Saturday, October 13, 2012

Woman forced to live with squatter in her Detroit home

Monday, November 7, 2011

Housing Provider Compliance: Nuts and Bolts of Safety

Housing Provider Compliance: Nuts and Bolts of Safety, Health and Environmental Compliance DHCD Director, John E. Hall, and the Housing Regulation Administration staff would like to invite you to attend a safety, health and environmental discussion on Tuesday, November 8, 2011 from 1:00pm to 4:00pm, at 441 4th Street, NW, Room 1114 South.

Guest speakers will identify best practices in preparing for successful inspections and abating lead base paint and bedbug infestation. They will also identify government programs that provide grants to remediate lead.

The DC Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs Director, Nicholas A. Majett will respond to stakeholder questions regarding inspection and compliance procedures. Gerald Brown, Program Director of the Rodent and Vector Control Division of the District of Columbia Department of Health will address housing provider abatement strategies and city initiatives to assist housing providers in abatement of bedbug infestation.

Gian Cossa, Chief of Compliance and Enforcement of the Lead and Healthy Housing Division, District Department of the Environment will discuss the city's lead base paint compliance. Usenobong Bassey and Constance Irvin of the Residential and Community Services Division of the DC Department of Housing and Community Development will provide information on the District of Columbia Lead Safe Washington Program. The program provides grant funds for remediation of lead to all qualified residents before and after citation enforcement.

Anticipated attendees include tenants, landlords, realtors, attorneys and District staff. All are welcome.

If you are able to attend the meeting, please confirm with Ms. Vivian Portis, Outreach Specialist, at (202) 442-7275 or email at

Tonya M. Butler-Truesdale, Housing Provider Ombudsman Housing Regulation Administration Department of Housing and Community Development
1800 Martin Luther King Jr., Avenue SE
Washington, DC 20020
(202) 442-7214

Friday, September 9, 2011

Property Managers: Tips for Improving Your After-Hours Maintenance Hotline

While it is easy to contact a property management answering service or call center and set up an after-hours maintenance hotline, making sure that it works well for you and your tenants requires a bit more effort. Below are some tips you can follow to make sure you are doing everything you can to get the most out of the service and keep your tenants happy.

1. Personalize the service as much as possible

The default property management script that your call center provider has on file will get the job done, but it’s always better to personalize it to fit your business.

For example, the default way that operators answer the phone may be “Thank you for calling, may I help you?” Instead of leaving this the way it is, modify it to include the name of your property and the purpose of the line, such as “Thank you for calling Forest Pines Condominiums after-hours maintenance hotline, may I help you?” It’s a minor change, but it makes people more comfortable knowing that they’re calling your dedicated line.

Or, for instance, if the hotline will be used for apartments that are all in the same building and have the same address, make sure operators only request the apartment number. It’s annoying being forced to provide your entire address when all that’s needed is the number. This goes for properties in the same City and State, as well. No need to ask questions that you already know the answer to.

2. Clearly communicate to tenants what constitutes an emergency

Your tenants should know what is considered an emergency by your company and what isn’t. Unfortunately, property managers often give criteria to their call center but not tenants, resulting in a lot of heated conversations. Instead of just giving your tenants a number to call after office hours, give them the same list of emergencies that you give your call center and let them know what will result in an after-hours maintenance visit and what will hold for the office.

Alternatively, you can scrap the list of emergencies altogether, instead relying on a question that asks the tenant whether they feel their situation is urgent and requires attention before regular office hours. The potential for abuse here is obvious, but it’s definitely a more customer friendly approach.

Ultimately, only you can decide what is best for your situation, but either approach will work well if everyone is properly educated.

3. Stick to your office hours or prepare your call center to field additional types of calls

Understandably, having the power to forward your lines to the after-hours service whenever you want is sometimes too alluring to pass up. If you’re going to leave the office or stop taking calls during your regular business hours, be sure that your call center is prepared to handle the different types of calls that they will be receiving. It’s bad for business to force callers into a call center that can’t do anything for them and has no information regarding what’s going on in the office. By communicating with your call center and telling them what your schedule is and when you’ll be out, they will have more information to provide callers and be more confident handling your calls. In addition, the scripting and instructions they follow should be appropriate for type of calls they’re taking and what they are telling callers.

As an example, while it’s perfectly acceptable after-hours to tell a caller with a non-urgent concern to call back the next business day, it’s ineffective and confusing to be told that at 1 in the afternoon on a Thursday. Call centers can easily set up variable scripting, so make sure that you have them do so. “The office is out to lunch at the moment, but I can ask someone to return your call when they get back this afternoon” is much more appropriate.

4. Take advantage of the additional services, functionality, and technology that your call center has available

Today’s call centers are more advanced than the simple message taking services that came before them. Sometimes just taking a message and delivering it properly is all that’s needed, but you should look into the additional features and technology that your call center has available in order to determine if there’s more they could be doing for you. If so, there’s a good chance the additional service will improve the effectiveness of your call center and improve the level of customer service they’re able to provide.

Examples of additional services include payment processing, scheduling showings on your behalf, and integrating with your CRM or database in order to look-up tenant information easier and automatically create work tickets in your system. Whether these services make sense for you often depend on your size and the investment needed to have the technology configured. When deciding whether to spend the extra money, be sure to factor in the time it takes you to perform certain tasks, whether the changes will reduce or increase your monthly bill (by increasing or reducing call times), and whether having a more advanced call center will help you decrease vacancies and improve the relationship you have with existing tenants.

I hope these tips make your call center experiences more prosperous. If you’re working with a reputable call center and they’re doing everything they can on their end, following this list should be all you need to make the relationship a success.

If you have any feedback on using an answering service/call center with your property management operation, I’d love to hear from you. Whether your relationship was a success or a complete disaster, I always find it advantageous to speak with people and learn more about what is working and what isn’t.

About the author:

Gere Jordan works in business development, marketing and operations at Continental Message Solution, Inc. (CMS), a nationwide provider of property management answering services and call center outsourcing based in Columbus, Ohio. He has experience designing and implementing effective call center solutions, improving communication workflows, and helping companies share their success via the web. For more information, or to talk shop, you can reach him via email at

Monday, April 13, 2009

Mold Dangers & Resources

We've been getting lots of requests for information about molds in apartment units. There are links below that explain the dangers of mold and how to properly, and hopefully, permanently clean it up so that it does not return.

Unfortunately, we are not lawyers and cannot give out legal advice. We encourage everyone to
read each lease and all attachments carefully and thoroughly. The signed lease (including any attachments) is the binding contract between a landlord and tenant. Both can hold each other accountable to what is contained in the lease.

We suggest that people review the
Landlord Tenant Laws for your state, the Uniform Residential Landlord and Tenant Act of 1972 (including Amendments), Lease Termination Notice Requirements and Finding a Lawyer. You may find some helpful books in our recently updated Books & Reference area.

All tenants are entitled to a livable, safe and sanitary apartment. An implied warranty of habitability is a warranty implied by law that by leasing (renting) a residential property, the lessor (landlord) is promising that it is suitable to be lived in, and will remain so for the duration of the lease. Failure to provide heat or hot water on a regular basis, or to rid an apartment of insect infestation are examples of a violation of the warranty of habitability. Conditions that violate the implied warranty of habitability vary depending on the state and jurisdiction the apartments are located. Public areas of a building may also covered by the warranty of habitability. The warranty of habitability may also apply to cooperative apartments, but may not apply to condominiums. Any uninhabitable condition caused by the tenant or person(s) under his direction or control does not constitute a breach of the warranty of habitability. For more information on landlord obligations, see
Sec. 2.104. Landlord to Maintain Premise of the Uniform Residential Landlord and Tenant Act .

In our personal opinion (not legal advice), if you find mold growing and returning frequently in a unit that you're living in, you may want to consider finding alternative housing, especially if you're experiencing health problems. Here is a link to Mold Dangers and Resources and "A Brief Guide to Mold, Moisture, and Your Home".

Renters: Report all plumbing leaks and moisture problems immediately to your building owner, manager, or superintendent. In cases where persistent water problems are not addressed, you may want to contact local, state, or federal health or housing authorities. [Note: Find your state health department contacts at (just click on your state).]

If you ever experience ordinance violations, you may wish to contact your local municipality and/or the local Department of Health to file a code violation complaint.

Be aware, that should they become involved, you may be forced out of your housing and NOT permitted to return until the violation has been corrected.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

A&E Offers Help for Hoarders


Are you or someone you know struggling to overcome compulsive hoarding? The cable television network A&E is looking for people whose lives are in crisis because they are compulsive hoarders.

The crisis can take any form. For example:

• They are about to lose their homes
• Their spouse is threatening to leave
• They have health issues caused by the chaos
• They have to find tax papers so the IRS doesn't audit them
• Their kids are threatening to cut them off
• Or any other major issue that can only be resolved by cleaning out their home immediately!

We are casting for a groundbreaking new documentary television series that will provide a team of professionals that can help get those in need started toward cleaning their home, no matter how big or how full. A therapist or professional organizer will also be on hand to help our guest through this difficult process. Whether the guest is ready and able to clean out their entire home in this short period of time, with the assistance and guidance of a professional they will
learn valuable skills which will allow them to complete the task at their own pace and keep them from repeating the hoarding behavior in the future.

We are looking for people (as well as their friends and family if possible) willing to spend 3-5 days sharing their stories in the hopes of helping others and getting the help they need!

There is no cost to the guest. All clean up services are paid for in exchange for participating in the show.

Hoarding is a very serious problem affecting millions of Americans and their friends and families. But little is known about this disorder, and too often hoarders are misunderstood and can't find the help they need.

Our hope is that this groundbreaking new documentary television series helps the general public better understand compulsive hoarding while helping compulsive hoarders resolve a crisis.

If you or someone you know is a compulsive hoarder please contact us immediately at:

Thursday, July 10, 2008

MAREI Officially Launches Real Estate Investor Tele-Seminar Series

News Release from Kim Tucker
Mid-America Association of Real Estate Investors

It's Official! Kim Tucker and MAREI have officially paved the way to start offering value based TeleSeminars as a no-charge educational and informational service to members and friends of MAREI.

These monthly, 60-90 minute calls will feature insight from well respected speakers, trainers and mentors who are well versed in the needs of investors and most often are very experienced, seasoned investors themselves.

In an effort to ascertain the investing topics members would most like to see featured in the TeleSeminar series, an online survey of is being conduced now at the new MAREI TeleSeminar Members' Site:

The results will be tabulated an incorporated into the decision making process of which speakers and what topics will be offered.

This TeleSeminar series will be an excellent way for MAREI to offer members and friends of MAREI No Cost, No Travel education from the convenience of home or anywhere there's a cell connection.

MAREI TeleSeminar Series announcements will begin to appear in the coming weeks on home page, emails, General Meeting announcements and in other publications.

Take a minute to give your feed back on topics, speakers and more.

Kim Tucker
816-523-4400 x 222

Monday, May 5, 2008

Creative Finacing - Note Buying & Selling

Do you own property, create lease-options or have monthly income you’d rather have a lump sum of cash for?

If you own property you wish to sell in this tough market, you probably already know that bank financing can be hard to find for any buyer even those with good credit to obtain. One solution is for the property owner to get creative and offer seller financing to potential buyers in order to sell their house or land more quickly (and at a higher price).

While applying seller financing techniques isn't more difficult than traditional real estate sales, it is important to recognize that the buyers looking for seller financing represent a different target market than typical bank-financed customers.

Once seller financing or the ‘note’ is created, the process for obtaining a lump sum cash payment varies from the conventional real estate closing technique as well.

Now you have monthly income which you may- one day or immediately-prefer to have a lump sum of cash for

Perhaps an immediate need arises for more cash than is available from the scheduled principal and interest payments you are receiving. In order to quickly obtain a large proportion of the money due from the loan you’ve just created, you could sell the monthly note payments to a buyer for a lump sum of cash. By locating someone willing to buy the note payments, you will have ready cash for any pressing financial need.

This is where I, your friendly note finder, come in. In the secondary finance industry, a unique group of individuals exists who specialize in locating note buyers. These cash flow specialists - often known simply as "finders" - have a unique understanding of what most buyers are looking for. These finders are happy to work with agents and their clients. Many of them utilize online marketing and have Internet websites to facilitate the buyer location process.

The best of the bunch also look in the newspaper for property sellers offering financing, so sometimes a good finder will contact the seller if their property is advertised as FSBO. Finders specialize in helping property sellers locate buyers for secured notes.

Once in contact with a finder, the seller should explain the details of the situation. While note finders won’t be able to offer any legal advice or assist with the creation of a note, they are qualified to give general recommendations about what types of terms are attractive to note purchasers. Most importantly, note finders will be able to help locate a buyer for a newly- created cash flow.

Remember, these finders are not note brokers, meaning they will not "show" the seller's note to buyers or act as a representative. They will only pass the information along to someone who would be interested. Once a commitment to purchase the cash flow has been established, the buyer will step in and complete the deal.

When working with a property seller who needs a lump sum of cash immediately after selling their real estate, contacting a finder early in the process of creating a real estate note makes sense. By involving a qualified note finder BEFORE a note is created, the property seller can receive invaluable input about the payment characteristics that note buyers prefer.

Fulfilling a Seller's Need for Cash

In order to streamline the seller finance sale situation, it is advisable to have potential buyers for the newly-created cash flow ready. A note finder can start looking for buyers before the note is created, or even before a seller-financed buyer is "lined up". This way, you could have a buyer for the payment stream ready to make the purchase as soon as the new private mortgage is created.

Locating the Right Note Buyer

On your own, you might wonder, what is the best method to find these note buyers? In stark contrast to locating seller-finance buyers for the real estate itself, a classified ad in the paper is not the best option. Most people looking to purchase a stream of monthly payments do not look in the newspaper for potential cash flows to add to their portfolios. An alternate marketing strategy is required for finding note buyers. This is the job of the note finder.

In recent years, the Internet has become the best place to find cash flow purchasers. Using keywords such as "buy monthly payments" or "buy mortgage payments" at a popular search engine website should lead to many interested buyers.

Sometimes there are so many potential buyers, it can be difficult to figure out where to start. Also, cash flow buyers tend to have distinctly different financial parameters; an opportunity that meets the needs of one person perfectly may not be attractive at all to another. Here again, it is often best to work with someone who could give you a general idea about how notes should be structured- your friendly neighborhood note finder.

Without this knowledge, the property could sell quickly with the creation of a new note, but you might end up collecting the payments long-term instead of being able to quickly "trade" the future payments for an upfront cash settlement. If you will need a large amount of cash quickly, it makes sense to plan ahead for a buyer to purchase the cash flow and involve the services of a note finder.

Another creative solution to selling a home or commercial property is to create a lease-option

But again, when your need for cash arises, you may want to assist your tenant by creating a note so they can purchase the property and then you can sell this newly-created note immediately at a simultaneous closing to obtain cash. Everyone wins. With this situation, a note finder can assist in the same way as explained previously by adding input as to what note buyers prefer so as to avoid delays in obtaining your cash.

I would look forward to talking with anyone interested in any of these topics. I am always glad to try to help-please contact me. There are articles similar to this on my website, I can send you informative newsletters regularly (a $29.95 value FREE to members of LandlordAssociation.Org) and I can be reached via my website at Thank you for you time and I wish you all the best!