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Slumlords Versus Landlords

Recently we have been coming across a lot of different types of Landlords.  With the rising prices of real estate investments, and especially the increase in rents to the multifamily market, many investors have been flocking to Bakersfield to invest their funds.  However, when investing funds, it is not only important to choose the right investment, but to also protect that investment over the long term, and to treat the people inside of that property well also.  

Now, don’t take this to mean that we believe all Tenants should be taken care of immaculately, or that we believe your property should be the Taj Mahal.  In fact, we believe quite the opposite.  When dealing with property, it really depends on the market you are in.  For example, here in Bakersfield, people are looking for nice clean places to live that aren’t too fancy because the rents will just go up higher, but also aren’t slums.  This generally will mean taking care of any life, health, and safety issues that may come up in a property, but even though your common sense may say that if you purchase an investment property, it would only make sense to keep up your investment, there are a lot of Landlords thats do not operate in that way.  


Habitability Is Key

When looking into rentals, and those rental units that are used for low-income housing especially, it is important to make sure those units are habitable.  But, how do we define habitability?  To me the easiest way, is to determine if there are any issues with the rental unit causing it to be dangerous to live in or unfit to live in.  Some of these standards are even set by law.  For example, in California, Landlords are required to provide heat in their units.  So a unit without heat is considered uninhabitable.  Therefore, this issue should be taken care of.  But some issues are not as cut and dry.  For example, when looking at a tile floor if the tile is cracked, some Tenants may say that is a habitability hazard, however, if there is no trip hazard created by the crack in the tile, then it is not legally a habitability issue, and this is where things start to get tricky for Landlords.  


Property Condition Issues to Avoid

Now as real estate investors, we are always looking for the next best deal.  The building has a hole in the roof, becomes an excitement factor for an investor, while a new home buyer will look at that condition and run.  So being that we are more prone to buying a property that will need some work we have gone ahead and put together a small list of items that you should make sure are repaired prior to renting out your property.  


  • Utilities
      1. Have you ever rented a place or checked into a hotel and had a long day of traveling, only to go and start that nice hot shower to find out there is in fact no hot water?  Think about living in this type of situation.  Power, gas, sewer, and HVAC are all things that you want to make sure are operational for the Tenant to receive the minimum use out of their building.  
  • Structure
      1. Being in property management, crazy things happen all the time.  In fact, at one point we managed a unit that had a roof leak, but the leak was so tiny that no one knew about it, including the Tenants.  So this leak continued for potentially months before it was realized, and it was only realized when we had a long set of heavy rains for a few weeks.  One day we received a call from the Tenant that their ceiling was sagging and it seemed to have a water leak, so we went to check out the ceiling and in fact found the leak, however, before we were able to come back to fix the problem, the ceiling in fact collapsed into their bedroom.  Thankfully it didn’t cause any damage and everyone had the proper insurance so everyone was made whole again, but in the time that it took to get approval on this repair the ceiling itself caved in, which could have caused much more damage than just having to clean everything up.  This is why it is important not only to make sure the structure of your building is solid but to have your properties inspected on a regular basis, because issues may be forming without your Tenant even having the knowledge of what is going on that could cause larger issues in the future.  
  • Pest Control
      1. A stigma that we run across with many different Landlords is that in low-income units there is always some kind of pest control or rodent problem.  And oftentimes as an investor, we take over rental units that have pest control and rodent problems.  Therefore, it is important to make sure that people have at least the initial problems taken care of when you take over property or when you own a property.  After their initial problems if they still have issues then the problem becomes one of the Tenant and a different solution will have to be applied.  No person wants to move into a property where they will have pests crawling over them at night, or around their floors during the day, or be dead in the corner.  So it is important to make sure that prior to placing a Tenant, or taking over a property these problems are addressed for Landlords. 
  • Carbon Monoxide and Smoke Detectors
    1. This one seems pretty straightforward, but it is one that gets overlooked a lot by the mom and pop landlords that we find out there.  There are many obvious problems that can come from not having the appropriate detectors at the Property, and not having those detectors is not an excuse for having issues, so it always makes sense to verify that the detectors are working and keep proof with you as well so nothing comes back on you at any given time.  

Don’t Be A Slumlord

Following these basic principles is much more simple than having to find a way around it or to just ignore it because there are many legal issues that can come out of that.  In my opinion, being a Landlord isn’t the taste of the week investment, but it is a responsibility to own and care for a property that you have purchased.  You are in charge of someone else’s living situation, and there should be some personal responsibility attached to that as well.  

As a real estate investor, it is easy to look at returns and numbers and forget that you are actually dealing with people and physical assets, but it really does pay dividends to make sure that the property you invest in and own is taken care of with at least the basic essentials.  If you are not wanting to install quartz counters that is one thing but taking care of what would be essentials becomes something entirely different.  


Thanks for taking the time to read this information!


Until Next Time,

Sanjeev Advani (Sunny)


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Synergy Real Estate & Property Management
Sunny Advani
www.re-synergy.comPersonal Lic # 01869864
Office Lic # 02012941

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About The Author
Sanjeev Advani

• Hundreds of Investment Real Estate transactions successfully closed • 350+ Units currently under Property Management • 3+ Years of Construction Management Experience • Certified Property Manager, CCIM (In Progress) • Bachelors in Finance • Bakersfield, CA Native Deep Dive: I have been licensed in real estate for almost 10 years, and I have been specializing in investment and commercial real estate for the past 6 years. Through the years I have worked with Real Estate Developers, Investors, Average Joes, and many more. I am a Bakersfield native, and my educational background is in Finance. I have just completed the CPM (Certified Property Manager) certification which is one of the most prestigious designations in the Property Management Industry, with less than 1800 members world wide. I am also the President of the Board for Habitat for Humanity Golden Empire, the Vice President of the Board for Income Property Association of Kern County (IPAK), and Vice Chair of the Commercial Investment committee at the Board of Realtors. I look forward to working with you towards your real estate investment goals. Sunny Advani California Agent Lic# 01869863 | California Broker Lic# 02012941 Email: Sunny@RE-Synergy.com | Phone: +1 661 235 5726