- Communication Options & Records
- Innovative Rental Marketing
- Robust Tenant Screening
- Tracked Tenant Management
- Strict Evictions & Pay Plans
- Property Inspection Videos
- Transparent Maintenance
- Utility Management
- City Compliance
- Intense Financial Reporting
- Legal Guidance, LLC Setup, Insurance, etc.
Have questions about a
specific step in our process?
Please click on an icon for an overview or read more for in-depth information.
Communication Options & Records
Communication is the key to every relationship, so we use an online portal where all information regarding your property(s) is available. You have access to all Owner Statements, Live Reports, maintenance work, proof of tenant payments, pics, invoices, a history of communications, etc.
We’ve received feedback from many clients that we keep them more organized than they could keep themselves.
Our system is setup so that you automatically receive an email every time we post a comment or document for one of your properties. Each screen of your portal has a video tutorial you can click on. Many screens have filter capabilities so you can control how much data you see. Search functionality is also available on many screens.
Innovative Rental Marketing
We do an exceptional job of leveraging technology & logical processes to market properties for rent. We advertise on 20+ websites, track all activity, showings & applications and provide you a bi-monthly Marketing Report.
Our goal is to get as many prospective tenants to view your vacant properties as possible. One of the main challenges to accomplish that goal is being available 24/7/365 to schedule and conduct showings. We’ve addressed this challenge by leveraging software that allows prospects to schedule showings online whenever they want. Qualifying prospects may also be allowed to view a property on their own, using software to validate their identity for security purposes.
We use analytics to monitor how your vacant property is doing in the marketplace by tracking the following data points:
- Web Views
- Online Inquiries
- Scheduled Showings
- Completed Showings
Data for your vacant property are compared to our accumulated database to identify the most likely challenge(s) keeping your property vacant. We then share the challenge(s) with you, including our opinion about what steps to take to get your property rented ASAP.
Robust Tenant Screening
We have an exceptional screening process, requiring a YTD paystub, most recent W-2 and bank statement. We check national credit, eviction & criminal histories, verify past landlords and also video Tenant MoveIns.
Below is more information about what our Applications Department does to screen applicants and find the best tenants possible for your property.
We require the following from each applicant over the age of 18, that is not a dependent of another applicant (as evidenced on a tax return):
- Copy of acceptable state picture ID
- Recent YTD paystub
- Recent W-2
- Recent Bank Statement, all pages, no info blacked out
- Recent tax return if self-employed
Applicants are often slow about turning this information in, asking us why we need it and then taking several days to submit. Then they complain that our process takes too long!
Many companies use credit summaries, but we find these rarely tell the whole credit story. So, we obtain a full credit report and review collections, chargeoffs, age of credit accounts, active accounts, etc. to build an overall credit evaluation.
We also obtain data from national databases about evictions, convictions and sex-offender histories. These all require applicants to submit an acceptable Letter of Explanation addressing each specific issue and occurrence.
Because a current landlord may say anything to get rid of a bad tenant out of desperation, we also require information for the previous landlord of all applicants. Verifying rental history often takes a long time to complete due to applicants not giving us correct landlord contact information, landlords not returning our calls or refusing to give us any details.
We also deal with applicants trying to have family or friends pose as their landlords. To address this, we verify the property owner per government records and use this information to vet imposters.
Anything that seems suspicious will lead to us requesting an acceptable Letter of Explanation to address.
Many landlords require a month of paystubs from applicants and just use these to calculate a monthly qualifying income. In our opinion, this doesn’t result in a viable income amount or analyze income stability. We use a YTD paystub and last year’s W-2(s) to calculate income several different ways:
- Hourly or salary income calculated to a monthly amount
- YTD income divided by number of YTD months
- YTD + W-2(s) income divided by the corresponding number of months
If these numbers vary too much, then we investigate and require an acceptable Letter of Explanation.
Unless an applicant has exceptional credit, we strive to determine their stability of employment to make sure they’ll always be able to pay the rent on time. So, we require a detailed employment history for the last two years and verify as much of it as reasonably possible.
We are one of the few management companies that requires a bank statement as part of our application process. We think it’s important as it allows us to check for Non-Sufficient Funds (NSF) issues and to determine if an applicant is living paycheck-to-paycheck. Bouncing payments or only being an illness or accident away from not being able to pay the rent, are issues considered by our underwriting.
Letter Of Explanation
Any time there are credit issues or we discover an inconsistency, we require a written letter of explanation (LOX). Many applicants just want to tell us their excuses over the phone, but if they won’t take the time to put it in writing, we find they rarely end up being good tenants.
Traditionally, landlords have only looked at the income of applicants and approved those having income equal to three times the property rent. This crude method ignores all the other debt payments tenants have. Given that many tenants will make their car payment before their rent payment, we’ve copied the mortgage industry’s method of debt-to-income (DTI) ratios. We calculate rent plus all debt payments as a percentage of gross monthly income.
Our underwriters strive to analyze and balance all the information above to determine the statistical likelihood of a tenant paying their rent on time.
Once an applicant is approved, we require a nonrefundable Holding Fee to make sure they are serious and don’t change their minds. We actually keep marketing your property and accepting back up applicants until your property is actually occupied.
One last thing, because there is a significant increase in the length of time to find a tenant during the winter months, we do our best to avoid a lease term that ends during the months of November to February. We’ll offer an approved applicant a 13-15 month lease to avoid this. We even do this on lease renewals. Why set our clients up for longer vacancies than necessary?
Tracked Tenant Management
We cannot stress how important it is to have strict, yet fair, policies & procedures in place to manage tenants. Tenants must be consistently monitored to confirm they follow lease requirements. For accountability, we document all tenant communications in our online database & phone calls are recorded.
Tenants range from the autonomous, to those needing constant attention. So, we have extensive written policies & procedures for our staff to consistently enforce. Problems are identified and addressed or escalated to you as needed. Being strict, yet fair, usually results in most tenants following the terms of their lease and wanting to renew for additional years.
To that end, our lease is an evergreen contract, which means it auto-renews unless the tenant or landlord gives the other party proper notice. A 5% increase is included in each auto-renewal period, but the tenant and landlord can negotiate this if done so within the notice requirements. Instead of a traditional 30-day notice period, our lease requires a 60-day notice, which gives us more time to evaluate your property for advertising and market it for a new tenant.
Strict Evictions & Pay Plans
Nonpayment of rent is a major issue that must be aggressively addressed, so that potential losses are minimized. We keep pressure on tenants with past-due balances & require pay plans – to get them to pay or move expediently. Eviction Notices are sent no matter the excuse and calls made at specific trigger-events for more effectiveness.
When it comes to late rent payments, it’s tough to balance being understanding with being strict. The real challenge is you never know when a tenant is telling the truth, or desperately telling you what they think you want to hear to avoid eviction. The only logical way to address this dilemma is to have a well-thought out system that is strict, but compassionate with built-in, limited flexibility.
Our lease states rent is due on the 1st of each month, with a 5-day grace period. Eviction Notices are generated on the first business day 1-3 days after the 5th of the month. From thereon, we aggressively pursue payments while moving forward with the eviction process. We allow payment plans, but since desperate tenants will say anything over the phone, we require tenants to submit payment plans in writing, with specific payment dates & amounts, as well as proof of income to support the payments.
We make at least 6 strategic calls to tenants during the eviction process, giving them opportunities to pay and halt the process:
- When eviction notice sent to tenant
- When notice sent to attorney to schedule court date
- When court date is confirmed
- When court judgment obtained
- After 10-day court ordered time to pay expires
- When a Writ of Eviction is obtained, and bailiffs scheduled
Owners often want us to call more frequently, but no amount of calls will get a tenant to pay if they don’t have funds. We publish our Eviction Process Milestones to owners on their online Rent Roll Report.
Pursuing tenants for unpaid balances after they move out is dependent on being able to find them and personally serve them as required by Michigan law. This is beyond the capability of a property manager, so we hire outside attorneys and collection agencies. Instead of paying them by the hour, we hire firms that work on a contingency basis, where they take a percentage of what they collect. NOTE: Finding dependable firms is an ongoing challenge due to the limited number of accounts we can send them.
For more information about our system to legally evict tenants within Michigan statutes, please read below:
Michigan Eviction Process Explained
|Day 1:||RENT DUE: Rent typically due on first of each month.|
|Day 5:||GRACE PERIOD UP: Last day of Grace Period|
|Day 6-9:||EVICTION NOTCE SENT: Tenant has exceeded grace period of their lease. Proper Demand form is sent to all tenants to start the legal eviction process, so we force them to address their balance:|
|Day 13-16:||COURT DATE FILING: While waiting the required 7 days, we try to communicate with tenant to determine if they intend to pay and when. Tenants are offered option of Payment Plan. To keep pressure on them, we usually move the Eviction Process forward by sending the following to an attorney to file for a court date:|
NOTE: Only the property owner can represent themselves in court, we MUST use an attorney.
|Day 16-19:||FILING CONFIRMATION: We follow up (f/u) with attorney to make sure they received our email & are filing case with court.|
|Day 19-22:||COURT DATE CHECKUP: We f/u with attorney for court date if not received yet.|
|Day 20-25:||COURT DATE SET: When we get a court date, we try to determine if tenant(s) still in property:|
|Day 25:||COURT DATE: Our attorney appears in court to present case against tenant(s). Tenants are given opportunity to challenge the balance we are suing them for.|
|Day 35:||AFTER REQUIRED 10 DAYS: We contact tenant about their plans to move or pay. We try to be nice, but firm, keeping the pressure on them.|
|Day 36:||WRIT OF EVICTION ORDERED: The next step in the eviction process is to request an Application and Order Of Eviction (form dc 107, also known as a Writ of Eviction) which requires judge signature.|
|Day 43-46||WRIT OF EVICTION RECEIVED: Order of Eviction should be signed by now, if not f/u with attorney.|
|Day 46-53:||WRIT OF EVICTION POSTED: Bailiff will mail or post the Writ of Eviction with date they will physically remove tenant’s belongings.|
|Day 53-60:||BAILIFF REMOVAL: Court appointed bailiff(s) will remove tenant & their belongings and legally return possession of the property to us. Cost is at least $300, depending on city, number of bailiffs, size of home & amount of possessions and cost of possible required dumpster. We can then rekey the locks and evaluate damages to prep for marketing.|
|Day 91:||EXPIRATION DATES: If we agree to an extended payment plan with a tenant, the judgment expires 56 days after judge signs it. We can extend this deadline by requesting the Application and Order Of Eviction (form DC 107), which will usually extend our case another 56 days. Otherwise, we will have to start all over again.|
Please reference this great document for additional information: Tenants & Landlords, a Practical Guide:
Property Inspection Videos
We do periodic inspections to monitor the condition of your property(s). Inspections include Annual Interior, exterior Driveby, MoveIn Checklist, MoveOut and City Compliance Inspections. We video all inspections and provide you a copy.
Unfortunately, we’ve seen the pics that enticed owners like yourself to buy a property – only to discover later that the pics didn’t really convey the true condition of the property. Or you’ve paid for repairs and received pics that make it appear that repairs were done, but you find out those repairs weren’t to your property. We believe videos give you a much better understanding of the condition of your property.
It’s important to understand that Inspectors don’t have x-ray vision, so they can’t see what’s inside walls or underground. If you’ve watched any TV show about renovating older houses, you’ve probably seen the surprises that often occur once work is started. While it’s easy to blame the Inspector for missed issues, they logically can’t be held accountable for what they can’t see.
Communicating maintenance issues & costs to you, so you understand what is needed and what you’re paying for, is always challenging. We have a unique solution – we provide you pics/videos to support bids, then provide actual invoices and completion pics/videos. Everything is published to your owner portal.
Please review the Maintenance Flowchart below that describes our maintenance process.
Is it an Emergency
Have questions about a specific service and our corresponding process?
Please click on an icon for an overview or read more for in-depth information.
While many tenants prefer calling us to start a Service Request, to avoid misunderstandings, our company policy requires tenants to submit all non-emergency requests in writing via their online portal, email or letter.
Work Orders are created in our system for efficient communication & accountability tracking with tenants, owners, city inspectors, administrative staff and ServiceTechs.
Our company policy defines an emergency as an issue that will result in injury to a person or cause severe damage to the property. If a maintenance issue meets these requirements, we will take a tenant request via phone.
Some maintenance issues are more urgent than others, so we are constantly prioritizing the Service Requests we receive and then doing our best to address them in order of priority. Occasionally, this may require that we reschedule an existing appointment.
Our staff reviews each Work Order and assigns a ServiceTech with the skills to address the maintenance issue(s). We often contact tenants to clarify issues, so we send the appropriate ServiceTech. We also take into account availability and proximity.
Once a Work Order is assigned to a ServiceTech, they will contact the tenant to schedule a service appointment. Sometimes tenants are unreasonable about their availability leading to service delays. Lockboxes are used to access vacant properties.
Upon arrival, our ServiceTech will do their best to evaluate the Work Order issues to confirm they have the expertise to proceed. Before proceeding, they are required to document the issue(s) with pictures or video and notes.
For non-emergency Work Orders, our ServiceTechs are limited as to what they can repair without owner approval. They may have to submit an estimate to our office and return once they receive approval.
Depending on the amount of an estimate, an owner may request us to obtain additional estimates. This leads to delays, especially during busy times, that frustrate tenants and may be factored into their decision whether to renew their lease.
Upon estimate approval by an owner, we confirm we have funds available from that owner. We cannot proceed until we have 100% of the necessary funds.
Often, especially with city required repairs, multiple ServiceTechs (electrician, plumber, HVAC) will require appointments. Our staff will do their best to coordinate the necessary appointments with tenants to stay on track.
As work is completed, we require our ServiceTechs to take pictures and/or video to document progress. We prefer they include tenants in their videos, so we have confirmation of tenant satisfaction.
Keeping track of tenants putting electric & gas in their name, paying water bills and flipping utilities to your name upon vacancy can be tedious & lead to costly errors. We handle all of it for you, including tracking tenant water bill payments.
While tenants typically setup their own electric & gas accounts, utilities for vacant properties and tenants being evicted must be monitored. We prefer to handle all utilities, but owners can choose to self-manage. Most Metro Detroit cities only allow owner accounts for water, so we monitor water bills.
All utility documents we receive for your properties are scanned and published to your portal. You can choose to have us pay utility bills for vacant and multi-family properties, or you can pay them.
Metro Detroit utility companies have landlord programs that allow us to register your properties, so that we’re alerted if a tenant utility account is flagged for shutoff. This is important during winter months to avoid a lack of heat leading to water lines potentially freezing and bursting, causing major property damage.
Water Bills: In Michigan, a Water Affidavit form is required to legally transfer the liability for water bills from the property owner to a tenant. Most Metro Detroit cities do not allow Water Affidavits, or if they do, their requirements are deliberately arduous and expensive to discourage them. City water departments will put the tenant’s name on the bill and mail it to them, but this does not actually transfer the legal responsibility of the bill from the owner to the tenant.
Allowing a water bill to be sent to the tenant and counting on them to pay it, often leads to horror stories of tenants leaving owners with unpaid $1,000+ water bills when they move out – that their security deposit doesn’t cover. Another challenge is Michigan statutes do not allow unpaid water bills to be included in eviction judgment amounts. To avoid this, we have all water bills sent to us, we pay them from owner funds, add the bills to the tenant ledger and then refund owners when the tenant pays. If the tenant doesn’t pay their water bill, it is considered unpaid rent, which legally allows it to be included in any necessary eviction proceedings.
Most cities in Metro Detroit require some type of periodic rental license/registration to legally rent a property and collect rent. Tickets are issued for noncompliance. We handle the city application and arrange required inspections for you, documenting everything.
Not every city sends out reminders about their required inspections, so we’ve customized our software to track due dates, expiration dates, etc., and have auto-generated monthly reports for our own reminders.
One of the reports available to you on your Owner Portal shows the status of any city inspection in progress and the expiration date of any license/registration obtained.
Any application and/or inspection fees involved are communicated to you and if any repairs are required by the city, our Maintenance Department communicates them to you.
Intense Financial Reporting
You should have access to information regarding the performance of your property(s), just like you do for your bank account. On the 15th of each month, we email an Owner Statement for the previous month. We also provide a live Rent Roll Report, P&L Reports for previous & current months, and Monthly Comparisons for current & previous years.
Here’s a snapshot of what your Monthly Statement will look like:
And here’s what you live reports screen will look like:
Here’s a further explanation of the reports above:
Live Rent Roll Reports
We provide two reports to provide as much information on rent payments as possible:
- Rent Roll: Lists all your rented properties with columns for: Status, Lease Name, Total Unpaid, Rent Unpaid, Monthly Rent, Last Payment Amount, Last Payment Date, Public Assistance Program, End Date (lease), Notice Given Date, Start Date (lease), Reason for Leaving, Deposit Held, # Late (fees), # NSF, and numerous dates/information related to eviction proceedings, plus more.
- Tenant Payments this Month: A supplement to the Rent Roll Report (which only lists the most recent payment). If a tenant makes multiple payments in a calendar month, you will see them listed here.
Live P&L Reports
We want our clients to have access to transparent financial information, even when we haven’t published an Owner Statement yet. So, we provide the following reports:
- Owner P&L (Current Month): We think it’s important that you have access to how your portfolio of properties is performing financially at all times.
- Owner P&L (Previous Month): We publish Statements for the previous month on the 15th of each month. Until then, you can access this report for financial information.
Monthly Comparison Live Reports
Wondering how your property(s) is performing overall? It’s often very insightful to look at multiple months of financial data side-by-side for comparison. TO do so, we provide the following:
- Current Year Monthly Cashflow Compare: A month-by-month comparison of Cash Flow data for current year
- Last Year Monthly Cashflow Compare: A month-by-month comparison of Cash Flow data for previous year.
Annual Statements & 1099
To make tax season easier for you, we provide an Annual Statement and 1099-MISC by January 31 for the previous year. Just hand these to your tax professional and you should be all set.
Legal Guidance, LLC Setup, Insurance, etc.
While we can’t give you legal advice, we can point you in the right direction and refer you to local legal experts. We can do the same to address your tax, insurance and other needs.
Our associates can assist you with setting up a Michigan LLC to buy your real estate in and get an EIN from the IRS for it.
Want to use your IRA to invest in real estate? We can guide you through the process to make it easy for you.
Think you got scammed on a real estate transaction? Our associates can investigate the legalities, consult with you about your options and file a lawsuit if warranted.
Considering a 1031 Exchange? We can also connect you with professionals to handle that.
If you live outside the US yet want to buy real estate here, we have the professionals to assist you. We’d prefer you contact us ahead of time to set everything up correctly, instead of after you’ve purchased a property and already made some expensive legal and tax related mistakes. Our associates can set up a Michigan LLC, obtain an EIN and ITIN from the IRS for you and setup a US bank account in the name of your LLC.
Whether a US citizen or foreigner, we have tax professionals that can assist you with questions or handle your IRS tax reporting requirements.
Did you know most standard property insurance policies have a clause that terminates the policy if the property is vacant for more than 30 days? Make sure you have a policy designed for a rental policy or let us refer you to an agent specializing in rental real estate policies.
Note: we require liability insurance on all properties we manage, with our company named as additionally insured.
Property management is a service and you are effectively buying our time. So, we charge according to how much of our time your properties will require of our staff.
Our pricing is 8%-12% depending on the specific services you want, how many units you have, where they are located and what condition they are in. Flat-fee pricing options are available for qualifying properties.
We’ve also had property owners hire us to evict a nonpaying tenant, take over repairs of their rental property and assist them with other issues. There will be a negotiated, upfront fee for each of these depending on exactly what is needed, and a signed management contract is also required.