The Top Five Considerations for Hiring a Property Manager

Here's the Top Five things to consider before hiring a property manager...

1) What is the company's policy on tenant screening?What does that process look like? It is crucial to hire a property manager whose focus is tenant screening. By focusing on tenant screening, it is possible to reduce the risk in renting to a problem tenant. 

2) How is maintenance handled? A prudent property manager reduces the "work" that a property owner has in dealing with the property. So long as the property manager has the authority to take care of routine maintenance, the property owner can benefit from the resources available to a property manager. It's also important to remember that "you get what you pay for." By going cheap or cutting corners on repairs, it ultimately costs the property owner more in the long run. By fixing it right the first time, it costs less for the property owner and keeps the tenant happy. 

3) How are rent increases handled and determined? It's no secret that a property owner wants the most amount of rent possible and the renter wants to pay as little as possible.  A successful property manager is able to guide the property owner in setting a fair price for the rental to maximize income, while setting it low enough to reduce vacancy time. 

4) How involved does the property owner want to be? A property owner that wants to be hands-on and intimately involved in the management of the home, may actually hurt the success of the leasing and management of the property. A successful property manager is skilled in their trade and know how to best get the results desired by both the property owner and themselves. I use the example of hiring a lawyer or CPA; we hire them because we trust they can do a better job than we could ourselves. 

5) What if the rent doesn't cover the mortgage and other property expenses? The rent that can be expected of a property is dictated by the market. A homeowners mortgage and expenses bears no weight on the rental value. However, it's imperative to keep in mind that the rent is typically covering a huge part of the expense. When we can get another person to help offset the expenses on a property, we are actually having that person buy the asset for us. That being said, if a person cannot cover the difference between the property expenses and the rent collected, then they need to reconsider being a landlord. 


Lee Arnold is a California BRE Licensed Broker in Southern California. Whether you're looking to buy, sell, or lease real estate, Lee has 15 years of experience in this field. Lee is available for speaking engagements as consulting opportunities. To contact Lee Arnold:  

Let's Be Honest, Moving Stinks!

We love touring homes; looking at models; negotiating deals; designing back yards; getting new jobs which bring new homes; and getting new furniture. 

While picking out paint colors and new flooring is always fun, that's not always an option when you're renting. If you're leasing a home, you usually get it "as-is." I frequently use the phrase, "what you see is what you get" when showing rental homes to prospective renters. 

Once we find that home that we're going to move in to, we now have the daunting task of packing up our house and moving it to the new home.

To help ease this pain, I have a few tips to make this just a little bit easier:

1) Don't clean it yourself. If you're moving out of a rental home, let your landlord coordinate the cleaning. This way they are responsible for getting the home back to the cleanliness they expect and can deduct the cost from your deposit. Most states require the landlord to provide a copy of the receipt so you know you were charged fairly.

2) Donate as much as possible BEFORE you move. When it comes to our "stuff," we all have a decent amount that we could part with. While packing up the house, it's helpful to have a dedicated pile or box that is for the local charity or garage sale. By easily adding items to this pile, it reduces the amount you have to physically move.

3) Make a schedule. By starting early and staying on track, you can reduce the stress of having to cram a ton of work into a small period of time. Take the opportunity to pack a few boxes every day as you can and then organize them by room. By doing this, you can load and unload a truck or POD by room. 

Hopefully these tips help make your move easier and less stressful.

Lee Arnold is a California BRE Licensed Broker in Southern California. Whether you're looking to buy, sell, or lease real estate, Lee has 15 years of experience in this field. Lee is available for speaking engagements as consulting opportunities. To contact Lee Arnold:  

Your Property Manager is Not Your Personal Assistant

Would you take legal advice from your dog-walker? How about letting your house cleaner legally bind you to a multi-year, lease contract for your office space? Most likely the answer is "no." So why are you treating your property manager they are one step above these service providers? 

I'm not a lawyer, but I'll keep you out of court. 

Many times property managers act like an attorney by advising property owners and tenants alike on how to navigate the stormy waters of landlord/ tenant disputes. While we can't provide legal advice, we can help both parties based on industry knowledge, past experiences, and known civil codes. 

In the rare cases that we need to represent you in court, you provide us with the authority to settle a case on your behalf. I bet you wouldn't let your dry cleaner make that level of decision for you. So make sure that you treat your property manager accordingly. 

I'm an Industry Expert. Period. 

Second guessing your property manager is like saying, "do you really know what you're doing?!" If the property manager is an established and licensed expert, trust that they're providing you with expert advice to give you the best possible outcome considering the situation. 

It is not prudent for a property manager to give you bad advice as it doesn't benefit them to do so. They want you to remain as a client and prosper, in an effort for you to refer family and friends to do business with them. Besides, how would you feel if someone second-guessed your work? Or even worse, told you how to do your job? 

What do you really do?

Your property manager is responsible for leasing and managing your property, coordinating maintenance and making sure that the property is maximizing it's income potential. Many times the line is blurred between that and being a personal assistant.

Your property manager is not responsible for calling insurance companies to get quotes, managing capital improvements, or other activities their assigned duties. Now, a property owner can ask their property manager to use their connections to help the owner out, but don't be surprised if you're charged an hourly rate as the duties are outside of their contracted responsibilities. 

Remember, the main reason a property owner hires a property manager is to handle the tenant screening, leasing, rent collection and general maintenance supervision of the property. Anything above and beyond this is usually extra, so don't be surprised if you get pushback when you ask them to let your mom in to the house so she can plant her award-winning roses. 

Lee Arnold is a California BRE Licensed Broker in Southern California. Whether you're looking to buy, sell, or lease real estate, Lee has 15 years of experience in this field. Lee is available for speaking engagements as consulting opportunities. To contact Lee Arnold:  

Why a Home Warranty Can Cost You Your Dream Tenant

For many years now, buyers of residential property have expected the seller to provide a home warranty in the purchase transaction. This practice is actually very good when purchasing a re-sale property. New construction comes with a builder warranty that the builder will rectify any issues for longer than a typical home warranty by an insurance company will offer. 

When buying a re-sale property, a home inspection can only show you so much. However, it's murphy's law that can bite you. This is when the home warranty comes in handy. If a major system fails, then you have that insurance policy. 

Here's where it gets tricky. Let's say you buy a property and decide to rent it out. Or, you move out of your primary residence and decide that this will be a good income property for you. Since it's not really known how the tenants are going to treat the home and it's systems, you decide to get a home warranty. 

The tenants move in, and you get a maintenance request. You call the home warranty and they dispatch out some company you've never heard of. But, they are going to call your tenant directly to schedule the service call. 

The problem here is that you have no idea who this company is, if the technician is a registered sex-offender, etc... And guess who's responsible if something happens to the tenant...... YOU! 

Now, let's assume the tech is not an ex-con. What commonly happens is that your service call is low priority to them because they're working at a discount for the home warranty company. Commonly, technicians will work for home warranty companies to fill in slow periods, commonly known as "fill-work." 

So who really suffers here? Your Tenant! It is known that a happy tenant will stay longer in a rental property and put up with rent increases when maintenance is promptly taken care of. If it's a pain for the tenant to get work done when requested, they are more likely to move at the end of the lease or at the first sign of a rent increase. 

If you're using a property manager to take care of your property, it's fairly common for them to have relationships with contractors who charge a fair wage to fix your problems. While it may cost a little more per trip to have a private contractor go out there, it will likely keep your tenant much happier than the alternative. 

Speaking of math, let's look at the big picture. If a home warranty cost you $400 annually, plus a $65+ deductible per call, does the math really work? Let's assume you're going to have 2 service calls on average per year. That's $530 annually you're paying out by having a home warranty. Unless your house is falling apart, or you need to replace the A/C, are you spending that much anyway? Something to think about....

In short, a home warranty is not always in the homeowners best interest. Unless we have a problematic property, we always encourage our clients to drop home warranty policies for rental properties. They have continued to prove to be useless in the long run, and frankly, we're all about the big picture. 

Lee Arnold is a California BRE Licensed Broker in Southern California. Whether you're looking to buy, sell, or lease real estate, Lee has 15 years of experience in this field. Lee is available for speaking engagements as consulting opportunities. To contact Lee Arnold:  

How Many Horror Stories??

Have you ever looked at the DIY shows where they rescue a desperate homeowner that has botched a do-it-yourself home improvement product? Have you ever said, "what the heck were they thinking?" Come on, we've all said it. We're addicted to these successful TV shows because we like to see how people got themselves in the mess and how the shows rescue them and it becomes a thing of beauty. 

DIY Real Estate can do the same thing. We see our friends, family and neighbors say, "Hey, I can do this myself." Ironically, it's usually the same people we just mentioned above....but we won't say anything!

Whenever someone goes to sell or rent their home themselves and it takes longer, they get the tenant from hell, or just nothing happens, they have to come to the sense that maybe they really don't know what to do.

That's where we come in. We have been rescuing homeowners from Real Estate Hell for over 16 years. We come in and assess the situation, triage the work need, put on the gloves and get going. Many times, it's a little painful, but in the end, we are the hero of the homeowner. 

If you're finding yourself stuck in Real Estate Hell and you're ready to bring in the big guns, give us a call. We'd love to come chat with you free of charge and take a look at how bad (or not) things really are. 

Do I really need to change the locks?

When preparing your home for rent, there are a handful of things a property owner “just has to do.” These items including making sure that everything is working, the carpets are cleaned, the paint is at least touched up, and the home is cleaned. The final, and most often forgotten, is to have the locks changed. Even if the owner is moving out, the tenants are moving out of town, or the last person was “a good person,” it’s best to protect yourself.

The best practice is to have a professional locksmith rekey the deadbolts throughout the home to the same key. This way, you have only one key to worry about, and there’s no doubt that the proper measures have been taken.

Many times, the owners of the property will not even have a copy of the key. Rather, the management company will have the only spare key. This shows to everyone that the best efforts to keep the tenant as safe as possible have been taken.

Our friends at Kimball, Tirey and St. John sum it up best: “An owner or manager of rental property is held to the same standard of care that would be required by a reasonable and prudent owner or manager in like circumstances. In other words, if one of your residents claims they were robbed or injured by someone who had a key to their apartment, they could claim you were responsible. They could prevail in court if the trier of fact believed that a reasonably prudent owner/manager would have changed the locks when the former resident vacated the rental unit.” – Ted Kimball

If you have any questions about what you can do to help protect your home, or best practices for successful management of your investment property, please feel free to contact Lee Arnold at [email protected]

Benchmark Property Management is a professional residential management company specializing in the management of single family homes and condos in North San Diego County and Temecula Valley.

Why Hire A Property Manager? Can’t I just do it Myself?

Well of course you can do it yourself! You can also replace your own oil, wash your car and clean your own carpet.

Why is it that we don’t do most of those things ourselves? The answer is that when we are honest with ourselves, we know that there are people who live and breathe those tasks and can produce much more effective results than we can on our own.

So, why does leasing my own rental cause me headache? Here’s the hard truth: Many people think it is a walk in the park to rent their own property. You put up a sign in the yard, post an ad on craigslist and tell your Facebook friends that you’re going to be renting your property. Then the calls start coming in. You have every Jane, Tom, Dick and Sally calling you all hours of the day asking you at times the most ridiculous questions and honestly start annoying you. They want to see it tonight, but they never show up. They’re going to have a friend call, but he doesn’t.

Then you think, “Hey! I’m going to get smart and not publish my number. If someone is serious, they’ll email me. (miniature self-screening, right?!)” Then the emails come in and you receive the following:

Regarding your rental:

I’m interested and I have it narrowed down to this and a coupe others.

A breakup snuck up on me, and now I have only a few days to find alternate living arrangements.

I make decent money but the breakup was unexpected, so I’m looking for someone who would be willing to trade a really nice (almost new) furniture set for the first month of rent or whatever number of weeks we can negotiate (I paid $2,250 for it new last year).

The other option is I have a nice little 2000 VW Jetta that looks and runs great — blue book trade-in value $1,955. This is my older car I was in the process of selling anyway. Here are pictures of the car as well as the furniture set … (ignore the scooter pics – it’s my ex’s).

I’d describe myself overall as friendly, neat, hardworking, and I get along well with others. I’m frugal and always pay my bills on time, despite the present hardship. I’m leaning a little bit towards your place than the other options, and can tell you more about myself if you’re interested and would be able to help as described above.

I’m heading off to work now but I’m contacting all 3 rental prospects — I’ll check back at break to see who’s interested.

Thank you and I look forward to hearing from you.

John Doe (Name changed for “privacy”)”

This seems legit right? The guy has clearly fallen on hard times and needs to get back on his feet. WRONG!!

This guy/ girl/ robot/ whatever is a HUGE scam. If you weren’t familiar with the ins and outs of leasing your property, you just might find compassion for this person and start a dialogue with them.

“But, Lee, how do you know this is a scam??” I am so glad you asked that! This person constantly sends out this stock text via spam to everyone on Craigslist just hoping for someone to ‘bite’. The reality is that I get this email every time I post a property and the story doesn’t even change. The incorrect grammar and spelling mistakes are the same in each one.

So, what does Benchmark Property Management do for me here that I can do for myself? We are able to screen and weed out the scams, fakes and robots from the leasing process and work directly with true people who are legitimately trying to find rental housing. The volume ofproperties we manage and the amount of calls we take, we have been able to refine our systems and processes to maximize the protection we provide you from scam artists like this.

If you have any questions or would like to discuss this or any other topic further, please feel free to contact Lee Arnold directly at [email protected] or (760) 849-4401. If you would like, here’s a 30-sec video about us: Homeowners Information.

Carbon Monoxide Detectors- Effective July 1, 2011

Our Friend, Jamie Sternberg, from Kimball, Tirey & St. John LLP wrote a beautiful article on the Carbon Monoxide Detector law. In fact, it was so good, that we wanted to pass it on to everyone.

Here’s what Jamie wrote:

“Jamie Sternberg, Esq.
January, 2012
The Carbon Monoxide Poisoning Prevention Act of 2010, also known as SB 183, is effective as to  single-family detached residences on July 1, 2011, and all other residential units on January 1, 2013. It requires that residential property be equipped with a carbon monoxide device when the property has an attached garage or fossil fuel (coal, kerosene, oil, wood, fuel gasses and other petroleum or hydrocarbon products that emit carbon monoxide as a byproduct of combustion) heater or appliance or fireplace. Rules regarding carbon monoxide devices (such as the landlord’s obligation to ensure that the devices are operable at the time the tenant takes possession, the landlord’s right to enter for inspection, and the tenant’s obligation to notify the landlord if the device becomes inoperable) are similar to smoke detector rules.

An open parking garage (as defined in the California Building Code), or an enclosed parking garage ventilated in accordance with the California Mechanical Code, is not deemed to be an “attached garage”.

Residential units that do not (1) contain fuel-burning heaters, appliances or fireplaces or (2) a garage directly attached to the unit, but which are located in a building with fuel-burning appliances or a garage attached to the building, are not required to install carbon monoxide devices when:

• The unit is located more than one story above or below any story that contains a fuelburning appliance or an attached garage; and

• The unit is not connected by duct work or ventilation shafts to any room containing a fuelburning appliance or to an attached garage; and

• The building is equipped to a common area carbon monoxide alarm system that includes
all enclosed common area spaces.

Carbon monoxide devices (and smoke alarms) must be located outside each sleeping area (in the immediate vicinity of bedrooms) and on every story of the dwelling, including basements and habitable attics. Split levels are considered one story.

There are two different types of carbon monoxide devices. Carbon monoxide alarms are stand alone units that have their own built-in power supply and audible device. Carbon monoxide detectors are designed to be used with a fire alarm system and receives its power from a fire alarm panel.

Carbon monoxide devices must be hard-wired with battery back-up:
• When a building permit with a job valuation of more than $1,000 is issued for an addition,
repair or alteration, and interior wall or ceiling finishes are disturbed; and
• For new construction.

If a carbon monoxide device is required, but hard-wiring is not required, either battery operated, or plug-in with battery back-up carbon monoxide devices are allowed. A list of approved carbon monoxide devices is available at

Carbon monoxide devices installed before July 1, 2011 may continue to be utilized, even if they are not an approved carbon monoxide device. If more than one carbon monoxide device is installed in a unit, all of the devices must be interconnected (so that activation of one alarm will activate all alarms in the unit) if the devices are hard-wired or if a previous method of interconnection exists. ”

Thank you Jaime! This information is very valuable!

Keeping your home safe in 2012

Keeping your family safe is nothing to take lightly. Each person that makes an effort to stay safe is helping curb crime in their neighborhoods. I have been a residential property manager for 11 years and have worked close with the Vista Sheriff Department and their Crime Free Multi-Family Housing Program. Typically, this applies to apartment buildings, but the concept is “people living in close proximity to each other.”
While I am not an expert, I have put into practice their recommendations at various properties with much success. Some of it may be obvious to many, but the idea is to educate everyone.


Helpful Tips:
1) LIGHT THE NIGHT: leave your patio/ porch lights on at night (ALL NIGHT) and ensure that their is no debris or vegetation that obstructs the flow of light. (Be sensitive to your neighbors that the light is pointed to your property and not theirs.)

The average light bulb costs about $3/ YEAR to leave on… small price to pay.

2) UNLOAD EVERYTHING: Do not store anything in plain sight in your vehicles. The most typical burglary is the “smash and grab.”

3) LOCK YOUR DOORS: The harder it is for a person to enter your vehicle, the less likely you’re going to be burglarized.

4) SPY FOR YOUR NEIGHBORS: Keep an eye out for suspicious persons on your street, in your neighbors driveway or “lurking/ loitering.” Be sure to contact your neighbors immediately or police, whichever is most appropriate.

4a) TEXT/ POST SUSPICIOUS BEHAVIOR: Let your neighbors know about that car that’s been hanging out at their house. Post pictures of suspicious vehicles on the community facebook page. If you don’t have a community facebook page, start one.

5) REPORT EVERYTHING: It is amazing how much stolen property can be retrieved if everyone reports a burglary and stolen merchandise. The more people that report, the more likely that a person would be caught and items returned.

5a) CALL THE SHERIFF: The sheriff can’t help if they’re not made aware of what is going on. Police will traffic an area more frequently if they hear trends of activity in certain areas. We can always request courtesy patrols by calling the sheriff department.

Finally, use your best judgement. Never place yourself or family in a compromising position. Your gut instinct is most likely your best judge. However, some people feel comfortable confronting suspicious individuals. This is not recommended unless you are a trained professional. You can however, make sure the suspicious individual knows are watching by drawing attention to them. A common “friendly” approach is, “can I help you find where you are going?”

If you would like more information on this topic, please visit

This is the official International Crime Free Programs Website with a mission to help keep illegal activity off of rental property
This post has been provided courtesy of Benchmark Property Management. Leasing and managing single-family homes and condominiums is our specialty. If you, or someone you know would like more information about our management services, please call us at (760) 849-4401. You can also find us on Facebook and Twitter.

Where can I recycle my Christmas Tree??

Now that Christmas is over, it’s time to clean up the house, put away the decorations and get rid of that tree. If your city doesn’t have curbside pick up, we’ve got the skinny from our friends at on where you can bring your tree to be recycled. Scroll down below to find out where the closest location nearest you is. For more information on the city of San Diego’s residential drop-off sites, call (858) 694-7000.

Carmel Valley: Carmel Valley Recreation Center, 3777 Townsgate Drive, lower parking lot

Encanto: Cielo Drive at Woodman Street

Golden Hill: Golden Hill Recreation Center, 2600 Golf Course Drive

La Jolla: Kate Sessions Memorial Park, Soledad Road and Loring Street

Logan Heights: Memorial Recreation Center, 2902 Marcy Ave.

Miramar: Miramar Landfill and Greenery, Convoy Street north of state Route 52

Mission Bay: Sea World Drive at Pacific Highway

Oak Park: Chollas Lake, 6350 College Grove Drive, in Gloria’s Mesa parking lot

Ocean Beach: Robb Athletic Field Recreation Center, 2525 Bacon St.

Otay Mesa/Nestor: Montgomery Waller Community Park (upper and lower-west parking lots)

Rancho Bernardo: Rancho Bernardo Recreation Center, 18448 W. Bernardo Drive

Rancho Peñasquitos: Canyonside Recreation Center, 12350 Black Mountain Road

San Diego State University: Parking Lot D off Alvarado Road

Scripps Ranch: Scripps Ranch Recreation Center, 11454 Blue Cypress Drive

Tierrasanta: De Portola Middle School, 11010 Clairemont Mesa Blvd.

University City: Swanson Pool, 3585 Governor Drive

Alpine (Waste Management): Curbside, with regular trash pickup for two weeks after Christmas.

Bonsall (EDCO): Curbside, with regular trash pickup through Jan. 12. Drop-off at River Village, 5256 S. Mission Road in the northwest parking lot through Jan. 9; place trees inside collection containers.

Camp Pendleton (Waste Management of North County): Curbside, with regular trash pickup for two weeks after Christmas.

Carlsbad (Waste Management): Curbside, with regular trash pickup for two weeks after Christmas. Drop-off, Calavera Park, 2997 Glasgow Drive; Poinsettia Park, 6600 Hidden Valley Road; Stagecoach Park, 3420 Camino de los Coches; Fire Station No. 1, 1275 Carlsbad Village Drive; Palomar Transfer Station, 5960 El Camino Real.

Chula Vista (Allied Waste): Curbside, with regular trash pickup for two weeks after Christmas. Drop-off at Otay Landfill, 1700 Maxwell Road, with one of two free yard waste passes. Apartment, condominium or mobile home residents should contact managers or homeowners association about free, pre-scheduled collection days. Call (619) 421-9400 for information.

Coronado (EDCO): Curbside, with regular trash pickup through Jan. 12. Drop-off at Glorietta Bay Boat Launching Ramp parking lot on Strand Way (follow signs to bins) or at the Coronado Cays Yacht Club parking lot, 30 Caribe Cay Blvd. N., across from the fire station on Grand Caribe Causeway. Place trees inside collection bins.

Crest: Curbside, with regular trash pickup for two weeks after Christmas. Drop-off at buyback center at 925 O’Conner St., El Cajon from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and 8 a.m. to noon Saturday. (619) 596-5100.

Del Mar (Waste Management): Curbside, with regular trash pickup for two weeks after Christmas.

El Cajon (Waste Management): Curbside, with regular trash pickup for two weeks after Christmas. Drop-off at buyback center at 925 O’Conner St., El Cajon from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and 8 a.m. to noon Saturday. (619) 596-5100.

Encinitas (EDCO): Curbside, with regular trash pickup through Jan. 12.

Escondido (unincorporated): Curbside, with regular trash pickup through Jan. 12.

Escondido Disposal (Escondido only): Curbside, with trash pickup through Jan. 16. Multifamily residents should contact their complex manager for their tree collection site; trees will be collected through Jan. 9. Drop-off through Jan. 16 at Kit Carson Park, 3333 Bear Valley Parkway (south entrance, first parking lot on right, across from adult softball complex) and at Jesmond Dene Park, 2401 N. Broadway.

Fairbanks Ranch: Curbside, with regular trash pickup for two weeks after Christmas.

Fallbrook (EDCO and Waste Management): Curbside, with regular trash pickup for two weeks after Christmas. Drop-off at River Village, 5256 Mission Road and through Jan. 9 at Fallbrook Refuse Service, 550 W. Aviation Road. Place trees inside collection bins.

Imperial Beach (EDCO): Curbside, with regular trash pickup through Jan. 12. Drop-off through Jan. 12 at city of Imperial Beach Public Works yard, 495 10th St.; Imperial Beach Boys & Girls Club, 847 Encina Ave., and at Imperial Beach Sports Park, 425 Imperial Beach Blvd.

Jamul (unincorporated): Curbside, with regular trash pickup for two weeks after Christmas. Drop-off at buyback center, 925 O’Conner St., El Cajon. (619) 596-5100.

Lakeside (unincorporated): Curbside, with regular trash pickup for two weeks after Christmas. Drop-off at buyback center, 925 O’Conner St., El Cajon. (619) 596-5100.

La Mesa (unincorporated): Curbside, with regular trash pickup through Jan. 12.

La Mesa (EDCO): Curbside, with regular trash pickup through Jan. 12. Drop-off, through Jan. 12 at EDCO Station, 8184 Commercial St. from 7 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. every day except New Year’s Day.

Lemon Grove (EDCO): Curbside, with regular trash pickup through Jan. 12. Drop-off through Jan. 12 in the fenced lot at Central Avenue and Olive Street across from Civic Center Park.

National City (EDCO): Curbside, with regular trash pickup through Jan. 12. Drop-off through Jan. 12 at El Toyon Park, 2005 E. 4th St. (intersection of 4th and U streets).

Oceanside (Waste Management): Curbside, with regular trash pickup for two weeks after Christmas.

Poway (EDCO): Curbside, with regular trash pickup through Jan. 9. Apartment and condominiums should call (858) 748-7769 for tree disposal schedule.

Rancho Santa Fe (Waste Management): Curbside, with regular trash pickup for two weeks after Christmas.

Ramona (Ramona Disposal Service): Curbside, with regular trash pickup. Drop-off from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday and Jan. 3 and 4 at Ramona High School, 1401 Hanson Lane and The Village Shopping Center.

San Marcos (EDCO): Curbside, with regular trash pickup through Jan. 12. Drop-off, through Jan. 12 at San Marcos Senior Center, 111 Richmar Ave. Multifamily communities call (760) 744-2700.

Santee (Waste Management): Curbside, with regular trash pickup for two weeks after Christmas. Drop-off at buyback center, 925 O’Conner St., El Cajon. (619) 596-5100.

Solana Beach (Waste Management): Curbside, with regular trash pickup for two weeks after Christmas. Drop-off, through Jan. 14 at 305 S. Sierra Ave. and at La Colonia Community Center, 715 Valley Ave.

Spring Valley (Allied Waste, EDCO and Waste Management): Curbside, with regular trash pickup through Jan. 12. Drop-off at buyback center, 925 O’Conner St., El Cajon. (619) 596-5100.

Valley Center (EDCO and Waste Management): Curbside, with regular trash pickup through Jan. 12. Drop-off through Jan. 9 at Community Center, 28246 Lilac Road.

Vista (EDCO): Curbside, with regular trash pickup through Jan. 11. Drop-off, through Jan. 11 at the dirt lot on the corner of Guajome and Mercantile streets.

Flocked trees cannot be recycled but will be collected if cut into 4-foot sections and placed into the regular trash container.

For more information about Benchmark Property, you can visit us on facebook or twitter @socalrentalexp

Donating money, food, and “stuff” during the holidays


Many people feel compelled during the Thanksgiving and Christmas season to give more than any other time of the year. While most people don’t mind the idea of giving and a little sacrifice, but they’re unsure where to donate to. While some people default to their local church, others throw their loose change in the red bucket outside of the grocery store. From donating food, clothing, cash and volunteering, it doesn’t matter where or what we do. As long as we do something as a human race, we need to give back. Let’s face it, no matter how hard we have it, we all have something to spare compared to the rest of the world. We all have TIME at the very least.

So as not to put some guilt on people, we have found a great list of charities that giveback to the community and doesn’t fatten the pocket of the organizations CEO’s.


• The Food 4 Kids Backpack Program provides weekend backpacks filled with food to chronically hungry elementary schoolchildren. For more information, go to

• The 2011 Holiday Food Drive continues until Dec. 31. Nonperishable food can be deposited in red barrels at Vons and Stater Bros. supermarkets throughout the county, or delivered directly to the Food Bank warehouse at 9850 Distribution Ave., San Diego 92121. Jewish Family Service of San Diego

• The Jewish Family Service Foodmobile has been bringing hot, kosher, home-delivered meals to the elderly and homebound since 1971. For more information contact Melinda Wilkes, volunteer services manager, at (858) 637-3050, or go to to donate online.

• Feeding America’s Holiday’s Hope Campaign provides food baskets to needy families during the holiday season. Throughout the year, the organization partners with 185 nonprofit organizations and schools to feed more that 400,000 people in San Diego County. For more information go to

• Based in San Marcos, the North County Food Bank has been feeding hungry residents for 20 years. It serves about 18,000 people a month. Goto to find a food drive near you, or call (760) 761-1140.

• Instead of paying fines on overdue materials, patrons may donate food items that the Escondido Public Library will give to Interfaith Community Services in Escondido. The Food for Fines program is in effect from Nov. 28 through Dec. 31. For more information, call (760) 839-4684.

• Interfaith distributes food to needy families throughout North County. Tocontribute to Interfaith’s annual Holiday Adopt A Family program visit, or email [email protected]

• The Santee Food Bank, which last year served almost 15,000 meals to those in need, is operated under the auspices of the Santee Ministerial Council. For more information, go to, or call (619) 448-4456.

• Hearts and Hands works with some of the poorest of the poor, providing food, shoes and clothing to underserved and at-risk individuals and families in the San Ysidro community. For more information, call (619) 662-7592 or visit

• Through a partnership with Pinery Christmas Trees, you can order your holiday trees, wreaths and poinsettias online at, and the proceeds will help Mama’s Kitchen provide meals for critically ill neighbors. This nonprofit charitable organization delivers food and support to San Diegans affected by AIDS.

• For more than 50 years, Meals-on-Wheels has served seniors aroundthe county, relying on volunteers to deliver food seven days a week, including holidays, to the homes of the people in the program. For more information, contact

• The Red Cross is asking the public to visit to make a donation in the name of the people on their gift list this year. Donations will help provide food and shelter to a victim of disaster or others seeking basic necessities just to get by.

• The Holiday Mail For Heroes program works to collect and distribute holiday cards to American service members, veterans and their families. For more information, go to for Tots

• The Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots campaign collects new, unwrapped toys and gives them out to needy children in the local community. For more information, go to Toys will also be collected at the Dec. 21 Poinsettia Bowl at Qualcomm Stadium. Donations will be accepted through Christmas Eve at all Toys R Us and Babies R Us stores in the county. Cash contributions will also be accepted online at

• Teddy Bear Drive to benefit Rady Children’s Hospital. This year marks the 20th anniversary of the San Diego Regional Law Enforcement Teddy Bear Drive. The collection drive continues through Dec. 12. Donations of new stuffed animals, with tags still attached, may be made at police departments in San Diego, Chula Vista, Coronado, Carlsbad, El Cajon, Escondido and La Mesa, as well as at a number of participating San Diego Sheriff’s Department stations and businesses. For drop-off locations and more information, go to

• Make-A-Wish Foundation of San Diego. For details about how to give to Make-A-Wish and other fundraising events, go to From Dec. 15 to Jan. 15, a portion of proceeds from each Sammy’s Woodfired specialty pizza sold will benefit Make-A-Wish. For more information, visit Through Dec. 24, Macy’s will donate $1 to the Make-A-Wish Foundation for each stamped letter to Santa Claus dropped into special letterboxes at stores countywide.

From all of us at Benchmark Property Management, we encourage you to give what you can this holiday season. If you need to contact us or discuss other ways to give, feel free to visit on facebook at or click the CONTACT US link above.

How not to get scammed during the holidays (or ever)

Here’s some great tips to remember when making donations this holiday season:

• Never donate to a charity that you know nothing about.

• Don’t feel pressured into giving on the spot or allowing someone to come to your house to pick up the contribution.

• Hang up the telephone on aggressive and harassing solicitors.

• Request written information about the charity, its mission, programs and finances, how your donation will be used, and proof that your contribution is tax deductible.

• Confirm a charity’s tax-exempt status with the IRS by calling (877) 829-5500, or click on the “Search for Charities” link online at

• Check to see that the charity is registered with the California Attorney General’s Office at

• Look at charity watchdog sites, such as the Better Business Bureau’s Wise Giving Alliance at, or

• Do not reveal your personal or financial information, including your Social Security number or credit card and bank account numbers, to anyone who solicits a contribution from you.

• Always write a check payable to the charity, not the individual soliciting you, so that you have a record of your donation.

Who Is Benchmark Property Management? (and this guy, Lee Arnold??)

Benchmark Property Management was created out of the need for an outstanding and progressive management company in Northern San Diego County and Riverside County. The management and leasing of single family homes and condominiums is all we do. By focusing on what we do well, we are able to provide superior service to our residents and homeowners. We are honored to be the most referred residential management company by San Diego’s Top Producing Realtors and Brokerages. The trust we earn with those we work with is due to our commitment to excellence and honesty.

We came up with the name Benchmark Property Management when we wanted to let our clients know that we aren’t settling for mediocrity when it comes to providing service. We are literally setting the benchmark when it comes to providing reliable property management services to our customers. Our excitement also comes from our innovation and technology. It’s an understatement to say that we’re an innovative property management company. So many people in this industry use the antiquated processes and way of doing things that make us look down-right prehistoric. Well, not with us! We are proud to be embracing technology and using state-of-the-art tools. With these tools, owners and residents are able to experience a much more proactive management solution than most other companies can provide.

However, the reality is that while the tools are great, but they’re not everything. We could have the best of then best, but if we don’t have people, we don’t have anything.  Many times, services are outsourced and quality is compromised. Not with Benchmark. We are proud to provide our customers with uncompromising service.

After 11 years with one of North County’s largest property management companies, Lee Arnold was ready to make the move and create a company that allowed him to utilize these tools to their maximum potential, while simultaneously providing a genuine relationship to the property owners and residents. Lee Arnold wanted to make sure that when the property owner hired Benchmark Property Management, that they received what they were promised.

Lee Arnold is an industry leader for technology and ingenuity. Time and again, Lee has led the industry in advancements bettering the leasing experience for both homeowners and residents. With the vision of keeping things simple and the desire to enhance the overall experience for those involved, Lee has contributed greatly to the industry.

As a respected property manager, Lee has been a guest speaker on multiple occasions at local colleges, and a contributor to focus groups for leading resident screening software companies and bookkeeping programs.

For more information about Benchmark Property Management, please visit us at or on 

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701 Palomar Airport Road, Ste. 300, Carlsbad, CA 92011phone: 760.849.4401fax: 760.849.4402BRE Lic. #01440588