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How Property Owners of Rental Units Can Avoid a Lawsuit

How Property Owners of Rental Units Can Avoid a Lawsuit

Many people in Portland, OR consider rental properties as a long-term investment and a reliable source of additional income. Being a property manager, however, is a complicated endeavor that can significantly increase your chances of being sued, especially in this City.


Landlords must analyze and uncover vulnerabilities in their processes while taking proactive steps to minimize the potential for being sued by tenants. When you employ consistent, fair and legally compliant business practices, you can substantially mitigate your risk.


Make sure you provide documentation of repairs or return the security deposit

After a tenant relocates, you can use the tenant’s security deposit to make repairs only to damage that they caused. A property owner should never apply a tenant’s deposits to things like upgrades or new fixtures unless it is strictly to replace the value of loss. You should provide departing tenants with a detailed accounting of damages and costs, and any unused portion of the security deposit should be returned to the tenant quickly. Failure to do so may result in a lawsuit by a tenant, with consequences beyond the return of the deposit.


Abide by the required tenancy termination laws.

Although eviction is a legal process, each state’s laws regarding tenant terminations are different. Be sure you are familiar with the state’s requirements, in addition to local rules, like in the City of Portland, Oregon, and Vancouver, Washington. Before you terminate a tenancy from your property, you should go through the appropriate process review with legally tested forms, and when appropriate, seek legal advice from a local attorney. Otherwise, the tenant may have a constitutional right to recover damages from you, in addition to loss of rental income, deposit forfeiture, penalties, Fees, court costs, etc.


Never discriminate!

The law prohibits a landlord from refusing to rent a property to a tenant for any non-merit reasons, be it religion, race, national origin, gender, disability, familial status, age, the list goes on. It is crucial that you learn the basics of fair housing laws and always treat everyone the same. Consider taking a class in Fair Housing and keep up on the latest rules.


Your property must comply with the Fair Housing Act’s “design and construction” requirements. Consider all requests from a handicapped tenant to make modifications to the rental property seriously. Reasonable requests (bath grab bars, lower cabinets) should be granted. Consider requests for Reasonable Accommodation as they must all be reviewed in great detail.


Consider your property maintenance practices. All tenants deserve the same level of care when it comes to providing for their maintenance needs. It could be a discriminatory practice not to fix something if you expect ‘kids’ to keep damaging it, because again, that would be discriminating based on age. Just treat everyone well, and protect your investment through great service.

Ensure that your property is safe and in excellent condition.

In almost all the states, landlords are responsible for any failure to keep tenants safe from dangerous conditions on a rental property. You should be familiar with both local and state health, building, and safety codes and stay compliant. Learn the necessary legal requirements for repairing and maintaining any rental property and also follow them. Make sure that you observe tenant repair requests and make repairs on them as soon as possible – some of the repairs are required by law to be done in a certain timeframe. Make regular inspections of your property personally and promptly inform tenants of potential dangers. In case a tenant is injured or sustains damage to his property due to a risk that the landlord was aware of but didn’t warn the tenants, the tenant may be able to sue for compensation.

Ensure to Keep Good Records of your property and tenants

You, as a landlord, should keep all copies of literally every piece of paperwork concerning you and your tenants. This includes:

  • Receipts for property-related expenses
  • Copies of any communications made between you and your tenants

But don’t just keep paper records. Any audio recordings, video footage, pictures or emails you exchange should be kept as well. This way, you’re well-equipped to defend yourself when a conflict with a tenant occurs. Our philosophy is to present the facts, even if we were less than perfect – we are real and human, and so are tenants. If a tenant makes a mistake, be reasonable. If you make a mistake, be fair and responsible.

In summary, do not discriminate because doing so is wrong. It can get you into a world of trouble. Keep in mind that local jurisdictions may add other classes to the list, such as age or sexual orientation, or gender preference. Keep up with your local laws, and in Portland, they change constantly.


You Can Get a FREE assessment of your rental property by Starting Here!

How to select your first rental property in Portland, OR

How to select your first rental property in Portland, OR

Do you own rental property in Portland, Oregon? Owning rental property has produced some of the wealthiest people on the planet. Accomplishing this goal means that you have to take the necessary steps of acquiring rental property and getting deeply involved in the property management sector. Selecting your first rental property can be a tricky affair but here are a few steps to help you choose your first rental property. Becoming a Residential Real Estate Investor is not as difficult as you may think.

Determine your personal limits

The new landlord must realistically determine their needs and abilities. The best option is to make decisions cautiously as you might prefer to manage your property directly or indirectly. You must decide if it makes sense hiring someone else to handle the management for you. If you intend on maintaining the property by yourself, you will need to consider the distance from where you live from your rental property. Whereas, if you are going to get someone to handle it for you, vicinity will be less of an issue as reputable firms have team members strategically placed and available to serve their customers quickly.

Consider how much money you are willing to invest with. Make a list of favorable amenities you would like, and find a list of properties that has them. Research the location of the properties thoroughly according to your standards, taking into account the quality of the neighborhood as this influences the type of tenants you attract and the retention rate.  For example, if you buy property in an area near a student’s facility, higher chances are that your potential tenants will mainly be students and you could face vacancies on a regular basis (i.e., during winter, when students tend to return home, rooms will be unoccupied until the end of summer). Don’t let this be a deterrent – simply adapt your leases to 9 month leases, and change the rent pricing to compensate for 3 months of vacancy! Offer rent incentives for 12 month leases in these areas if you would rather have consistent occupancy; consider 6 month leases with 12 month lease renewals to stagger vacancy times.

Consider what you would like in a tenant, and provide amenities and accommodations to suit those customers. Just remember you cannot violate fair housing, and cannot discriminate even if a potential tenant does not meet your target audience. Follow all the laws, and be mindful of your leasing practices. Fair housing is a major risk and liability for new Landlords who try and manage on their own.

Narrow down your list

Talk to tenants as well as property managers in the neighborhood. Renters will be far more honest about the negative aspects of the area because they have no investment in it. Once set in a particular region, try to visit it multiple times on different days of the week to see your destined neighbors in action. Frequent visiting will help in narrowing down the list of properties you are interested in. Would you live there? Is it loud or quiet, too busy with traffic or is there a good sense of community with neighbors? This will narrow it down to at least 2 or 3 areas that may match your management expectations.

Explore the financial options

Real estate investing doesn’t start with buying a rental property; it begins with creating the financial situation that makes it possible to buy one.  When you do locate your ideal rental property, keep your expectations realistic and make sure that your finances are in a healthy state. This ensures that you can wait for the property to start generating cash, rather than depending on it desperately.

Now that you are done selecting some excellent properties, it’s time to explore the financing options as investments may require you to take a mortgage that will favor your annual income calculations.

Consider first your current home! Are you in a position to buy a new home while keeping your old home? Most Landlords get started by making modest purchases and living below their means, and buying to move into something a bit more comfortable, while renting out their old home to continue to build equity. Slow and steady wins the race, and being an investment property owner can have huge rewards if properly managed.

Take action

If you are focused on the property management industry, you will have to purchase the property that favors your parameters, and that also implies to be the best investment. Make sure you always select the best available properties for your budget, after implementing a thorough research and selection process of vetting them. Remember, it’s all about cashflow to maximize your flexibility to properly manage and maintain the investment, and to grow your wealth.

You Can Get a FREE assessment of your rental property by Starting Here!

Keep Your Quality Tenants Close (how to make them happy)

Keep Your Quality Tenants Close (how to make them happy)

The most challenging factor in property management for any property owner is finding and retaining high-quality tenants. It is best to screen and interview applicants before renting any prospective tenant for your property. High-quality tenants are difficult to find, and by quality tenants, we mean tenants who can pay their rent on time, and tenants who are willing to care for minor issues that arise in the rental units. The tenants are the customer, and without them, property investors and property managers wouldn’t have a place in this industry.


It is true that retaining a tenant is cheaper than looking for a new one, therefore, the need to keep those high-quality tenants close to you. Business is about relationships, and how we treat others will directly affect the business; this being a real estate industry, it will suffer from poor relationships. How a property manager treat tenants is quite crucial as this determines their relationship. The landlord has to make sure proper steps are taken that will strengthen the trust between all tenants and the Landlord. It is important to remember Fair Housing – treat all tenants with the same level of respect and care, even when they present challenges. Equal Housing Opportunity matters.


Some of the ideas a property manager may use to make his tenants happy include:


Remember special dates

Tenants will always feel appreciated if the property manager can celebrate some of their special times with them. These special dates may include birthdays, graduations, and weddings. It may not necessarily mean being physically present for the occasion but sending postcards or birthday gifts may play a crucial role in showing that you are a caring property owner. At InterWest, we send personal signed cards to acknowledge and celebrate weddings or special events of our customers. We send congratulatory Birthday announcements to celebrate with our tenants on their birthdays. It’s about the customer, and helping them to feel a part of our InterWesting Family.


Improve security

Security is everyone’s concern, and the Law demands we act to secure a tenant’s home with proper locks. No one likes to live in a place that is full of criminal activities and has little or no security measures in place. Most property owners lose their tenants who don’t feel safe in their home, or who may have maintenance issues surrounding issues of security of their livingspace. Some actions taken by property owners include installation of security lights around the property, installation of a reinforced gates or controlled entry systems, and installation of CCTV cameras to help in investigations in case of burglaries. These measures can sometimes get expensive, but can pay off in the end in retaining tenants.


Strategic energy investments

It would be wise for a property manager to install energy efficient devices such as LED light bulbs, aerators for faucets, and low-flow toilets and fixtures. These are relatively inexpensive and provide a tenant with a ‘value add’ to their rent prices. An owner could also install solar panels. This form of energy mechanism helps the tenant pay fewer energy bills, thus assisting the tenant to save more money on energy. As a standard practice, InterWest Properties is mindful when replacing lights and fixtures to use LED bulbs, and to exchange faucets and toilets with low-flow variety when the need arises. This is another way of ensuring friendly tenants are happy, and they will not feel the need to vacate a property.


Keep your property in good condition

Rental units must be upgraded from time to time, and investors often get comfortable with the tenants paying rent for a decade or more, just to walk in and wonder ‘what happened?’ Well, the cabinets that were already 20 years old are now 30 years old. The flooring that was 10 years old is now 20 years old, and every system in the home has a useful life expectancy. While it can’t work miracles, preventive maintenance is crucial to help in making sure the property is desirable to both the existing tenants and potential customers. For a tenant to be happy his/her house should be painted after a certain period, this is because the paint is prone to wearing off and this registers as a kind gesture to the tenant. Often, if a tenant is offered a few gallons of paint, they will paint the home themselves, saving the owner labor expenses. Do you have a high-quality long term tenant? Why not toss in a carpet cleaning once a year? One crucial factor a property manager should note is that he/she should always respond to maintenance requests on time.


Be fair with rent increases

A significant reason why tenants move out of their rental homes is due to frequent and unreasonable rent increases. Many property owners are tempted to increase their rents especially when the market is in high demand. This works in an owner’s favor as they can make more profits in the short-run, but it does not work out well for their tenants as some are not able to handle the raise in rent. They often abandon their rental homes or invite unsavory roommates that are often not disclosed, only to be uncovered by unit evaluations. If you want a tenant in Portland, Oregon to stay longer, it will be advisable to keep your rent prices constant with the quality of home you’re offering for rent, or to make sure that the value of services you’re offering is above and beyond expectations.


Tenants want a property manager who are responsive to their needs. Therefore, to make your tenants happy and long-term, you should learn to never neglect them, and always provide feedback for any issue brought to your attention by the tenants.


Get a FREE assessment of your rental property. Start here!

Planning for the life-cycle of your appliances (and when to replace them)

Planning for the life-cycle of your appliances (and when to replace them)

Ever wondered how long the appliances in your rental houses will last? It’s easy to turn the property over to a manager and expect things to carry on a long time without having to think about them. But appliances have a known life. All systems of a home have a known life-cycle. The average life-cycle of an appliance can aid you to figure out if the top of the line range is worth the added cost. It can also help you when deciding on whether to replace or repair an appliance. The life expectancy of most appliances range from 6 to 10 years, but some, such as furnaces and freezers, last twice as long. Brand new appliances usually have three month to a one year warranty. Most manufacturers sell extended warranties that last from 3 to 5 years.


Appliance Life-cycles Differ

The longest-lasting home appliance is the thermostat. On average it does its job for 35 years, and the furnace it controls requires replacing after 15 to 20 years depending on the fuel it uses. Electronic appliances tend to have a shorter life-span compared to gas appliances. Here is the life expectancy of some major appliances:


  • Dishwasher, 9 years – Expensive and newer models don’t necessarily mean longer lives. The more additional features a dishwasher has, the more likely things can break. However, staying on top of maintenance and repairs will prevent bigger problems in the long run.
  • Stove or Range, 12 to 15 years – Gas stoves tend to last longer than electric stoves. Daily proper care such as cleaning after use and frequent checks on the burner will assist in extending its life-span.
  • Garbage Disposal, 10-13 years – The primary factor that affects garbage disposal is how often it’s used. A bachelor that regularly eats out will need to replace the garbage disposal fewer times than a large family that cooks at home. Efforts such as using a strainer and running water when using the disposal will pay off in future.
  • Refrigerator, 13-19 years – The rare single door refrigerator units have the longest life expectancy. The side by side and freezer on top models can last 13 and 17 years respectively. Repairs like malfunctioning ice makers and failed door gaskets are bound to happen, but a broken compressor signals the end of the fridge.
  • Water Heater, 6-10-25 years – The life-span of the heater depends on the type and model. Tankless water heaters can last for over 20 years, and the electric or gas tanks reach nearly the 6-10-year mark, depending on the build quality. The source of water also affects the life-cycle of the water heater. Untreated hard water contains lime, calcium, and other mineral deposits that can accumulate inside the tank. The build-up of the deposits inside the tank reduces the efficiency of the heater over time.


There are a few steps you can take when planning for the life cycle of your appliances in Portland, OR:


Forget the compact refrigerator

A lot of property managers think that providing tenants with compact refrigerators instead of full-sized fridges is a money-saving strategy, but the reality is just the opposite. The full-size modes use less energy and last 4 to 5 years longer than the compact models. Tenants don’t appreciate smaller fridges, and that effects the way they look to care for the appliance in their home.


Beating the odds

We all know that nothing is perfect. The water heater, freezer, or dishwasher contain small parts that can fail at any time, and undoubtedly they do fail. Whether the parts fail or not, finding available parts on a discontinued appliance is expensive and difficult. Sometimes simple repairs necessitate replacement of older appliances because the parts cannot be had, or are prohibitively expensive. By doing good shopping and upkeeping with proper maintenance practices, you extend the life of an appliance. Just remember… it still has a useful life expectancy.


Buy Reliable Brands

Some brands are unreliable while others have a reputation for offering quality service for an extended period. When buying or replacing appliances for your rentals, a little research can help you get the best value for your money. Use your local appliance experts as they are good sources of information, warning, and recommendation. We call John with Spencer’s Appliance, in addition to checking reviews on various websites including Consumer Reports.


Regularly Perform Repair and Maintenance

Frequent maintenance and repairs can add a few years of service to your appliances. Appliances with operational parts such as washing machines, dryers, etc. can suffer damage if neglected or poorly maintained. A property manager should regularly do the following checkups:

  • Cleaning or replacing the furnace filters regularly.
  • Periodically re-leveling the washing machine.
  • Cleaning the dryer vents annually, especially on long dryer vent runs.
  • Check the gaskets on the washing machine, freezers, and refrigerators


Often, appliances fail due to simple issues that the property manager can easily handle with a basic set of tools. Learn how to repair the blown fuses, worn belts, and control panels. Whether you do the maintenance yourself or call an expert, the bottom line is that it’s an easy way to save you from the cost of a new appliance. InterWest Properties performs regular unit evaluations where systems are checked and evaluated for proper operation. It’s better to know a problem is coming that to be surprised and unprepared later.


Get a FREE assessment of your rental property. Start here!

Retention: How to Keep Great Tenants in Your Property

Retention: How to Keep Great Tenants in Your Property

Being a property manager does not only entail collecting rent from tenants, but it also has a few responsibilities that are key if one is keen on retaining his/her tenants. If a tenant moves out it may result in lost profits from rents, promote costly renovations, and marketing expenses to get the property rented by a new tenant. It is often cheaper to retain an existing customer than finding a new customer. A tenant looks for a place to call home if he/she rents from you, so give him/her a reason to stay and care for the home. Some of the advantages that come with tenant retention for long periods include:

  • Reduction in unit turnover expenses
  • Consistent cash flow of rental income
  • Eliminating the uncertainty of new tenants
  • Steady relationship with qualified tenants means long term success


These are some of the factors that need to be considered to retain a great tenant for an extended period:


Top notch maintenance

A tenant will always be happy when the property owner makes routine inspections of the property and becomes proactive with property maintenance. It is better for a property owner to stay on top of what might be considered as little things. These little things are often the things that actually matter to a tenant. Staying on top of the little stuff eliminates the chance of them turning into a more significant and costly issue. Some of the problems include: replacing an aging roof before it leaks, repainting when the paint starts to peel, cleaning the gutters, trimming the trees and shrubs as they become overgrown, etc. The property manager has a responsibility to maintain the home. Poor maintenance habits such as overgrown lawns and leaking pipes will send a negative idea of what’s acceptable, which negatively increases ware on a unit over time.


Follow up on repairs

Getting maintenance requests from a tenant is quite reasonable. What you do after getting the request is what determines if you will lose your tenant or not. After a repair is done, the property owner should follow up on feedback from the tenant to find out if he/she was satisfied. This will create the impression that their landlord is responsible.


Communicate effectively

Communication is vital in every business. If a tenant calls or emails you, it would be a nice gesture to respond swiftly in the way they reached out to you. Being a landlord comes with many responsibilities, among them being available to your tenants when they need you the most. If you happen to ignore a tenant’s call, texts or e-mail, the tenant starts to lose trust in you. When this happens, he/she starts to look for a landlord that is more trustworthy, especially when rental promotions increase a competitors appeal. Be open and honest with your tenant, and they will be open and honest with you. Being a Landlord is about having a positive business relationship with your tenant/customers.


Increase security

People are always comfortable in an area they are sure is secure. Everyone hates criminal activities, when tenants see you take the initiative to increase their safety they will appreciate the effort. This, in turn, will lead to them believing you have good intentions for them at heart thus earning their trust, which will help the property owner in retaining the tenants for a more extended period.


Share their sorrows

Sharing in other people’s sorrows is an excellent sign of showing support to them. If a property owner hears about a tragedy that occurred in one of the tenant’s families, he/she should make an initiative to show support for the family. At InterWest, we care about our tenants, and when we learn of hardship and sorrow, often show support with personally signed cards and seek to connect with the people on a personal level.


Be mindful of rent adjustments

A tenant may research other properties if they feel that their residential needs don’t meet their expectations. Thus the need to show them that they are getting a competitive price with you. Every tenant deserves a fair and decent rent prices, but “fair” and “decent” are incredibly subjective terms. When you go above and beyond to provide value to your tenants, it’s much easier to secure high rents and maintain happy tenants.


These tips will help any property owner to retain his/her tenants for an extended period. The major goal of a property management company is to monitor the value of your property while retaining great tenants. Preventive maintenance evaluations and account practices are two primary areas where InterWest Properties, with decades of experience and expertise, will fulfill this and many of your other goals as a property investor.


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Should you rent your property to college students?

Should you rent your property to college students?

You cannot discriminate based on age, familial status, or any other protected class as outlined in federal, state and local law. As is true in any location, the key to being a successful real estate investor is recognizing an opportunity – some markets have different quantity of customers that others. Market conditions dictate how certain investments are maximized. One of the most underutilized strategies in Property Management is renting and tailoring your property to college students as an unending opportunity in your investment strategy, if the property is located around a facility of education.


Excluding the students who choose to live in dorms, most students seek off-campus housing during the duration of their academic stay. There are numerous economic benefits to renting out your property in a college town. While some landlords may be leery of accepting students as tenants due to lack of rental & credit history, with precautionary measures put in place, student housing may become a profitable source of revenue. Often leases can be structured around the school year, and rent prices can accommodate the changed timetables. Just remember, you can’t discriminate, and must treat all applicants with indifference. If you are marketing to a college community and a non-education affiliated individual/family should apply, they must be treated with the same level of acceptance as an applicant attending the local school.


Here are some of the pros and cons of renting your property to college students in Portland, OR.


Benefits of Student Housing

It’s a reliable Tenant Pool.

There is high demand for rentals by students who want to live off-campus and aren’t in the market for buying their own home. Each year brings new potential tenants as first-year students’ move out of the dorms into their off-campus rental.


Steady Rental Income

As demonstrated by many recessions, the rental market remains strong, and enrollment in colleges increased in spite of the economic regression and falling home values. Increased enrollment in college towns causes rental prices to increase based on demand. With almost every college student getting housing assistance for rent, investors often reliably collect rental income.


Fewer Vacancies

An increase in demand raises occupancy rates in college rental apartments. Landlords can take advantage of high demand by starting the leasing early to help student’s secure rental housing for the coming year, and can use 10 month leases instead of 12. This is a great strategy to eliminate an overlap of tenants who move out after the ‘college rush’ has ended as students secure housing before school starts. Communicate with your residents, it could be they love the place and plan to stay well beyond the first school year – financial incentives for long term tenants should be considered by wise investors.


Future Use

For some investors with a storied connection to a university, it may be wise to purchase a home near a school. Often, investors may do so with the expectation that a child may stay in the home while attending. When the student no longer has need for the home, the investor can decide to rent the home out with the expectation of another family member occupying the home in the future, or they may simply sell the home. This strategy can often be more effective for long term return on investment: 1) student has secure housing and rental pricing can be limited to the mortgage expense – lower student loans. 2) investor can sell the home and recoup the increased value of the real estate – walk away with cash.



No Rental History, No Employment, and No Credit – Your typical tenant screening criteria will often render college students ‘conditionally approved.’ Even if a student works part-time, his income may be well below your minimum requirements. First-time renters will not have landlord references, and you may be dealing with a young student who hasn’t had the chance to build their credit or establish a track record of responsibility. Consider requiring a co-signer instead of higher deposits on a conditional approval when appropriate. Do not discriminate, and establish a process for your conditions rather than adjusting your leasing practices on a ‘case-by-case’ basis.


Increased Wear & Tear

Student rentals are notorious for accelerating wear and tear that goes beyond abuse, damages and deep cleaning. Students living on their own may not understand the value of maintaining and taking care of their home. Consider rent pricing as a method to offset risk potential.


Roommate Mediation

A college student’s inexperience may create roommate conflicts that can develop into hostile living conditions. Your tenants may offer to help to solve their problem or think they can just move out before their rental period ends without realizing their legal commitment to their rental term. A Landlord has an obligation and financial interest in helping to mediate peace in troubled roommate situation; this can built tenant loyalty and trust in addition to reduced damages and broken tenancies.


Naive Maintenance Responsibilities

For some students who are renters, this could be the first time living on their own without their parents or dorm staff taking care of the maintenance. Simple things like regular cleaning, using appliances appropriately, changing a light bulb, or reporting maintenance issues could be a whole new experience for them. Make sure your tenants know what maintenance they are responsible for and who to contact the second a problem pops up.


Overall, renting property in a college area requires an active property manager. Property and tenants will require regular attention, so it is probably not the job for the landlord to sit back and not even think about their rental properties. If you’re the kind of landlord who likes the feel of a college town and are looking for a quick fix to put the property to significant use and make some money by renting, then a college town may be just for you.


Get a FREE assessment of your rental property. Start here!

Challenges Effecting Portland Landlords


Dear Valued Customer –


We appreciate your business, and there is no better time to have a team like InterWest Properties in your corner.

Over the last three years, the City of Portland has been responding to a housing supply shortage by dramatically expanding their regulation of the industry. From inclusionary zoning and permit requirement changes, to paid relocation assistance and rental unit registration. Owners must be aware of current and future/proposed changes. The ‘Rental Services Commission’ is currently making recommendations to the city council, who is creating legislation very quickly. The officials at the City of Portland have expressed little opposition to some of the most extreme measures. If you are interested to learn more about the city and their goals, click here:

Challenges already effecting landlords in Portland:

Paid Relocation Fee to Tenants issued a No-Cause Notice:

$2,900 (studio)

$3,300 (1-bedroom)

$4,200 (2-bedroom)

$4,500 (3-bedroom or larger)

Rent Increase limitations (limited to 10%, or pay fee above if tenants seek assistance)

Note: Our Rent increases today are average 3%

Substantial changes to Rental Agreement (incur relocation fee above)

Leases do not end – only roll Month to month. If tenants are asked to vacate at the end of their lease, the above fee is required.

** Some exceptions may apply, see for more details.


Regulations still being refined, but these are currently in the pipeline:

1) Restrictive Rental Criteria Limits

2) Restricted Deposits

3) Regulated Tenant’s Final Accounting Practices

4) Rental Unit Registration & Mandatory City Inspections

No tenant should pay for unit upgrades and damages that occur as normal wear & tear. However, some owners not protected by our team are less informed or seek to take advantage of their tenants. Our firm’s strong and experienced accounting practices protect our owners from violating these new rules as they continue to evolve, but some changes will be necessary to the way we perform our final accounting.

As active members on the Multifamily NW Legislative Committee, we have a seat at the table with other industry leaders to evaluate and respond to these dramatic changes. The market & regulations will continue to evolve, and we are evolving our processes just as quickly.


Ways we are adjusting includes:

1) utilizing attorneys more frequently to refine and evaluate our tenant correspondence & management strategy

2) coaching owners to direct their actions in order to prevent costly pitfalls

3) process and procedure planning: we are ready to implement as new rules come online

4) training: full day training classes to draw everyone together for comprehensive review

5) Changed our unit evaluation processes – multiple eyes in the reports for deeper evaluation & increasing tenant accountability

6) Staying Informed – educating ourselves, educating property investors


Our corporate mission: “to serve people through our professional property management services, caring for absentee residential investors & tenants with respect, integrity, honesty and excellence.”  Investors have an opportunity to make money through owning rental property in Portland. Our customers should not fear these new rules, as InterWest Properties has been utilizing best practices, and is ready.


We are committed to serving you, the property owner, as we navigate these new waters together.


Please let us know if you have any questions.



The Broker’s at InterWest Properties, along with our InterWesting Family

Kimberly A Johnson (Principle OR)

Bj Newman (OR)

Samantha Edwards (OR)

Robert Johnson (WA)


InterWest Properties, Inc

2323 SE 122nd Ave

Portland, OR 97233

(503) 256-2323


Get a FREE assessment of your rental property. Start here!

Surefire ways to make your Portland rental property profitable

Surefire ways to make your Portland rental property profitable

Real estate development is both a lucrative and robust business. Unfortunately, this field has many landmines that can make the market quite hard to operate and penetrate. These landmines can result in the rental property owner suffering from massive losses. As a result, one needs to make sure that certain conditions are met to ensure the profitability of the business.

Six things an investor should consider to make sure his/her rental property is profitable include:

Screen for ideal tenants

The need to get highly qualified tenants for your property is crucial.  Evaluating a tenant’s history goes a long way to understand how they will care for your investment. Likewise, evaluating a tenant’s credit will help an owner understand how consistently maintains their financial commitments.

We are seeking a win-win situation for both the tenant and the property owner as both of them will have benefited; the property manager will get the satisfaction of consistent rents and a cared for property while the tenant will have the comfort of well-maintained housing.

Getting the best tenant might also be difficult, hence the need for carrying out research first.

Location of the property

Location is key, too. Someone renting a house in a major city has different needs, desires & tastes compared to someone renting a home in the suburbs or further outside the city. Thus, the rent for the apartments will differ because of the way the houses have been built. Properly identifying the pro’s and even the cons of your property’s location will assure that you find and communicate a property properly.

Consider Green Options: Install solar panels

Although some may say that this is more likely to benefit homeowners, it might not exactly be the case. When there is excess energy collected it may in some instances be sold back to the power grid. This creates a new avenue of income for the property owner. It can also be used as a public relations talking point in your listings.

By installing solar panels, this may result in reduced energy bills for the tenant, and this may result in the property owners retaining tenants. Conversely, this amenity will increase demand, which can increase the rental market value of the home.

Property Taxes & Registration Fees

In some residential locations, local municipalities require registration of rental homes. Some municipalities individually tax the property owner on rental income – separate from state/federal income tax. Usually, these taxes & fees are not uniform between geopolitical boundaries, hence having a property manager to do this research can help a property owner make investment decisions. It is important for a property owner to review their investment goals and strategy when evaluating a property’s location. It’s important to properly assess tax planning with a competent CPA.

Criminal Activity

Every tenant & homeowner is sensitive to the criminal activity in and around their home. An area that has a lot of illegal activity will likely result in a rental property that suffers to achieve market rents. Most tenants will vacate their houses once they notice that the area has crime registered all over it. Online tools are available in evaluating the criminal activity reported around each neighborhood.

Property owners can provide certain tools and resources to make a property more desirable. From security systems and alarms, to flood lights and motion sensors, to app-driven cameras that provide tenants with a greater sense of comfort in a crime-stricken area.


Many tenants elect not to buy a home to remain flexible in location and responsibility. Not all tenants stick around forever, and not all of them know how to maintain a rental houses; the law says an owner has a duty to maintain. If a tenant moves out the property, the owner should ensure the home is refreshed, and whenever possible upgraded, to attract the best tenants. Even minor improvements can make a big difference. Pay attention to fad design upgrades, as well. Improving the look of the backsplash behind the sink may not cost much but provides a lot of perceived value to future prospects.

Making sure ones rental property is profitable begins with the service offered by the property owner to his/her tenants. Better services mean better profits. If you want magnified profits of your rental property in Portland, OR, InterWest Properties can show you how they’ve been keeping tenants happy for nearly 35 years.


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Why Being Honest in Your Rental Listings is the Best Policy, and it’s the Law

Why Being Honest in Your Rental Listings is the Best Policy, and it’s the Law

When advertising any property to acquire new tenants, some property managers tend to oversell their property. What is overselling your property? This means including things in your rental listing that do not exist. Over Promise and under deliver.

Many property owners do this hoping that potential tenants will be attracted to what the property owners are selling; overselling has a high chance of backfiring causing the property owner countless losses including broken leases, housing complaints & unoccupied rental homes.

An example of overselling is when a listing indicates a swimming pool. You, as the property owner, know you’re talking about the local pool down the road at the YMCA, but the tenant expects a house that has a swimming pool (or at least a neighborhood pool) and finds out that the property has no pool only after they sign a lease. Obviously, this sits sour in the mouth, and the prospect will be inclined to look for a property that has what he missed out on in your property, and owners are liable to refund fees and suffer loss of use from qualified tenants, suffering loss opportunity cost.

Transparency is an essential aspect in rental listings, this way your property will meet the eye of a tenant who is interested. We’re interested in attracting the RIGHT tenant, not just ANY tenant. It’s important for a property owner to consider the features they wish to include in their rental listing, as whatever they include in their rental listing brands what type of property manager they will be; either trustworthy or untrustworthy.

The following are some of the reasons why being honest in rental listing is beneficial to a property owner:

Consumers are shrewd on lies

The term consumer refers to potential tenants. With increased ease of access to information; one can quickly counter check information offered to him/her since there are many avenues of accessing information, one of them being a simple online search. If a tenant feels something is not right, he can quickly go online, and fact check the information. Once a tenant discovers the information is not entirely accurate, their interest in the property will diminish, as the image the property owner is portraying is not true. This might result in a rental property being vacant for an extended period, thus not generating profits for the property owner.

One can assess the property’s value

Before buying any property, the consumer has to evaluate the property against their budget, understanding whether they can afford the rental property. Some rental listings are quite exaggerated; this might scare away potential tenants as they might think that with all features included in the rental listing the property will be costly for them. This makes the tenant look for another property elsewhere due to the exaggerated information in the rental listing.

Undesirable features

Not everything in a rental unit is desirable. Some aspects of the rental unit may not be appealing to the tenant as different tenants have different tastes and preferences. A property owner is obligated to disclose problems that may affect the tenant during his/her stay. This helps in that the tenant knows what he/she is purchasing. It also helps in avoiding lawsuits.

Requirement by law

The law requires that all information provided about any property be valid as this helps reduce cases of misguided tenants. This helps reduce instances of tenants leasing property that does not meet the profile seen by the tenant at first. By being honest, tenants feel they are dealing with someone who is trustworthy and are more willing to proceed with leasing a property.

Gives you credibility

Customers will always trust whatever you are selling if your track record shows that you are a credible property owner. Your reputation is everything in this business. Clients will always be on the lookout for any new listings meeting their search parameters but are more likely to go with someone who their research shows is always honest and reliable in their word.

Honest rental listings will prove to be advantageous to a property owner because integrity knows its own way. To pair your property with the absolute best tenants, it’s important to make honesty in your listings a priority.

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Video – When we get calls for Mold -InterWest Property Management

When we get calls for mold, there is a certain way we must do things. First, we need to see where the mold is and quantify it. Is it around the base of the walls? Is it at a ceiling? Is it in a closet? If it’s along a wall, is it along the whole wall? Is it near or below a window? Is the toilet or the windows sweating from condensation? Is the sheetrock damp or soft when you press into it? Check the fans – do they operate well?

Next check the attic & the crawlspace for mold, water or leaks. While in the attic, check the ventilation and be sure there are no kinks and it’s positively vented. We want to check the envelope of the home, so be sure to look at all crevasses along the edges of the home. Is insulation dry & well placed?

All too often, tenants don’t think about our environment outside vs their living conditions inside. It’s mostly damp & wet 3 seasons of the year around here, and not everyone who lives in our area today grew up in this environment. I have had tenants with sweating windows and high moisture levels tell me they don’t use the heat because we don’t pay their power bill! When I told them to open a window and let some fresh air in there, they slammed their door in my face. People don’t realize that moisture from cooking, showers, and simply having multiple people breathing in a home will cause an increase of humidity. Mold just needs humidity and an organic food source to take root and multiply.

Are the closets stuffed with clothes, storage containers or things that can stop airflow? Are beds up against the wall? If they’re up against the wall and lack a bed frame, there is a very high likelihood mold will run along the walls near the bed. Is there mold around the ceilings in the bathroom or kitchen? Are the tenants cleaning their unit, or is there slime on the shower walls? If no leaks are present, no water in the crawlspace or attic, and the drywall is solid, the mold is caused by high moisture from to lack of airflow.

These homes were built to handle a certain amount of heat-load from limited number of occupants, and often today’s living conditions render the ventilation systems inadequate. Even a home with no leaks can quickly turn moldy. Living conditions are a major cause of mold, and educating tenants should be part of our mold solutions.

We get it, and I want you to have empathy and compassion for the residents. Nobody wants to report mold and be told ‘Well, the cause of the problem is your negligence.’ Getting billed for mold they believe is caused by a fault of the landlord is also not welcome, when 95% of the mold calls we receive are due to a tenant’s misuse or abuse of the living space. However, cleaning the mold, using proper ventilation, turning on the heat and allowing for proper airflow will go a long way at addressing any growth of mold. Let’s work together to stay on top of this type of Maintenance. Thanks again from everyone at InterWest Properties.


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