Q: How long will it take to rent my property?
A: The length of time it will take to rent your property depends on
several factors. Fortunately many of these factors are under your control.
Property owners who take reasonable efforts to get their property looking
its best (cleaning, touch-up painting, mowing the lawn, trimming the bushes,
etc.) and list their property at the current rental market rates will find
that they will attract the highest quality tenants in the shortest amount
of time. Generally it takes on average about 30 days to receive a signed
lease under these conditions. Sometimes it is quicker and sometimes a
Q: When is the best time of year to rent my property?
A: Single-family homes rent year-round. However, during the spring and
summer homes typically rent quicker than in winter and fall. The slowest
time of year to rent your property is between Thanksgiving and the New Year.
If your time-frame is flexible we would recommend putting your property on
the rental market in the spring to be sure to hit the peak leasing season.
If your rental property caters to college students in roommate situations,
it is very important to have it leased before the upcoming fall semester
(August) and school year. You should begin advertising your property as a
“Pre-Lease Available in August” as early as January or February (or even
year-round) to be certain you have a signed lease for the following school year.
Q: How will you market my property for rent?
A: In today’s rental market the most effective marketing is done online.
For available rental homes, we invest the majority of our advertising dollars
in online advertising. This has been repeatedly proven to be the best way to
attract the highest quality rental prospects in the shortest amount of time.
We still put the traditional “For Rent” sign in the yard, but even it has a
number to text to get more information and a link to a the property’s mobile
website with photos and additional details. Due to the fact that the internet
is a visual medium, it is very important to have high quality photos of the
property presenting it in its best possible light. For this reason, one of
the first steps in the marketing process to have good quality photos taken
of the property if you don’t already have them. This is one of the first
things we do once a management agreement is signed.
Q: How do you screen potential tenants?
A: Tenant screening is a critical part of managing rental property. Many
problems landlords experience could easily be prevented by proper tenant
screening. The first thing we do is order a screening report which includes
a credit report, eviction history, and a national criminal and sex offender
search. Habits and behaviors people have spent a lifetime developing are
likely to remain the same in the future. Applicants with good credit and a
clean background will likely to continue to be responsible in the future and
be quality tenants. After running the screening report, we check the applicant’s
residency history. If they have been homeowners in the past we check tax records
to confirm this, if they have been renters in the past we check with their
previous landlords. Source of income or funds that will be used the pay their
rental obligations will be checked as well. After all this information is
reviewed we make a decision to accept, decline or accept with conditions (increased security
deposit, co-signer, etc.) the rental applicant.
Q: Once a rental application is approved, how does the applicant secure the property?
A: Many landlords have been burned by potential tenants who say they will take the property
and sign a lease. The landlord takes their property off the rental market in good faith and
the tenant who promised to lease the property delays in signing the lease and eventually
disappears. In the meantime the landlord misses other potential tenants while their property
is off the market. Our policy is to continue to market, show and accept rental applications
on a property until we receive a signed lease AND a non-refundable reservation fee (an
amount equal to one month’s rent, which is applied to the first month’s rent once they move in)
from an approved rental applicant. Once the approved rental applicant has signed the lease
and has paid the non-refundable reservation fee, we will take the property off the market and
hold it for them until the move-in.
Q: Who signs the lease?
A: If you choose our “Full Leasing and Management” service, the lease will be between the
tenant and Bowman Property Management, LLC as the landlord. Neither your name, phone number,
address nor any other of your contact information will be on the lease. This will help protect
your privacy and help prevent tenants from contacting you with their problems or complaints.
Some property management companies will list the property owner as the landlord and their
property management company as merely the Broker or Agent — ostensibly to reduce their legal
liability. This places the property owner on the front lines of any potential disputes with
the tenant instead of allowing the property management company to be the first line of defense.
So, if you would like to maintain as much anonymity as possible, keep yourself off the frontlines
of any potential disputes and out of the tenant’s crosshairs in general, but sure to hire a
property management company that will not list you as the landlord on the lease agreement.
(Don’t let anyone tell you the law requires the property owner’s name to be on the lease. This is simply not true.)
Q: When do you collect the security deposit? Who holds the security deposit?
A: Georgia law O.C.G.A. section 44-7-33 requires a move-in inspection be completed prior to the collection of the security deposit. The day of move-in we meet the tenant at the property and complete a detailed move-in inspection to document the condition of the property at move-in. After we complete the move-in inspection, we collect the security deposit. Since we will be giving possession of the property to the tenant immediately after the collection of the security deposit, we require the tenant to pay the security deposit in certified funds (cashier’s check, certified check or money order). If you choose our “Full Leasing and Management” service, the security deposit will be made payable to Bowman Property Management, LLC and deposited into an escrow account, established only for that purpose, registered with the Georgia Real Estate Commission. At the end of the tenancy, after the tenant surrenders possession of the property, if there is any damage to the property beyond ordinary wear and tear not noted on the move-in inspection, the security deposit will be applied to those damages. Additionally, the security deposit may be applied to any outstanding charges under their lease agreement.
Q: How is rent paid? When do I receive my funds? What type of accounting is made?
A: Tenants pay their rent to Bowman Property Management, LLC. They may write a check or pay online at our website through their tenant portal. Either way, the payment is deposited into an escrow account registered with the Georgia Real Estate Commission. Your monthly statement period is from the 11th of the month through the 10th of the following month. On the 11th of each month (or shortly thereafter depending on which day of the month the 11th falls) statements for the previous period ending on the 10th are generated and owner draws are initiated. You can choose to have a paper check and statement printed and mailed to you or have your funds direct deposited via ACH into your checking account. Additionally, all your monthly statements will be posted to your owner portal that you can access 24/7 through our website (more on owner portals in a later FAQ). Your monthly statement will have two columns with simple income statements (a.k.a. profit and loss statement). These columns will show the revenue (rent) less expenses (management fees; repairs; etc.). The first column will be the accounting for the month and the second column will be the year-to-date totals. You will receive a 1099 for tax purposes at the end of the year as well.
Q: Why does it take until the 11th of the month for my payment to be sent?
A: We understand that it is important that you receive your monthly rent proceeds in a timely manner and work hard to get your money to you as quickly as possible. Our lease with the tenant stipulates that the rent is due on the 1st and we give them a grace period until the 5th. Having a disbursement date of the 11th provides the necessary time for us to collect the rent, chase down any late payers, deposit the funds into the escrow account and have enough time to reasonably verify the tenant’s funds are good (won’t bounce) before we make owner disbursements.
Q: What is an owner portal?
A: An owner portal is a web portal through our website where you will have online access 24/7 to important documents and other pertinent information regarding your rental property. For example, your management agreement, monthly statements, invoices and receipts for any repairs, etc. will be posted there. Once your property is leased, the lease, move-in inspection and other tenant related documents will be posted there as well. Your owner portal will give you easy access to your property information wherever you have internet access. For example, if you are in your accountant’s office and need a copy of a receipt or financial statement, or if you are in your banker’s office looking to refinance and your banker needs a copy of the current lease, simply login to your owner portal from your accountant’s or banker’s office and the information will be at your fingertips. To login to your portal, simply go to the home page of our website and in the upper right-hand corner click on “Owner Login” and you will be prompted to enter your email address and password.
Q: What happens if the tenant doesn’t pay their rent?
A: One of the most common and costly mistakes landlords make is failing to take prompt and decisive action when a tenant fails to pay their rent. Many landlords are unfamiliar with the dispossessory (eviction) process and may be uncomfortable or intimidated by going to court. For these reasons, they just hope the tenant will come through with their promises to pay their rent and the problem will go away. Unfortunately, this lack of action on the landlord’s part often leads to a tenant living in a rental property for months without paying rent. Under our lease, the rent is due on the 1st of the month and we give the tenant a grace period until the 5th of the month. On the 6th of the month, if the rent has not been paid, we send the tenant the demand letter (a.k.a. Pay Rent or Quit Notice; a.k.a. 3-Day Notice) stating they must pay the rent or move out within 3 days or we will take legal action to evict them. Two copies of this letter are sent to the tenant, one via first class mail and one via certified mail, so there is no dispute they were given proper notice. If the tenant does not pay the rent within 3 days of the mailing of the demand letter, we file the dispossessory paperwork at the courthouse. A day or so after the dispossessory paperwork is filed at the courthouse the sheriff will go to the property and serve the tenant a court summons. If the tenant had any doubt about the seriousness of the situation, having the sheriff knock on their door and serve them a court summons removes this doubt. In most instances, the process of sending the demand letter by first class and certified mail and following up with the sheriff serving them a court summons gets the tenant’s full attention, lets them know we are serious and they pay their rent. However, if the tenant still doesn’t pay the rent, they have 7 days to file an answer to the summons with the court. If they don’t file this answer within 7 days, we request a “writ of possession”, the judge signs off on it, sends it to the sheriff’s office and we schedule the physical put-out with the sheriff. If the tenant files an answer with the court within the 7 days, a court date is scheduled. If the tenant doesn’t show up for the court date, the judge will likely issue a “writ of possession” and we schedule the physical put-out with the sheriff. If the tenant shows up for court, but still can’t pay the rent or come to an acceptable agreement, the judge will likely issue a “writ of possession” and we will schedule the physical put-out with the sheriff. In summary, most tenants that may want to drag their feet or otherwise delay in paying their rental obligations can be taught that this is not acceptable and that there will be swift consequences. As a result, most of these tenants begin paying their rent on time. The few tenants that just can’t or won’t honor their rental obligations simply have to be removed and replaced with a tenant who will.
Q: How are repairs handled?
A: Georgia law O.C.G.A. section 44-7-13 requires landlords to keep the premises in repair. It also makes the landlord liable for any substantial improvements placed upon the premises by their consent. Under the law, your highest responsibility as a landlord is to keep your rental property in a safe and habitable condition. If you own rental property, repairs are inevitable. Fortunately, if you choose our “Full Leasing and Management” services, many of the repair hassles are taken off your hands. The lease agreement will be between the tenant and Bowman Property Management, LLC. Neither your name, phone number nor address will be on the lease and the tenant won’t contact you for repairs. If a repair is necessary, the tenant will contact us to handle it. How we manage the repair depends on the nature of the repair. If it is an emergency (pipes have burst and water is flooding the house; the septic tank is full and sewage is backing up in the house; it is a 100 degrees, there is a baby or elderly person in the house and the air conditioning stops working; etc.), we immediately contact the appropriate contractor to get the repair underway and then notify you of the situation. If it is not an emergency, but it is a repair the landlord is required by law to make in order to keep the premises in repair (dishwasher not working; garbage disposal not working; oven not working; etc.) and is relatively inexpensive (under $200 or so) to fix, we have the repair made. When you receive your next monthly statement, you will see the charge for the repair and a copy of the contractor’s invoice. If it is not an emergency and looks to be a more expensive repair (gutters have fallen down; water heater needs to be replaced; HVAC system needs to be replaced; etc.), we will contact you to see how you would like us to handle the repair (do you want multiple repair quotes; do you have a preferred contractor; do you want to contact your insurance company to make a claim; etc.). If the repair request is for some cosmetic issue, but not a safety or habitability issue, we will contact you to see if you would like to make the cosmetic repair from a customer service perspective or if you want us to inform the tenant they will have to live with the cosmetic issue.
Q: What is your pet policy?
A: Whether or not to allow pets is up to you. Prior to placing your property on the rental market, it’s important to decide on what your pet policy will be. About 60 percent of prospective tenants will have pets, so allowing pets will enhance the marketability of your property, which will likely translate into higher rents and less vacancies. Of course, the flip side of this is that pets will likely increase the amount of wear and tear on your property and possibly do damage beyond ordinary wear and tear. In the worst case scenario a pet could attack someone and cause injury, thus creating a legal liability for the landlord who allowed the pet. In order to maximize a property’s marketability while keeping the risks to a minimum, a pet policy we recommend to property owners who are hesitant about permitting pets is to allow a non-aggressive breed dog and/or cat under 25lbs (each) that the prospective tenant has owned at least 2 years coupled with a nonrefundable pet fee per pet (2 pet maximum). Additionally, we have the tenant sign a pet exhibit with the lease that states (among other things) that the tenant will have the carpets professionally steam cleaned and professionally treated for fleas and other pests within 24 hours after they vacate the premises. This policy prevents inexperienced pet owners, puppies, kittens, large aggressive animals, exotic pets and your property from being overrun by pets. The nonrefundable pet fee (generally $150 to $250 per pet) is basically a bonus to the landlord for allowing the pet and the hassle of dealing with the issues the pet may cause. The tenant is still liable for any damage beyond ordinary wear and tear caused by the pet and the landlord can use the security deposit and any other legal collection method to recover these damages. This pet policy has worked well in the past, but ultimately the decision on whether or not to allow pets is your call. Note: Handicapped persons are a protected class under federal fair housing laws. If a handicapped person has a service animal, it is illegal to: deny their rental application based on the pet policy, charge a pet fee, charge a pet deposit or require the pet exhibit to be added to the lease.
Q: Who is responsible for the utilities?
A: Our lease makes the tenant responsible for the utilities from the day they take possession of the property until we complete the move-out inspection at the end of their tenancy. The property owner is responsible for the utilities while the property is vacant and between tenants. We recommend setting up a “landlord agreement” or “continuous service” (both terms mean the same thing) with your power and water provider.
Q: What is a “landlord agreement” or “continuous service” utility agreement?
A: Both the terms “landlord agreement” and “continuous service” mean the same thing. This is where an owner of a rental property sets up a utility (usually power or water) in their name just one time. When a tenant moves into the property, the tenant transfers these utilities into their name until they move out and we complete the move-out inspection. With a “landlord agreement” or “continuous service” in place, when the departing tenant disconnects their utilities, the utilities automatically switch back into the property owner’s name. This saves the property owner a new setup fee with each utility provider and it also prevents the utilities from being discontinued between tenants. This is especially important if there are only a few days between one tenant moving out and another tenant moving in. Cleaners, painters and other contractors may need to get in and out quickly to get the property ready for a new tenant and nothing slows down their work faster than the power or water being off, having to stop everything and wait for the utility provider to turn the utilities back on.
Q: Who is responsible for lawn maintenance?
A: Unless you want to provide lawn maintenance for your property or it is included in your Community Association dues, our lease makes the tenant responsible for the lawn maintenance during their tenancy. If the tenant fails to keep the lawn properly maintained as agreed, our lease allows us to hire a professional lawn maintenance company to maintain the lawn and the tenant is responsible for the costs.
Q: Who is responsible for pest control?
A: Unless you want to provide pest control or it is included in your Community Association dues, our lease makes the tenants responsible for pest control (except for termites).
Q: Do I need to make adjustments to my insurance?
A: If you are currently an owner-occupant, prior to leasing your property, you should contact your insurance company and let them know it will no longer be owner-occupied and will soon have tenants in it. Your insurance agent can guide you on the details, but it is important to have liability coverage for your protection in case someone gets injured on the Premises of your rental property.
Q: Should I provide a washer and dryer with my rental property?
A: About 25 to 30 percent of potential renters of single-family homes will have their own washer and dryer will want to bring them. If you provide a washer and dryer, there is a good chance these potential tenants will request that you remove your washer and dryer to make room for theirs. Additionally, if a landlord provides a washer and dryer with their rental property and the washer or dryer breaks during a tenancy, the landlord is responsible for having the washer and dryer repaired. If a tenant brings their own washer and dryer and either breaks during their tenancy, the tenant is responsible for the repairs. Additionally, not providing a washer and dryer with a single-family rental home is almost never a deal breaker for a potential tenant looking to lease a single-family home. For the aforementioned reasons, if you are on the fence regarding whether or not to provide a washer and dryer with your rental property, we recommend that you do not.
Q: Can I leave (i.e. store) some of my personal belongings in a locked room or closet during a tenancy?
A: Sometimes property owners want to store some of their personal property in a locked room or closet and lease the rest of the house to a tenant. We STRONGLY recommend against this. In addition, we STRONGLY recommend property owners remove all their personal property from a house prior to renting it to a tenant. There are a couple reasons for these recommendations. While you may feel your valuable personal belongings are safe in a locked room or closet, kids still pick locks, leaks happen, water and moisture can cause damage, plus personal property items left in rental homes just seem to disappear or somehow get damaged. Another issue related to leaving personal property items in a rental property is liability. If a tenant sits on a chair you kindly left for them and the chair breaks causing injury to the tenant, the tenant will want you to pay their medical costs. These problems can easily be avoided by simply removing all your personal property prior to leasing to a tenant.
Q: Should I purchase a home warranty for repairs to my rental property?
A: Our recommendation is no for the following reasons: There is no better way to strengthen a relationship with a quality tenant (which results in them staying longer and taking better care of your property) than to make necessary repairs promptly. Conversely, there is no better way to damage a relationship with a quality tenant than to delay in making necessary repairs. If you have ever been without air conditioning when it is 100 degrees, you know how miserable it can be. Without using a home warranty company for repairs, if it is 100 degrees and a tenant’s air condition stop working, they contact us, we contact our trusted HVAC contractor, the repair is quickly and efficiently made, and everyone is happy. In the same scenario, but with a home warranty company in the mix, the work flow would go something like this: The tenant would contact us, we would contact the home warranty company, the home warranty company likely wouldn’t want to deal with us and would tell us they need to be contacted by the owner, we would contact you (the owner), you would need to contact the home warranty company, the home warranty company would pick their own HVAC repair contractor to make the repair. These additional steps and people in the loop can cause significant delay in the response time. When it is 100 degrees and a tenant’s air conditioning is out, this delay can do a lot of damage to a relationship with a tenant.