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How to Create a Strong Lease Agreement | Orlando Property Management Education
Rob Russell
Lease Agreement

How to Create a Strong Lease AgreementIf you’re not sure how to write a lease, consider working with an Orlando property management company so you can be sure to protect yourself and your home when you rent out a property. Lease agreements need to be comprehensive, legally binding, and customized to your investment property. It’s also important that your tenant understands all the terms of your rental agreement.

Avoid Generic Leases

There’s a lot of information available online, but you don’t want to download a generic lease from the Internet. You also don’t want to buy a standard lease from a store like Staples or Office Depot. These leases will not include everything you need, and they won’t necessarily be legally binding in the state of Florida. You need a specific lease that addresses your property and the tenants who live in it. Use a rental agreement that is drafted by an attorney or an expert in property management Orlando.

Include Details and Instructions

All lease agreements need to include identifying information such as the name of the tenant, a list of all occupants, and the location of the property. You also need to make sure the tenant has clear instructions for things such as how to pay rent, who is responsible for utilities and services such as lawn care, and what to do when maintenance is needed. You’ll need to include your process for requesting entry into the property for inspections and a statement of consequences if rent is late or the tenant is found to be violating any terms of the lease. An important part of your rental agreement is the move out instructions. Most tenants want to get their full security deposit back after moving out, and your lease can tell them what they need to do to avoid deductions.

Lease Agreements Resolve Conflicts

Any conflict or disagreement that arises between you and your tenants can often by answered by your lease. If rent is late or the air filters need to be changed or a tenant needs to leave the property before the end of the lease term, your rental agreement will tell you how to proceed. It’s the first place you and your tenants should look if there’s a question or a problem.

Review the lease in detail with your tenant before the move in process. Make sure you explain the requirements in the rental agreement and answer any questions. If you have any questions about lease agreements or property management in Orlando, please contact us at R. Russell Properties.

Standard Fees for Orlando Property Management: Cost vs. Benefits
Rob Russell
Property Management Fees

Standard Fees for Orlando Property Management: Cost vs. Benefits We get a lot of questions about the cost of property management in Orlando, and we always recommend that investors and property owners weigh the benefits of professional management against the price of that management. In most cases, you’ll end up earning more money on your investment when it’s professionally managed. Today we’re explaining the standard property management fees in Orlando, and showing you how it’s a cost effective service that you should strongly consider.

How Much Does Property Management Cost in Orlando?

Most Orlando property management companies have a fee structure that focuses on two things: the leasing fee and the management fee. The leasing fee is what you pay to have your property prepared for the rental market, advertised to potential tenants, and leased to a high quality renter. You only pay it once, and it’s usually a flat fee or a percentage of the first month’s rent. The management fee is paid every month, and it covers all of the ongoing attention your property gets. That includes rent collection, inspections, tenant relations, recordkeeping and accounting, and the scheduling and coordination of maintenance. The management fee can be a percentage of the monthly rent, and it’s usually deducted from your rental income every month. Some companies will charge additional fees. Make sure you talk to your property manager so you know what to expect in terms of billing and expenses.

Why Orlando Property Management Pays for Itself

Standard Fees for Orlando Property Management: Cost vs. Benefits Instead of worrying about the cost of property management, think about the knowledge, skills, and expertise you’re getting in exchange for that management fee. A mistake can be extremely costly. If you place a bad tenant in your home, you run the risk of property damage and eviction costs. If you don’t manage the security deposit according to Florida law, you can find yourself in court. Orlando property managers protect you and your property from loss and risk. They also help you maximize your property’s investment potential. A professional property manager will help you price your rental competitively and recommend upgrades and improvements that will increase your return. There are also tax benefits to hiring an Orlando property manager. Those monthly fees can usually be deducted from your rental income when you’re filing your taxes.

If you have questions about standard property management fees in Orlando and the services you can expect in exchange for those fees, please don’t hesitate to contact us at R. Russell Properties. We’d be happy to tell you more.

Investing FAQ: What Type of Orlando Property Should I Invest In?
Real Estate Investing

Choosing rental investments really depends on what you want to have in your portfolio. Experienced investors will often want to diversify their assets, and they’ll buy single family homes as well as multi-family units and even small or mid-sized apartment buildings. As a new investor, you should focus on a specific type of property. It’s also a good idea to work with an Orlando property management company so you can be sure you’re choosing a property that will be easy to rent out to good tenants.


Single Family Properties

A single family home can be an excellent investment for many reasons. First, it provides tenants with a neighborhood and a community, which many people find appealing. Tenants who are financially stable but not prepared to buy a home like to rent a property that feels like their own home. Single family homes will allow you to attract high rents, especially if you’re in a desirable neighborhood with good schools. However, you will need to be prepared for higher maintenance expenses, especially if you buy an older home or one that’s in need of updates and repairs. When you’re looking for a single family home, consider one with three bedrooms, two bathrooms, a nice yard, and a garage.

Condo Investments in Orlando

Condo investing makes a lot of sense because they are inexpensive to purchase, and tenants love renting something that requires little maintenance or upkeep from them. In the Orlando market, condos are affordable, and many of the developments come with resort-style amenities that make your marketing and advertising really easy. You can provide a pool, workout center, playground, and walking trails in addition to a beautiful, well-maintained home. While your repair costs will be lower, you’ll need to be prepared to pay an association fee. Before you buy, make sure you are permitted to rent out your condo. Study the rules and regulations associated with the property before you put your money into condo investments.

Consider Your Investment Goals

It’s important that your financial goals align with your rental investments. Single family homes might be more expensive to purchase, but they also appreciate faster than condo investments. You need to think about whether cash flow is more important than long term returns, and an expert in property management in Orlando can help you determine what you should buy and where.

We work with new and experienced investors all the time. If you’d like some help in identifying the best type of rental investments for your budget and your goals, please contact us at R. Russell Properties.


Orlando Investment Market 2016 – 2017: When is the Best Time to Buy?
Rob Russell
Orlando Investment Market

Anyone interested in Orlando investment properties would be wise to purchase something or increase their portfolio now. The rest of 2017 and 2018 look extremely favorable for investors in and around the central Florida region. As Orlando property management experts, we know how to identify the best properties and help you earn an attractive return. There are a few reasons that this market is such an investors appealing option for local, out of state, and even international investors.

Orlando Property Values Are Rising

The Orlando housing market is rebounding nicely from the losses it incurred during the recession. Property values are rising again, but home prices are still within reach for who have a modest budget. You can find properties in established neighborhoods as well as new developments for reasonable prices. Great deals can be found if you’re working with an Orlando property manager who knows where to look. We expect prices and values to continue climbing in 2017, so invest now and find the right opportunity.

Orlando Tenants

Another great upside to investing in this area is that the pool of tenants provides a desirable selection of renters. The Orlando economy is growing, and statistics for future job growth are higher than the national average. There’s no state income tax in Florida, and tenants are feeling more comfortable with their financial positions. This means you can be selective about your tenants and choose someone who will pay rent on time, take care of your property, and provide a stable rental income for many years.

Financial Reasons to Invest

Orlando Investment Market An Orlando investment property makes sense right now because interest rates are at historically low levels, making it easy for you to obtain a mortgage. Banks are more willing to lend money for investment properties, and you can earn quite a return while enjoying a steady cash flow. When you’re ready to invest, contact us at R. Russell Properties. We provide Orlando property management and help to investors who want to enter this growing market.



Best Screening Practices to Help Avoid Orlando Eviction
Rob Russell
Property Management

Today we’re talking about the best way to screen tenants so you can avoid eviction. When you have a thorough screening process in place, you’re less likely to get bad tenants who will ultimately need to be evicted.

Each adult who is 18 or older and applying to live in your residence needs to be screened. The application needs to include eight items:

  • Employment History

  • Income

  • Credit References

  • Social Security Number

  • Driver’s License Number

  • Evictions

  • Past Rental History

If you have these eight items, your screening procedures are in good shape.

Once you have the information gathered on an application, we recommend you hire a screening agency to analyze the reports, especially the background and criminal checks. It’s a good investment because these are all time consuming processes and you want to have complete information.

The credit report will tell you what you can expect in terms of rental payments. Credit history can often tell you whether they will pay as agreed or if they will be slow to pay or if they are likely not to pay at all. Background reports are important because they will tell you about civil lawsuits. Criminal reports will reflect whether the tenant has been in trouble with the law.

You have to verify income in order to establish how much rent the applicant can afford. Ask for financial statements, pay stubs or canceled checks. If the tenant doesn’t have any documentation, call the HR department at their place of employment to find out what they earn. Best practices tell us that tenants should spend no more than a third of their income on rent. So, if you rent a home for $1,000 a month, you’re looking for a tenant who earns at least $3,000 per month.

Calling landlord references is the best way to determine a tenant’s overall rental worthiness. You can ask former landlords if the tenant paid rent on time and received their entire security deposit back. Always ask if the landlord would rent to that tenant again. This is an excellent practice that you can do yourself.

Finally, make sure you’re consistent with your process of approval or disapproval. You must abide by fair housing laws and stay current on any state and local landlord tenant laws.

If you have any questions, please contact us at Russell Properties, and we’d be happy to tell you more about how good screening can help you avoid evictions.

Eviction 101: What Happens When my Orlando Tenant Stops Paying Rent?
Rob Russell
Property Management

Today we are talking about what happens when an Orlando tenant stops paying rent. This is the most dreaded issue and scenario for landlords. No one likes evictions because they cost you time and money.  When you charge $1,000 for rent and you’re not collecting it, you are losing $33 per day. If your tenant isn’t paying and isn’t responding, you have to evict.


3 Day Notice

If rent is due on the first of the month and late on the second and you have no money from your tenant, your first legal line of defense is called a 3 Day Notice to Pay or Vacate. This means exactly what it says – the tenant has three days to pay rent or leave the property.


Summons and Complaint

If the seventh or eighth of the month rolls around and you still have no rent from your tenant, your next step is to file a Summons and Complaint with the clerk of the court. In this complaint, you’ll tell the court that you and your tenant have a legal agreement – your lease – and the tenant is not living up to it. The sheriff will deliver the summons to the tenant and then the tenant has two choices; either to pay within five days or put something in writing that explains why rent has not been paid. In the worst case scenario, you’ll get no response at all from the tenant.


Writ of Possession

When you get to the middle of the month – the 17th or 18th and rent still hasn’t been paid, you take the last step, which is submitting a motion of default. When you do that, you’ll receive a Writ of Possession from the court. Post that Writ on the door or serve it to the tenant. At that point, the tenant has 24 hours to vacate, or their possessions will be put on the curb and you’ll get your home back.

Legal steps must be followed in order to successfully evict a tenant. You cannot change the locks or turn off the electricity. We hear a lot of horror stories about eviction, but knowledge and quick turnaround can reduce time and cost. When you do the eviction properly, it will cost you about $330 and three and a half to four weeks.


Preventing Evictions

The key to preventing evictions is by doing a thorough background check on every potential tenant. Take the time to screen and always collect a healthy security deposit that’s the equivalent of at least one month. If you do have to evict, make it public. Don’t let other landlords get burned by the same tenant.

If you have any questions about evictions, please contact us at Russell Properties and we’d be glad to tell you more.

How to Interview an Orlando Property Management Company
Rob Russell
Property Management


Our topic today is how to interview an Orlando property management company. Any time you interview a company, it’s important to ask questions that involve dollars and relationships.  

Dollar Questions

When will I receive my rent money?

Money should be coming to you by the 15th of every month. This is because 80 to 90 percent of us have a mortgage on those investment properties, and that money is required to make your mortgage payment on time. Therefore, rent is due on the first, it’s late on the second and then any three day notices are delivered. Your property management company needs to do a statement for you between the 7th and 10th of every month. Your rent dollars should be electronically sent to you through ACH by 15th so you can make your own payment.

How long will it take to fill a vacancy?

This is a good money question when you’re interviewing a Orlando property manager. The company should have two criteria to ensure there isn’t a long vacancy: does the house show well and is it priced right. If both of those things are done properly, you’ll look at about three weeks to find a qualified tenant. So, your property management company should do a move in condition report and a market analysis that shows you within $25 where your rent should be.  

Relationship Questions

What kind of relationship will I have with my tenant?

As a property owner, you should not have any relationship with the tenant. You don’t want that. It’s the reason you hire a property management company; so they can take care of that relationship for you. Instead, you will have a relationship with your property management company, which is known as a management agreement. And the management company will have a relationship with the tenant, which is known as a lease.

What will I get every month other than a rent payment?

Other than a check, at the end of every month you should get a statement. This statement should have detailed information describing income and expenses within that 30 day period. A good handwritten note is also important to keep you in the loop with current or future activities that have to do with your investment – whether that’s zoning, construction or lawsuits.

If you have any further questions about interviewing a property management company in Orlando, please contact us at Russell Properties in Altamonte Springs. We would be happy to tell you more.

When Should I Fire My Orlando Property Management Company?
Rob Russell
Property Management


When it comes to your relationship with your property manager, there are four specific areas where you know a change in management is required. We’ll explore each of these areas separately: accounting problems; maintenance issues; bad tenants; and, communication problems.  


If you can’t make heads or tails of your statement, and you notice that the starting balance on your current statement does not match the ending balance of your prior statement, you have a problem. This is especially alarming if there is no explanation and no revisions.


Most maintenance problems stem from the property manager having too much discretion with your dollars. It’s one thing to have a management company go ahead and pay for a $120 repair bill without getting your permission first, but what will you do when it’s a $2,000 air conditioning bill? You don’t want your property manager to have the same discretion, and it shouldn’t be expected. Set a limit. We recommend a limit of $250 to $300. Anything above that, your management company should contact you first to discuss the issue and get permission. Make sure your management company knows you or your own maintenance man may be making some of these repairs. Then, they will know you’re watching your dollars. Don’t allow a property management company too much discretion with your money.

Bad Tenants

If you constantly have a high tenant turnover rate, or your tenants are paying late or not paying at all and they always have an excuse, your property manager isn’t doing a great job. It’s the result of poor screening choices. They are probably not doing background or credit checks and they are likely not calling past landlords and asking the right questions. Questions should include – did the tenants pay rent on time? Would you rent to them again? Did they get their entire security deposit back?


Bad communication is my pet peeve. Your Orlando property manager must be accessible and swift in returning calls and emails. If a call comes in or a problem is reported before noon, it should be handled by your property manager before the end of the day. If the call comes in after noon, it should be taken care of by noon the following day. We believe that’s timely. Managers who are sick or on vacation should have someone in the office who can take care of your needs. If there’s a message left on the answering machine telling you that your property manager is on vacation for the next 10 days, that’s bad service.

These issues demonstrate that your property management company is not treating your investment as if it was their own, and they need to. If you have any questions about how to know it’s time to change property managers, please contact us at Russell Properties and we’d be happy to help.

  • Lease Agreement
  • Property Management Fees
  • Real Estate Investing
  • Orlando Investment Market
  • Property Management
  • How to Create a Strong Lease Agreement | Orlando Property Management Education
  • Standard Fees for Orlando Property Management: Cost vs. Benefits
  • Investing FAQ: What Type of Orlando Property Should I Invest In?
  • Orlando Investment Market 2016 – 2017: When is the Best Time to Buy?
  • Best Screening Practices to Help Avoid Orlando Eviction
  • Rob Russell