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Email: martin@martinfeinberg.com

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Going Paperless can help Property Managers do Business Efficiently

Image is a laptop and smart phone.In this day and and age, many businesses have embraced the benefits of going paperless.  Paper costs money, can be difficult to keep organized, takes up extra space to store, and has a negative environmental impact.  For many rental property owners however, the thought of converting to a paperless office in an industry surrounded by documents is daunting.  For this reason, many turn to professional property managers like Martin Feinberg, who have the experience and resources to streamline operations in ways that require much less paper than would otherwise be necessary.

Going paperless, or at least cutting down on the amount of paper used or needed to take care of business, takes planning but is very doable.  The best way to begin is to follow the suggestions below:

UTILIZE ELECTRONIC SIGNATURES FOR CONTRACTS

The Federal ESIGN Act declared electronic signature to be legally binding almost 20 years ago.  However, property managers should check with their state’s regulations, and also consult with an attorney, to make sure that their personal documents qualify.  Once everything has been proven to be legally binding, using and converting electronically signed documents into .pdf files not only eliminates the need for paper signatures, but printing and storing paper documents as well.

COMMUNICATE ONLINE

It wasn’t that many years ago that rental property management required extensive use of a fax machine to do business.  Faxing documents used to be the easiest way to verify rental and employment information and also send sensitive data.  Today though fax machines are practically obsolete.  Many online word processing programs make it possible to create either a secure sharable link to a document or limit access to documents via a password.  Communicating electronically and securely has never been more easy.

ONLINE WORK ORDERS AND REQUESTS

There are many online options for property managers that allow tenants to send a request or work order or otherwise communicate with their property managers online through portals.  Tenant/manager relationships are too important to rely on a paper trail to get things done in a timely manner.  Online alternatives make it much easier to respond quickly without the chance of papers getting lost or misplaced along the way.

ACCEPT ONLINE RENT PAYMENTS

Cash, checks, and money orders are all forms of paper and can be both risky and time consuming to handle.  Letting tenants pay rent online is a more secure way to handle monetary transactions. It also creates a digital paper trail and reduces operating expenses. The easiest way to do this is to invest in professional property management software that has a merchant processing option.

TENANT RESOURCES

Image is a close up of shredded paper.Good property managers communicate with their tenants often, and that means a near-constant stream of notices, flyers, new move-in information, inspection details, emergency announcements, and more.   Communicating online is a much more efficient, simple, and cost-effective way to disseminate information and stay connected.

REMEMBER IT’S ABOUT PROGRESS

It may not be possible for every property manager to go 100% paperless, but reducing the need for paper can still be the end goal.   When paper is necessary, property managers can try to reduce, reuse, and recycle when possible.  Little efforts towards becoming more efficient and environmentally friendly can go a long way.

Culver City Police Receive Grant for Enforcement and Education Program

Image is a drawing of the Culver City Police Department badge.Local listing agent Martin Feinberg was very happy to learn that the Culver City Police Department recently received a $100,000 grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety (OTS).  The grant is for a one-year enforcement and education program and will be used to fund different activities and programs intended to reduce the number of deaths and injuries on California roads.

According to Police Chief Scott Bixby, “Grant funding from the California Office of Traffic Safety (OTS) gives us the ability to supplement our enforcement efforts in areas that directly impact the safety of everyone traveling on our roadway.  It also allows us to provide additional traffic safety education in our community.”

Martin Feinberg, Realtor, notes that the activities and programs, which will be funded by the grant, are for the 2020 federal fiscal year.  It runs from Oct. 1, 2019 to Sept. 30, 2020.

The funding from the OTS will be used for numerous programs within the Culver City Real Estate area, including:

  • DUI/driver’s license checkpoints.
  • Patrols specifically looking for suspected alcohol and/or drug-impaired drivers.
  • Patrols targeting violations of California’s hands-free cell phone law and vehicle code violations by drivers, motorcyclists, bicyclists and pedestrians that put other roadway users at risk.
  • Patrols targeting the primary causes of crashes: Speeding, improper turns, running stop signs or signals, right-of-way violations and driving on the wrong side of the road.
  • Patrols specifically looking for seat belt and child safety seat violations.
  • Traffic safety education presentations for youth and community members on distracted and impaired driving, bicycle and pedestrian safety.
  • Serving warrants to multiple DUI offenders.
  • Creating “Hot Sheets” identifying repeat DUI offenders.
  • Officer training to identify suspected impaired drivers and conduct sobriety tests.

OTS director Barbara Rooney stated, “Getting in a vehicle remains one of the most dangerous things we do.  We must continue to work with our partners in law enforcement to shift that realization and make traveling on our roads safer.”

Image is the Culver City city sign.

Culver City Firefighters Deployed to Saddleridge Fire in San Fernando

Image is a Getty Image picture of the Saddleridge Fire in Sylmar.Martin Feinberg, Culver City Realtor, has learned that Engine companies 41 and 43 from the Culver City Fire Department were deployed to the Saddleridge Fire in the San Fernando Valley on October 10. The Saddleridge Fire has been burning since October 8.

The Culver City engine companies are part of strike team #XLA1075A, which is comprised of Culver City, Santa Monica and Beverly Hills firefighters. Reports indicated they arrived at the fire lines shortly after midnight on Thursday and spent the first 12 hours protecting lives and homes.

According to news sources the Saddleridge Fire has burned thousands of acres in Southern California so far, and began near the base of a transmission tower in northern Los Angles.  No parts of the Culver City Real Estate area have been affected yet.

The transmission tower stands behind homes in Sylmar, the northernmost neighborhood in Los Angeles and is operated by SoCal Edison.

In a statement to KABC the utility company stated, “Out of an abundance of caution, we notified the California Public Utilities Commission on Friday, October 11 that our system was impacted near the reported time of the fire.”

Image is of Culver City Firefighters fighting the Saddleridge Fire.

Photo Courtesy Culver City Firefighters Local 1927

Though SoCal Edison had shut down some power lines due to high winds the transmission line running through Sylmar was still energized when the fire began.

Local listing agent Martin Feinberg was sad to learn that one person has died in the fire so far and one other person has been injured.

Easy ways for Tenants and Property Managers to keep Pests Away

Image is a drawing of an allergen made to look like a monster.If there is one thing that both tenants and property managers can agree on, it’s that dealing with pests is the worst.  Pests aren’t only a nuisance; they can cause serious health problems while cost hundreds if not thousands of dollars to combat.  Given all that is at stake, both experienced tenants and professional property managers understand the need to keep pests at bay.

With that goal in mind, doing the things listed below can significantly help stop most pest problems before they start.

VACUUM:

Food crumbs, dust, and organic particles like dead skin and hair can quickly accumulate in the fibers of carpeting, which can then become the perfect way to attract ants, dust mites, and other insects.  Vacuuming often is a very simple and easy way to keep pests away.

WASH THE CURTAINS:

Washing your curtains twice a year can really help eliminate dust and mites that have been collecting on the fabric.  Curtains should be washed in hot water, and if possible a sanitation mode on the washing machine should be used.  Besides washing twice a year, curtains can be vacuumed once a month to keep them from becoming to enticing to pests and to cut down on allergens in the home.

CLEAN OFF THE WEBS:

Many exterminators agree that one of the best solutions for keeping a space spider-free is to be efficient and consistent with knocking down webs. Spiders, like most of us, don’t enjoy having to build a new home every day, and will eventually move on when it becomes obvious that the property is not a safe place for them to set up house.

WASH THE SHEETS:

Bed sheets need to be washed on the “hot” cycle at least once every two weeks, and sometimes more frequently, to eliminate allergens in the home and keep other pests away as well.

NO CLUTTER:

Large amounts of clutter allow spiders, bed bugs, and other pests a safe place to create a home.  Once an infestation occurs, it can be very difficult to treat so keeping a property clutter free from the beginning is one of the easiest ways to keep insects and mice from moving in.

SECONDHAND PROBLEMS:

Image is a drawing o a mop, bucket, and dustbuster.Purchasing upholstered items secondhand can be a good way to save money, but it can also be a very easy way to introduce pests into a home.  The best way to mitigate infestation risk is by buying new furniture or purchasing used items from people you know and trust.

Proper and regular cleaning can go a long way in preventing rest problems, but experienced property managers like Martin Feinberg understand that pests can find their way into the best kept properties.  If that happens tenants need to let their landlords know as soon as possible so that remedies can be discussed and applied.  The longer a pest problem goes untreated, the more likely a costly infestation will occur.

Exchange Club to Host Tribute to Heroes Event Veteran’s Day Weekend

Image is a Veteran Holding an American Flag.The Exchange Club of Culver City is addressing the growing problem of homeless veterans in Los Angeles County by organizing a Culver City Tribute to Heroes—Field of Valor during the Veteran’s Day holiday weekend of November 9-12. Martin Feinberg, Realtor, notes that the Culver City Chamber of Commerce and the City of Culver City will be partnering with the Exchange Club for the event.

As part of the the Tribute to Heroes the Exchange Club is hoping to display 1,000 American flags at Veteran’s Memorial Park.  This would be in commemoration of the sacrifice of American veteran’s, military service members currently serving, fallen heroes, Gold Star Families, and first responders.

Individuals interested in sponsoring a flag can do so with a $50 donation. Businesses or individuals interested in sponsoring blocks of flags can start at the “Bronze Hero” level of $500 and go up to “Platinum Hero” for $10,000.  All higher-level sponsors for this event will receive special recognition.

According to news sources, “each full-size flag will be mounted on an eight-foot standard with a yellow ribbon showing the name of the person to be honored and an insignia designating their branch of service. Flag sponsors will be encouraged to post personal notes, mementos or photos of those being honored on each flagpole. A full list of the honorees will be published.”

The flags will be on display through the Veteran’s Day weekend. The Tribute to Heroes will begin with an opening ceremony on the steps of the Culver City Veteran’s Auditorium at 10 a.m. on Saturday Nov. 9.

Earl Eskridge, a 92-year-old Navy Veteran and Past President of the Culver City Exchange, stated, “Everyone knows someone who has served and sacrificed to safeguard our way of life.  Each of our heroes deserves to be recognized and remembered. The truly great thing is that all the profits from this event will help us in our push to end the tragic cycle of homelessness for America’s Vets.”

Local listing agent Martin Feinberg was pleased to learn that all proceeds from flags for the event will be donated to New Directions for Veteran’s.  New Directions is a non-profit group run by veterans to help fellow veterans in need.

Image is a field of American Flags with yellow ribbons tied on each flag pole.Colin Diaz, president and CEO of the Culver City Chamber of Commerce, stated, “This is a terrific way for our local businesses to support our heroes while addressing the critical problem of homelessness among America’s Vets. At the Culver City Chamber, we really hope that our entire business community gets behind this important effort.”

To learn about becoming a flag sponsor for this Culver City Real Estate area event, or about the opening ceremonies, visit CulverTribute.org. To find out more about New Directions for Veterans, visit NDVets.org.

Holiday Tree Lighting Already on the mind of Some Culver City Residents

Image is a close up of a bunch of holiday lights.Though it’s not yet Halloween, there are some within the Culver City Real Estate area that already have Christmas on their minds.  This became especially apparent on Tuesday, when a proposal to merge the Holiday Tree Lighting at Veterans Park with the Culver City Downtown Business Association’s tree lighting, was presented at a meeting of the Parks, Recreation, and Community Services Board.

Local listing agent Martin Feinberg noted that if the proposal is adopted the community event would take place on Thursday, December 5 at the newly finished Culver Steps in Downtown Culver City.

According to news sources, the main reason for the proposed merge of the two events was to resolve the competition that went on between them.  Because both celebrations normally happened a day a part, with the Vets Park lighting taking place on the first Thursday of December and the Downtown Business Association’s event taking place on the first Friday, the events competed with each other for entertainment and crowds.

Image is a close up of a pine tree.The newly proposed revelry would follow a more “open party” format, with many different types of entertainment and a full live stage. There was also talk of a portable ice-skating rink being included in the affair.

Martin Feinberg, Realtor, also noted that discussion on the best way to handle the lighting of the tower at Veterans Park also took place during the board meeting.  It was suggested that the lighting of the tower could take place on the same night at as the lighting of the Holiday Tree at the Culver Steps though the tower at Veterans Park is not visible from that location.

Why Rent? The Benefits of Being a Someone’s Tenant

Image is a hand holding a house key against a black background.The rent vs. buy debate can seem never-ending, especially for people trying to decide which option is best for them.  Though there are many benefits of homeownership, there are also multiple benefits of renting as well.

Buying a home can sometimes be cheaper than renting a similar space, and it can provide options for equity growth and tax breaks.  Renting, however, is typically the favored housing choice for people who want flexibility and the affordability related to delaying ownership and maintenance responsibilities that come with buying a home.

BENEFITS OF RENTING

Renting is usually a low maintenance endeavor.  If the furnace breaks in the middle of winter or the roof suddenly has a leak, the only thing a tenant needs to worry about is calling their property manager and letting them know.  Property managers like Martin Feinberg have the primary responsibility of maintaining the property and taking care of repairs, which helps to keep life simple for their tenants.  Some property managers even handle tasks such as shoveling snow or cleaning gutters. Though these things sound simple they can add up to a lot of time and expense for homeowners.

Renting can also be much less stressful than homeownership.  Homeownership requires dealing with everyday responsibilities such as landscaping, appliances, and regular upkeep along with the more difficult problems like rotten structures or cracked foundations.  A renter’s main responsibility, on the other hand, is to pay the rent on time and maintain the property in the same condition they leased it.

Another benefit of renting is the flexibility that it provides.  If relocation becomes necessary, moving from a rental property is a lot easier than moving from a home.  Most renters enjoy the ease at which they can move for a new job, decide to live in a new city, move to be closer to family, or upgrade and downgrade to a different type of property.

Image is a hand signing a tenancy agreement.Also, for those people who want to live in more urban areas and enjoy the economic energy that typically exists in city centers, renting is almost always the more affordable option. Renting in such locations allows tenants to enjoy the convenience of living close to stores, restaurants, and offices.  Home-buyers would usually need to look in the suburbs for similarly priced properties.

Professional property managers can help potential tenants understand the many advantages of renting, and help them decide if renting a specific property or unit makes sense for them.  Professional realtors understand that owning a home comes with its own perks as well and can also help potential homebuyers with that important decision.  In the end, the choice ultimately comes down to a person’s financial situation, personal preferences, and which benefits they believe to be most important for themselves and their families.

Protect Culver City Announces Intent to Change Municipal Code

Image is a blue and white illustration of a clipboard and pencil.Martin Feinberg, Culver City Realtor, is not surprised to learn that Protect Culver City, a recently formed group focused on rent prices in the Culver City Real Estate area, has given notice of intent to the City Council to propose amendments to the Culver City Municipal Code.  The proposed amendments are related to a prohibition on passing of rent control without voter approval.

According to the group’s website, the proposed amendments are:

Section 1. Statement of Findings and Purposes (a) The City Council of Culver City, California has passed an urgency ordinance establishing rent control at 3% per year because they believe that there is going to be an increase of 5,749 new employees to the local job market over the next four years and thus cause substantial pressure on future rental options for residents of Culver City. (b) Rather than resolve the purported rental unit shortage by providing for the immediate building of more housing units in Culver City, the City Council has decided to restrict the rights of owners of residential property by imposing rent control – thus encouraging the sale and further reduction of affordable rental units. (c) The City Council has also created a new rent registry program whereby Culver City is to maintain a massive new database that contains the information of all the rental units in Culver City, the rent amounts, and the tenancy information. (d) By passing this ordinance, the City Council broke their campaign promises to not impose rent control on the city. (e) Therefore, the people hereby amend the Culver City Municipal Code to require voter approval of the recent rent control ordinance and any future attempts to impose rent control on the residents of Culver City.

Section 2. Voter Approval of all Interim or Permanent Rent Control Measures Section 2.1. Section 15.09.060 is added to Title 15 to the Culver City Municipal Code to read: (a) The City Council shall not pass any ordinance establishing either an interim or permanent rent control measure or a prohibition on the increase in residential rents unless and until that proposed rent control measure is submitted to the electorate and approved by a majority vote. (b) All ordinances that establish either an interim or permanent rent control measure or prohibit the increase in residential rents imposed after Jan. 1, 2019 shall cease to be imposed unless and until approved by the electorate.

Martin Feinberg, Realtor, notes that once a notice of intent of given, the California State Elections Code requires a review by the city attorney.   Protect Culver City will also be required to collect enough signatures from registered voters within the Culver City community to get the amendments placed on the ballot.

According to City Clerk Jeremy Green, the number of signatures required is dependent on several different issues but is normally somewhere between 10 and 15 percent.

In related news, Ron Bassilian, the current head of Protect Culver City, has also announced his candidacy for the 37th Congressional District. That district seat is currently held by Congresswoman Karen Bass.

Image is an illustration of a group of raised hands.

Culver City City Hall Zero Waste Program Moves Towards Stage Two

Image is an illustration of a green recycling symbol.Local listing agent Martin Feinberg was recently reminded that Culver City launched the City Hall Zero Waste Program on April 22 and is continuing to move towards that goal.  The program is a three-phase initiative and is meant to help Culver City create a healthier, more resilient, and more sustainable Culver City Real Estate community.  Since the launch of the program, and as City Hall has moved through stage one, the City has been able to reduce the trash it produces by approximately 30 percent per week.

Culver City Mayor Meghan Sahli-Wells stated, “My parents taught me to lead by example, and that’s exactly what Culver City is doing by making City Hall zero-waste. We can all be leaders in tackling pollution, helping the environment and saving money by eliminating the single-use items that are sent to landfills.”

In the effort to meet their goals the city put together a “Green Team,” made up of City Staff, which has been tasked with the job of continuously educating staff, answering questions, and tracking progress to ensure the City is staying on track.

The first phase has consisted of the staff learning the definition of zero waste, why eliminating waste is important, and easy ways to contribute to the cause.  The Green Team has helped with janitorial training and provided new desk-side recycling and organics waste containers. They have also installed new containers for landfill, recycling, and organics in kitchenettes and conference rooms and provided a new dishwasher in the City Council’s Closed Session Room. Reusable dishware has also replaced disposable options. Finally, the Green Team wrote an ‘Environmental Purchasing Policy,’ evaluated staff efforts, and hosted a Lunch and Learn workshop for staff to allow them ask questions and learn more about the program.

Image is an illustration of an office wastebasket full of garbage.As phase one winds down and phase two begins the Green Team is planning to create an e-waste collection policy, establish written agreements to integrate waste reduction efforts, use Zero Waste Checklists to produce yearly reports, and make a Green Office Certification Checklist for department use.

Martin Feinberg, Realtor, notes that the final phase of the City Hall Zero Waste Program requires City Hall to reduce paper waste by identifying an electronic document imaging solution and switch to electronic timesheets.

How Property Managers Protect Themselves and Others from Scams

Image is an illustration of a bunch of roads signs in a pile with the word scam on each one.Dealing with scams and scammers is a part of life for most of us.  It’s not difficult to find people who are trying to take advantage of another, especially when it comes to real estate and renting.  Needs for housing, poor credit, and/or a criminal background can lead some perspective tenants to utilize deceptive measures to secure a rental.   Renters can also fall prey to scammers, who can use fraudulent rental listings to steal money from tenants without providing an actual place to live.

Understanding how rental scams work can help property managers like Martin Feinberg protect themselves from risky situations while protecting perspective tenants from scams aimed at renters as well.  Professional property managers understand their duty to shield the rental market from scams, regardless of the target.

Tenant Scams

The most common scam perpetrated by would-be-tenants is lying about income and job stability on rental applications.  Lying about pets or the number of tenants who will be living at the property are other common lies heard by property managers.  Such lies create potential risk and can end up costing a landlord hundreds of dollars in missing rent or property damage.

To combat such scams, property managers must conduct thorough tenant screenings, require every prospective tenant to fill out a rental application, and use real credit, background, and evictions reports when deciding whom to rent to.  No property manager enjoys being cynical but trusting the information provided by a perspective tenant without verifying is an unnecessary risk and should never happen.

Rental Scams

Tenants most often fall prey to scammers who have created ads with real or fake information and photos about homes that have already been rented or are actually for sale.  These scammers then communicate solely through email, claiming they are out of town for a job or overseas doing missionary work and that the property will need to be rented site unseen.  Once money is provided, the promised keys never materialize, and would-be renters find themselves out of a lot of money with nothing to show for it.

What can a Property Manager Do?

Image is an illustration of someone on a computer with a fraud alert symbol on the screen.Experience property managers will usually report any listings they come across that seem problematic or cause red flags.  This helps to protect the integrity of the industry.  Only working with reputable websites that actively monitor their site’s content is also important.  Property managers can also add watermarks or their business’ brand to photos of their rental properties to keep scammers from repurposing them.  To help protect themselves from scams, property managers should also always screen tenants to verify identity and income, and should never provide any refunds for overpayment before the original check clears.