Frequently Asked Questions

Check out our blog as well, where we cover many important landlord topics!

How do you advertise your properties?

Getting our homes rented fast is key to our success and happy clients. We need to generate as many qualified leads for the home as possible. We do that by:

  1. Using syndication to list on the top rental websites. We design the ads in a way to make it easy for prospects to understand the key terms and our rental criteria.
  2. We take high quality photos and do a full video tour that goes on our ads.
  3. We repost on Craigslist everyday so it stays at the top of people's searches
  4. When prospects call, we have a live person answer the phone 8am-6pm M-F and 9am-5pm Saturday. This is crucial to getting homes rented fast. If someone is not available to talk to prospects, they go elsewhere. We keep a list of everyone that called, what was said, and if they are a hot lead or a shopper.
  5. We make the property available to be seen 7 days a week. We do this by utilizing the latest technology of automated self showings. We also offer agent showings as well.
  6. All of our clients are provided with an “Activity URL” which tracks calls, emails, showings, and showing feedback, in real time. This gives us the most accurate data about how the market is responding to our offer.
  7. Some areas we will use the MLS if we feel it is in the client’s best interest. This provides additional exposure to agents in the area who may be working with tenants. The owner must offer an additional commission to a cooperating agent, if the agent brings a qualified tenant that rents the home.

I am an out of state owner. I heard you have to withhold rent and send it to the FTB. Can you explain?

The California Franchise Tax Board (FTB) requires property managers to withhold 7% of gross payments to owners who live outside of California and submit the withholding to the FTB. You may be exempt from this regulation, eligible for a waiver, or eligible for reduced withholding:

Form 590- Withholding Exemption Certificate
If you are a resident of CA or believe you qualify for an exemption under one of the other categories (please read the form for full details), you can complete Form 590 Withholding Exemption Certificate.

Form 588- Nonresident Withholding Waiver
If you are not a resident of CA, you may qualify for a withholding waiver. Please read Form 588 for full details. If you feel you qualify for a waiver, please complete From 588 and send it directly to the FTB.

Form 589- Nonresident Reduced Withholding Request
If you are not exempt and do not qualify for a waiver, you may be entitled to a reduced withholding. You may complete Form 589- Nonresident Reduced Withholding Request and send it directly to the Franchise Tax Board (FTB).

If you complete and mail form 588 or 589 to the FTB, you should get a response within 2-3 weeks. Most of our clients, who were not eligible for a waiver, were granted some sort of reduction. All of the above forms can be found online at https://www.ftb.ca.gov.

To comply with the FTB requirements, we must withhold the 7% of gross rents, unless we receive form 590 from you OR a letter from the FTB instructing us to proceed differently.

If you have questions regarding the FTB regulations, please visit https://www.ftb.ca.gov and/or talk to your tax representative for more information. We are not tax professionals and cannot give you tax advice.

If you choose to complete 588 or 589, put your property manager as the “Withholding Agent”.

How do you handle repairs?

For tenant occupied homes, tenants submit a maintenance request via their online tenant portal. Our portal allows tenants to submit a work order request by providing a description of the issue as well as upload photos of the issue, when appropriate. Tenants can also track the status of their request online.

When a request comes in, we assess it and see if it needs immediate dispatch or if we can possibly trouble shoot the issue with the tenant. There are many common repair requests our team are trained how to troubleshoot. If the issue needs to be fixed, we send a work order to one of our vendors. We use all 3rd party vendors and do not do maintenance in house.

We use a platform called Property Meld to input and manage all work orders. This allows everything to stay organized and updated for the tenants and our staff.

The vendor will contact the tenant to set up a time to make the repair. Our vendors will complete the repair if under $500, take photos before and after work, and submit an invoice to our company for approval. The before and after photos of the repair get attached to your owner statement each month, so you can see what type of repair was made. You also get a copy of the work order we submitted to the vendor, explaining what we want them to fix, and a copy of the vendors invoice. We make sure the cost of the repair is fair and that the work was completed satisfactorily.

The management agreement allows us to approve any repair under $500, without having to bother our clients. Larger repairs over $500 require owner approval, so we will contact the client in those cases. Exceptions to the $500 approval rule include emergency maintenance and habitability issues. If we have to act quickly to protect persons or property we will do so, to protect our owners best interest.

Once a repair is completed and invoiced, we email the tenant a survey asking them to confirm the repair was completed satisfactorily, was the vendor was professional, and to rate their overall experience with the vendor and our team.

Can I pick the tenant?

We select the tenant for the owner, without the owner's involvement, as it is in our owner's best interest. There are strict Fair Housing laws in California that many owners may violate without knowing it. You may have a preference for no kids or no self employed people. Both of these are Fair Housing violations that carry stiff monetary penalties. Maybe you prefer someone older, so you pick an older couple over a young couple. That is another fair housing violation. All it takes is one Fair Housing complaint and you could be spending thousands of dollars having to defend yourself in court.

While your intentions are good, most of our clients are not up to date on Fair Housing laws. Letting someone pick a tenant, who does not understand the laws, puts a client at risk. Attorneys say the best way to reduce the risk of a Fair Housing violation is to have clear, non-discriminatory rental criteria, that is written, and transparent. Most owners do not have written rental criteria.

To help keep our owners out of trouble, we developed objective, non-discriminatory, written, rental criteria that is posted on our website. Other reasons it is not good for an owner to pick the tenant is:

  1. It is best if you don't know who the tenant is. That way you are not emotionally invested and can make better decisions.
  2. We get the property leased faster. Since we don't need to coordinate a call with an owner to go over an application, we can get the leasing offer out sooner and get it rented sooner. Time is money.
  3. Unless an owner is a seasoned investor, they usually are not best qualified to pick a tenant. They often pick tenants based on personal preference or emotion. Selecting a tenant is a business decision that should be made using objective criteria.

For more information on Fair Housing laws, please visit: http://www.sandiegocounty.gov/content/sdc/sdhcd/fair-housing.html

Do you have a list of handymen, plumbers, and other trades you use?

Yes, we have a list of preferred vendors we use. To be a preferred vendor they have to:

  1. Sign our vendor agreement, where they agree to a certain standards and a code of conduct.
  2. Carry insurance.
  3. Deliver great service and quality work.

Does your fee include cleaning or any other repairs?

No. Our fee covers the coordination of needed services, not the services themselves.

Can you refer me a vendor to do work at my personal residence?

We have plumbers, flooring installers, cleaners, appliance repair, and other trades people who provide such great service, we are happy to refer them to our clients. Some trades like handymen, we do not refer out, as good ones are hard to find and we keep them very busy.

Can I use my own contractors?

Yes and No. Over the years we have tried hundreds of contractors. Cost is always important, but as you know, sometimes you get what you pay for. The contractors we use provide quality workmanship and competitive pricing.

With that said, we are always willing to try someone new. However, we do require that they have appropriate licenses, complete a W-9, and carry general liability insurance and workers compensation insurance, if required by law. If you would like us to consider using your contractor, please provide us their contact information so we can reach out and see if they are a good fit.

Can I do the repairs myself?

Yes and No.  If the property is vacant, owners can handle the repairs needed to make the property rent ready, if they choose. However, either the client does all the work or we do all the work. It gets messy when there are too many chefs in the kitchen. Once the property is leased, we require that we use only our preferred vendors. This ensures leasing deadlines are met, as we work with these vendors regularly and know what to expect.

Do you always get multiple bids on work?

We have been doing this long enough to know what certain services should cost. This means we generally do not need to get multiple bids for routine maintenance tasks like carpeting, cleaning, small painting projects, small repairs, etc… We already know who can do the best work at the best price.

On larger projects like replacing an AC, replacing a roof, large painting projects, etc., we definitely get multiple bids to ensure you are getting a fair price.

How do rent payments work? Does the tenant pay you then you pay me?

The tenant pays Good Life rent and we deposit it into our trust account. We direct deposit the rent from the previous month, minus our fee, and any other expenses, into a bank account of your choice. 

 

 

Do you send me a statement each month?

At the beginning of each month we provide you an owner statement. The statement shows income and expenses for the previous month. For example, in June you will get the statement for the full month of May. We also include copies of work orders and invoices.

Should I accept pets?

Statistics show over half of all households have pets. By being open to pets you will increase demand, thus increasing the rental price. However, by allowing pets you increase the risk of property damage.

This is why we have our Good Pet Guarantee. If you allow a pet, we guarantee your home will not be damaged by a pet we approve. We will pay for any pet damage that exceeds the security deposit, up to $2,000. ESAs and service animals are exempt from this. 

 

 

Can we charge a non-refundable cleaning or other type of deposit?

No. The law in California says non-refundable deposits are illegal.

How long should it take to rent the house?

We lease the vast majority of our rentals in 4 weeks or less. If it sits on the market longer than that it means either the property is priced too high or it does not show well. We get the most activity on a property in the first 2 weeks. If it has not rented after 2 weeks, it usually means we priced it too high and we need to reduce the price.

Can I meet the tenant?

No, we generally do not allow owners to meet their tenants. When owners meet the tenant, it can cause confusion because the tenants will think that they can contact the owner for issues instead of us, the property management company. It is easier for all parties if we act as the buffer between the owner and the tenant. 

What if I have someone that wants to rent my place?

Send the lead to us and we will send them information how to apply. All tenants must go through our application process, even if you know them. Keep in mind, renting to friends or family can get messy, so proceed with caution.

What is this eviction protection you offer?

We are so confident in our ability to pick quality tenants that we back all of our tenants up with free eviction protection. If we have to evict a tenant we chose, we will pay for the eviction up to $1200. This usually covers all court costs and attorneys fees. 

How long is our management contract?

Our agreement is month-month and can be cancelled with 30 day notice from either party. There will be a cancellation fee if you cancel during the leasing phase.

We also have the Happiness Guarantee. If you're not happy, let us know and we'll make it right. If we can't, we will credit you that month's management fee. If you want out of the agreement, you can cancel at anytime without penalty. 

If I decide to go with you, what are the first steps?

We will send you a contract to review and sign via Docusign.

If the property is vacant, we will perform a Make Ready Survey. We carefully go through the entire property and make a list of all repairs needed to make the property rent ready. We email you regarding our findings and explain our plan to make it rent ready.

 

What type of insurance do I need to carry?

You need to carry a Landlord Policy. This has specific coverage’s important to landlords, so it is important you switch to this type of policy, if you currently have a homeowners policy. A Landlord policy is usually a little more expense, but the extra coverage is very important.

Why do I need to add Good Life Property Management as an additional insured to my insurance policy?

Let’s say a tenant trips at the property, breaks her leg, and sues. She is probably going to sue you and Good Life. Your insurance should step in and defend you. Since we are acting as your agent, we need that same protection. Our management agreement, like all management agreements, has an indemnification clause that says you agree to indemnify Good Life, unless we are found to be negligent. This means, if your insurance does not cover us, we have to hire an attorney on our own. Then our attorney will be fighting your attorney and the tenant. If we are found not guilty, our attorney will come after you for the attorney fees. Had we been added as additionally insured, your insurance company would defend us both equally. Most major insurance companies do this and for no additional charge. If your insurance company will not add Good Life, you will need to switch to an insurance carrier who does.

What type of insurance do you carry?

We carry General Liability, Workers Compensation, & Errors & Omissions insurance.

How are showings handled?

We do Agent showings where one of our agents will meet prospects at the property to view.

The other way we show is Tenant Turner lockbox showings. This allows tenants to view vacant properties on their own, after putting a valid ID on file. This leads to more showings and less vacancy, as many prospects work 8am-5pm and can only view the property after hours.

Do you have a tenant and owner portal?

Yes! About 88% of our tenants pay their rent online. They can also submit maintenance requests through their tenant portal.

The owner portal is where we publish monthly financial statements. Owners can also send us money for repairs and keep important documents like leases, all in one place.

I want to get out of my lease with the tenant. How do I do that?

A lease is a legally binding contract and cannot be cancelled unilaterally. Only with the agreement of both parties can a lease be terminated early.

Can I make changes to your management agreement?

The terms in our management agreement are designed into our management systems. It is hard for us to change terms without having to change our processes. Most of the time we cannot change our agreement. If you have a specific concern, we are always open to addressing it with you.

Who will I be working with?

You will be assigned a leasing manager who oversees the leasing process for your property. Once the property is leased, your main point of contact will be our client success manager. If there is a maintenance issue on your property, you will likely be contacted by our maintenance team.

Our company is departmentalized, which means we have employees who are assigned certain management tasks. This creates efficiency and higher quality service to our clients. The result is experts who focus on their one specific job and doing it better and faster than anyone else.

This gives us a strong advantage over our competition. Most companies hire independent contractors to manage a portfolio of properties. That sole person is responsible for all showings, maintenance, accounting, collections, tenant screening, and many other duties. This results in a jack-of-all-trades, master of none. Since no one person can be available all day, every day, we allocate our resources so that as a company, we can be available all day, every day.

What happens if the tenant does not pay the rent?

Rent is due on the 1st and late on the 4th. These means the tenant has a 2-day grace period after the 1st to pay the rent without penalty. If the rent is not received by close-of-business on the 3rd we contact the tenant to see what is going on. Soon after, we deliver a 3-day notice to the tenants to pay rent or quit. Serving the 3-day notice is the first step in the eviction process.

If we do not receive the rent after the 3-day notice is up, our owners are notified. We will give you our recommendation on how to best proceed. Options include moving forward with the eviction process or working out a deal with the tenant.

What happens if the tenant ruins my property?

We do a very good job of screening tenants upfront, so tenant damages are limited. However, even with the strictest of criteria, things can happen. Only a tiny percentage of our move out dispositions have tenant damages exceed the security deposit. In that event, we try to collect the sum from the tenant. Should the tenant not pay, you will need to sue them in small claims court. We are not debt collectors, but can refer you to companies who can assist you.

What happens if the tenant wants to break the lease?

The tenant is required to pay us the leasing commission and rent until it is re-rented. Our lease agreement covers this topic so the tenant knows upfront.

Who holds the security deposit?

Good Life holds the tenants security deposit. By law, the money belongs to the tenant and can only be used for past due rent or damages. The property management company is a neutral third party. We hold it in a trust account until the time of move out.

Do I need to provide a fridge and washer/dryer?

In the San Diego market, it is common for rentals to include all appliances. If you do not include one, you put yourself at a disadvantage. The fridge needs to be comparable in style to the quality of your home.

 

Can I rent my property furnished?

Good Life Property Management does not handle furnished rentals. Should you choose to rent furnished, we can refer you to a company who can assist you.

Can I leave some personal property at my home?

In some cases yes, but we do not recommend it. There is no good way to protect your personal property, nor is there a good way to prove the tenant damaged it. In most cases the tenants would prefer not to have your personal property at the house as it takes away room to store their own property. Additionally, the tenants don't want to be responsible for the property owner's personal property. It is acceptable to leave a reasonable amount of household items (paint, sample flooring, special cleaner, etc…) neatly tucked away in one corner of the house.

How long of a lease term do you recommend?

We generally do one-year lease terms, however the time of the year does play a factor.  For example, if we rent the property in December, a 12-month lease would end in December. If the tenants decide not to renew the lease, the property owner is looking at filling a vacancy in the worst month possible. We encourage leases to expire in any month outside of November, December, and January.

Should I provide a Gardner?

If your property has beautiful, high maintenance landscaping, you should include a gardener. If you have poor landscaping or a low maintenance yard, it can make sense to have the tenant care for it. We have a few landscapers we work with who provide great service and are an extra set of eyes on the property.

Should I provide a pool person?

You always want to include a pool person. Pool equipment is very expensive.  If it breaks you’re going to say it was the tenant’s fault.  They’re going to say that the equipment was faulty.  It’s a no win situation.

Can you pay my mortgage, HOA, and other bills?

We do not pay mortgages, but are happy to pay your other bills at no extra charge. Per our agreement, your reserve will be increased by an amount equal to the total of the recurring bills.

Can I sell my property while the tenant is in there?

If you decide to sell, please alert us before you commit. There are a number of things that we can do on our side to make it successful.

You can sell a property while the tenant is living there, but often that is not the best play. Occupied homes generally do not show as well as vacant, professionally staged homes. They are also harder to show as agents must work around the tenants schedule and give 24-hour notice to show. If the tenant has multiple months left on their lease, the only buyers will be investors. This cuts out the largest majority of buyers, the owner occupant. If the lease is coming to an end, the tenant keeps the home in great shape, and the tenant is easy to communicate, then it may make sense to list it for sale while occupied. We can guide you on the right approach for your situation.

 

Do you sell homes too?

We have a sales division "GL Realty & Investments" that sells many of our client's properties. Contact us today for a free market analysis of your property!