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Denver Property Management - Normal Wear and Tear

System - Sunday, April 30, 2017

Normal wear and tear is a very important topic because it’s where landlords and property managers often run into difficulties when over-charging when conducting a security deposit disposition.

The tenant moves out of the house and the carpet is heavily worn. The landlord wants to withhold some of the security deposit to repair or replace the carpet. The landlord has to ask some questions before they withhold some or all of the security deposit.

  • How old is the carpet?
  • How long have the tenants been living there?
  • Is the damage above and beyond normal wear and tear for a typical renter in their same situation (e.g. family of 4 living there for 3 years)
  • Do we have photo or video documentation of what the carpet looked like BEFORE the tenant moved in?
  • Was there a pre-move-in inspection sheet returned to us?

If the carpet is more than 3 years old, the landlord has to be very careful because, in the state of Colorado, the average useful life of carpet (or paint for that mater) in a non-owner occupied property is typically 3 years. Does that mean if the carpet is 5 years old, and if the landlord has documentation showing the carpet was in great condition before the tenet moved in, then one little section was completely destroyed during their stay – that they can not withhold deposit? No, they can absolutely withhold for that. They just have to be careful when we are dealing with carpets that are entering the end of their useful life.

Mildewed bathroom, very unclean kitchen. Here is another situation where the landlord might want to withhold security deposit to scrub the tile and maybe even re-grout because it’s so badly worn. Can they do this? Again, if this is a situation where a family of four had lived there and the tub area was already starting to get mildewed. When they move out the judge would ask ‘what would that tub look like after normal use by a family of four who had lived in the home for X period of time.’ The landlord will have to ask themselves this question because this will be what’s going to be defensible in court. The most important thing you’ll need to do is have documentation of what the area looked like before the tenant moved in. If you do NOT have before pictures or video, be very careful about withholding security deposit.

Holes in the wall. This is a very common issue – because people like to hang things on walls; from pictures and mirrors, to flat screen TVs. In this case, the landlord checks a tenant out and find quite a different size few holes in the walls. What can they withhold for? Our first recommendation is having lease verbiage that defines what is allowed, and what is not. For instance: “…tenant cannot make alterations to wall surfaces without prior written approval from the landlord, aside from small nail holes used to hang pictures.” If the landlord does not have clear language in the lease agreement a judge could easily rule against them and say the big anchor bolts in the wall are in fact normal wear and tear because most televisions available today are flat screen and require wall mounting. Another good idea is to simply ask the tenant to leave all nails in the walls so it will be easier for the landlord to go back and clean up the areas versus the tenant trying to fix t walls and making it even worse. This could require the landlord to come back and have to retexture and paint the surface and then charge the tenants... which they won’t like.

Scuff marks are another issue that’s common and often misunderstood. Scuff marks can result from a couch, chair or bed head board being close to the wall. The landlord would most likely want to charge the tenant to have the wall re-painted. In general, if the tenants have been living there for a reasonable period of time there, will be normal wear and tear and we would advise against withholding exorbitant security deposit in this case. There will be some cases of excessive dings and dents in which you might have cause to withhold, but you have to be very careful

For more information on this and other topics, please visit us online:
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Echo Summit Property Management CEO Scott Lukes to Offer “Property Management Trends and Issues”...

System - Tuesday, April 11, 2017

GREENWOOD VILLAGE, Colorado, January 15, 2017 – Echo Summit Property Management, a leading Denver and Ft. Collins-based Property Manager, is proud to announce that it will once again offer the popular “Property Management Trends and Issues” continuing education course, taught by its CEO and founder, Scott Lukes.

The 2 hour continuing education course, approved by the Colorado Division of Real Estate, is also known as the “Red Bull” course, given the presenter offers cans of Red Bull to the attendees given the fast-paced nature of the presentation. The course covers critical aspects of landlording in the Denver and Ft. Collins areas. It is intended for both investors and real estate agents, and covers to following topics:

  • The critical DO’S and DON’Ts in managing properties
  • Dealing with legalization of MARIJUANA
  • Recent area rental STATISTICS
  • Handling lease VIOLATIONS and late rent
  • TENANT SELECTION criteria and posting
  • SECURITY DEPOSIT accounting and disposition
  • HOA docs and relations
  • Important NOTICES: 3-day demand letter, substantial violation, ARE-agreement regarding eviction
  • Recent TRENDS and local Issues

To learn of course dates/times, please contact us at, or call 303-768x8255 x213 for details.

About Echo Summit Property Management

With nearly 1,000 properties managed, Echo has the experience, technology, process and scale that sets us apart from the pack. Echo is the preferred choice for local investors and Realtors who understand that there can be no compromise in quality and ethics in property management. Our approach and philosophy are simple... once you start treating an investment property like a -rental-, it will eventually dilapidate into one. ALL WE DO

Truth in Advertizing

System - Monday, April 10, 2017
Advertizing a rental property correctly is incredibly important, as there can be significant financial and criminal penalties involved if done improperly and bad events happen.

A property manager is managing a property for an owner. The owner says they do not know if the basement room is conforming or not, so are unsure whether to list it as an extra bedroom. The property manager, in an attempt to get more rent and rent to unit out quicker, opts to list the basement room as an additional bedroom… not really knowing if it is conforming or not. In this case it is indeed non-conforming.

Now, the neighbor across the street gets grumpy because they see four cars at the house. The neighbor contacts the city to complain, and to come out and inspect the situation. After going through the house the inspector says to the tenant “you can’t have someone living in the basement bedroom.” The tenant says, “but our property manager said we could. Look, our application and lease agreement has all four of us listed. Look at the advertisement. It says it’s a four bedroom house.” The inspector says “I don’t care, I’ll be back in 24 hours and you have to be out of that room or fines will start accruing.”
So the tenants call the property manager, obviously, very upset.

If the property manager is managing the property on a fee-based agreement; meaning the home owner is being charged a monthly fee, then the property manager could be liable in the following ways: 1: they would liable to pay to relocate the tenant, because it was their negligence and 2: they might have to compensate the owner for lost rent until the property is re-leased.

Now – it can even get worse.
Let’s say a fire breaks out in that non-conforming basement room. Even if the property manager has a smoke detector and carbon monoxide detector installed, something terrible happened and someone died as a result of fire. Now, this can easily turn into a civil lawsuit. The property managers fancy E&O insurance, company liability insurance, even their umbrella insurance that separates their personal life from your business; all of these will get thoroughly tested.
This is an area where property management varies greatly from regular real estate, especially in the area of E&O insurance. Landlords must be very careful, and very conservative of how they advertise and lease properties. Do not cut corners in this area.

For more information on this and other topics, please visit us online:
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Denver Property Management Utilities

System - Saturday, April 1, 2017
As the rental market continues to thrive and home sales stay sluggish many homeowners are deciding to rent their homes until housing prices increase again. There is a long check list of items to consider when transition a personal residence into a rental. This report will be focusing on how to change the responsibility of the utilities from the homeowner to the new tenant in the context of Excel Energy.

The Landlord Agreement (LLA)
The first step in transitioning the utility bill is to include it in the Landlord Agreement. Utilities companies sometimes call this an LLA. The Landlord Agreement Team is an organization within the utility company that specifically handles this process. The Landlord Agreement provides a certain level of protection for the landlord with the key distinction of determining who the client is. Is it the homeowner or the new tenant? In this case the new tenant becomes the utility company’s client. As a result, any issue surrounding the utility bill, is exclusively between the company and the tenant. The landlord will have no visibility into any matter.

The Turn On, Turn Off Form
One of the provisions in the Landlord Agreement protecting the landlord is called “automatic turn on” and “automatic turn of.” So when a tenant moves in the landlord submits the turn on form and the utility bills goes out of the landlord’s name and into the tenants and vice versa when the tenant moves out. Another component of the turn on and turn off agreements is to be sure to have a 3rd party notification clause so if the tenant is not paying the utility bill, the landlord is notified monthly including the amount owed.

A good lease agreement will have language stating that the tenant is responsible for not only paying the rent but the utilities as well. This further protects the landlord from any financial exposure with regards to the utility expenses.

First Mover Advantage
Both the landlord and tenant have to fill out, sign and date the automatic turn on form. The party that first notifies the utility company as to what date the utilities are to be transferred; that date will be on the record. If the landlord believes, for example March 15th is the date of transfer but the tenant notifies first that the date is April 1 it’s that date that will be recognized. Any discrepancies of dates will have to be resolved between the landlord and tenant. The utility company will only recognize the date submitted first.

The Turn Off
When the tenant decides to move out the turn off form is completed with the turn off date. Both tenant and landlord sign and send to the utility company. If the tenant decides to move out a few days prior to that date they are still responsible for the utility expense up to the date on the form.

Another Way the Landlord is Protected
Sometimes a tenant might get way behind in paying the utility bill or in one particular winter month the bill spikes to several hundred dollars. They don’t have the money and decide to change the name on the bill to another family member, boyfriend / girlfriend….or maybe, back in the name of the landlord! By the basis of the Landlord Agreement and the Turn Off / Turn On Agreement the tenant cannot do this, hence, the importance of having the Landlord Agreement in place to protect the landlord. The Tenant is not allowed to change who is responsible for the bill unless both parties agree.

For more information on this and other topics, please visit us online:
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Denver Property Management - Avoiding Craigslist Scams

System - Wednesday, March 22, 2017
The number of fake rental scams on Craigslist and other online classifieds continues to grow, with new aliases appearing daily. But while the names may change, the methods are always the same. These thieves, mainly based in Nigeria, the U.K. and the U.S., are out to steal renter’s money and identity.

There are several items to look out for:
1) The scammers tend to use yahoo, ymail, rocketmail, fastermail, live, hotmail and gmail, and they also post ads under anonymous craigslist addresses.
2) They use photos stolen from other property advertisements and many times copy the legitimate ad with same description and photos.
3) Look for the misspelling of words and more formal language that isn’t commonly used in such online advertising. The emails will be overly polite and poorly written or express excessive eagerness to rent the property without having proper steps including property inspection, background and credit checks.
4) When there are two identical ads the monthly rental fee will be much different. For instance a legitimate ad for a 4 bedroom house would be, say $1,350 per month. The scam ad will list the same property, same pictures and assume the homeowner’s identity but list it for $850. If it’s too good to be true it probably is. They will have a sob story or say they are not available to show the property but the renter can go and check it out if they wish.
5) What they all have in common is that sooner or later they send request to transfer funds via Western Union, Money gram or some other wire service. Never, under any circumstances wire money at the request of the prospective “landlord” and never provide a bank account number, bank routing number or other financial or personal information.

A renter should ALWAYS do business face-to-face with the landlord or property management company. It’s important to have access inside the property and to sign documents and contracts in person and in an office or professional setting.

For more information on this and other topics, please visit us online:
If you prefer to watch a video on this topic, visit us at:

Echo Summit Property Management Volunteers at Denver Rescue Mission

System - Tuesday, March 14, 2017

GREENWOOD VILLAGE, Colorado, December 20, 2016 – Echo Summit Property Management, a leading Denver and Ft. Collins-based Property Manager, continued its commitment of giving back to the community by volunteering at the Denver Rescue Mission.

The Denver Rescue Mission is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization dedicated to serving the needs of the homeless and needy in the Denver metro area. During the volunteering event, Echo Summit staff and family members cooked and served meals to Denver-area needy.

“I could not be more proud of our staff and their commitment to giving back to the community,” said Echo Summit founder and CEO Scott Lukes. “They already deal in an extreme job environment in Denver and Ft. Collins-based residential property management. To see them carve out their own time to serve the community like this is not only heartwarming, but demonstrates Echo Summit’s commitment to the community.”

About Echo Summit Property Management

With nearly 1,000 properties managed, Echo has the experience, technology, process and scale that sets us apart from the pack. Echo is the preferred choice for local investors and Realtors who understand that there can be no compromise in quality and ethics in property management. Our approach and philosophy are simple... once you start treating an investment property like a -rental-, it will eventually dilapidate into one. ALL WE DO IS PROPERTY MANAGEMENT. We do not do real estate brokerage, real estate development, or sell cars. We are property managers who strive for nothing short of excellence. Our dedication and approach has earned Echo a quality reputation in Denver area rentals.

5 Tips for Cutting Utilitiy Costs

System - Monday, March 13, 2017
Though spring is upon us we still need to be thinking about ways to trip utility costs. Here are a few that will help all year around.

1) Programmable Thermostats

Instead of forcing renters to manually change the thermostat as the weather changes, it may be ideal for Denver property management companies or property owners to install a programmable thermostat. These modernized thermostats can be scheduled to change the temperature of the unit based on personal preference for various times of the day and seasons.

These devices cost as little as $25, are widely available at home improvement stores, and can yield nearly $200 in savings per year in utility expenses.

2) Windows, Door Frames and Cracks

Without adequately sealed windows and door frames, rental units can let out heat when tenants try to warm up their apartments during cold months and cool air when they attempt to chill their home during hot seasons. According to Energy Star, weather-stripping windows and door frames is something landlords and Denver property management companies should take into serious consideration to prevent renters from wasting energy.

Additionally, cracks can sometimes be hidden from the naked eye, so inspecting a property for small seams where cool or warm air – depending on the season – can seep out of a unit. SmartMoney advises caulking these cracks to effectively seal them and prevent wasted electricity.

3) Insulation

If you’re not sure whether your insulation is protecting your home from outdoor temperatures as well as it might be, a good first step might be to have a home energy audit done (or find do-it-yourself instructions on online.)

This audit should reveal whether you have proper insulation in key locations such as your attic, ducts, ceiling, walls, basements, etc.

There are many different types of insulation, and an expert can tell you whether you’re using the right types of insulation in the right places. For example, spray foam or loose fill insulation is best for unfinished attic floors and crawlspace walls, while fiber insulation works best around ducts. There are several choices for insulating walls, from classic, blanket-style insulation to foam board or concrete block insulation.

4) Light Bulbs

Changing out incandescent light bulbs for more modern ones, such as compact fluorescent bulbs, can considerably reduce a property’s utility bill each month. By simply switching one incandescent in exchange for a compact fluorescent, property owners can see energy savings totaling around $35 during the life of the light bulb, according to SmartMoney magazine. Multiply that by however many light bulbs your property has and those savings could be significant in the long term.

Fine Homebuilding also says fluorescent offer the best cost option for landlords, as they are appropriately priced at home improvement stores in comparison to other energy-efficient models.

5) Fans and Air Conditioners

A substantial portion of a property’s utility expenses for an entire year occur during the warm months, when tenants tend to turn on their air conditioners for extensive periods of time to stay cool. While these appliances typically get the job done, the energy they use can be costly for many owners.

Should you have central AC at your residence, Kiplinger advises you cap temperatures to drop no further than 72 degrees Fahrenheit. Doing so, the source states, can save you 3 to 5 percent on monthly electric bills.

Denver property management companies and property owners without central air systems may want to consider installing fans in their units, which can be more cost-efficient than ACs and still keep renters cool when the temperatures reach high levels during summer.

Denver Property Management Essentials: Selection Criteria & Tips for Lease Applications

System - Saturday, March 4, 2017

Colorado State, District and School Performance

System - Saturday, February 18, 2017
 The SchoolVIEW Data Center gives you information about Colorado’s public education system at the state, district and school levels. It provides easy access to data on federal and state accountability results, academic performance, and student and school demographics.  

Re-keying a Critical Issue – Echo Summit Technique

System - Thursday, February 9, 2017
In conversations with property managers, it’s surprising how few PM companies do not change locks after acquiring a property from an owner. Most likely the same goes for home buyers when they purchase in a consumer deal.

The fact of the matter is that you DO NOT KNOW the property is secure unless you personally had the property re-keyed while it was under your management. From a ‘plausible denial-ability’ perspective this is huge. From a liability perspective, this is life/death.

At Echo Summit, a good system they use is to have the Owner pay for initial re-keying (the PM company hires the vendor to conduct it), and have the Resident pay for subsequent re-keying after they leave the property for which can we paid out the security deposit).

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