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Rocketing real estate prices have motivated investors to move into new markets, snatch up homes and turn them into rentals, USA Today has reported. According to USA Today, investors are focusing less on some sizzling markets while scurrying to purchase homes in places where prices are skyrocketing. While investor enthusiasm is waning in Phoenix and possibly approaching its apex in parts of California, interest is surging in parts of the South, the article says.

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Work in home improvement? You might see your bank balance improve, too. A study by Harvard’s Joint Center for Housing Studies predicts your industry will enjoy a big bounce this year. Yearly spending on home renovations will see double-digit growth through the third quarter, according to this article by CE Pro magazine. The study, dubbed the Leading Indicator of Remodeling Activity, looks at several factors to make its projections, from pending home sales to business at building supply stores. “The solid momentum behind home building activity, existing home sales, low financing costs and remodeling contractor sentiment all point to a… Read More

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Allegations are flying following an apartment building fire in the Bronx that left tenants without cooking gas. Now, the residents are demanding rent abatement for the trouble. The blaze occured in August 2011 at Mount Eden apartments, and 58 units went without cooking gas for seven months, the New York Daily News reported. New York Lawyers for the Public Trust wants Chestnut Holikdings, Inc. to reimburse tenants one-third of rent paid during the gas-free months. In the Daily News story, you’ll find fingerpointing in every direction: The property management company says it didn’t restore cooking gas because a group called… Read More

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Many of our multifamily apartment communities throughout the state provide for laundry facilities, serving both as an additional amenity for residents and a profit-generator for the owner/operator. While many choose to own and operate their own laundry equipment, others essentially subcontract this service to a vendor focused on this line of business. This article deals with the concerns owners and operators face when dealing with laundry vendors and their proposed contracts. It is not unusual for an owner to acquire an apartment community that comes with a laundry vendor. Sometimes, the vendor doesn’t meet your expectations, or you want to… Read More

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U.S. home-building giant Lennar Corp. is extending its reach into rental housing, the Wall Street Journal reported this week. Lennar Multifamily Investors has projects worth in excess of $1 billion slated for the next three years, including 6,500 apartments, the Journal says. “There will consistently be a large group of people who simply can’t buy a home, and won’t buy a home, and are looking for rentals,” Chief Executive Stuart Miller said, according to the newspaper. In terms of sales, Lennar is the No. 3 home builder in the United States.

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By Heidi Palutke, Esq. CAA research counsel Owners have a new option for compliance with the 21-day deadline for accounting for a tenant’s security deposit. CAA-sponsored AB 1679, which took effect Jan. 1, allows an owner to provide the accounting by email and electronically return any remaining deposit into the renter’s bank account. Specifically, AB 1679, introduced by Assemblywoman Susan A. Bonilla, now provides that after either the owner or resident has given notice of termination, they may agree to have the owner: Deposit any remaining portion of the security deposit electronically to a bank account or other financial institution… Read More

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If you’re a chronic procrastinator, preparing for a natural disaster has likely fallen off your to-do list. Well, it’s time to add it back. This article on residentscreeningblog.com points to four areas property managers should focus on while crafting an emergency plan.

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Renting out properties as vacation homes can make plenty of money for owners. An article by the Orange County Register tells the lucrative tale of real estate broker Barbara O’Hara Hamilton. Hamilton rents out a duplex in the Newport Beach area on a weekly basis, the article says, and can rake in nearly $7,000 monthly — roughly four times the monthly income when the unit rented annually. The article also offers tips on preparing a unit for vacation rental, from getting the proper license to stocking the shelves.

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By Ted Kimball, Esq.  Question: A tenant wants to use the last month’s rent, which was paid at the time of the lease signing, for this month’s unpaid rent. If he is not moving out, can he do so? Answer: Not unless your rental agreement provides that the tenant can use the last month’s rent deposit at any time, which it should not do. Question: Can we use a recent Section 8 inspection report as a standard of habitability in an eviction case? Answer: The court will allow any relevant evidence that tends to prove the condition of the premises… Read More

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An audit to test whether landlords are abiding by fair housing laws shows a decline in discrimination but room for improvement in customer service. The 2011-2012 audit by ECHO Housing involved Latinos and non-Latinos calling landlords in several East Bay cities, according to this article in The Alamedan. The idea: To see whether callers with certain accents got calls back from landlords. “The 2011-2012 national origin audit testing represented the lowest amount of discrimination in ECHO’s history of conducting audits,” the 12-page audit said, according to The Alamedan. While the “tester’s” accents had little influence over whether landlords called people… Read More

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