Who’s Responsible for Home Repairs During a Tenancy?


Determining who is responsible for repairs to a property during a tenancy can be a divisive issue, but it’s important to know where your responsibilities lie. While clear guidelines for the process of repairs should be laid out in a tenancy agreement, these can vary from property to property. If you’re not sure what your responsibilities as a landlord are, you’re not alone. As property managers, we hear this question a lot. If you’re among the many who could use a little clarification on this issue, why not take a look at the quick guide below? The most important thing to remember is that communication with your tenants is paramount, so discuss these matters with them, and lay down your argument for your involvement. It could save you money, time and acrimony further down the line.

What is it that’s damaged?
Mainly, if it’s the tenant’s property that’s damaged, it’s their responsibility to fix it. If it’s your property as the rental home owner, you’re going to want to handle the maintenance yourself of leave it to your property management company. Allowing tenants to do their own maintenance opens up the floodgates of liability in the event they’re hurt or the property is further damaged. We all have that ‘handy’ person in our life who ends up blowing fuses or completely destroying some drywall. That’s much less charming when your property ends up damaged.

How urgent are the repairs?
Another vital consideration is just how badly the tenants need the repairs. Any electrical appliances (such as washer, dryer, oven, etc.) must be fixed by the landlord in order to adhere to the landlord and tenant insurance policies. Do not allow tenants to repair these things if they are damaged, as they could receive injuries which could lead to legal ramifications for the landlord. Likewise, any attempted repairs by an unqualified tenant could lead to further damage to the property. As such, any repairs on fixed appliances must be repaired as soon as possible. If the boiler in your property breaks down in winter, it is important you have it repaired as soon as possible, whereas if a fuse goes on a bulb, this could take a lesser precedent. However, it’s best to be punctual with your repairs in order to keep your tenants happy and prevent any further damage.

How to avoid in-tenancy repairs
You can take steps to avoid making repairs while tenants occupy your rental property by regularly doing pre-tenancy inspections of a property. This is required following a tenancy in order to ensure there is no superficial damage, but it’s good to check the wiring, plumbing and general functioning of a property before renting it out again. This can help avoid any rancor between you and future tenants if a fault is found, although it will mean the cost of repairs fall to you and you alone.

At Simply Residential, we offer a quarterly furnace filter change and lease violation walk through to help us determine if there are any immediate needs or violations to the property. We also offer an annual maintenance walk-through to help us determine what may need work in the coming year so we can help our owners financially plan their maintenance needs in a way that makes sense for them.

The Breakup: When a Tenant Moves Out


Breaking up can be tricky. Sometimes the break can be unexpected and painful to manage. Other times, the feeling is mutual and fairly quick to wrap up. Business breakups are no different. At times the perfect client or landlord changes after the papers are signed, or sometimes life simply alters plans. Have no fear! Here are a few helpful hints to help both parties walk away from a lease scandal free.

The Golden Rule
Be courteous! You would not quit a job without notice and a lease is no exception. Your landlord or tenant signed those papers counting on you to do your part and cancelling the contract takes time to finish, so give the other individual time to take in the situation and proceed accordingly. At Simply Residential Property Management, we require a 60 day notice, in some cases landlords only ask for 30 days. Be specific on the closure. Mention prospective dates to move out, payment details, etc… The more clear the details the less room there will be for argument or nit picking. Once you give notice, be prompt to follow through.

Put everything in writing! Your landlord or tenant may be the sweetest person on earth, but do not leave the transaction undocumented. Give notice on paper. Give forwarding address on paper. Give monetary details on paper. Do you see the trend? Paper, paper, paper! Even if you notify the other individual online, always follow up with printed documentation and make multiple copies. This way, if any argument erupts, you will have hard copy evidence to bring the conflict to a close. These copies are also great for future reference (taxes, new clients, etc…)

Many states require landlords to perform an inspection of the property before the tenant officially vacates. Again, this goes along with common courtesy. You would not return a borrowed shirt or dish while it is still dirty, and you should not return a rented home without cleaning it either. This does not need to be a long or expensive process. A good spring cleaning and general touch ups will be a good start. Once the inspection is complete, the tenant will have a good idea what else to fix before vacating. Again, make certain that all the details are documented and copies made! Once the exit is complete, a second inspection should be conducted (the tenant may or may not be invited to participate). Landlords should take careful notes and photos (be sure they are dated). Photographs add visual documentation to the other paperwork. The tenants should have copies of these as well for their files.

Wrapping up
Once the inspections are complete and the tenant moved out, the landlord will have a bracket of time to return the tenant’s security deposit along with the compilation of the deductions resulting from the inspections. This should all be provided promptly so as to avoid conflict.

As with any breaking of a relationship, communication is key to a peaceful and cordial parting. Treat the other individual well, and parting will be simple and pain free for everyone involved.

Happy Holidays from All of Us!

happy holidays from simply residential property management

Winter is upon us, and with that first burst of cold weather comes something magical — the holiday season!

At SRPM, we love the holiday season and all that it represents. This year for our holiday party, we volunteered at Feed My Starving Children. Giving back to the community is important to us, and we love the idea of making sure hungry kids have the nutrition they need. Of course, we took plenty of pictures so keep an eye on our Facebook page for more details!

In honor of the holiday season, we thought we’d share one of our favorite holiday cookie recipes with you so you can share it with your friends and family! We’d love to see some of your family’s favorites as well, so please send them our way if you’re so inclined. Trust us, these treats will be a hit at any holiday party!

Chocolate Snowballs:


  • 3/4 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup chopped pecans or walnuts
  • 1 cup (6 ounces) chocolate chips
  • Confectioners’ sugar

Preheat oven to 350°. In a large bowl, cream butter, sugar and salt until light and fluffy. Beat in egg and vanilla. Gradually beat in flour. Stir in pecans and chocolate chips.

Shape dough into 1-in. balls; place 2 in. apart on ungreased baking sheets. Bake 15-20 minutes or until set and bottoms are lightly browned. Cool on pans 2 minutes.

Roll warm cookies in confectioners’ sugar. Cool completely on wire racks. If desired, reroll cookies in confectioners’ sugar.

Yield: about 4 dozen. Enjoy!

A Landlord’s Guide to Security Deposits


Security deposits are a vital part of the rental process. Without a security deposit, there is little to stop your tenants from leaving your property in a state of disrepair; forcing you to foot the bill. That’s why every rental home now requires a security deposit. Aside from the assurance that if there is any lasting or even superficial damage to the rental property, this means you can detract money for failure to ensure your investment is left in a clean state. For this reason, we’ve compiled a handy how-to guide for using the security deposit to both your property’s and your tenants’ advantage.

Clearly explain the cost of damages in the lease agreement
This is important as it lays out exactly what is expected of the tenant in terms of personal maintenance while renting the property. By laying out how much you will charge for damage or loss to each individual aspect of the rental property, the tenant will understand how to properly maintain it, and will be held accountable for that maintenance. This will also act as an incentive to the tenant, showing them in real figures the cost for refusing to ensure proper care is taken when in the property. It’s important to do a full walk through of the property with your tenant before they move in, allowing them an opportunity to point out damages that you had not registered. This prevents misinformed accusations and increasing tensions with the tenant at the end of their tenancy. This is also for the tenant’s protection, ensuring you have to justify each deduction you made from the security deposit and assuring them you are not taking more than the damages actually warrant. Make sure this process is documented and signed by each party.

Photograph everything
When deducting money from a tenant’s security deposit, you will need physical evidence that the damage was caused during their tenancy. That’s why, before and immediately after each tenancy, it’s important you photograph any existing damages, and even areas with no damage whatsoever. This prevents the tenant from claiming the damages were already there, or that they were inflicted after they left the property.

Have a little leeway for wear and tear
While nobody wants their property damaged without being properly compensated, it is likely that some aspects of the property will become worn, through no fault of the tenant. That’s why it can be beneficial to allow for a little wear and tear on the property. The intention of the security deposit is to insure against major structural damage or a costly cleaning job at the end, not minor bumps and scrapes in areas of the property that would inevitably see a little damage.

As a landlord, it’s important to remember you have a reputation to uphold. While some are tempted to take a little extra from the security deposit, your ethical integrity will always win you more business — which translates into more money in the end. It isn’t just a question of ethics, it’s illegal to take more than is owed. Alternatively, rent your property with Simply Residential Property Management and let our independent team of specialists handle the entire security deposit issue; allowing you and your tenants to rest easy in the knowledge only the appropriate compensation will be paid.

How To Winterize Your Rental Property

Winter is a tough time of the year for us all, but it’s especially hard on houses. There are several things you can do to ensure you’re prepared. Here are a few key items to consider.
How-To Winterize Your Rental Property (3)
Have you made sure your properties are ready for the cold months ahead? If not, don’t worry! Our professional maintenance staff is happy to take care of these concerns for you. While they’re on your property, they can also perform our $99 full-property assessment to check for any other potential maintenance issues or things that may need to be addressed after the next year. If you’re interested, contact our Maintenance Manager today!

A Letter of Thanks from Ron

simply residential property management thank you for your business

When the fast pace of summer dies down and a noticeable chill (and even show!) are in the air, we know that fall is upon us. For me, fall has always been a time of reflection and introspection. It’s an opportunity to look back and see how far I have come and where I want to go next. This has been a great year for the SRPM team and for me!

Through our relationships with you, our clients, we’ve gained a unique understanding of how grateful we truly are for the opportunity to serve you. This year, we have seen rents increase in many cities, especially in the summer months, your properties have rented faster and renewals were strong. This means more profitability for us all.

In particular, we thank you for your loyalty and willingness to learn along side us when strange situations arise, as they often do in this industry.

These learnings, whether experienced first-hand or passed on through conversation, have helped many of you invest more into acquisition and preventative maintenance to improve the return on your investment. Proactive maintenance has been the key to reducing overall maintenance costs and saving all of our sanity along the way.

I’m personally thankful for your kindness with my team. Each one of them is committed to working hard for each of you, all day, every day. From foregoing summer vacations to working long hours, often through nights and weekends to help an owner with an urgent need. I couldn’t do it without them.

We are excited about the direction we are headed and services we will be rolling out over this next year. Our partnerships and network are expanding to better service your needs.

We are here because of each of you. From the entire SRPM team, we thank you for your business and wish you a spectacular season!

Why Hiring a Property Management Company for a Single Rental Property is a Good Idea


For many rental property owners, a common question that they ask is if they need to hire a property management company for a single rental property. The answer from property managers and rental property owners alike is a resounding “Yes.” The fact is that a professional property management service can be a real asset and the services offered are likely much more complex than you might imagine.

Property management companies do much more than simply collecting rent checks and fixing broken appliances – their real value lies in risk mitigation, which should be your top priority when renting out a property. For example, Simply Residential signs the lease with the tenant, taking on some of that risk and allowing our owners to remain anonymous to our tenants. We also offer protection services like our Eviction Protection Plan and our Quarterly Furnace Filter Change and Lease Violation Walk-Through. These services protect our clients from the dangers of evicting a tenant, and help us identify any problems with their property before they become full blown emergencies. This also allows us to provide an efficient and regimented way to ensure that our properties are fully protected.

Choosing a property manager for a single rental property, or even for multiple rental properties, can be a challenge for first timers. The key to this choice lies in knowing what you want and need from a property management company. Some of the specific services you should look for are:

  • Finding high quality tenants.
  • Determining how to advertise your rental property.
  • Screening all tenants, including background checks and credit reports.
  • Drafting legal leases that will hold up in court.
  • Collecting evidence and documentation to reduce chances that property owners will have to pay for tenant caused damages.
  • Maintenance of the rental property.
  • Handling tenants who don’t pay.
  • Evicting tenants without violating their rights.

While property owners can complete their own research and learn how to do the things listed above, this is an extremely time consuming and legally convoluted process that can often land owners in a difficult situation, especially when evictions are a factor.

A knowledgeable property management service can also ensure that rental property owners understand legislation changes and how it will affect them, as well as their tenants. This can be extremely complicated and difficult to understand, and keeping up with the changes requires dedication and time. However, when you hire a property management service, they will know what the legislation means and ensure that you, and your property, meet all new or changed requirements.

One of the most important services offered by a property manager is the ability to respond to emergency situations in a timely manner. This will prevent property owners from having to halt their day – or night – in order to handle a tenant issue or emergency.

Hiring a property manager can eliminate the possibility of your rental property turning into one of the horror stories you have likely heard. In fact, a reputable property manager will handle all aspects of managing and maintaining your property. If you have questions, we’re happy to help. Call us today at 952-831-5300 or email me!

[Photo credit: Rental Realities on Flickr]

In Focus: How Can Realtors Benefit From a Partnership with Simply Residential?

realtors partner with simply residential property management

Last month, we listed the basic benefits that several professionals in the real estate industry can experience from a partnership with Simply Residential Property Management. In the next few months we’ll be discussing those benefits in detail within our print magazine and online as well. First and foremost, we wanted to be sure to address our current and potential realtor partners.

How can you benefit from a relationship with Simply Residential? Before we get into that, take a second to consider the following:

  • Have you ever had an overpriced listing?
  • Have you ever lost a listing?
  • Have you ever sold a property as an investment?
  • Do you have clients that kept a starter property as a rental?
  • Do you have a personal relationship with a property management company that benefits you and your clients?

If you answered yes to these questions, but no to the last question, you may be missing opportunities to make a profit for your clients and yourself! With winter approaching, the real estate industry is preparing to slow down. That decrease in sales can mean a significant opportunity for your clients.

Instead of letting their property sit on the market waiting for the right person to come along, consider renting it out. Even if it’s just for one year, that’s 12 months of rent collected in place of letting it sit vacant.

When the time does come to sell the property, we turn that listing back over to the realtor who gave us the referral. Our partners retain their listings, and since we don’t engage in buy/sell there’s no competition. We don’t want to take the listing from you, we simply want to help your client manage their property until they are ready or able to sell.

Buying a property is one of the largest financial and emotional investments that a person makes in their lifetime. During that process, we want your clients to understand and be able to take advantage of every opportunity available to them and we know you want that for them too.

Additionally, for each new owner you refer to us, we’ll give you a referral bonus once the management agreement is signed and we have a tenant placed in the property!

If you want to learn more about partnering with Simply Residential, visit our partner page or email us today!

[Photo Credit: Bunches and Bits {Karina} via Flickr]

Who and What is Protected by the Fair Housing Act?

fair housing act protection for landlords and tenants

The Fair Housing Act affects every single person in the state of Minnesota in one way or another. For this reason, it’s important for our employees and our clients to know what the 13 protected classes are for our state, and how we can make sure we’re abiding by the standards set in the FHA.

According to the Minnesota Department of Human Rights, “Every person in Minnesota is protected by the Human Rights Act as every person, based on their personal characteristics such as a person’s race or sex, belongs to one or more of the Protected Classes: Race, Color, Creed, Religion, National Origin, Sex, Marital Status, Familial Status, Disability, Public Assistance Status, Age, Sexual Orientation, and Local Human Rights Commission Activity.”

Discrimination based on any of those characteristics is strictly prohibited by law. But what constitutes discrimination? The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development says an owner cannot:

  • Refuse to rent or sell housing
  • Refuse to negotiate for housing
  • Make housing unavailable
  • Deny a dwelling
  • Set different terms, conditions or privileges for sale or rental of a dwelling
  • Provide different housing services or facilities
  • Falsely deny that housing is available for inspection, sale, or rental
  • For profit, persuade owners to sell or rent (blockbusting) or
  • Deny anyone access to or membership in a facility or service (such as a multiple listing service) related to the sale or rental of housing.
  • Threaten, coerce, intimidate or interfere with anyone exercising a fair housing right or assisting others who exercise that right
  • Advertise or make any statement that indicates a limitation or preference based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status, or handicap.

This prohibition against discriminatory advertising applies to single-family and owner-occupied housing that is otherwise exempt from the FHA. There are additional protections in place for potential renters or buyers with disabilities. A landlord or property owner cannot:

  • Refuse to let a renter make reasonable modifications to their dwelling or common use areas, at their own expense, if necessary for the disabled person to use the housing. (Where reasonable, the landlord may permit changes only if the renter agrees to restore the property to its original condition upon moving out.)
  • Refuse to make reasonable accommodations in rules, policies, practices or services if necessary for the disabled person to use the housing.
    Knowing the basics of the Fair Housing Act is an absolute must for rental property owners. It’s in your best interest to protect yourself, and it’s also the right thing to do to make sure you’re being fair to potential renters. After all, discrimination is a terrible business practice.

At Simply Residential, we make sure our staff maintains the highest levels of integrity, especially in regards to promoting equal opportunity housing. The owners we work with can rest assured that their marketing and rental processes are up to the standards set by the FHA. Questions? Send me an email and let’s chat!

How Does Simply Residential Protect Your Rental Properties?

How simply residential property management protects your rental property

Ensuring the safety of what is arguably the largest and most important investment you’ll make in your life is something that we take very seriously at Simply Residential. Here are a few of the services we provide to make sure that your property is protected and being used in a responsible and non-destructive way:

Every month we send an email to our tenants to ask them about any maintenance needs. This email includes a list of seasonally appropriate things to check. Since many renters haven’t owned their own home, we take the time to educate them about what they need to look out for and when.

With this optional service, we go to your property once per quarter to change your furnace filter. While we’re there, we do a property walk-through to determine if there are any lease violations on the part of the tenant that need to be addressed.

This optional service allows us to perform a full assessment of your property and identify any maintenance issues that may come up in the next year. That information allows us to plan out and budget for necessary maintenance needs so you don’t end up having to pay all of the costs at the same time.

Move-in, Move-out
When a tenant moves in, the first thing we do is a walk-though of your property to make thorough notes of its condition, including extensive photographic documentation, with the new tenant. We then collect the tenant’s signature for verification that they were present and agree with our findings. Upon move out, we do the same walk-through to assess for any changes in the condition of your property. This walk-through is fully and extensively documented with photos and covers over 70 points within your property.

No matter what time it is, or the nature of the issue, we have a team of full time, professional maintenance technicians who are available 24/7/365 to our tenants. This allows us to quickly and efficiently rectify any damaging problems and handle emergency needs immediately so they don’t escalate or create more problems in the future. This makes it convenient for tenants to report any problems with the property at any time, which is their responsibility per the signed lease agreement.

Taking care of your property is our first priority. If you’re interested in learning more about our optional annual walk-through and/or quarterly furnace filter change and lease violation check service call us today!

Contact our Maintenance Department: maintenance@simplyres.com or 952-715-6183.