Property Management FAQ

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I’m considering renting my home. How does property management work?

When you hire a property manager, you are hiring someone to manage the day to day responsibilities of your rental home.  As your property manager, we handle everything from rent collection, dealing with property maintenance and emergencies, tenant relations, handling property related expenses, generating statements, maintaining tenant and owner accounting ledgers and direct depositing funds to owners. This allows you to enjoy the benefits of being a landlord without having to deal with the stress.

 

What areas does VerraTerra offer property management services?

We offer property management in south Snohomish county and most of King County. Contact us to verify if your rental property is in our coverage area.

 

How much does property management cost?

There are two elements of property management. The first is a tenant placement/leasing fee. We charge $1500 or one month’s rent (whichever is less) to handle all elements of getting your place rented. From marketing, showing, screening applicants, collecting move in fees, completing move in reports and handing over the keys. Other agencies will charge based on a percentage of the expected rent.

The second element is monthly property management. At VerraTerra, we charge a flat fee ($100 per month), regardless of the rental price of the home. Traditionally, everything in real estate is tied to the value of your house. With traditional property management agencies, you’ll pay fees based on a percentage of the rent. Typical ranges are 8-10% per month. Other agencies will often have additional hidden fees. At VerraTerra there are no hidden fees.

 

What’s included with the leasing/tenant placement fee? 

The simple answer is – everything it takes to get your rental property rented to qualified tenants. Marketing and photos, screening tenants, showing the property, all move in services (signing the lease, move-in inspection, collection of move in fees). Learn more.

 

How does VerraTerra Property Management screen tenants?

We use credit reports, criminal background reports, court records, employment verification and current and previous landlord references. In addition to this, we may request additional documentation from the applicant once we’ve begun to review all the reports we get. We have a documented acceptance criteria that we provide every applicant a copy of, however we do consider an applicant’s whole picture rather than focus on a single number such as a credit score.  We’ve found that a credit score alone sometimes does not provide an accurate assessment of an applicant’s financial responsibility.

 

How and when is tenant placement or the monthly management fee paid?

The tenant placement fee is due once we’ve found and placed a tenant in your rental home. There are no up-front costs. We usually deduct our fees from the tenant move-in costs and/or rent. Note, we do have a cancellation fee of $500 if we begin marketing your home and you decide not to continue to work with us for any reason. This allows us to recoup our expenses for marketing your property.

If we are handling monthly management duties, we are the tenant’s point of contact and where they send the rent. Our monthly fees are deducted from the rent received as is any maintenance costs we’ve paid for up front. The rest is direct deposited to an account you designate.

 

How often do I need to pay a leasing/ tenant placement fee?

The leasing fee is only paid when VerraTerra has to place a new tenant. As long as your tenant stays living in your rental, you don’t have to pay a new leasing fee.

 

How long is a typical lease?

We recommend at least a one year lease for all tenants. This gives you an easy out if you find your tenants are less than reliable or particularly hard on the property. Due to the high level of service we provide, most tenants who live in properties we manage stay longer than a year. This helps reduce your overall expenses and costs.

 

How long will it take to get our property on the market for rent?

Usually within 24 to 48 hours from when photos are done and all paperwork has been completed.

 

How long will it take to rent my property?

The only accurate answer to this question is … it depends. It depends on your property’s location and condition, the current demand, time of year, and of course, how competitive we are in terms of our rent amount. However, our average across the board is about 30-45 days if priced competitively.

 

How does VerraTerra Property Management set the rent amount? How are rental rates determined?

We base our rent amounts on some statistical data and also comparison data to other similar rental units on the market. Unlike sales data, there is no central database with accurate rental data, thus we rely on various services to hopefully find a common point among them. If there isn’t, then we lean on the comparable market rents more to base our initial asking rent.

 

Who’s responsible for paying utilities on the rental home?

For single family rentals, the tenants are responsible for their own utilities. Tenants are expected to start service in their names when they move in. In 2012, most water utilities stopped allowing tenants to transfer the water/sewer bill into their names. The solution is to simply have the water utility send a duplicate bill to the service address. For condos and townhomes, tenants are responsible for whatever utilities the homeowners association (HOA) doesn’t cover.

 

As the owner of the rental, what maintenance am I responsible for?

A good rule of thumb is that the landlord is responsible for anything that isn’t done frequently. For example, servicing the furnace (usually every 2 to 3 years), cleaning the gutters and/or roof (maybe once a year depending on your location), barking the yard, trimming hedges, replacing broken fixtures/appliances. Tenants are responsible for basic maintenance such as mowing the lawn (if there is one), basic weeding, changing the filters in the furnace, replacing batteries in smoke detectors, replacing light bulbs, etc. Tenants are also responsible for resolving issues they caused like unclogging the sink/toilet/tub.

 

How are maintenance issues handled? Do I get to decide who does repairs?

We work with you to create a plan for maintenance issues before we start managing your property. For example, some owners are local and might want to do the repairs themselves. Others may live out of the area or prefer to use a professional in all circumstances. We’ll work with you to set parameters for routine and emergencies maintenance issues.

 

Can an owner find their own tenant and then have VerraTerra Property Management handle the monthly management?

If it’s an existing tenant, we can take over the monthly management but will want to review the tenant’s past performance.  If it’s a new rental, we require the prospective tenant be screened by us. The reason for this is we do not want to take on a property where we don’t know anything about the tenant; we don’t want a nightmare tenant handed to us.

Can VerraTerra Property Management place the tenant but then manage the property myself?

Yes.  We do this quite often.

What is photo documenting in the move-in report?

As all property managers and landlords should do, we carefully document the condition the property is in when the tenant moves in. VerraTerra Property Management takes it a step further. We use photos and/or video to supplement our written report. What we want to prevent is any disagreement on the move-in condition of the property or what items were left in the property.

What should my pet policy be for my rental home?

Your pet policy is whatever you want it to be. No pets, dogs only, cats only, cats or dogs okay, etc.  Keep in mind that limiting pets may limit your rental audience. For tenant’s with pets, we do collect an extra pet deposit that can vary depending on the type of pet. The biggest worry is the pet damaging the home either from scratching, chewing or…relieving themselves on the carpet. The tenant is expected to clean or repair the damage. If they can’t, we use funds from their security and pet deposit to get the issue fixed.

When will rent be deposited to my account?

We usually deposit rents to the owner’s account by the 15th of each month. Rent is due on the 5th. We like to let all the funds we receive sit for 48 hrs to make sure everything clears. Then we initiate our direct deposits to owners so they reach them by the 15th. In cases where the 15th lands on a Monday, owners will get their deposits on the next business day.