We want to bring awareness to being prepared for hurricane season. It has been over 10 years since our area last saw the effects of a major hurricane. Many new residents in our area have never been through such a life and community altering event. For area residents that have been through such a catastrophic event it is imperative that we avoid having “storm amnesia” on what is needed to be properly prepared for such an event. We are 22 days into the long, 6 month hurricane season and there have already been 4 named storms. While we hope the Gulf Coast does not have to face a major hurricane the reality is there will be more than just 4 named storms this year. Do not wait until one is headed our way to get prepared. Have a plan for your family, pets, business, home, etc. Below are a few websites that offer an abundance of invaluable resources and information that can help you be prepared before, during, and after a storm.
Property Management Blog
Fleas are another common problem in this area. Those with pets increase the odds of acquiring fleas but they can also be picked up and brought inside on clothing and shoes. There are numerous flea prevention products available for pets at your vet or pet store. If a home becomes infested with fleas it is best to have a professional treat the problem.
If you are a tenant, your responsibilities for pest control should be clearly understood and written as a part of your lease agreement. Any questions should be addressed with your landlord prior to taking possession of the property. Keep the rental clean and dry and always notify the landlord of any pest issues.
LAWN PUMPS AND SPRINKLER SYSTEMS
Not all properties have pumps and sprinkler systems. Some small yards or planting areas are not large enough to justify the cost. Some local areas are not able to have a well due to rock or deep water tables or other physical restrictions. The type of well and pump can be determined by these restrictions also. Although it is preferable to have a well and pump (saving the cost of water), some sprinkler systems run off of municipal water sources requiring paying for the water on the monthly water bill.
Lawn pumps are usually found near the house and are wired to a control panel with a timer. Depending on the size of the area to be watered, there are usually several zones or sections of the yard that are on a valve system allowing each section to be watered independently. This allows maximum water pressure to the sprinkler heads in each zone and explains why there is usually several PVC pipes connected to the lawn pump. Timers can be programmed to water on specific days and times. They also control how long the sprinklers will run on each zone and are programmed to operate automatically but can be operated manually if extra watering is required.
There are many types of sprinkler heads depending on the area to be watered. Most heads are pop-up that extend up from the ground when water pressure is applied. This keeps the sprinkler system out of sight unless it is operating. Once up they spray in patterns depending on the type. Some heads rotate to cover larger areas and can be adjusted to run from 5 to 360 degrees. Most of these heads are made of plastic and can easily be damaged if run over by a vehicle or lawn mower. They also can get clogged by sand or debris from time to time and have screens that need to be removed and cleaned to allow proper operation.
Northwest Florida can experience freezing temperatures in winter requiring many lawn pumps to be shut down and drained in November. Pumps that have motors horizontal to the ground are connected to cast-iron housings that hold water. These housings will break if allowed to freeze. They have a drain plug or valve on the lower front used to drain the water. The pump will require priming when it’s time to start watering again in April. This can be done by running water back through the pump with a hose. Once the system is primed and the timer is programmed to operate the system, manually operate all zones and visually check heads for proper operation and coverage.
Lawn pumps and sprinkler systems are common in our area because the sandy soil does not hold water and the warm often dry weather requires lawns and plants have additional watering to what Mother Nature provides. Additional information is available on-line or through the many lawn care specialists in our area. An understanding of the operation and maintenance of your sprinkler system will help maintain a healthy and beautiful yard.
Renting with pets has gotten a little easier over the past several years as the market has become more competitive and the pet population has increased. There are more rental units that will consider pets today than in previous years, however, pets can still present problems when trying to find your ultimate rental property. Many properties will consider pets with restrictions on type, numbers and size. Properties that are listed as “No Pets” rarely are open to negotiation.
Many of the rentals in the local area are owned by military or people who intend to move back into their home upon retirement. If they don’t have pets or are allergic to them, they will not want pets in their home. Rental property owners are concerned about the cost of damage pets can cause to their investment. Urine and pet odors are very difficult to remove from carpet and padding which can be expensive to replace. Pet hair and dander cause allergies and can add to cleaning costs. Scratches from toenails on floors, doors and glass are also expensive repairs. Dogs can destroy lawns by digging and urinating on the grass.
Apartment complexes, town-homes and rental units that are in close proximity to each other also present a problem for pet owners. Many of these units don’t have a common area available for pet waste. Waste disposal is a serious problem with any pet and in multi-family units, improper disposal exposes other residents to their waste. Noise from barking dogs is also a problem in apartment complexes as it can disturb other residents and affect their legal right to quite enjoyment of a leased property.
Another serious pet problem is fleas. The warm climate and moderate winters we have in our area are very conductive to the flea population. When a pet moves out of a home, fleas will often lay dormant in carpeting until the next tenant moves in creating a problem for the owner.
Most insurance companies have restrictions on rental home owner’s policies for what they classify as a dangerous breed of dog. They publish a list of these dogs and can cancel a policy if a tenant is found to have a pet on the list. The dogs on this list have cost insurance companies in liability lawsuits over bites or attacks and have resulted in some owners losing their insurance coverage.
With all of the concerns about allowing pets in rental units, those that do allow pets often have restrictions and almost always require additional deposits or pet fees. Pet deposits and fees are usually non-refundable and increase with the number or type of pet. Tenants with pets can be required to sign special addenda to their leases covering pet damages and liability for their pets.
Having a pet does not mean you will not be able to find a rental, but it might mean you will be limited in your selection. Pet owners are attached to their animals and it is hard for them to understand why someone would want to exclude a member of their family. Owners have a considerable investment in their rental units and not allowing pets takes some of the risk out of the rental process.
INVESTING IN RENTAL PROPERTY
I am often asked if it is a good time to invest in rental property. There are many factors to consider depending on an individual’s financial situation and where and how they plan to buy rental property. However, my reply is almost always yes if they are considering purchasing on the Emerald Coast.
This area has always experienced a strong rental market. In the four decades my Wife and I have been in the long-term residential rental management business in Ft Walton Beach, we have never experienced a decline in business. The past housing bubble bust and BP oil spill had an adverse effect on property values and the short-term vacation market, but it has now turned around and doing better than ever. Property values are moving up and interest rates have stayed down making Real Estate attractive again.
One of the most important factors in our strong and stable rental market is of course the Military influence on our economy. With two Air Force Military installations and the new Army Special Operations Post all with critical missions to the welfare and safety of our country, the area has been blessed with growth and prosperity. Our beautiful beaches, water and mild temperatures attract visitors and retirees year round.
Many young military or students just starting out are content to rent without taking on mortgage debt. Coming up with a down payment or qualifying for a home loan has become more difficult and is forcing more into the rental market. The National Board of REALTORS has published numerous articles recently stating the decline in home ownership and the upward number of those renting long term. Builders and investors are looking increasingly at multi-family rental property.
Rental activity is always strongest during the summer when school is out and families are moving. Most long term management companies have their leases expire or renew between June and August. The demand for rentals in a military community can fluctuate year round depending on unit and troop movements. We have experienced a steady demand for rentals almost constantly over the past year.
Local rental inventories have increased as many homeowners are still upside down on their mortgages and have put their property into a rental program until property values catch up. Investors are buying local real estate, some of which is still in foreclosure, or priced to sell. Some contractors have been snatching up distressed property to renovate and flip for a profit, however, these are becoming harder to find. Those who are in a position to pay cash are at an advantage in negotiating a purchase price or financing options.
Those fortunate enough to be able to invest in income producing real estate should be contacting their local agent to purchase investment property now. If you are already a homeowner and trying to sell but are unable clear enough to pay off the mortgage, it is time to consider renting. It is also advisable to contact an experienced Professional Property Manager to help make owning rental property a trouble free and profitable venture.
J. Matthew Scheel
Our new website is fully responsive and uses the latest technology, allowing you to have a better browsing experience on any device no matter if it is a desktop, tablet or cellphone!
Why is this a big deal? Well, it allows you to have access to our site anywhere, at any time. Tenants - you will be able to easily find and apply for your next rental home, as well as submit maintenance requests online! For our owners, you will have access to your statements 24/7.
We hope you find the site useful and easy to use!
2. Collecting of the rent
3. Overseeing and handling maintenance
4. Offering the tenant the ability to pay rent by credit or debit card
5. Facilitating the legal eviction process
6. Extensive screening process
7. Knowledge of all landlord tenant laws to prevent you from getting sued
8. Knowledge of local market
9. Access to multiple marketing sites
10. Having a detailed lease, forms, and contracts that are clear and hold up in court