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Fire Safety Essentials for Property Management

According to the NFPA (National Fire Protection Association), around 80% people die in homes when there is a fire. Another startling fact according to the American Red Cross is that only about 25% families develop and practice a fire escape plan. These statistics show that fire poses a major danger on properties and unfortunately, most people are not prepared to deal with such situations. This means property management has a quite a big responsibility and a major role to play in saving people's lives in case of a fire.

 

A Period of Heightened Risk

 

With the onset of the holiday season and the New Year, there are more chances of accidents taking place that can cause a fire on the property. When many families do not know what to do in the event of fire, and there is no proper escape plan the result can be catastrophic in a community. Hence, the first thing property management should do is implement fire escape plan for the different units on the property.

 

Contingency Planning

 

Print the floor plans of the different units and make sure to include all the emergency exits. This will provide tenants, a marvelous idea about the possible escape routes they can take in the case of a fire. Explain to tenants, the steps they should take when a fire breaks out. Instruct adults in each unit to plan how they are going to take responsibility of children, the elderly, and people with disabilities in their household.

 

When adults know, whom they should be taking care of, it can save valuable seconds during a fire. Property management should not only develop a fire escape plan, but also hold mock drills two times in a year.

 

Safety Precautions

 

Another major responsibility of property management is to install smoke detectors and fire alarms on the property, and make sure they are kept in working order by regular inspections. According to NFPA, functioning smoke alarms, cut the mortality rate by 50%, and they have been a major factor in decrease of fire-related deaths in the past three decades.

 

Property management should install the latest smoke alarms, which are much smarter in detecting smoke from real fire compared to nuisance smoke that is a result of cooking or some such safe activity. Most people disconnect smoke alarms because they do not want it going off due to nuisance smoke.

 

Modern Structures Burn Faster

 

The time it takes for a house to be completely engulfed in a fire has reduced drastically. About fifty years ago, it was eight times slower for a house to be completely gutted by fire because there were much less synthetic petroleum based materials in the house compared to today.

 

Property management should take note of the fact that even though synthetic materials are long lasting and easier to maintain, they can cause fire to spread very fast and for the fire to burn intensely. Hence, consider the fuel load of materials and the potential of major losses in a fire. Synthetic material may seem economical but when compared to the devastation they can cause in fires, they may not be so appealing.

 

 

Data Analytics a Powerful Tool for Property Management

Without data analytics, all strategies of property management can be compared to driving the car at night without lights. Especially in marketing the property, analytics has a major role to play, which can influence the outcome. If the property manager is not effectively keeping track of prospects and not targeting them, then the money invested in the marketing campaign would be a big waste.

 

A Salient Tool

 

Analytics feature should be a part of the property management software, which should be capable of analyzing various aspects such as performance and ROI. This will provide a clear picture to the property manager whether profits can be maintained or increased.

 

Marketing is an important job of property management for reducing vacancy rates, and improving the reputation of the property. However, marketing strategies may not work as expected and it important to track down efforts that are not yielding results. One of the essential marketing analytic features of a system should help property management in identifying and diagnosing the weaknesses and strengths of the content posted on the property website and on other portals such as blogs, social media pages and so on.

 

Utilizing Technology

 

Secondly, in-built management and analysis features can help property management determine if the advertising campaign is worth the amount that is being spent on it. Analytics will be able to identify realtors that are providing the most prospects and those having the best closing percentages. With such information, it becomes easier in identifying and eliminating least cost effective lead sources, and helps to focus on sources that are producing the best results.

 

An excellent marketing analytics system will have integrated dashboards and reporting features with visual charts that present in a simple and clear way, the overall marketing ROI, lead conversions, and prospect metrics. Tables, charts, and graphs should be able to provide weekly, monthly, as well as yearly performance levels. With such reporting, it becomes very easy to assess prospect and campaign trends, and the actions that are necessary for sustaining fantastic trends.

 

The returns on marketing spending should be easily presented in the marketing reports, and there should be controls for filtering results according to campaigns, required data ranges, and other settings. Customization of dashboards should be possible through simple settings so that simple color-coding can demonstrate cost per lead, conversions, clicks, and spending. Property management will thus have the ability to display results that matter most. 

 

One of the best advantages of having marketing analytics feature in property management software is the ability to test various strategies. By monitoring campaigns and studying reports it become apparent, which strategies are providing the best results and the ones that need tweaking.

 

Incorporating the Team

 

When property-marketing efforts are based on analytics, they are more agile and can cover much more ground. The best part of analytics is reports can be displayed in most simple form that is easy to understand for almost any member of the property management team. Therefore, all team members can be on the same page, even if they are not directly concerned with the particular tasks.

 

 

 

Keeping the Property Free of Bugs and Pests

With the onset of fall, many bugs and pests try to get indoors where the temperatures are warmer. Once they come into the units, they tend to hide and create a lot of nuisance for residents. All across the country, the nuisance of stinkbugs is becoming a major problem. According to studies, BMSB (Brown Marmorated Stink Bug) came for Asia and it has been a major menace across 41 states.

 

An Imported Pest

 

These bugs have increased alarming in number because they reproduce fast, and there is no predator in the country that feeds on this bug. Stinkbugs as the name suggests give off an unpleasant odor and create a nuisance by buzzing around renters and everyone else. Apart from creating nuisance for people, they are known to cause major damage to fruit crops.

 

Most properties are finding it very difficult to keep this bug out, especially during the colder months. The scientists at US Department of Agriculture are testing the genome of this bug, and trying to develop traps and use of certain wasps to reduce their numbers. In urban settings and on properties, it becomes even more difficult to destroy these bugs due to the restricted use of pesticides and other harmful chemicals. Here are some tips that property management could implement to reduce this nuisance.

 

NPMA (National Pest Management Association) has given certain useful guidelines for reducing the incidence of stinkbugs on a property this fall:

 

§  Moisture has to be eliminated as much as possible, which means keeping the bathrooms and kitchens dry, and repairing clogged drains and leaking pipes.

§  Prevent the entry of stinkbugs and other pests by sealing all crevices and cracks using steel wool and caulk. Additionally, install screens on chimney openings and for vents in the attic.

§  Check for loose mortar and poor weather stripping and replace the same, especially around windows and basement foundation.

§  To prevent brining these bugs inside the unit, educate tenants to inspect grocery bags, boxes, and luggage before they bring them inside their homes.

§  Make sure garbage is stored in sealed receptacles on the property, and encourage tenants to wash off used plates and pans regularly and avoid a pile up.

 

Stinkbugs like indoor areas that remain undisturbed and their prime spots for nesting are under boxes and furniture. Therefore, make sure to prevent clutter from taking root inside and outside of units. Rooms that remain locked up should be aired and cleaned at least once a week. Property management staff can carry out inspections before and during fall season to look for crevices, cracks, and the condition of windows and doors. Additionally, check for holes in screens and have them replaced.

 

A Growing Problem

 

 

All these tips will help in keeping other pests like rats, spiders, and cockroaches out as well. Pests not only create health hazards but also cause extensive damage to structures. All the above preventive measures will reduce the chances of infestation; however, keep a lookout for increase in pests on the property. If there is any sign of possible infestation, immediately call a professional pest control service.  

Winterization Tips for Property Managers

Winter is already upon us, and if you have not yet winterized your property, it is time you took immediate action. In today's climatic conditions, you cannot be complacent about winter, even if your property is located in a warmer region of the country.

 

Unexpected storms during this season can create havoc, as it was quite apparent every once in a while when a region of the country is smashed by Mother Nature. Hence, leaving things unattended can prove quite costly, and it is best to prepare your property to withstand the harsh wintry conditions. Here are some useful tips to get your property ready.

 

Inspection and Repairs

 

The first thing to do is to carry out an extensive inspection of the property inside and outside. Thoroughly check the window frames, doors, and walls of every unit. Immediately repair damages windows or doors and seal cracks, crumbling mortar, and holes. Additionally, check wood trimmings, sills, and sidings especially near doors, and electrical outlets. Use weather strips or caulk to seal the openings. This will not only help in keeping the warmth in, but also result in quite a bit of savings on energy bills.

 

Do not forget to inspect the exteriors as well. Check the roofing, and the window frames and doors in the common areas. Attend to the roof first, and check for loose or damaged shingles. The weight of snow during winter can put extra pressure on a damaged roof and worsen the condition further. 

 

Check Heating Systems

 

Everybody relies on the heating system during the cold wintry days to keep warm. Hence, it becomes important to check these systems in each unit. Mainly check if the pilot light comes on, and that the filters are not clogged with pollutants and dust. It is better to hire a maintenance team to check the heating system, so that they can conduct repairs and do the required maintenance tasks immediately. When you try to do this in winter, emergency repairs will work out very costly.

 

Clean Gutters

 

Gutters clog quickly with debris and leaves. It is important to have them cleaned regularly throughout winter, as accumulation of water in these channels can lead to leaks and formation of ice and snow.

 

Insulate Pipes

 

Exposed pipes are the first to be affected during winter. Wrap exterior pipes with some insulating material such as insulation tape or self-sealing foam tubes. These materials are inexpensive, and they will prevent damage to pipes that can be very expensive to repair. If there is an external irrigation system, the steps you need to take will depend on your location. If the property is in a cold place, you need to drain the pipes fully of water, and it is best to hire professionals to winterize your sprinkler system. In warmer climates, check the freeze sensor and turn off water supply during exceptionally chilly spells.

 

Check Fire Alarms and Smoke Detectors

 

 

Units will remain enclosed during the winter months while the heat is turned on inside. This increases the chances of accidental fires. Hence, check that the monoxide detectors and fire alarms are in solid working condition.  

Renovations vs. Repairs in Regards to Solid Property Management

Renovating the property has many advantages. A property having a new look or one that offers better features is always attractive for potential tenants, and there is bound to be lesser vacancy rates as a direct correlation. Renovations could be a sure way to improve the reputation of the property and attract more tenants; however deciding upon what renovations to undertake is often a daunting task. And it normally involves some type of executive understanding, maintenance schedule, or management protocol.

 

You have to consider carefully the renovation costs and the expected ROI. Choosing the right remodeling project will not only preserve the property's equity but also its integrity.

 

Minor Improvements and Major Repairs

 

One of the best ways for property management to find out the right renovations is to consider the rental property to be a home rather than just a unit. It also does not have to be a major project, since well thought of scaled down remodeling and renovation projects can provide outstanding and tangible returns. Hence, even minor improvements can make an exceptional difference.

 

Nevertheless, certain major projects are unavoidable when it comes to structural integrity roofing of the building. A leak in the roof could result in a major loss, when units become inhabitable and tenants start moving out. A top priority should be given to preserving the integrity of the dwelling, while everything else can be evaluated as per its cost and potential ROI.

 

Cleaning vs. Replacement

 

The condition of the flooring and carpets has a major influence on the looks of the unit. If the carpets are in fantastic condition then it is not necessary to replace them; however, it is integral to have them shampooed and cleaned. If you are planning to replace carpets, then consider remodeling the apartment with tile of wooden flooring.

 

The project will be relatively expensive but compared to the average life of a 10 year old carpet, the tiled or wooden flooring could last a lifetime. Secondly, if the unit already has tiles, then minor flaws such imperfections, scratches, and chips can be fixed with spot replacements.

 

Painting

 

A fresh coat of paint to the walls makes the unit appear new, and a painting job is required before a new tenant moves in, especially when the previous tenant was occupying the unit for a long time or had been a smoker. Painting can be an inexpensive renovation compared to trying to hiding the smell and the decayed look that cigarette smoke over time can bring to a home. The paint job could be limited to certain walls that show wear, decay, or will probably not inspire potential residents.

 

Bathroom and Kitchen Renovations

 

Renovations to bathrooms and kitchens need investment as well and this should impress any potential renter that the property management shows this work too. If you are on a smaller budget, then consider the option of resurfacing instead of implementing total replacements. Resurfacing cabinetry, showers, and bathtubs can also work compared to a complete overhaul.

 

Usually baths with acrylic coating have a lifespan of about 15 years. Hence, you could use this as a guideline to estimate whether the bathroom and kitchen will need to be gutted and completely redone or if a resurfacing job will suffice.  

 

 

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