How to Successfully Handle Tenant Complaints

Tenant complaints

If you’ve been a landlord for some time now, then you would agree that one of your most common and constant problems would be complaints from your tenants. Whether you are running a set of apartments, or a set of commercial spaces doesn’t matter, for as long as you have tenants, you will always have to deal with their complaints.

Tenant complaints can vary by degrees – from simple leaks in the shower to broken heating systems, and even their neighbor’s “Fido” constantly barking all day and all night. No matter what the complaint may be, you need to be able to address and handle them fast and effectively, lest you are ready to lose business.

There are different ways of handling tenant complaints, but the general and underlying principles are all the same:

Listen

When a tenant complains about something, it is always in your best interest to listen. Some landlords make the mistake of ignoring simple problems thinking that the tenant can always make do, or deal with the problem on their own. This is never a good practice, since this will make it look like you don’t care about your property and your tenant at all.

Document

No matter how simple the complaint may seem, always be sure document it. This will give you a solid copy of the complaint, which can be used for a variety of purposes, especially legal ones. You can write up a simple complaint form or an incident report for the tenant to fill out, or use doc files and save them in your computer for printing later on.

Act

All the listening and documenting will be useless if you don’t take action on our tenant’s complaints. When a tenant complains of a leaking faucet, call the plumber and have it fixed. If they complain about a noisy neighbor, take the time to talk to that neighbor without naming the complainant and remind them of any rule they may be breaking in the contract. By acting and solving the problem now, you will be able to avoid any conflict, and hopefully any more complaints in the future.

As a businessperson, we are aware that our tenants are the lifeblood of our business – after all, their money is our income. By dealing with tenant complaints quickly and appropriately, we can ensure continuous business and income for ourselves.

Our Valley– Poised for growth

Since the financial crash of 2007 Southern Oregon has suffered high unemployment and little growth -but that all seems to be changing. We have been watching quietly as new homes are being built in every corner of the valley, businesses continue to move, in and acres of grapes are being planted.

 

From Ashland to Eagle Point, Medford to Jacksonville there is movement and activity everywhere. When you’re driving around, try to count the number of new homes being built, new businesses moving in and acres of vineyards being planted. Here is my count:

Home Building and Commercial Development

There are currently 109 new homes for sale and 68 new homes pending in the valley. They range from $179,000 in Medford, Rogue River and White City, to $895,000 on Ashland Creek road in Ashland. Even our small town of Jacksonville currently has 16 homes under construction.

 

That’s just the beginning of what is to come as there are some large developments already approved and construction that has just started. Stewart Meadows Village, which is between Hwy 99 and Myers Lane and between Garfield and Stewart, has just broken ground on 79 acres and will have 190 homes as well as residential and retail. Sky Park received final approval by Medford and will consist of 26 residential units above the city owned parking lot at 206 Central. The Cedar Links development on the former Cedar Links Golf Couse has already seen a 5.5 acre park being built by the City of Medford and the rest is set to be developed for residential and some retail. Outside of Jacksonville the old dump is currently being developed into 2.5 and 5 acre residential lots.

 

On the commercial side we have 18 acres called the Southeast Village Center on North Phoenix and Barnett Road which is in final stages of approval with the Medford planning commission. Also, in final approval with the bureau of Indian affairs, is a 2.42 acre Coquille Indian tribe $26 million casino. This will be located on Hwy 99 at the site of Roxy Ann Lanes and Kim’s restaurant.

 

In downtown Medford on the heels of the new multi-story, One West, County Health and Lithia building we’re about to see a 47,000 square foot multi-story police station go up behind the new County Health building. Speaking of Lithia, they have built four new dealerships on Hwy 62 past Costco for Nissan, Honda, VW and BMW. And speaking of Costco, they are in talks with the city of Medford to build a new larger and more convenient location in the area next to Traders Joe’s and REI. Lastly, its’ true, “In and Out Burger” is coming to the Rogue Valley Mall.

If all of this is not enough, Medford, faced with the prospect of running out of buildable land in the near future, is seeking approval from the state to add another 1,650 acres to its urban growth boundary to help accommodate 15,000 new homes and enough land for commercial development. City officials are trying to figure out how much land it needs to handle anticipated growth over the next 20 years as the population increases from 76,000 to a projected 115,000, more than a 50 percent increase.

Vineyards and Wineries

We’re all enjoying a wave of new wineries such as DANCIN, Kriselle Cellars, 2 Hawk, Red Lily and Bella Fiore, but the industry seems to just be getting started. Pallet Wine, who makes the wine for over 20 clients including Harry & David, Irvin Vineyards, and Grizzly Peak, is expanding by 10,000 square feet so that they can handle their growth and vineyards are popping up all over Southern Oregon. You don’t have to drive far to see the hundreds and hundreds of acres of new grapes being planted on Carpenter Hill, North Applegate and the 19,000 vines that DANCIN is going to plant in the groomed field off of South Stage.

There are currently 47 wineries listed on the Southern Oregon Winery Association’s website and other vineyards that will soon open wineries outside Jacksonville, Ashland and the Applegate Valley. Wine tours are being given by “All aboard Trolley”, “Bravo Outings”, and the “Wine Hopper” who have grown from Mercedes Sprinter Vans to large bus-sized trucks.

So next time you’re driving around, start counting all of the new homes being built, and if you’re lucky to be driving through the countryside, take notice of those growing acres and acres of vineyards.

 

 

“Thank You” …Southern Oregon Health Care System

At the moment, I can only wait patiently and repeat my heart felt goodbyes to my 91 year old mom as she lies in a semi coma on her 10th day of hospice. Although I am so sad to lose my mother, I am at the same time so grateful for the time I have had with my mother after moving her to Southern Oregon; I had no idea how much the difference in health care systems would change her last year and a half on earth.

My mom’s decline began in the SF Bay Area; she suffered from a constant foot ulcer. In California, this small wound on the bottom of my mother’s foot mandated she move from her senior apartment to a skilled nursing facility. She was in one of the nicest skilled nursing facilities in the area. However, it was more like a hospital room with a roommate who required loud equipment, and many of the residents had severe dementia. Each time I would visit my heart sunk with grief.   This led me to research health care in Southern Oregon. This is when I began to understand how vastly different Oregon Health Care was and we moved Mom to Pioneer Village in Jacksonville. Here, she was allowed to stay in a private apartment and was visited by home health care nurses to dress her wound. There is no mandate to stay in a skilled nursing care facility in Oregon. I also learned that Oregon was a pioneer for both Senior Foster Care homes and Home Health care.

Next, we took my mother to a local podiatrist, Dr. Patrick Code, and explained that Kaiser would not operate on her because she was too old. He disagreed with this assessment and explained that it would be a simple procedure. Just like that, after more than a year of convalescing, he operated on her and she had a full recovery, even going back to walking with a walker. Again, while recovering, she returned to her apartment and Home Health Care came daily to dress her wounds.

As my mom aged, her teeth were failing and our options were dentures or implants. At 90, my mom did not need to go through this drastic procedure. Her dentist, Dr. Wooton, also worked some magic and managed to allow my mom to save her teeth until the end.

Like most 90 year olds, my mother’s hearing was going. We often had conversations the whole neighborhood could hear because I had to yell so loud to be heard. We were discouraged by Kaiser and were told stories that often older people do not adapt well to hearing aids; but, the next miracle came from Dr. Elizabeth Tangel of Imaginears who outfitted her with hi-tech hearing aids that she adapted too instantly and regained her hearing. This alone was an amazing change for my mom. She could now be a part of family and friends’ conversations.

And so began my mother’s new life in southern Oregon.   She made fast friends with two women that were seated at the same dining table. Jean (my mother), Marilyn, and Hazel quickly became known as the “Go-Go- Girls” at Pioneer Village. No, they were not dancers, but they signed up for every event and trip that Pioneer Village offered.   A few times a week Pioneer would take these three to Oregon Shakespeare Festival plays, Wildlife Images, Seven Feathers, Wine socials, Jacksonville Parades, Wineries, Crater Lake and more. She had a lot of time to make up from those days in a California Skilled Nursing facility where she sat alone in her hospital bed.

Pioneer’s staff both entertained and cared for my mom with a great deal of love. She made lasting friends and some of her care givers will miss her as much as I will. I would often go visit and a care giver would be visiting mom and holding her hand. When my mom was lonely or couldn’t sleep,

Ashley at the front desk would keep a book that belonged to my mom in her top drawer and she would read to her. My mom also had Zara Lowery, from a local salon, who came to Mom’s apartment once a week to style her hair and keep her feeling and looking her best for all those Pioneer events.

Her principal doctor, Rachelle Roulier, a PA, gave mom such loving care and tried to slow the advance of dementia but she finally lost the battle. My mom had to move to an adult foster care home. Yes, another miracle; the day we called Jacksonville Home Care they were moving a resident out. My mom got to live in one of the nicest resident care homes I have ever seen. It is owned and operated by Rebecca and Paul Sandu. She was lovingly cared for and Rebecca slept in her room for the first couple of nights to make sure she transitioned well; unfortunately, it was only a matter of days when we had to call in Hospice to help keep her as comfortable as possible until the end.

It does take a village. I was so impressed by Providence hospital, Rogue Regional Medical Center, Jacksonville’s and Mercy flights’ EMTs, Signature Home Health Care, Accent Health, Right At home, Pioneer Village, Jacksonville Home Care, Medford Medical Clinic, even 5th Street Salon, and the myriad of care givers that lovingly cared from my mom.

I have learned a lot in the short time my mom has been taken care of by an army of health care workers; but, my greatest lesson is learning that Southern Oregon has one of the most extensive and caring Health Care Systems and they are so equipped to take care of the ones we love. We also have some of the most loving care givers who dedicate their lives to caring for the elderly.

Thank you again, all of you, for all your love and care that you gave to my mom and for making her last years of life ones filled with love and joy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Install Smart Devices in Your Rental Units

Installing and using smart devices like key fobs and smart phone controlled light switches and thermostats in rental units is not only a growing trend, but also becoming a necessity for many apartment or rental unit owners because of the many benefits that they can offer. For the renters, these smart devices can make their apartment living much more convenient, and for you, the landlord, it can mean so much more.

Improved Income
Apartment units that have smart technology installed in them have higher market value, and thus cost more to lease. That being said, you can greatly increase your rent and thus be able to earn more. Although it may seem that no one pays particular attention to such apartment units, the truth is that there are people who are willing to rent and spend more money on such rental units, especially at this point in time where people are making more money and understand the conveniences that come with a more technologically advanced living space.

Better Ratings
To date, only a small percentage of rental units incorporate smart technology into their units, and if you are one of them, then you’d basically get the prestige that they are enjoying. You’d be able to improve people’s perception of your rental units, and thus be able to attract more of them. Again this is a growing trend, and jumping in early on the bandwagon can do a lot for your business.

Easy and Automated
Incorporating smart technology in your rental units also means that most of the jobs that you usually do manually can be automated. For instance, there are automated systems that immediately detect and alert you of any problems that may be happening in your rental units, like excess moisture brought about by leaking pipes or unusually high temperatures which can cause fires. Another example is automated billing, where the renters are automatically charged every due date (usually through credit cards) so you don’t have to worry about them missing a payment.
Installing smart devices and advanced technology in your rental units may seem like a huge investment, and it usually is. But then, with all the benefits that they bring, they are bound to be one of the best investments that you can make for your business.

Technology that Helps Your Renters

Smart technology is quickly becoming a trend when it comes to apartment units. As more and more people are becoming more and more tech savvy, they also expect their living quarters to be able to live up to their lifestyle. If you have an apartment building and would like to provide a more technologically advanced amenities for your renters, here are some ideas that you can apply.
Key Fobs

For one, you can install keyless entry on the apartment doors and units. These key fob entry systems are often better than having actual keys which are quite bulky and heavy on the pockets. Some doors also won’t close without these key fobs, so renters won’t be able to leave the house without them, thus minimizing the risk of them leaving or losing their keys. Key fobs also allow the renter to access other amenities in your apartment building, and at the same time can be programmed to prohibit people from entering restricted areas. Aside from doors, key fobs can also be used on elevators. All you have to do is to wave your key fob on the elevator sensor, and the elevator will take you up to your floor immediately without the need to press any buttons whatsoever.

Smart Phone Controlled Devices
Another thing that makes a tech savvy apartment unit is that if most of the items there can be controlled with a remote control. But what’s better than that is that you can actually use your smart phones as the remote. There are many apps that allow you to do this, and with it you can control the thermostat settings, turn light switches on and off and more. Landlords can set up an account with such app developers and then share it or require their renters to download the app for them to be able to use it.

Automated Billing and Payment
One of the things that many people like is being able to pay their bills using their smart phones, and with the recent advances in technology and banking, they can do so with their groceries, utility bills and even apartment dues. They simply have to key in some pass codes and immediately transfer money from their bank accounts to your accounts fast and easy.
Installing smart technology like these will not only make your apartment units look more appealing to renters, but also help to make their apartment living a much more convenient experience.

What goes down must come up!

Graph for Article Graham ColorThe real estate market in Jackson County continues its recovery this year with the median price of a home increasing by 15% from $195,000 in January 2014 to $225,000 in August 2014. The number of homes sold this year is about on par with last year with an average of 242 homes selling per month.

Jacksonville (which extends all the way to Ruch) has fared even better with the median price of a home increasing this year by 20% from $291,350 in January to $350,000 in August.

The Jackson county housing market is experiencing faster appreciation growth than the national average, but that is to be expected as our county was one of the hardest hit nationwide and shares the distinction, along with Deschutes County, of being the hardest hit county in Oregon.

We may slow down a bit in fall and winter, but what will be interesting is, what the inventory will look like next spring/summer. We have gone 6 or 7 years seeing little to no building but having population growth and age growth which both contribute to demands on the housing market. In Jacksonville, all the new construction in Vineyard View, at the end of Shafer lane, is sold out! The Farms and Brookview, on G Street and Hueners, will most likely sell out this winter. So will we have any new housing for 2015?

What’s also remarkable is that Jacksonville is not building for it’s demographic. The families moving here tend to be older, those who are either retired or who have the means to escape large cities and make a living here. These two groups, the escapees and retirees, may be in great fiscal health but many of them are planning on aging in place. Their dream does not include the climbing of stairs to reach the master bedroom, so where are the one story new homes?

On the rental front, we are seeing a large demand for rental homes in all of Jackson County and very low supply. This is particularly true in Jacksonville where we manage over 60 rental homes which are all full with a waiting list. As the prices of homes increase, owners that chose to rent out their homes because of a lack of equity are now choosing to sell their homes, leaving the rental market with less and less inventory. The rental market will continue to be tight until we see more housing starts and more rental inventory.

As long as our economy keeps growing, even at a slow pace, we’re likely to see real estate prices grow; and as long as the US population continues to age, we’re likely to see Southern Oregon grow faster than most areas.