New Landlord Client: Commonly Asked Questions and Answers

We have been growing the business and most recently received a series of questions from a new client asking about some of the operations we perform at Belaire Property Management LLC. These were some really great questions. After completing the answers it occurred to us a lot of our new clients are probably thinking the same thoughts and probably asking the same questions.

We thought it would be a great idea to share the questions and answers on this BLOG post to help inform other new clients to make a better informed decision.

  1. How long have you been in business?  
    Belaire Property Management has been incorporated as a limited liability company since 2001. We have been an active contributor to the northern Worcester County rental market for the past 22 years.

  2. How many employees do you have?  
    Belaire Property Management currently employs 10 people. Five of them are full-time employees. Five of them are part-time employees. We also work with virtual assistants and have a long list in history with trusted vendors. Such as electricians, plumbers, contractors, roofers, and various other vendors we have used to assist us as needed.

  3. How many fluent Spanish speaking employees do you have?   
    Belaire Property Management has four employees who are fluent in Spanish. One of them is on the Management Team. One of them is on the Maintenance Team. And we have two on the Leasing Team who are fluent in English, Spanish, some Dutch and Italian.

  4. What technology measures do you have in place to protect PII data for both the property owner & tenants? 
    We use two different digital platforms to protect personal data and information for both our clients and our tenants. Google Drive is the primary hub for most repository files. We also use dropbox but we are tending to move off of that platform. The other primary platform we use is property management software. Both of these platforms require double encryption to login.

  5. What do you use to send/receive secure/encrypted emails &/or documents? 
    There are several options to serve encrypted or secure documents. Typically we would have a PDF with a secure password if required. The preferred method is to give a client access to the Google Drive folder where they can upload whichever documents we require. We also have an array of 10 four drawer file cabinets which are locked inside our office, which is monitored by an Arlo security system. Paper files are stored up to six months at the end of the client relationship and then either shredded or burned. All digital files are kept on secure websites again with double encryption, password protection.

  6. How many units do you currently manage? 
    We currently manage 300+ units in northern Worcester county. Belaire Property Management has offices at Belaire East, Belaire West, and Belaire South. Our regional property manager is usually booked one way plane tickets to each destination, working to support each of the three teams. We are aggressively marketing for new clients with a goal for 500+ units by the end of this year and a three year goal of 1000 units under management.

  7. What software do you use for a property owner online portal?  
    Belaire Property Management uses AppFolio property management software for the property owner portal. We do find the record keeping in AppFolio to be lacking. We have a system of check and balance using our in-house created profit and loss sheets which our owners have 24 hour access to to track all expenses and labor down to the penny. It also acts as a dashboard for our clients to monitor as rents come in when they are due on or before the first. It will show landlords who paid, when they paid, and how they paid. The accounting department will also use the Google profit and loss sheet for additional notes as needed under special situations or circumstances.

  8. What software do you use for the renters portal? 
    We also use AppFolio for our renters portal. Currently 87% of our renters are using the online portal to pay rent, make maintenance requests, manage their leases, and all interactions with our accounting, maintenance, and admin teams. Another 10 % use a variety of online payment apps. Then there are some paper checks and money orders, but never cash.

  9. Do you provide free monthly financial statements? 
    The monthly statements are included as part of the management fee. Every month you should receive a owners package from AppFolio that we use as a repository for all scanned receipts and out-of-pocket expenses or invoices we receive from vendors that we pay on our owners behalf. The Belaire Google, profit and loss sheet, as mentioned above, gives you in detail, tracking of every minute, and every penny that is spent on your property. Our clients have full access to their Google profit and loss sheet from the moment they accept the invitation to open the file. Our owners may track all activity happening at their property whenever it is convenient for them. No need to request a report. Again you will receive the AppFolio reports but we trust the Google sheet for its accuracy. Much better.

  10. What % of rent do you charge for your services? (currently at 9%)
    Whereas you are a referral from another property manager we will absolutely honor whatever management fee percentage you are currently paying. You should not be penalized for the transition. We would request a copy of your current contract to authorize that percentage. For new clients coming to Belaire Property Management, our management fees are based on the number of units being placed under management. From one up to 15 rental units we collect 10% for gross corrected rents. What this means is if we do not collect the rent, we do not get paid. This highly motivates us to collect the rent when the rent is due. From 10% our fee structure drops down a percentage for every 15 units placed under our management. For example, 30 units would be at 9%, 45 units would be at 8%, and someone down to 60+ units at 6% management fee monthly.

  11. Can we get a breakdown of all other fees?
    There are three basic fees that encompass all of what we do at Belaire. The management fee is 10% which covers the admin, day-to-day operations, the monthly reports, and general calls to tenants or landlords. Labor fees are charged at $70 an hour for our In-house maintenance team. On staff, we have a licensed CSL, construction supervisor, with a total of 25 years experience. We also have two other full-time employees on the maintenance team with decades of property management, maintenance experience or clients are always given the option when a maintenance call comes in to allow Belaire in-house maintenance team to perform the task, or if they have their own vendors and preferred contractors we will always work hand-in-hand with them to complete the project. The third and final fee we charge is a Lease up fee. From the moment, a property goes under agreement we take professional photography, post the listing with professional, add copy, track the hundreds of gas cards and candidates looking for that unit, funneled down to find the best possible renters, then, do full and complete background checks, including CORI, SCORI, Eviction database, and a whole host of other background checks we perform to find you the right renter. The lease up fee is one month rent, and all the above is included within that fee structure. We do not charge Lisa for renewal fees.

  12. Ancillary/related services does your company provide?
    Our basic fee structure is based on our property management fee, maintenance and labor, costs, and materials which we expense out-of-pocket to be reimbursed from the rents. Any other vendors or third-party contractors, we hire or a flow through expense to the landlord. If they charge us $100, our client will be charged $100. At this time we do not have any ancillary or related services to charge our clients extra. We do not feel that is appropriate and we are more than happy with the arrangement.

  13. How long would it take to cut over to your services if we decide to go with you?
    When we take on a new client in-house, we refer to it as on boarding. There have been emergency situations where we have set things up within two weeks which is an awful lot of hard work. The typical onboard process is a 30 day cycle. We would notify the existing tenants with a change of management form once we get all of the email, phone numbers, and contact for each resident. Then we would encourage them to activate their resident portal. Once this is done, all documents we have will be shared with the tenant and they should be able to pay rent and make maintenance requests through the portal.

  14. We both have empty units.  How long would it take to fill them?
    We actually just answered this question from a previous landlord. Please see the notes on the answer included below. The short answer is “It depends on the unit”. We just had a charming 1 BR unit that rented out in a few days. Other more exclusive rentals have taken up to a month to rent. The core objective is to not just get a tenant, but to get the RIGHT tenant. Short answer: 1 to 4 weeks is typical. The market is also seasonal. We try to have everything rented at 100% between Sept and Jan. We always see a dip in “good” candidates during this time of year. Summertime, we run out of inventory quickly and are starving for vacancies.

  15. What fees would be associated with this tenant placement?
    The third leg of our management fees are the Lisa fees. This is typically one month rent, and in the previous questions above, we went into detail on what that covers. To recap briefly this would cover the photography, marketing, screening, background check, admin for new leases, on boarding into the database, and double checking, everything for accuracy.

  16. Who would be our primary point of contact at your company? 
    For Belaire West, it would be Stacy Kong. For Belaire east it would be Cyndi Rose. For Belaire South, it would be our regional property manager, Brian Lucier. We work together as a team. We communicate during the week with Team East, West, and South, and we absolutely love what we do.

  17. Can we have a few references of other landlords that work directly with this person? 
    Probably the best place to find references are on our Google reviews. If you do a search for property manager, Fitchburg, we will show up on the first page as a five star business. We have multiple reviews from landlords, tenants, vendors, and other affiliated professionals in the property management and rental industry. On our media kit page we also have a PDF of over a dozen different recommendations and referrals, including chief justice of the Housing Court, Timothy Sullivan. We’ve worked hard to build our reputation and will work even harder to keep it.

  18. Jason and I have heard of a “renters” insurance policy that is purchased by the renter in lieu of a hefty security deposit and costs them roughly $200 per year.  It allegedly covers damages, rent to the property owner if the renter disappears & or doesn’t pay their rent.  Is this a real thing or is it an imaginary unicorn that doesn’t actually exist? 
    To the best of my knowledge one would not offset the other. At a recent members meeting of the northern Worcester County landlord association, we had the opportunity to have an insurance broker come in and answer questions in an open forum. To the best of his knowledge, there is no insurance policy that will cover a landlord for lost rent. A renters insurance policy is required by Belaire Property Management to indemnify our clients from damages or destruction of property during the tenancy. Such as a kitchen, fire, or negligence in the bathtub which causes damage to other units. That would be covered by renters insurance. A security deposit is a different animal. The security deposit is used to indemnify the client from damages to their property after the tenant has moved out. If the tenant has moved out owing past due rent amount, we are able to place a lien on the security deposit for uncollected rents. In my experience, these are two separate, but absolutely necessary aspects of the rental business. I would employ both.

    If it is real, What is called? 
    As you stated above an insurance policy that pays for lost rents is pretty much a unicorn.

    Is it something that you currently utilize &/or have a way of providing? 
    We would absolutely be able to share any policy documents for renters insurance we hold with our tenants. We would also upon request provide you with copies of our Workmen’s Compensation insurance policies for all of our maintenance team workers providing services on your property to indemnify you from liability.

These were some really great questions, and I thank you for the opportunity to explain some of our business models to you.

Looking forward to doing business with you!

What’s on Your Mind?

Do you have any other ideas on this topic you could share to help our online community? Please chime in to share a comment or review. All feedback is welcomed. Thank you in advance for your continued support!

Warmest regards,

Brian Lucier
Belaire Property Management
Regional Property Manager
(978) 448-0669 office
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