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Five Reasons Manual Rental Payment History Checks Don’t Work

The multifamily market didn’t exactly crater in 2017. In fact, according to preliminary numbers from Marcus & Millichap, a commercial real estate brokerage and research firm, the average effective apartment rent in the U.S. grew by 4.5 percent last year, to $1,343 per month.

Still, there’s no denying that apartment markets in many metros across the country have softened in recent years, and operators must always be on the lookout for a true downturn. What goes up must come down.

When the pressure to fill their units ratchets up, operators must make sure their screening process is in first-class shape so they have a crystal-clear view of the risk an applicant poses and they can move quickly to sign suitable prospects. To do this, operators need to eliminate manual rental payment history checks and incorporate payment history that is gathered electronically and automatically.

Below are five ways manually checking payment history by phone puts operators at a disadvantage in markets both soft and strong:

1. They’re impractical
For applicants with significant rental history, it can be virtually impossible for leasing agents to reach someone at every community an applicant has previously rented to check payment history.

2. They can be incomplete
Applicants may not list all the apartment communities they’ve ever rented from, because they either simply forgot about a community or intentionally left a place out after a bad experience. This leads to operators having an incomplete picture of a prospect’s past.

3. They don’t work
At a session at the 2017 NMHC OPTECH conference in Las Vegas, an executive from Alliance Residential highlighted perhaps the most important reason to steer clear of manual payment history checks: they’re ineffective.

An internal study led the operator to discover that its communities that conducted manual checks experienced more evictions than those that didn’t, according to Rachel Davidson, senior vice president of performance management for Alliance. This was probably because the information manually gathered by leasing agents wasn’t accurate.

Alliance now incorporates automated rental payment history into its screening process, Davidson noted.

4. They unnecessarily burden an already overloaded staff
Leasing agents already have many demands on them, and having to manually check rental payment history consumes vast chunks of time that can be put to better, other uses. When accurate rental payment history from a third-party vendor is automatically incorporated into a community’s screening process, this frees up leasing agents to work on other responsibilities, such as leading prospects on property tours and caring for the community’s current residents.

5. They slow down the screening process
In softer apartment markets where communities are battling to keep occupancies up, apartment owners and operators need to have the ability to move quickly on the right prospect. Manually checking rent history only slows down the screening process, and before you know it, that lead has been approved for another apartment home with a quicker screening process.

With leasing season ramping up, now is the perfect time to resolve to bring your rental payment history checks into the modern age. Your leasing agents and operations teams will thank you for it.

Estate Brokers Property Management Earns Esteemed 2017 Angie’s List Super Service Award

Award reflects company’s consistently high level of customer service


Central Florida, Monday, January 29, 2018

Estate Brokers Property Management is proud to announce that it has earned the home service industry’s coveted Angie’s List Super Service Award (SSA). This award honors service professionals who have maintained exceptional service ratings and reviews on Angie’s List in 2017.

“The service providers that receive our Angie’s List Super Service Award demonstrate the level of excellence that members have come to expect,” said Angie’s List Founder Angie Hicks. “These pros are top-notch and absolutely deserve recognition for the trustworthy and exemplary customer service they exhibited in the past year and overall.”

Angie’s List Super Service Award 2017 winners have met strict eligibility requirements, which include maintaining an “A” rating in overall grade, recent grade and review period grade. The SSA winners must be in good standing with Angie’s List, pass a background check, record a current trade license attestation and abide by Angie’s List operational guidelines.

“Working hard so you don’t have to!”

Estate Brokers Property Management has been listed on Angie’s List since 2007. This is the second year Estate Brokers Property Management has received this honor.

Service company ratings are updated continually on Angie’s List as new, verified consumer reviews are submitted. Companies are graded on an A through F scale in multiple fields ranging from price to professionalism to punctuality.

For over two decades Angie’s List has been a trusted name for connecting consumers to top-rated service professionals. Angie’s List provides unique tools and support designed to improve the local service experience for both consumers and service professionals.

For over two decades, Angie’s List has provided trusted reviews and information to help millions of consumers make smart hiring decisions. Angie’s List offers more than 10 million verified reviews in over 700 service categories, providing its members a credible resource for researching and comparing local service providers. Angie’s List is based in Indianapolis, Indiana and is an operating business of ANGI Homeservices (NASDAQ:ANGI).



by Cathy L. Lucrezi, Attorney at Law
Hamlet only had to decide how to avenge his father’s death. You have to decide whether to non-renew a tenant who has been a problem during the past year – making noise, paying late, yelling at staff. Although you really want the tenant to be gone, you worry that tenant will think you are discriminating against her.

You have the right to non-renew a tenant at the end of a lease term. Florida law does not require that you have a reason for the non-renewal. Nonetheless, you better have one, and it better be documented in your file. Without that documentation, you may be vulnerable if the tenant later claims you are violating the Fair Housing Law. Often, documentation is key to winning a fair housing case.

It is also a good idea if your office develops a renewal policy. The policy will set the standard for who stays and who goes. Thus the decision about renewal will not be arbitrary.

Such a policy can say a tenant will be subject to a non-renewal if one or more of the following conditions apply:

1. The tenant received one or more 7 day Notices of Noncompliance within the preceding twelve months.
2. The tenant was late with rent 2 or more months within the preceding twelve months.
3. The tenant has violated the lease and/or the community rules four or more times within the preceding twelve months, and each of the violations is documented in the tenant’s file.
4. The tenant owes an amount to management for rent, late charges, repairs, or other amounts, and the debt is more than 30 days past due.
5. The owner and/or management plans to use the unit for purposes other than the rental of a residential unit.

This is just an example. Your renewal policy should reflect your property’s priorities. Of course, your policy is only good if it is consistently applied.





Posted: December 5, 2017
Category: Fire Safety Safety

It’s the most wonderful time of year – creamy hot chocolate, sleigh bells ringing, crisp winter breeze, twinkling lights, and my personal favorite, that fresh smell of evergreen and Christmas trees!

‘Tis the season to Deck the Halls; here are a couple tips to help you deck the halls safely this holiday season!

Is it just me, or is picking out and decorating your Christmas tree the best way to get into the holiday spirit? Grab some hot cocoa, slip on your fuzziest snow boots, slide on your coziest winter scarf, and join me in my favorite Christmas activity – finding the perfect tree!

When picking out your tree…

If you’re a true Christmas fan, you know there’s no tree like a real, freshly cut, evergreen tree to brighten your room. When picking out the perfect Christmas tree from the lot, there are a few special things you should take into consideration.

    • Make sure the tree is in good condition
    • Look out for broken branches!
    • Full-bodied branches rather than sparse limbs
    • Green, green, greener!

Why do you need to take a closer look? The better shape your tree is when you take it home, the longer it will last. The greener your tree is, the less likely it is to become a fire hazard. Leave the small, bare trees to Charlie Brown this year!

When placing your tree…

Finding the perfect place to exhibit your Christmas tree is not just a decision, it’s an art. Finding the perfect area of your home to showcase the tree’s twinkling lights and tinsel in any room takes strategy; especially when making sure it’s visible from the windows and is also far enough away from heat sources to prevent it from becoming a safety hazard!

Be extra conscious to keep your tree three feet away from any heat source, like a fireplace, heater vent, or even electronics like your TV. It’s also never a bad idea to keep a fire extinguisher near and handy. Oh – and make sure to check that your fire alarm is active and in good working condition!

In addition to avoiding heat, keep your tree away from heavy feet traffic, an entrance, or blocking an exit. You don’t want your eggnog filled holiday guests accidentally bumping into your perfectly decorated tree and knocking it over! You also might want to make sure your tree is in your cat’s least favorite room…

When decorating your tree…

Now we’re getting to the good part – Christmas lights! One of the best parts about Christmas decorating is that you can recycle them year after year, but it’s important to make sure that your lights are in premium condition before placing them on your tree.

According to the NFPA, 25% of Christmas tree fires are caused by electrical problems. Make sure you apply the manufactures instructions on how many light strands you can plug together – it’s usually a max of three.

Santa’s watching you (and your tree) – so don’t forget to say goodnight to those bright lights and unplug your Christmas lights before you head off to bed! Leaving them on for Santa is a nice idea, but you may get a visit from another group of men in red (aka firefighters) if you do!

Lastly, this may sound like a silly tip – but just in case you’re a live Christmas tree newbie…never use lit candles to decorate your Christmas tree. Let’s save that bonfire for next year’s summer night gatherings.

When enjoying your tree…

Now that your tree is decorated with your family heirlooms, sparkling Christmas lights, and topped with that glorious shining star, it’s time to enjoy the holidays! Sit back, sip your hot cocoa, eat one too many of those delicious sugary holiday treats and make memories with your family and friends.

As you experience the magical aura that surrounds your Christmas tree this year, remember to continually give your tree some love and feed it water. Your tree stand should always have water in it, so your tree is never left thirsty. Dry and brittle trees are dangerous and a huge safety hazard -so the more water you supply, the safer you’ll be!

When discarding your tree…

Say it isn’t so! I know it’s sad to think about – and you may not want to face the Christmas music – but there’s only so long you can celebrate Christmas (or save your tree!).

As soon as your tree’s needles start drying up and shedding, that’s your cue to get it out of the building and off your property! Check with your local community to find a recycling program to dispose of your tree.

It may seem safe to keep your old tree in your garage or even store it outside leaning against the wall – but both options are serious safety hazards. Make sure to get rid of it all at once…there’s no need to prolong the sad Christmas farewell when you can shift to the next celebration: New Years!

Happy Holidays from everyone here at Unified! We hope you have a cozy winter season next to your brightly lit Christmas tree.

If you have any mitigation, restoration, or safety questions (or just want to send us season’s greetings), feel free to reach out. We’re ready and waiting to share some Christmas cheer with you!

Happy Holidays!


Willow Smith


What’s That Smell?

Odors, Some Causes, Cures, and Some Things In Between.

By Dan Richard

Let’s start to peel away at the subject of odor control and elimination as we would an onion, one layer at a time, realizing it can be a painful process getting to the center.


What is that smell and where is it coming from?

General smells that can infuriate a home, hitting you most when you first enter, can come from a lot of different sources. The most common odor causing sources are smoke, urine, feces, general animal smell, mold, food, cooking grease, body odor (from bacteria), and even well water.

Category 1. Low-level but irritating and potentially embarrassing odors:

Less obvious sources that anyone can reduce can be found in clothes, shoes, bed linens, hard floors, carpet, walls, window treatments (shades, blinds, shears, drapery), and all wipe-able surfaces like furnishings, walls, and cabinets, which is a good place to start.

Understand that odors are caused by microbes (germs) and germs love humidity. One goal is to keep your space well air conditioned in warm and especially moderate-temperatures. A dehumidifier should be used if you are resistant to keeping the A/C at least four degrees colder than it is outside. When heat is needed, then humidity levels are usually low, so there is no worry. The worst scenario is when the outside temperature is moderate, and no A/C or heat is needed. This is when a dehumidifier should be considered.

The second goal is to reduce the microbial activity on all surfaces (kill the germs). The point here is to clean, clean, clean! Start with dusting every surface in the home. Then wipe down kitchen cabinets, tops, and exteriors. Move stoves and refrigerators to clean all appliance exteriors, the walls behind and floors under them. Clean all hard floors, then the bathroom’s hard surfaces with a disinfectant. I use organic/green products, but the real concern should be to protect your lungs and skin with respirators and gloves. If you still smell a general, low-level odor, then wipe all walls of the home down with a disinfectant cleaner (a wet-swifter works well for this). Next would be all soft materials like drapes, bed linens, laundry, shoes, towels that are displayed as décor, anything you can wash, wash. Finally, vacuum more than you think you need to. If you think one time a week is right, it probably needs to occur three time a week. Initially vacuum every square foot with about five passes, that’s right, five slow passes with a good vacuum.   It’s important to use a fresh bag, or fresh/clean filters in the bag-less type. Bacteria and odors flourish in vacuum bags and filters. I suggest that folks have 2 sets of filters, so they always have a clean set to install before a thorough vacuuming.

Carpet cleaning with a disinfectant and deodorizer (make sure it’s an actual odor killer and not just a perfume) and perhaps a leave-in enzyme treatment, may be needed if odor persists after the above cleaning is performed. Carpets should be cleaned two to three times a year if pets are in the property or every twelve months regardless.

Finally, if you still have a slight, general odor, consider having your Air Ducts cleaned and fogged with an EPA-registered, hospital-level disinfectant by a professional vendor.

Category 2. Strong, Offensive Odors.

The goal is to find the “gross” material (as gross as the gross material can be, we use this term to describe the three dimensional, dense, stuff that can be seen with the naked eye). If it is obvious enough to find, it should be obvious to clean up and remove the piles, saturations, etc. Be sure to search behind and under furniture, beds, and the furniture and mattresses themselves.

Professional cleaning with enzyme treatments can be used for general animal odors and urine-soaked areas of carpet, upholstery, mattresses, etc. as an effective way to reduce or eliminate animal odors. Note that tiled floors have grout that is porous and can hold odors. If this is suspected, a cleaning and sealing of the grout is recommended.

If urine or another odor causing contaminate has gone into the backing or padding of the carpet, replacement of padding and possibly the carpet may need to occur to solve the issue.

If the affected areas are smaller than 2’ x 2’, then the carpets can be saturated through the carpet and padding with an enzyme. Carpets that have been treated in this manner will need to be cleaned seven to ten days after treatment.

If the affected areas are larger or If the above treatment fails, then the carpet and padding should then be replaced. Note that the floor should be sealed before the new floor covering is installed.

Cat urine and smoke odors can be especially difficult to remedy. In addition to the above stated steps, all walls and ceilings, and base-boards may need to be primed and painted with a non-flat paint. (Satin or shinier is best). Base-boards need to be caulked at the top and bottom of the boards as well.

Ozone can be utilized by professionals as an affective odor eliminator. Ozone splits and destroys the molecules of the malodor, thus correcting the issue. Ozone can be dangerous and should be utilized by a professional or after a great amount of research to avoid damage to human tissue and cells.

Professional application of essential oil mist can also be part of an affective remedy since essential oils can also destroy the molecules of malodors.

Some odor removal can be accomplished by the home occupant however most of the more serious issues should be rectified by seeking service from professionals. These issues include but are not limited to mold, heavy smoke, dead animal odor from within walls or attic space, water intrusion that affected or may have affected walls.

Professionals have the training, experience, equipment, and products to locate, assess, and remedy malodors in the home as well as determining if any damage occurred to property. Moisture, leak and mold testing are good examples of what pros can do beyond a typical homeowner’s or tenant’s ability. 

When dealing with odors in the home yourself, keep in mind that “masking agents” will not permanently fix the problem but can possibly harm your health. It is healthiest for you and your family to use diffusers with 100% pure and certified-organic essential oils to mask light odors or to add a nice fragrance to your home.

Removing odors can be taken a step at a time, doing more and more until a resolution occurs.

It is important to be conscious of odors since they can be an indicator of property and health damaging factors.  From a light-duty issue of not keeping the general environment dry or clean enough, to more serious issues that may be present, always seek to resolve bad odors so that you, your family, and your home stays safe and healthy.

Dan Richard

Dan Dan the Carpet Man

Office: 407-264-9708

How to Dry Out Water Damage?

How to Dry Out Hidden Water Leak and Tackle Water Damage?

Realtors say many homeowners are unaware of a hidden water leak

Do you have a water leak?

By Mark Fisher

       Realtors say many homeowners are unaware of a hidden water leak — which can interfere with the sale of a home, or be a concern for a new home buyer. A cracked pipe, broken seal, or a leaking spigot. There are a number of ways that water can creep into places it is not meant to go. The long-term results are more visible and concerning, including mold, rot, blistered paint, or damaged flooring.

       Minor water leaks often lead to major repair bills. But it’s possible to avoid the worst water damage by catching the situation early. You would probably notice a sagging ceiling above the dining room table. But what about more subtle signs? Water damage doesn’t always turn up at the source. It follows the path of least resistance, and then makes an appearance in unlikely places. You have to follow your nose, use your detective skills, or just put two and two together.

       Crawl spaces, air conditioning systems, attics, and even windows all are vulnerable if the situation isn’t professionally resolved. The longer the situation is allowed to fester, the more expensive the clean-up becomes. Mildew around the shower stall? Funky odor in the laundry room? Peeling paint in the kitchen? Could be trouble.

       Don’t try to handle the issue yourself; you could ultimately do more damage than good. Don’t just dry it and forget it! Call a licensed professional to come check the damage out. Your body, wallet, and house will thank you.

Your Local Restoration Experts-

United Water Restoration Group, Inc.

Mark Fisher

Marketing Representative


Identity Theft: IRS Gets Involved


By Dominique Nichols, Forensic Accountant

Identity Theft

In today’s world identity theft is a growing threat to many individuals. Social media allows easy access to personal information with little effort by the thief.  Florida leads the nation in identity theft and as such residents and property owners need to take extra steps to ensure that their identity is safe.

Federal IP Pin

The IRS has initiated an IP Pin in order to verify the identity of the taxpayers.  Residents who filed their federal tax return last year in the state of Florida should be filing for an IRS IP Pin to protect their identity and their tax returns. Georgia and the District of Columbia are both high risk areas and those taxpayers should also be getting an IP Pin. A current scam being used is for fraudsters to use a taxpayer’s private information to file fake returns in order to receive the refund. Additionally, Florida’s freedom of information statues makes business information available online to the public. This information is being exploited in order to file false tax returns as a business. The fraudsters will then use that information to acquire business loans without the owner of the business knowing. Once, loan funds have been disbursed under false pretenses the fraudster goes underground and leaves the real business owner with the loan balance.

To apply for the IRS IP Pin:

Proper Accounting Practices

Proper accounting structure for businesses, property owners or individuals alike support activities that allow owners to clearly understand their expenses and productivity while preventing fraud. Outlined budgets and structure, creates a framework for owners to monitor change, growth and expansion while adequately meeting expectations for income, customers and vendors. The creation of cash flow forecasts based on the historical record or industry standards, can help the ownership have a numerical snapshot of how revenue and expense streams should be aligned over time. This allows the decision makers the ability to have a broader picture of the how best to grow their finances and take a re-look in the next period at what the forecasted and actuals were in order to construct prudent practices. 

Simms Financial Consulting

Debary, FL

Tel 505-715-3800

Top 5 Reasons For Tenants To Pay Rent On-Time

By Reedsnider

Estate Brokers property management services are here to protect both, our property owners and our tenants. With this in mind, here are the top 5 reasons for paying rent on-time:

Establish a good payment and credit history – At Estate Brokers, tenant payment status is reported regularly to the credit bureau. Credit history remains a key factor in future leasing, home purchasing and credit issuance.

Maintain goodwill with the landlord – Paying rent on-time is the right thing to do, and meeting financial obligations may prove beneficial down the road should a tenant lease again and require a positive reference. Most landlords expect tenants to simply comply with their rental agreement.

Avoid late fees, accrued interest, and legal costs – When rent is past due, a late fee is added in accordance with the rental agreement.  It’s also important to note that interest charges may apply and accrue on past due debt.  Also, should eviction proceedings be necessary, tenant files are forwarded to an attorney, resulting in an additional charge of at least $405 to cover processing.

Avoid eviction – It’s true!  A single month of delinquency can result in an eviction. In this case, not only will the tenant lose the roof over their head, but also their deposit.

Avoid a legal judgment – Nothing makes finding a new place or starting utility services more difficult than having a judgment or eviction on your public record and credit history.  Avoid going down this path by communicating early and often with your property manager and by paying your rent on-time, every time.

At Estate Brokers, we’ve made it easy to pay your monthly rent on-time with auto reminders, automatic bill pay, and any time, anywhere access to payment history and records through our tenant portal. Go there now!

Posted by: Reedsnider on April 23, 2015
Posted in: /tenant/

2016: “The Year Of Growth” in Orlando Real Estate


By Eric A. Hassen, LCAM, RE Broker


This year is starting-out strong. It is expected to be “The Year Of Growth” in Orlando Real Estate.  Even though, the aggregate rents tapered-off in December,  the future looks promising according to The rents on properties continue to rise, as well as the property values continue to creep up.

Real Estate Outlook
The real estate industry in Orlando FL continues to benefit from changing demographic trends and long-term economic growth. The other contributing factors include increased propensity for job growth in the private sector. In 2014, the price of houses in the city appreciated by 4.7 percent in line with the national appreciation rate. Between 2012 and 2014, the appreciation rate in the city area was actually 40%, compared to the national figure of 28%. Following the appreciation, a home purchased in Florida around 2009 would on average appreciate in value by $33,641 five years later. Recent statistics indicate that in 2015, the annual Orlando housing market prices appreciated by 15.46 percent, with a median price increase of 9 percent. The Median price stood at $178,000, against the 2014 value of $164,000.Some of the most attractive neighborhoods in Orlando for real estate investors include; Pine Hills, Meadow Woods, Lake Nona, Vista East and Metro West. The average listing price for homes for sale in Lake Nona and Meadow Woods in 2015 was $675,026 and $238,159 respectively. Despite the growth in the housing sector, the city continues to experience problems with delinquent mortgages and foreclosures. However, analysts expect the housing market in the city to continue posting growth, thanks to low unemployment rate, continued job growth, low mortgage rates, high affordability and the entry of millennial home buyers. The properties available for sale and rent in Florida include; single family homes, duplexes, villas, condos, townhouses, studios, community housing, apartments and lots.

Not All Managers Are Created Equal

By Dr. Timothy Bryant

The word management is from the Latin Manus, meaning hand. The term management has been interpreted to mean the handling, maneuvering, and guidance. Over the years the word passed into the French language in which was the bridge to English when the term entered the form to manage, a term that we all know as to manage, organize, and lead (Saman, Coroian, Sambotin, & Borlovan, 2011). The housing industry in America has boomed for investors to have an abundance of money to build houses, apartments, and shopping centers to rent out creating the job of property manager to lend a hand to the owners and investors of the various properties.

Most people lump property managers all under one umbrella. However there are two industries with property managers. One is residential and the other is commercial. Residential consists of houses, also known as a single family home, apartments, condominiums, and bungalows. Commercial property consists of industrial, motel, hotels,  warehouse, storage units and retail properties. The duties for property manager for  residential or commercial are similar, but responsibility, authority and laws are quite different. They lend the hand of the owner and assist them with showing the vacant property, reviewing the applications, collect all monies that pertain to the application, deposit, and rent monies. They collect, take  repair requests and oversee that the buildings are in good repair and handle lease management duties.

Within the industry of residential property managers their are several more types. The types of managers can stretch from limited to full service. The title of managers range from service agents, leasing agents, site managers, portfolio managers, asset managers, property managers, facility managers to general managers. Level of authority, responsibility and task can be vastly different within management. Understanding the difference can avoid headaches.

As such, dealing with a Hotel Manager, who leaves chocolates on a pillow and charges a daily rate to occupants, is much different under statutory guidelines than working with an apartment complex manager. Hotels are considered commercial and focused on customer service, or ‘hospitality’. More so, an apartment complex manager who works under the employment of a corporate owner-investor is not required to be licensed in real estate. Apartment complex managers can operate very different than third-party-licensed-brokerage property managers.

Licensed property managers operate as an agent for third-party private owners of single family homes and multi-family. They most often, operate to facilitate lease compliance and may not be a party to the lease, like Estate Brokers LLC, in Orlando Florida. A brokerage’ main responsibility often is to protect the property owner, property, and lease integrity. At times, is can be an adversarial position to the tenant. Tenants in these leases, are most often, responsible for the home, and the tenant must return the home in the same condition or better, to the management, to avoid costly headaches. 

Therefore if you are the tenant, and if your expectations are not being met by management, it could be the difference of understanding that you just might be the one responsible in the lease agreement. If you are a tenant, its a great idea to understand the terms in the lease, because not all managers are the same.


Saman, O. P., Coroian, A., Sambotin, L., & Borlovan, I. (2011). Concept of property management. 13(2), 277-280.