3 Reasons to List Your Property For Rent Now

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Rental properties can successfully be listed at any time during the year. Years of low rent vacancy rates nationally and locally due to high demand mean renters are looking for housing year-round. But there are three main reasons why spring and summer are clearly the best times to find potential renters.

The Wallet is Full

During this time of year, Minnesotans have yet to dip too deep into their summer funds. They’re likely still basking in the glow of a tax refund, which has added to their financial confidence, if only temporarily. It’s the perfect time for renters to invest some of their money into upgrading their rental housing situation. They may even hire a moving company to complete the transition.

The Forecast Calls For Moving

As Minnesotans, we’re quite aware that life is more difficult in the winter than the spring. Everything in the winter brings with it an added level of difficulty. Spring and summer are the ideal time for renters to not only view properties, but also complete the moving process. While many would agree that moving is not fun, moving with mittens and winter boots is much LESS fun.

Don’t Forget About Families

Families with school-age children are much more likely to move in the spring or summer when their children are in between school years. Moving during the school year is difficult, even if staying in the same school district. But moving mid-school-year to a new school district can be quite an emotional challenge for a child. Listing your property in the spring ensures you’re not neglecting this valuable group of potential renters.

Next Step?

Fortunately, you haven’t missed your window of opportunity. Simply Residential Property Management has seen a flurry of recent rental activity and we’re securing quality tenants even more quickly than in the past. There is still time to get in on the spring fever. Learn more about services that Simply Residential provides by calling 952-893-9900, requesting a free rental analysis or emailing our Vice-President of Operations at amanda@simplyres.com. We look forward to speaking with you!

Real Estate Investment

house and keys image

photo credit: MarkMoz12 flickr.com/photos/106574022@N04/

Successful investing has two important steps. The first is getting in at the right time, before substantial growth occurs. The second is getting out at the right time, when growth begins to stall and the market is ripe for selling. Real estate investment is no different.

Getting In At The Right Time

Being a landlord has been an attractive venture the past 8 years, following the recession in 2008. Rent.com has reported a steady decline in rent vacancy rates since it began preparing its annual Property Owner and Manager Marketing Report in 2009. (“2015 Rent.com Rental Market Report”, 2015) Rent vacancy is the percentage of unoccupied or vacant rentals of the total number of rentals in a designated market at a specific point in time.

It makes sense a rent vacancy decline would occur after the real estate bubble burst in 2008. It caused many homeowners to become home-renters as a result. The housing market was flooded with new renters. The post-burst economy’s struggles also caused millennials to be wary of the commitment to buy property. They’ve instead opted to rent. Those millennials added to an already large pool of renters.

Fortunately, being a landlord during a time of low rental vacancy is a good thing. The high demand means that market conditions will allow for more frequent increases in rent and there is less need for concessions and negotiations with tenants.

The past 8 years have been strong for landlords and the trends show the strong rental market should continue in 2016.

Getting Out At The Right Time

As an investment property owner, you’re keeping your eyes not only on the health of the rental market, but also the real estate market. Renting your investment property has covered your mortgage and expenses while providing a profit. But there may come a time when the real estate market is just too good to pass up. That time may be now.

Realtor.com reports that homes in April 2016 are moving 8% faster than for this time last year, even with the high asking prices (“Home Prices and Real Estate Market Trends”, 2016). In that same report, Jonathan Smoke, the chief economist of realtor.com, spoke to the current real estate market.

Quote from Jonathan Smoke, Chief Economist at Realtor.com

It’s clearly a seller’s market, as evidenced by the low inventory, high demand and quickness with which homes are flying off the market.

What Does This Mean For You?

With the rental and sales markets both showing considerable strength, you have solid options regarding real estate investment. You can continue to rent your current investment property. You can purchase an investment property and begin taking advantage of the strong rental market. Or you can make the move to sell your investment property. Fortunately, Simply Residential has the versatility to provide clients with both property management and real estate services. We can help you find an investment property to purchase, help manage your existing investment property or we can offer a seamless transition from renting property to selling it.

Learn more about our property management and real estate services. Email us at Amanda@simplyres.com, visit Simplyres.com or call us at 952-893-9900.

2015 Rent.com Rental Market Report – Rent.com Blog. (2015). Retrieved May 31, 2016 from http://www.rent.com/blog/2015-rental-market-report
Home Prices and Real Estate Market Trends from Realtor.com. (n.d.). Retrieved May 31, 2016, from http://www.realtor.com/data-portal/realestatestatistics/


Less Trips to the Mailbox


The middle of the month rolls around. You lace up your best running shoes, you stretch, and then sprint to mailbox in hopes of finding this month’s issue of Simply Residential Property Management magazine. It’s been a solid monthly workout for you. You really had your heart rate going. But beginning this spring you’ll need to diversify your exercise regimen.


It’s true, our magazine will be moving from a monthly publication to a quarterly publication. Twelve magazine issues per year will become four magazine issues per year.


The magazine will print each June, September, December and March.


This change will allow our publication’s content to align with the seasonal nature of the industry.


Don’t worry. You’ll receive the same great content you’re used to! We’ll continue to provide updates on the national and local Twin Cities rental and real estate markets. We’ll also have helpful landlord tips regarding maintenance, legal issues and more. Make sure to check out our website blog for relevant information. Visiting our website doesn’t even require your sneakers!

Simply Residential Maintenance

Owners of investment properties seek out a valued property management partner for many reasons, with maintenance being one of the most common. Maintenance calls from tenants can come at any time of the day and night and typically require some expertise. Some issues are small and easily managed. Others take time and come with costs. Whatever the issue, Simply Residential is happy to take maintenance calls 24/7, 365 days a year. In an ideal world, maintenance issues would be corrected quickly and at minimal cost to our client. But often the reason a project takes longer and costs occur is outside of our control.

Project Time

Simply Residential strives to perform maintenance quickly, efficiently and safely. We’re aware that maintenance can affect liability and a property owner’s ability to maintain a city rental license. Many factors influence the speed maintenance can be completed:

• May-Sept is a busy time for contractors, which may delay specialized work.
•Tenants often want to be home for maintenance visits. Working with a tenant’s busy schedule will slow how quickly we gain property access.
• Retailers like Home Depot often need parts and products shipped from distribution centers, which can mean a delay of 7-10 days.

We do all we can to minimize the turnaround time of maintenance but some delays are beyond our control.

Project Cost

Simply Residential doesn’t relish asking our clients to approve a repair or replacement cost. But maintenance expenditures are often an unpleasant and unavoidable part of doing business in property investment.
appliance lifespanA common cost of doing business is managing home appliances. Like all things, appliances have varying life expectancies that are affected by age, brand, availability of parts and more. Sometimes they break down before they should. Perhaps there is some truth in the saying that, “they don’t make things like they used to.” While there is no definitive guide to accurately predicting an appliance’s lifespan, the graph to the right shows the average life expectancy for various home appliances and equipment. Appliance failure is just part of doing business. We advise clients to set aside 10% of their investment property income to cover maintenance.

Our Approach

It’s important to note that long before any maintenance incident, Simply Residential works to detect problems in advance. We regularly communicate with tenants and encourage reporting of maintenance concerns. We also offer our owners a preventative maintenance service package as a way to get in front of those issues. But we know that not all issues can be predicted nor avoided.
As a valued client, everyone on the Simply Residential team is dedicated to your property. We’re your property’s biggest fans! If your property was a sports team, we’d be purchasing and wearing their jerseys!
So, the next time you hear from our maintenance staff, please be patient and know that we’re working hard to facilitate positive change for your property.

The Basics of Fair Housing Laws

This post was written by
 Jeff O’Brien for Simply Residential Property Management Magazine.

People who work in the areas of renting, selling, lending or insuring homes are subject to federal, state and sometimes local fair housing and other anti-discrimination laws. Recently, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (“HUD”) released guidance indicating that landlords who turn down tenants based upon their criminal records may violate the Fair Housing Act. This article focuses on residential landlords’ fair housing responsibilities and tenants’ rights under the Fair Housing Act, particularly in regards to the statute’s prohibitions against discrimination.

Discrimination Claims Under the Fair Housing Act

The Fair Housing Act (the “Act”) is codified at Title VIII of the Civil Rights Act of 1968, 42 U.S.C. §§ 3601 et seq. The HUD regulations implementing the Act are at 24 C.F.R. Parts 100 through 125. The HUD regulations “ordinarily command considerable deference…” Gladstone Realtors v. Village of Bellwood, 441 U.S. 91, 107 (1979). The Act, which applies to both government and private defendants, makes it unlawful to discriminate because of race, color, religion, sex, familial status, national origin
or handicap. 42 U.S.C. § 3604(a), (f). (The words “disability” and “handicap” are used interchangeably.) “Familial status” refers to households with a child or children under 18 or a person who is pregnant or in the process of securing legal custody of a child under 18.

hud-fair-housing FINALThe Act broadly prohibits the refusal to sell, rent, or negotiate for sale or rental, or acts that “otherwise make unavailable or deny” dwellings. It also specifically prohibits making statements indicating preferences (§ 3604(c)) or discriminating in terms, conditions, privileges, services or facilities (§ 3604(b)). It applies to “dwellings,” including vacant land offered for sale or lease for dwellings. The Act has been held to apply to mobile home parks, homeless shelters, and summer homes. See United States v. Columbus Country Club, 915 F.2d 877 (3d Cir. 1990), cert. denied, 501 U.S. 1205 (1991); accord, Hovsons, Inc. v. Township of Brick, 89 F.3d 1096 (3d Cir. 1996) (nursing home). The U.S. Supreme Court has held unanimously that the language of the Act is “broad and inclusive,” implementing a “policy that Congress considered to be of the highest priority,” requiring “a generous construction” of the statute. Trafficante v. Metropolitan Life Ins. Co., 409 U.S. 205, 209, 211, 212 (1972).

It is important to note that intent is not required to establish liability under the Act. Prima facie liability can be established by a showing of disparate effect. The courts of appeals have adopted different standards for determining disparate effect. The Eighth Circuit (which includes the U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota) set forth its test to establish a prima facie FHA disparate impact claim in the case of Oti Kaga, Inc. v. South Dakota Housing Dev. Auth, 342 F.3d 871 (8th Cir. 2003). Under the Oti Kaga test, the plaintiff must demonstrate that the objected-to-action results in, or can be predicted to result in, a disparate impact upon a protected class compared to a relevant population as a whole. Oti Kaga, 342 F.3d at 883; see also Charleston Housing Auth. v. U.S. Department of Agriculture, 419 F.3d 729, 740-41 (8th Cir. 2005). Under the second step of the disparate impact burden shifting analysis, the defendant must demonstrate that the proposed action has a “manifest relationship” to the legitimate non-discriminatory policy objectives and “is justifiable on the ground it is necessary to” the attainment of these objectives. Oti Kaga, 342 F.3d at 883; Charleston Housing Auth., 419 F.3d at 741.

The courts recognize two kinds of discriminatory effect: greater adverse impact on one group than another or harm to the community by the perpetuation of segregation. (Arlington Heights II, 558 F.2d at 1290) Greater adverse impact need not mean that more minorities have been affected; if a larger percentage of minorities has been affected, the standard is satisfied.

In some situations there is direct evidence of intentional discrimination. Where there is no direct evidence, a prima facie case may be established by indirect evidence. Some ways of proving intent by indirect evidence are set out by the Supreme Court in Arlington Heights I (Village of Arlington Heights v. Metropolitan Housing Development Corp., 429 U.S. 252 (1977)). Another, formulaic way to establish a prima facie case is by showing that: (1) the claimant is a member of a protected class; (2) the claimant applied for and was qualified to rent or buy the property at issue; (3) the claimant was rejected; and (4) the housing opportunity remained available.

After the prima facie case of intentional discrimination has been established, the defendant must produce a legitimate, nondiscriminatory reason for its action. If the defendant does so, the burden of production and persuasion shifts to the plaintiff to show that the proffered reason is pretextual.


42 U.S.C. § 3613 authorizes a court to award actual and punitive damages, equitable relief, and, to a prevailing party, a reasonable attorney’s fee and costs. In an administrative proceeding, HUD or the state agency may award actual damages, a civil penalty, and injunctive or other equitable relief. 42 U.S.C.§ 3612(g). HUD is authorized to award damages for emotional distress as well as other forms of loss.

The New HUD Guidance

HUD’s basis for its position that landlords may violate the Act by rejecting applicants based upon their criminal records stems from its view that because of widespread racial and ethnic disparities in the U.S. criminal justice system, criminal
history based restrictions on access to housing are likely disproportionately to burden African Americans under the “disparate impact” analysis.


HUD’s recently released guidance should give landlords pause as to their exposure to discrimination claims under the Fair Housing Act. In close cases, consultation with an attorney knowledgeable about the Act is a must.

Jeffrey C. O’Brien is an attorney with the Minneapolis-based law firm of Lommen Abdo, P.A. voice of the “Legal Minute on Minnesota Home Talk, heard Saturdays on 1500 ESPN, and a Minnesota State Bar Association Board Certified Real Property Specialist. He can be reached at (612) 336-9317 or via email at jobrien@lommen.com.

1Q 2016 Rental and Sales Review

As first quarter 2016 (Jan, Feb, Mar) came to a close, it was clear that early 2016 has been strong for both landlords and home sellers.

Rental Marketnational vacancy rate

Vacancy rate is the percentage of unoccupied or vacant rentals of the total number of rentals in a designated market. It’s a common metric to measure the strength of the rental market. The U.S. Census Bureau reports that the national rental vacancy rate closed at 7.0% for 1Q 2016. That rate has stayed fairly consistent over the past year, but the blue graph to the right shows how low the monthly vacancy rate is compared to the past seven years. So, what does a low vacancy rate mean for investment property owners? When vacancy rates are low, rent prices rise as tenants scramble to find properties. The red graph to the right shows that March 2016 had the highest median monthly rent in Minneapolis over the past 12 months. median rentSimply Residential used those statistics to justify recommendations of rental rate increases for a number of our properties during 1Q 2016. Low vacancy rates also mean rentals are on the market for less time. We saw this firsthand last month, as 1/3 of our March new lease signings occurred within a week of being marketed.

Real Estate Sales

As job and wage growth slowly drive the country’s recovery from the recession, we’re seeing a renewed consumer confidence. Couple the interested buyers with a low inventory of homes for sale and we have a seller’s market. Homesmsp.com reports that there was a 20.6% decrease in Twin Cities homes on the market in March 2016 compared to March of last year. marchThe multi-colored graph to the right shows how much higher the median sales price was in March 2016 compared to March in previous years. If you’re considering selling your investment property, please speak with us. Along with providing rental property management services, our on-staff licensed real estate agent and broker are happy to provide you a comparable market analysis (CMA) so you can properly consider the options of renting and selling your property. Also, know that we offer special real estate service pricing to our current property management clients.


Whether you’re renting or selling, Simply Residential Property Management’s leasing and sales team has you covered. The first quarter results from 2016 show that both the property rental and home sales markets are very strong. Simply Residential will continue to monitor important factors including the interest rate and the local vacancy rate. But it’s clear that now is a fabulous time to rent out or sell property.

Honor the Military in May

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May is Military Appreciation Month. Along with honoring our military throughout the month, there are three dates in particular that need to be recognized.

Friday, May 6: Military Spouse Day
First recognized by President Ronald Reagan in 1984, Military Spouse Day is an opportunity to recognize the level of support and important sacrifices made by veteran spouses.

Saturday, May 21: Armed Forces Day
Recognized near the end of Armed Forces Week, the observance was first celebrated in 1950. The day is meant to honor all five branches of the U.S. military- Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, and Coast Guard.

Monday, May 30: Memorial Day
As a federal holiday to mark the remembrance of those who died serving our country, Memorial Day is the final Monday of May and originated as Decoration Day in 1868 following the country’s Civil War.

Simply Residential thanks our veterans and their families for their service and support. They have given more for our country than we can comprehend.

In Focus: The Rental Scam

Avoiding the Rental Scam

Could you recognize a rental scam if you saw one? Rental scams have become a major problem in the rental industry, as scammers have found creative ways to use online rental postings to lure unsuspecting tenants. There are a few different versions of the rental scam, but it basically works like this:

Scammers take property descriptions and images from existing and legitimate postings for rental and sales properties. They re-purpose the information for their own online scam post. The potential tenant finds the property online and is none the wiser that they are reaching out to a scammer. The scammer typically claims to be temporarily out of the country, so the only opportunity to view the property is via a drive-by. Getting the keys to the property only requires a wire transfer deposit to for the application fee, security deposit or first month’s rent.

Before the potentell tale mag-2tial tenant realizes, the scam has been completed. The wired money is lost and the scammer is long gone. Rental scams happen every day and it’s unfortunate to hear about the loss and suffering they cause. But there are ways to combat these scams.

Simply Residential Property Managment does all it can to minimize a scammer’s opportunity to scam tenants. But we also encourage tenants to be vigilant, knowing the warning signs of a rental scam.

Finding the right rental property should be an exciting life event. If you feel you have uncovered a rental scam involving Simply Residential Property Management, please reach out to us immediately.

Spring Honey-Do List


Photo Credit: Kate Ter Haar; flickr.com/photos/katerha/

April showers, May flowers and outdoor chores.

Sprinkler Systems
After a winter hibernation, it’s time for those sleeping irrigation systems to wake up. But the process involves more than just turning on the outdoor faucet. The soil should be thawed 12 inches below the surface and the air that has built up in irrigation pipes over the winter needs to be slowly released. Simply Residential’s expert technicians can ensure the process is smooth, safe and stress-free.

Cleaning gutters is a nasty bi-product of home ownership. But Simply Residential is happy to help. Just in time for spring showers, we’ll get those gutters flowing and pushing rain drainage away from the property’s foundation.

Property and Lawn Care
When winter gives way to spring, lawns aren’t usually left in the best condition. April is a good time to spruce up property. Simply Residential is your source for cleaning up fall/winter debris, weeding, seeding, planting and insect control. We approach your lawn delicately, ensuring that raking and even general foot traffic doesn’t disrupt wet soil or harm new grass roots.

Spring Appliance/Equipment Tune-ups
Schedule tune-ups for those warmer-weather appliances/equipment, like the air conditioner, lawn mower and weed trimmer. Lean on Simply Residential to get those appliances and equipment ready to go for when they are needed.

It’s spring and Simply Residential is here to help! Contact us today by email at maintenance@simplyres.com or by phone at 952-893-9900!

When It Comes To Dealing With Defaulting Tenants, DIY = SOL


Photo credit: Got Credit; flickr.com/photos/jakerust/

This post was written by Jeff O’Brien for Simply Residential Property Management Magazine.

I frequently receive calls from clients who own rental properties seeking assistance with regards to tenants who are in default of their lease obligations (such as failing to pay rent). These clients obviously wish to move quickly to resolve the issue(s); however, care must be taken not to engage in “self-help” that not only could hinder attempts to remove the defaulting tenant, but could also result in liability for the landlord relative to the tenant.

Self-help involves the landlord taking the law into his or her own hands to forcibly remove the tenant from the property. While the tenant is in legal possession of the premises under the lease, no other person can occupy or take possession of the premises by force. Minn. Stat. § 504B.281. Minnesota has historically followed the common-law rule that a landlord may rightfully use self-help to retake leased premises from a tenant in possession without incurring liability for wrongful eviction provided two conditions are met: (1) The landlord is legally entitled to possession, such as where a tenant holds over after the lease term or where a tenant breaches a lease containing a reentry clause; and (2) the landlord’s means of reentry are peaceable. Berg v. Wiley, 264 N.W.2d 145, 150 (Minn. 1978), citing Mercil v. Broulette, 66 Minn. 416, 69 N.W. 218 (1896). Under the common-law rule, a tenant who is evicted by his landlord may recover damages for wrongful eviction where the landlord either had no right to possession or where the means used to remove the tenant were forcible, or both. Berg at 150; see also Poppen v. Wadleigh, 235 Minn. 400, 51 N.W.2d 75 (1952); Sweeney v. Meyers, 199 Minn. 21, 270 N.W. 906 (1937); Lobdell v. Keene, 85 Minn. 90, 88 N.W. 426 (1901).

An example of prohibited self-help would be a landlord who, after determining that a tenant has abandoned the property prior to an eviction, changes the locks to the property. While common sense may suggest that this is a reasonable course of action as it would minimize the chances of damage to the property, the landlord would be in violation of Minn. Stat. § 504B.281and liable to the tenant for wrongful eviction. In fact, the Berg case referenced above dealt with this very issue and the Minnesota Supreme Court found for the tenant as to its claim of unlawful eviction.

The only recourse to remove a tenant from the property is to use the legal process of Unlawful Detainer to have a court rule that the tenant is there illegally and ordered to leave. The benefit to using this process is that the tenant is removed by a law enforcement officer if they do not comply, which removes the landlord’s liability in the action.

Also, regardless of whether you think that what you are doing would be considered “peaceable entry”, or if you are not certain of what to do when your tenant defaults, do not use the “DIY” method, as it usually winds up with you being “SOL”. Contact someone knowledgeable about Minnesota landlord-tenant law as to how best to resolve the matter.

Jeffrey C. O’Brien is an attorney with the Minneapolis-based law firm of Lommen Abdo, P.A. voice of the “Legal Minute on Minnesota Home Talk, heard Saturdays on 1500 ESPN, and a Minnesota State Bar Association Board Certified Real Property Specialist. He can be reached at (612) 336-9317 or via email at jobrien@lommen.com.