In this week’s episode, Podcast Host, Property Manager & Business Owner, Andrew Schultz, chats about the latest rental property scam where fake rental hosts give a tour to a prospective tenant and then rob them soon after.
Should you have sympathy for a tenant? It’s possible. Find out when you should give your tenants a break.
Last, but not least, we’ll go over the top LVP flooring to put into your rental properties.
Andrew Schultz: (00:00)
Hey everyone. Welcome back to another episode of the Rent Prep for Landlord’s podcast. This is episode number 404, and I’m your host, Andrew Schultz. On today’s episode, we’re gonna be talking about fake rental tour scams, sympathy for late-paying tenants, and the best LVP flooring options on the market. We’ll get to all that right after this.
Voice Over: (00:24)
Welcome to the Rent Prep for Landlord’s podcast. Now your host, Andrew Schultz.
Andrew Schultz: (00:29)
Before we jump into today’s episode, have you had the chance to join our free Rent Prep for Landlord’s Facebook group? Our group members get access to our Sherwin Williams and PPG paid discount programs. Can ask questions in our monthly. Ask me Anything sessions and if you have a question or a situation that you’ve never encountered before or just need to bounce an idea off a group of over 13,000 housing providers, this is the place. If you haven’t checked it out yet, do it today over at facebook.com/groups/rentprep. Don’t forget to mention the podcast when answering the questions so we know how you found us. We’re gonna go ahead and start things off this week with an in-the-new segment. This one comes to us via Channel Nine WCPO in Cincinnati. Title of the article is Rental Scams Worsen as Fake Landlords Offer Home Tours, and this one was written by John Matrice. Let’s go ahead and jump right in here.
Andrew Schultz: (01:20)
Spring is peak rental season when millions of Americans look for new places to live but with rents high and rental homes hard to find. Scammers are lurking everywhere and the rental scam is getting even more sophisticated. Victoria Wells found the perfect home for rent on Facebook marketplace on a quiet Covington, Kentucky Street. It was perfect, the most beautiful one I’d seen in a long time. She said, of the $1,200 a month home, the landlord gave wells and her roommate the code to an orange lockbox on the door so they could get inside. They walked through the home and immediately messaged the landlord that they wanted to take it. We loved it. She said, so they sent a $400 deposit through a money app. We went ahead and cash-upped him to hold it, she said, but it was the last they heard from the landlord. It turns out he wasn’t really with the rental company at all, but instead was just a scammer.
Andrew Schultz: (02:06)
Earlier this year, Brandon Smith and Shelby Moore found the perfect rental home for a thousand dollars a month. It was a dream come true for us. The Hamilton, Ohio Couple said they even shot videos of their first walkthrough inside with their two children after getting the code to the front door from the landlord. We were all excited about it, ready to move in and everything Smith said, but as they were moving in, they say a man stopped to inform them that it wasn’t their house. Even though they had signed a contract online and got the front door code as well as Venmo a thousand dollars deposit, they too had fallen for a rental scam. It sounded realistic at the time because we were just so excited about it. Smith said this is happening more and more these days because the scam keeps getting more and more sophisticated.
Andrew Schultz: (02:48)
Scammers find a home for sale or rent and copy all the photos, and this is the newest spin. They pretend to be potential buyers to get the front door code from the real estate agent who doesn’t realize that he’s giving the code to an out-of-state scammer. He then pretends to be the landlord and gives the door code to perspective victims. So don’t let this happen to you. The FTC says, be suspicious of rental listings if one, the landlord wants a deposit before you’ve met in person two, the landlord is out of town and has no time to meet you. Three, you can’t go inside the home. Four, you simply go inside the empty home only with a door code the the landlord gives you via text. Message five, the landlord asks for a deposit via Venmo, Zelle cash app or gift cards, which are all untraceable or six, the price is much lower than similar homes or apartments.
Andrew Schultz: (03:35)
Victoria Well’s Dream Home now has a note taped at the door warning others saying, if you found this listing on social media, you are probably being scanned, but unfortunately it’s too late for her. We’re out money and that’s a lot of money to be out on a fixed income. She says, we called and texted her landlord, but no one returned our messages. Brandon Smith and Shelby Moore in the meantime have set up a GoFundMe page to try to rebuild their funds. In the end, if the price seems very low and you can’t meet the landlord in person, it may be a scam, so don’t waste your money. And again, this one comes to us via W C P O out of Cincinnati, Ohio.
Andrew Schultz: (04:16)
The article says it best Rental scams are getting more and more sophisticated as time goes on. I think that this is a problem that’s relatively easy to try to avoid, but I also think that this is a problem that isn’t going to go away anytime soon. As we’re relying on more and more technology in the investment real estate and property management fields, there are a couple of steps that we can take from a property management perspective to try to prevent scammers from having the opportunity to scam a potential tenant. First, whenever we go out to do marketing photos on a vacant apartment, we also put up bright orange signs inside the house to indicate that we’re the only ones who should be showing or leasing the property to potential tenants. I typically put a sign up in the kitchen above the sink, in the bathroom, in the shower, and in the front window of the unit facing the street.
Andrew Schultz: (04:59)
So if somebody sees the bright orange sign, more than likely they’re going to have an opportunity to contact us before they wind up getting scammed out of some of their money. We always put up multiple signs so that if somehow a scammer was to gain access, hopefully they miss one of ’em, and by sign I mean a bright orange piece of paper so that it’s attention-grabbing. I’m not saying that you need to go out and spend big money on this. Just grab some printer paper and go that route. Our sign says word for word. If you are not viewing or leasing this apartment directly with Own Buffalo, you are being scammed. Do not hand over any money or sign any lease unless it’s with a representative from Own Buffalo. If you suspect you’re being scammed, please call the police followed by calling Own Buffalo at, and then it lists our office number and that’s the whole sign.
Andrew Schultz: (05:44)
We just put it in big letters right in the front window and then hopefully people see it and we have had some people that have seen the signs over the course of the years, so they do work. The next thing that I wanted to mention is that it’s important to watermark your photos before you use them in an ad, and I think that they mentioned this in the article, but essentially you wanna put your name, your company’s name, the property address, a phone number, something across the middle of the photo such that it cannot be cropped out or edited out of the photo easily. Basically what you’re trying to do is prevent someone from stealing your images and using them on their ad. You can do this with pretty much any photo editing software out there. Anything that you might be accustomed to using or you could literally do it from your smartphone using an app like Canva or any of the other photo editing apps that are out there.
Andrew Schultz: (06:30)
We typically put our company name on our images right across the center of the image so that somebody can’t steal them and use those images in their ads. Moving on, and I think this one goes more or less without saying, but be sure to check your vacant rental properties on a regular basis. Even the ones that aren’t listed for rent, it’s very, very easy for someone to find out that an apartment is gone vacant when they live in the neighborhood or when they see someone as moving out or just recognize the fact that there’s no one coming and going from an apartment or a home anymore, and eventually that’s going to make it a target for either squatters thieves or scammers. Some people will go so far as to install security systems or cameras or lights on timers or whatever, but honestly, just making sure that you pop in on a regular basis to ensure that the property remains secure goes a long way.
Andrew Schultz: (07:16)
Keep in mind if you do wind up getting scammed and someone winds up moving into your unit, chances are that you’re going to have to go through the full eviction process to remove that person from your apartment. More often than not, it doesn’t matter if the person was scammed. Once they have physical possession of the unit, you are the one left to deal with the consequences, and more often than not, that’s gonna require a full eviction based off the eviction laws in your state. So something like this, preventing something like this from happening should certainly be a top priority. Obviously, there’s always going to be scammers and there are always going to be people that get taken advantage of by those scammers, but there’s just a few things that you can do to try to prevent it from happening to you and your perspective. Tenants hope this information helps
Voice Over: (08:03)
Forum quorum where we scour the internet for ridiculous posts from landlords and tenants.
Andrew Schultz: (08:11)
We’re gonna keep trucking right along here into our forum quorum segment. This one comes to us via the Rent Prep for Landlord’s Facebook group. Let’s go ahead and take a look here. Tenant says that she was mugged and had her car stolen. She says that the rent will be late and just asked for us to be patient while she gets everything straightened out. I’m glad that she’s communicating with us. She’s been a good tenant so far. How do you all handle something like this and do you waive the late fees? And again, this comes to us via the Rent Prep for Landlord’s Facebook group. I think the best way for me to answer this question is to explain how we handle our delinquent tenants and what our delinquency and eviction process looks like. Keep in mind that all of this is coming from my perspective as a property manager here in New York and the laws in your state are probably different than the laws here.
Andrew Schultz: (08:54)
So you’re gonna wanna do some research to see what this process would look like in your state. So in New York, our laws currently stipulate that the tenant has five days after the rent is due to pay the rent without any sort of late fee or penalty. So if the rent is due on the first late fees can be applied on the sixth of the month at midnight. In addition, we have to issue both a five and 14-day notice to the tenant when rent is passed due before we can begin filing for an eviction. So we’re almost 20 days into a tenant being delinquent before we can even start to think about actually filing for an eviction docket. We built our procedure out as a result of what the law requires us to do, and you’re gonna wanna do the same thing for whatever the law is in your area.
Andrew Schultz: (09:34)
So if a tenant contacts me and lets me know that they’re going to be late for whatever reason, the first thing I do is take a look at their tenant ledger to see if they’ve been late in the past 12 months. We offer every tenant a free late fee waiver, free late fee waiver tell you that 10 times fast once every 12 months of on-time payments. So things happen and it happens to all of us, whether we own a property or we’re renting a property. So offering someone a one-time courtesy on their late fee is something that we’ve established as an internal policy. Once that late fee waiver’s been used, they have to have 12 on-time rent payments in a row before they get another late fee waiver. So if they wind up being late the very next month, they’re paying that late fee and any other late fees going forward until they’re able to reestablish that positive payment history with our office.
Andrew Schultz: (10:20)
When the tenant lets us know that they’re going to be late, we typically try to find out when that payment’s going to be made and how much they’re going to be able to pay if they need to set up a split payment or something along those lines. All of that discussion is happening while we’re communicating about the rent being late. It’s always good to find out when and how much someone is going to be able to pay because it gives you an idea of what to expect going forward. We used to actually have our tenants sign off on a payment arrangement, but we’ve kind of gotten away from doing that, and I’ll explain why in just a moment, but I wanna talk briefly about what we consider an addictable balance. For our purposes in our office. We won’t move to evict someone until they owe at least one full month of rent.
Andrew Schultz: (11:00)
This is something that again, you’re gonna have to figure out for yourself, but we know that based on what it costs us to have a tenant properly served, notice what the court costs are, how much it costs to have an attorney appear on our behalf, and all of the other associated costs that go into that eviction. We also have to take into account lost rent and additional damages that may take place during this entire process as obviously, it’s gonna take a period of time to complete the eviction process. So based on the length of time that it takes as well as the costs associated with an eviction, we don’t start that eviction process until we have one full month of rent past due. That doesn’t mean that we don’t issue out late rent notices and attempt to collect the rent. It just means that we’re not going to push it to our attorney until we’re at least at that one-month point.
Andrew Schultz: (11:44)
Going back to why we don’t have tenants sign off on payment plans, this is something that again, we made a policy change on when New York State changed how much and when we can charge our late fees. So when someone calls us and tells us that they’re going to be late, we explain our policy to them. They know that they’re still going to get their five and 14-day notices. We also explain to them that we’re taking notes on when and how much they’re going to be able to pay, but if they don’t adhere to that payment plan, we’re going to be in line to act on it sooner rather than later. So essentially the tenants communicated with us that they’re going to be late and we’ve communicated with them what our process and procedure is in the event that they don’t pay rent. That essentially puts everybody on the same page and now it’s up to the tenant to adhere to the payment plan that was discussed.
Andrew Schultz: (12:27)
If they end up not adhering to the payment plan, we move forward with the eviction process once they get to that one month of delinquency point. This prevents us from having larger outstanding balances than we need to, and also reinforces the point with the tenants that we do expect rent payments to come in in a timely fashion and when they are due. So there you have it, a little peek behind the curtain here at Own Buffalo on how we manage delinquencies and evictions for our property management clients. Hopefully, this information is good primer for you. You’re gonna have to do a little research on what the laws are in your state as well, but this is a pretty good primer on how we handle our late fees, our evictions, and our delinquencies, hope it helps,
Voice Over: (13:04)
Water cooler wisdom, expert advice from Real Estate pros.
Andrew Schultz: (13:13)
Our last segment this week will be a water cooler wisdom segment. This one also comes to us via the Rent Prep for Landlords Facebook group. Let’s go ahead and jump right in here. What L V P flooring do you guys use? What is held up well for you? What is the cheapest you’ve gone and not regretted it, interested in hearing about it all? I’m looking to walk the tightrope of quality and affordability, but it’s hard to figure that out unless you have firsthand experience with the material. I appreciate any advice that you can offer. Again, this one comes to us via the Rent Prep for Landlord’s Facebook group. So over the course of the years that I’ve been working in property management, we’ve done a lot of different apartment turnovers and a lot of different renovation projects. So we’re always looking at new and different building materials to see what works the best in any given scenario.
Andrew Schultz: (13:57)
We’ve done a lot of vinyl plank flooring installs over the years, so I can give you a little bit of insight based on what we’ve seen here at Own Buffalo. So when you’re talking about installing new flooring, you have to think about the area that it’s going to be installed in and how much traffic that area is going to see. So for instance, a kitchen, a bathroom, or an entryway, it’s probably gonna see a lot more traffic than a bedroom, and there’s probably also a higher chance for moisture to wind up on the floor in the kitchen or in the bathroom than in other rooms. So choosing a floor that’s moisture resistant for those areas is going to go a long way in making sure that the floor actually lasts over the course of time. I walked through foreclosure the other day that had carpet in the kitchen.
Andrew Schultz: (14:38)
This was an older home and the building had a lot of other issues and obviously, it needed a ton of updates, but I was legitimately surprised that someone had actually willingly chosen carpet for their kitchen. I don’t know if this was just a Western New York thing or if this is more commonplace in the past, but I was just shocked to see that flooring choice in that room. I’ve also seen bathrooms with carpet. Again, not the design choice that I would make, probably not the design choice that anyone is making in 2023 at least. That would be a pretty safe assumption on my part. I think the other thing that I wanted to mention is that we’ve pretty much stopped using laminate flooring anywhere. We used to install quite a bit of laminate, but we discovered that it simply does not hold up to any sort of wet conditions at all.
Andrew Schultz: (15:20)
Even someone walking across it with wet shoes will cause damage over time. And when you live in a climate like Western New York where you’re tracking snow in for six months out of the year, obviously that snow is going to melt on your flooring and once it melts, it’s going to get down in between those laminate planks and cause it to balloon up like a sponge. If you’ve ever seen a laminate floor where the top layer or the wear layer has worn through and you can see the actual flooring material underneath, a lot of times that’s due to the flooring essentially failing after it gets wet or it gets scratched a little bit too deeply or whatever the case may be. Essentially, laminate flooring really does not hold up well and I would never consider it to be a waterproof or even water-resistant flooring despite what any of the packaging may say.
Andrew Schultz: (16:03)
So if you’re in a situation where you’re considering laminate, spend the extra few bucks on vinyl plank instead because the end result is going to be way better and last way longer. Switching gears to vinyl plank, we’ve had very, very good luck with just the off-the-shelf options available at both Home Depot and Lowe’s. We do have some local flooring companies that we go to from time to time, but realistically speaking, we can find pretty much whatever we’re looking for in vinyl plank at one of the big box stores at Home Depot, our preferred brand is Traffic Master. It typically runs 1 75 to 2 25 a square foot, and I most typically see it right around a dollar 99 a square foot unless it’s on sale or something like that. This certainly isn’t the most expensive stuff on the shelf. I would actually go ahead and call it a quote-unquote entry level vinyl plank if that makes sense.
Andrew Schultz: (16:49)
But I do like that it has coordinating trim and moldings, stair nose transitions, all of that stuff so you can create a very consistent look from one end of the house to the other if that’s what you’re attempting to do. Also, like that the Traffic master is a floating floor. There’s no glue involved in the installation, the traffic master’s click lock type product as opposed to the style that has like an adhesive strip around the edge or something that you would have to glue down. It’s very, very easy to cut this flooring to whatever size or shape you need while installing it, and you really don’t need any special tools to install it beyond a straight edge and a sharp knife. It’s very approachable. From a DIY landlord perspective, as long as you have a clean level stable, rigid underlayment, you can lay this flooring on pretty much anything.
Andrew Schultz: (17:34)
It could be installed over top of wood concrete, or even over an existing flooring product if that’s something that’s permitted by code in your area. Obviously, if you have like a 12 by 12 stick-down tile, you should have no problem going over top of that With this. I also like that this flooring typically has some padding attached to the underside of it, which helped reduce the amount of noise as you’re walking around on it. Obviously, vinyl flank is going to make more noise than a carpet would, but you can run additional foam underlayment for noise and for a moisture barrier underneath of it. There are different types of foam underlay for different flooring styles, so make sure that you get one that’s specifically for vinyl plank and not something geared towards laminate or hardwood or bamboo or whatever the case may be. If you’re installing this product in a second-floor apartment, keep in mind that there will be noise transfer from one floor to the next and you may wanna consider that additional under lama to help reduce noise and in turn reduce noise complaints between different apartments when you’re going through and doing these installs.
Andrew Schultz: (18:31)
The durability of this particular vinyl plank has been very, very good. We’ve installed this in probably over a hundred apartments at this point over the course of the years with very few durability issues. We’ve also obviously seen this stuff installed all over the place in probably hundreds if not thousands, more residential and commercial applications, and more often than not, when we see a durability issue in vinyl planking, it’s typically due to either a bad installation or a bad underlayment. If the product isn’t installed right, you don’t get the moisture resistance that you’re looking for because there’s going to be room for moisture to find its way down into the flooring, and if you’re installing it on a bad underlayment, you’re never going to be able to get the flooring to perform the way that you want it to. So ensuring that you have good level solid flooring underneath is going to make your finished product perform that much better.
Andrew Schultz: (19:18)
Outside of durability and moisture resistance, we should probably mention that vinyl plank flooring also cleans up easily and is typically pretty stain resistant as well. If somebody sets a hot iron on it, obviously it’s going to ruin that piece of flooring, but if someone spills a glass of wine on it, they should be able to mop that up without causing any real damage to the floor. So that’s definitely something to keep in mind from a longevity and turnover standpoint. Once this floor is in this floor, should last you much longer than a carpet or a laminate, but it’s probably not going to last you as long as a true ceramic or a porcelain tile would. So that’s our experience on vinyl plank flooring spread out across hundreds of units in installs over the course of time. There are a lot of different vinyl products out there, and I would expect that all of them are going to perform in a pretty similar fashion, so I think it’s probably going to boil down to finding the flooring that works best for your style and your budget.
Andrew Schultz: (20:09)
Hope this helps you out. Good luck with your flooring install. How do you look up a Potential renter’s prior evictions? Our recent guide will go over how to search for evictions on your own to prevent disastrous rental scenarios. Check it out today over rentprep.com/blog. That pretty much wraps up this episode of the Rent Prep for Landlord’s podcast. Thank you all so much for listening. We truly do appreciate it, and our goal with the podcast is to help as many people as possible to make educated decisions when it comes to real estate, and you can help us to reach our goal. If you heard anything in this week’s episode or any of our other episodes that will help someone you know, do us a favor and share it with them. If you’re looking to get in contact with me, I can be reached over at whatsdrewupto.com.
Andrew Schultz: (20:54)
From there, you’ll find links to everything going on with me over at Own Buffalo, as well as some of the other projects that we’re working on. Grab a copy of our free deal analysis tool today over at whatsdrewupto.com. There’s no obligation and it comes with a companion video showing you how to use it. If you’re looking for top-tier tenant screening services, head on over to rentprep.com. There are multiple products to choose from, including tenant-paid options, and if you’re over 50 doors, ask about the enterprise-level programs and pricing. I’ve been an enterprise user of Rent Prep for over a decade now, and it’s absolutely changed the way that we screen our tenants. Check that out today over at rentprep.com. Again, thank you all so much for listening. We’ll be back in two weeks with an all-new episode that you won’t wanna miss. Until then, I’m Andrew Schultz with ownbuffalo.com for rentprep.com, and we’ll talk to you soon.
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