Real Estate Information Archive


Displaying blog entries 1-10 of 12

Property Management Lakeland FL

by Lisa Castanet

Property Management Lakeland FL

863-647-1679 Office

Call or Text 863-838-1318 cell

What's My Rental Home Value

Early Termination

by Lisa Castanet

I am often asked about what happens when a tenant does not remain for the whole lease term and instead gives early termination notice to a landlord.  In 2010, the Florida Association of Realtors/Florida Bar Association created an addendum to the annual lease agreement called the Early Termination Fee/Liquidated Damages Addendum (form RLAUC-1).

Prior to this addendum there were really only two options for a landlord to exercise if a tenant broke the lease term.  That was to do nothing or to decide to file in small claims court against the tenant which can be time consuming and requires court filing fees.

The annual lease agreement between landlord and tenant is written for a 12 month period and a total sum of money is owed from the tenant to the landlord.  The total sum is then broken down into monthly installments.  For example, a rental rate of $1,000 for a rental property would have a lease agreement for a total sum due the landlord of $12,000.00 for the annual lease term.  The lease would then state that the total sum due of $12,000.00 which is broken down into 12 monthly installments of $1,000.00 each.

If the tenant gave an early termination notice during this annual lease period in the 3rd month of the lease term then they would have an obligation to pay the landlord the remaining sum of $9000.00.  However, in the real world it is rare that a tenant would actually pay this amount.  And often the landlord does not want to pursue a judgment against a tenant due to filing costs and time involved.  In addition, assuming a landlord would win a judgment in court then there is no guarantee that the tenant would pay that judgment amount.

Apartment complexes have had policies to address early termination for many years. The consequences of not paying the termination fees as required may include a negative report to the credit reporting agencies.

This addendum states specifically that both parties either agree to go to court OR that the tenant will be charged and would owe a fee up to an amount equal to 2 months of rent should they break the lease term.

A tenant can still be non-cooperative if they choose. However, we have been using this notice since it’s inception in 2010 and it has definitely been helpful to specifically address that there will be a fee charged to the tenant should they terminate the annual lease term early.

Low Credit Score

by Lisa Castanet

I recently read a Q&A article regarding rental properties.  The owner of a rental property asked if a low credit score was enough reason to decline a tenant applicant.

This is an interesting question and I thought about the many applicants we have seen in the past several years that were honest and disclosed that their report would probably come back showing a low credit score.  Many families have experienced financial difficulties such as bankruptcy, foreclosure or short sales on their homes and health related  issues which have negatively effected their credit scores. In fact, I think we have only seen three applications which have been above a 700 credit score in the past five years.

The tenant screening process contains several different elements including a background, criminal and eviction check.  The eviction check will screen court records and report if the tenant applicant has ever had an eviction filed against them.  We also verify employment and confirm the ratio between their proposed rental payment and their gross monthly income.  Another critical component in our application screening is to verify a tenant’s previous rental history with the former landlord(s).

The entire screening process and pieces of information are so important to review with rental property owners.   Positive reports and reviews can offset a low credit score in many cases. It can be better to leave a rental property vacant for a few extra weeks then to spend months evicting a bad tenant.

Once we have the home rented then it is equally important for owners to maintain the property and respond quickly to maintenance calls.  When we receive maintenance requests from tenants then we manage the communication between tenants and owners and schedule vendors as needed.  By showing a tenant that you care about the house then they will most likely take better care of it too.

We like to describe the tenant screening process to both owners and tenant applicants so they know what to expect.  We obtain the complete screening package and review the information with the owner.  Positive information and the tenant’s complete explanation can certainly offset a low credit score in most cases. 

Turn Your Home Into A Rental Property, part two

by Lisa Castanet

You are thinking about the possibility to turn your home into a rental property.  We have mentioned previously that current local market conditions are improving and that values in our area are also increasing.

I would recommend that you should be current on your mortgage payments, property taxes, home owners insurance and home owners association dues, if applicable.  Then the following questions can be asked when you talk with potential property mangers:

  • Ask the company to outline how they market their rental properties.
  • Have them describe the screening process for potential tenants.
  • Ask them to explain their management terms and fees, discuss any contracts or forms used.
  • What kind of accounting system do they use for their rental escrow account?
  • Will they share with you exactly what makes their company outstanding?
  • Does the management company view their properties on a regular schedule?
  • Is there an initial walk through with tenants prior to move-in day or final inspection prior to the tenant moving out?
  • Do they employ a full-time maintenance coordinator and how does the maintenance process work?
  • How many properties do they manage and how big is their staff to manage these properties?
  • Can they provide customer testimonials?
  • Are they a member of any trade organizations?

A little up front investigation and homework can help you turn your home into a rental property. Then your family can rest assured and continue with your life’s plan. For more information, please feel free to call our office and speak to one of our agents today at 863-647-1679. 


Turn Your Home Into A Rental Property

by Lisa Castanet

Have you wondered if you should turn your home into a rental property?  The Lakeland market has been inundated with short sales and bank owned (REO) properties since 2007.  Some owners have felt their choices were limited due to these depressed market conditions.  However, in 2013, a large number of investors have been purchasing homes as rental properties.  If you want to move on, transfer jobs or need more space then I suggest you too can turn your home into a rental property.

 I think you can hold onto your home another 3 to 5 years before selling it and the market conditions will continue to improve. That would allow you to move on and continue to live your LIFE!  You can expand or downsize your home according to your family’s needs and move within town or even relocate for change in employment. Lakeland may have been hit by the “bust” but we have fared better than other parts of the State and our real estate market is showing signs of recovery.

If you have never owned rental property it can be very confusing and quite time consuming.  Property managers must know the Florida Landlord/Tenant Act. The law is cumbersome and the State requires the Landlord to handle issues regarding security deposits, maintenance and evictions in a very specific manner. Many property owners may not be aware of their obligations regarding tenant relations.

Property Management is a specialty within the real estate community that requires expertise and knowledge of legal requirements.  A property that is managed properly can turn a home into a good real estate investment for the owner. The old adage still remains true, real estate ownership is a key factor in building real wealth in your lifetime. Our market conditions are improving and should continue over the next few years. Follow the trend of the large investment firms that are purchasing homes as rentals in the central Florida market.  They have purchased thousands of homes as rental properties in the I-4 corridor.  In fact, a friend in Pensacola sent a recent article from their local newspaper that list Lakeland as one of the hottest markets for investors this year.

Stay tuned for part two of this blog post "Turn Your Home Into A Rental Property" later this week.  We are here to help with all your real estate needs so call our office 863-647-1679.

Home Warranty

by Lisa Castanet

Have you ever considered whether or not you should purchase a home warranty on a home you live in or own as rental property?

You should consider the amount of reserve savings you have in the bank for the unexpected breakdown of a mechanical system if it cannot be repaired and needs to be replaced.  The air conditioning unit or air handler (or both) can be large ticket items.  In some situations, it is less expensive to replace an appliance than to pay for repair due to the age of the appliance.  This is one of many factors to consider in weighing the merit for a home warranty versus paying out of pocket when repairs are necessary.

Several companies offer home warranties so you can compare plans, pricing and add-on coverage for systems such as pool equipment, washers, dryers, etc.  Home warranty companies may differ on items such as service call charges and terms of the replacement of mechanical system items or appliances.

One of our Lakeland, FL rental properties had a home warranty in place that covered the appliances.  We received a call from the tenant saying the freezer portion of their refrigerator was not cooling properly.  We scheduled a service call and the appliance repair contractor came out to the house.  He discovered they needed to replace a part and would have to order that part.  However, the time frame for ordering, getting the part in stock and being able to schedule another service call was over a week.  The warranty company explained that their appliance repair subcontractors were based out of Tampa and only came to the Lakeland area two days per week.  Needless to say, this was not a convenient time line for the tenants as they had quite a bit of food in the freezer.

Through the owner and the warranty company, we were able to work out a solution that was acceptable for all parties. The warranty company estimated the cost of the part and a dollar value that they offered towards a replacement of the appliance.  We negotiated a settlement amount of almost $500 from the warranty company and the owner ordered a new refrigerator which could be delivered right away.  The owner was satisfied they were getting a new appliance and the settlement amount from the home warranty company in consideration of the lengthy time line and inconvenience to the tenants which offset their out-of-pocket expense.  It was important to the owner that they kept a good tenant in their rental property who appreciated the consideration and found a resolution to the problem quickly.

Remember to consider the various factors when deciding whether to purchase a home warranty for your primary home or rental property.  We hope we have given you some scenarios and possibilities that could occur to think about in making your decision. 

Air Conditioning Tips

by Lisa Castanet

We are in the midst of summer and I thought you may benefit from some air conditioning tips for your home.  Our friends at Randolph's A/C and Heating have some helpful information on their website which we have linked to for your convenience.

Randolph's A/C is one of the air conditioning vendors we use for our rental properties and we have had a lot of success with them over the years.  They are responsive, friendly and professional.  We have had many customers, tenants and owners alike that have complimented them on their work.

I have an annual service check up on my own home's air conditioning system every year.  That is recommended by most air conditioning service vendors and it is great for preventative maintenance and helping your unit run efficiently year after year.  It may also benefit you by helping your air conditioning unit last longer than it would without yearly maintenance.

One of the helpful air conditioning tips you can find on the Randolph's A/C and Heating website is to simply clean or replace your filters every month.  Sounds simply enough but some folks never change or replace the air filters or they may not even know where the air filter is located on their system.  It has been a very hot summer thus far and we hope your air conditioner keeps you cool.  For additional helpful air conditioning tips, visit their website here.

Help wanted.

by Lisa Castanet

Property maintenance person experienced in rental property maintenance, light carpentry, plumbing and electrical wanted in Lakeland and Mulberry, FL area markets. Offering a paid rate of $25 to $35 per hour as needed depending on experience and willing to grow business. Independent contractor applicants must be willing to have and pass credit and background checks. Call for interview 863-647-1679

Who pays for the service call?

by Lisa Castanet

Tenants often ask us when they need a plumber or air conditioning company to come out to their rental property, "Who pays for the service call?".  We try to address this in our Tenant Handbook which can be found on our listing page for long term rentalsThe fact of the matter is that if there is a problem with the mechanical systems of the rental property or with the plumbing fixtures or sewer that needs to be fixed then the landlord or property owner would be responsible for the service call and repair. 

However, if there is nothing wrong or the repair service vendor determines that improper use caused a problem or malfunction of that system or appliance then the tenant would be responsible for that service call or repair.  Sometimes this is not fully understood by a tenant but we try to communicate from the beginning of the tenant and landlord relationship what is the landlord's responsibility and what is the tenant's responsibility.  Every lease also delineates each party's responsibility.  Reviewing the Tenant Handbook prior to moving into the rental home or when trouble arises may answer the question "Who pays for the service call?".

We want to make sure the tenant has a very pleasant experience when renting a home or condo from our company.  We are always available to discuss scenarios or clarify terms so that a tenant understands who pays for the service call.

Tenant Screening

by Lisa Castanet

Every property management company should offer tenant screening services for the owners of the properties they manage.  When we list a property for rent on an annual rental term we also inform potential tenants that there is a rental application and application fee associated with renting the property.

The information requested is for any adult tenant who will be responsible for the rental payments. Individual information, previous rental history, credit history, background check, eviction history and employment verification are some of the items reviewed in the tenant screening process.  We use a third party entity who specializes in this type of tenant screening for rental properties.  The rental application fee paid by the tenant is $40.00 per person and goes toward the cost of the screening process. The actual time frame for compiling data and verifications can take a few minutes to a few days to process and receive back the written report.

Once we receive the reports we review with the tenant and with the property owner.  If an application is approved, then the lease documents can be written and signed by both parties.  We find that property owners really appreciate the professional tenant screening process and it helps to make informed decisions regarding their rental investment property.  For more information on property management services, please feel free to call our office at 863-647-1679 and speak to one of our agents.

Displaying blog entries 1-10 of 12

Contact Information

Photo of Native Palm Team Real Estate
Native Palm Team
Native Palm Properties
5925 Imperial Pkwy, Suite #111
Mulberry FL 33860
Fax: (863)701-8309