online or from the local police station.
  • I know this house rents for $1200 but do you think the owner will take $650.00? Really???  You need to protect your owner’s interests and make sure they receive fair market value for the property. If you priced the property correctly to start with, there shouldn’t be much room for adjustment.  Advise the potential leasee to check market rents in the area. Also, advise the owner that a potential leasee has made a lower offer to keep them informed of everything pertaining to their property. (Just for kicks)
  • I don’t like the carpet or the appliances, Do you think the owner can install brand new Stainless Steel appliances and re-carpet the entire house? This is something you should be prepared to answer, having already discussed any additional possible rehab with the owner.  You may have prior permission to do something that could potentially be a deal breaker. Always double check with the owner and never make any promises. Owners can be notorious for changing their minds.
  • Who is going to mow my grass, get rid of the ants or change my light bulbs? This is another question that should have an easy answer.  This should have been discussed prior to the owner signing the lease management agreement.   Your tenant lease should cover in detail all of the tenants responsibilities. This is our company policy, yours may vary. Make sure you know how to address this question as it pertains to the specific property before it becomes an issue.

 

At the end of the day being a leasing agent is a very rewarding job. You have made a difference in the lives of two families when you place a tenant. The tenant family has a new home and the owner has the security of a qualified tenant in their property.  After all the crazy questions and nonsense, I feel a sense of accomplishment and that I’ve made a difference. And that’s why I am a Leasing Agent who loves her job!

Leverage on Atlanta Home Investments: Why It’s the IDEAL Long Term Savings Plan

Solutions Realty Network - Wednesday, December 23, 2015
 

Today at Solutions Realty, we are finalizing our discussion about how owning rental property can be an IDEAL way to fund your retirement or pay for college education. We’ve used the acronym IDEAL, and today we’re talking about L – Leverage. 

Leverage can be used as an investment strategy when you use borrowed money to achieve greater returns. Let’s say you have $100,000 cash to invest. You can use that money to pay for one home. If that home nets $12,000 a year in rental income and appreciates at three percent, you will have netted $120,000 in 10 years and increased your net worth in appreciation by over $34,000. 

If you use that same $100,000 to put $20,000 down on five different homes valued at $100,000, and you finance the rest, each home will get you $6,000 a year in rental income. They will appreciate at the same three percent per year. In 10 years, those five rentals will net you $300,000 in rental income, and increase your net worth in appreciation by over $172,000. Leveraging increased cash flow by $180,000 over 10 years and increased net worth by over 400 percent or $138,000. In addition, the rental income is paying down your mortgages, and increasing your equity in all five of those properties. It’s important to remember that while our example shows leverage working for you, it can also work against you. 

Rental property is one of the few investments that can be leveraged. You don’t see banks lending money to people who want to buy stocks or mutual funds. This is one more reason that we call rental property the IDEAL savings plan. 

If you’d like to hear about the great deals available in the Atlanta rental market, please contact us at Solutions Realty Network today.

Equity & Appreciation from Investing in Atlanta Homes: Why it’s the IDEAL Long Term Savings Plan

Solutions Realty Network - Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Today, we are discussing part three of our blog series on why owning rental property is an IDEAL way to pay for college educations and to fund your retirement (Part 1, Part 2). We have been using the acronym IDEAL and in previous blogs, we talked about income and deductions and depreciation. Today, we’re discussing the E and A which stand for Equity and Appreciation. 


E is for Equity and A is for Appreciation

 
Equity is the difference between what you owe on a property and what it’s worth. Appreciation is the value of a property and the way it grows. If you have a loan on the property, remember that its entire value is appreciating, and not just the cash you put down. We’ll talk more about that with the next segment. 

Paying Down the Loan

 
Over time, the rental payments you’re collecting will pay down the loan on the property. That happens while the value is increasing. When you’re ready, you can cash out that equity by refinancing or sell the property. Refinancing a rental property is a non-taxable event and you get the bonus of having your interest payments being tax deductible. When you find yourself needing a sizeable chunk of cash, this is a good option for you. 

1031 Exchange

 
If not, set aside the monthly income for those college expenses as they come due. You can also consider a 1031 Exchange. This involves selling a property and re-investing in another property in order to avoid the capital gains tax. You may want to do this to upgrade a lower income rental or if your current property is finished appreciating. Many investors have also done this to buy a property for their student to live in while at college. You can rent those extra rooms out for additional income. 

There are some great deals to be found in the Atlanta market, and our property management will save you from the headaches that many people associate with owning rental property. Please contact us today at Solutions Realty Network, and we can help you get started.

HVAC for Dummies

Solutions Realty Network - Monday, December 14, 2015

HVAC for Dummies

By Marcie Turner

With cold weather creeping up on us, I decided to send a letter to all of our Clients regarding the maintenance of furnaces in their rental properties. In my opinion the letter was pretty standard offering a service of cleaning and inspecting of the HVAC system.

To my surprise, I received several responses from our Australian Clients asking questions such as “What is a furnace” and “Why does it need servicing” and “What does HVAC mean”. After a couple of emails and phone calls it became clearly evident that these folks were completely unaware of how we heat and cool our homes in the U.S. Most of them thought I was referring to a “Fireplace” or a “Portable Heater”.

Apparently the weather is so mild in Australia, that most people do not have a need for Central Heat and Air and are not really aware of what it is and how it works. Being from Georgia, this made me green with envy. I could just imagine opening my power bill in the middle of July and NOT seeing triple digits for my A/C use. And not to mention how nice it would be to NOT fight over the thermostat. This is a running joke in my home.  No one ever knows or fesses up to “Who” moved the dial.

At any rate, I put my envy aside and decided that maybe it would help if I explained the HVAC system and its purpose and why it was important to do the checkups for them.

I started off by explaining that HVAC is a term that we use to recognize cooling and heating for our homes and that the abbreviation stands for “Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning”.

And since I was not an HVAC expert, I decided to trust my handy dandy internet to search out proper explanations. After several hours of searching, I came up with the following brief definition of a “Furnace”; a mechanical device permanently installed in a home that is used for heating. It may be powered by Gas or Electricity depending upon several factors. (Builders choice, gas service availability, etc…). The heat from the furnace is distributed throughout the home through a ventilation system usually installed in the attic area or in the crawl space under the home. Each room in the home receives the heat through an opening that is vented at the ceiling or floor depending on the type of ventilation system installed. The Air Conditioning system works in the same manner and also has a permanent structure installed in the home.  We use the term “Central Heating and Air” for this process.

I also provided them with a link which contained great detail in case they were interested in more information on how our systems work; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hvac

Once I felt confident that I had explained the heating system to them, I thought it would be a good time to bring up the inspections again. After all, that’s what started this entire educational process that I threw myself into.  I advised them that there were several reasons we recommend the checkups;

  • Maintaining and cleaning the furnace will help the unit operate more efficiently and prolong the life span of the unit.
  • The evaluation may help spot issues early & those issues can be repaired before they become major issues.
  • Simple problems left unrepaired can cause major damage later down the road.

I was so excited when I received an overwhelming response from our Aussies thanking me and advising me to do the checkups. It just goes to show, that what seems obvious to us may not be so clear to others.

This made me realize that sometimes you have to take a little time to explain things in order to allow your clients to fully appreciate the services you offer to them. This applies to all of our client base, Foreign and domestic as well.

In the famous words of Burt Reynolds from Smokey and the Bandit “When you tell somebody something, it depends on what part of the country you’re standing in as to just how dumb you are”. I guess this could apply to Countries too!

Tax Deductions from Investing in Atlanta Homes: Why It’s the IDEAL Long Term Savings Plan

Solutions Realty Network - Tuesday, December 08, 2015
 
Today, we are continuing our discussion about why owning rental property is an IDEAL way to pay for a college education and fund your retirement plan. As you know, we’re using IDEAL as an acronym to explain, and today, we’re talking about the “D” in IDEAL. 

D is for Depreciation and Deductions 


Understanding the tax benefits of your investment can be complicated, so it’s important that you talk to your CPA or tax professional. Owning rental property makes good tax sense. The IRS allows for tax breaks to rental property owners who have depreciation on their homes. The deduction can be written off according to the expected life of the property. For residential rentals, that’s 27.5 years on paper. You can only deprecate the buildings and improvements, and not the land that your property sits on. Your rental property can begin depreciating as soon as it’s ready to hit the market. 

Deducting Expenses

 
You can also deduct for expenses associated with your property. Anything that takes away from your rental income, including management fees, tax advice and preparation fees, cleaning fees, maintenance, insurance, property taxes, mortgage interest and other fees, are tax deductible. 

These tax benefits, including depreciation and deduction, make rental property an excellent investment option. You can end up earning more than you would with other types of investments. It’s a good vehicle to pay for college education and fund a retirement account. 

For more information about the tax benefits that are available to you as a rental property owner, we encourage you to read IRS Publication 527. There are a number of excellent opportunities in the Atlanta market right now. If you’re ready to get started, please contact us at Solutions Realty Network.

Passive Income from Investing in Atlanta Homes: Why It’s the IDEAL Long Term Savings Plan

Solutions Realty Network - Wednesday, December 02, 2015
 

How would you like for someone else to pay for your child’s college education? This doesn’t necessarily mean grants and scholarships. Instead, it can be through an IDEAL investment that could replace your earned income, help you quit your job, cover the cost of your child’s education and maybe pay for a wedding or two if you have daughters like I do. You might even have some left over for retirement. It’s an IDEAL investment because at Solutions Realty Network, we are using the acronym IDEAL to describe what we’re talking about. 

I is for Income 


The “I” in Ideal stands for Income. This is passive income, or simply collecting a check. Actually, no one uses checks anymore so it’s more like accepting an ACH direct deposit on a regular basis. Passive income is defined as income received on regular basis with little effort required to maintain it. That sure beats earned income, which is something you need to continue to work for. 

Rental Property as Income 


One of the most ideal ways to earn passive income is by owning rental property. When you have rental property, the tenant pays for the mortgage, covers the expenses and generates excess cash flow. An IDEAL example is my in-laws. They are retired and their IRA took a huge hit in the stock market. They were taking their distributions as required and spending the money, but the money wasn’t going to last forever. We helped them to purchase rental properties, so now they earn income every month and they have assets that are appreciating in value. Think about what can happen if you start investing in rental properties when your kids are young. Just a handful of properties can generate significant income that allows you to save money for college and retirement while your asset grows in value. 

There are a number of great deals in the Atlanta market right now, and our team can do all the work for you, allowing you to achieve income passively. 

For more information on the IDEAL savings plan, contact us at Solutions Realty Network. We would love to tell you more.

How to Handle the Tenant Move Out Process like an Atlanta Property Manager

Solutions Realty Network - Tuesday, November 17, 2015
 
Today, we’re talking about some of the things you need to consider during the move out process at your rental home. 

Returning Keys 


First, have you received the keys back from the tenants? If you have received those keys, you have three days to get out to the property and take an inventory of everything the tenant will be accountable for, specifically any damage that was left behind. You need to present that information to the tenant, and then they have five days to dispute it. Be reasonable and stick to your pictures, facts and documentation. If everyone is being reasonable, you’ll work it out. 

When the tenants do not return your keys but they say they are out, you can go to the property, but don’t go into the house. You don’t want to enter unless the courts have told you it’s permissible, or the tenants have sent you the keys or confirmed in writing that they are out of the property. You want to make sure you have legal possession before you go inside. 

Normal Wear and Tear 


Wear and tear is a big deal. Certain things like a mark in the wall or carpets getting worn in high traffic areas are wear and tear, and you’ll have to take care of it as an owner. If there’s a big hole in the wall that wasn’t properly patched or you find carpets that are damaged from pets and stains, you can get the tenant to compensate you for that. If the floors look cut from an appliance moving, that’s damage. 

Changing Filters 


One thing we always tell our property owners to do is to change air conditioning filters. You want your systems to be working at maximum efficiency. Also, make sure you change the keys because you don’t want to be liable if the next person moves in and your old tenants trespass. Reset the garage door codes as well. 

If you have any questions about moving tenants out, please contact us at Solutions Realty Network.

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