Updated June 15, 2021

Colorado Springs Airbnb laws changed significantly at the end of 2019. If you are a real estate investor or property owner looking to get into the Short-Term Rental (STR) market, that may be more difficult than you think, at least in the city of Colorado Springs.

The Colorado Springs City Council has implemented some new Colorado Springs Airbnb Laws that make investing in Short Term Rentals more challenging. We are going to take a look at why those rules were implemented, what the rules are, and how to move forward as a real estate investor.

Redefining Short-Term Rentals?

The phrase short-term rental has traditionally meant a rental property that is leased for less than one year. This type of rental was generally used by people who were waiting for a home to be built or were new to an area. Short Term Rentals were usually difficult to find and didn’t create much controversy.

This all changed with the introduction of online platforms like Airbnb and VRBO.

Both of these services allow homeowners to lease their own place directly to guests for short periods of time, much like a hotel would. These transactions are now referred to as Short Term Rentals or STR’s

These new types of short-term rental properties are actually for very short periods of time. Short Term now means by definition less than 30 days but in practice, the lease periods are more commonly 3 to 5 days.

New Investment Strategies

Investors soon figured out that they could purchase properties in popular neighborhoods, and turn them into short-term rental units. These were good investments because the rental rates were significantly higher than a traditional long-term lease.

In addition to receiving much higher returns, the tenants were less demanding in terms of things like repair requests and service issues. Yes, there were issues with preparing the units to be turned over quickly for new tenants but there were cleaning fees charged to help with that.

Many investors turned their entire rental portfolios into short-term rental operations. Investor owners of short-term rentals were getting along nicely until neighboring homeowners got tired of living near STRs.

Colorado Springs Introduces Regulations

Colorado Springs Airbnb Ordinance

Complaints and controversy are what motivated the Colorado Springs City Council to institute new regulations regarding short-term rentals in 2019. While short-term rental owners are attracted to these types of investment because they yield high returns, Neighbors on the other hand detest them because of the increase in traffic, noise, and people coming and going.

There were frequent complaints about loud parties, empty beer bottles, and the constant smell of marijuana. 

The effects the short-term rental industry has had on local housing supplies and pricing is another complaint about STR’s. The problem is that they take away housing for local residents, reducing potential inventory and driving up both rents and prices. In many popular STR destinations, we hear about problems with affordable housing. This is another issue that makes restricting STR’s popular with many.

These complaints and objections about STR’s from neighboring permanent residents eventually led city officials to implement new STR regulations. In a recent move, the Colorado Springs City Council approved new short-term rental regulations on 25th November 2019.

Other cities that have passed similar Airbnb rules are Destin Florida and Wellington Florida.

Colorado Springs Airbnb Laws

The Colorado Springs City council members voted 5-4 to approve the new provisions for short-term rentals which are more stringent than existing provisions. These new provisions were recommended by the City Planning Commission.

The goal was to regulate properties rented out by online platforms such as VRBO and Airbnb. The City Council decided that these provisions were needed to establish a standard for all the short-term rentals within Colorado Springs.

Non-Owner-Occupied Short-Term Rentals

The primary focus of this new ordinance seems to have been non-owner-occupied short-term rentals. While the ordinance doesn’t do away with non-owner-occupied short-term rentals, it does make it more difficult to find and license them.

There are certain zoning designations that will allow for non-owner-occupied short-term rentals in the City of Colorado Springs. Those zoning codes are R-2, R-4, R-5, SU, non-single family PUDs, OR, OC, PBC, C-5, C-6, and M-1. The property must have one of these zoning designations, and cannot be within 500’ straight line distance of another STR.

These zoning codes can be found on the Colorado Springs Springsview website. This tool allows you to search for properties and then dig into some real detail about that particular property. Once you locate the parcel you're interested in you simply click on the identify button at the top of the tool to find out about the zoning, building licenses, and more.

In a major part of the non-owner occupancy clause, the City Planning Commission also specified that there must be at least a five hundred (500) foot of operation buffer between any two new newly licenseted short-term rentals.

They have also clarified that this distance of five hundred feet will be calculated on the basis of a straight-line distance between two new short-term rentals and any intervening structures will not be regarded. So, a new short-term rental property must be situated at a distance of about five hundred feet in any direction in a straight line from another short-term rental property.

If you are considering purchasing a property to use as an STR, the best way to find out if there are any existing STRs within 500’ is to e-mail shorttermrentals@coloradosprings.gov . They will usually get back to you in 24 to 48 hours. The short-term rental search function on the Springsview page has been disabled due to security and privacy concerns.

The next provision that was introduced limited the overnight occupancy. Pursuant to Section 7.5.1706(H), “maximum overnight occupancy of a short-term rental unit shall be limited to two (2) occupants per bedroom, plus an additional two (2) occupants per dwelling unit. The maximum occupancy per dwelling unit shall be fifteen (15) occupants.”

You are Going to Need a Permit

Short-Term Rental operators will be required to obtain a valid permit to operate. The operator must display their approved permit and Good Neighbor Guidelines (with the permit number, valid through date, and local emergency contact) in a prominent location within your short-term rental unit.

The permit is valid for one (1) year from the date the permit was issued by the Planning & Community Development Department. After the expiration, the permit becomes invalid and the operator can renew the permit for an additional period of one year.

The Ordinance also clearly states that the permit is issued to the owner, not the property. This means that the permit is issued to the operator or the specific owner in order to operate or use the short-term rental unit.

Once the property transfers from one owner to another, the permit becomes invalid. The new owner will have to reapply for a new permit.

For example. "Mr. X" the operator of a short-term rental unit received a permit on January 1st of 2020. This permit is valid for one year from the date of issuance or December 31st. of 2020.

If "Mr. X" sells the short-term rental unit to "Mrs. Y" on, November 1st. of 2020, "Mrs. Y" will need to apply for a new permit if she intends to continue operating the property as a short-term rental.

In the case of non-owner occupied STR’s, existing owners (Pre-November 2019) are grandfathered in and therefore eligible for a Permit. Although these non-occupant owners are grandfathered in, they still need a permit to operate and if they sell or transfer the property, the new owner is not eligible unless they live in the property for more than one hundred and eighty-five (185) days.

Owner-Occupied Short-Term Rentals

In these new provisions, the Council has provided a definition of owner-occupied short-term rentals to clarify whether a person falls under this category or not.

The council defines owner-occupied short-term rentals as an owner who has been inhabiting a property for a continuous period of one hundred and eighty-five (185) consecutive days in a particular year. This makes it difficult to be a compliant, non-owner-occupied STR owner, at least in the City of Colorado Springs.

Owner-occupied STRs are allowed in any lawful dwelling unit as long as the property is within any of the following residential zoning types: A, R, R-1 9000, R-1 6000, R-2, R-4, R-5, SU, PUD, OR, OC, PBC, C-5, C-6 and M-1.

The Colorado Springs Springsview website can help you determine if your property is located in the appropriate zoning code.

You are Going to Need a License

A short-term rental license is now required to operate any short-term rental unit in the City of Colorado Springs. The operator must display their approved license and Good Neighbor Guidelines (with the license number, valid through date, and local emergency contact) in a prominent location within your short-term rental unit.

Licenses cost $119 per year and are valid for one (1) year from the date the license was issued by the Planning & Community Development Department. After the expiration, the license becomes invalid and the operator can renew the license for an additional period of one year.

It’s important to note that as an STR owner/operator, you will also be responsible for sales tax. Application for a short-term rental license can be made at the City of Colorado Springs Planning and Development website.

The Ordinance also clearly states that the license is issued to the owner, not the property. This means that the license is issued to the operator or the specific owner in order to operate or use the short-term rental unit.

Once the property transfers from one owner to another, the license becomes invalid. The new owner will have to reapply for a new license.

For example. "Mr. X" the operator of a short-term rental unit received a license on January 1st of 2020. This license is valid for one year from the date of issuance or December 31st. of 2020.

If "Mr. X" sells the short-term rental unit to "Mrs. Y" on, November 1st. of 2020, "Mrs. Y" will need to apply for a new license if she intends to continue operating the property as a short-term rental.

In the case of non-owner occupied STR’s, existing owners (Pre-November 2019) are grandfathered in and therefore eligible for a license. Although these non-occupant owners are grandfathered in, they still need a license to operate and if they sell or transfer the property, the new owner is not eligible unless they live in the property for more than one hundred and eighty-five (185) days.

Are There Still Opportunities For Real Estate Investors?

There are still opportunities for investors to be a successful Airbnb landlord in other cities and towns within the Pikes Peak region. The key is to find areas that are desirable to visitors.

Pike Peak Region Airbnb

Manitou Springs

Probably the best opportunity for non-owner-occupied short-term rentals. Manitou Springs is a small tourist-friendly town located just west of Colorado Springs. The city of Manitou Springs adopted regulations for the very first time in 2016. The Planning Department recommended changes to those rules in 2018 and at this point in time has yet to implement those changes.

As of now, the regulation states that the permission of the Manitou Springs City's Planning Commission is required for the rental of the dwelling unit which is given on rent for the sole purpose of lodging for at least one day and for a maximum period of twenty-nine days. The planning commission of the city provides the occupier with a minor conditional use permit.

Monument, Colorado

Monument, Colorado is a small town located just north of Colorado Springs. While Monument doesn’t possess the same tourist appeal as Manitou Springs, there are limited possibilities to find tenants for a short-term rental in Monument.

Monument is close to the United States Air Force Academy and both Cadets and Parents look for short-term rentals. Monument is also home to some great outdoor activities like hiking and mountain biking. An STR investment in Monument would certainly be more difficult to keep occupied but it’s not out of the question.

In the town of Monument, there are no regulations around short-term rentals.

Palmer Lake is located just west of Monument, Colorado and falls into the same category as Monument when it comes to STRs. There is limited availability but also not a strong demand either.

Fountain, Colorado

The City of Fountain, Colorado is located just south of Colorado Springs. The City Fountain is home to the Fort Carson Army Base. This creates the potential for short-term rental guests from friends and family visiting service members. Additionally, Fountain is close to both Schriever Air Force Base and Peterson Base. Both of these air stations provide potential guests as well.

Fountain is currently looking to adopt the zoning rules for both tiny homes and short term rental units which are advertised by online platforms like Airbnb and also for other houses that are rented for a continuous period of thirty days at any particular given time. However, regulations or official notification from Fountain have yet to be announced.

Woodland Park, Colorado

Woodland Park is a small eclectic mountain town located west of Colorado Springs in adjoining Teller County. While not as popular as Manitou Springs, this city does have a strong draw for tourists. The upside to Woodland Park for inventors is that there is generally more available inventory here than in Manitou Springs.

Woodland Park has yet to institute rules around short-term rentals.

Corporate Rental Opportunities

Cozy Airbnb

Another niche might be to look into short term rentals that require a stay of 30 days or more. Leases of more than 30 days do not require a permit.

These have traditionally been called corporate rentals and were intended for corporate employees traveling for work for extended periods of time. They afforded these road warriors the amenities of home in a setting that was more comfortable than a hotel.

Much of the corporate rental market jumped into the Airbnb model of leasing simply because it was so profitable. This has left a vacuum in inventory for those people looking at short term rentals for more than 30 days but less than a year. This is people that are building houses, new to the area or corporate travelers.

While the rates for a corporate rental are less lucrative than those for the Airbnb type rentals, they are still more attractive than what you would see on a traditional long-term lease.

Potential LLC Loophole

Recently it was brought to the attention of the Colorado Springs City Council that there is a loophole that allows for limited liability companies to hold short-term rental permits forever. Even though the number of LLC companies that hold permit for short term rentals is relatively small, the issue created some discussion. The commission ruled against a permit holder who wanted to keep his permit after transferring ownership of the rental house to a limited liability company for liability and estate planning reasons. The intent of the city code was for short-term rental permits to expire when homes are sold. Neighborhood advocates are encouraging the Colorado Springs City Council to close this potential loophole to maintain the intent of the city code.

Conclusion

At this point, the Colorado Springs City Council has committed to revisiting the rules around short term rentals within the city limits again at some point in the future. Until then we have to live with the current regulations.

If you aren't an existing pre-November 2019 non-occupant owner of a short-term rental in Colorado Springs the good news is you've been grandfathered in and as long as you acquire a permit can continue to do business until you sell the property.

If you are a homeowner leasing out an accessory dwelling unit or small apartment within your home. You're OK as long as you have a permit and follow the rules regarding number occupants allowed.

Finally, if you are a non-owner occupied investor looking to get into the short term rental market in the Pikes Peak Region, your best bet is going to be to lookout in one of the surrounding areas that don't yet have restrictions in place. Airbnb and VRBO properties do well in areas that are a popular destination for visitors and tourists.

Until something changes, this is the current status of the Short-Term Rental market in Colorado Springs. If you have any additional questions on short-term rentals or real estate investing in general, please feel free to contact us.

What is Section 8?

Section 8 is a rental housing assistance program, funded by the U.S. Department of Housing (HUD), and administered by local public housing agencies. Sometimes referred to as the housing choice voucher program because it grants vouchers to eligible low-income families, people with disabilities, and seniors in order to help them obtain affordable housing.

Section 8 properties are owned by cooperating private landlords that agree to rent Section 8 approved properties to qualified voucher holders at fair market rents. The gap between fair market value and what the voucher holders pay is subsidized by the U.S. Department of Housing HUD and managed by a local public housing authority or local PHA.

It is important to mention that the responsibility for finding the rental property is up to the voucher holder, not the housing agency. There are States that are implementing regulations that mandate rental properties accept Section 8 voucher holders whether the private landlord wants to or not. 

How Did it Originate?

First, a little background: the creation of Section 8 housing dates back to the Great Depression. It was first introduced as part of Franklin Delano Roosevelt's "New Deal" program back in the 1930s, In fact, the term "Section 8" comes from Section 8 of the Housing Act of 1937. As you might expect, it's evolved a lot between then and now.

The most important development came with the Housing and Community Development Act of 1974, which introduced the Housing Choice Voucher Program.

The Development of Section 8

The Housing Choice Voucher Program is what most people mean when they refer to Section 8. It was established in response to criticism of government-owned public housing - people felt the government public housing program at that time, while well-intentioned, was just creating poverty-ridden areas that made the problems faced by low-income individuals and families worse, not better.

You've probably encountered the term "the projects" before. This phrase is shorthand for "public housing projects," i.e., housing that is owned by the public sector (that is, the government). This used to be the only kind of this type of housing available up until the introduction of the Housing Choice Voucher Program.

Nowadays, Section 8 housing can be in any apartment or house which passes inspection - the tenant has a choice when it comes to the type of housing. Section 8 is a private market solution to a public housing problem, and we know it works because section 8 is currently responsible for helping more than two times the number of eligible tenants as public projects.

Two Types of Section 8 Housing Vouchers

There are two types of vouchers: project-based vouchers and tenant-based vouchers. 

Project-based vouchers, as their name implies, can only be used for specifically approved projects.

These are buildings, or areas that are designated to house eligible low-income families, and accept Housing Choice Vouchers. These tend to be larger multi-family buildings, more like apartment buildings than detached single-family homes.

Tenant-based vouchers, on the other hand, follow the tenant, not the project. These choice vouchers are used to pay property owners who have made their properties available to Section 8 tenants and have passed inspections. These are issued under the Housing Choice Voucher Program.

Section 8 For Tenants

Let's first take a look at this housing voucher program as it applies to tenants. If you find yourself facing financial difficulties, is applying for Section 8 housing a good idea for you? You may have become discouraged as people tell you it's too difficult to get, or that all the accommodations will be dirty and undesirable.

While the process of qualifying for the housing choice voucher program is certainly not easy, it's not impossible. there are specific steps you will need to take and plenty of paperwork you will need to fill out but at the end of the day, it's certainly worth the work. 

As far as living conditions are concerned, the local housing agency inspects each unit and there is a minimum condition requirement the landlord needs to meet in order to be a part of the program. So, while the properties are certainly not brand new or luxury homes, they are clean and safe.

Payment Standards

Section 8 won’t cover all of a voucher holder's rent. The housing choice voucher program uses something called payment standards to determine how much housing assistance payment money the public housing agency will pay the owner on behalf of the voucher holder.

A payment standard between 90% and 110% of the Fair Market Rents for a particular area is calculated by the local public housing agency. This represents the cost of leasing a moderately-priced dwelling unit in a particular area. These Fair market Rents are published regularly by HUD

The voucher holder will be required to pay 30% of their monthly adjusted gross income towards rent and utilities. If the rent exceeds the payment standard allocated for this house, the tenant would be required to pay the difference. 

Pros and Cons of For Tenants

The most obvious advantage of Section 8 is that it can help you pay your bills. A lot of people can get to the point where paying for rent is their primary concern - this rental subsidy helps alleviate this rent burden so you can pay for other necessities such as food. 

Section 8 affords low-income families the opportunity to improve their situation

One major drawback of applying for Section 8 is that you will most likely be placed on a waiting list

One major drawback is that you will most likely be placed on a waiting list - it may take as long as a year or two for Housing and Urban Development to determine if you or your family qualify. However, during this time you will likely be able to use project-based vouchers.

Although you will most likely be placed on a waiting list - the demand for vouchers is greater than the number of accommodations available - Section 8 is not a first-come, first-serve system.

There are certain qualifications that can give you preference when it comes to getting housing. Some of these include:

  • The family being homeless.
  • The family currently living in substandard housing
  • The family paying more than 50 % of their income for rent
  • The family has been involuntarily displaced

If any of these conditions apply to your situation, be sure to let the PHA (Public Housing Authority) know as you may be able to get housing faster.

How Can I Qualify for as a Tenant?

Qualification for housing choice vouchers is based mainly on your income, and the amount of the payment standard HUD is willing to fund varies based on your family size. It also depends on the area you live in: there are income limits, as a rule of thumb, you can not earn more than 50% of the median income of the area in which you live in order to qualify. 

The tenant will also need to go through the private landlord’s standard screening process. This usually involves a credit check, a background check including a look at any criminal history, or eviction history.

The tenant will in most cases also be responsible for the security or damage deposit.

Section 8 voucher holders are responsible to report any changes in income or family composition or familial status to your local public housing authorities.

In general, you must be a US citizen in order to qualify for Section 8, though there are certain exceptions.

How To Apply

To start the application process, you will visit a Public Housing Agency office. HUD maintains a list of participating agencies, you can find the list here.

Applications are free and can be filled out in person, sent through the mail, or even submitted online.

You will most likely be placed on a waiting list for 1 to 2 years, during this waiting period, you can choose to accept project-based vouchers.

Once the tenant applicant is approved they can start to search for rental properties that accept Section 8 vouchers. Once they find a property, the local housing agency will need to inspect the housing unit and make sure it meets the section 8 criteria, this also includes a physical inspection to make sure the property is in good condition.

Each local housing authority will have a different process, and different requirements for this rental assistance program, it’s best to start with the local housing agency.

Section 8 For Landlords

If you are considering becoming a Section 8 landlord, you probably have a lot of questions. First and foremost, you'll be wondering: "should I become a Section 8 landlord?" Well, there are benefits and drawbacks to accepting Section 8 tenants. We'll start with some of the benefits.

Pros for Landlords

If you've been a landlord for any length of time, you'll know that one of the most frustrating things about being a landlord is overdue rent; you've probably heard that rent is guaranteed with a Section 8 tenant, and what could be more appealing than this? Well, it's at least partially true, and one of the biggest advantages of renting out to a Section 8 tenant.

Basically, the government will only pay a certain percentage of the rent - this you can expect to receive every month (although when first starting out with a tenant, it might take a few months to get rent; more on this below) 

Given that the whole point of public housing is for the government to guarantee accommodations to those who can't afford it, it might seem strange that they're only paying a portion of the rent, but that's the way it works unless the tenant is making no income in which case they'll probably cover it completely.

As you can see, saying Section 8 means "guaranteed monthly rent" is a bit of a misnomer. As with any tenant, it's your duty to evaluate the Section 8 tenant, looking at things like their credit history. 

Since the government will be paying most of the rent, market-based increases on rental units are less traumatic for tenants.

Fill up vacancies more quickly with Section 8

Another benefit of agreeing to accept Section 8 tenants is that you'll be able to fill up vacancies more quickly. Since there is a shortage of landlords who are willing to work with housing voucher clients, these apartments and houses are continuously in short supply and high demand: we don't want to say it's guaranteed that a vacancy will fill up in a few days, but there's a good chance that, in a lot of cases, it will be filled more quickly than if it were being rented out the normal way.

Since a lot of landlords will not accept Section 8 vouchers, this also means tenants are less likely to leave this type of housing (ideally, yours) once they've found it. Section 8 leases are usually for a minimum term of one year.

Cons for Section 8 Landlords

Above, we mentioned that apartments or houses that wish to become Section 8 housing must pass inspection. As with any federal government program, there can be a lot of red tape!

Once a year, an inspector will visit the property to ensure it meets standards and habitability requirements. You may be required to make changes at your own expense, though there are preventative measures you can take to make sure this doesn't happen.

Of course, although the government pays around 70% of the rent, the other 30% is not guaranteed. If you are an experienced landlord, you should use your standard systems for qualifying section 8 tenants. This should involve a credit check, background check, and a follow up call with any references.

It’s important to be consistent with your qualification standards from tenant to tenant. The fastest way to end up with a fair housing violation is to use different standards for approving or rejecting different tenants. 

Another business practice landlords should maintain is the security or damage deposit. When leasing to a Section 8 voucher holder, it’s important to maintain your normal business standards, if you normally charge a security or damage deposit, you should use the same standards with a section 8 applicant. 

So, overall, there are advantages and disadvantages to becoming a Section 8 landlord. 

Determining whether or not it's right for you can seem like a balancing act of weighing the benefits against the drawbacks and vice versa. 

In spite of all the myths you have heard, this is not necessarily a disaster, nor is it a magical, higher-than-average guaranteed rent situation. 

We recommend really doing your research, taking your time and especially researching the experiences other landlords have had with Section 8 tenants so you can learn more about the perks but also be on the lookout for any potential problems.

Pros and Cons of Section 8 For Tenants and Landlords

Conclusion

Section 8 is a valuable program that benefits both tenants and landlords. It can help tenants get back on their feet, saving them from homelessness if they can't otherwise afford rent, and it helps landlords have steady access to a large supply of potential tenants.

Whether you are a person who needs cheaper housing, or a landlord who needs more tenants, Section 8 is certainly something worth looking into. If you have any questions regarding this topic, feel free to contact us.

Your rental property is a valuable investment. Perhaps your most valuable (other than the home that you live in), which makes choosing the best property management company an important decision. If you don't know how to find a good property management company, read on...

Many real estate investors opt to work with a property manager to save themselves time and stress— late-night emergency maintenance calls aren’t anyone’s idea of a good time. For others, however, managing a rental is simply impossible, either because their primary residence is out-of-state or because they don’t have the time and expertise.

Property managers can step in and take care of the day-to-day concerns of maintaining the property and finding tenants. The problem is that property management is not a well-regulated industry. If you aren’t careful, you could end up with an incompetent or even dishonest property manager.

You probably spent a lot of time researching and visiting potential rental properties before making a purchase. Taking some time to research and vet prospective property managers is one of the best ways to protect your investment.

research property managers

It's important to do a little research before hiring a property manager

Requirements to Become a Property Manager in Colorado

It is relatively easy to become a property manager in Colorado. By law, you are only required to have a real estate broker’s license to manage rental properties.

The problem is that not all real estate agents have the expertise to successfully manage properties. Or they may be too busy with other aspects of their business to give property management the time and attention it deserves.

Going through a real estate company that has property management expertise and a dedicated property management team, however, offers distinct benefits. A realtor knows how to effectively advertise properties and will be able to assist if you decide to sell your rental property in the future.

 

Professional Property Manager

Hire a professional property manager

Property Management Services

Property management services offered by industry professionals usually include finding the right tenants and in many cases avoiding the dangerous ones, negotiating rental contracts, performing routine maintenance, handling evictions, collecting rent, and everything in between.

Property management fee structures can vary widely between companies. Here at Springs Homes, for example, we charge a small annual administration fee, a monthly fee, a lease fee to cover marketing the property and screening prospective tenants, and a maintenance retainer that is used to keep the property up to snuff. Some companies may also charge fees for things like early termination of a property management contract, handling an eviction, or taking on a property without an existing tenant.

Though services may vary slightly, property management is designed to allow you to enjoy the benefits of an investment property without sacrificing your free time. In addition to saving time, a good property manager will be familiar with relevant laws, such as habitability and eviction laws, and deal with any legal issues that may arise.

Eviction Laws

The eviction process is strict, let a professional handle it

A property manager’s job includes vetting potential tenants, running background checks, and marketing the property, so it won’t sit empty for long. The manager is also the main point of contact for tenant issues and is responsible for security deposits and documentation for the property.

Since property managers have such a wide range of responsibilities, it is easy for a bad property manager to take advantage of either rental property owners or tenants through dishonesty and negligence.

Checklist to Find the Right Property Management Company

So how can you as an investor be sure that you are choosing the right property manager who will work in the best interest of you and your tenants? With a bit of background research and a well-planned interview process, you can enter into a property management relationship with confidence.

1. Check Reviews and References

A Google search is a good place to start researching a prospective property manager. Online reviews can give you an idea of overall customer satisfaction. Some negative reviews (such as a review by an evicted tenant) may have no bearing on the quality of a company’s work, but you can look for themes, such as multiple people complaining about a manager’s poor communication.

online reviews

Reviews are essential when researching a property management company

Once you’ve given Google a quick skim, check out the company’s listing on the Better Business Bureau. Have they had any complaints filed against them? A solid online reputation is the first sign that this might be a good company to work with. Here's a great article that digs deeper into the importance of online reviews.

If you are ready to sit down in an interview, ask the manager to provide references from previous property owners and tenants. When you call the property owner, ask about things like communication, timely payments, and transparent policies.

Ask the tenant if they are satisfied with responses to their repair requests and if they would renew their lease.

2. Verify Licenses and Certifications

Before interviewing a candidate, you will want to verify that they are appropriately licensed through the state’s real estate commission. The Colorado Department of Regulatory Agencies offers a license lookup tool. You can search by either the individual’s name or the business name to see the type and status of their license.

You can also ask the company or individual if they have any certifications related to property management. Several trade organizations, such as The National Association of Realtors and The National Association of Residential Property Managers, offer certification programs.

verify licenses

In Colorado, you can visit the DORA website to search for licenses

3. Review Insurance Coverage

Make sure that any companies that you are considering have the appropriate insurance coverage for their business. As a baseline, property managers should have general liability insurance, errors and omissions (E&O), and commercial insurance that helps cover the properties they manage.

Property managers usually require that both the tenants and landlords be properly insured as well. They may ask you to add them onto your landlord insurance as an additional insured to make sure that they are protected from all angles

4. Meet in Person

If possible, meet your potential property manager in person for an interview. Note your first impressions of the manager. Would you feel comfortable renting from them? Are they personable, polite, and responsive? Was it relatively easy to schedule a meeting with them?meeting property manager

Though property managers have a lot on their plate, their ability to make time to meet with you will likely translate over to how they communicate with you and your tenants in a business relationship. Slow responses or multiple reschedules are red flags that indicate they might be difficult to communicate with when you are actually working together.

You will want to prepare a list of questions to ask in the interview so that you can learn more about the company’s qualifications and policies. We have put together a list of suggested interview questions that you can print out and take with you to the meeting, or you can write your own.

5. Confirm Specialized Experience

Make sure that the property manager has expertise with the type of property that you own. You probably don’t want to hire a commercial property manager to manage your single-family home. Likewise, a property manager that works primarily with single-family homes may not be ideally positioned to market your commercial space.

Ask about the types of property that they have previously managed and how many years of experience they have. You can also ask about continuing education and what they do to keep up on current industry laws.

6. Ask about Vacancy Rates and Size of Client Base

In the property manager interview, ask about vacancy rates and size of client base. If they have a decent number of vacant properties, ask about the property types and how long each property has been vacant. Maybe they have filled all of their single-family homes but don’t have the expertise to find tenants for a condo.

The size of the client base can give you an idea of the company’s experience. If they already have a sizable number of satisfied customers, they are probably a good company to work with. At the same time, you will want to make sure that they have the capacity to take on a new property and aren’t stretched too thin.

7. Examine Contracts

Real Estate Contracts

Take the time to read any contracts involved

If everything else checks out, you are ready to examine the company’s property management contract and tenant lease agreement.

You will primarily want to look for transparency and strong policies in their contracts. Are their services clearly outlined? What are you responsible for as a landlord? How long is the contract, and can you terminate early if you aren’t satisfied with the company?

This is also a good time to look at their fee structure. Are their management fees straight-forward, or are there hidden fees? You can also do some comparison research to make sure that their services aren’t under or over-priced. An under-priced property manager may be inexperienced or too good to be true.

When looking at the lease agreement, look for late rent policies, penalties for breaking the lease, tenant responsibilities (such as who is responsible for yard maintenance), and who the tenant should contact with issues or maintenance requests. The more clearly these processes are outlined in the contract, the less likely you are to run into issues down the road.

The Final Decision

At this point, you have done your due diligence and have a few potential candidates that are qualified, competent, and well-reviewed. How do you make your final decision?

Great communication will result in a great working relationship, so the right fit may be the manager who is the most responsive or the easiest for you to talk to. You want a qualified professional managing your rental property, but great customer service for you and your tenant is equally important.

Taking some time to compare and contrast your short-listed candidates may offer some additional insight. All of your candidates probably have strengths and weaknesses in some aspect of property management, so create a pros and cons list. Which pros do you value the most highly as an investment property owner, and which cons are you willing to live with?

Though finding the best property manager might seem like a daunting task, there are many qualified real estate professionals in the Colorado Springs area, and if you work your way through this checklist, you can rest easy, knowing that your investment is in good hands.

If you are interested in discussing your investment property with the Springs Homes Property Management team, contact us. We’d love to meet with you and answer your questions.

Understanding Cap RateCapitalization Rate or “Cap Rate” is a ratio used by real estate investors to determine the desirability or profitability of a specific property. This ratio compares the relationship between the property value and the potential income that property may produce as if you had paid cash for the property.

While there are certainly more sophisticated analytical tools we can use when evaluating rental properties, cap rate is a good quick reference tool used to assess whether or not a property is even worth considering.

We use this formula when we are working with our investor clients. Knowing property values and rental rates along with a good sense of average repair and maintenance costs and potential vacancy rates allow us to calculate a rough cap rate on the fly.

As we narrow down the properties our client is interested in, we can do a more precise calculation prior to making an offer on any properties.

Establishing Cap Rate

Cap Rate is established by dividing the Net Operating Income (NOI) of a property by the value of that property. The cap rate essentially shows the relationship between the property value and the potential income that particular property could produce. The higher the cap rate the more attractive the property is.

cap rate formula

Net Operating Income NOI

Let’s look at the Net Operating Income half of the cap rate equation. NOI consists of all revenue from the property, minus any reasonable operating expenses. NOI is a pre-tax figure, appearing on a property’s income and cash flow statement, that excludes principal and interest payments on loans, any capital expenditures, depreciation, and amortization.

In order to establish Net Operating Income, you total the annual rents collected for a property, this is the Gross Income. Once this figure is established you would subtract the following expenses.

  • Annual Property taxesCap Rate Calculator
  • Any Insurance
  • Maintenance
  • Repairs
  • Vacancy rate
  • Property management fees

Property Value

The other half of the equation is “value”, this is the price you paid for the property or the current value of the property. If you are looking at properties and have questions about value, your agent should be able to give you a reasonably good idea of what the property’s true value is.

Working Backwards-Using Cap Rate to Establish Value

Cap Rate can also be a helpful tool to use in order to determine your bottom line when evaluating a property you are interested in purchasing.

Let’s say you are interested in a property that is listed for $300,000. Your goal is a 10% cap rate on any property you purchase. Let’s say the NOI for this property is $27,000, which gives us a 9% cap rate, not bad but you want 10%. This means you would need to acquire this property for $270,000 in order to get your 10% cap rate.

Each situation and market are different but knowing that $270,000 is your bottom line helps you decide if you want to even pursue this property or if the price is too high for the return you’d see. In some markets, an offer that is 10% below asking price is a common practice while in other markets it would be a slap in the seller’s face. Each market is different and these are decisions investors need to make.

Other Methods

It’s important to note that cap rate looks at potential financial performance, not actual returns. In order to get a better idea of how a given property will perform, there are other methods of evaluating a property that will give you better results. Methods like cash flow analysis and cash-on-cash returns are potentially better metrics to use, assuming you know your numbers.

The vacancy rate, maintenance, and repairs all affect an investor’s bottom line and all three are fairly unpredictable. Controlling these costs without compromising the health and safety of your tenants is the key to long term profitability from rental properties.

In Conclusion

There are a number of methods investors can use to analyze an investment or rental property. Cap Rate should be just one tool in an investor's arsenal but it is an important one. Remember to use cap rate in the early stages of new property acquisition.

The key to successful investing in the residential real estate rental market is buying the property at a great price. This one key detail makes all of the other factors easier to work with and cap rate does a great job when you are looking for deals.

If you are a landlord, then you are all too familiar with the frustration that comes when you find out that the heater has gone out at your rental unit, or that there’s a leak –yet again. If you’re tired of the frustrations that come from dealing with breakdowns, and costly repairs eating into your profits, there’s a solution that you may want to consider: purchasing a home warranty for your rental property.

Today, you can buy warranties for almost anything, including homes. Home warranties are particularly popular with landlords, who know all too well that if something can go wrong at a rental, it will. A good home warranty can help a landlord to save a significant amount of money if costly repairs are necessary. It can also help landlords to ensure compliance with state and federal laws.

While home warranties can be invaluable for landlords who are interested in protecting their investment, it’s important to note that not all warranties are created equal. Each warranty is unique in terms of the coverage that it offers, the exclusions, and terms and conditions.

If you’re interested in a home warranty for your rental, there are a few things that you should know before purchasing one. Here’s a brief rundown on what, exactly, a home warranty is, the benefits and disadvantages of getting one, and finally, what you can do to ensure that you choose the best option for your property.

What Is a Home Warranty?

The term ‘home warranty’ is enough to cause some confusion for those who are unfamiliar.

Traditional warranties are a type of guarantee of the quality of a product or service, usually made by the seller or manufacturer to the buyer. Home warranties, though, are not guarantees, but instead, contracts to provide repairs and replacement for home systems and appliances that break down or fail due to normal wear and tear.

Home warranties were first started in 1971 by American Home Shield. The industry has grown considerably since then, and today dozens of companies offer home warranties. A few main players include American Home Shield, Total Protect, SEARS, and First American, as well as HMS Home Warranty and Old Republic Home Protection.

Some people may also confuse home warranties with insurance, but there are some distinct differences between the two. Insurance provides coverage for specific events, such as fire, flooding, and theft; while home warranties cover the components or major appliances in a home against breakdown.

The best way to think of a home warranty is to view it as a home services contract. Home warranties for rental properties are designed to provide repairs for breakdown or damage to specific home components, as well as replacement if they cannot be repaired.

Benefits and Disadvantages of Home Warranties

Home warranty plans offer a number of advantages for landlords. If something goes wrong, you won’t have to start looking for an electrician or plumber –or rush to the rental to make the repairs yourself. Instead, you can just place a call to the home warranty company, and they’ll send someone out for you. Having a home warranty will also make it easier to budget for expenses and repairs, helping you to avoid being caught out by unexpected issues. You simply budget for the premium and keep some money for the service call fees. No need to worry about forking out hundreds of dollars all at once for a new water heater when the old ones goes out.

However, home warranty plans have some disadvantages too. Just like insurance, you pay for the plan even if you don’t end up using it in the end. Most policies cost a few hundred dollars, usually somewhere between $400-$800 per year. In some cases, it may work out to be more economical to pay for issues as they arise, rather than prepay for potential repairs that may or may not be required. Additionally, most warranty companies will attempt every repair before authorizing a full replacement. Another issue with home warranties is that you run the risk of claims being denied. If the home warranty company considers the breakdown to have been caused by neglect, improper use, or a pre-existing problem, they may choose not to accept the claim. Additionally, some landlords may realize when making a claim that their warranties don’t include coverage for the item in question. Finally, there is also the issue of wait times. Sometimes repairs can be delayed during high-demand seasons.

Most home warranties usually include the following:

  • Refrigerator
  • Dishwasher
  • Built-in microwave
  • Garbage disposal
  • Stove/Oven
  • HVAC
  • Electrical system
  • Plumbing
  • Washing machine and dryer
  • Ductwork
  • Ceiling fans
  • Water heater
  • Garage door opener

While more premium warranties may also include coverage for:

  • Sump pump
  • Pool
  • Ice maker
  • Stand-alone freezer
  • Well pump
  • Lawn sprinklers
  • Plumbing fixtures
  • Lighting fixtures
  • Roof repairs
  • Septic systems
  • Water filters

Things that are not usually covered include:

  • Structural issues
  • Problems that are the result of neglected maintenance
  • Damage caused by frozen pipes
  • Outdoor repairs
  • Permit fees
  • Disposal fee for old appliances
  • Rust
  • Improper installation
  • Mismatched systems
  • Pre-existing problems
  • Anything that’s outside of normal wear and tear

As always, the list of what is and isn’t covered will vary considerably from company to company so be sure to ask for a list of things that are covered when weighing up different options.

Tips for Selecting a Home Warranty for your Rental Property

To be sure, having a home warranty can provide you with peace of mind if things go wrong, writes Anthony Giorgianni of Consumer Reports, “But you should also realize that the providers of these plans have built-in wiggle room that can make it easier for them not to make payments. As a result, hundreds of consumers have complained to the Better Business Bureau about their plans, often because they didn’t get the payouts they expected.”

To ensure that you find the best warranty for your rental property, and to help prevent disappointment when it comes time to make a claim, you’ll want to make sure you understand exactly what’s included in your home warranty, and have a clear understanding of the terms and conditions.

With this in mind let’s take a look at how you can ensure that you find a home warranty that’s a good fit for you and your rental property. As always, being informed is key to ensuring that you make the best decision possible, and will help you to choose a warranty that’s right for you.

Read the Fine Print to See What’s Covered

When considering a home warranty, it’s important to read the fine print. Each home warranty is different, with their own set of particular inclusions, exclusions, and conditions. For example, some warranties will not cover washing machine repair, even if you opt for appliance coverage. Some, that claim to cover plumbing, may not cover common parts that often go out, such as faucets, but instead will only provide coverage for the pipes that are in the walls. Before signing up for a warranty program, make sure you take the time to read the contract carefully so that you fully understand what’s covered, and what isn’t.

Check online reviews

Next, you’ll want to ensure that you’re buying from a reputable company. Before signing an agreement, have a look at the Better Business Bureau and online review sites to see what people are saying; and to find out what their rating is.

Find Out How the Warranty Company Selects their Contractors

Another important consideration is how the company selects their contractors. Are they vetted in any way? How do they ensure they are qualified? How long have their vendors been working with them? Will they be able to guarantee that the work will be completed in a timely manner? You should also ask what happens if a vendor doesn’t meet your expectations. A reputable home warranty company should allow you to request that subpar vendors not be used for future call-outs.

Find Out What the Waiting Period Is

You’ll also want to keep in mind that most home warranties also include a waiting period between the date that you sign up, and when you can actually begin to use the service. Usually, this period is anywhere between 30-90 days.

See If the Company Will Work With Property Management Companies

If you have a property manager overseeing your property or plan to enlist the services of one at some point in the future, you’ll want to check with the home warranty company to see if they work with property management companies. Some companies will allow the landlord to keep a credit card on file to cover service call fees. Others, however, require payment from the tenant when the technician arrives –something that could lead to potential problems and complications.

See What the Service Fee Is

The service fee or call out fee is the flat rate that you’ll pay out-of-pocket for repairs. Similar to a deductible on an insurance policy, most service fees range between $75 and $125 per claim. In some cases, you’ll have the option to pay a higher service fee for a lower monthly payment.

See What the Limits of Liability Are

Most home warranties have a limit on the amount of money that they will pay out in a year. In some cases, the company may assign a specific limit to each item. For instance, if they have a $400 annual limit on dryers, it will only pay up to $400 each year for the dryer to be repaired or replaced. According to Reviews.com, half of the 17 home warranty companies that were analysed cap their coverage at $500. Limits can make or break a warranty, so be sure to find out where your coverage will be capped before making your decision.

Ask About the Recall Period

Often home warranty companies will provide what’s known as a “workmanship guarantee” for any repairs performed by one of their contractors. This means that if anything goes wrong with the repair or installation during a specific amount of time after the work was done, the home warranty company will repair it at no additional charge to you.

Ensure that the Warranty Coverage Is Right for Your Property

When purchasing a home warranty policy, you’ll want to make sure that it’s the right one for the property. You can choose warranties that include various degrees of coverage, including ones that cover the rental’s major systems such as electrical and plumbing, as well as a more premium plan that extends to cover appliances. You’ll also want to consider the age of the property when making your decision. While newer properties that are less than ten years old, most of the appliances will already be covered by manufacturers’ warranties, so there may not be a need for an extensive warranty. Additionally, “Many states require the builder to repair defects in materials and workmanship for a few years – typically two to 10 years,” writes Don Vandervort, founder of Home Tips. For older properties, though, it may make more sense to purchase more extensive coverage.

If you’re on the fence about a home warranty, be sure to consider the pros and cons of coverage to see if it’s something that you could benefit from. Remember, plans vary considerably, so if you’re not happy with a quote that you received from one company, don’t be afraid to look elsewhere. It doesn’t hurt to ask for a discount as well –some companies may be willing to negotiate.

Having an emergency fund to cover unexpended costs could stand in for a warranty. But you’ll want to honestly assess whether you’re disciplined enough to set aside a certain amount of money each month for emergency repairs. For landlords who would like to have as much coverage as possible, or who may not be able to commit to putting $100 in a repairs account each month, having a home warranty may be an ideal solution. Some landlords find that warranties are especially helpful in the beginning, until they’ve had time to build up some reserves. Other long-distance landlords use warranties to reduce some of the stress and hassle of having to coordinate repairs from afar.

No matter which way you’re leaning, at the end of the day you’ll want to ensure that you make a decision that will benefit both you and your property, so have a look to see what’s out there before making your final decision on whether to buy a home warranty for your rental property.

Springs Homes for Rent

Springs Homes for Rent has the staff, vendors, systems, and years of experience to provide you with the highest level of service and outstanding customer service. We specialize in single family homes and pride ourselves in proactive communication and full financial transparency for the best residential property management in Colorado Springs.
Springs Homes for Rent
703 N. Tejon St. Suite A
Colorado Springs, CO 80903
(719) 359-8998rentals@springshomes.comCONTACT US
NARPMSPRINGS HOMES REAL ESTATETERMS & CONDITIONS
Connect with us on our 
Springs Homes Social Channels

Looking for Residential Real Estate Services? Visit our Real Estate Company.

Springs Homes
Copyright © 2022 | Springs Homes for Rent
linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram