Google+ Followers

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Rudy is a Great Movie, Just Not a Great Rental Application




Rudy Ruettiger (aka “Rudy”) was the subject of a great movie in 1993 about his improbable story of getting into Notre Dame and then playing on their football team.  It’s a true testament to the human spirit as he played high school football (not recruited), went to the Navy for two years, worked at a power plant for two years, and then after not getting into Notre Dame for low grades, went to Holy Cross College for two years before being admitted to Notre Dame on his 4th try!  Whew!

Then he walked on to the football team and made it(!), got beat up on the scout team every day at practice, and then got on to the field his last game and picked up a sack.  What a story!

Of course Hollywood embellished the story a little bit as Joe Montana, a freshman quarterback at Notre Dame at the time, said in an interview.  No players were taking off their jerseys demanding that Rudy get in the game, it was typical for seniors to get into the last home game, and the players carrying Rudy off the field in triumph were just playing around.  And Rudy’s legendary work ethic?  “He worked his butt off to get to where he was and do the things he did.  But not any harder than anyone else,” Montana said.

The truth is that Rudy should have never gotten into Notre Dame due to his bad grades (4 tries!  Where did he get the money to pay the college application fees?  Does “no” ever mean “no”?  Did he finally get an admission officer who was napping?).  He never should have been on Notre Dame’s football team (He was 6 years older than everybody else.  He was 5-foot 6 inches tall and 165 pounds!  He’s lucky he didn’t get killed in practice.).  “Rudy” should have never happened and a movie was made about him because somehow it did.

As a Charlotte property manager, we sometimes get rental applications that I feel might have been inspired by Rudy.  And I’m not saying that to be mean.  I really feel that if we approved some of the applications we received, we’d essentially be ruining the applicants’ lives.  For example:

We had a rental house on the market for $1,400.00/month.  We received an application where the prospective tenants had several credit cards almost maxed out, they had been late 8 of the past 12 months on rent, and the rent they were currently paying was $1,000/month on a smaller house.  How was adding $400.00 in additional rent (not to mention higher utility costs for a bigger house) a responsible move for anyone- landlord or tenant?  It would just have made life much harder for everyone.

Even as romanticized as Rudy was, the chances are no one would have wanted Rudy’s life prior to running through the tunnel and getting into his one Notre Dame game.  He was studying all the time to pass classes that were too difficult for him, while walking around with a beat-up body from banging into guys that were too big and strong for him to compete against.

Rudy may have learned character, perseverance, and many other worthwhile traits (while being the subject of a great movie!), but it was a hard journey.  He was able to walk away with a Notre Dame degree, a great memory, and a lucrative speaking career after the movie came out.  But I’m not sure there are any rewards for taking on more housing payment than one can afford.  It’s stressful, and hurts families and relationships.  Usually, it leads to evicted tenants and fired property managers.

We all want to root for the underdog, but Rudy is best seen in the theaters and not experienced in real life.  Denying unworthy applications can sometimes be a great act of kindness.


Happy (& Responsible) Landlording!

Thursday, January 5, 2017

The Rental Bachelorette: What is She Looking For?





"I would just want someone who is genuine and makes me laugh and is my best friend and ultimately someone who is going to love me as much as I love them.”
Former Bachelorette JoJo Fletcher

JoJo apparently found that “someone” in the arms of NFL quarterback Aaron Rodger’s brother, Jordan, in the last season of the Bachelorette (so says the cover of a tabloid magazine next to Harris Teeter’s cash register).  Good for her!

Many people have differing ideas on what women want from prospective male suitors.  I’ve seen some lists as short as:

  1. Rich
  2. Good-looking

This list is written for the rich, good-looking guys typically by the less rich, less good-looking, jaded guys.

And there are some deeper lists written for the less affluent, average-looking guys (who might buy magazines with articles like this).  This “Top Ten” list is courtesy of www.topyaps.com:

  1. Not being desperate or clingy
  2. Being a friend first
  3. Manners & hygiene
  4. Respecting her space
  5. Chivalry
  6. Sincerity & loyalty
  7. The ability to protect
  8. Sense of humor
  9. Intelligence
  10. Honesty

Wow!  That’s a much tougher list to mull over.  At first glance, it seems like I’ve blown it in the past by actually following items #1 and #4 by “not caring” and “being distant.”   But I digress…

As a Charlotte property manager, this is a question we get often from potential tenants:

“Before I spend $75.00 on a non-refundable rental application, what are you looking for?”

The three things we are looking for in potential tenants for our properties:

  1. Pay rent on time: #1 criteria
  2. Maintain the property: change air filters, mow the lawn, make reasonable repairs on your own, etc.
  3. Get along with the neighbors (and property manager!)

If tenants can do these 3 things, we will like them a lot and the tenancy should go very smoothly.

Tenants do not need to be rich or good-looking, but we’re always impressed with chivalry and a sense of humor.

Happy Landlording!


Brett Furniss is a property manager at BDF Realty (Charlotte Residential Property Management), the trusted real estate advisor for Charlotte landlords & Home of $100 Flat Fee Property Management.   BDF Realty utilizes their innovative Pod System for exceptional customer service in residential property management, home repairs, and home sales for single-family homes, Uptown condos, and town homes in the Charlotte-Metro Area.  Contact Us Today!

Friday, December 9, 2016

Cash Bloodletting from Rental Home Subletting




A house on my street is a rental home.  The owner had a long term tenant who always paid on time and was an agreeable guy.  It seemed like a good situation.

However, every few months I would see moving trucks parked in front.  I wondered if the tenant was moving out, but sure enough, days later I would still see his human size dog running out his front door (as I would shield my 2-year old son from his “affections”).  The tenant hadn’t gone anywhere.

So what was going on? 

The tenant was a serial subletter.  He would rent out rooms to strangers.  It seemed like a good way to make extra cash being that he travelled a lot for work and lived alone (besides the aforementioned gigantic dog). 

But something went really wrong recently.  The tenant didn’t click with the newest subletter and they got in a physical altercation due to undone housework.  His dog attacked the subletter (poor guy!) protecting his owner and the subletter needed an ambulance.

An ambulance, several police officers and animal control showed up at the house and the subletter wound up getting a restraining order against the tenant.  Now the tenant was not allowed to go to his rental home.  I had a new neighbor, and not one who was actually on a lease.  However, due to the legal system, he had rights to the house and the tenant was essentially homeless because of the restraining order. 

It was a mess for the owner.  The subletter had to be evicted (which took a month or two) and it left the owner out thousands of dollars. 

So, is subletting evil?

Generally-speaking, yes, I wouldn’t recommend it.  However, if done properly, it can work well to keep a house occupied.

The two ways to avoid subletting bloodletting:

  1. Be involved.  If a tenant wants a subletter (and this is applicable for any new home occupant), a rental application needs to be run.  Owners need to know exactly who is going to be living in their rental home.
  2. The new occupant needs to be on a lease and the security deposit situation needs to be addressed (who has rights to it now?).

As a landlord, it’s easier to just let tenants do their thing as long as rent is coming in (like in this instance where it happened for years without incident), however it can come back to bite (pun intended).
As a Charlotte property manager for many years, we’ve picked up many good tenants from allowing tenants to add additional occupants to their lease.  However, we’ve never budged on the two criteria above.

Don’t let subletting turn into a mess.  Control the situation, run a rental application, and (if approved) get them on a lease!

Happy Landlording!


Brett Furniss is a property manager at BDF Realty (Charlotte Residential Property Management), the trusted real estate advisor for Charlotte landlords & Home of $100 Flat Fee Property Management.   BDF Realty utilizes their innovative Pod System for exceptional customer service in residential property management, home repairs, and home sales for single-family homes, Uptown condos, and town homes in the Charlotte-Metro Area.  Contact Us Today!

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Love, Kindness & Gratitude: Setting the Tone in Property Management





Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love."  I John 4:7-8

Man, it’s nice when people are nice.

 

We have a tenant, Monica, who just goes out of her way to be easy to work with.  If we need her to do something for us, she does it.  There is no complaining, back biting, or procrastination.  Communication with her is a joy.  And she is soooo nice and gracious.  When we perform repairs (aka our job), she is so gracious and thankful.  Her rent is always on time.  She and her family go out of their way to perform maintenance to the house.  And at the end of her positive and funny e-mails, she always includes the Bible verse above.

 

We have another client, Mike, who goes out of his way to compliment us for working on his home; once again, for just doing our job.  Small things don’t escape his notice.  His level of graciousness is astounding.  Truthfully, we should be thanking Mike much more than he thanks us.  We made a good amount of money working for Mike: we helped him buy houses, repair them, manage them, and finally, sell them.  These are all things we collect fees for.  But he would let us know how much he appreciated our efforts, even if the work was imperfect at times.

 

I think back to how our relationships started.  It would be easy to say that they were “good folks” and that they get along with everyone (they probably do!).  But why? 

 

They set a positive tone with us early.  Early conversations were easy, paperwork was complete and accurate, and meetings were punctual.  They were easy going about details as we got to know each other.  They got the things they needed from us, but their requests were made in a graceful and kind manner. 

 

Property management can be a difficult business.  At the face of it, a property manager is the middle man between two parties with divergent interests, the owners and tenants.  Both would prefer that the other party pay for anything that breaks.  The owners want the rules of the lease followed precisely to protect their investments, while the tenants want to use the house as they see fit.   The property manager is hired by owners and is tasked with protecting their investments, but can’t get it done well without tenant involvement and buy-in.  It’s a balancing act that produces many colorful (and costly) stories of when the relationship breaks down.

 

But Monica and Mike also show that it can be a rewarding business with warm relationships. 

 

As the property manager, our job is to always set the tone early with kindness, love, and gratitude.  The tenants need to feel this from us, their point of contact, from the moment of their first inquiry.  Even if we wind up having to reject a tenant application, we can do it kindly.  But if we wait for the clients to set the tone, it might not happen.  And it needs to.

 

So set the tone early!  This will allow landlords to reap the benefits of a mutually fulfilling partnership and make property management a joy.

 

Thank you to our clients (Monica, Mike & many others) who make coming to work a pleasure.

 

Happy Landlording!

 

Brett Furniss is a property manager at BDF Realty (Charlotte Residential Property Management), the trusted real estate advisor for Charlotte landlords & Home of $100 Flat Fee Property Management.   BDF Realty utilizes their innovative Pod System for exceptional customer service in residential property management, home repairs, and home sales for single-family homes, Uptown condos, and town homes in the Charlotte-Metro Area.  Contact Us Today!


Friday, September 16, 2016

Being a Duke Hoops Recruit & Landlording: YDKWYDK




As much as I hate to admit it (being a UNC guy), Duke University is a worthy rival on the basketball court.  A big part of that is their ability to recruit great high school players.  They go after the best of them and have been very successful in landing them in Durham.  Many of them were so good that they only played one year at Duke and then left early to play in the NBA for millions of dollars. 

But, for others, it didn’t work out that way.

Point guard Derryck Thornton was one of those Duke recruits.  He was an esteemed 5-star recruit who was finishing his junior year of high school in 2015.  Duke was thin at point guard for the upcoming season and they convinced Thornton to “reclassify”; this allowed him to graduate early from high school and join the Blue Devils for the 2015 season. 

It was a great honor.  The defending national champions needed him to come early and play.  He was only 17 years old!  So he said “yes”, enrolled at Duke early, and was starting at point guard.  It seemed like he had the world at his fingertips!

But, YDKWYDK (You Don’t Know What You Don’t Know).  A year later (when he originally should have been starting school at Duke), Thornton was transferring out to play basketball for the USC Trojans.  It was allegedly a combination of factors he could not have seen coming: his freshman year didn’t go as well as they had hoped, certain Duke players inexplicably didn’t go pro (that would have made more playing time available to him), and other more heralded recruits joined the 2016 team.  He went from being really needed to being really expendable.  So he was gone.

YDKWYDK.  By definition, it’s hard to protect yourself against the unknown.  This is especially true in property management when there are so many variables; renters (people) are complicated and they are all so different!  It’s best to have someone who might know what you don’t know because they’ve been there before.  Experience counts! 

I know I’m biased towards using a property manager, but I understand the self-management side of it as well; I’m all for saving money!   It’s cheaper if I fix the sink, as opposed to my plumber, but what about if I miss something and it causes a leak behind my wall?  Then I’ve got a bigger, much costlier problem.  YDKWYDK

And if property management is merely a hobby, it’s really tough to know what decisions can be costly down the road:

“My friend/co-worker wants to rent the property.  He seems like a good guy.  Should I rent it to him?”

“Should I allow any pets in my rental home?  If so, which ones are okay?”

“Is it important to do credit checks?  If their score is low/high, is that an instant denial/approval?”

“Do I need to do home inspections?  If so, what am I checking for?”

If Thornton had been told in 2015 that he would be transferring to another college after his freshman year at Duke, he probably would have had a good laugh.  But it happened.  The same can be said of many decisions being made today by landlords who dabble in property management; the unforeseen long-term costs of seemingly innocuous choices might make the expense of having a property manager seem very reasonable!


YDKWYDK.  Happy Landlording!

Brett Furniss is a property manager at BDF Realty (Charlotte Residential Property Management), the trusted real estate advisor for Charlotte landlords & Home of $100 Flat Fee Property Management.   BDF Realty utilizes their innovative Pod System for exceptional customer service in residential property management, home repairs, and home sales for single-family homes, Uptown condos, and town homes in the Charlotte-Metro Area.  Contact Us Today!

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Wesley Snipes’ IRS Case for Rental Home Inspections




Wesley Snipes is a great actor.  Watching him in White Men Can’t Jump, Major League, and other films is some good theater. 


But Wesley got some bad advice at tax time in the late 90’s.  His accountants told him there was a loophole that would allow him to avoid $7M in taxes; in fact, he didn’t even have to file tax returns.  He thought that sounded pretty good.  And besides, everybody knows the IRS isn’t really paying close attention with the sheer amount of returns they have to log every year. 
 

Well, the IRS was paying attention.  And they got Wesley’s attention with a 3-year prison sentence that ended in 2013.
 

It was sad for everyone: his many fans, his accountants (who received even stiffer jail sentences), the IRS who had to use limited resources to prosecute his case, and especially for Wesley (who had reputedly earned over $40M from 1999-2004).

 
There were a lot of questions in Wesley’s case, but one almost undeniable certainty- Wesley’s tax returns now are the most truthful and timely documents he files every year. 

 
This logic spills over into residential property management and periodic home inspections.  If landlords can show tenants that they are paying attention to what is going on in the house and whether maintenance is being done, they will undoubtedly get a better conditioned house when the tenant eventually vacates.


So, yes, this means going over to and inside the rental house.  I’d highly recommend giving the tenant a week or so notice of when the home inspection is and letting them know what you are specifically planning on looking at (e-mailing them a list is helpful).
 

  1. What should a landlord include in their home inspections? 

  1. Anything they care about. 
 
Some general things I care about:
 

  1. Do the keys still work?
  2. Is the lawn and landscaping being kept up?
  3. Are the air filters being changed?
  4. Are the fire and CO detectors still there on each level of the house and are they functional (aka is the tenant changing the batteries when they die?)
  5. Is the home clean?
  6. Does it smell like smoke?
  7. Is there evidence of a pet if there isn’t supposed to be one?
  8. Does anything look weird?

Feel free to add anything else of interest.  I also think conducting the home inspections twice a year (roughly on month 3 and month 9 of the lease) works well.  Paying attention is good, stalking is bad.

 
Wesley has some well-maintained tax returns now and periodic home inspections should lead to some well-maintained rental homes.

 
Happy Landlording!


Brett Furniss is a property manager at BDF Realty (Charlotte Residential Property Management), the trusted real estate advisor for Charlotte landlords & Home of $100 Flat Fee Property Management.   BDF Realty utilizes their innovative Pod System for exceptional customer service in residential property management, home repairs, and home sales for single-family homes, Uptown condos, and town homes in the Charlotte-Metro Area.  Contact Us Today!

Friday, July 22, 2016

Rental Lessons Learned from Britney Spears’s Management Team




On New Years Day 2004, Britney Spears’s management team was just waking up to a wonderful, wonderful, and more superbly wonderful morning.  They had one of the hottest singers on the planet, she was making them tons of money, and her momentum was strong. 

 

Everyone was happy and content. 

 

Or should I say everyone with the exception of Britney, but she had enacted a quick plan to change that.

 

In the spur of the moment, she flew her childhood friend, Jason Alexander (not the rich one from Seinfeld), from Louisiana to Nevada.  Then after a night of partying, she proposed they get married.  Jason was down and they found one of those quickie Las Vegas chapels to hitch them up.  They were now married and well on to their way to marital bliss.  They just had to break the news to their families, and Britney to her management team.

 

I imagine Britney’s conversation with her management team went something like this:

 

Britney: I married Jason Alexander last night!  It was…

 

Management Team (interrupting): The one from Seinfeld?

 

Britney (laughing): No!  Let me tell you the story!  Jason looked me in the eye and I knew it was meant to be and we drove right to the chapel and…

 

Management Team (interrupting): Whoa!  Hold on.  I think you skipped the most important part of the story, the part where you stopped by an attorney’s office and had a prenup drawn up before you made it to the chapel, right?  Right????

 

Britney (pausing): Not ‘zactly.  You’re sort of killing my buzz right now.

 

Britney’s management team started formulating the equation in their minds:

 

 Short term courtship + booze + no prenuptial agreement + gross income equality (gazillions versus $20.00) + contractual lifetime commitment = Britney financial disaster and the eventual termination of our employment

 

This didn’t add up well for them.

 

Property managers are often put in similar situations with rental applications.  Potential tenants walk into a rental home and fall in love with it.  The owners are anxious to have it occupied.  It’s a boozy, quick courtship that seems destined to consummate.  Is it a match made in Heaven?

 

Maybe.  But an experienced (property) management team can step in and start asking the tough questions about the tenants before anything is signed: 

 

How much money do they make?

 

Did you see they have 2 monthly car and student loan payments as well?

 

What happened with that past eviction?

 

Isn’t the tenant’s dog uninsurable because it’s an aggressive breed?

 

A tenant that seemed like a good idea at the time may become less desirable under more vetting.  To avoid something like the Jason Alexander nuptials, it’s usually better to have some unattached, impartial party give some input on important coupling decisions before tying the knot.

 

While Britney’s management team was able to forge an annulment and put down the marriage in less than 55 hours, it can actually take a few months to part ways with a less than ideal tenant.  So make sure the vetting is done before anyone gets too excited!

 

Happy Landlording!

 

Brett Furniss is a property manager at BDF Realty (Charlotte Residential Property Management), the trusted real estate advisor for Charlotte landlords & Home of $100 Flat Fee Property Management.   BDF Realty utilizes their innovative Pod System for exceptional customer service in residential property management, home repairs, and home sales for single-family homes, Uptown condos, and town homes in the Charlotte-Metro Area.  Contact Us Today!