Many times property owners might flip the switch or approve a property management service because the property is in bad shape and wants or perhaps may need professional assistance to turn it around and make it profitable again. If property management has secured such a property, the first question would be how bad the situation is, and how long will it take to correct the issues?
Certain issues can be rigorously challenging and may require more time or acute strategies to fix them. Here are some of the difficult issues that a property can face, and the possible solutions that are usually successful in turning the property around.
Dramatic Increase in Vacancies
Increasing rate of vacancies is the number one problem on most distressed properties. However, there is no particular solution, as you need to know the possible causes for tenants to leave the property. Hence, the first step would be to explore things that are closely linked to this particular issue. For instance, property management can check to see:
The current reputation of the property
The condition of the landscape, structures, amenities, appliances, and the state of the inside of the units
The percentage of tenants making late rental payments or skipping out entirely
The recurring complaints that you have been hearing from former or current tenants
The number of evictions in a year that have to be carried out by a court order
Exploring these points can give property management a wonderful idea about where the main problems lie.
During hard economic times, most evictions were for non-payment of rent. However, bad tenants also contributed heavily to this number. In the past couple of years, the eviction rate has slowed down considerably, since some tenants were able to manage their finances much better.
Moreover, many people out there are financially stable, and property management needs to have a proper screening procedure in place, to weed out the non-payers and slow payers. Secondly, eligibility should not be based only on single events but rather on overall past performance, job history, and income of the tenant.
Improving the Condition of the Property
Take care of issues that have played a part in deteriorating the condition of the property. If it is a neglected lawn, have the landscape spruced up, if it is pest infestation, find a lasting solution, and get rid of the problem immediately. Pay special attention to the condition of the structure as well. Fix cracks and leaks, tidy up the common areas, and put a fresh coat of paint on the exterior. Most of these items carry a decent size investment, but the returns can be high since property management will be able to attract new tenants and retain existing residents.
Who wants to leave a place that has property managers that care this much? A basketball court could be on the horizon!
Creating a Reputation that Glistens
In the age of social media, you only need a couple of disgruntled tenants to tarnish the reputation of your property. The first step is to know what has been written on the web about the property, and then take steps to manage the criticism and negative comments.
It is important for property management to keep the communication lines open with tenants. It is much easier to discern the requirements of residents such as when they can communicate comfortably with the property manager or staff. This will provide an opportunity to know the true needs of tenants, which can play a major role in reducing vacancy rates.
The one-size-fits-all strategy does not work, as each tenant is different and he or she will have different personalities. Therefore it is important to treat tenants individually since they come from different backgrounds and may have different leasing requirements.
Apart from individual needs, general requirements of tenants might differ depending on the season. For instance, during winter, tenants appreciate pathways kept clear of snow and ice, whereas in the spring there might be a requirement for an area to be sectioned off so people can wash their cars.
In the fall, there could be many maintenance tasks and repairs, and tenants definitely appreciate an early response and fast resolution to issues that they have been waiting to get to after the summer dissipates and before the winter sets in.
One of the best ways for property management to open a comfortable channel of communication with tenants is to ask for feedback about the services provided and suggestions for making them better. When you ask for feedback, tenants are encouraged to speak openly and once they know they have a platform to provide feedback, relations can improve dramatically. Having a feedback platform is also necessary for knowing the level of satisfaction amongst residents. This can be an excellent reporting tool and property manager can take steps to improve services wherever there seems to be a shortfall.
Summer is a hectic time for property management in renting out units, and welcoming new tenants. During this period, it is possible to neglect some existing tenants, and this is the time most of them look for some gesture or offerings from property management. Organizing a community event during this period would be ideal since it can serve the purpose of indulging existing tenants, and getting to know new tenants that just moved in. Here are some of the events or activities that property management can plan for their residents this summer.
Summertime brings back memories of looking out for the ice cream van, and hence it would be ideal to hold a community event where all residents are treated to some ice cream. Such an event will provide a fun and comfortable environment for residents to open up, get to know each other, and property management will have the opportunity to find out what their tenants are doing and thinking.
Another event that is popular throughout the year is a barbecue. Hosting a community barbeque is a salient way of welcoming new tenants and appreciating existing residents.
When property management has been able to gauge the individual needs of tenants, then summertime is the best season for giving gifts to standout tenants, which caters to their specific requirements. Tenants feel most appreciated when you present them with something that they require at that time or which caters to their individual tastes.
According to a recent survey more than 90% of people looking to rent a home try to access a video that provides a virtual tour of the property. This is not surprising since a video is not only the most appealing medium, but it also provides a realistic view of the unit, which is much better than watching snapshots or reading lengthy descriptions.
A picture speaks a thousand words. A video may speak 10,000.
Secondly, the convenience of watching a video of the property before physically taking the tour saves time and effort. A video can capture much more than any other medium, and therefore property management should not cut corners while creating an excellent virtual tour. It should be professional and well done, and it will need the required investment to make this so.
Where to Post Virtual Tours
Out of the people who like to see virtual tours, about 80% access it on YouTube and from Facebook pages, and the rest like to see visuals on Google+. Judging by this, property management should have a YouTube account and a relationship with this social media outlet. They should have a Facebook page as well with this video easily accessible.
Points to Consider While Creating a Virtual Tour
A virtual property tour is no doubt one of the most effective marketing tools. However, when it is poorly made it can have the opposite effect, and people will certainly not be clamoring to move in. Property management staff may feel they can make this video themselves but the job should be given to a professional or a professional video unit who do this all the time. Nevertheless, here are some important tips that can help you make this video episode a success.
Make sure the video is sharp, clear, and shot in sufficient light. Too much light or too little light can make the project a failure. Another pivotal aspect is to include a panoramic view of every room, which provides a perspective from floor to ceiling. Focused views should be used mainly for spotlighting some aspect, fixture, or appliance in the room. You will also need to cover shots of the common areas, landscaping, pathways, and highlight special amenities like a pool or a gym that is on the property.
Not everything can be communicated through a visual medium, and hence you will need to include a voice commentary that provides information about total and room square footage, dimensions of closets and windows, and other overall details about the community, and so on. Do not forget about freeway access points and the distance from this complex and big time sites (malls, stadiums, movie theaters) in the area.
A marvelous video will convey a message that is difficult and perhaps impossible to convey with words. This is why, and based on this video, you want to make sure the apartment that you show is clean and majestic.
Before posting the virtual tour make sure you format the video properly and include everything that allows people to share the video with ease. People like to pass on information that they feel can be useful to friends and family. In fact, if this video is done right, your sales folks will have a much easier time selling units and promoting your complex as the place to be.
A beautiful landscape is a strongpoint of a property, but it can also be a major challenge for property management to maintain it in salient condition during the rain season: the winter. A heavy downpour can leave the landscape very soggy and there might be no way of preventing excessive growth, since mowing could do more damage to a saturated lawn.
One option is to leave the lawn as it is, and hope for a dry spell, but unfortunately, Mother Nature cannot always be predicted and heavy rains can turn nice bedding and grass into a muddy and soggy mess, respectively. If you plan to mow a soggy lawn, there is a good chance that creating ruts or damaging the turf will result.
Lawns need at least a three-day reprieve from the rain to dry out adequately, otherwise, lawn equipment can leave low spots, or ugly tire marks on the turf. Hence, it is always a tricky decision for property management, about mowing and risking damage or letting the grass grow wildly. Apart from soggy lawns, heavy downpours can damage plants and even trees, which are important elements of a landscape. The only thing property management can do is to detect signs of damage early and take certain precautionary steps to minimize the risk of damage.
Detect Fungus Early
Wet weather provides excellent conditions for fungus to grow and flourish. Fungus infestation can take a heavy toll on a landscape, and therefore it is important to detect fungus early and destroy it with available fungicides. Some of the tell tale signs of fungus include:
·Bright green patches that are visible in the yard
·Stunted growth, which is turning yellow in some places
·Growth of mushrooms
Put Notices for Tenants to Stay off the Grass
When the grass is soggy, it is highly prone to damage just by walking on it. The damage will be obvious, as you can see footprints or ruts appearing on the lawn when people walk or jog on it. Due to foot traffic, the soil will get compacted underneath, which will damage the roots, or restrict their growth once soil starts drying. Property management should consider putting clear notices, especially in squishier or heavily saturated spots.
Changing Appearances of Trees
If trees are changing their appearances during the rainy season, especially after storms or flooding, it is cause for concern. It is a sign of injury that can develop into something major. Property management can look out for the following signs of water logging, and take preventive action whenever possible:
·Excess leaves dropping
·Leaves turning yellow
·Sprouting occurring along the trunk, stem, or crown
When rains are abnormally heavy, properties that usually do not face drainage issues might also have to deal with water logging. Property management will have to identify low landscape spots and try correcting the issue. It would be better to call a professional drain expert and ask for solutions. Certain gradients in the landscaping might have to be redone to ensure drainage is allowed so that water can flow away more quickly and without hindrance.
Advertisements of certain properties might seem quite appealing to prospective tenants, when they mention no credit checks, or no employment checks. However, can property management take a chance with such ads, in the hope of filling vacancies faster?
This question can be answered by asking another question. Can property management risk having destruction of property, default on rent, criminal activities on the property, and so on? The answer is definitely no, and therefore you cannot gamble with tenant screening, since the losses can be much more than having a few vacancies. It is always better to have standout tenants and some vacancies, rather than fill the property with mainly solid people but while mixing in some troublesome characters.
That is a recipe for disaster. The good people will soon move out and after a few months you will be running a prison. Scary thought right?
It is usually tempting for property managers to skimp on tenant screening when a unit is lying vacant for a long time. However, the repercussions of insufficient screening procedures can be disastrous. Here are some of the major risks that property management will be exposing the property to, when proper tenant screening procedures are not followed.
Loss of Reputation
When people read ads that suggest lack of screening procedures, they at once form a low opinion of the property. They will also not feel secure, since they know that there are genuine chances of their neighbor being a criminal or of an unsavory disposition. Secondly, failure to adopt proper screening procedures could also deter current tenants from renewing their leases because of the same fears. All this can mean loss of reputation, and it can take property management many years to build up credibility after the damage is done.
Possibility of Lawsuits
When prior applicants had to undergo screening procedures and if certain applications were rejected, based on the screening results, then those applicants have a strong case against the property, if they file a lawsuit. According to Fair Housing Laws all applicants regardless of their religion, creed, color, or ethnicity, should be screened in the same way. When property management suddenly decides to scrap the screening procedure, they are answerable to applicants who were rejected in the past, and to future applicants who might be denied tenancy based on certain factors.
Extensive Damage to Property
Screening checks help to weed out unreliable tenants, as their history on previous properties will become known. Lengthy background checks will make such applicants uneasy, and they will move on to properties that are more lax. Secondly, implementing a security deposit as part of your orientation process is also a marvelous deterrent, as tenants become aware that you take the matter of property damage seriously.
Tenants automatically start taking more care of the property when they feel responsible for the condition of the unit. Hence, not taking a security deposit is a lousy publicity stunt that can backfire. The fact that you are not taking any deposits conveys the idea that you are not serious about property damage, and even quality tenants will begin to neglect their units. This is a bad precedent to set, and it can take this property a while to gain back its reputation that it is bound to lose.
Amenities might mean different things to different tenants, as their requirements and proclivities differ. However, there are certain things most modern tenants prefer to have, and they base their decisions on the availability of these amenities. It is a foremost idea for property management to focus on providing such amenities if they want to reduce vacancy rates and improve the reputation of the community.
1) Washer and Dryer within each Unit
Topping the list of amenities, it is still the availability of a washer and dryer within the unit, or at least a hookup where tenants can install their own. A few years ago this was a luxury, but now it has become a necessity, and going to Laundromats is considered highly inconvenient and unappealing by all age groups of tenants.
2) Convenient Storage Solutions
Everybody has stuff, and all tenants face the problem of fitting their things in a unit. Property management should consider including smart storage solutions within the unit, since that could attract the millennial crowd. Tenants want a safe place to store their things, which could include furniture, books, collectible items, holiday decorations, tools, equipment, bicycles, and so on. It is also magnificent to have storage lockers on the property or at least provide bicycle stands where tenants can safely park their bikes.
3) Safety Features
Safety is still a big selling point for properties, as most modern tenants are particular about the safety of their family. Safety can include many features including proper lighting, video surveillance systems, burglar alarms in units, warning signs, child safety features in common areas, tall fencing, and neat landscaping for improved visibility.
4) Secure Parking Space
Secure parking space or simply parking space for that matter is becoming increasingly valuable. Even though the millennial crowd prefers to walk to their places of work or schools, most households will average one to two cars. On many properties, a lack of parking space is often a deal breaker, even when the units are big with all the conveniences. Properties that provide at least one designated parking space are very much in demand, compared to buildings that only offer street parking.
Most tenants who have a busy schedule will want a dishwasher in the kitchen. The dishwasher has stopped being considered a luxury, and it is considered a common appliance in kitchens.
6) Utility Management
Almost all tenants look to ways that can bring down their utility bills. Property management can work with utility companies and find out smart ways to manage power consumption so that tenants can enjoy the most competitive rates available in the area.
7) Green Features
Surprisingly, many tenants are becoming increasingly conscious about saving the environment and look for communities that adopt green techniques. From managing power to disposing garbage properly (recycling), property management should think of various ways for reducing their carbon footprint, and combating pollution.
Many tenants are particular about the looks of the property and the common areas. Property management can take steps to mow the lawn regularly, remove weeds, keep bushes pruned, and keep the common areas neat without clutter, trash, or general disarray.
One of the major challenges facing property managers is dealing with difficult tenants. No matter how much work you do to check people out beforehand someone who has the financial makeup is going to slip through that carries with them a personality that is difficult to work with.
It is integral to maintain fantastic relationships with all the tenants, but this task becomes very difficult when certain tenants cause trouble. Gastonia property management considers four types of tenants who can be arduous and stressful to handle:
1.Loud Tenants - These tenants are always causing disturbance in the neighborhood with their loud music, fights, or crazy parties. They have no consideration for other tenants and only think about themselves.
2.Destructive Tenants - These tenants are messy, untidy, and tend to break things. Even though they do not own the unit, they will not hesitate to punch holes in the walls, use the appliances roughly, and will not bother if their pets chew up the carpets.
3.Tenants who are always Complaining or demanding - Some tenants never seem to be satisfied with whatever services are provided. They will be asking for upgrades, maintenance, and repairs all the time. They usually have very high expectations and are not willing to settle for anything less.
4.Tenants who Avoid Paying Rent - These are highly elusive tenants who do not want to or are unable to pay their rent. It is quite difficult to get them on the phone or meet them face to face.
Bad or difficult tenants have to be handled diplomatically but firmly; otherwise, they can spoil the whole atmosphere, and cause issues with other marvelous tenants as well. Gastonia property management recommends the following tips for handling difficult tenants.
Provide Correct Information from the Start
Before a tenant moves into the unit, make things clear as to what he or she can expect. The lease or rental contract should be clear about the services that are provided and the maintenance tasks that are undertaken by the property owner. Secondly, have a clear-cut policy about cleanliness, noise levels, and the complaint reporting procedure. Do not paint a rosy picture, or promise services or an environment that you cannot provide.
Rules, Regulations, and Penalties
Apart from making it clear what the tenant can expect from property owner, it is also necessary to communicate, what is expected of the tenant while staying on the property. The tenant should be clear when the rent has to be paid, the expected noise levels, the expected behavior with other tenants and so on. There should also be fines and penalties in place to deter tenants from violating any of the rules. Especially, fines for late rent payment or penalty for not paying rent should be made clear from the start.
Better Screening Process
One of the best ways of dealing with difficult tenants is to nip the problem in the bud, by not allowing such people from becoming tenants. Gastonia property management emphasizes the need of having an effective screening process, which includes performing credit checks, background checks, researching references, and talking to previous property owners who have lent their units to them. This will greatly reduce late rent payments and other legal complications.
But, as said before, it is almost impossible to do a background check on someone’s personality and whether or not they have an affable nature.
Pools have different classifications, and property management should make sure that the pools on their properties are not only well maintained but they also comply with local and state health codes. The well-being of tenant swimmers should be high priority, and hence rigorous operational and safety standards should be implemented. This would include maintaining the equipment and chemistry of the pool.
The first step in maintaining the pool would be to have it inspected by a professional. An annual inspection will not only help in ensuring the pool is well taken care of, but also ensure the compliance with the health codes are intact. For instance, an inspection could reveal the chemistry of the pool is not in accordance with the health code which this pool expert can fix. This can help by preventing structural damage to the equipment and to the pool, and ensure the health of pool users are not compromised.
The inspection should be conducted by certified spa or pool operator recognized by the National Swimming Pool Foundation. Such certification and credentials are accepted by the state and local authorities.
Pool inspectors will check for certain aspects of the pool(s) to verify whether the spa or the pool is up to par.
This is the most important aspect checked by the pool inspector. Various tests will be conducted to determine the clarity of the water, and any visible signs of algae. Tests are also conducted to check the level of phosphorus, calcium, PH, alkalinity, and chlorine in the water.
Pools need to have equipment that are needed specifically for their operations. Such equipment must have certain safety features that include returns that function properly, working drains, and the required number of handrails. Covers of pool drains should be placed in their respective positions, without being broken or having missing screws. Some type of call device should be installed near the pool that people can use in case of emergencies.
The inspector will also check equipment that are meant for ensuring safety around the pool. Such features include depth markings, reaching poles, and ring buoys. The condition of the plaster and deck area is minutely evaluated by the inspector. Lastly, the inspector will also check whether the pool area is properly fenced with fencing at the right height, and the gates are properly latched, to prevent accidental entry by children.
The Condition of Pool Equipment
The system that is installed for operating the pool should be in top working condition to ensure the proper suction and flow of the water. The inspector will mainly check whether the valves, flow meters, pressure gauges, vacuum, and filter are in working condition.
A pool should have proper signage that informs swimmers about vital aspects. Such signs can include information about nearest location of a phone, whether diving is allowed, shutoff locations, bather capacities, and the rules swimmers have to follow. Required signage should be posted predominantly and should be clearly visible to all.
The property manager should have the pool(s) inspected before the onset of summer, when the pool is mainly used. Not maintaining the pool properly could attract fines and even more severe penalties if tenants fall sick because of the condition of the pool. You will also see some tenants leave to other apartment complexes and less people who want to live on your property.