If you’re facing potential property foreclosure, one of your many worries is probably what happens to the tenants currently renting it. Will they be evicted? Can they sue you? You’re not alone - with one in 12,448 properties in the US getting foreclosed, this scenario is far from uncommon. That’s why it’s always advisable, not just for the tenants but for the landlords as well, to get acquainted with the topic and learn what happens to tenants when a property is foreclosed, their rights and obligations in such cases.
What Is a Foreclosure and How Can You Avoid It?
No one wants to see their property foreclosed. There are various ways in which you can attempt to avoid it. The good news is that house foreclosures typically don’t happen overnight. Instead, the process can take up to a year or even longer, allowing landlords enough time to find a more palatable solution by, for example, resorting to debt consolidation.
Like any foreclosure, foreclosure on a rental property typically happens when the homeowner has violated the terms of a mortgage loan, either by failing to make timely payments or by defaulting. It is, in essence, the repossession by a mortgage company of a property that is being leased to a third party.
What happens in foreclosure is that the homeowner receives the legal foreclosure notice, after which the property is seized and sold at a public auction. The mortgage companies can start the process as early as 60 days upon a missed payment, which is why it’s vital to stay on top of your mortgage payments.
Foreclosure can be avoided provided that the landlord takes action as soon as possible. This is, altogether, the least painful option not just for the homeowner but for tenants facing eviction from a foreclosed home as well. One of the first things you can do is contact the mortgage company and try to reach an agreement to avoid foreclosure. You may also not be aware that the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, passed by Congress to help people get through the COVID-19 pandemic, allows homeowners to claim forbearance and freeze their monthly mortgage payments for up to 12 months.
However, if foreclosure is imminent, it’s important to know the exact tenant rights when the landlord is in foreclosure and what role they have in the process. After all, these tenants have most likely been carefully selected through thorough tenant screening procedures and have been regularly paying their rent. One could argue that their indignation at the prospect of being evicted is entirely justified. That’s why in the next section, we’ll go into detail about the legislation protecting tenants’ rights, possible sanctions awaiting landlords, and what you can do to avoid them. Heads-up: Being open and honest in your communication is the best way to handle the situation.
The Protecting Tenants at Foreclosure Act of 2009
From 2009 until 2014, the PTFA regulated these situations, with the principal premise being that the lease comes first. Under this act, regardless of what happened with the property, including foreclosures, the lease terms were to be followed in full. Even month-to-month tenants and renters without a lease were covered, as the new buyer had to provide them with a 90-day notice before asking them to move out.
There was a slight exception for people looking to live in the property they bought at a foreclosure sale that was already occupied by a tenant. Namely, what happens to tenants when such property is sold is that the new buyer, although they are obliged under the PTFA to issue them the same 90-day notice (the notice length is even longer in some states), doesn’t have to wait for the lease to expire.
There is also the “cash for keys” option that new owners might offer renters. Within this deal, renters would get paid to vacate the property early.
Note that, in some states, the new owner must initiate an eviction proceeding against the renter - and it takes a judge’s warrant to start the eviction process. No one would be able to hold this eviction process against the renter for renting a foreclosed home, which is important to note if one is worried about having an eviction on their public record. In fact, in some states, such as New York and Illinois, the records are sealed so that no one can use the fact against the renter, and it won’t come up even in the best background checks. Using the information against the tenant in the future is also prohibited by the law.
The Abolishment and Reintroduction of the PTFA
When the PTFA was done away with in December 2014, many were left wondering or even panicking about being a tenant in foreclosure, as the rules depended mainly on the state the renter lived in. The main understanding was that if the original landlord sold the property regularly, the new owner must respect the lease, but that the lease would end in case the property was foreclosed.
Luckily, the Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief, and Consumer Protection Act, which was signed into law on May 24, 2018, brought back the PTFA permanently. Many misconceptions circling the internet and outdated information caused some panic, but in reality, the PTFA still protects tenants’ rights in foreclosure.
What Are Tenants’ Obligations During a Foreclosure?
As mentioned before, foreclosures typically don’t affect tenants until eviction notice goes into effect. In this light, tenants are still obliged to pay rent on the property, and the landlord, in return, is still obliged to make repairs and maintain the property in a habitable condition.
However, in particular circumstances, a receiver might be appointed to handle the tenant-landlord agreement while the foreclosure is in progress. In those situations, the receiver takes on the landlord’s duties, including collecting rent after foreclosure, managing repairs, and other tasks usually handled by the landlord or property management company.
Occasionally, the new owner of a foreclosed home doesn’t even establish any kind of communication with the tenant, which can pose a problem, especially with maintenance. Under these circumstances, the new landlord still has the right to collect the rent and any repair receipts. This way, the tenant can negotiate the costs of repairs against the rent due with the new owner.
When Does a Guest Become a Tenant?
What Is a Sublet, and Should You Be Subletting Your Place?
“How Long Can a Tenant Stay After the Lease Expires?” and Other Questions About Holdover Tenants
Communication is Key
Since what happens in foreclosures is not pleasant for either the landlord or their tenants, good communication between the two parties is essential.
One of the tenants’ legal rights is to sue the old landlord in small court for any expenses they may have to pay to relocate, such as moving costs or the difference between the rents for the remaining months of the lease. You might be able to avoid this if you inform your tenants of foreclosure as soon as possible and try to communicate a solution even before the official process.
By Vladana Donevski ·
Property management is an excellent business niche for more than one reason. The requirements for starting and succeeding in this industry are not high, and one doesn’t need a sizable up-front investment or years of experience in the field. However, as is the case with any business endeavor, there are several things one should consider and do to ensure success.
So, if you are wondering how to start a property management company properly, let’s get right on it. Below, we’ll cover everything you need to know about starting such a business - from what property management is to how to draft a business plan - so that you can confidently make this your career path.
What is Property Management?
Property management involves managing and overseeing one or more properties. It could be any kind of housing: residential, student, commercial, or community association. Most of the time, the duties coincide with those of the landlord or the property owner. However, not everyone has the time, experience, or will to handle the tasks themselves.
Some of the responsibilities property management companies can take off landlords’ plates are marketing rental units, hosting an open house, or simply showing the property to prospective tenants and collecting their applications. Screening new tenants and getting the paperwork set up for the selected ones is another service these companies can provide. Once a tenant moves in, the property manager is the one responsible for collecting rent, handling maintenance, and inspections.
If you are up for it, let’s talk about how to start a property management company in more detail. Here is a step-by-step guide you should follow to ensure your business gets off the ground.
Step 1: Legal Structure
The first step is establishing the legal structure of your business. Typically, these firms are founded as limited liability companies (LLC). Occasionally, they can also be registered as incorporated businesses (Inc.).
You can accomplish this task online yourself or hire a respectable LLC service company to handle it for you. If you can fit it into your budget, going with a service provider is the better choice because it will save you a lot of time.
Step 2: Business Plan
This is probably the most daunting task you’ll encounter on your way to a successful property management business. However, drafting a business plan early on will help reach your company’s goals as it will keep you focused and make you take a systematic approach to what needs to be done to get everything up and running.
You’ll want to ask yourself some critical questions as you embark on this journey. For instance, what kind of services will you provide to your clients? Should you focus on a specific type of property? How should you handle maintenance? Once you get these answered, you’ll have a clearer picture of what you need to do to have a successful property management company.
If you are worried about what should be included in a formal business plan, Small Business Administration (SBA) lists the following sections as must-haves:
Organization and management
Service or product outline
Marketing and sales
You should consider reading up on all the SBA’s business plan guidelines if you are writing such a document for the first time. Alternatively, you can hire someone to write it for you.
Step 3: Employees
When starting a property management company, you’ll likely be your only employee until you begin getting paid for your services. Once the business starts bringing in money, you’ll be able to hire someone to help you out with the workload. As you might not be able to afford a big team, at least not at first, you should think about what fields of expertise your company would benefit the most from. Also, it could be cost-effective to have external service providers handle certain operations for you.
Hiring an accountant or subscribing to a good accounting and bookkeeping online service is something every “How to start a property management company” guide should advise you to do. A good accountant is a must for every business, regardless of how small it may be. You’ll also need legal services as you’ll want to make sure your company’s operations comply with the law. That’s why having a real estate lawyer in your ranks or signing up for online legal services should be another priority.
Once you have the essential services pinned down, you should go back to your business plan and determine whether you need more employees and whether you need them to work full-time, part-time, or per contract. Don’t worry; by the time you have a big enough budget to start hiring people for your property management firm, you’ll know which aspects of the job require a full-time commitment and which need attention only once in a while.
Once your business starts expanding, you can hire additional property managers, payroll and accounts payable clerks, showing, move-out, and service coordinators, and leasing agents. If you plan to advertise your services online, you should consider finding reliable marketing experts and IT professionals.
Step 4: Technology
Speaking of IT, you should keep in mind that there are plenty of programs - some of them even free - that could handle certain tasks for you. Therefore, it would be wise to dedicate some time to exploring property management software solutions, as these could take a lot off your plate and help you provide better property management services. The best ones will allow you to manage your business with just a couple of clicks.
Many other solutions will prove invaluable when you can’t yet afford an entire team. If you don’t have a lot of paperwork to handle, you can take advantage of free accounting software, for example. Once you start hiring people, you should consider payroll software, too.
Finally, it would be best if you also went for one of the marketing tools available online. Putting up your business’ website yourself with the help of a good website builder can save you a lot of money, which can then be used for paying for the services you can’t handle on your own.
Step 5: Pricing Structure
Determining the prices of services your property management company will provide can take some time, as you need to work many details into the calculation. You need to earn enough money to keep your business not just afloat but growing further.
First, you should consider your competition’s pricing plans and use them as a point of reference. When you’re just starting, your prices need to be competitive. On the other hand, you need to earn enough to cover the expenses of running your business.
So, to determine the pricing structure when setting up a property management company, your first step should be to go undercover and give the competition in the neighborhood a call to get informed about their price ranges. Once you estimate the standard prices in your area, you will get a better idea of how much you should charge for your services.
Keep in mind that whatever you calculate in, you must not forget that you should never compromise the quality of your services. Your good reputation is your main selling point, as this business is all about trust and relationships. So, even if you have to charge a bit more to provide a better service, don’t hesitate to do it, as this is the key to professional property management.
To help you format the pricing structure, we’ve laid out some of the most common fees property management businesses charge their clients.
This is a typical fee most service providers include, and this niche is no different. You would apply the setup fee when you sign up a new client, and the amount usually goes up to $300.
Another one-time payment, a leasing fee is something you should charge for getting a vacant property leased. Most companies charge the equivalent of one month’s rent or at least half of it, and the amount should be clearly stated in the property management agreement. This fee covers numerous services provided, starting from listing a vacant property to you using one of the tenant screening services to find the right person to move in.
Lease Renewal Fee
You should consider adding this optional fee to your pricing structure, as it covers renewing the lease with an existing tenant. It is typically up to $200.
Another optional but strongly recommended fee you should consider adding to the list is the eviction fee since you can be called on as an official representative if an eviction process involving the property owner is set in motion.
Ongoing Management Fee
This fee is the one that will keep your business in property management growing. It’s essential to include it in your pricing plan as it will cover all the daily operations, from collecting rent and conducting inspections to handling repair or maintenance requests. A set percentage of the monthly rental income is used to calculate this fee, going anywhere between 3% and 10% - the actual rate typically depends on the local market.
Step 6: Marketing Strategy
Once you get the basics down, you need clients. Figuring out your marketing strategy is not going to be easy, but it is one of your business’ aspects not to be disregarded.
For example, as we’ve mentioned before, you’ll need to set up an online presence and start advertising. After all, if someone is looking for property management firms, they will most likely do it online.
Also, your website will be where your commercials and marketing efforts will lead to, and having a good one will add immensely to your credibility. If you’re on a tight budget, you should think about making it yourself. There are many great website builders available online. You might need to roll up your sleeves a bit, but considering how expensive some companies providing these services are, it is certainly worth the effort.
Still, if you want to ensure your website is done professionally and you have enough funds, hiring someone to create one that will be not only pretty but also useful is a good path, which many entrepreneurs in the property management industry take. Of course, your site’s primary purpose will be attracting new customers and allowing them to get in touch with you quickly.
You’ll also want to have someone create and implement an online marketing strategy, manage social media campaigns, and use all other available promotional tools to increase your online visibility and reach as many landlords and owners as possible.
Step 7: Networking
While online marketing is a must, don’t forget that networking is the easiest way to gain new clients and sign them up for your services. If you are running a commercial property management business, you should pay a visit to your local business organizations. Establishing good relationships in such places will undoubtedly lead to your services getting heard of and recommended to a number of prospective clients. Also, It would help if you got in touch with local real estate clubs and contractors.
With every new customer, your business will prosper. That is why it is fundamental never to stop networking, thus finding new clients and properties, but also ways to provide better service and keep your old clients satisfied.
“How Long Can A Tenant Stay After The Lease Expires?” And Other Questions About Holdover Tenants
When Does a Guest Become a Tenant?
What Happens to Tenants When a Property Is Foreclosed?
What Is a Sublet, and Should You Be Subletting Your Place?
The Costs of Starting a Property Management Company
Starting a business in this field is not an expensive endeavor, as it usually takes between $2,000 and $10,000.
While it might sound like a nuisance, it is crucial to keep track of every expense you make from day one. By doing so, you will be able to set financial goals and stay out of trouble.
The most common expenses you will incur as you build your company are administrative ones, including salaries and benefits (along with payroll taxes), office supplies, and various services such as advertising or legal counsel. The price of any software you might use to help you get started is not to be forgotten either.
Getting a Property Management License
In the US, whether you need such a license usually varies from state to state. Most of them won’t require you to get a license or any other advanced degree. However, getting a real estate or property management certification will undoubtedly prove useful on your way to success.
Many US programs offer courses for licensed agents to get property management certification. Although these are by no means mandatory, completing some of them is also bound to help you learn the ropes of the business.
By Vladana Donevski ·
Whether you’re temporarily relocating because of a dream job or going on a summer holiday, subletting is a great way to make back some of your rent money. So what is a sublet arrangement, and what exactly does it involve?
Unfortunately, not everyone has the right to sublet their apartment. Before renting the property to another party, make sure you aren’t breaching the terms of your lease. These agreements are legally binding, and breaking a lease can get you evicted or have other serious consequences.
To find out more about the potential pitfalls and what it takes to be a short-term landlord, check out the following guide.
What Is Subletting?
Also known as a sublease, subletting is when a tenant rents out either all or part of the property to a third party before the original lease ends. So what does a sublease mean for cash-strapped renters? In short, it can be a beneficial arrangement for those looking to redeem some of their rent money. Renters can make back up to 80% of the cash they are spending on the lease.
Although there are leases that don’t permit subletting, most simply require you to notify the landlord and get approval for any changes. If the original lease agreement makes no mention of subletting, it’s usually permitted, but it’s always better to get your landlord’s permission in writing.
The best way to shield yourself from any legal entanglements is to ink a sublease agreement with both the subletter and the landlord. This is especially useful if the tenant’s contractual obligations under the original lease agreement include covering the costs of any damage to the property. Additionally, an in-depth background check of potential subletters is a good way to root out those who have a history of not paying their bills or people on sex-crime registries.
How to Sublet an Apartment?
If you decide that subletting your apartment is the way to go, there are a few other things to consider. Subletting can be an excellent solution, as long as you are well-informed about the entire process and don't rush into things. Here is a complete checklist you need to cover before entrusting your place to someone else.
1. Re-check your lease agreement
The first step is reviewing your existing lease. You need to make sure you are allowed to sublet the property and under which terms. Keep in mind that individual states have their own laws when it comes to subletting.
Any constraints on subletting the apartment should be outlined in your original lease agreement. That’s why it’s absolutely essential that you read it thoroughly before embarking on this journey. And even if your local municipality permits subletting, your landlord may have his own reasons for prohibiting the practice. In such instances, it’s probably best to explore alternative options.
2. Call Your Renter Insurance Company
Before subletting, check whether your renter's insurance extends to subtenants. Some insurers do cover sublease apartments, in addition to providing standard coverage for your belongings in case of theft. If yours doesn't, and you can't sign up with those that do, then it’s probably a good idea to remove your personal belongings from the apartment you're subletting. Keep in mind that you are the one who paid the security deposit. In other words, the money from your pocket is covering any damage to the property unless you get adequate insurance.
3. Market the Apartment
Next, it’s time to start looking for a subletter. That typically involves posting an ad somewhere. Make sure that your quest to sublet an apartment goes through legal websites. You can also share your ad on social media platforms.
A good approach is to have all the relevant information in your ad, including the rent, list of amenities, and any other relevant details about your apartment. High-quality images of the property can also be very helpful in attracting the right candidates. You should also make sure to avoid any typos, grammar errors, and incorrect information if you want to attract serious subtenants; everything should look professional.
4. Schedule an Open House/Interviews With Prospective Subletters
While trying to figure out how to sublease an apartment, most tenants will immediately start weighing the risks. To avoid any horror stories, get to know the prospective candidates by setting up an open house and following the same procedure you went through when you were looking for a place to call home. When planning an open house, it’s essential to get the timing right and make the interior of your property look pleasant.
Aside from screening potential tenants online, this is a great way to get a sense of whether someone is affable. Remember that these were some of the same hurdles you had to go through when you were renting, and by definition, subletting transforms you from a tenant to a short-term landlord.
That said, landlords are increasingly reliant on social media profiles when determining whether their applicants have suitable lifestyles for the property being rented. With the help of social media, you’ll quickly be able to determine if the subletter owns a pet or likes hosting loud parties. These sorts of details will help you choose one candidate over another.
The last step is to check any references on the applications. While this may seem like a waste of time as it’s unlikely anyone would list previous landlords with whom they had an unsatisfactory experience, you should do it anyway before you sublet an apartment. Ask a few questions and keep your ears open; if there were any disagreements between the two parties, you may be able to pick up on it during the conversation.
5. Sign the Needed Agreements
When you find the right subletter, it’s essential to cover yourself with a written agreement. You can find a sublease template for sublet agreements online, and you can further customize them to fit your own arrangement.
It’s also a good idea to ask your landlord for help on what should be in agreement. They can help you with suggestions on what to add or omit in the contract.
Ultimately, once all parties involved sign the sublet agreement and you've received your first payment, you have officially sublet your apartment.
The Pros and Cons of Subletting
The most obvious advantage of subletting is the money. If you’re renting a property that you aren’t living in, you’re pouring cash into an empty apartment. Subletting enables you to fill that financial gap. This is especially helpful if you’re temporarily relocating for work or taking an extended vacation while your lease remains intact. In these situations, sublease, by definition, allows you to retain your original lease.
Of course, a lot hangs on finding the right tenant. While tenant screening services can help, finding a trustworthy and reliable individual can be challenging. If you choose the wrong tenant, bearing the brunt of potential theft and serious property damage.
Subletting comes with a certain level of risk, and therefore, it might not be the best option for everyone. Before going any further, you need to ask yourself one key question: what is a sublet arrangement that you can afford to live with? If you can’t find the right subletter, you should consider alternatives.
First of all, you might be able to negotiate better terms with your landlord and see if there is another solution while you are away on vacation, for example. Your lease might already have the answer to all your problems in the form of an early termination clause. Either way, if you’re uncomfortable with the idea of subletting your space, you should explore the aforementioned options first.
By Vladana Donevski ·