Choosing A Property Management Firm – Owner FAQ's
Property management can be difficult and complex. Legally, anyone with a real estate license can do it; but not everyone can do it well. Choose someone who has a proven track record of doing each aspect of property management better than the rest: from preparing the property for rent and determining competitive rent rates, to advertising, to qualifying prospects, to rent collection, to maintenance, to minimizing turnovers, to minimizing your legal risks, to keeping you informed and comfortable.
At Foothills Properties, our every action is focused on providing you with excellence in execution. Everything that impacts your property is carefully planned, even those things you don’t even know are necessary!
The following Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) were compiled to help you get a sense of who we are and decide whether we’re a good match for your management needs.
For more information about Tucson Property Management, please visit our educational blog page.
I'm considering buying residential rental property in Tucson. Why should I and why should I hire Foothills?The Tucson market is enjoying resurgence thanks to a strong, active Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce and other area leaders who have worked to make Tucson a vibrant commercial and residential area. The financial recovery is steady and strong and we're very excited about the many new companies who have chosen to make Tucson their home. The southwest continues to be one of the top choices for retirees looking for a good climate and effective healthcare. Our airport is beginning to add back the much needed flights which the hub system cut out. Things are looking good here in the ole Pueblo!
How long have you been in business?Foothills Properties was founded in 1985 and has continued to grow, while expanding its service area, and continually upgrading our systems, procedures, marketing and technology to keep pace and exceed the standard of care for property management.
- At a time when so many real estate companies have suffered a slowdown of sales, their agents have drifted into property management in order to supplement their income. Effective property management is a solid combination of education and experience, both of which take time and focus.
- Conversely, there are companies who have been in property management for years, still doing the same things, the same old way. A property management company must constantly upgrade its policies and procedures, training and technology to effective serve its clients.
- With over 30 years of experience and emphasis on always improving our service, Foothills will manage your property with professionalism and skill.
Where is your office located and in what geographic areas do you manage?Our address at 2484 E. River Road is located at the foot of the Catalina Foothills in a professional complex at River Road and Hacienda Del Sol, practically dead center of our service area. We manage properties from the extreme northwest to the southeast, north, east, west and central. If our online systems fail to serve our tenants’ or owners’ needs, a dropbox is located conveniently on the front of our building for after-hours deliveries.
How many properties do you manage?Foothills currently manages approximately 600 properties
What types of properties do you manage?Our managed properties include single family homes, townhomes and condos. Price points begin at around $750 for small condos to $5000 for larger homes. We also manage a portfolio of furnished properties which provide both winter vacation accommodations as well as corporate housing for relocation or temporary insurance accommodations for displaced families.
What is your vacancy rate?Foothills’ vacancy rate for unfurnished properties is around 3%. This can depend upon the property age, condition, time of the year and other factors. But our available unfurnished properties usually rent quickly because they are turned (made rent-ready) quickly.
Tell me about a time when you've had to deal with a disruptive tenant. What steps did you take to remedy the situation?Property Managers know that part of our job is dealing with difficult issues, and it isn’t a unique occurrence. Our approach is to listen to the Tenant, determine what the real issues are and then try to solve them. While we work for our Owners, we also know that sometimes the best resolution for our owners is to bend a little for their Tenants who pay rent. We always work with our Owners in resolving difficult situations. Foothills has the expertise and legal knowledge, but our Owners have the final say.
What percentage of your tenants move before the lease term and what percentage renew each year?
- This number varies depending upon the economy. Reasons for moving include purchasing a home, a job transfer or relocation for a job, change in financial situation, or other family changes. When this occurs, we will work with both Owner/Landlord and the Tenant to make the best of the situation. We will counsel you as to the most beneficial course to take and then carry it out to the best of our ability.
- The vast majority of tenants stays through the initial lease term, and even extend for a longer period of time. Approximately 50-60% of Tenants renew their leases every year, but our average stay is approximately 2 years; and some have been with us for a decade and longer.
What happens if a Tenant does not pay rent?Tenants who don't pay rent trigger a collection process which includes a 5-day notice, and personal contact from the Property Manager. All efforts are focused on collecting the rent before the distribution cycle to the Owner. When this does not occur, the Tenant file is referred to our collection attorney who will begin court proceedings. If Tenant does not cooperate by the court date, we will affect the eviction process. At that point, the house is immediately inspected and work ordered to return the property to the marketing cycle and re-leasing as quickly as possible.
What is your eviction rate?Our evictions are less than 2% per year, due to our strict screening process and policies and procedures regarding late rent.
How many employees are there and who will be my contact?There are currently 11 employees at Foothills Properties and your Property Manager is your main contact. However, our company is based on a departmental model, so that various parts of your management are handled by different people for efficiency’s sake. Even if your Property Manager is unavailable, someone here will know the answer or know how to get it.
May I have references?Honestly, if we gave you references, we would only give you the best ones anyway! But of those properties we manage, approximately 50% have been with us more than 10 years, some as long as 20 years. Please see what some of our Owner/Landlords think about us.
Why do you have negative reviews on social media?The biggest majority of complaints derive from unhappy tenants who felt they deserved more of their security deposit back than they received. Since we work for our Owner/Landlords, our fiduciary is to hold the Tenants to the terms of the lease. This applies to move-out condition. We commit a lot of time educating tenants about the expectations for the properties when they surrender. We try in every case to work with the tenants and to be as fair as possible, and yet, sometimes we are unable to persuade Tenants of their responsibility. We know it is very disturbing to them and it isn't fun for us, but we have little choice when the terms have been explained and agreed upon and then not met. It is one of the least pleasant of our responsibilities.
I want personal service, but Foothills Properties seems like a large company.Foothills didn’t start out as a large company; we have grown to be a large company because of our reputation and because our clients refer our services. Regardless of the number of properties under management, our employee-to-property ratio is small. We average 60 units to one employee, whereas most companies devote a minimum of 100 units to one employee. So we are actually in a better position to provide that personal service that most Landlords look for. Our slogan, “Executive Quality Rentals” refers not just to our properties but to our level of service as well.
What is the worst problem you ever encountered and how did you solve it?Well, there was the time a Tenant lit candles all over the house, accidentally started a fire and damaged 3/4 of the house; the time a Tenant's girlfriend stayed in the house while he was gone and intentionally caused severe damage to the house while exhibiting extreme psychotic behavior; or the time a Tenant died in a home unattended for 3 weeks and the attendant bio-hazard created; or the time raw sewage from a county sewer main backed up into a long ranch style home with 3 bathrooms from end to end. All of these problems demanded knowledge of Landlord Tenant Law including both Owner and Tenant rights; access to trustworthy sub-contractors able to remediate the physical damage quickly; and the tact and compassion to walk everyone through what were all extremely traumatic events. Keeping everyone within legal and practical bounds when emotions are high is a huge part of a professional property manager's responsibilities. And if you are an absentee landlord, meaning you live outside the Tucson area, these kinds of situation are impossible for you to manage without local help.
Why should I choose you?Refer to above! Then consider this: even if you could manage your properties, should you? The State of Arizona requires you have an authorized in-state agent to accept legal notices, and the cost of coming to Tucson eats away at your management fee savings. We do our job well so you can concentrate on yours.
Education & Training
What kind of education is required to be a property manager?The State of Arizona requires people who manage residential properties on behalf of others to be licensed real estate agents. All our Property Managers and our Maintenance Manager are licensed agents, some with advanced designations. And Foothills requires all its managers/agents to take property management-related renewal classes as opposed to sales-oriented classes.
Systems & Procedures
What is your management style?Our company is a hybrid: properties are placed in portfolios managed by individual Property Managers, but support functions are departmental. So Marketing and Accounting, and Admin and Maintenance are all handled by different individuals in cooperation with, and support of, the Property Managers. It allows our Property Managers to spend more time with Owners and Tenants while administrative and marketing functions are handled by others.
Who is my main contact?
- Since our company is departmentalized, it means we have employees who are assigned certain tasks. Similar to an assembly line, this creates efficiency and higher quality. We have employees whose sole responsibility is to care for our owners and properties. That’s their expertise. We have an accounting department that specializes in accounting, and so on. The end result is experts focusing on their one role and doing it better and faster than anyone else.
- This is in contrast to how many management companies handle their accounts. Most assign a sole person who is responsible for all showings, coordinating maintenance, paying bills, creating statements, screening their tenants, and many other duties. 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 kinds of reports do I get and how often?Owners are provided monthly operating account statements, showing all income, disbursements and open work orders with estimates, an annual tax packet with 1099 and statement; copies of all leases and lease extensions; management contracts; Tenant non-compliance notices and all other pertinent information on the online account set up for instant access.
Communication & Availability
What are your policies regarding communication and can I reach you after hours?
- Since the majority of Owners are out of state or country, and either work long hours or are extremely busy retirees, we have implemented a policy whereby most communication is handled by email or text. Phone calls are limited to emergency or critical issues that are best handled person to person. Several of our staff are cross-trained to assist even when the Property Managers are all out on properties, which is common in the summer, our high season for turnovers and re-renting.
- A Duty Agent is available after hours for emergency calls.
What are your office hours?
- 9-5 Monday through Friday
- Saturdays by appointment
How quickly do you return phone calls?Because our Property Managers are in and out of the office on properties and in appointments, their response time is 24 hours or 1 business day. Of course critical issues can also be handled by our Maintenance Manager, or Comptroller, or others depending on the nature of the issue. Email is the most efficient means of communication for us.
If my contact is not available who will speak with me?See above. Explain the situation and someone will take care of you.
Foothills is a large company and I prefer personal service. How can you give me that?We're guessing you don't want to just be a number to your property management company. We get that. That’s why we have invested in technology to take care of some of the routine tasks that will free up our staff to deal with you personally, one on one.
Preparing The Property For Lease - Owner Obligations – Setting The Standard
How do you get my property ready to rent?Whether a brand new property to Foothills, or a turnover caused by a tenant vacating, the same process occurs. First a thorough inspection and evaluation of the property condition, then determination of work needed to make the property competitive in the rental market with cost analysis and discussion with the Owner. Finally implementation of work needed and then quickly on to marketing the property.
Why do you say it isn’t a good idea to leave my personal property at my own home?
- There just isn’t a good way to protect your personal property nor is there a good way to prove whether the tenant damaged it or not. 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 nor do they want to be concerned that the property owner will someday come to the house without notice to check or collect their personal property.
- Then there’s what the Tenants call the “Ick” factor. Need we say more?
Do I need to provide a refrigerator or washer and dryer?The standard of practice in Tucson for mid to upper end rentals is to include refrigerators, built-in microwaves, washers and dryers. Additionally, rentals with refrigerators will rent quicker. Because of this expectation, we highly recommend your rental be equipped with appliances that are comparable in style and quality to the home. You don’t want to put a $500 bisque refrigerator in a $300,000 home with stainless appliances.
Why can’t I clean the house myself?
- Trust us; you don’t want to do that. Professional cleaning companies have the experience, tools, and products to get the job done quicker and better. Additionally, cleaning a vacant unit is just way different than cleaning an occupied and furnished home. What could take you days, or even a week to clean, can take one of our crews just a matter of hours. The sooner we have your rental property looking good and ready for a new tenant, the sooner we can get it rented. Trust us, you are money and time ahead by allowing the professionals to take care of it.
- The most important reason for using Foothills’ cleaning vendors is that they are trained by us as to rent-ready expectations, and that fact affords us a better chance of proving that our standard is the same for every move-out/move-in. Cleaning can be very subjective and one of the reasons Tenants are so unhappy when they leave.
Do I need to finish repairs before you start showing it?Foothills policy, based on years of experience, is that we do not show properties until they are showable to their best advantage. Prospective tenants cannot see past others’ leftover “stuff”. The longer a property stays on the rental market, the more it is stigmatized as having something wrong with it. You will lose every bit plus some of the money saved from do-it-yourself projects. We will discuss what is needed to make it competitive in the marketplace before finalizing our management agreement with you. The better the property looks, the better the chances of it renting out quickly and at a relatively high rent rate.
Why should I provide the pool guy?Because you want to make sure that the person doing the work is a professional and that the work is done to a certain standard. Pool equipment is very expensive. Tenants may not know how or may not have the time to care for the pool. It’s too valuable an asset to give up the maintenance to your Tenant, regardless of how nice they may be.
Should I provide landscape care?
- Foothills Properties’ lease calls for Tenants to be responsible for landscape care unless a common area, or in some subdivisions where the front is cared for by the HOA. Foothills relies on HOA’s to notify us if landscaping is lacking in addition to our own drive-by’s. Notices will go out to the tenant notifying them of their responsibility.
- The one exception is if your home has elaborate and/or high maintenance landscaping. Then we highly recommend that the property owner pay to have intermittent yard care provided by a professional, depending upon the issues. Expecting Tenants to take care of the landscaping the way you would is foolish and counterproductive. So we’ll recommend practical solutions and getting the job done.
- The reasoning behind owner-provided landscaping care is the same as our policy that the owner is responsible for tree trimming. Trees are expensive and need professional care.
Marketing – Rent Rates
How do you establish my rent rate?Pricing is a matter of the best comparable listings available through Tucson’s real estate association, other internet sites, and our own inventory and experience.
How do I know you're charging the most I can get for my property?Again, pricing a property depends upon the time of year and the condition of the property. So we will always strongly urge you to work with us in keeping your property in top condition to attract the best tenants and get the highest rent rate. The actual rate is based on the comparable listings and our years of experience and expertise in the Tucson market.
I need my rent rate to cover all my costsMuch like a sale listing, a rental listing can only obtain the amount of rent that the market will bear. Insisting on an unrealistic price will only delay getting a good tenant. The biggest financial loss to an Owner is a vacancy, and no amount of overpriced rent will make up for that lost time.
How will you market my property?Foothills takes great care to provide the most effective marketing according to best practices. The first action taken is to insure the property is in the best condition possible for optimum presentation before we even start to market it. All properties must pass a quality control test for sparkling clean condition before the following takes place:
- Professional photography
- Foothills Properties website, www.tucsonfoothills.com in our Rental Showcase
- TAR/MLS site with electronic flyers sent via email to agents
- Craig's List
- Syndicated out to dozens of other sites across the spectrum, including Zillow, Hotpads, Trulia,
- Distinctive, highly visible yard signs
- Sign riders with additional information on the property and showing availability
- MLS keysafes for convenient showings by our REALTOR colleagues
- Electronic Rental Showcase code box for viewing by prospective Tenants (credit card validation provides a 1-time showing through our Scheduling Center.
- All of the above means information and access on a 24/7 basis for optimal rental ability.
Who pays for advertising?We both do. There is a $75 per month co-op advertising fee to the owner to help pay for all the various ways that your property is advertised (only as available). For vacation and corporate rentals, there is a $300 annual fee for advertising on VRBO’s premium site for furnished properties.
Who shows my property for rent?
- Foothills Properties utilizes an electronic code box entry system which makes it possible to view our properties any time of day and on weekends, completely at the Tenant’s convenience. This is becoming the standard across the country and has proven to be an important tool in leasing properties quickly.
- We also provide MLS keysafes on our properties so that our real estate colleagues can show our properties to their clients. Of course, if the clients become Tenants, the agents receive a referral fee. We have had this policy for years and it works very well.
- On those occasions where there is a gated community or some other reason that private showings are necessary, a Foothills agent will meet the prospective Tenant at the property.
Do you offer rent concessions and incentives?
- Rent concessions are market driven. If comparable properties are offering a lower rent or move-in incentive, we will either recommend a lower rent or a move-in incentive. Why? Because a majority of the leads come from internet advertising; most internet listing sites list properties matching the tenant’s criteria by order of rent; and the first property that meets their needs at the lower rent, wins.
- We sometimes offer lease renewal incentives as well. These will also depend upon market conditions. While we always try to get the highest rent rates, it is sometimes to an Owner’s benefit not to get market rates in order to keep a good tenant, and avoid a vacancy without rent which completely obliterates any increased rent benefit. We want to encourage a good tenant to remain. It’s money in the bank.
What if I don’t want children in my home?When you put your property on the rental market, you become subject to Federal Fair Housing laws which countermand your ability to discriminate against certain classes of people. That includes age. So you really don’t have a choice in that matter. Even self-managed owners are subject to this law, although most aren’t aware. Our experience is that having children or pets or any other kinds of issues that you may think are problematic are really completely dependent upon the type of Tenant you get. Most of our Tenants take really good care of their properties. They care about how they live and it shows.
What if I don’t want pets?
- Since a huge majority of Americans have pets, you would be doing yourself a disservice not to allow pets. We strongly recommend you allow them. There is a pet rent of $20 per pet which could be used towards any pet-caused damage in addition to the standard security deposit of 1 ½ times the monthly rent rate.
- A much smaller percentage of our furnished properties allow pets and we can discuss that with you.
How soon can you get my property rented?The speed with which a property is rented depends upon several things: the time of the year; the condition of the property; the rent rate. With these in mind, your Property Manager will always have a discussion with you about how to take the best advantage of the market.
Can I find my own tenant?
- Of course you can, but Foothills Properties will require that the tenant complete an application, pay the application fee, and be submitted to our screening company. All of this screening isn’t just there to find you a quality tenant, but it is also there to reduce your risk as the property owner. With all of the identity theft and lawsuits arising from landlord/tenant relationships, thorough tenant screening is becoming more and more the norm. It is also the reason why so many landlords are hiring professional property managers to manage their rentals.
- Foothills does offer a Leasing program where we market and lease your property and turn it over to your to manage. Ask us about this service if you’re interested.
Why are there several lockboxes on my property?Foothills places a vendor lockbox on the property for the convenience of our subcontractors. Then there is an MLS keysafe for the convenience of our REALTOR® colleagues’ showings. And finally, there is an electronic code box to be used by qualified Prospective Tenants to gain a 1-time access for viewing. Voila! No delays and faster renting times.
Should I lease my property furnished? Won’t I make more money?
- Furnished properties in the Tucson market are “guaranteed” occupancy about 4 months of the year during high season, January through April. The rest of the year the “odds” are that additional rent revenue could be minimal. If you compare a normal unfurnished lease of 12 months or more with a vacancy between tenants of around 1 month, the rent revenue will exceed that of vacation rent revenues.
- There is also the issue of a vacant house being subject to undetected damage from water or other causes. An occupied home is more apt to have maintenance and damage issues reported and caught before becoming a bigger problem.
- And last, some insurance carriers will not insure damage caused to an unoccupied property. Check your carrier for more information.
My home is furnished and I plan to rent it that way. What are your thoughts?
We love furnished properties and we have a great vacation rental program as well as a corporate housing program. Let’s discuss your needs and expectations.
Am I required to make my property available to Section 8?There is nothing that requires you to make your property available for Section 8 Housing. It is a lengthy process in which your property has to qualify as well as the Tenants. Foothills Properties does not currently have any homes that are qualified for Section 8
What are your criteria for qualifying applicants and do you do it in-house?This topic is one of constant discussion, education, evaluation, re-evaluation amongst property managers nation-wide. Fair Housing laws require consistency in our evaluation systems; owner's financial stability requires both care in screening, but reasonable enough screening that nobody qualifies. Foothills screening process involves a matrix of issues which provide a more complete picture of a prospective Tenant's qualifications. Issues such as income, credit score, employment picture, and other issues all are considered. You are always contacted before a Tenant is approved.
How do you screen Tenants?When a prospective tenant is interested in leasing your home, we start a very comprehensive application process where the prospect provides information which enables us to review income, employment, credit, criminal, eviction and sexual predator history. This information is fed into a matrix which enables us to reject some, and approve others, always within the context of Fair Housing guidelines. We actually do follow up with former landlords and employers.
How much security deposit do you require?Foothills Properties Security deposit amounts are the highest the State of Arizona will allow: 1 1/2 times 1 month's rent rate. This can be lowered for a smaller property with rent rates under $850.
Do I get to keep my security deposit while the Tenant is in my property?Security deposits actually belong to the Tenant and are held in a trust account by Foothills Properties until the tenant surrenders the property and a security deposit reconciliation is provided. Arizona requires the security deposit reconciliation be generated and mailed to the Tenant by regular and certified mail within 14 "business" days of “surrender”, which is defined as submitting all applicable keys and remotes to the Foothills offices. At that time, all funds determined by Foothills to be required for tenant-caused "damage" to property will be released to the Owner's operating account to fund those repairs.
Why do you hold the security deposit?As a professional property manager, we are required to account for all funds as well as abide by all state laws regarding the holding and refunding of the tenant’s security money, as well as the notification of locations of funds held.
What kind of lease do you use?A copy of our lease contract is available here for your review. It is essential that leases cover all aspects of the rental experience for the protection of owners and their properties. We also believe providing clear expectations protect the tenants as well. Our lease is reviewed yearly and revised every few years or sooner to incorporate changes in Arizona Landlord/Tenant Act, local, State and Federal laws as well as accepted property management standards of practice.
How long a lease do you require?
- That depends on several things: how long you wish to rent the property; the time of year in order to be in sync with high season, etc. Typically, Foothills requires a 1-year lease on unfurnished properties. However, at certain times of the year, we may recommend a different term in order to facilitate getting your rental term into a more beneficial cycle for you.
- We always aim to write Leases that are to the benefit of the owner, and expiration dates during high season are always preferable. Unfurnished leases expiring in October, November, December, and January will put our Owners in a less popular time of the year and thus pose an undue burden with extended vacancy.
Do I approve the Lease?Lease terms are pre-set with the Owner’s approval, so that when a prospective Tenant meets those terms and our Leasing Guidelines, the Tenant is approved by Foothills and the Owner is furnished with a copy of the executed lease (signed by our Broker). Should a Tenant ask for terms other than originally presented, or fail to meet the Leasing Guidelines requirements, Owners will be involved in the decision process.
Do I sign the Lease?When approved, Leases are executed by signature of the Designated Broker. All executed leases are scanned and uploaded to Owners' online accounts for access 24/7.
What happens if my tenant breaches his lease and moves out early?
- The lease is a legal and binding contract. If the Tenant conveys their wish to break their lease and move out, they will be held responsible for their Lease terms under Arizona Statutes.
- We will then shift into Landlord protection mode, based on the terms of the lease.
- Tenant obligation doesn’t stop until a new tenant takes possession of the home or the lease term ends, whichever comes first.
- Tenant will be required to show the property at reasonable times.
- Tenant will be required to maintain utilities and landscape upkeep
- Tenant will be required to leave the home clean and undamaged.
- The move-out process and Security Deposit Reconciliation will be handled as a normal move-out with all financial obligations itemized on the Security Deposit Reconciliation
- The outgoing tenants will be billed for all past due rents, any advertising costs, utility costs, and any other fees or damages caused by their breach of contract.
- When property is re-leased, a final Security Deposit Reconciliation will be prepared with a final accounting of monies owed by or to Tenant.
- In the meantime, Foothills will get the property in rent condition and find a replacement tenant.
Can I get out of the Lease if I decide to sell my property?
- Because the Lease is a legal and binding contract, the same laws apply to an Owner as to the Tenant. In this case, the Tenant’s right of occupancy is superior to all others.
- Occasionally, we are able to negotiate an early move-out, but failure to honor the Lease carries penalties. We will work to effect a reasonable solution to this dilemma.
Will you handle a Lease/Purchase contract?Foothills does not recommend Lease/Purchase or Lease/Option contracts. There is actually little benefit to most owners and is discouraged by Arizona Department of Real Estate.
How do you handle leasing commissions?
- Foothills Properties has always encouraged good working relationships with our REALTOR® colleagues, and offer referral fees based on the rent rate and term of Lease.
- Every effort is made to make the property available for showing by agents, providing MLS keysafes for their convenience.
- Referral fees are factored on a sliding scale and are paid on the first of the month following Tenant’s move-in.
Managing Your Money
Do you require money be left in my account every month?The State of Arizona requires money be left in your account every month for planned or emergency repairs, therefore Foothills requires an amount of $500. This amount will always be held in the account after repairs and maintenance invoices are paid and Landlord distribution is made. All remaining funds will be returned to the Owner when the management is terminated.
How and when do I get my checks?Owner’s net proceeds are electronically deposited in the Owner’s account of choice by the 15th of every month. No paper checks are distributed, except when closing out an account.
What kind of accounting system do you use?Foothills uses a proprietary property management software program called Promas. It not only handles our Owner accounting, but provides a work order system for accurate management of Owner work and funds.
How often will I get a statement?Our Owners receive monthly operating statements posted to their online account mid-month, every month, which reflect all monies in and all monies out as well as pending work orders for the most effective overview of our Owner monies.
Will you pay my HOA Dues, insurance, mortgage and property taxes for me?Foothills can only be held liable for paying these items if there is a reserve balance available in the operating account. We can discuss with you.
Who oversees my money and how do I know it’s all there?
- Foothills Properties has instituted an extremely tight system of control over all Owner and Tenant monies held in trust accounts.
- There is a 3-way reconciliation performed monthly in-house, reviewed by our Designated Broker, and verified by our corporate CPA.
- Owner monthly statements keep Owners perpetually aware of debits and credits to their account with explanations.
Repairs & Maintenance
Who takes care of maintenance requests?Day-to-day maintenance and repair and even emergency requests are routinely handled by the Maintenance Manager. Large repair cost items are usually turned over to the Property Manager for evaluation and discussion with the Owner/Landlord before implementation.
What vendors do you use for repairs and maintenance and how to you screen them?
- Foothills Properties uses sub-contractors who are required to provide proof of requisite licensing, liability and workers comp insurance, and other credentials relative to mold or asbestos or lead-based paint work.
- Once they are set up in our system, they are monitored monthly for compliance with all the above.
- Our Maintenance Manager and our Property Managers constantly evaluate the vendors for quality work, competitive rates, and conduct when interacting with either Owners or Tenants.
- Depending upon the size of the vendors, we require a minimum of 3-4 companies in every trade in order to properly serve the number of properties under management.
Can I use my own contractors for repairs?
- Yes and No.
- Foothills’ insurance requirements are such that every vendor who provides work under our direction must be set up in our system with all licenses and insurance accounted for.
- Many owners want to use vendors who are unlicensed or who do not carry workers compensation insurance. We cannot pay those vendors through our system. And we can’t really direct them.
- So if you have great vendors, we will attempt to set them up in our system, but if the above criteria are not met, we can’t pay them through our system.
Can I do the repairs myself?
- We discourage this for a number of reasons.
- Professional property management standards hold that Owners let their management companies manage while they do something else.
- There are Fair Housing laws involved.
- There are privacy laws involved.
- There is the fact that most Tenants want their home managed by a 3rd party professional and not to have contact with the Owner/Landlord
Why don’t you have your own maintenance company? Wouldn’t it save me money?
- Foothills has a very organized and efficient program for hiring and monitoring subcontractors, many of whom have worked for us for as long as 25-30 years.
- Arizona laws would require someone at Foothills to have a contractor’s license to oversee an in-house maintenance company.
- The most important factor in our decision not to have an in-house maintenance company is that we don’t want to be in a position of strongly urging our Owners to approve work at their property if it appears that Foothills would benefit from the work. It’s just a cleaner way of doing business.
How often do you inspect my Property?
- We try to be in our properties every 6 months: Pre-move-in; mid-way through lease at a periodic systems check; pre-lease extension property check; or post-move-out inspections.
- Drive-by checks are infrequent, but may occur after a Tenant has been notified of an HOA violation.
- If Tenant behavior warrants, an inspection will be scheduled by the Property Manager at any time.
- Standard of practice considers more frequent inspections to be an unwarranted intrusion on the Tenant's privacy.
How often may I inspect my Property?
- Generally speaking, Landlord inspections should be limited to once per year. Landlord Tenant Law provides that more often could be intrusive.
- Never attempt to visit the property without accompaniment of your Manager
- Never attempt to visit the property without scheduling the visit ahead of time. 48 hours (truly a 7-day notice when mailing process included) written notice is the Statute requirement and heavy penalties can be assessed for violating this law equal to 1 month’s rent.
- Foothills will provide you with photos periodically for your sense of well being.
What kind of insurance must I carry?
- Be SURE you have a Landlord policy on your property, not a homeowner policy. Not changing your regular homeowners’ insurance to this kind of policy can create terrible consequences for you.
- If you are providing a furnished property for rent, please understand that the probability of it being vacant for several months at a time is high. Check with your carrier to confirm their restrictions on this. If they don’t cover your property after being vacant for a certain period of time, you need to change carriers or buy some kind of rider.
Doesn’t my Tenants carry insurance to take care of everything?
- Foothills Properties strongly advises and educates Tenants about the merits of carrying Renters insurance.
- But we are not able to require it, and if we did, there is no way of monitoring that it is still in place.
- Further, Renters insurance covers Tenant possessions and liability for injury. It will not cover damage to your property, unless it can be proven that the damage was Tenant-caused. In that case, your provider will take care of the damage and subrogate your Tenant’s coverage.
- If that Tenant doesn’t have coverage, you must look to your own insurance policy.
How is Rent Collected?
- Rent is due on or before the 1st of every month and there is a 3-day grace period, after which an automatic late fee is assessed and Tenants may not pay their rent without including that late fee.
- We encourage Tenants to set up auto-pay accounts with their banks, or they can use an automated system set up on our website. We also provide a secure drop box on the front of our building for Tenants’ use.
When do I get my checks?Foothills Properties does not provide paper checks, but rather direct deposits your funds into the bank account of your choice. This deposit takes place on or before the 15th of every month and represents all funds in the account after the retained balance or other monies for approved repairs have been withheld.
Why do I not get paid until middle of the month?
- Foothills exerts much of its energy the first week of each month on rent collection.
- Adhering to trust accounting requirements, we must allow a let rent checks a period of time before dispersing funds to the owner, to allow checks to clear their banks.
- Checks which are returned as non-sufficient from a Tenant’s bank create a debit to our Trust account. Our accounts must reconcile. Thus we provide an adequate amount of time to correct entries resulting from these occurrences.
Late Rent – Late Fees – Evictions – Collections
What happens when my Tenant doesn’t pay rent?Tenants have a 3-day window of waiver before late fees are incurred. After the 3-day window, the Eviction process is begun at once. That process starts with a 5-day notice being sent to the Tenant along with a phone call from the Property Manager. We try to work with Tenants to insure that they know their rights and obligations, and our procedures. In the majority of cases we are able to collect the rent before the Owner distributions are made, thus avoiding costly court proceedings and eviction.
How much are the late fees?Late fees are 20% of the rent and due on the 4th day of the month after failure to pay.
Who gets the late fees?
- Foothills pulls out all the stops to insure that our Landlords get rent proceeds distributions every month, so we retain the late fees if we collect the rent before that distribution.
- If we are unable to collect the rent prior to Owner distribution date, than the late fees are split evenly between Foothills and Owner.
How many evictions do you have each month?Our evictions are less than 2% per year, due to our strict screening process and policies and procedures.
Lease Expiration Process – Renewal Or Move-Out?
How will I know a tenant is going to move out?The move-out process actually starts approximately 90 days prior to the lease expiration. You will receive written notice of the expiration along with request for instructions. Then you will have a phone call or email exchange with your Property Manager, who will provide you with comparable rent rates, and provide recommendations based on the market and time of the year. Your PM will then instruct Admin to send out a lease expiration reminder to the Tenant with options based on your conversation. The Property Manager will work to affect either a mutually acceptable renewal, or a smooth move-out which begins the turnover and re-marketing and renting process
What happens when the tenant moves out and how soon will you re-rent my property?
- The move-out process actually begins approximately 90 days earlier, when Property Managers are provided with a Lease Expiration Report. A series of conversations occurs with you and the Tenant to determine whether the tenant will stay.
- If the Tenant is planning to move, the Property Manager pre-schedules all the basic vendors immediately following the move-out inspection, in order to quickly provide property condition and estimated costs. The Manager then works to get work approved as appropriate and complete the turnover quickly and avoid delays in time on market, the largest revenue loss of any owner. Because our experience shows prospective tenants cannot see past another tenant's "mess" Foothills will not advertise or show the house it is deemed showable. Although this can be frustrating to owners, it is strategic in nature and will help avoid a property becoming old and stale by not being advertised before it's ready.
- Foothills Properties conducts a thorough move out inspection with the tenant. We compare move-in to move-out inspections and photos. Proof of any damages and the collection of funds are rarely challenged due to our impeccable documentation.
What do you do if the tenants ruin my property?
- Because Foothills Properties tenant screening is so thorough, tenant damages are limited. However, even with the strictest of criteria, things happen.
- Regardless of the damages, the same process kicks into play.
- We quickly evaluate the property documenting damage with a thorough report and photos.
- Depending upon the type of damage, vendors are brought in to provide estimates.
- This may be a time when we advocate making some long-needed changes to the property, and if so, we will quickly provide those estimates with our recommendations.
- The house will be repaired and made rent-ready with all speed.
- The most important thing is to re-lease the property quickly, since your biggest financial enemy is lost rent.
- So we take care of the property first and get it re-leased.
- Then we turn to preparing the Security Deposit Reconciliation and present it to the Tenant with a demand for payment of Tenant-caused damage over the amount of the Security Deposit itself.
- We will work to get the Tenant to pay in full or in payments if necessary.
- If the Tenant doesn’t cooperate, then we will move to get a judgment and file to collect.
- Fortunately, this scenario is not common amongst our properties.
Do you sell real estate too?
- Foothills Properties is a full service real estate company which provides listing and buyer services along with property management.
- When ready to sell, most of our Owners rely on Foothills to list and market their properties for sale, providing refurbishing services when needed.
- We regularly assist Investors or their Agents in purchasing properties in the Tucson market.
Do you charge a set up fee?
- Foothills Properties doesn’t just add your property to our list of properties managed. We devote about 15-20 hours into the setup of your property.
- We could list about 100 things we do during the set up, but let’s just list some of the major things that actually create value and can save the property owner money: A comparative market evaluation is prepared for discussion with Owner; an interior and exterior inspection of the property with written report and photos is performed; Estimates for needed repairs/maintenance/upgrades are ordered; the property is entered into our system and set up on various platforms in our software and database; Discussions with the Owner will confirm a plan of action to make the property rent-ready; work is ordered and quality control checks implemented; Landlord Service Agreements with all the utility companies are set up; professional interior and exterior photos are ordered and edited and uploaded to all websites along with copy and detailed information.
- We’re ready to go. That is all covered in the set-up fee of $250.
How much is your management fee?
- Our management fee for unfurnished properties is 10% of the collected rent.
- We do not charge a vacancy fee (Exceptions to this occur when an owner delays providing the money or fails to approve work needed to effectively market and rent the property. Owners will be notified and given the opportunity to move forward or pull the property from management).
- Furnished vacation or corporate rental fees are 20% of the collected rent, and the rent rates vary depending upon the time of year.
- Our co-op marketing fee is $75 per month for unfurnished properties while the property is being advertised.
- We do charge an administrative fee of $100 every July. That helps to cover the additional unpaid government-mandated work of continually overseeing vendor licensing & insurance, Tax Assessor's reporting requirements, asbestos and lead oversight, etc.
I want to make changes to your management agreement.
- Foothills Properties’ management agreement has been designed to closely follow Arizona Landlord Tenant Act, conforms with contents the Arizona Association of REALTORS® management contract. and has been approved by our real estate attorneys.
- It is reviewed periodically and revised as needed to incorporate the latest Federal, State and local laws and standards of practice.
- We do not allow changes to our management agreement because consistency in our policies and procedures is critical to our effective management.
Can I get out of the management agreement?Our management agreement is cancellable at any time with a 30-day notice. Of course, we would want to discuss the reasons and resolve any issues that may have been caused by Foothills.
Why shouldn’t I manage the property myself?Being a Landlord has changed dramatically in recent years. There are so many ways that you can misstep which will cost you money or worse. Do you know what your risk is?
- Tenant Screening: New credit reporting laws prohibit just anyone from having access to these resources without the cost being prohibitive. If you do have access, do you know what you’re allowed to ask, what you can deny tenancy for, what your obligations are regarding sensitive personal information and how to safeguard it? Do you know what the penalties are for not safeguard that information?
- Fair Housing laws: The Fair Housing Act is monitored by Housing the Urban Development, or HUD. They employ advocates to go out to test Landlords to insure compliance with the law. Do you know the 7 protected classes? Do you know the difference between a pet and an assistance or support animal? Do you know how much you can charge for an assistance or support animal? Additionally, you cannot charge any additional fees or collect extra deposits. Fair Housing Advocate seeks out $30,000 in damages per complaint. Not only does Foothills constantly train our staff about Fair Housing, but also our vendors.
- Choosing vendors: Do you know the laws governing lead based paint, or asbestos or mold? Do you know which vendors can deal with these and what the restrictions are on the size of an opening they can make?
- Foothills Properties requires hundreds of hours per year in education and training on these and other issues relative to protecting your interests. Do you have that time to commit?
Can you guarantee my Tenant will pay rent?While we wish we could, it isn't practical. We have put stringent screening practices in place, as well as policies and procedures during the occupancy period to encourage Tenants not to just ive up and stop paying rent. It hurts them and it hurts you. We will work with Tenants to help them through a bad financial period, or work to get them out of their lease so that we can re-rent to a more viable Tenant. Of course, this is done with your input and approval. Each case is handled according to its individual situation.
How are you different from other companies?
- Sometimes the differences are subtle and sometimes they're obvious. We have a deep commitment to systems and procedures, technology and training. But all of those are meant to be a support system so that our primary job of protecting owners, and providing superior housing to Tenants has the fullest attention of our staff.
- Our Property Managers are required to take their real estate renewal hours in property management classes rather than just sales classes as is often the norm, and to pursue higher certification and designations. Our company principals travel to national conferences at least twice per year and are fully involved in local, state and national professional associations. Our bottom line is a commitment to best practices of property management while providing exquisite service.
How much money do you require to begin managing my property?
- Initial costs are approximately $850. This includes State-mandated owner retained balance of $500, and the set-up fee of $250 for all of the costs explained earlier, plus the annual administrative fee of $100 pro-rated.
- Furnished properties are an additional $300 for a 1-year ad in vrbo, the Internet’s acknowledged leader in vacation marketing.
I don't know how to make this decision.If you have reviewed our Management Services, our Standard of Practice, and our Fee Structure, let's talk...
How soon can you start managing my property?The process of taking in a new property takes about a week. That includes assigning a Property Manager, performing an inspection and inventory of property assets, and confirmation of Owners’ property disclosure items, and providing estimates for work required or recommended, setting the property up on all Foothills systems, opening the owners’ operating account, submitting the property to all Foothills marketing sites as detailed above.