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The Jacksonville Landlord’s Guide to Reclaiming Your Weekends

How Real Property Management Sunstate Can Help You Get Your Life Back

There is a reason why Real Property Management is Jacksonville property owners first choice, not only in your community but across the nation as well.  We have taken steps to revolutionize property management as a business by creating a more reliable, scalable, professional and technology-driven platform that in the end results in an overall better return on your investment.

Chapter 1: Filling Vacancies

Family Looking at a Jacksonville Rental PropertyI am sure we all know that filling a vacancy can time and effort! There are not only several steps in the process of filling a vacancy, but they can also time-consuming. Even worse, most DIY landlords (and some not-so-professional property managers) will try to find shortcuts to save themselves time. By not taking the time and fulfilling each step you could consequently end up with a tenant who does not respect the property or the rent obligations that are placed.  It might sound like a hassle at the time but in the long run, cutting corners can result in many more hours of hassle in the future.

At Real Property Management Sunstate, we don’t believe in taking shortcuts. We have learned over the last 30+ years that it’s a bad business practice that not only affects us but also increases a Jacksonville property owner’s risks. As the nationwide leader in property management, we have put together a full proof leasing process that has been proven to shorten vacancies and find reliable tenants quicker.

  1. We act quickly to help the owner prepare the home for rental, also referred to as getting the home “rent ready.” This includes professional re-keying, lock box installation, and guidance on any repairs or improvements that may be needed to help your property rent faster.
  2. We assist you in determining the best rate to lease your home that is appropriate for the property and market. A professional evaluation with local expertise is essential to help you decide on the best rental price for your property and will aid in getting it rented as quickly—and profitably—as possible.
  3. We advertise the rental aggressively with a proprietary marketing strategy that includes advertising across dozens of the most visited rental sites, including our own, and several other local outlets to attract more qualified applicants.
  4. We answer inquiries from prospective renters on demand, and we utilize information-enabled yard signs to allow applicants to call or text for more information, 24/7.
  5. We respond quickly to schedule professional showings with a team of responsive, experienced leasing agents who are committed to finding you, reliable
  6. We collect applications from as many potential tenants as possible, so you are assured of the best-qualified tenant possible.
  7. We screen applications with expedited, yet thorough, background checks on every potential tenant over 18 years old, including criminal, credit, employment, and rental history. This is very important, as well-screened tenants are more likely to stay longer and help you avoid costly turnover down the road.
  8. We work with the client to select the best possible tenant from the applicants based on the screening process.
  9. We manage lease signing and move-in, setting expectations clearly and attending to all the details.
  10. Throughout the entire leasing process, we provide unsurpassed service by our experienced team of experts, with weekly leasing updates, an information-packed online portal, and first-class customer service.

Having an efficient leasing process in place will save your time and money while keeping you headache-free. You can trust in Real Property Management Sunstate for shorter vacancies, more reliable tenants, longer lease terms, and your own team of experts to support you every step of the way.

Proper Tenant Screening

Have you ever wondered why some property owners/managers require personal information such as credit reports and a personal background check on ALL potential tenants over the age of 18, and some don’t require much at all? Why do some landlords require references, personal and past landlord information and even request income verification while others are more relaxed and satisfied with just meeting you?

This can make all the difference between a DIY (do-it-yourself) landlord and a professional property management company. Doing a thorough screening of all prospective tenants can make all the difference when it comes to rent payments, evictions and even damages to the rental property itself. We conducted a survey on landlord practices and it showed that some landlords may be putting themselves and their neighbors at risk when they lax on their tenant screening practices.

Real Property Management sponsored a national survey by Liminality Inc., a Boston based research firm, that showed some disturbing statistics concerning the lack of tenant screenings, which included criminal background checks:

  • Only 44% of DIY landlords conduct sex offender checks
  • Only 51% of DIY landlords conduct criminal background checks
  • 23% of DIY landlords sometimes or never conduct credit checks
  • Only 51% of DIY landlords contact past landlords for references

It is no surprise that unqualified tenants will often seek out landlords who don’t screen properly.

Chapter 2: Rent Readiness

Jacksonville Rental PropertyDid you know that the average income from a vacant three-bedroom single family residence is over $40 a DAY? This is reason enough to explain how important is its to find the best possible tenant to rent to.

There are many things that can delay the leasing process on your rental property, turn off prospective tenants and even hurt your cash flow. The most common items are, the rental home not being ready to be shown, or even the rent being to high for the current market. It is crucial that your property be ready to make a good impression.

Real Property Management Sunstate successfully leases homes each month and have perfected the “rent-ready” process to ensure3 the home is leased quickly. When you follow our simple steps, you are more likely to see your Jacksonville rental property rented to tenants who can call it home.

  1. Assess the property’s “curb appeal” from the street as if you were a potential tenant—an unattractive first impression can prevent prospective renters from ever viewing the home.
  2. Walkthrough and note needed maintenance and repairs, especially safety and security items, but cosmetic issues as well. Running or leaking plumbing, broken windows, mold, ineffective door locks, etc.—all put you, and your tenant, at risk.
  3. Re-key the property to prevent safety concerns, protect you from liability, and ensure simple, secure access. This is also required by law in many areas.
  4. Check appliances to ensure they are in working order, clean, and provided with new filters—the water heater, air conditioner, and heater. Also ensure that smoke and any other detectors as required by law—carbon monoxide, radon, etc., —are in place and working with fresh batteries.
  5. If REMODELING, cleaning or major work is needed, don’t market and show the property while under construction—it’s difficult for tenants to see what a home might look like.
  6. Remove any personal belongings anywhere on the property [attic, crawl space, garage, storage shed]. Anything you leave behind can expose you to liability.
  7. Paint any non-neutral colored walls a neutral color. Do not touch-up—paint completely, and do not leave paint behind for tenants to use.
  8. Remember to keep utilities on until the tenant moves in. The goal is to create a home the prospective tenant can happily imagine themselves living in—so don’t leave them in the dark! Make sure the home is well-lit and a comfortable temperature.
  9. Have the home professionally cleaned and clean up after any handyperson or maintenance crew has completed their work.
  10. Upkeep the property during a vacancy, including lawn care, landscaping, watering, pest control, and routine weekly cleanings.
  11. Install a lock box. This allows leasing agents to securely show the property to prospective tenants while reflecting professionalism. The property remains secure, yet accessible.
  12. Determine an appropriate rent amount for the market, area, property condition and type so you quickly attract a sufficient number of interested applicants. Overly high rent rates will result in a longer vacancy time, which can quickly eat away at the profit you are striving for.

It’s no surprise that the more attractive your property looks, the easier it’s going to be to lease it out quickly to the most dependable tenant possible.  If you are assistance getting your rental home “rent ready,” the experts at Real Property Management Sunstate can help you do more for less -faster.

Chapter 3: Maintenance

Professional Inspections of a Jacksonville Rental HomeMaintenance is an expense in property management that should not be overlooked. Without timely, efficient repairs and upkeep, your return on your investment can be deeply impacted in a negative way. In the end, making sure that repairs are being done in a professional manner and by trustworthy maintenance personnel, you can be certain that you will save not only time but money.

Landlords can easily waste A LOT of time and money on maintenance because they may not know the fastest, easiest and most cost-effective solutions. Real Property Management Sunstate has extensive experience and network of professionals to solve any maintenance issue you can imagine.

You can be certain that the number one thing that will come up when owning a Jacksonville property is maintenance issues. Real Property Management Sunstate can solve those issues quickly and economically for any property owner so they can spend that time with their families, relaxing, or at work.  Because we are available across the nation, we have access to a very extensive network of contractors, vendors and in-house staff that is capable of haling property maintenance and repairs. In addition to our network, we have partnerships with national and local vendors who can provide professional equipment, services and assist in minimizing any maintenance issues.

Inspections and Emergency Maintenance

Professional inspections of the inside and outside of the property help ensure that tenants comply with the terms of their lease and to assess any property conditions. Our office conducts, move-in, periodic, and move-out inspections.

By having documentation and photographs of every inspection done can help in understanding any and all maintenance and repairs so that you home retain its value and you can avoid pricey repairs if left unattended. Inspections can assist in resolving tenant issues that may arise in the future as well.

When it comes to single-family homes, there are a few maintenance items that tenants are generally responsible for. Such as, changing filters on your HVAC systems every 90 days, complete periodic pest control as needed, and replacing light bulbs and batteries in smoke detectors. They should also be maintaining the lawn & landscape, which includes flower beds, shrubbery, and shrubs, which may include weeding, mowing, edging, and trimming. In addition to tenant responsibilities, they may also be required to take care of snow and leaf removal depending on the season.

As a Jacksonville property manager or owner, it is your responsibility to make any repairs that are not caused by the tenant or guest, or if the issues affect the physical health or safety of a person living there. This includes things such as heating and cooling systems, water leaks from structural defects and water heater repairs.

Real Property Management Sunstate is available 24/7 for emergency response. We will take the 2:00 a.m. call so you as the property owner don’t have to. This allows our customers to sleep through the night without any interruptions.

Save Money on Maintenance Costs

Landlords tend to want to have their tenants stay long-term, pay on time and also take care of the property. However, this can lead to necessary maintenance being avoided to save money. The fact is, tenants will stay, pay and are more careful with a well-maintained home. So when tenants see owners respecting the property, they are more willing to respect it as well.

Here are the four ways Real Property Management Sunstate helps clients maintain their property for less:

  1. Prepare the property between tenants to take care of all safety and health issues. As the property owner, it is your responsibility to meet basic habitability standards and codes, so you protect yourself from fees and lawsuits. A clean, well-maintained home with good curb appeal rents more quickly.
  2. Plan for maintenance costs—it’s simply part of owning rental property. On average, property owners will need to set aside 1-2 months’ rent per year to allow for ongoing routine maintenance and make-ready costs when tenants move out, and even more, if the home is older.
  3. Check proactively to catch problems that can become more expensive if left too long. Seasonal maintenance and regular property inspections—inside and out—help you solve small problems before they escalate.
  4. Respond promptly when maintenance is required. It reduces risk and liability, plus your tenants will feel valued when you respond to their needs. Tenants get frustrated quickly when they have a hard time contacting you, which can lead to expensive tenant turnover.

These simple steps can help you to keep happy tenants that will stay, pay and give you a more cost-effective maintenance bill. With almost 30 years of experience, the experts at Real Property Management have streamlined the maintenance process to help reduce costs, ensure the quality, and will always communicate with you as the property owner.

Chapter 4: Communication

Jacksonville Property Manager Shaking the Hands of Happy ResidentsWhen you entrust the management of your Jacksonville rental property to Real Property Management Sunstate, you’re free from the day-to-day hassles and headaches of dealing with tenants. You won’t have to worry about regulations, handling all the details, and stress over all the time and attention all these activities take from your personal life. However, you still need to keep informed about what is going on.

For more than 25 years, Real Property Management offices have kept the lines of communication open with our clients. Our clients love their online owner portals, where they can review almost every detail about what is happening with their property, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, from anywhere in the world. The vast majority of offices allow clients to view their financial statements, see when rent payments are collected and disbursements are made, check tenant rental payment history, review work orders, and even see property photos from the last inspection.

With all that information at their fingertips, Real Property Management clients still know that they can count on a friendly answer to their call, day or night. Our 24-hour hotline ensures that not only tenant emergencies are addressed—but urgent owner concerns as well. Even after hours, your friendly and highly trained team is always ready to serve.

When a client’s property is in the leasing process, they can expect weekly updates from their leasing agent on showings, and applications. We also are available to discuss the preparation of the property, offer recommendations on rent rates, and review leasing strategies.

And remember, communication goes both ways. Immediate attention to some maintenance issues is required by law, so it’s critical that we know how to reach you in an emergency.

Here are some recommendations for using your owner portal account:

  • Review the transactions on each monthly statement posted in your account and use the information to stay informed of your overall financial situation
  • Monitor income and expenses, and be aware of approvals and payments needed for maintenance
  • Review messages and alerts posted in your account; Real Property Management announcements, reminders of seasonal maintenance work, policy changes, and upcoming deadlines
  • Find financial information needed for tax return preparation purposes on the Annual Statement

You never know what you’ll find behind the door when you invest in real estate. But taking preventive measures, including professional inspections and property surveys, can limit messy situations for property managers, owners, and tenants in the future.

At Real Property Management Sunstate, we are here to advise you in every way we can with your investment properties, and to take care of the dirty work of the day-to-day issues that may arise in property management.

Chapter 5: Rent Collection

Jacksonville Rent CollectionOwning a Jacksonville rental property comes down to one big item, rent. You need it paid and you need it paid on time. It sounds easy enough, you get the check, it clears and voila it’s finished. If only it was really that simple.

Nothing affects your cash flow more than a late or missed rent payment. At Real Property Management Sunstate we collect the rent each month and make sure that it is deposited in your account as soon as possible. Our collection processes are professional but remain tough. We are extremely diligent in collecting payment through a systematic and timely process.

Tenants are offered different options to make their payments but also have incentives for paying it on time, that way you can get your money as quickly as possible. We also treat every tenant respectfully and fairly. A positive relationship with a tenant least to timely payments as well as better care to your property.

It can get awkward when listening to tenant’s stories on why their rent is late, it can also lead to undue stress and hurt your bottom line. You can put an extra layer between you and your tenant by working with Real Property Management Sunstate. We will ensure your rent WILL BE collected on time and it won’t take time away from your everyday activities.

Here are the 6 steps we take to keep that rent coming in on time:

  1. We start at the beginning by screening tenants rigorously in an effort to avoid problems down the line.
  2. We set expectations with tenants early, communicating our firm-but-fair rent policies up front.
  3. We rely on our technology-driven platform which allows tenants to pay online. Funds are then electronically deposited directly into the owner’s account via ACH.
  4. If rent isn’t paid on time, it triggers our automated collections process so not a moment is wasted. Our respectful-yet-tough team acts like clockwork to enforce the lease and avoid delays.
  5. We stay up-to-date on the current laws and regulations, so we can act as quickly as the law allows and minimize rent-free days if an eviction becomes necessary.
  6. We keep the process professional, not personal. When you have set expectations with tenants early, clearly and respectfully, the outcome is in their hands.

Stop spending time chasing down tenants to pay their rent. Put our experienced team and proven process to work for you.

Chapter 6: Evictions

Jacksonville Rental Property Eviction NoticeEven with careful tenant selection, a tenant’s circumstances can change, and legal action can become necessary. While smart property owners do all they can to avoid evictions with a careful and rigorous application process, too many of them learn the hard way that collections and evictions are inherently a part of doing business in this industry.

We understand that hard times and hit anyone at any time. Therefore, we ask tenants to let us know if they are having any financial problems that may affect their ability to pay rent on time. Depending on the tenant’s renting history and the property owner’s situations, we can help to avoid any eviction process.

Evictions can take an emotional toll on everyone if not handled professionally. Evictions must be approached from a legal perspective and not as a personal matter. Plus, threatening tenants and or using unethical collection policies could lead to a lawsuit. It could also lead to further financial loss and damage to the home by an angry tenant.

Our staff is extremely knowledgeable in state and local landlord and tenant laws. If a tenant does not pay rent on time or breaches the terms of the lease, we initiate the proper legal steps necessary, in the fastest possible timeframe, to minimize your costs and get the property leased again.

Evictions are often unexpected, but they are always expensive. The average starting cost is $750.00. Standard court fees are just the beginning—a contested eviction can take months to resolve and requires additional legal actions that add to the costs. They can get even more costly if not handled in full compliance with local, state and federal laws. Mistakes can cause expensive delays and stiff financial penalties.

To help our clients avoid the risk and financial strain of eviction, we offer a comprehensive Eviction Protection Program. This program is available for any tenant that a Real Property Management office places.

For a very low monthly fee per property, we will pay the filing, legal fees and court costs in connection with an Unlawful Detainer Action. While this program does not cover a Writ of Possession or set-out costs if a tenant’s belongings must be forcibly removed, it substantially reduces financial risk—while increasing your peace of mind.

Contact us today to learn more about how you can make your rental property investment more stable and reliable with our Eviction Protection Program. As the property management leader with over 30 years of experience, no one knows better how to protect property owners.

So, What is Your Time Worth?

Property management seems like a simple and straight-forward process. As you have learned, however, that is often not the case. The time and energy required to manage a Jacksonville property are often much more than anticipated, and the legal risks can loom large. For readers who are still unconvinced that professional property management makes sense, we challenge you to calculate the personal costs of self-managing.

  • Calculate the actual time you spend on and at your rental property. Be honest with yourself. Don’t forget things like phone calls, emails, paperwork, driving time, tenant screening, inspections, repairs, showing the property, and researching laws and other info.
  • Add in a contingency of at least one hour a month for the unexpected problems that will inevitably occur over the course of a year.
  • Calculate the value of your time–A good rule of thumb is to use your hourly wage or divide your annual income by 2,000 (number of work hours in a year).
  • Multiply the total hours spent on your rental by your hourly rate.
  • This will tell you how much it costs you to manage your rental property on your own. Keep in mind, that cost will rise dramatically should your property require repairs, or in the event of a natural disaster or eviction.


Number of hours spent annually X Value of your time = Cost of managing your rental

Multiply the number of hours you spend each year by the value of your time to determine your true cost of managing your rental property. For example, if your time spent on a rental is 5 hours per month x 12 months = 60 hours annual

Multiply this number by the value of your time, say $100,000 per year divided by 2,000 work hours or $50 per hour.

Your actual cost of managing your rental property is:

60 hours x $50 per hour = $3,000 cost of managing my rental property
(Not including material costs such as supplies needed for repairs and maintenance)

Now, calculate how much a professional property manager would cost. The typical fee for a property manager varies by market, rental rates, and competitive conditions, but a reasonable estimate is 10% of monthly rent. If your rent is $1,250 (about average for a typical 3-bedroom single family residence), your monthly cost would be $125, and your annual cost would be $1,500.

Returning to our example, the value of the property owner’s time was $3,000. If the property owner’s rent is close to the average $1,250 per month, the cost of self-managing is $1,500 higher than what a professional property manager would charge. It would make economic sense for the property owner to hire a professional to do the job for them.

The IRS does not allow property owners to deduct their time as a property expense when filing income taxes. However, the IRS does consider professional property management fees as legitimate property business expenses. So, the after-tax cost of professional property management is actually less than the apparent cost, which depends on your tax rate.

Now write down all the disruptions in your life that have occurred due to late rent, maintenance issues, problem tenants, vacancies or any other property management issue. Include how you, your child, partner, friend, family or boss would feel about your absence while you were away dealing with any of the above property management matters.

Then, decide what makes sense for you. With a Real Property Management handling your Jacksonville property, interruptions to your personal and professional life from your rental would virtually end. You’d never have to break a loved one’s heart by choosing your rental over them.

Your evenings and weekends would be your own, and you’d be able to relax and enjoy life, knowing your rental and tenants were well taken care of. Our staff would handle all issues related to your property professionally and courteously, and all this might cost less than what your personal time is worth. (Why work below your pay grade?)

If you are in the market for a property management company, please consider hiring Real Property Management Sunstate to manage it for you. We love this business and would very much like the opportunity to work with you. Contact us online or call us at 877-373-8404 today!

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