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FAQ for Tampa Bay Landlords

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Answers to questions about your rental home, your tenant, working with your property manager and more. Select any category and see many questions we have answered from Landlords like you since 1986. 

We have grouped the questions and answers into categories for easier searching and your convenience. 

 

Frequently Asked Questions for Landlords

Financial

How do I get paid my rental income?

Rent is due on the 1st of the month and late on the 4th. Once rental payments are posted, we settle any outstanding debts from your account that are payable to vendors, utilities, maintenance providers, etc… After all expenses and income have been posted to your account, we deposit your rental proceeds into your designated bank account via ACH transfer. Payments are made on or before the 15th of each month. Non-payment of rent leads to a swift eviction of the tenant. You can avoid the legal costs of an eviction by taking advantage of our Eviction Protection Program (EPP). Read about protecting your bottom line with our EPP program

Topics: Financial
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Accounting – How do you manage my accounts and financial reporting?

We offer an in-house accountant, state of the art financial database system and rigorous systems to ensure accurate portfolio management and timely accounting of your funds.  We carefully track and document all expenses and maintenance transactions involving your property.  We pay your rent proceeds via ACH transfer directly to your bank account, saving you time and money.  Paper checks are available upon request.  Whether it is a single unit or a large portfolio of homes, we will treat you with the same care and high level of detailed reporting each month.  We provide you an IRS 1099-MISC form each year along with a summary of your account activity.

Topics: Financial
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Fees – Do you charge a Property Management setup fee?

No.  We do not charge a setup fee for new property managed accounts.   This is included in our standard Property Management service we provide Tampa Bay area Landlords.  You will need to add a minimum of $300 to fund your Owner’s repair reserve account before we assume active management of the property.

Topics: Financial
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Fees – How much do you charge to manage my rental property?

Our prices are extremely competitive and are based on the level of service requested by each Landlord.  We offer comprehensive property management services to Tampa Bay area rental home owners; it’s all we do.  This is not a side business for us and that makes a large difference in the end product our Landlords receive.   Before you decide to hire a manager, do yourself a favor and be sure to contact us for a free property management review.  The review is a friendly conversation that only takes a few minutes to discuss the rental home owner’s needs.  We will present options and make recommendations based on the goals of the owner.  We have many ways to help save money and give Landlords peace of mind with the management of their property and tenants.

Make no mistake:  Hiring an expert Property Manager will save you money!

Red Adair quotation: If you think it is expensive to hire a professional wait until you hire an amateur

Topics: Financial
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Owner Communication – How will you notify me of maintenance expenses?

Although routine, many expenses are unexpected.  Maintenance items will occur periodically.  In the interest of efficiency, we order all minor maintenance immediately and inform our owners of the service call via email.  Often, we do not know the exact charge for a repair until we receive the invoice from the vendor.  All vendors are expected to communicate, in advance, any repairs that exceed $300.  Below that value, we await their invoice for a specific dollar amount.  We review all maintenance invoices to assure the price of the repair is in line with the nature of the service request.   We want you to be informed of any situations, financial or maintenance, which impact your bottom line.  All financial information is uploaded to your account on the Owners Portal.

Topics: Financial
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Repairs – Why do you require reserve funds for my rental property?

Our vendors are paid upon completion of the work they perform making it essential to maintain a ready reserve of funds available to pay for basic service calls.  We will communicate with you and request additional funds in the event of a larger repair.  We understand the unique nature and needs of each rental property vary depending on factors such as the age of the home, any regularly scheduled services (landscaping, pest control, etc…) and the type of property.  Our basic requirement is a minimum of $300 repair escrow funds per property.

Topics: Financial
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Your Lease

Once the tenant moves in, how strictly do you enforce the terms of the lease agreement?

Our lease is ironclad and is strictly enforced.  Adherence to our pet policy, smoking, HOA violations, unauthorized occupants and all lease terms is expected and enforced.  If any violations are determined, we immediately present the tenant with a notice to cure the violation with specific instructions on what is expected to return to being in good standing and avoid any legal actions.  Our policy is to protect our Landlords and be a great neighbor by complying with all Homeowners Association (HOA) rules and guidelines.

Topics: Your Lease
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How does your lease agreement protect my interest and rental property?

 We use a proprietary lease agreement that has been attorney reviewed and prepared.  Our lease is fair to all parties but is designed to be landlord-friendly.  We hold ourselves and our residents to a high standard that is reflected in our lease agreement that has been reviewed and periodically amended over our 30+ years of experience in the property management industry.   Home Locators has been writing leases since we started business in 1986, serving the needs of landlords and tenants across the metro Tampa Bay area.  We have seen pretty much everything by this point and our experience affords us the opportunity to anticipate areas of potential conflict and address them in the lease before they become a source of contention later on.  We are learning all the time and make adjustments as needed.

Topics: Your Lease
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Can I refuse to rent my home to people with pets, smokers, etc?

We comply with all Local, State and Federal legal requirements.  This is an area where many do-it-yourself landlords have gotten into legal trouble.  Under no circumstances can you refuse to rent your home to a member of a ‘protected class’.   PETS:  You choose whether to accept or deny pets but any pet that is designated as a service animal must be permitted to live in the residence.  Animals create risks and liabilities for landlords but also opportunity for those willing to consider them because your home is available to the largest numbers of qualified renters.  SMOKERS:  Smokers are not a protected class and a landlord may choose to not allow smokers to occupy their rental home.  Home Locators has a strict no-smoking policy in all our rental units and write it into each lease.

Topics: Your Lease
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Your Rental Home

How much insurance do I need for my rental home?

You need to ensure you have the correct type insurance coverage for your rental home.  A common mistake made by inexperienced landlords is to maintain a traditional homeowner’s insurance policy instead of updating it to a rental home-compatible policy.  Not knowing the difference in types of coverage can cost a landlord significant sums of money.  If you own a Tampa Bay area rental home, we urge you to visit our Insuring Your Rental Property page for valuable information about the various options available for covering your most valuable asset.

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As a Landlord, how much do I need to be involved with the routine management of my rental property?

We recommend our owners avoid active involvement in their homes once they’ve been leased.  As your licensed agent, we are required to follow strict state and federal regulations (such as Fair Housing laws) in the course of our daily business.  We find when a landlord becomes involved with a tenant, the relationship can become overly complicated and, at times, quite uncomfortable for the home owner.  Direct requests from a tenant for maintenance, complaints about routine items, collections issues and more can create significant hassles and distractions for the landlord (not to mention potential liabilities)

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How will I be informed of critical issues with my rental property?

The largest concern of most landlords is no interruption in cash flow.  As soon as we become aware of any situation or expense that will impact your rental income, we will immediately inform you of the nature of the issue by email.  We prefer to put all communications in writing to ensure accuracy and the most effective communication.  (Examples include maintenance emergencies, fines, fees or assessments by governing authorities, etc…)

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How do you market my rental property?

Locators does marketing differently than most traditional real estate companies.  We utilize professional photography.  Our video marketing channel on YouTube has nearly 450,000 views – unmatched by anyone in the industry!  We aggressively market our homes to locals, residents coming from overseas, corporate relocations and across the nation.  We have far-reaching targeted advertising.  Of course, we are active in the metro Tampa Bay rental markets and are a member of the Greater Tampa Association of Realtors, advertising on the Multiple Listing Service (MLS).  Our available rental listings are syndicated across the internet on the most highly visited real estate websites.

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What if I want to sell my rental home?

Home Locators will sell your home for top dollar.  We have relationships with many investors as well as everyday people who are in the market to purchase a new home.  You are free to choose any agent you like but we hope you consider allowing us to list and sell your rental property.  We sell everything from entry level condominiums to large executive homes for our owners.  We have the connections to many active real estate investors who are looking for new rental homes to acquire.  Regardless of whether your rental home is occupied with a tenant or vacant, we have a plan to get your home sold quickly and for top of market prices.

We also help real estate investors to purchase rental homes if you are looking to add a rental property to your investment portfolio, contact us with your requirements and we will help to find income properties that meet your goals.  Read more about buying a rental home with Home Locators 

Selling your rental home advertising photo

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How do you coordinate maintenance requests?

Tenants use our convenient Resident’s Portal to report all non-emergency maintenance items. We promptly respond to maintenance requests and monitor an emergency maintenance line for urgent after business hours requests.   Before we send a service professional to the home, we question the tenant to determine the nature of the problem and perform basic troubleshooting techniques to ensure professional repairs are necessary. We will spend your money wisely and not send out a maintenance professional until we have determined that an actionable problem exists. Here are some commonly mis-diagnosed faults that are easily corrected by the tenant

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What if a repair requested by my tenant is determined to be their fault?

If the tenant caused the problem, they will be back-billed for the cost of the repair.  The service professionals we hire are trained to evaluate the nature of any damage and inform us if it appears the tenant was responsible.  Initially, the landlord is billed for the service call but the tenant will be pursued to reimburse the owner’s payment.

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What if an owner cannot be contacted for emergency maintenance?

If we are unable to contact you by phone or email in the event of a maintenance emergency, we will move swiftly to protect your property and the people that might be impacted by the emergency.  Examples of emergency events are: fire, flooding, electrical hazard, roof damage, etc… We will establish contact with you as quickly as possible and present all the information we have, discuss repair options and develop a plan to complete the required maintenance activities.

Flooded street after the rain

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What if I prefer to make my own repairs?

We encourage Landlords to leave the maintenance to the professionals. Home Locators will only hire licensed, bonded and insured maintenance professionals.  These vendors guarantee their work and deliver solid value. Each of our vendors is required to carry workman’s compensation and liability insurance. Do-it-yourself rental home owners may work on their home as long as it is vacant. Once occupied, only approved vendors may perform maintenance activities. This policy is designed to protect our Landlords. These maintenance professionals have been trained to deliver superior service and to also watch out for your bottom line by making only necessary repairs.

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Repairs – How much money do you hold in reserve for property repairs?   

A minimum of $300 is required to be held in reserve for maintaining your property.  The maintenance professionals we hire to repair your rental home are paid upon completion of their work.  If a larger repair is required, we will contact you for additional funds.

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What importance do you place on timely professional repairs to my rental home?

Reputations are won (or lost) with prompt and professional repairs.  The largest component of tenant satisfaction is repairs.  Owners who repair their homes in a timely manner retain their tenants longer.  As your property manager, we do not take chances with untested maintenance professionals.  Too much is at stake to risk our reputation, or yours.  When maintenance is required, we use only our most trusted vendors who not only guarantee their work but also offer great prices.  Proper maintenance will save you money and enhance the tenant relationship.

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Is it possible to visit my property after it has been leased?

Visiting your rental home after it is occupied is permitted and we are happy to assist owners with a requested viewing.  We will need to coordinate a visit to the home with the tenant in accordance with the terms of the lease agreement.  We offer the renter the opportunity to be present at the time of the walk-through.  The typical walk-through takes between 10 – 30 minutes

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Will you work with my home warranty coverage to make repairs to my rental home?

We are willing to work with major home warranty companies.  They can help a landlord to control their costs and save money on repairs.  We are happy to coordinate service requests with the warranty company but these interactions are time intensive, often requiring multiple calls to both warranty company and tenant.  For each service request, we charge $25.

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Your Tenants

Pets – Are tenants allowed to have pets in my rental property?

The bottom line is you get to decide about pets.  There is a strong business argument to be made for allowing animals in your rental home.  Tampa Bay is a very pet-friendly area.  To many people, pets are often considered members of the family.  As landlords, we would prefer to not accept pets but also recognize disallowing dogs and cats can significantly increase vacancy times (this is especially true in single-family homes).  As the owner, you choose whether or not pets are welcome in your rental home.  Read more about our pet policy restrictions and recommendations [coming soon].

Photo of a puppy belonging to the Rat Terrier breed of dogs

Pets are members of the family – Should you allow them in your rental home?


Did we answer your question?  Need more information?  Contact us today for a prompt response.
Topics: Your Tenants
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What are your Security Deposit Requirements?

We typically require a security deposit that is equal to one month’s rent.  This amount can vary depending on customary security deposits being charged on the open market for specific areas or communities in the Tampa Bay area.  Some applicants will be required to pay a higher security deposit based upon their specific credit background.  Coming Soon:  A detailed breakdown of our Applicant Selection Criteria.

Topics: Your Tenants
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Absolutely not.  Smoking is not permitted in any of our rental homes.  The no smoking policy is written into our lease agreement and it is an actionable violation of the terms of the Rental Home Lease Agreement.  Costs to repair smoking-related damage can be thousands of dollars.  If any smoking is detected in the home, we will take immediate action to correct any damage and preserve the property. This includes e-cigarettes or ‘vaping’. Read more about our policy on e-cigarettes

Topics: Your Tenants
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Yes, they do. In our view, smoking is smoking. Whether it is a traditional tobacco cigarette or an E-Cigarette, both emit pollutants that create not only a foul smell but also toxic substances. E-cigs typically leave deposits that include Formaldehyde, Benzene and a host of other potentially hazardous substances. While they do not leave the tar residue of a tobacco cigarette, the pollutants left by an e-cigarette are dangerous enough that we have opted to not permit them to be smoked inside any residence managed by Home Locators Property Management.  The no smoking policy is written into our lease agreement and it is an actionable violation of the terms of the Rental Home Lease Agreement.  Costs to repair smoking-related damage can cost thousands of dollars.  If any smoking is detected in the home, we will take immediate action to correct any damage and preserve the property.
Do you have any other smoking or property damage questions?

Topics: Your Tenants
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We have simple criteria:  All prospective tenants must provide VERIFIABLE proof of home ownership or rental history for a minimum of two years.  We also evaluate credit, judgments, civil and criminal history.  Verifiable income must be at least three times the amount of the monthly rent.  In some cases, Home Locators will ask for a co-signer.  Our resident selection process is far more extensive than the items listed above.  Read more about how we evaluate prospective tenants

Topics: Your Tenants
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How do you retain good tenants in my rental property?

Our Tenant Retention Program is a thoughtful approach to maintaining the best residents through consistent contact through email, phone and personal visits throughout the year.  We strive to build positive relationships with our residents, ensuring they are happy in their homes and with the services we provide.  This is a concerted effort designed to minimize vacancy losses and maintenance expenses.  It is about protecting the landlord’s interests while seeing to the needs of the resident.  This is truly a win/win scenario.   When we renew a tenant’s lease, you have zero vacancy loss.  Nobody wants to make a mortgage payment on a vacant home!  You also have no leasing fee to pay when a tenant has been retained.

Topics: Your Tenants
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ABOUT THIS PAGE

 Our Landlords FAQ page has been thoughtfully designed to simplify browsing for the questions and answers that are most relevant to each landlord. We are constantly adding new questions and answers as we receive them from investment property owners just like you. If you have any suggestions to improve your experience on our FAQ page, please [contact us] and we will promptly respond.


If you have questions about being a Landlord or managing your rental home, please Contact Us for a conversation or just a quick response.  We also have a convenient form that allows you to submit your own question for an answer.