Answers to your common questions
Can I say that I do not want any pets or smoking in the property? What about children?
Pets and smoking are not protected classes under the Federal Fair Housing Law. However, by eliminating these, you are also eliminating a good percentage of the people in the market looking for rental property. For our owners who do allow pets, we collect a $300 non-refundable pet fee. Additional non-refundable fees or refundable deposits may also be charged. For owners who do not want pets, we will advertise and lease the house with a “no pets allowed” provision. Please also be aware that while we can classify a property as “no pets allowed” or “non-smoking”, it is not possible for this to be monitored on a daily basis.
The Federal Fair Housing Law states that there shall be no discrimination against any applicant for housing on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, marital status, familial status, or handicapped status. Browning-Gordon & Co., Inc. supports and promotes this Fair Housing Doctrine to its fullest extent. Children are under the protected class of “familial status” and it is not possible to discriminate in this way.
How do you screen tenants?
We want to secure good tenants for you; therefore, we use a service to secure a thorough credit check before each lease is signed. This includes checking credit history, past rental history, salary, employment and public records for bankruptcies, judgments and liens. A criminal history check is also run on each applicant; however, please know that we are told there is no database available that will necessarily reveal all criminal history. We use good faith in attempting to use information from sources deemed reliable, but cannot guarantee the accuracy of information reported by the services. The service we use does a social security trace to determine and confirm address history. Any county (nationwide) resided in or associated with the SSN within the past seven years will then be researched on site at the court for both felony and misdemeanor records. The applicants pay for a large portion of the credit/criminal check; however there is presently a $30-$35 charge per applicant charged to the owner, for a more detailed criminal check. The charges may vary depending on county charges. Any overages will also be absorbed by the owner. The Company strives to comply with all applicable HUD (The Department of Housing and Urban Development) rules including the new HUD guidance on criminal background checks. Accordingly, we will take into consideration factors such as what the crime was and when it occurred to address any possible discriminatory impact issues. Therefore, even if an applicant has criminal history, this DOES NOT mean that the application will be automatically be declined.
How is the maintenance handled? Can I use my own contractors?
We use a variety of outside contractors or vendors depending on what needs to be done. We have a long list of requirements and expectations for our contractors. Most of our repair vendors have been with us for years and offer quality work at competitive prices. Under most routine and emergency situations, we will use our own vendors to complete the work.
We require written work requests for all non-emergency items. If it is a repair essential to the maintenance or safety of the property and less than $200, the repair will be ordered and you will see an entry for the payment of that bill on your next statement. If it is more than $200, the property manager will call you for direction and/or approval, unless it is an emergency call or a safety issue which requires immediate action.
You are billed exactly the amount of the vendor’s invoice; we do not charge anything extra for the supervision of these repairs. Most vendors give us a reduction in their rates because of the volume of work they receive from us. We pass the savings on to you.
If a repair is over $200 and you wish to have your own contractor to do the work, you may use your contractor at this time. However, you will need to be responsible for scheduling and supervising the work and for direct payment to the vendor. If you prefer to do all the maintenance, you may want to ask us about our Leasing Only service.
How will you find tenants for my property? How long will it take?
Your property will be put on our list of available properties. This list is updated weekly and is faxed to prospects daily upon request. In addition, this list is shared with the relocation departments of real estate companies, corporations, and employers in the Nashville area.
Your property will also be listed on our Browning-Gordon & Co., Inc. website and other popular internet websites for rental properties. The initial set-up charge for taking the pictures and downloading the information, writing the text, entering the information on the websites, etc. is $100. In addition, there will be a $160 charge per property per month for these listings. This will include the fees for the sites, making any changes or updates necessary, and placing a sign in the yard of your property (upon your request).
Within the ads, there will be a description of the property and plenty of pictures of your property. This way a prospective tenant can access all the information they need about your property twenty-four hours a day. If they want to see your property, they simply call the Property Manager to schedule an appointment.
There are no guarantees as to how long it will take a property to lease. Many factors should be considered such as condition and location of the property, school districts, time of the year, rent range, etc.
What do you require from the tenants in the way of deposits, fees and rents prior to leasing?
When a prospective tenant submits an application, the prospect must also submit an application fee, which is used to process the application through a credit verification service. In addition, the prospect is required to submit an escrow deposit, which is typically equal to approximately seventy-five (75%) percent of one month’s rent. Once the application is approved and the lease is signed, the escrow deposit becomes the security deposit. At the time the tenant moves in, one month’s rent is paid in advance. Even if the tenant moves in the property mid-month, one month’s rent is required, and we will then pro-rate the second month’s rent. A portion of the security deposit is earmarked for a non-refundable cleaning fee to have the property cleaned prior to the next tenant. The property is professionally cleaned between each tenant. The cleaning fee should cover most, if not all, of the general cleaning costs. The security deposit is held in an interest bearing Security Deposit Trust Account. This interest is retained by Browning-Gordon & Co., Inc.
What happens if the tenant does not pay rent on time?
The rent is due on the first of each month and considered late after the sixth. The five extra days allowed are required by the Tennessee Landlord and Tenant Act. Most tenants pay their rent by the sixth of the month. If the rent is not paid by the sixth, tenants are sent a late notice reminder on the seventh of the month. If the tenant doesn’t pay or does not contact us with an acceptable payment plan, we will send a final late notice on the seventeenth of the month. If the tenant still does not pay toward the end of the month, we will contact you and ask for approval to begin eviction proceedings.
You pay the initial filing fees and court costs usually totaling approximately $300 to start the process. This will generally be the only cost you incur. If the rents are collected, the attorney fees, which are typically a percentage of the amount being collected, will be added to the amount we are seeking for collection. So the tenant pays the attorney fees, other than the initial fee of approximately $300 to start the process.
What happens if the tenant leaves before the end of the lease?
If the tenants must vacate the property prior to the end of the lease term, per the Browning-Gordon & Co., Inc. lease, they are responsible for a thirty (30) day paid advance written notice, the forfeit of their security deposit, plus a termination penalty equal to two month’s rent. Browning-Gordon will then try to find another tenant to rent the property as quickly as possible.
What if I have a Home Warranty?
Managing the number of properties that we do, it is not possible for us to have different guidelines as to how to handle maintenance on each property. The general guidelines that apply to all the properties that we manage are stated above. The Home Warranty requirements typically do not fit within our guidelines. If you wish to keep your Home Warranty in place, you may want to consider our Leasing Only service.
What needs to be done to my property before it is ready for rent?
The better condition that a property is in, the better quality tenant it will attract. Your property must be offered in a professionally cleaned condition, as the tenants will be paying a non-refundable cleaning fee. Your property manager prefers to arrange this cleaning to insure that the cleaning guidelines are strictly followed. The carpets must be freshly and professionally cleaned and all debris and personal belongings removed from the house. There should be no items stored in the property, including attics, basements, storage areas, etc.
It is not necessary to paint automatically, but it is necessary to paint any room that has dirty or marred walls, ceilings, or trim. A neutral color for paint, wall coverings, and carpet is best. In addition, neutral window coverings should be placed on the windows for privacy. We recommend that you do not leave a washer and dryer unless it is a stack unit or an unusual size. It is typical in our area for all kitchen appliances, including stove and refrigerator, to be provided. We also recommend that the locks be re-keyed prior to new tenants taking occupancy.
When do I get my money each month?
The statements to the owners, along with rental proceeds, will be sent by the end of each month. We generate these statements only once a month. Because rents are typically due on the first of the month and The Tennessee Real Estate Commission does not allow us to have a negative balance in your account, it is necessary for us to always have money in your account from which to pay bills relating to your property. Therefore, if your rent is not received prior to the statement, you will see the rent credits on your statement the following month. If there is an error or question on your statement, we do ask that you contact us within 15 days so that we may handle the problem right away. We suggest having your check automatically deposited in your account once you have signed up for direct deposit. This allows you to receive your proceeds more quickly plus it saves you money. Paper checks and statements will be mailed for an additional charge each month.
When is your office open?
Our office is open Monday-Friday 8:30-5:00. Telephones are personally answered during this time and voice mail is available all other times. In addition, a maintenance vendor and a staff person is on call 24 hours per day, 7 days per week to handle emergency situations should the need arise.
Who will be my contact person?
When a new owner signs up with Browning-Gordon & Co., Inc., he/she is assigned a property manager. This property manager is responsible for the day to day management of the property or properties. The property manager will also have an assistant who can help to answer any immediate questions or concerns, if the property manager is out of the office.
It is important to realize that in the property management business, we are in and out of the office all day long. We strive to return all phone calls within the same day when at all possible, but definitely within the next business day. If you have an issue that needs to be discussed in person, please call to make an appointment. As we are in and out of the office on such a frequent basis, if you arrive at our office without an appointment, you may be disappointed when the person you are wanting to talk with is not available or you may feel rushed as the person is on the way out the door to an appointment that had already been scheduled. If you have a true concern, we want to make sure that we set aside the time to talk with you.
Who will show my property to prospective tenants?
We have licensed real estate agents who provide professional leasing assistance. Our lockbox system allows licensed professionals other than those in our office to show our properties. Our offices are open 8:30 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. Monday through Friday.
Will you take just one property in any area?
We do not manage all properties in all areas. We have found we can pay better attention to the properties that are closer to our office. So properties in the West End, Green Hills, Downtown and Hillsboro Village areas are the best match for us. However, we also manage properties in the Crieve Hall, Donelson, Oak Hill, Forest Hills, Bellevue, Brentwood and Antioch areas. If you have a question about whether your property is in an area that we cover, just ask us!
The management of scattered site rental properties is our specialty and most of our owners only have one property. So yes, managing just one property is perfectly fine. However, if you have more than one property, we are happy to talk with you about the multiple sites as well.
For more information about Nashville Property Management, please visit our educational blog.