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San Diego Rental Properties Learning Center

Learning Center - Frequently Asked Questions

Have a question you want to know and don't see it on this page? Send your questions to info@goodlifemgmt.com and we'll get back to you with an answer.

How do you handle repairs?

We have a maintenance team that receives repair requests. They try to trouble shoot over the phone what they can. If it requires a vendors visit we dispatch a preferred vendor. We give our vendors lots of work, so they give us preferred pricing. They have to carry insurance and meet certain qualifications as well. The management agreement allows us to complete repairs under $300 as necessary, without having to bother you. Larger repairs over $300 require owner approval, so we will contact you in those cases.

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 I see your list of contractors?

No, that is an internal list. However you will get copies of invoices for work performed from the vendors.

Do you make money on maintenance or have in-house staff?

No, we do not make any money on maintenance, so there is no conflict of interest. We sub out all work.

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.

Do you do routine walkthroughs?

Yes! Once a year we perform a Preventative Maintenance Walkthrough. This is where we check for visible leaks, test smoke alarms, check furnace filters, record property condition, and address any maintenance issues or concerns the tenant may be having. This walkthrough is done about 30-60 days prior to the lease renewing. We will share the walkthrough with you at that time.

Can you check the property more often?

At this time our official walkthrough is once per year. If repairs come up, our vendors are in the property more often. They are trained to let us know if they see property damage or unsanitary conditions. Should a situation occur that requires a site visit, we will most definitely visit the property.

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. It is really a risk/reward play. If maximizing rent is important to you, maybe you should consider pets. If you would rather play it safe, it is OK to say no pets. If you are open to a pet, we always say, “will consider pets”. That means we may approve the right pet, not all pets.

What is your normal pet deposit?

We generally charge $250-$500 per pet depending on the type of unit. Hardwood flooring or other expensive finishes would push it to the higher end.

Can we charge a pet rent?

Yes we can. However, we can only charge one or the other. Either a pet deposit or a pet rent. Judges do not like it when landlords charge both. Rather than charging a pet rent, we recommend setting a higher rent price.

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

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

How do you set the rent?

We perform a market analysis and recommend a rent range to list. Properly priced properties will rent in 4 weeks or less. Vacancy will quickly erode your revenue, so it is important not to price the property too high were it sits on the market.

What we do is figure out what is the highest rent the unit can get in today’s market. Then we set the rent slightly below that number. Setting a slightly competitive rent does 3 things:

  1. It generally attracts a higher quality tenant. A good tenant knows he/she is in high demand, so they usually shop for a fair deal. Conversely, risky tenants are more likely to pay a higher price in order to get into a property.
  2. The tenant is more likely to renew the lease.
  3. The tenant is less likely to be nit picky on repairs and upgrades, during the tenancy.

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 approve the tenant?

We do not include the owner in the tenant selection process. We spent a lot of time and money developing a written rental criteria and objective tenant selection process. When processing an application, we take into account FICO score, credit history, income verification, eviction history, and criminal history. Each tenant gets a score that says they are approved, conditionally approved (may be accepted with increased deposit or co-signor), or denied.

We take the tenant selection process very seriously. If we pick a bad tenant where we are constantly battling them and chasing after the rent, Good Life loses money. We share a common goal to pick the best tenant possible.

Why can't I choose the type of tenant?

Unless you are familiar with Fair Housing Laws and have developed your own written rental criteria, it is not in your best interest to choose the tenant. Fair Housing Laws are very strict and enforced by Federal, State, and local agencies. An owner may not intentionally discriminate, but because their selection process was not consistent and left room for interpretation, they could be found guilty of violating the law. We are trained in Fair Housing Laws and therefore the best person to pick the tenant.

Can I meet the tenant?

You could, but we highly advise against it. One of the best reasons to have a property manager, is we are a buffer between you and the tenant. If you meet the tenant, you can be put on the spot for repair and lease term requests. The tenant should never have your contact information. When they do, often they will go directly to you with requests. This triangle of communication causes lots of problems for everyone involved.

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. We are one of a few companies in the county that offer this service to our clients, free of charge.

How long is our management contract?

We sign a one-year agreement that goes month-month after the initial term. However, we have the Good Life Guarantee, which says you can cancel at any time if you are not satisfied, free of penalties or fees. Either you are happy and we work together or you are not and you are free to go elsewhere.

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.

If the property is occupied, we contact the tenant and set up an Initial Property Evaluation. We go through the property and check for visible leaks, test smoke alarms, check furnace filters, take photos of property condition, and address any maintenance issues or concerns the tenant may be having.

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 do you market for tenants?

We use Appfolio to syndicate out to about a dozen of the top rental websites, including our company website www.goodlifemgmt.com. Additional sites we list on are below:

  • Zillow.com
  • Trulia.com
  • Apartments.com
  • Rentbits.com
  • RentalHomesPlus.com
  • Rentlinx.com
  • Rentmyhome.org
  • Condo.com
  • HomeTownRent.com
  • Hotpads.com
  • RentJungle.com
  • Apartmentlist.com
  • RentalHomePros.com
  • Homes.com
  • Zumper
  • Lovely
  • Realtor

AppFolio makes our rental vacancy feed publicly available to these independent listing services. These third party sites can choose whether or not to grab our listings. We cannot guarantee placement on any third party listing service. The cost to advertise is included in the leasing fee.

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 Rently lockbox showings. This allows tenants to view vacant properties on their own, after putting a valid credit card 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.

I want to change my current management companies. Can you assist with the transfer?

We can definitely assist with the transfer. The first thing you need to do is review your current management agreement to see what the cancellation terms are. Management companies usually require written notice of 30 days or more. After reviewing the terms of your agreement, contact our office and we can walk you through our process.

Who will I be working with?

You will be assigned a property manager who oversees both the owner and tenant relationships. However, at certain times you will be in communication with a few other key employees. 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 a fridge. 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.

Whether you need to include a washer/dryer depends on the type of home. You always want to include it for apartments and condos (assuming you have hook ups). For single family homes we say include it if you have a set already, as it gives you an advantage over the landlords not offering one. If you do not have a set already, you do not need to include it. Should the property sit on the market, it is a good idea to say “Owner open to including washer/dryer”.

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!