Q: Are you insured?A: Yes, Innovative Realty maintains Errors & Omissions insurance as well as general liability insurance at all times.
Q: Are your Property Managers & agents licensed?A: Yes, all of our property managers and leasing agents are fully licensed by the State of Florida. Innovative Realty, LLC is also a member of the Florida Association of Residential Property Managers (NARPM), National Association of Realtors (NAR), Florida Association of Realtors (FAR), Orlando Regional Realtor Association (ORRA) and the Realtor Association of Greater Fort Myers & the Beach.
Q: Do you have references?A: Yes, as stated earlier, our business has grown primarily through the referrals and word of mouth of our current clients. We encourage you to click the link below to review a sampling of our references and should you like to speak with one directly, we are happy to put you in touch with them.
Q: How long have you been in business?A: Innovative Realty, LLC was formed in 2006 to provide the Central Florida market with superior property management and real estate services. Our business has been built primarily on referrals and word of mouth which is a testament to the level of service we provide and that our owners have come to expect.
Q: How many team members are on the Innovative Realty team?A: Our staff consists of three property managers, an office manager, accounting, leasing agents and upper management. Each team member was selected to perform duties based upon their unique individual talents and they each excel at what they do.
Q: What financial controls do you have in place?A: Property management requires strict adherence to state laws in regards to escrow accounting and how funds are handled and accounted for. Further, these accounts and financial practices are subject to periodic review and inspection by the Florida Department of Business & Professional Regulation. Innovative Realty utilizes state-of-the-art financial controls in partnership with Bank of America to ensure our escrow accounts and the funds maintained within them are secure from breach, fraud, theft or mishandling by outsiders as well as our team. We utilize features that most management companies are not even familiar with such as ACH and check positive pay controls, dual-signer checks, secondary authorizations for critical financial functions such as the initiation of domestic and international wires and ACH transactions, ACH and wire blocks and filters to prevent unauthorized access to our accounts by third parties, remote check deposit whereby tenant checks are submitted to the bank electronically, various automatic activity notifications and Cashpro, Bank of America’s online interface for treasury management clients, where we can monitor the accounts in a secure environment. All of these controls ensure our escrow and operating accounts are safe and secure and as you can see we take our fiduciary responsibilities very seriously. We have taken over properties of owners who have experienced fraud due to the poor financial controls in place at other companies and have suffered the consequences. We challenge you to find another management company that has these controls in place!
Q: What geographical areas of Central Florida do you cover?A: We provide property management services in most areas of Orange, Seminole & Osceola Counties. We also maintain offices in Southwest Florida serving Lee and Collier Counties.
Q: What property management experience and credentials does your office have?A: All of our property managers, leasing agents and upper management are licensed by the State of Florida and trained and selected for their roles based upon their backgrounds, strengths and likes. Additionally, our office is a proponent in continuing education and thus we attend regular courses, classes and conferences, in addition to those required for licensing by the State of Florida, to further our knowledge and trends within the industry to better serve you. We have over 50 years of combined real estate and property management experience and are members in good standing with the National Association of Residential Property Managers (NARPM), Florida Association of Residential Property Managers (FARPM), National Association of Realtors (NAR), Orlando Regional Realtors Association (ORRA) and the Realtor Association of Greater Fort Myers and the Beach.
Q: What should I look for in a Management Company?A: Honesty, Experience, Knowledge, Systems. Your management company is charged with protecting a very valuable asset, accounting for a substantial amount of income, dealing with contractors and tenant problems, guarding the owner from liability, staying up to date on city and state safety codes, real estate landlord/tenant law and on and on. We have been successfully handing hundreds or properties since 2006. There are a hundred mistakes a less experienced company can make that will cost you time and money.
Q: What type of rental properties do you manage?A: Property management is a broad field as it could entail the management of residential, commercial office, commercial warehouse, multi-family, commercial retail and shopping, etc. Many companies handle multiple types of property management, however, we have found that specializing in one particular area affords our clients the best possible service and therefore we specialize in the leasing and management of single-family homes, condominiums, townhomes and small apartment complexes.
Q: Why do owners choose us to manage their property?A: Simply put, honesty and good old fashioned service! Ours is a service business and our owners can count on us to do our best in every aspect of the management of their property every time, period. From effective and timely communication and reporting, leasing and advertising, tenant relations and maintenance to the continuous updating of our office technology and the education of our team we are consistently ahead of industry and market trends as well as our competition.
Q: How common are evictions?A: Evictions are extremely rare in our experience. This is mainly due to the quality of properties we handle which attract quality tenants and also to our extraordinarily comprehensive background screening which is designed to uncover any issues that could lead to a failure to pay rent or not perform on the lease.
Q: How much does a typical eviction cost?A: We utilize the services of the preeminent landlord/tenant law firm in the State of Florida to prosecute any evictions that may be necessary. Generally, in our experience, an uncontested eviction will cost between $450-$500 dollars to prosecute, however, there are circumstances in which it could be more. While this may seem high, it is quite a discount as we utilize the law firm for other real estate related services (lease preparations, etc.) and thus our clients receive preferred pricing. If you were to manage the property yourself and had to evict a tenant, most attorneys would charge you $1000 and up. Again, our philosophy is to mitigate the potential for having to file an eviction to the extent possible by placing well qualified tenants who have undergone a comprehensive background screening.
Q: In Central Florida, how long does an eviction typically take?A: Typically, an eviction within a county we service will take anywhere from thirty to forty-five days depending upon the court and its docket.
Q: Under what circumstances is an eviction necessary?A: Evictions, while rare given the extent and breadth of our background screening protocols, are still sometimes necessary in certain instances, the most common of which is a failure to pay rent. Often, this failure to pay rent is a direct result of an unforeseen event in a tenant’s life (one that would not show up in a background screening) such as a death, loss of job or serious illness. While we prefer to work with a tenant in this situation to vacate them from the property as it is in the best interest of all parties involved (owner, tenant and property manager) sometimes it just doesn’t work out and an eviction is the only available course of action remaining.
Q: What is a three-day notice?A: Florida law states that a landlord must serve a Three Day Notice when a tenant is late with the rent, giving that tenant three business days to pay the rent or vacate. The law is very particular as to how this notice should be prepared and served. The three day notice is a prerequisite for filing an eviction.
Q: I would like to see the tenant’s application and screening results prior to approving them.A: Innovative Realty handles the background screening as our agents are trained in background checks as well as Federal Fair Housing laws and the Fair Credit Reporting Act. The information contained within the applicant’s application and screening results is regulated by the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). The FCRA is the same law that governs credit bureaus and other credit reporting agencies and states that credit information can only be released for appropriate purposes. The word "appropriate" is defined by the law and it does NOT include releasing credit information to landlords prior to approving a tenant nor does it allow the release of credit information to the landlord for the purpose of suing to collect on a debt. A debtor, tenant or applicant can sue for a violation of the FCRA as can the US Justice Dept. As you can see, we cannot release any credit information for the tenant or applicant, however, you can review our Resident Qualification & Approval Guidelines here to review the specific requirements required to lease. Additionally, in each instance where an applicant is not approved outright, we will notify the owner in writing as to the reason the application was not approved (poor credit, collections, eviction, non-verifiable income, etc.) for their review and consult with the owner as to the best course of action.
Q: What specific items do you check and verify as part of the background screening of an applicant?A: Without a doubt, the applicant background screening is the most critical aspect in the course of managing rental property. It begins when the applicant completes our comprehensive application, either online or hard copy, and submits it for processing. Once received, we conduct a complete background screening including full credit report and credit score, verify income and employment, obtain rental history verifications, nationwide criminal background screening, sexual predator screening, government terrorist screening, eviction history, etc. In addition to the background report, our agents conduct a manual check of the county records in the last two counties the applicant resided in to confirm all of the above and as a further check to ensure nothing was missed. The background screening is a comprehensive evaluation of a tenant’s past behavior in an effort to predict future behavior and is designed to ensure that an applicant has been a responsible tenant or homeowner as well as maintained a good credit rating.
Outlined below is a more detailed explanation of the steps and processes we undertake to ensure a quality tenant is placed in the property:
- Credit report & score. The applicant must meet established credit standards and as such we obtain a full credit reporting which outlines the applicant’s current and past performance in the handling of their financial obligations. The credit report includes a full detail of the current and previous debt, monthly payment obligations, any current and past delinquencies, previous addresses which we use in the rental history verification process, number of trade lines, credit inquiries, etc. as well as the applicant’s credit score or the numerical representation of their credit worthiness. The credit report and score is one aspect of the background screening and much of the information it contains is utilized to cross-reference and check the information they provided on the application as well as verify the other aspects we scrutinize below.
- Criminal Background. We conduct a nationwide criminal background screening on each applicant in addition to a sexual offender/predator check, terrorist screening and a manual check of the criminal records of the past two counties the applicant resided in.
- Income & employment verification. Our Resident Qualifications and Approval Guidelines require an applicant to earn three times the monthly rent in gross income and we require a copy of each applicant’s two most recent pay stubs if they are W-2 wage earners or two years of tax returns if self-employed. Additionally, we may seek further confirmation directly from the employer in those cases that warrant it.
- Rental History Verification. We contact each applicant’s previous landlord(s) and after speaking with them to confirm the applicant’s rental history and past performance we email or fax them a form to complete outlining, in writing, the same. Moreover, we undertake a search of county records to confirm that the reference provided by the applicant is the owner of record of the property.
- Evictions background. Each applicant undergoes a check to ensure that they did not have any evictions in the past nor have a balance due with a previous landlord. If the applicant does have a previous eviction or owe funds to another landlord or property manager, there is an increased risk that their behavior will repeat itself.
Q: Does retaining a management company mean I won’t have any issues or problems with my property?A: Unfortunately no. While the hiring of a reputable and proven management company will mitigate many of the issues you would encounter if you handled the property yourself, it won’t entirely eliminate all issues or problems. The successful management of property entails countless details and legalities which a seasoned property manager is perfectly equipped to handle, however, there is also a human element to it that unfortunately is often unpredictable. The successful manager is best equipped to mitigate any potential issues and problems but the hiring of a management company in no way eliminates all potential pitfalls.
Q: How do you determine the rental rate?A: The rental rate is determined via a survey of the rental rates on comparable properties within the same geographic area. There are other considerations that an owner must consider as well such as how quickly they would like the property to rent, how does the property compare to others for rent or that have rented recently, etc. Often, we have owners contact our office with a rental rate in mind. Sometimes this rate is what they need to cover their obligations or what they would like, however, sometimes this isn’t representative of the actual rental rate that can be achieved based upon the property and the comparable properties in the area. As stated above, the rental rate is a complex process that takes many factors into consideration and our staff excels at addressing the rental rate and these myriad factors within the context of the rental market for that particular area. We welcome you to contact our office to discuss the appropriate rental rate for your property.
Q: How quickly will you lease my rental property?A: That is the question! Neither we nor any other management company can tell you with any certainty how long it will take to lease your property as there are far too many variables to consider such as the location of the property, time of year, rental rate, competitive properties, applicant pool/quality, etc. Leasing is a numbers game; we know someone will rent the home we just don’t know if it will be the first person that views it or the 50th. Our job is to aggressively market and advertise the property and get as many people to view it in the shortest amount of time and to that end no one spends more time and money on marketing and advertising than Innovative Realty. We assure you that we find vacancies as troubling as you and do our level best to fill them with qualified tenants as rapidly as possible! Remember, we don’t make any money until you do!
Q: How will you advertise and market my property?A: The National Association of Realtors (NAR) has calculated that over 80% of property searches are conducted online and with this in mind, the vast majority of our advertising efforts are concentrated online! Additionally, we install our “For Rent” signs on the property, market to local businesses, condominium and homeowner’s associations for those properties located within either and most importantly we answer all inquiries timely and are available to show properties to prospects seven days a week.
Q: I need a minimum amount for rent, is this possible?A: While we can assure you we will get the highest possible rent in the lease amount of time it must be within reason and also within the realm of what the market will bear. For example, we have encountered many owners following the economic downturn of 2008 whose monthly obligations were multiples in excess of what the property would rent for given the market at the time. While we could sympathize with their predicament, the market would not bare the rental rate they needed to break even and there was nothing Innovative Realty or any other company could do to change that fact.
We do, however, assure you that we will conduct a comprehensive rental market survey to establish the fair market rent and market and advertise aggressively to achieve the highest possible rent in the shortest amount of time!
Q: My property is furnished. Will I receive more rent?A: In our experience, it depends. The overwhelming majority of our properties are leased unfurnished although we have leased furnished properties as well. Sometimes furnishings will bring increased rent, sometimes they are a liability and prevent the property from leasing timely if at all. Much depends on the quality of the furnishings, the location of the property, etc. In some cases, it may be best to offer the property furnished or unfurnished. Each property is different. Please contact our office to discuss your specific property and whether it would be best to lease it furnished or unfurnished.
Q: What steps do you take to lease my rental home property?A: Simply put, whatever it takes! Our marketing and advertising programs utilize commonly viewed rental websites such as Realtor.com, Rentals.com, MLS, YouTube, and countless others in addition to the placement of yard signs, neighborhood signs, marketing to local employers and businesses, HOA’s and COA’s, and good old fashioned word of mouth among our current residents. If there is someone looking for a rental home in that area there is no doubt they will see yours! This coupled with the fact that leasing is our highest priority and our agents are available 7 days a week to show your property ensures that your property will lease as quickly as is humanly possible!
Q: What's the rental market like at the moment in Central Florida?A: At the moment, the Central Florida rental market is very lively and has very much rebounded since the economic downturn of 2008. While still below the peak values seen prior to 2008 in many areas, properties that are in good areas, in good condition that are offered for rent at a reasonable price are readily leasing and we expect this trend to continue for the foreseeable future barring any unforeseen economic calamity.
Q: Why should you be able to adjust the price of my property?A: After we conduct the rental rate survey you will know what the market rent is for the property at that specific moment in time. Our agreement will establish a minimum rent you will accept and this amount allows us a bit of room to negotiate with a prospect in the event it is necessary. Most often, this is not necessary, however, it is much more beneficial to you as the owner to lease the property rapidly even if at a slightly less rental rate than have it vacant for another month. Our goal is to maximize your overall return and this is typically best accomplished by leasing it rapidly for the highest rental rate possible, even if that rate is slightly less than full market.
Q: Will you assist me in determining what the property needs in order to achieve the highest amount for my property?A: Absolutely! We typically prefer to view the home when working with a new owner prior to leasing to first determine its condition and if it is a property we can work with and secondly to offer suggestions on items that should be remedied prior to placing the property on the market for rent. Generally, we look to address items of safety and security, ensure that all mechanicals are working as designed, address any items of deferred maintenance as well as overall condition and aesthetics.
Q: Your company is very selective on which properties they will agree to manage, why is that?A: Our systems are such that we are not able to work with every property, especially those that are “run down” or those that have a considerable amount of deferred maintenance as these consume a disproportionate amount of our time and distract from the care and attention your property deserves. Additionally, we do not work with Section 8 Housing nor any properties that are out of our service area as in order to provide each property with the attention it deserves it must be within a specified distance from the center of our operation. Many property management companies will take on properties hours and hours away and that, in our opinion, is a disservice to the owners they serve as they can’t reasonably accommodate and serve those properties due to the distances involved.
We prefer to think of ourselves as asset managers seeking to maximize the return of our client’s investments and thus we seek properties for our portfolio that are diverse yet similar enough that our systems can be applied across our portfolio. By doing this, we are able to provide a superior service through economies of scale and the application of our system; a system that has undergone and continues to undergo improvement since our inception.
Q: How do you handle college students and their security deposits?A: While many landlords prefer to steer clear of college students, we have had nothing but positive experiences with them. This is due to the simple fact that in addition to our standard background screening, we will require an additional security deposit as well as a parental co-signer. Nothing ensures compliance with the lease as well as a parent co-signing for their college student!
Q: How do you handle security deposit claims once the tenant vacates?A: In accordance with Florida law. Florida law is very specific in regards to the disposition of security deposits, especially as it relates to making a claim against it. Once the tenant has vacated, we inspect the property for any damages outside of “normal wear and tear” and take full video and pictures of the property and any items we would be making a claim for against the security deposit. We compare these videos and pictures with the videos and pictures from the tenant’s move-in to determine if anything was pre-existing or caused by the tenant. Once determined, we complete the required forms in accordance with Florida law and mail them to the tenant as required. Further, our lease has built in minimum charges to the tenant’s security deposit for items such as general cleaning, carpet cleaning, etc.
Q: How much security deposit do you charge the tenant?A: We charge a MINIMUM of one month’s rent as a security deposit. Many of our competitors only charge one-half of one month’s rent, however, we feel this exposes the landlord to too much risk. While our minimum security deposit is one month’s rent, some applicants will require a higher deposit in order to qualify based upon the results of their background screening.
Q: Who holds the tenant’s security deposit?A: All security deposits are governed by Florida Statute Section 83.49. The statute defines a security deposit as all funds that are "deposited or advanced by a tenant on a rental agreement as security for performance of the rental agreement or as advance rent for other than the next immediate rental period." Further, the security deposits must be held in a Florida banking institution that is chartered to do business in the state of Florida.
Innovative Realty will hold the tenant security deposit in a Florida banking institution in a non-interest bearing account separate from its operating funds in an account established specifically to hold tenant security deposits.
Q: Are blinds required in my property?A: Yes. Florida law requires a property to be equipped with blinds or window coverings of an acceptable nature (no tin foil, newspaper, etc.) Many owners would like to pass on the cost of purchasing and installing blinds on the resident, however, we believe blinds are best provided by the landlord for several reasons-blinds are relatively inexpensive and add to the value and appeal of a property (think leasing) and it is preferable to have them installed by a professional to ensure a quality installation as opposed to allowing a tenant who is not “handy” have a go at it.
Q: Are utilities required when the property is vacant?A: Yes! There are several reasons it is important to keep the utilities on between tenants or anytime the property is vacant. First, it is necessary to keep the air conditioning and climate control systems on and circulating air, especially during the summer months, to prevent excessive humidity and the potential for mold and mildew buildup. Another reason is the property will show much better when the air conditioning is on and cool inside and the lights are on as well. Finally, prior to a new tenant moving in, our agents walk the property to ensure that everything is in good working order (all lights working, AC, toilets and plumbing in good order, etc.) and in order to confirm this the utilities need to be on.
Q: Can you help me get my property in 'rent ready' condition?A: Yes. We are able to assist with preparing the property for rent ranging from general cleaning to general maintenance to full paint and more. For a small fee, we arrange for and coordinate the entire process ensuring the work is completed timely and professionally and having the property ready to show to prospective tenants as soon as possible. Please contact our office to discuss your property specifically.
Q: Do I have to pay a fee for performing a furnishing inventory if my property is unfurnished?A: No.
Q: Do I have to provide you with front door keys, garage door remotes, gate cards, amenity cards/passes, etc?A: Yes. We ask that you provide us with three keys to the door(s), mail box keys, garage door remotes, gate cards, amenity access cards/passes, any keys to storage closets, alarm key fobs, sheds, etc. Additionally, we require all of our properties to be re-keyed between tenants for security and liability and recommend and require that your property be re-keyed as well prior to a tenant moving in should anyone else have/had keys to the property. Re-keying is very inexpensive and ensures a secure property for the tenant as well as eliminating any potential liability on your part.
Q: Do you charge a fee for extraordinary repairs to my property (like insurance issues, fire damage, issues prior to the property leasing, or other large repair requests, etc.)?A: Yes. For any issues outside of the normal day to day operation of the property we reserve the right to charge a fee, typically hourly, in order to remedy the issue. Very few owners ask about this, however, once explained they understand the need in extenuating circumstances (think hurricanes in 2004). Some other examples include insurance claim handling and coordination in the event of a flood, fire, hurricane, severe storm damage, issues requiring multiple visits to the property to allow for inspections by a municipality following permitted work, large scale remodeling or renovation coordination between tenants or prior to leasing, etc.
Q: Does your firm utilize the least expensive maintenance providers available?A: Not necessarily. In this case there is some truth to the old adage “You get what you pay for.” Due to the size of our portfolio, we are able to engage qualified, licensed and insured vendors at preferred pricing who do the work properly the first time while charging a fair price. This keeps your clients, the tenants, happy as our vendors arrive promptly, are courteous and conduct the repairs properly the first time avoiding reoccurring issues and further inconvenience to the tenant all while performing the work at a fair price.
Q: How are maintenance requests handled?A: Promptly and courteously! Our residents are able to submit maintenance requests online, via phone, email, text, in person, etc. so it is very convenient for them. Once we receive the maintenance request, we first identify if it is something we can handle over the phone (jammed garbage disposal for example requiring reset) and if so often we can walk the tenant through the issue preventing a need for a maintenance call and saving everyone time and money. If not, we submit it to the appropriate licensed and insured maintenance provider for service. Generally, our maintenance provider contacts the resident shortly after receiving the work order to schedule a time for service directly with the tenant. We do not give keys or access to our vendors for liability reasons; the tenant schedules the work directly with the vendor, except in emergency cases requiring our immediate intervention to avoid further damage to the property (flood), etc. Additionally, if the issue was caused by the tenant’s mishandling/misuse or negligence our vendors will advise us and we will bill the cost of the call back to the tenant.
Q: How do you guarantee my pool and/or lawn won’t be neglected by the tenant?A: The honest answer is we can’t. There isn’t a property management company that can as there are far too many factors at issue such as municipal watering guidelines and restrictions, insects, weather/mother nature, etc. We do however, provide you with advice as to the best course of action to take regarding your specific property. For some properties, especially those with ornate landscaping or those located in high-end communities, it may be best to include lawn care in the rent. For others, it may be ok to allow the tenant to handle the lawn care. Typically, we always recommend including pool service in the rent. For either of the above scenarios, there are provisions in the lease that govern and protect, to the extent possible, the owner in regards to lawn and pool care and our inspection programs ensure the lawn and pool are cared for as best as possible.
Q: Is my approval required before any maintenance work is done?A: Prior to conducting any maintenance work over $350 we will notify you for approval. For day to day maintenance items below that threshold, running toilets, dripping faucets, etc. we will conduct the work and you will see the work order and vendor invoice reflected in your monthly statement. There are a few instances in which we may take action prior to notifying you to include, 1. Anytime the safety or well-being of a tenant is at issue, 2. When there is only one option at hand, 3. When immediate action is necessary to mitigate further damage to the property (flooding for example).
Q: My property has a pool and/or spa. How is that handled?A: Similar to the lush landscaping question, we would like the pool to stay crystal clear and for the equipment to be utilized and maintained properly to avoid premature failures, etc. Again, we will work with you to determine the best course of action necessary to ensure the pool and equipment are maintained in perfect condition.
Q: My property has ornate landscaping. How is that handled?A: This question is very similar to the general landscape/pool question in that each property is unique. Our interests here are aligned as we both would like the grounds and landscaping to look the same way in the future. In cases such as this, we would work with you to determine the best course of action necessary to ensure the grounds are maintained in exactly the way you had them, beautiful and lush!
Q: What happens if a tenant has a maintenance issue after hours, on weekends or holidays?A: There are a number of ways for a tenant to submit a maintenance request including via phone, online, text, email, etc. During business hours, a member of our team will answer their request via whichever means they submit the order. After hours, or in the event of an emergency (fire, flood, etc.) one of our team members is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year to answer emergency or after hours maintenance calls or any other requests for service. The tenants are informed of the way in which to contact us upon move-in for emergency issues, etc.
Q: What happens if a tenant has a maintenance problem or issue?A: In the event of a maintenance issue, the tenant will contact our office to place a work order via internet, phone, email, text, in-person, etc. and once received we dispatch the appropriate vendor to handle the concern. Maintenance is a top priority as good quality and timely maintenance benefit both the tenants and owners in many ways. First, the property or asset is properly maintained thus preserving its value. Secondly, the tenants are pleased with both the property and the service they receive for maintenance and as a result are much more likely to renew the lease, absorb any increases in rent due to the fantastic service they receive and stay for longer periods of time. Finally, the owner benefits in two ways, first by increasing their return by keeping their clients, the tenants in residency thus reducing vacancy costs and secondly the property is very well maintained which allows for the realization of an increased sales price at the time of disposition.
Q: What happens if the maintenance necessary was the result of the tenant’s misuse, negligence or abuse?A: In cases where maintenance is necessary due to a tenant’s misuse, negligence or abuse of the item, the maintenance is performed and the tenant is charged for the cost of the service. Each tenant is informed of this potentiality during their lease signing and also when they call in the service. While a relatively rare occurrence, occasionally we do have to bill back a tenant for work performed at the property.
Q: What if I want you to use my maintenance provider-plumber, A/C company, etc.?A: We are happy to take the names and contact information for your licensed, insured and bonded vendors, however we do reserve the right to utilize our preferred vendors. While you may have a good relationship with your vendor, we believe you will find our vendors much more fairly priced due to the volume of business they receive from us and we know they do very fine work, properly, the first time. Another advantage is that our vendors are used to working within our system, accepting work orders via email thereby expediting the process as well as the preferred pricing mentioned previously. In most cases, especially on large ticket items like HVAC and plumbing you will not find a better price!
Q: Will you contact me on maintenance issues less than $350.00?A: First, it is important to understand that we have your best interests in mind. Our goal is to have you as a client for many years to come and this is accomplished through timely communication regarding all aspects of your property among many others. With that said, you have hired us to manage your asset in a prudent and responsible manner to maximize your return while maintaining that same asset as you would expect it to be maintained. As a result, we need the ability to handle items of small or routine maintenance at the property as they become necessary and due to this we will not contact you on maintenance items less than $350. In all the years we have been managing property, we have not had an owner displeased with this process and actually most are very happy to have us handle the small details and free them up to pursue their careers or other pursuits. Certainly, for items over $350 or large ticket items such as AC replacements, roof replacements, etc. we will notify you prior and normally obtain several bids for your consideration before moving forward.
Q: Will you work with my Home Warranty? (American Home Shield, Old Republic, etc)A: Yes and please see “Why do you charge a fee for initiating a service/maintenance request with my home warranty company” for more information.
Q: Can you direct deposit funds directly to my account?A: Absolutely! The overwhelming majority of our owners elect to receive their funds via direct deposit. Direct deposit is much more secure than a paper check, can’t get lost in the mail and puts the money in your account much faster than a paper check not to mention saving you a trip to the bank!
Q: Do you have any type of guarantee or protection against tenants leaving early or being evicted?A: Yes, please contact our office for specific features of this program.
Q: Do you provide monthly statements/reporting to owners each month?A: Absolutely! Statements are emailed out each month between the 10th and 12th and are also available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week via the owner’s online portal. Some of our owners elect to receive paper checks rather than direct deposit and their statements are both emailed to them as well as mailed to via the US postal service along with the accompanying statements.
Q: Does your property management agreement give you exclusive right to sell my property?A: Absolutely not! Should you like, we would be happy to assist you with the sale of the property, however, we don’t bind you to using our brokerage services in the agreement. There are many factors that go into selecting a brokerage and agent to handle the sale of the home and while we would welcome the opportunity to help you we may not always be the best option for you and don’t mind telling you so! In some cases, depending upon the home and its location, another brokerage or agent may be a better option and we don’t mind advising you as such if that is the case.
Q: How informed will I be about what happens with my property?A: Our philosophy is straightforward. Anytime anything will cause an interruption in your ordinary cash flow (vacancy or repair above $350) we will notify you immediately. Other than that, it is presumed the property is running along smoothly. Any non-emergency item or maintenance item below the $350 threshold will be communicated to you via the monthly statement and certainly you are welcome to contact our office anytime you have a question or want to discuss something.
We realize there are some owners who desire a degree of involvement that our system is not equipped to handle. If you are an owner who requires constant communication on every detail as it relates to the property such as a phone call before any maintenance is conducted regardless of amount for example we may not be the best fit for you. Our system is more akin to asset management in that we handle the day-to-day operations, leasing, maintenance, tenant communications, etc. in an effort to preserve the property, minimize expenses thereby maximizing your return on investment. This frees our owners up to focus on other endeavors such as other business interests, family, hobbies, etc.
Q: How soon can you start managing my property?A: Our process to begin management is convenient and designed to allow us to begin leasing and managing your home immediately following the completion of a few pieces of paperwork and ensuring all of your questions have been answered. Give us a call today and we can get to work for you!
Q: I own a property with partners. Can we get separate disbursements each month?A: Absolutely! Our management and accounting software can easily disburse funds based on pre-assigned percentages you provide us. We can also send our monthly reports/statements and year-end tax reporting & 1099’s to more than one owner in the case of partners, etc.
Q: If I want to cancel the management agreement, how does that work?A: A lot of time, effort and money go into leasing your property from day one. The cost of advertising for each property is considerable not to mention the time it took to originally view the property, walk and review it, take photos and complete our walk-through inspection, identify any items of maintenance or repair prior to listing the property for rent and coordinating completion, travel time to and from the property, inputting of photos and advertising and marketing into our system and upload to the internet sites used, receiving phone calls and inquiries from the advertising, scheduling viewings, showing of the property to prospective residents by one of our agents, etc. As you can see there is quite a lot that goes into the leasing of a property and thus we cannot allow an owner to walk-away or cancel our agreement at any time. We work hard to fill your vacancy and we will fill it! We are very loyal to our clients and we ask for the same in return.
Q: Is it possible to manage the property myself?A: Certainly and we have programs to assist you in managing the property yourself. Many hands on owners enjoy the day-to-day management of their properties but realize where they fall short is in the acquisition of good quality tenants and the background screening that goes into procuring those same tenants. Give us a call and we would be happy to assist you with locating a tenant and once placed, turn the management over to you.
Q: Is there a lease renewal fee if the tenant renews the lease?A: Yes, and it is unlikely you will find a property management company that does not charge a lease renewal fee. We believe you will find our fee more than fair given the amount of effort we put into renewing the tenant and thereby reducing your vacancy costs. Renewals are a long process beginning with a successful initial lease up, effective and efficient service and maintenance throughout the original lease term and finally a cordial yet firm negotiation as to the terms of the new lease offer. First we perform a walk-through inspection approximately 60-75 days prior to the expiration of the lease to ensure the tenants are maintaining the property in the condition we expect. 99% of the time, we invite the tenant to renew for another one-year term. Secondly, we perform another rental comp survey to determine the proper rental rate in order to effectively negotiate a possible rental increase with the tenant. Typically, regardless of the market rent, our rents will increase 3-5%. This is known as a nuisance increase, not enough to warrant the tenant moving on but enough to cover increases in taxes, insurance, etc. If the market will bear a higher increase we will seek it. At this point, we contact the tenant to invite them to another one –year term and under what terms (rent, etc.). From here there is typically a bit of negotiation involved over the course of several weeks as we iron out the details of the renewal offer with the tenant. Once settled, we order the attorney to draft a new lease, confirm the new lease terms and relay it to the tenant for signature and execution. Once the tenant executes the new lease, our system is updated with the new lease terms, we provide the HOA or Condo Association with the new lease as required by their rules and update the tenants information with them and prepare things for another year. At the same time we are in constant contact with the owner reviewing and updating them on our progress!
Therefore, our minimal fee covers the costs in time and effort associated with avoiding a vacancy, negotiating the new lease terms with the tenant and ensuring all is in order for another term.
Q: What are the terms of your property management agreement?A: Our property management agreement is designed to outline the responsibilities of each party to one another and what each party, Owner and Manager, can expect throughout the term of the agreement. While the basic terms of the agreement are standard, each is tailored to address the specific nature of each property and the resources it will require to lease and manage. Please contact our office for specific questions regarding our property management agreement.
Q: What is the process for hiring you to manage my property?A: We try and make the process as simple and easy for you as possible. To begin, we want to ensure you are very comfortable with our firm and that we have answered all of your questions via this FAQ and if not we ask you to contact our office or the representative you had been speaking with for answers to any others questions you may have. We will then meet with you in person or if you are located outside of Central Florida, fax, email or mail you the other items of paperwork we will need in order to effectively lease and manage the property. After reviewing the paperwork, if you find you have other questions again please ask so that we can answer them for you. Once we have answered all of your questions and concerns and the paperwork is completed and signed by us both, we will visit the property (if we haven’t already), walked it, take advertising photos, run the rental rate survey, review with you our findings and place the ads, marketing and advertising all generally within 24 hours. We won’t waste any time in locating a quality tenant and filling your vacancy as quickly as is humanly possible!
Q: What services are included in your monthly management fee?A: While the list is extensive here are a few examples of the items included in our monthly management fee: 24 hour availability, rent collection, accounting services, monthly reporting to owners, owner/tenant portals, financial reporting, year-end tax reporting, direct deposit of owner funds/rental proceeds, full service office in professional building, property inspections, move-in/move-out inspections, security deposit claim processing, rental comp surveys, 24 hour maintenance & emergency service, full-service maintenance, eviction services, etc.
Q: When do you pay owners their rental proceeds each month?A: Each month between the 10th & 12th we pay owners their rental proceeds via direct deposit or via paper check if elected. The reason owner funds are paid between these dates is Florida Statutes require the tenants checks/funds clear the property manager’s account before funds are released to an owner. Additionally, holidays and weekends may delay the time to clear a check but generally we are able to direct deposit them within the above date range. In the event a tenant pays rent late, we will notify you, work with the tenant to collect the rent and have the payment to you as rapidly as possible.
Q: Who is responsible for the utilities?A: Typically, the tenant will be responsible for the utilities upon the commencement of the lease for the full term of the lease. For the period prior to a tenant’s taking occupancy and following their vacating, the owner is responsible for keeping the utilities on and we will assist the owner with turning on/off the utility services. Also, some homeowner’s and condominium associations provide certain utilities through their community fees and dues. We contact the homeowner’s/condominium associations to find out if that is the case and for any specifics.
Q: Why do you charge a fee to turn on and maintain my utilities?A: Utility service providers have very stringent requirements in regards to the initiation, maintenance and termination of utility services as well as who can initiate those services, etc. While a US owner can typically arrange for utility service online and with little hassle, the utility service providers require us as a company to complete specific paperwork for each service request, place a very large deposit in escrow with the utility provider, utilize our own credit to qualify for services and handle all of the billing and bill payment for any services held under our name. The process is very difficult and time consuming and dealing with utility providers only becomes more difficult as the years pass. For international owners, oftentimes they are not able to initiate service due to their residency outside of the US and thus we must maintain the utility services in our name. There is a lot of administration required to handle the utility services for the properties we manage. Please contact our office for more details.
Q: Why do you charge a fee when my warranty company is called for a repair?A: Home warranty companies are very appealing upfront but generally owner’s find they don’t cover nearly as much as the owner thought when they purchased the warranty. In some cases, they are a good solution but by and large, in our experience, they don’t cover many items and are difficult to work with (think insurance company-they like to collect premiums but don’t like to pay claims!). Another issue we encounter when dealing with a warranty company is the time frame within which they have by contract to have the work done. This is most apparent when dealing with matters of air conditioning. Most home warranty companies have by contract, three days from the date of the service request to handle the call. As you can imagine, during the summer months in Florida when the temperature is around 100 degrees the tenant’s aren’t very happy to wait three days for air conditioning to be restored. In cases such as this there are other options such as utilizing a private vendor if the warranty company agrees to reimburse for the services. We charge a fee due to the increased administration and hassle involved when using the warranty companies as opposed to a private vendor. Please contact our office for more details or with any questions.
Q: Why do you require a $350.00 owner’s escrow deposit upon execution of the management agreement?A: We require all of our owners to submit $350.00 to “fund” their escrow reserve account for each property we manage on their behalf. This is commonly known as a “reserve” and is an industry standard across all investment property types ranging from residential to commercial to large commercial multi-family. This reserve is held in your property account in the event any items are necessary on a revolving monthly basis (lawn service, pool care, the payment of homeowner’s or condominium association dues, etc.), property is not in rent ready condition and requires minor maintenance, carpet cleaning, cleaning, etc. or anything else that may come up during the lease or between rental periods we will have the resources available to have the items cared for and pay the vendor once completed. The owner escrow deposit payment can be made in the form of a personal check, cashier’s check or money order or via paypal. We are also working with our banking institution to allow for credit and debit card payments for the escrow deposit as well as any ongoing owner contributions of capital for any maintenance or capital improvements requested or required.
Q: Why do you require a notice of 60 days in which to terminate the agreement?A: We respectfully ask that an owner notify us in writing 60 days in advance of their intent to terminate the management agreement as generally we begin to advertise the property for rent 60 days prior to the end of the lease in an effort to minimize the time between tenants. Advertising is very expensive and as such we would like to know if your intent is to not re-lease the property so we can avoid spending money on the advertising in such a case. Further, in order to wind down our relationship, transfer security deposits, transition management back to the owner or another company, etc. requires a bit of time and the more time available the more smooth the transition.
Q: Why do you require all owners to sign the management agreement?A: Florida law requires all owners of record to authorize a property management company to lease and place a tenant. Additionally, it is required to ensure that all owners of record are in agreement and that all are aware of the activities related to the property prior to our leasing and management of the property.
Q: Why do you require I have homeowners/liability insurance on my property?A: You wouldn’t drive without car insurance or go without health insurance. Similarly, as a landlord, you must have insurance to protect you from the unexpected including fire, flood, liability, etc. Oftentimes, in a multi-family or condominium environment, damage is caused to your unit by another unit and in the event the owner of that unit is insured your insurance would provide coverage. If you don’t have insurance in place, we can provide you the names of several agents to contact and obtain proper coverage.
Q: How often is the property inspected?A: Along with a good background screening, property inspections are the most important task in ensuring that the property is being kept in good condition and the terms of the lease are being adhered to. Generally, we conduct an inspection 60 days into the lease and then every six months thereafter unless more frequent inspections are required. Additionally, each time a vendor is in the property for maintenance, pest control, etc. they are reporting condition back to us as well.
Q: Inspections, MiscellaneousA: Our inspections are conducted utilizing the latest technology available. The agent conducting the inspection utilizes a tablet that is 4G enabled and able to access our management software directly. From here, the agent is able to run through our inspection checklist, identify any issues, photograph and/or video them, make a note, and schedule the item for repair all right there on the spot while at your property. This ability greatly enhances our recordkeeping as everything concerning the inspection is stored in our system in addition to allowing the maintenance to be conducted more rapidly and efficiently.
Q: What sort of items are you looking for during a mid-lease inspection?A: During a mid-lease inspection, we are checking to ensure the property is being maintained as required and that all of the terms of the lease are being met. Additionally, we are checking for any items of hidden maintenance that may be necessary such as dripping faucets, running toilets, broken sprinkler heads, AC filters, any items of safety or security that need addressing, etc. Basically, we are looking for anything that may be necessary to fix or address to keep the property in tip-top condition and prevent small issues from becoming larger ones.
Q: Do you require co-signers?A: As necessary, yes. Our policy is to require a co-signer for any college students seeking to lease one of our properties. Also, in cases where a tenant makes application but does not meet our published Qualifications and Approval Guidelines, we may require a co-signer in addition to an additional security deposit. In this case, we would discuss the situation with the owner and decide on a strategy together.
Q: Do you work with Section 8 or other similar type programs?A: We do not. Our property management system is not designed to handle Section 8 or other government programs. Moreover, in all the years we’ve been in business, we’ve not had a client ask to participate in the Section 8 program as there is quite a lot that goes into it in the form of inspections and compliances, paperwork, etc. as can be expected in regards to anything involving a government entity. If you are an owner interested in utilizing Section 8 at your properties we may not be the best management company for your needs.
Q: How do you make sure the tenant is taking good care of my home while renting?A: Our portfolio consists of quality rental properties which attract quality and stable tenants. This coupled with our comprehensive and extensive background screening and scheduled inspections throughout the lease term drastically reduce the potential for any issues with the property or tenant.
Q: Should we allow pets in our property?A: This is a common question and we would recommend allowing pets in your property for the simple reason that statistically, nearly 65% of people have pets so to not allowing pets eliminates a good portion of the potential rental community and as a result, greatly increases the time it will take to locate a tenant. Some homeowner’s and condominium associations restrict pets within the community which increases the time it takes to find a tenant but if you don’t have any restrictions on pets from an association we recommend allowing them.
A further protection is the collection of a pet deposit. We require and collect a pet deposit which is on top of the regular security deposit of one-month’s rent. This refundable pet deposit provides an incentive to the tenant to care for the property throughout the lease term.
Q: What do you do if the tenants are not caring for the property as they are expected to?A: In the rare instances where we discover a tenant not taking care of the property as they should we act promptly and aggressively to correct the issue. Florida law requires that in a case of a tenant non-compliance that the tenant be given an opportunity to cure the non-compliance. This is achieved via the 7 day notice to cure. This is a notice, prepared by the attorney (at no cost to the owner, rather as a condition of them on retainer for us) and posted on the tenant’s door which gives them 7 days from the date of the posting to cure the issue or non-compliance or face further action up to and including eviction. Generally, this notice cures the issue and no further action is necessary. Some examples of common non-compliances we have encountered include inadequate mowing of the yard, failure to bring trash cans in after trash collection, unauthorized pets/residents in the property, etc.
Q: What happens if the tenant does not pay their rent?A: Occasionally, even good tenants are late on the rent-“see what happens if a tenant pays rent late.” 99% of the time the payment is made, however, anytime a rent payment is not received by us by the due date we serve them a 3-day notice. Upon expiration of the 3-day notice, we make another attempt to contact the tenant to determine when the rent will be paid and we also notify the owner to discuss whether we should allow more time or file an eviction. Again, 99% of the time the payment is made, rarely does it result in eviction filing.
Q: What happens if the tenant pays the rent late?A: The collection of rent is one of a property management companies primary concerns. A tenant who pays rent late receives our immediate attention and action. Our lease stipulates that rent is due on the 1st of each month and late if not received by midnight of the 1st. Many management companies offer tenants grace periods often between 5-7 days, however, we feel this allows too much time to pass to have rent unpaid. On the 2nd of each month, we email notices to each tenant that has not remitted their rent as of that date and also call each. On the 3rd of each month, we post 3-day notices to each tenant who have not paid rent as of that date. Following the expiration of the 3-day notice, we attempt to contact the resident and collect the rent or determine when the rent will be paid and notify the owner as to the situation and to determine together to afford the tenant a bit more time or file an eviction. 99% of the time, the tenant pays the rent due and no further action is necessary. This is in large part to the time and effort we expend on marketing and attracting and screening to obtain good quality tenants.
Q: Can I leave my property listed for sale while you rent it for me?A: Yes, you can leave the property on the market listed for sale while we advertise the property for rent, however, once we have obtained a qualified tenant for the property it will be have to be removed from the market for sale. The main reason for this is two-fold, would you rent a property where there was the potential you would have to move-out upon a sale shortly after taking occupancy? Or during your tenancy where the property is still listed for sale, have to contend with realtors calling and showing the property to unknown buyers every few days?
Most likely not and in the case where an owner would prefer to sell a property it is best then to leave it on the market for sale untenanted. Another option is to lease the property as outlined above and perhaps re-visit a sale toward the end of the lease if a sale is still desired.
Q: Can I sell the property to someone else if the tenant can’t or doesn’t want to buy it?A: Absolutely. As stated above, the best place to start is with a tenant in residency, however, if the tenant is not interested or cannot qualify to purchase the property, then the next step would be to list the property for sale on the open market. Innovative Realty is also a full service real estate brokerage working with buyers and sellers and can assist with the sale of the property should you decide to sell it. Contact our office for more information and to see how we can help facilitate a sale.
Q: Can I sell the property to the tenant?A: Certainly. If at some point you decide to sell the property and there is a tenant in residency that is the best place to start. Contact our office for more information and to see how we can help facilitate a sale to a tenant we’ve placed.
Q: I'm having trouble selling my house! Is leasing a good decision?A: We believe there are at least 5 main benefits in leasing property.
- Income: Instead of paying a house note, you can receive a nice check each month!
- Equity Build-up: The tenant pays down your mortgage for you!
- Tax Savings: Investment property often provides a tax shelter with deductions and depreciation!
- Effect of Inflation: This effect is sometimes overlooked in real estate analysis...However, with a lot of current economic uncertainty and potential inflation, this benefit deserves a hard look. As inflation occurs, the relative cost of your mortgage decreases while rents can be rising. The result is more cash flow each month to you, the owner.
- Appreciation: Although there may be market "corrections" and short intervals of price stagnation or reduction, the sustained long term trend of real estate appreciation is overwhelmingly positive.
Innovative Realty, LLC
2250 Lee Rd. Suite 206
Winter Park, FL 32789
Phone: (407) 772-5555
Fax: (407) 772-5556
We offer a wide range of property management services to fit your needs as a landlord or home owner.