Frequently Asked Property Management Questions (FAQ) for South Carolina Rental Property Owners

We’ve broken this SC rental owner FAQ into sections. Choose your topic of interest. This FAQ is intended for MoveZen rental owners and investors in South Carolina (currently being extensively updated with post-COVID changes).

Get detailed answers to your property management queries and learn how to frame your questions to make informed decisions and maximize your investment in SC with our proprietary FAQ, packed with hundreds of industry-leading questions and answers, to further enhance your knowledge and rental investment management capabilities.




Getting Started, Onboard, Why Should I Partner with MoveZen SC FAQ

Here at MoveZen Property Management, we value your time and money. We’ve put together this introductory letter to explain our philosophy behind getting your property rented quickly, and with quality residents. We look forward to working with you!

You can view a general overview slide deck as well, here

Here are a few tips that will help to ensure your early rental process runs smoothly and efficiently: returning the signed management agreement and the new property information sheet, as well as providing us with keys to your property. Keys are a common hold up and meeting with neighbors and other contacts consistently delays the process. We highly recommend mailing, or dropping a key by our office. If you do not respond quickly to emails, please let us know. We use email frequently as it is a perfect tool for documenting, scheduling, and confirming the entire process.  It’s a major benefit when we can recount everything we could possibly need about a property, and your preferences with a quick search of our emails. If we inspect a property and have repairs / other items to recommend, it’s important that you answer our questions promptly, and definitively.  We truly understand the importance of keeping expenses to a minimum. If we recommend cleaning or repairs, it is only because we think the improvements are critical for what we hope to accomplish in your specific situation. We would not recommend it unless it helps to get a home rented. 

Our goal at  MoveZen is to have all our homes occupied in 30-45 days with excellent residents. Never doubt that your property is being made a priority as we are extremely oriented in reaching our goals every time! Pricing and selection is an art, not a science. In most cases we could fill all of our rentals in the first week, however our extremely selective application procedure is designed for long term success while minimizing risk and headaches. In almost every case the reason for delays can be attributed to 4 things: 

1. Owner refusing to clean, or handle red flag type repairs that are guaranteed to deter from the homes appeal. Also, not completing red flag repairs attracts terrible tenants. These properties almost always get dropped from our inventory. We understand that times are very hard and we will work with you, but over time some action is required. 

2. Owner refuses to respond to the market. We offer every owner the option to start the advertising at whatever price point they would like to test the market. Because our advertising is so successful and FAST, within days we will have a plethora of statistics to analyze and discuss. We once had a client receive 10K listing views in 60 days and only reduce the rate $25 a month. Unfortunately unrealistic owners always look back and notice that the months of vacancy wiped out any gains they may have had, and almost always the rate ends up reduced anyways. In this case it was $775 a month for at least 6 months including time with another manager. As a result of our updates, and statistical tracking our owners almost always understand, and are in full agreement when a price reduction becomes necessary. 

3. Fall and spring are by far the best time to find qualified residents. Dec-Feb, as well as back to school (late Aug-early Oct) are unfavorable times to find tenants. We have occasionally missed the mark during these times. 4. Owner failing to provide us with the necessary information and required items. Paperwork, repair / quote issues, and keys are the most common causes for rental delays. It is always best to drop off, or mail keys yourself. When 3rd parties get involved, it results in a delay nearly 75% of the time. Tenants are very fickle, and hasty. They do not like to keep appointments to view rentals. Occupied homes receive about 60% less showings than vacant homes and are usually in moving condition, and tenants rarely have the vision to see past this. We are still very superior to the competition in our handling of occupied rentals, bu

It is very common for us to make several calls or emails to iron out kinks and questions in the first week or two. We apologize, but because we are so flexible with our resident selection system, we occasionally need clarification early on. You can always login to your owner portal 24 hours a day to check the statistics on your advertising. 

Our application process is as stringent as anyone in the industry, even if it means delaying income for the moment in favor of reduced expenses and headaches later. On average we decline 3 applications per property. Clearly, if we accepted more applications, we could fill homes faster. However, everything we do here at MoveZen is long term oriented and based on years of experience. 

Commonly, residents submit a list of repairs they expect to be done before they move in. Sometimes these are very reasonable, and often they are ridiculous. We actually use this as a method of gauging whether this prospect will drown us in maintenance costs / time. It is not uncommon for us to weigh this issue heavily when considering an applicant. If the list is reasonable in our opinion, we will present the request to you for approval and instructions for handling. Whenever possible, we highly recommend letting the tenants move in a few days early. NO tenants ever move in without payment of agreed upon security deposit, and first month’s rent. If they elect to pay early, it’s a great way to start the relationship off on a good note, and give us some breathing room on maintenance issues that arise. It is very common for maintenance issues to arise after a home has been vacant for just 30 days or so. Longer vacancy usually lends itself to more move in maintenance issues. Tenants are notified of this just before move in. While we are extremely suspecting, issues do occasionally arrive even immediately after an owner or tenant has vacated. Another possibility is that a previous tenant didn’t report the problem.  Throughout the lease, a good rule of thumb to ensure that we as landlords and managers remain within the law is, if the item was functional in the home upon move-in, we are generally required to repair it unless user error is determined to be the problem. Some issues are more likely, but not always attributed to human error such as clogged pipes, and frozen disposals. Once again, we look out for you. Our contractors are well informed on the importance of investigating causes for service calls and quickly notifying the office. Of course older homes consistently have plumbing issues, so variables such as this are applied as well. Other items rarely a result of human error are appliance problems, and HVAC. However we do require the air filter be changed every 30 days, and our contractors investigate whether this is the cause.

Rental proceeds are paid around the 10th of each month. Very rarely are checks delayed, which is usually the result of unpaid rent. Move in accounting, and tenant placement service accounting can sometimes take a little additional time as they are much more complex and typically have more incoming information. Please allow up to 10 additional days in these situations. We are charged a large fee for every ACH transaction, so if we only have one or two checks to pay, we sometimes mail. If mailing is not a viable option please notify us immediately and be aware it could add a few days to a payment. 

Please consult your specific lease, but in most cases the owner, and resident must give 60 days written notice if they do not intend to renew the lease. Depending on several factors such as quality of tenant, the lease may renew for a year, or just go month to month. Once again, please consult your copy and make an important note to address the date in which changes must be made.

We mostly manage long-term single-family houses, condos, and townhomes. We also specialize in multi-family buildings such as apartment complexes and multiplexes. Most of our properties are unfurnished, but we have the policy and experience to thrive with higher-end furnished homes. We do not manage rooming houses, rental rooms, rentals under three months, or commercial properties other than apartment buildings. We also do not handle HOA grounds management

Our goal is to have your home rented within 30-45 days in most cases, and we often do much better. While we could rent most homes in the first week, our obsessive attention to tenant quality, and proven method of balancing vacancy with the highest possible rental rate, have led us to identify this period of time as making the most financial sense. For owners looking to reduce vacancy, we have strategies for that also. They typically involve a more aggressive rental rate as you can’t have your cake and eat it too in rental investing, but there are stark benefits to this approach. The secret to renting your home fast comes in four parts.

The first is making sure the rental is in excellent showing condition. We want to make sure all minor repairs are complete, and the general condition of the property is good before any tenants take a look. We keep a laser-focused eye on return on investment, so we never recommend costly changes unless they are critically necessary. In most cases, our advice on repairs / updates will net a very solid return over just 12 months, and we focus on lasting improvements over those that are more superficial, which we discuss in detail here…

Repairs should always be completed asap unless they’re extensive, then we typically work out a minimum cash flow approach so we can increase the condition and value of the home while maintaining steady income for you. More on this approach…

While our professional experience and speed are critical, in this area we rely on our homeowners to follow our advice and quickly handle or approve recommendations so we can quickly get the property turned over, and income flowing.

The second part is presentation and marketing. We build spectacular presentations, from professional photographs to astounding descriptions; we put passion into every listing. We believe if you view our websites’ active rentals you will quickly see just how important a beautiful presentation is to Victory. Given that we are a medium-sized but fast-growing company, typically with very few active listings, you will also see how effective our strategy is at clearing inventory. Our marketing is truly second to none. Most of our competitors use one simple data feed to syndicate a halfhearted listing presentation to the most basic rental sites and call it a day. We utilize several data feeds, as well as a multitude of creative manual strategies which result in our rentals flat out flooding the web with listings on hundreds of sites. While smaller sites alone are not significant, the aggregation of hundreds proves a powerful lead generator for us. In addition, we maximize our profiles on most large and small sites which gives tenants the extra peace of mind that they are dealing with a respectful and professional organization, that they can feel comfortable committing a year or more of their living situation to. Finally, we utilize a multitude of marketing tricks and tools developed over years of working as a marketing agency for businesses of all types. Exceptional use of keywords, titles, calls to action, etc make a huge difference. Simply getting eyes on a listing will not suffice, your ability to convert these views into inquiries and eventually showings is an issue most barely consider. Not Victory however, we have a phenomenal & detailed system.

Pricing is the third aspect of renting homes quickly. We will give you a realistic rental rate estimate for your home based on comparable properties nearby. Determining rental rates is more of an art than a science, and there is a direct correlation between rental rates and vacancy. If the price is too high then your home will almost surely sit vacant longer than necessary. The average homeowner pays $55 a day to carry a vacant home. Striking a perfect balance between a great rate and filling the property quickly is critical, and we have a spectacular, proven method. We begin our marketing typically 10-15% higher than the rate we expect to receive, and then systematically reduce approximately $50 every 7-10 days until rented. Seasonal issues can play a role (discussed in other questions), as well as other issues such as condition & occupancy, but in general, we find that using a variation of this method is extremely beneficial and keeps us from making pricing mistakes in what is always a very fluid market.

Finally, ease of showing can be crucial. Occupied homes typically receive about 60% less showings than vacant ones. We also have nearly 30% no show on appointments. While this is often unavoidable, it paints the picture of how an extremely flexible and proactive showing policy can make a huge difference.

In general there are typically quite a few homes to choose from and tenants these days are less patient than ever. They often will not view a marginal choice if it requires a time-consuming appointment process. When possible, our method simplifies the viewing process enormously to maximize the number of potential leads viewing the rental. More on this subject here…

When someone is interested in your property, they can easily apply online 24/7. Our application procedure involves:

· A national credit and background check
· Current employee / income verification
· Several years past rental history including eviction search
· A proven proprietary method for generating honest responses to open-ended questions regarding the tenant’s situation.

We then analyze the full picture rather than simply the notoriously narrow beacon score. Our method has served us extremely well, as over the past decade we have only evicted a handful of tenants that we chose.

If the applicant passes our screening process, we will instruct them to pay the security deposit within 24 hours, or risk losing the home. We collect at least one full month’s rent as a deposit, but often much more. We will then execute the lease and send a finalized copy to you. We utilize a standard lease written by the SC Bar Association. We usually press tenants to sign a two-year lease as reducing turnover can be a major contributor to bottom-line profitability, but almost always require at least a one-year commitment. In some situations, we may find a shorter term to be beneficial, but this is discussed in-depth with you before we move in that direction. Seasonal issues are the most common reason for shorter-term leases. See more here…

We then typically handle the bulk of our accounting and owner payments around the 10th, and 20th of the month. In most cases, we do not disburse funds until the tenant has moved into the property. The tenant’s security deposit is held in an escrow account per SC real estate law.

One huge reason we discuss in other questions is the fact that management expenses are tax-deductible, which makes it much more affordable than most account for. Another issue most landlords fail to account for is the value of your time. If you have little better to do then great, however, most of our customers have careers they are excellent at, as well as flourishing personal lives. In these cases, it typically makes sense to let a dedicated low-cost pro handle the headaches so you can focus on what really matters. Other reasons include…

  1. Risk: Unfortunately we’ve had many owners come to us after suffering massive losses. Problem tenants are usually astonishingly effective at manipulating inexperienced landlords, and even those who are very experienced if they lack discipline at any point. Furthermore, even good tenants can overstep their boundaries at times, especially when the rules and expectations aren’t crystal clear & consistent. The laws regarding how to handle rental problems are extremely detailed and lengthy, so by the time a major problem is addressed, in most instances, a large amount of damage has already occurred. Failing to word a document properly or moving too quickly in many situations can lead to a lost eviction hearing and costly delays, not to mention a possible civil suit filed by the tenant. 
  2. Time. Rental Management requires a large amount of time even in great situations. Standard tasks include documentation, scheduling, marketing, accounting, etc. Many of these services require expenses of their own. Now mix in a picky or problem tenant, and you could quickly find yourself drowning in tedious, time-consuming research to figure out your best legal & strategic options. Now that you’re halfway there, you then have to begin to execute those tasks quickly & effectively. 
  3. Convenience, for what is effectively very little cost. As we mentioned before, management fees are tax-deductible so most landlords typically get a 30% discount off of their management costs at tax time. In this light, it’s exceptionally difficult to justify the time spent for self-management, relative to the minor cost even for an average management experience. In most cases a phenomenal manager like Victory will earn their customers a large amount of additional net income (after management expenses) by increasing revenue, decreasing expenses, and minimizing risk. The combination of these three factors can be extremely lucrative while also freeing you up to focus on what is truly important in your own life. In addition to basic tenant/property services we also include at no charge ACH rent deposits saving you dozens of trips to the bank and allowing funds to clear much faster, end of year tax accounting, contractor referrals, 24/7 emergency availability, and much more

First, we’d like to point out two issues that are often overlooked when considering professional management.

  1. Many homeowners fail to account for the cost of their own time. Most of us have a main job / talents that are most efficient for us financially, and personally. Even when you manage your own rental, the time you spend is an expense. You’re expending time that you could otherwise focus on what you are most financially proficient at, or your personal happiness. Do not make the mistake of thinking you are saving a ton of money by managing your own rental. The main argument for managing your own rental is not saving the small management expense, but being able to gain a significantly better return. For example, if you save $1200 in a year by managing your own home, that would be 100% offset if your manager were able to net just 10% more on the monthly rate, or if they are able to rent the home just 30 days faster. In most cases, a very good manager should have no problem getting these results, as well as many others throughout the tenancy. Couple this with the time and headaches saved, self-management rarely makes sense unless you simply cannot find a phenomenal manager like Victory.
  2. Management fees in most cases are 100% deductible. If you pay your manager $1200 over the course of a year to manage your home, for the average American this would reduce your tax payment by $360 meaning the net cost of management would be closer to $840 a year for the average owner.
    The process for all three options is the exact same up until the tenant moves in, this is where the differences come into effect.
    Tenant placement only- With tenant placement there is no monthly fee or commitment. Once we place your preferred tenant, we collect a one-time fee from the tenants’ first month’s rent and disburse the balance plus any tenant deposits to you. From that point forward you will then handle 100% of the management of the property. We utilize a standard lease written by the SC Bar Association, apply the same rigorous qualification methods, and stand behind our work by offering a prorated credit on new placement if the tenant breaks their lease and vacates. Caveat – We are exceptional at setting crystal clear terms & handling problem tenants, and this is a second major reason why we rarely have to evict. Simply choosing a tenant is only half of the battle, and we get better results when we manage the entire process, because we are so clear on instructions, and so aggressive with problems.
    Semi-service monthly management- Semi-service is the exact same as full-service management with one exception, maintenance handling is not included. This program is meant for those with special relations or resources to handle all of their own maintenance. We will still field all calls and requests from tenants. We will still troubleshoot the issue, and warn tenants about unnecessary service calls. Once the issue is determined to need further attention, we will email a work order containing pertinent information needed to move forward. From here the homeowner will schedule the repair, oversee its completion, inspect for quality, and pay the contractor. This is not an option to simply enjoy a discount. Maintenance is by far the most difficult issue in our opinion. Semi-service is not an option for those using home warranties. Home warranties are a complete nightmare for tenants, managers, and more often than not, landlords. At some point, we may have to stop managing properties that utilize them. We also do not feel they are financially beneficial on average, an idea that would make sense as they have to find profitability somehow, and that is usually at everyone’s expense by providing horrible service while using terrible contractors and extremely long time frames. See more here…

Full-service monthly management is exactly that. In short, we oversee every aspect from the moment of our partnership, until the home is taken off of the market. Many of our clients have had dozens of tenants over the years. Many make huge incomes and barely ever lift a finger. We are firm believers in communication and never surprising our customers, so while we handle everything, we still maintain clear communication when issues arise.

This can be a quite complex question requiring detailed research, and often some marketing to truly determine with certainty. The most important point to keep in mind is that the market will always set the rate with only small deviations regardless of how spectacular your marketing and presentation may be. We find that the individual question of monthly rental rate is not exceptionally helpful and at times can actually be misleading. For example, if you rent a $1000 a month home for $1200 but have to evict the tenant after 6 months due to nonpayment, you’ve now lost out on nearly $2000 in pure expenses, and that’s assuming they don’t damage the property. You would also have to factor in the additional vacancy, basic turnover costs, and perhaps marketing expenses to get the home rerented. If the eviction occurs in winter you will likely get 10-15% less than you would have gotten with a summer lease. With that fact out of the way, setting a rental rate is usually relatively simple. We look at two main factors and then make adjustments from there.

  1. How many, and what are similar nearby homes currently listed for?
  2. What have similar nearby homes been renting for?

Once we establish these two figures we then adjust for unique features the property may have, whether pets are allowed

and seasonal issues

Often there is sparse data on comparables, or a home is simply so unique basic adjustments won’t do the trick. Our system for setting rental rates addresses this issue extremely well. We always point out that pricing is truly an art, not a science, and we approach the process with exceptional flexibility even in situations where we do have good comparable data. Getting the best rental rate begins with presentation and marketing. A great home poorly presented and/or marketed will rent for a discount. This is why we put so much effort into those two phases as it often alleviates problems such as low tenant quality, and owners who are unhappy with their income. At this point, we typically begin marketing the property 10-15% higher than the rate we expect to receive after analyzing the market data. We then systematically reduce about $50 every 7-10 days or so. These reductions serve a multitude of purposes with the most important being the auto notice emails that many receive when a home they have shown interest in is reduced. This allows us to get leads interested over and over, and to spike traffic just as it tends to start fading. If we can get the higher rate we will and often do, but we will not be waiting and hoping. We are instead objectively proactive as to what the market will bear, and typically rent most of our homes after 2 reductions (figures vary by season, condition, and for properties that rent for very low or high rates). When we complete your virtual rental evaluation we typically provide 3 figures. The average rental rate and what we expect to receive, the rate where we will begin marketing, and a bottom-line rate we do not expect to have to go below. If the bottom line rate isn’t an option for you, then it’s best that we not manage the property, as the market ultimately determines the rate, and we don’t have a magic bullet. Instead, we do a lot of small things exceptionally well, and this typically adds up to excellence. The rental market is much more fluid than many realize, and we like to be upfront as to all possible outcomes. For more on pricing your rental see…

Be available and timely when we request information, clarification, or approval. Delaying approval on repairs or paperwork, relying on friends to provide important things such as keys, incomplete or shoddy repairs, and lack of direct, organized, decisive communication are the top causes of delays. Micromanagement is the #1 cause of avoidable delays.

  1. The most important thing is to communicate clearly and quickly with your property manager and/or contractors. Whether you are handling much of the make-ready repairs yourself or having a professional handle them, swift communication is key. Delays on issues such as arranging a key, timing for photographs, approval for repair quotes, requesting large numbers of quotes, all add up to produce very large lags before making it to market. Be realistic with expectations, and understand that savings from excessive quotes or handling repairs yourself are typically wiped out or even eclipsed by lost rental income. All too often we have had owners take a home off the market for several months to handle repairs themselves, save at best a thousand dollars, yet waste huge amounts of personal and rental time while taking 30+ days longer than we would have to get the home to market. In the end the net result is a lot of lost money and time, often significant. Understand that most decisions have pros and cons, and consider the total relative picture before making decisions.
  2. Make sure the home is in good condition. It’s that simple. While almost no rental is in spectacular shape if a home has a lot of visible issues, your bottom line profit will suffer, your manager will struggle, your tenants will be less likely to care for the place, and all too often the owners of these properties blame everyone else for their problems. In real estate investment, as in life, you can rarely if ever have your cake and eat it too. With only a few exceptions, if you save $100 on repair expenses, over the long run you typically lose $100 in revenue. It’s not always easy to know which upgrades and renovations are likely to increase your return on investment and not be wasted, but a few items are almost guaranteed to decrease your return. Punch list type repairs, shoddy work, half-finished jobs, really rough paint, and severely stained carpet, are all almost guaranteed to increase vacancy, attract terrible tenants, and fetch dramatically lower monthly rates. We keep a keen eye on returns on investment and often opt not to replace the carpet in lieu of longer-lasting repair investments such as updating an older bathroom, but the line between acceptable and unacceptable is very fine, and typically only those with a wealth of experience can identify it with consistency. Neighborhood, the overall value of the home and time of year can all play a part in the best repair strategy. We never ask our owners to provide a perfect house, but particularly long-lasting repairs and all punch list type issues should be handled immediately. Otherwise, we make recommendations on a case-by-case basis, but a good rule of thumb is that if you wouldn’t want to deal with those issues in your home, you probably shouldn’t try to pass it off to someone else. (once more our Golden Rule philosophy guides most of our decisions) Many owners often ask us if their outdated home is going to be a problem, and our response is always the same. We can work around outdated designs for the most part, but a nearly brand new home that gives the appearance of being neglected, or opting for sloppy contractors / repairs, can be a major problem. Assuming your manager doesn’t have a profit incentive as a result of recommending maintenance / repairs, follow their advice and you will typically rent your home sooner. Even if they are only mediocre, their advice is usually helpful as they are in the trenches every day, and receive feedback from dozens of tenants each week. (we do not upcharge on maintenance or receive a management fee on vacant homes, so our incentives are aligned with yours) 
  3. Respond appropriately to renter market conditions only. With little more than small deviations, the market sets the rate for your home. Your monthly payment, interest rate, HOA dues, or any other factors not providing a direct benefit to renters, are distractions that often hurt profitability for landlords. Furthermore, the highest quality tenants almost always pay slightly less per month than the market average. While doggedly fighting for the highest possible rate may earn more in revenue early on, typically this results in lower quality tenants, which almost guarantee higher expenses that offset or exceed higher revenue due to wasted time, problem tenant expenses, more repairs / upkeep, and more vacancy. See more on this common mistake here… 

We have found for example that whenever we receive several poor quality applications, that is a sure sign the rental is slightly overpriced. Many landlords make the mistake of seeing this as an opportunity to profit, and it is anything but. Your best bet is catering to the more financially astute tenants, accepting slightly less on rate, & knowing that on average this works to your advantage in saved expenses, time, headaches, and risk. This is also discussed in depth in the above link. While we agree that a minimum rate should be in place, that rate must be within reason, as vacancy itself is a costly expense, and includes other drawbacks such as liability, and surprisingly frequent maintenance issues. We take extreme pride in having the highest possible average rental rates while not sacrificing tenant quality. Vacancy costs us a fraction of what it costs the homeowner. We are keenly aware of this, as we ourselves are rental owners. What we can say without a doubt is that we would only reduce the rate, or invest in an upgrade, if we feel it is important enough that we would do so if we owned the home ourselves.

Most importantly, we will treat the home as if it’s our own. We take a personal interest in all of our listings, as well as our overall ability to achieve consistent above-average statistical results. Our rental listing presentations are second to none, and we feel this is immediately apparent when viewing vacant properties on our site. What many managers and landlords fail to realize is that a phenomenal presentation can help dramatically to set the whole process off on a great note. Great presentations bring in substantially more high-quality leads, which leads to superior tenant selection, which leads to less vacancy, less maintenance, and fewer turnover costs. Not to mention dramatically reducing the risk of a major negative event that can wipe out years of profit. Great management starts with great presentation / marketing, and no competitor can compete with us, just check our site! Our rental listings blow our competitors away, as well as most sales listings. The only time a competitor competes with us on presentation is when they borrow from a solid sales listing.
Since the rental market is a complex environment we feel it’s best to manage according to statistical experience rather than individual expectations. In other words, we leave emotion out of our decision-making process as that mistake is often the main reason landlords find themselves unhappy. For example, rather than trying to identify subjective specifics that may cause a home to rent higher than the nearby competition and adjusting price accordingly, we simply (within reason of course) begin our marketing rates on the high side (typically 10-15%) then systematically reduce, with some variation to account for lead response. If we can get the higher rate we will, if not, however, we won’t be waiting and hoping. Pricing is an art, not a science, and we feel we balance rate with vacancy better than anyone. One thing we WILL NOT do to rent your property is make a serious concession on tenant quality simply to fill a void, placate an unhappy owner, or increase our short-term profitability. VRE always takes the long view, and a few days of vacancy, or a slightly lower rate is perfectly fine if we get exceptional long-term results, and avoid major mistakes. To find an itemized list of our services visit this link…

We use a gold standard lease written by the SC Bar Association that protects owners very well while guaranteeing no problems should it need to be legally enforced. In almost all cases we include a few proprietary provisions such as no smoking, and that homes can’t be listed for sale until notice to vacate is given by either party. We typically require 60 days’ notice, although we occasionally opt for 30 days if we think we may want the property back quickly for various reasons. This means if you would like to take possession or raise the rent, we must give tenants notice more than 2 months before the end of their lease. For leases that we service, we do not have owners sign. If there are special provisions you want to have included, they need to be discussed at sign up. For placement only management service, only the owner signs the lease. It is still preferable to nail down any concerns / provisions before listing, as they may play a role in pricing & marketing. If you would like to review our lease, do so prior to listing the property. View a sample

https://movezen360.com/victory-property-management-resident-resource/

First of all, we would like to mention that a fair amount of tenants do consistently pay late. While we often know this is likely, the credit standards to avoid it entirely are counterproductive. We always recommend an owner escrow at least 2 months of rent, so simple late payments should not create problems for getting the mortgage paid etc. Rent is late after the 5th. When rent is late, we handle all documentation assuming the worse could happen. In our case it rarely ever does, but we’ll be able to move as swiftly as the law permits when required. The first moment that we can evict is 10 days after we notify of a late payment. This is usually the 16th of the month in which they fail to pay, and while we often give one or two additional days, we almost never allow more, and if we do it’ll be discussed in-depth with you. Out tenants are made keenly aware of the significance of that date, and rarely overstep it. If they do, however, we follow all of the guidelines to evict and remove them from the property as quickly as possible according to SC law. Evictions usually take between 30-50 days depending on the court system. In most cases, we evict as swiftly as legally possible. We’re extremely aggressive with few exceptions. We actually do file on a fair amount of tenants, but the vast majority pay the costs and the rent, and it never happens again. We feel our firm and disciplined approach has made it possible for many questionable tenants to stay in their homes, as we simply don’t allow them to get so far behind it’s impossible to dig out. In short, being easy is actually a disservice to the tenant in our opinion.

While we are excellent at keeping expenses to a minimum and focusing with great success on the highest return on investment expenditures, we, unfortunately, can’t assume responsibility for repair costs themselves. As with the amazing benefits of being a landlord, there are also negatives that we aren’t in a position to share in. We do however work tirelessly to find the absolute best “value” contractors in the business. Rather than hiring national companies who typically charge much higher costs and often still deliver subpar results, we opt for locally owned and operated contractors who are held directly responsible for their actions by the community exactly as we are. One major reason many national companies charge more is that they often do a lot of the admin tasks for your property manager, and that is the main reason they are popular. In our case, it’s just the opposite. We are so focused on the quality of fieldwork that our contractors do, we often end up doing a large amount of their admin work ourselves, because their amazing field results warrant this. This philosophy costs us a ton of time and resources each year, yet we still do not charge an additional fee for most maintenance. We can also authorize repairs in most cases without immediate payment given our impeccable community credit & reputation. Most of our owners never send us funds, and when they do it’s for rare and long-term expenses such as a new HVAC, or roof.

No. As with management expenses, you usually get what you pay for. In the long run, ultra-cheap contractors and home warranties usually end up costing more as a result of mistakes, recalls, bait and switch, and extremely upset tenants. We prefer to look for the best value (combination of great service and cost) and we typically achieve this by working with local contractors whose service and actions directly dictate their ability to stay in business. As a result of their advertising and brand recognition, national brands often thrive despite offering horrible value via a painful combination of poor service and results. They do typically offer exceptional administrative departments which eliminate a lot of the work for property managers, and that is why so many of our competitors still use them. We invest more time and effort in cultivating our contractor relations than almost anything else. We pay quickly, act reasonably, and respect our quality contractors to ensure continued competitive pricing. With that said, however, once we identify problems with a contractor, we are ruthless in cutting bills down, callbacks, and removing them from our process. We have phenomenal relationships with most of our contractors. One big exception, ironically in all of our markets, is appliance repairs. We have yet to find an exceptional solution in this department, but rest assured we are always on the hunt.

Given our knowledge of industry norms, we can say with confidence our customers enjoy the lowest maintenance costs imaginable. On average, 2-3% of gross rent for the year, despite an industry average closer to 10%. Most investors allot 10% a year in repair costs for planning purposes, and that is smart. However, our goal is to smash that number year after year and we usually succeed. Obviously, things can vary dramatically on a case-by-case basis. If your home is clearly in serious need of repairs, those figures will most likely be higher. By far, our client’s largest expenses usually come from air conditioners/furnaces, and appliances. It is rare to repair a heat/cool source for under $300. These issues tend to arise once every few years unless the owner opts to service a terrible unit rather than replacing it as needed. Appliances are tricky because often the repair costs are close to what you can pay for an excellent used replacement. Despite interviewing almost all, we have struggled to find an appliance company that charges less than $75 for a service call, and this dramatically complicates the question of whether to repair or replace. Of course, used appliances (typically do not buy used for refrigerators or dishwashers) have their risks, but in most cases, we’re able to secure a short warranty. We rarely use electricians, plumbers, or roofers, opting to use handymen whenever possible. This dramatically keeps costs down but does make our job much harder. Turnover costs are reflected in our repair figures. In most cases, an owner has to handle some minor cleaning, touch-up paint, and a few small repairs in between tenants. Due to our extremely low turnover, and exceptional contractors, we are able to keep these costs very low as well. Preventative maintenance and upgrades are not reflected in our repair figures, as they are extremely subjective. Our contractors though have helped a lot of our owners in making major renovations at extremely competitive rates. Due to the personal preferences and complexity, in most cases, we take a minor role in upgrades, and expect the owner to communicate, and often pay contractors directly. For more, see the full FAQ document

In general, we are extremely careful about recommending preventative or elective expenses to our customers. As you may imagine, owners tend to be suspecting of our motives when we recommend costs that do not have a direct effect on our ability to keep a home rented to good tenants. For this reason, we focus 90% of our attention on costs that deliver the most ROI or return on investment. Meaning fixes or upgrades that are likely to lead to higher rents and better quality tenants. Obviously, there are exceptions, we certainly will not ignore issues that are likely to lead to additional problems such as rotting wood / water intrusion, etc, but we won’t press the issue unless it directly affects rentability. The majority of our owners prefer to focus on cash flow, rather than marginal property preservation. This is our advice also. I’ll touch on our reasoning, and how to make the most of it. In other questions, we discuss the issue of rent versus sale ready. The two are totally different concepts. We often have exceptional success renting homes with rough carpet and paint. However, even in today’s relatively hot sales market, those minor issues can be brutal to your ability to sell at all, let alone thrive. This means, even if we were to focus a fair amount of attention and spending on marginal upkeep, most owners would still be required to replace all carpets and do a significant paint job at a minimum. When we paint for example, more often than not we would only spend about $400 on the average 3BR home. A sales quality paint job however should run at least $1500, probably much more. We also rarely paint trim and doors, and this is typically needed prior to sale. Therefore our best option is to maximize cash flow while we manage the home, advise owners to earmark a portion of this above-average income for an eventual refresh prior to sale or move in, and enjoy the benefits of both increased cash flow and a fresh start. Trying to keep a rental anywhere close to sales quality over time is an expensive lesson in futility as no one, not even the best tenants, will treat a home as well as the owner. If you would like to be liberal with property preservation, termite bonds and inspections, and other optional costs, simply make this desire clear to our staff and we’ll maintain exceptional vigilance and communication on the matter

Rent ready and sales-ready are two totally different concepts. We often have exceptional success renting homes with rough carpet and paint. However, even in today’s relatively hot sales market, those minor issues can be brutal to your ability to sell at all, let alone thrive. This means, even if we were to focus a fair amount of attention and spending on marginal upkeep, most owners would still be required to replace all carpets and do a significant paint job at a minimum. When we paint for example, more often than not we would only spend about $400 on the average 3BR home. A sales quality paint job however should run at least $1500, probably much more. We also rarely paint trim and doors, and this is also typically needed prior to sale. Therefore our best option is to maximize cash flow while we manage the home, advise owners to earmark a portion of this above-average income for an eventual refresh prior to sale or move in, and enjoy the benefits of both increased cash flow and a fresh start. Trying to keep a rental anywhere close to sales quality over time is an expensive lesson in futility as no one, not even the best tenants, will treat a home as well as the owner. Due to our cash-flow focused management policy, expect to invest a decent sum in turning a property over for sale or owner move-in. More on this topic here…

We currently make the majority of management decisions for nearly 300 million dollars of real estate assets. Our management focus began merely as a favor to a loyal sales client (ironically we no longer handle sales), and since then has grown by an average of 40% a year during the worst housing crisis since the ’30s. Our staff’s prior experience includes vacation rental management, university housing, rehab and renovation, real estate sales, home building, and general business marketing. We have an A+ rating with the BBB, as well as excellent standing with the following agencies: NARPM, Dozens of Chambers of Commerce, North Carolina Housing Coalition, ARPOLA, National Apartment Association, National Association of Realtors, and many more. Finally, we have a long history of excellent online reviews across dozens of different sites dating back to the beginning of our company, long before online reviews were aggressively cultivated as many do these days. Victory has always held our reputation for honesty and integrity above all else. While we’ve had disagreements over procedure, our honesty has never seriously been questioned

We manage a wide range of both homes and investors. Many are mom & pop types who mostly converted their primary residence into a rental after needing to move. With that early success, many have chosen to keep building their single-family rental portfolio along with us, and are now sophisticated real estate investors. Most of the multi-family investors we work with have been involved with real estate investing their entire careers. They understand the math that goes into measuring or comparing multi-family investments, the decisions that must be made to keep net operating income within those calculations, and most importantly that emotional real estate investing is a mistake. While the properties themselves are a bit different, at the end of the day managing a 200 unit apartment complex is actually quite a bit easier than an extremely varied portfolio of single-family houses, townhomes, and condos. The bigger difference between single and multi-family property management is the investors themselves. With multi-family we’re able to focus solely on the profit & loss figures, and how various decisions will affect them. Emotion plays a much smaller role, and the horizon for decision-making is much longer term. While we take pride in keeping emotion out of our single-family management decisions, in the end, you’ll need to treat a home someone once lived in quite a bit differently than an apartment complex someone bought as an investment hedge on inflation, that also helps maximize their tax treatment


Move Out & Renter, Property Turnover Questions FAQ

Coming off COVID our inspection process was pretty far behind due to a combination of staffing problems, a problems workload that had more than doubled, and access excuses for both our staff and residents. It was a challenge but we responded by rolling out a full featured operations division and have been moving rapidly to get caught back up across the board.

We do inspections before renewing leases, so if we do not include a recent link with our move out estimate, we will be sending that soon. You will receive recent photos before the renewal deadline has arrived.

Some residents these days are particularly difficult about allowing us access (a trend rather than a sign of a problem) so we might not have a lot of time, but we can extend the deadline if need be. That would require us to “go month to month” with the resident which we really prefer to avoid.

The risks that they will move rise dramatically the minute you allow that to happen, so for good residents it’s a last resort.

Starting spring of 2024 we’ll be starting our renewal process a full 4 months! before they can move out, so you should have the latest photos with plenty of time to digest them, consistently.

We also include the past inspection if we have one, and it was the same resident.

If your resident has been in the home for 4+ years they are already pushing the end of generally accepted “carpet lifespan” and have well eclipsed the life of paint. In general we exect to find a fair amount of “normal wear and tear” that we would not be able to charge for, per the state. See other questions regarding how we use GAAP global accounting standards to calculate straight line depreciation of home materials according to generally accepted lifespan lengths, mostly derived from the IRS itself.

For pretty much every move out we have some owner costs. Usually “the basics” which is unit clean, carpet clean, touch up paint, and yard spruce up. All of which fall firmly under “normal wear and tear” and are only ever billed if they meet an “extraordinary remediation needed” which is a term derived from the state, and we include potential examples in the security deposit refund section of the FAQ.

Due to the nature of straight line depreciation our ability to charge residents declines with time, on a clear trend line. So we will charge a lot more if they move after one year, then we would if they move after 4. If they move after 2 it’s essentially in the middle.

Let’s check! We do rental estimates all day every day so we can give you a great opinion quickly. We’ve already begun this process and will be in touch with that estimate soon as well, if it was not included in your move out estimate.

Prior to COVID a great rule of thumb was simply to raise the rent 10-15% and reduce $50 about every 10 days.

During COVID that was simply too generic to work well in such an unreal environment. However as we write this in early 2024 that model is starting to show real promise again.

It is worth taking a look at active listings to make sure there aren’t major variations for some reason, but for 95% of our re-listings that will be the recommended course. It removes personal bias and market fluctuations. Rents have been mostly flat in our markets for 2 years now so a 10% increase is significant and unlikely in fact.

If we can get it we will, but if not we should entice potential renters and keep traffic flowing by taking advantage of all of the email notifications that go out when we reduce the price, even if it’s just $15 which is a great strategy on homes renting under $1000.

In general you should be reducing about 2-3% every 10 days unless we see a strong market trend ahead.

We see major increases in traffic and therefore rates in late spring and fall, so we often hold off on reductions if those periods are approaching. It’s not an easy decision as the vacancy cost is usually pushing $100 a day, and should be reserved for specific situations that we can advise on.

Yes.


1. Determine a likely rental rate if you re-list. We will provide an estimate, but it’s likely 5-10% above the current rate if your resident has been in place for a few years. Unfortunately, in a lot of markets we have seen rates decline 5-10% from the peaks, and owners rarely take that news well. It doesn’t change the fact that in most of our markets, rents have without question declined, and without question, if we want to fill them we will need to put the burning desire not to backtrack on rates out of our minds.

2.  Determine the estimated cost of turning over the rental to put it back on the market.  As with prices, it is often shocking these days for owners who have to come to terms with the cost of repair services.  This is also very well documented and not something that should ever warrant debate (it does though).  It’s highly unlikely you will turn over a premier move-out for under $1000 these days.  We outline straight-line depreciation, normal wear and tear, and state laws regarding reasonable charges in depth in other questions.  A major turnover these days runs well over $3000, and the sqft of your home plays a massive role in this issue.  The charges we usually deal with our highly specific to the size of the home.  Despite these rising costs we provide a copy of your cash flow statement, and 90% of them will show figures that are 50-75% nationally accepted averages when comparing repair costs to income earned or the “repair to income ratio”. As well as the “operating expense to income ratio”  that includes most other charges associated with managing a real estate investment.

3. Determine if the math makes sense.  Look over your long-term cash flow to get an overall perspective of the investment’s performance, and if it makes sense to continue in an environment that is likely to produce 10-20% lower returns from this point forward (generally accepted among pros).

Then consider the stress and investment required to turn over the home now.  You will want to look at the turnover outlay required up front (average $3000), versus what it will deliver.  In most of our markets, the average rent is $1600, and operating costs are considered to run about 50-75% of that.  We usually perform much closer to the pre-COVID standard of 30% which is massive outperformance. However always use conservative estimates, so we’ll assume 50%.  Our average lease is also 24 months so this investment decision will look a bit like this.

1600 (or your estimated rate) X 24  =  $38k X 50% for “operating expenses” = $20K net income.  For this example, a $4000 investment today on average will easily net you $20k net income over the coming two years.  That alone is a huge cash-on-cash return (the real estate investing holy grail in our opinion), and we usually far exceed it.  That also usually allows you to get exceptionally beneficial tax treatment, retain that sub-5 % mortgage rate in an inflationary world, and enjoy the leverage of using very little of your own cash for the luxury of having someone pay off your major asset.

For someone with the right mentality, it’s hard to go wrong in rentals.  For those without it, it’s hard to go right.

Below you will find more technical details on the re-rental process.

For nearly two decades we had a set re-list policy.  We would put the home back on the market for 10-15% more than what we were currently getting depending on the ease of renting last time, and the current overall trend we’re seeing.  We also consider upcoming seasonal shifts.  During COVID this strategy was not effective given the mind-boggling swings we would see, but it is now the best approach for 90% of listings.  To be sure, we will do an active market analysis, but that is typically the recommendation these days.  This also works if rents have fallen in your area, we would just need to pick up the pace if we suspected that before listing, and find that we are getting little interest afterward.  Stale homes do have a stigma, systematically reduced homes listed with a leading reputable company do not.

Rents have been flat for nearly 2 years in most of our markets, so we would most likely be overpriced at this point, and we then settle into a rhythm of extremely effective, highly consistent price reductions.

We will provide an estimate based on active nearby listings, and the traffic / interest they are receiving.  We also consider upcoming seasonal trends. If rates are soon to fall we will certainly be more aggressive on starting rental rates.  If we see a strong season ahead as we do in late spring and fall, we might be less likely to stick to our normal process of consistent small price reductions.  Those reductions generate thousands of email notifications to nearly every person who’s ever shown interest in that property.  If they still have interest and receive two notices in 20 days that the price has been reduced, it tends to engender a sense of urgency and fear of loss.  We often reduce $50 and receive dozens of calls after being on the market for 2 weeks.  It’s a powerful method that we have used to great effect for nearly 2 decades, except during the COVID saga.  Even a $15 reduction is powerful for homes under $1000 a month.

It has an equally powerful benefit in that it eliminates our bias, your bias, and the tendency to prioritize a higher rate over the daily cost of vacancy which pushes $100 a day on average now. When we let a home sit on the market overpriced and don’t reduce, we’re waiting for a stronger market to arrive.  Quality tenants do not overpay, and they move fast when they see a value. The rental market is huge and fluid except in very rural areas. If a home is priced properly, it will always rent in under 30 days if managed well.  If managed well and it is not renting, there are basically two possible causes and nothing else.  1.  It’s in bad condition.  2.  It’s overpriced. Both are out of our hands unless you approve common-sense repairs.

Some owners are willing to pay $100 a day to avoid reducing $100 a month, in effect betting big on the bird in the bush, rather than the one in the hand and that’s your right.  If we don’t drive the strategy, we don’t take responsibility for the results.  Prices should get consistently reduced in most cases and if they are not, you are breaking with our advice and will need to accept your results.

First, always remember that algorithms, as most rate estimates are, are always backward looking. They are based off the past few months of sales / rentals. Especially in the rental market that can be a major issue as things change quickly, and often. The market is booming in June for example, but often very slow in July. Early December is busy, then things screech to a halt. Prices based off the prior 2 months are usually about 10% too high once a seasonal shift sets in.

Our method is to view Zillow and Realtor.com maps to find nearby homes similar in size, condition, and yard / lot features. We make experienced adjustments from there and also cross reference with our own extensive internal rental data to nail down an algorithm like price. From there we make two major adjustments depending on what time of year we’ll be listing the home. One is for general seasonal swings, and one is for the response the comparison homes seem to be receiving. If they’re not getting inquires, they are unlikely to rent at those rates, unless the season shifts higher as we see in the spring and late fall.

https://www.zillow.com/rental-manager/price-my-rental/

https://rental.turbotenant.com/rent-estimate-report

https://www.rentometer.com/

There’s a good chance we aren’t even sure yet if they are moving. Our deadline to renew is 60 days before the move out date in most cases. Consult your actual lease which is shared to your owner portal, under documents. While rare, if you are up for it we might extend after the deadline but it’s not a great sign of the upcoming relationship.

Otherwise, the lease should prevail. Residents can overstay, but that’s also rare. In most cases, residents are out on their final day, not before or after.

We rarely do month-to-month leases, but if we hit delays for some reason we might use that as a bridge until we can get the lease renewed for a term that we choose.

If you want help with the investment concepts noted in the estimate, that might be outside your managers wheelhouse, but they can seek advice. This document is very helpful. https://www.buildium.com/blog/property-management-kpis-to-track/

Contact your account manager if you have concerns about the opinions it noted, or the numbers reflected.

We would need to set a threshold required amount, that we would nail down after move out. If that is acceptable we’ll approve the estimates and list the home.

If not, we will need to part ways. We can handle rental quality repairs for any deposit charges, or we can pass them on to you directly which is usually best in these situations.

We have experienced housing service experts you can chat with. Meet them here.

No problem! If your resident is moving out and you want to move on to any other goals we support you and there will not be additional charges. Just let us know that we won’t be re-renting and we’ll run the offboard procedure after the final move out.

We don’t directly handle sales, but we have many licensed brokers here who do. They register their license with another sales brokerage, and provide full service sales and similar needs through that broker.

So even if they’re managing your home, any sales activity is separate of MoveZen. We are not affiliated with sales activity at all, other than to support our partners in building the leading local Housing-Verse filled with helpful housing service offerings.

Anything rental or investment focused is handled by MoveZen, and anything sales related is handled via their sales brokerage, and they will make that clear very early on by covering the following document. While we require them to provide this transparency focused document, it again is in the context of their sales brokerage, not MoveZen.

MoveZen does not sell homes though we likely would receive a referal bonus from the sales brokerage.

Meet Our Licensed Brokers & Agents : https://movezen360.com/licensed-movezen-real-estate-brokers-provisional-brokers/

Our licensed agents may be willing to provide consulting, contract, and other services for free or a small charge, and we can help them process those payments.

https://www.ncrec.gov/Brochures/WWREABrochure.pdf

Because our lease requires 60 days’ notice before the move-out date, we have to start this process a full 120 days before the lease is up.

In those first 60 days we need to line up a home visit (not always easy), document condition and expected rough turnover costs, and nail down a fair market rental rate so that we both know what a good offer to the resident will be, but also our marketing and income outlook should they not choose to renew. Of course, a bad marketing outlook should warrant a more conservative approach to raising the rent (it’s probably a bad idea in that case unless far below market).

Often owners also need to weigh the decision whether to re-rent, sell, or move back in and that takes time also.

Once a move-out is confirmed, your next steps will determine our strategy. If you are putting it back on the market we will execute rental quality repairs at the best possible value so long as it allows us to secure a quality renter at a quality price.

If however you are selling or moving back in it’s highly unlikely you will want us to complete rental-quality repairs. That typically means 20-40% below normal costs that an occupied homeowner might pay. Of course, nothing in life is free, and those vendors are well-trained to cut exactly the right corners to save costs without sacrificing too much desirability. To be clear though they do cut a lot of corners to save those large sums.

We can also set you up with our vendors to handle your repairs as you prefer, except sometimes during peak periods like mid-summer, etc.

If you do not want us to complete the repairs we will determine a fair price based on our experience or possibly quotes received, notify the resident, and then pass the funds to you. Note, while it legally makes no difference, being unable to provide actual receipts should a resident contest their refund in court complicates the process and may lead to downward adjustments if the courts don’t agree with our opinions. If you have receipts, especially sales quality costs, that should not pose a problem so have those vendors invoice you and provide them to us as a standard course of action if things seem to be contentious with the resident. It’ll help us to be better prepared. If not, keep them on your own, just in case.

Because residents usually wait until the last minute, we rarely inspect until the day after a lease ends. In busy periods, holiday weeks, and on weekends that may not always occur, but we’re never far behind.

It’s imperative that someone does a thorough documentation of move-out condition before an army of vendors and potential residents shuffling through the home, so you will want to keep us updated on your plans if you intend to get quick access for yourself or vendors. If you must, you will need to do a decent inspection and preserve photo proof of all charges (except smells, etc which require other steps) before commencing heavy work.

As of the winter of 2024, our turnover process is still relatively informal. That method worked quite well until recently, and we’re leading the charge to innovate ways to improve. We just rolled out a new pre-move-out report that has begun testing. It amounts to estimating the expected turnover cost before the resident is out of the home, so not a trivial pursuit, and we’re limited on how many people can currently handle the process. With testing, we’ll improve, standardize, and systematize the process and train a much larger swath of staff. At that time it’ll become standard procedure.

For now, we are mostly testing on move-outs with residents who have been in place for 3+ years, and owners who are taking over their homes after years on the market. Two major problems since COVID. Our cash flow statements are usually so exceptional many wouldn’t believe the results we post, yet those owners still often leave us extremely unhappy. That’s a failure of communication, not results and we’re fixing it by outlining long-term performance first.

Until we can consistently provide this service you can work with your account manager now (they are being trained slowly) to informally follow the same basic outline.

Inspect the home and assess the condition
Estimate the cost of turning over the home to get in rent-ready condition
Estimate rental rate for the upcoming term
Forecast cash flow for the coming 24 months which is the average (obviously not guaranteed) length of lease with our company these days
Cash flow is the amount left over after operating expenses are paid, or net operating income.

Typically this is calculated separately from any loans, taxes, and major investments like a new roof. This is a crucial point though. Even if you have exceptional operational performance as most of our owners do, that does not mean you should continue as a rental investor. If for example, your cash flow after mortgage, taxes, and CapEx costs or expected costs is negative, then you will need outside funds to continue owning the home. Even breaking even in a potentially inflationary environment is a recipe for disaster unless you have strong outside funding. The trap many landlords fall into when funds get tight is that they cut corners on the condition of the home, and then they cut corners on the condition of the resident because high-quality residents do not accept sub-par homes these days. Then you cut corners on keeping the resident who’s in possession of your crucial asset happy, and they start to lash out and generally make things as difficult as possible. Then they trash the place and the landlord is left with a disaster that’ll require well over $10k to rectify for rent or sale. That often leads to a fire sale in a strong market, and foreclosure when it isn’t. Managing rental homes with insufficient funds is almost sure to end in disaster in our experience, so mind your cash flow.

The calculations are relatively simple. You take the 24-month average gross income, deduct the expected operating costs during that time (provided from history plus 15% for inflation), and then deduct all other costs. Most will be flat estimates such as 5% vacancy, but something like a roof replacement requires money on the spot, so you may need to factor in outside funding costs like credit card or vendor interest.

Accounting for CapEx is complex and outside the scope of this document. Just know a roof replacement likely runs 20K on average these days. So those costs are reflected over the life of the rental, or when sold. The important point is that you can weather them because eventually, you’ll likely have one big one. In the past that wasn’t a huge issue as many landlords simply refinanced with cash out, but that is rarely a viable strategy now with even HELOC rates pushing 12% recently. A painful but likely necessary cost for many investors, and even that added cost still doesn’t ensure that the endeavor won’t be quite profitable.

If you’ve accounted for all those costs and you have a positive cash flow or the ability to weather a “worst case” scenario then the rental investing landscape should get more and more friendly to those who show a proven ability to execute winning, nuanced strategies like those MoveZen outlines for our staff and managers.


Security Deposit, Normal Wear & Tear, Depreciation FAQ

As noted in the NCREC publication ‘Questions & Answers on: TENANT SECURITY DEPOSITS,’ Within 30 days after the termination of your tenancy, the landlord or agent must send you
either a full refund of your deposit or a written itemized accounting of any deductions along with any remaining refund amount.

Where the full amount of damage cannot be determined within 30 days, the landlord or agent must send you a written interim accounting of deductions claimed, followed by a final accounting no later than 60 days following the end of the tenancy.

So, it is important to give your landlord or agent a full forwarding address. If you cannot be located, the landlord or agent must hold any refund due for at least six months in their trust account.

If the landlord or agent fails to refund your deposit or make the required accounting, you can sue for recovery of the deposit and reasonable attorney fees. The failure to make the accounting as required under the Act is a forfeiture of the landlord’s right to retain any portion of the deposit.

See state provided documents and guidance:

https://www.ncrec.gov/Brochures/TenantBrochure.pdf

https://www.ncleg.net/EnactedLegislation/Statutes/HTML/ByArticle/Chapter_42/Article_6.html

Security deposits for residential dwelling units shall be permitted only for the following:

(1) The tenant’s possible nonpayment of rent and costs for water or sewer services provided

(2) Damage to the premises, including damage to or destruction of smoke alarms or carbon monoxide alarms.

(3) Damages as the result of the nonfulfillment of the rental period, except where the tenant terminated the rental agreement or because the tenant was forced to leave the property because of the landlord’s violation of the General Statutes or was constructively evicted by the landlord’s violation.

(4) Any unpaid bills that become a lien against the demised property due to the tenant’s occupancy.

(5) The costs of re-renting the premises after breach by the tenant, including any reasonable fees or commissions paid by the landlord to a licensed real estate broker to re-rent the premises.

(6) The costs of removal and storage of the tenant’s property after a summary ejectment proceeding.

(7) Court costs.

(8) Any fee permitted by state law.

See state provided documents and guidance: https://www.scstatehouse.gov/code/t27c040.php

Common examples of “Damage Due to Ordinary Wear and Tear” includes:
Worn or dirty carpeting
Faded or cracked paint
Dirty windows
Dirty walls
Frayed or broken curtain/blind strings
Leaking faucets or toilets
Small nail holes in walls (from hanging pictures)
Worn lavatory basin
Burned-out range heating elements

See state or federal provided documents and guidance: https://www.hud.gov/sites/documents/HSG-06-01GAPP5GUID.PDF

Common examples of “Damage Not Due to Ordinary Wear and Tear” includes:
Crayon marks on walls
Large holes in walls
Broken windows
Burned spots or stains on carpeting
Bizarre or unauthorized paint colors
Broken countertops
Filthy appliances requiring extraordinary cleaning
Exceptionally filthy premises (in general) requiring extraordinary cleaning
*note that this is not a full list of damage beyond normal wear and tear!

See official 3rd party provided documents and guidance: https://www.hud.gov/sites/documents/HSG-06-01GAPP5GUID.PDF

MoveZen Property Management will not be able to finalize a deposit if an owner attempts to charge a tenant for items that are not permitted. In this case, we would send the deposit to the owner for direct finalization. We would notify the tenant of the full owner contact information and that we have transferred the deposit to the owner, and that the disposition of the deposit is between the landlord and tenant at this point.

No. Many major items have a predictable life span. Carpet has a reasonable life expectancy of 5 years. If the carpet was new at the time of move in and the tenant occupied the property for less than the expected lifespan, only a prorated amount can be charged back to the tenant for replacement, if the damage caused by the tenant was beyond normal wear and tear. The charge would be prorated based on loss of life using the straight line method of depreciation.

No. Many major items have a predictable life span. Paint has a reasonable life expectancy of 3 years. If the paint was new at the time of move in and the tenant occupied the property for less than the expected lifespan, only a prorated amount can be charged back to the tenant for repainting, if the damage caused by the tenant was beyond normal wear and tear. The charge would be prorated based on loss of life using the straight line method of depreciation.

As a rental property owner, you should expect at a minimum to always be prepared to pay for cleaning the property, cleaning the carpets, touch up paint for the interior of the property, and replace batteries for smoke and CO detectors. Also be prepared to repair any broken/non-functioning items! These items are not a tenant responsibility in the vast majority of cases, and it is considered a landlords cost of doing business!

The life expectancy for appliances that MoveZen Property Management utilizes are as follows:
Garbage Disposal – 10 years
Range or Stove – 13 years
Refrigerator – 13 years
Washer & Dryer – 10 years
HVAC – 15 years
Water Heater – 10 years
Paint – 3 years
Carpeting – 5 years
Linoleum – 5 years
Smoke & CO Detectors – 7 years

H&R Block – Life Expectancy of 7 Major Appliances

With longer tenancies, the turnover expenses are usually higher. At the minimum, you should expect to fully repaint the interior, replace carpeting, clean the unit, and replace batteries for smoke and CO detectors. Also be prepared to repair any non-functioning items. Please keep in mind that other items in the property, such as appliances, may be nearing the end of their lifespan as well.

MoveZen Property Management would review the photos taken prior to the move in date, move in inspection form completed by the tenant at the time of their move in, and the move out inspection photos. Any documented pre-existing damage would not be charged to the security deposit at move out. We highly encourage all tenants to completely fill out their move in inspection form and return it to us within 10 days of their move in date for us to keep on file!

MoveZen Property Management utilizes the Straight Line Method of depreciation. This method lets you deduct the same amount of depreciation each year over the useful life of the property.

https://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/p946.pdf

No. Damage due to normal wear and tear cannot be charged to the tenant. A property cleaning cannot be charged to a tenant unless the property or appliances are excessively filthy requiring extraordinary measures to repair. A carpet cleaning cannot be charged to a tenant unless the carpet is damaged beyond normal wear and tear, such as spill stains. These items fall under a landlord responsibility and are considered the cost of doing business. The only damages that can be charged back to the tenant are damages beyond normal wear and tear to items that have not exceeded their lifespan.

If an item can be reasonably repaired (ex. spill staining on carpeting was repaired with a carpet cleaning and did not require a full carpet replacement), the tenant would be charged the amount of the repair.

Animal related damages are deducted from the security deposit. Pet fees are non-refundable and are not required to be used toward pet related damages. While a fee cannot be charged for an assistance animal, any property damage is deductible from the security deposit. Ironically pet deposits can only be charged for provable pet damage. That’s why we always take a larger generic security deposit if needed instead.

If the charges to the tenant’s security deposit exceed the amount of the security deposit, we will notify the tenant that they have 30 days to remit the balance to us directly. If the balance is not remitted to us after 30 days, we would then send the account to collections. We utilize Hunter Warfield as the collections agency. The collections agency will take efforts to recover the balance from the tenant. The collections agency may negotiate with the tenant to lower the balance to secure payment. If the collections agency is able to recover any balance from the tenant, the collections agency will retain 40-50% of any balance collected as their fee.

While turnover expenses are likely to be higher after a longer tenancy, there are steps that can be taken to try to spread the cost burden out when possible. We will identify routine maintenance items that we recommend being completed at every annual inspection, such as pressure washing and gutter cleaning, that we highly recommend being completed before a turnover starts.

Also, consider periodically updating items at the property while the tenants are occupying, such as replacing dated appliances, window blinds, etc. While repainting a property and replacing the flooring is recommended to occur when a tenant vacates, various other items can be completed while the tenant is occupying over time!

The tenants would also likely appreciate the routine/preventative maintenance and small updates during their lease term, and happier residents tend to treat the properties much better than unhappy tenants would!

There are many benefits to keeping phenomenal tenants in place!

It is always a risk to place a new tenant in a property in hopes to achieve a much higher rental rate, as we cannot guarantee that we will achieve that higher rate and cannot guarantee the new tenant will be as phenomenal as the last.

When you renew a quality tenant, you will not need to worry about expenses that inevitably come with vacancy such as loss of rent during a vacant period, utility reactivations/costs during vacancy, maintenance/upkeep of the property during vacancy, risks that come with vacant properties (such as urgent maintenance that cannot be spotted immediately as the property is not occupied, weather related risks, etc.), and the inevitable turnover expenses on an annual basis.

While the turnover expenses are likely to be higher for a long-term tenancy, the consistent returns from keeping great tenants in place long term usually outweigh the higher turnover cost when the tenant decides to eventually vacate.

If by all accounts the tenant was a great one and the only damage left was very small, we’d highly recommend against charging the item against the tenant’s security deposit. If there was no other damage apart from this small item, the tenant took great care of the home and this item was likely an oversight, which is common during the commotion of a move. This tenant may be likely to refer the property to a great friend or colleague in the future if they feel they were treated fairly throughout the entire process, which will further help with filling your property sooner with another potentially great tenant!

Great question! After the move out inspection is conducted, we would then need time to thoroughly review any pre-move in photographs, the tenant’s move in inspection form, as well as the details from the move out inspection. We will then secure a vendor to quote repairing any tenant caused damage beyond normal wear and tear, unless the property owner will be securing quotes/repairing the items themselves. After our review and retrieval of the estimates, a broker in charge will finalize any deposit charges (if applicable) and then we will discuss those amounts with the property owner. This process does take a bit of time when there are damages present beyond normal wear and tear! Rest assured we will work to complete this process as quickly as possible!

Unfortunately not. While we do see some funds recovered through the collections process, it is not a guarantee that any funds outside of the security deposit will be able to be recovered. The collections agency will diligently work to recover the funds and if they are successful, they will withhold their fee, and remit the remainder of anything collected to MoveZen Property Management.

Tenants can only be charged for damage beyond normal wear and tear. Ordinarily, costs for routine cleaning and maintenance (painting, carpet cleaning, etc) may not be deducted from the security deposit. However, if the tenant leaves the property so filthy that unusual or extraordinary measures are necessary to clean or restore the premises, the costs of such cleaning may be deducted from the security deposit. Routine cleaning is considered the landlords cost of doing business!

In some cases, yes. Hunter Warfield, the collections agency we utilize, will determine whether or not they feel the case is fit for legal action. If they believe the case is fit for legal action, MoveZen Property Management will receive a notice and would be required to either approve or deny a suit authorization. MoveZen will defer to the property owners judgment on whether or not they would like to proceed with a suit, as there are costs associated that would be the property owners responsibility. If the property owner approves a suit, MoveZen would notify Hunter Warfield. Please note that while the suit would be between the property owner and the tenants, Hunter Warfield will only communicate with MoveZen directly.

https://web.hunterwarfield.com/cn/ahiew/LegalAction

https://web.hunterwarfield.com/cn/ahiew/LegalCosts

In the first photo, you will see an oven that would constitute excessive dirtiness requiring extraordinary measures to clean. In the second photo, you will see an oven needs to be cleaned, but is not excessively dirty requiring extraordinary measures to clean.

After the suit is approved, Hunter Warfield will make sure their second internal set of criteria are met before they send it off to their legal desk. If approved, they will send an affidavit to sign. Once signed and returned, they will secure a court date. The case will be between the property owner and the tenant, but Hunter Warfield will only communicate with MoveZen. Court costs would need to be paid by the property owner up front. The court case will be assigned to an attorney in the area where the court case will take place. If the tenant would like to settle the case, they would need to speak with Hunter Warfield or the attorney assigned. MoveZen can never collect funds from any tenant submitted to collections, and MoveZen is required to direct the tenant to the collections agency (or the attorney if in the legal process). Hunter Warfield will charge 50% commission on any amount recovered by the tenant when the collections is in the legal process. Please see the attached links from Hunter Warfield with additonal information!

https://web.hunterwarfield.com/cn/ahiew/LegalAction

https://web.hunterwarfield.com/cn/ahiew/LegalCosts

We require that functional detectors must at the minimum have batteries replaced before a tenancy begins. If a detector is non-functional, it must be repaired or replaced. If a tenant is occupying the property, repairs to/replacements of smoke and carbon monoxide detectors MUST be completed quickly by law.

If you overstep on deposit charges by charging a tenant for items that are unpermitted or inflating costs to repair items that are permitted, you may have a judgment entered against you if the tenant pursues the matter in court. This could also be the case if your property manager finalizes the deposit on your behalf.

This may also happen if the deposit accounting is not timely provided to the tenant. Remember that state statute requires that a tenant be notified of an interim accounting no later than 30 days from the move out date, and a final accounting must be sent no later than 60 days from the move out date. We have watched in court as an owner did not adhere to these guidelines — the owner was given a court order to either pay the tenant a full deposit refund on the spot or have a judgment issued against the owner directly.

Remember that if your property manager goes to court to represent you, understand that your property manager is not guaranteed to win the case, and if they do not, that would mean a court order would be issued against you. If the amount is paid the same day it is issued, you can avoid the judgment altogether, but it can be a large amount, and we would not seek prior owner approval to pay this amount. If you represent yourself or have an attorney represent you, you could appeal with an attorney if you prefer.

While there are some gray areas with deposit charges, remember that tenants are not responsible for normal wear and tear and charges must be reasonable and justified for damage beyond normal wear and tear.


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