Common Pitfalls Sonoma County Landlords Should Avoid At All Costs! - Article Banner

We don’t want to be alarmists, but if you’re managing your own Sonoma County rental property…you probably shouldn’t be. 

Things are a lot more complicated now than they were even five years ago. The laws have changed, tenants have become smarter, and there are new potential problems showing up every day in the rental industry. 

Even if you have the time, and even if you’ve done this before – mistakes are easy to make. 

And here’s the bad news – those mistakes, unfortunately, are often expensive.

Healdsburg Property Management manages single-family homes, duplexes, four-plexes and multi-unit properties of up to seven units throughout Sonoma County’s Wine Country, including Healdsburg, Windsor, Northern Santa Rosa, Cloverdale and Forestville.

We know the challenges facing landlords in our area. Let’s talk about some of the most common pitfalls that landlords have to face when renting out a home. We’ll also tell you how to avoid them.

The Pricing PitfallPricing Rental Home

Overpricing a rental home is a shockingly common pitfall. We get it – you want to earn as much rent as possible every month. But you could be losing money on longer vacancy periods, if you’re trying to get a rent that’s higher than what the market will demand. Those extra days, weeks, or months of vacancy will be far more expensive than a rental rate that’s $100 lower per month than what you really want. 

The market drives your rental value. It doesn’t matter how much your mortgage and expenses are. It doesn’t matter how much cash flow you want to earn. Price your property accurately and competitively, otherwise you’ll lose money. We have some great data that may help.

Tenant Screening and Selection Pitfalls

We love good tenants!

Good tenants pay rent on time. They take care of the home they’re living in. They’re easy to talk to and they don’t get fussy when we follow up on things like rent, renewals, and responsibilities. 

You need to place good tenants. Don’t rush through the screening process and don’t trust your gut. Instead, trust your screening criteria (which should be documented and available to every applicant), and trust the data you collect on income, credit, and rental history. 

And, please. Please, please treat every application exactly the same. You don’t want to invite a fair housing complaint when you reject one application but accept another, and it’s completely unclear why.

Laws and regulations seem to be a bit of a moving target. If you’re in any doubt about your ability to screen lawfully and rigorously, let us help you. We have an effective and efficient process in place. 

Sonoma County Rental Property Maintenance

There are so many potential pitfalls when it comes to maintenance, we had to make a list. 

Here it is:

  • Always use licensed and insured vendors.
  • Avoid deferred and unreported maintenance. 
  • Follow a preventative maintenance plan.
  • Respond immediately to all tenant maintenance requests, even if they’re minor.
  • Put together a preferred list of vendors who will respond when you need them and offer discounted pricing for your loyalty.
  • Keep a maintenance reserve or budget well so you’re not stuck wondering how you’ll pay for something. 
  • Make sure tenants have your emergency contact information for that water heater that’s bound to start leaking over a holiday weekend.

Maintenance is huge. Proper maintenance protects the condition of your investment and increases tenant retention. This is not where you want to make a mistake. Leverage the resources of our vendor relationships and preventative maintenance plans. 

Legal Missteps in Sonoma County Rental Management

Fair Housing LawsYou need to know the local, state, and federal laws, and you need to know them well. 

Fair housing laws are especially important, and California’s regulations are stricter than the federal Fair Housing Act. If you don’t have a consistent screening process or you try to charge a pet fee when a tenant moves in with a service animal, you’re going to find yourself in trouble. 

You need to know the security deposit laws, eviction laws, rent control protections, and why you cannot reject applications from tenants who have Section 8 benefits. 

Penalties for legal mistakes will cost you thousands of dollars. These pitfalls are easy to fall into, and difficult to climb out of. We know the laws and we can keep you compliant. 

Many of us have the do-it-yourself spirit. But, when it comes to managing your own rental properties, turning to successful Sonoma County property managers is always better than trying to avoid all these potential pitfalls. Talk to us about how we can help. Contact our team at Healdsburg Property Management.