Tag Archive for: Landlord

When looking for a new apartment, home or condo/townhome to lease, there are several red flags that might disqualify it from consideration. Does one of these eliminate it from your list? Perhaps not, but when a few of them converge, you should probably look elsewhere. Here are 10 common problems that could make an apartment unsuitable for tenancy:

Persistent pest infestations

Apartments plagued with pests like cockroaches, silverfish or rodents can be a nightmare to live in and are a clear sign of poor maintenance. When viewing a property it’s important to keep your eyes out for nesting materials that rodents might make use of, such as insulation, cotton, shreds of paper, etc. If you discover dead insects of the same species around window sills and door frames, there might be an insect problem on site. Other signs to watch out for include mouse tracks and/or droppings as well as evidence of wood damage (holes and hollow-sounding wooden surfaces).

Safety concerns

Issues like faulty wiring, non-functioning smoke detectors or inadequate security measures pose significant safety risks and should not be ignored. As we like to remind tenants or prospective buyers, we’re not home inspectors nor do we pretty to play one, but sometimes there are clearly visible signs like smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors missing their covers and/or batteries. Another suspicious sight is when an apartment is dotted with exposed wires.

Water damage and leaks

In real estate, we say water is usually our biggest headache. It certainly has the potential to be. Apartments with water stains, musty smells or visible signs of leaks indicate potential mold growth, structural issues and water damage that can affect your health and belongings. Let your nose be your guide as you preview a home. Are there any distinct odors you notice? Does the air in certain rooms or the basement appear to be filled with more moisture? Water can pose a real threat to those occupying a home, so it’s important to stay alert to potential water issues.

Inadequate heating or cooling systems

Apartments lacking proper HVAC systems or with dysfunctional heating or air conditioning units can make living conditions uncomfortable and unpleasant. In Northeastern Pennsylvania, there are winters that can be harsh and quite cold. If the heating system doesn’t appear to have been serviced in some time or looks rundown, the system might not be efficient and the cold months could be somewhat unbearable.

Excessive noise levels

If an apartment is situated in a noisy neighborhood near busy roads, bars or construction sites and doesn’t provide soundproofing measures, it could disrupt your peace and quality of life. We always recommend that our clients, whether they be homebuyers or tenants, visit the neighborhood they’re considering at various points throughout the day (and at night too!). They’ll want to have a good understanding of the traffic situation, both in-person and vehicle traffic. Some of our clients aren’t disturbed by noise, but others find any elevation to be upsetting.

Insufficient storage space

Lack of adequate storage within an apartment can make it challenging to organize belongings and may lead to a cluttered living space. Certain clients or families have a lot of stuff and would rather not rent out a self-storage unit if they don’t need to. Small room sizes, lack of closets or a suitable basement/attic space can really put the damper on attracting tenants who need space for their possessions.

Damaged or worn-out amenities

If shared amenities like elevators, laundry facilities or parking areas are poorly maintained or in constant need of repair, it can cause inconvenience and frustration. In some of our buildings that serve condominums, the condition of amenities can be a game-changer. Even HOAs can play a role in this facet of the rental market. Some people depend on these and are willing to pay for these services, but if these amenities appear to be on the fritz, they would be better resuming their search elsewhere.

Poor management and communication

Frequent communication gaps, unresponsive management or unaddressed tenant concerns indicate a lack of professionalism and may lead to ongoing issues. In our business, a breakdown in communication helps no one. When miscommunication occurs, chances are good if something becomes an issue, it probably snow-balled into something much bigger. Responsive landlords, tenants and agents help to address any potential issues before they might get out of hand.

Accessibility issues

For individuals with mobility challenges, apartments that lack proper wheelchair accessibility features or have many flights of stairs can be impractical or even unsafe. Renters with disability issues can ask for a more accessible unit or request that accommodations be made to their unit. These accommodations should be reasonable and the renter, in most cases, would both cover the cost for the modifications as well as restoring the space to its prior state before those alterations were made. It’s important to know what your rights are as a tenant, if you have accessibility problems and require support.

Unreliable or absent maintenance services

If the apartment complex fails to provide timely maintenance or lacks a dedicated team, it can result in prolonged inconvenience and compromised living conditions. The landlord should be handling any maintenance required on their property, while keeping in mind — great tenants are hard to find. If they notify the landlord of a legitimate, ongoing issue, the owner should be prompt in resolving the matter.

Considering these ten problems can help tenants avoid potential frustrations as they seek safe environments to live.

Heather A. Luklanchuk, REALTOR®
Realty Network Group

It’s exciting when you decide that it’s the right time to grab your first investment property. However, if you’re new to these kinds of purchases, it’s also intimidating. Fortunately, as our experts understand, you can handle everything properly if you know how to approach it.

Finding the Right Investment Property

The Market

Calling the housing market hot can feel like an understatement. The median sale price for residential properties in the US was just over $408,000 at the end of 2021 and home prices across the country year-over-year (YOY) still exceed 20%, according to CoreLogic. In the Greater Scranton market, median home sale prices have been trending up at a YOY rate of 13.8%, more than the increase from a year prior (July 2020 to July 2021).*

By and large, prices have trended upward for the past few years and it isn’t uncommon for buyers to spend over list price, with some going for many thousands above list.

However, the price can vary throughout a particular area. Overall, each neighborhood can come with its own vibe and price point. As a result, where you buy matters, both from a cost and desirability standpoint.

When searching for investment properties, be sure to partner with one of our real estate professionals. They can help navigate the particulars of purchasing a home in Northeastern Pennsylvania. 

Features of Desirable Properties

When looking for investment properties, you need features that appeal to renters. For example, ValuePenguin notes that 53% of consumers want a home office over an extra bedroom. In some areas, open floor plans may typically be preferred. For downtown properties, a parking space might be a necessity, too.

Since traffic can be challenging, finding a location near convenient roadways or close to critical amenities like stores or medical centers (or even pizza!) is also essential. That way, renters won’t have to go far to get what they need.

If you’re looking at family-sized residential investment properties, then choosing one with exceptional school ratings is a smart move. That’ll make the home more attractive to parents, increasing its potential value.

The same goes for homes with large yards. Whether it’s parents or renters with dogs, having outdoor space may be high on the list. If the yard isn’t in great shape, making some outdoor improvements may be all it takes to elevate its curb appeal.

For instance, you could connect with local contractors to install a new fence, if it’s allowed by your homeowners association and/or the local municipality. Ensure they’re licensed, insured and check for underground utility lines. Next, read reviews online. Then, reach out to discuss your needs and get a quote. While the average price can vary (and it usually does in this market with distribution and supply issues that contractors typically encounter), the size, materials and location play a role, so get several estimates in advance to ensure you’re in the ballpark.

Managing the Investment Property, Beginning with Forming an LLC

Before getting into the investment property business, make sure you’ve set up a limited liability company to operate under. This will help protect you from personal liability, as well as confer tax benefits to you. You can accomplish this relatively simply by using a formation service. Once you find the right property, then you’ll need to determine how to manage it. Usually, you have two choices.

First, you can operate as the landlord, and as such, you’re responsible for all activities relating to the lease property. Along with advertising the property, you’ll screen tenants, collect rent, handle maintenance calls and more. In some cases, that also means enforcing the lease – a task that often lacks enjoyment and may not always go as planned – and handling evictions, if needed. It’s a full-plate for sure, but it’ll allow you to keep all of the profits too.

Second, you can hire a property manager. By using this approach, you’ll end up with less profit in exchange for support handling the property. The property manager will handle practically most everything, including screening tenants, accepting payments, tackling repair requests and the like. They’re also an ally for lease enforcement, ensuring you don’t have to address violations directly unless an eviction becomes necessary.

Which option is best depends on how hands-on you’d like to be along the way. While you’re always involved, a property manager reduces your burden in exchange for a fee, giving you access to support and expertise. However, if you’re confident in your capabilities, that may be unnecessary, as many investors manage their own properties.

* statistics from the Greater Scranton Board of REALTORS® (July 2020-July 2020)


[This content is compliments of Fix It Dads.]