Increasing Returns with Effective Property Management in the Present Economy

increasing returns in present economy with property management

Property management is a challenging task, especially when cost of living and inflation is on the rise. For a property manager it becomes difficult to liaison between the property owner who wants better returns and the tenants who are looking for lower rents. It is tight balancing act, where rental rates are to be kept conducive for keeping the vacancy rate down and yet manage a good return for the property owner.

Suitable Information Accumulation

The only way for managing a property optimally is to increase revenues and decrease costs. There is salient scope for keeping check on costs with clever maintenance and repair management, but usually property managers find limited scope for increasing revenues due to prevailing economic conditions. However, there are ways for doing this as well, by collecting proper data and evaluating the exact impact the economy is having on rentals.

The usual route for increasing revenue is to finding new prospects; improve marketing of the property, and decreasing the vacancy rate. While occupancy rate plays a major role in improving revenue, it is necessary to understand what an optimal percentage should be for occupancy. Having full occupancy is indeed ideal, but 95% occupancy rate would be more realistic target to aspire. Experts believe that if vacancy rate is more than 5%, then there is something wrong with the marketing or promoting of the property. However, experts also believe that if the occupancy rate is over 95% then the rental rates for the property could be too low for that specific area.

Most successful property managers follow the guideline of having the rental high enough so that the property is comparable in the top 10% available units in the area. This would be an appropriate guideline to follow for several reasons. One obvious reason is that if the property is not classified in the best 10% of the available rental units in the area, then there is something seriously wrong with the condition of the property, and only better maintenance procedures can fix such an issue.

However, most property managers make the mistake of lowering costs by forgoing required maintenance and not implementing inexpensive improvements. Such tactics might decrease costs for some time, but it proves much expensive in the end, as it will take much longer to fill vacancies.

Filling Spaces

When the property is kept in top-notch condition, it makes it conducive to retain existing tenants and to attract new ones, as well. Secondly, however, and more importantly, it becomes much easier to raise the rent when the lease expires, and tenants will be much less likely to seek other accommodation if the rise in rent is reasonable. Property management need not always look at raising the rent with trepidation, as it improves the property value, and property owners will appreciate such a strategy.

Lower Class of Tenants

However, the percentage rise in rent has to be calculated carefully, taking into account rentals of other top properties in the area and the prevailing market conditions. Too much, and the occupancy rate might dip below 95%. On the other hand if the rent is not increased, the occupancy might be noteworthy, but the value and reputation of the property might take a hit, which is not desirable. 

Satisfying a Wider Range of Tenants in Property Management

Satisfying tenants

One of the best strategies in improving occupancy rate and retaining tenants is catering to specific needs of certain group of tenants. Since Millennials and Baby Boomers are the two major groups that make up most tenant pools, it makes more sense to focus on satisfying the requirements of these categories. However, keeping both these groups happy at the same time is a challenging task for property management, since their requirements are usually seen as diverse.

While marketing a property it therefore becomes important to cast a wider net and not compartmentalize the brand image. Rather than finding dissimilarities between the two groups, it is better to focus on similarities and build a brand image that does not stereotype the property that caters to only one of the groups. However, it is quite a challenging task to satisfy both categories equally. It may not be practical to provide different options to the two groups individually, but property management can present options for customization that can satisfy certain important individual requirements.

Split Differences

For instance, if one takes amenity requirements of the two groups, they are mostly the same, but there are differences in how they will be used. Both groups will be happy having multipurpose spaces and clubrooms for social activity. However, the Millennials will be more interested in attending social events, while the Boomers will mostly be hosting them.

Another challenge for property management in satisfying the two groups is having the optimum mix of units. Baby Boomers look for more space, and hence units with larger bedroom and living space will be more appealing for them. Millennials on the other hand are satisfied with smaller units, but will be particular about available storage options.

However, satisfying the Baby Boomer group is itself a challenge, as many of them have diverse preferences. This is due to many reasons, since the group could include people who have taken early retirement or people who have become parents in the age group of 55 to 58 years. On the other hand, preferences of Millennias will be more or less the same, and is much easier to satisfy as a separate category.  

The Internet is Key

Technology seems to be playing a key role, as an element that can satisfy both groups to quite an extent. Millennials are looking for environments that match their lifestyles, which are now mainly driven by technology and online social networks. On the other hand, Baby Boomers too are also becoming increasingly tech savvy, which means property management has to focus on online marketing for attracting prospects and also provide better broadband and faster Internet speeds in the units.

Even though both groups will want to inspect the unit personally, the property website has a huge impact on marketing. Studies have shown that more than 40% prospects of both groups will not visit the property if they find the website to be of poor quality or unwelcoming. Therefore, it is extremely important to make a fantastic online impression and have excellent imagery and content on the website for attracting new clients from both groups. 

Evicting Tenants – Overview of Rules

Evicting tenants and rules for

Evicting tenants can become a messy business, if the right set of rules are not followed. The first step that a landlord and Gastonia property management firm has to take is to legally terminate the tenancy. Only after legally terminating the tenancy will you be able to begin the process of eviction.

How to legally terminate a tenancy?

Different states have different laws when it comes to ending a tenancy. In general, it requires giving the tenant written notice on the basis of the specifications laid out by the termination statute in your state. Filing a lawsuit to evict a tenant is the last resort that must be taken only after the tenant has ignored the tenancy termination notice. For instance, after sending the tenant the tenancy termination notice, if the tenant does not move out in time, you may file for eviction.

In case, the property management firm or landlord were trying to change a particular behavior displayed by the tenant (not paying bills on time or keeping a pet against the express wishes of the landlord), and the tenant fails to reform, an eviction lawsuit may be filed.

Primary Types of Termination Notices

There are two basic categories of termination notices – those that are sent with cause and those that are without cause.

v Termination with Cause: Termination notices that are sent by landlords owing to the tenant’s misbehavior are deemed notices with cause. Pay rent or quit, correct/cure the problem or quit, and unconditional quit (in cases where the tenants have repeatedly violated rental agreement clauses, paid rent late or severely damaged the property) are basic types of ‘Termination with Cause’ notices. Gastonia property management may also choose to serve an Unconditional Quit Termination if the tenants are found to be engaging in illegal activities like drug dealing in the rental home/premises.

v Termination without Cause: A ‘Notice to Vacate’ may be sent by the landlord or Gastonia property management even when the tenant has not done anything wrong. Such a notice would offer the tenant a 30 or 60-day period in which to vacate the home. However, these notices may only be used in the case of monthly tenancies. Even so, most tenant-friendly states and rent control cities do not allow such a notice without a reasonable cause.

Even after receiving a legitimate notice if tenants fail to leave or fix the problem, landlords and Gastonia property management can begin an eviction lawsuit, also known as unlawful detainer (UD) lawsuit.

Landlord Maintenance Responsibilities and Consequences of Failure

Landlord Maintenance and responsibilities

For Gastonia property management services or a landlord, it is considered a best practice to repair any issues in rental units at the earliest. This will help you avoid complaints from tenants. Problems that are serious like plumbing issues or a breakdown in the heating system need to be dealt with immediately, within 24 hours at the most. Landlords and Gastonia property management firms are entrusted with certain maintenance responsibilities that need to be fulfilled.

Responsibilities

State and local laws specify exactly which services need to be provided and maintained in a rental unit to ensure that it meets basic habitability standards. These basic requirements are the provision and maintenance of:

  1. Adequate waterproofing
  2. Heating
  3. Water and electric supply
  4. Sound structure
  5. Clean and sanitary premises

Other than these basic requirements, landlords may also be held responsible for ensuring that the minimum requirements for lighting, electrical wiring and ventilation that are set by housing codes are also met. Some additional requirements put forward by housing codes may include:

ü  Installation of smoke detectors

ü  Basic security measures like lock and key

ü  Health and fire safety requirements

If you are unsure about the exact codes that you need to follow, it is a wise and suitable idea to approach the health or fire department to get the right information on requirements and violations.

Consequences of Violating Maintenance Responsibilities

When a tenant faces a maintenance issue in a rental unit, it is within his/her right to ask his/her landlord or Gastonia property management services to conduct required maintenance. When such necessary repairs are left undone, tenants have been given some rights by the state.

Rent Hold Out

Tenants could refrain from paying the full rent amount until the repair work is done. Depending on the laws of the state, they may be required to place the amount in an escrow account. They may also choose to pay less rent, or get a professional to repair the problem area and deduct the payment amount from the rent. By calling the local building inspector, a tenant can force the hand because the inspector can and most likely will order the landlord to make repairs immediately.

Litigious Considerations

More severe options include moving out of the house, irrespective of the lease status and suing the landlord for refund of rent and/or emotional distress caused by the landlord’s inability to take action and the substandard living conditions.

A fantastic rule of thumb for the landlord and Gastonia property management services is that major repairs should be taken care of in 24 hours, and minor repairs in 48 hours at the most.

Gastonia Property Management Plans to Curb Repair & Maintenance Expenses

Gastonia property repair & maintenance

Repair and maintenance expenses tend to eat into the profit margin and ruin the ROI of a rental unit. Gastonia property management should have a plan pertaining to repair and maintenance, so that these expenses can be kept in check.

Beware of Destructive Tenants

Tenants may have a genuine credit standing and money in the bank, but does that mean that they will be outstanding tenants? Not necessarily. For example, a single college-goer may not consider it important to keep an apartment clean. Parents with multiple kids might not be able to curb the destruction! The best thing to do is to check the references provided by tenants, speak to former landlords to determine if the applicant is a good tenant or an unnecessarily destructive one. Prevention is better than a cure, in this case.

Quality is Critical

If long-term returns is your goal, it is best to choose durability over cost-effectiveness. You may be able to furnish the rental unit with cheaply available resources but how long will these resources last? If they break or are damaged, the only party to lose is Gastonia property management and landlords. Choose options that are reasonably priced as well as durable and long-lasting and you will have a winning recipe.

Trust Professionals

In case of necessary repairs or infestation removal services, property managers have the option of letting the tenant hire someone to get the matter sorted, and then deduct the payment amount from the rent. However, this may not be a judicious or awesome idea. It will be best to hire professional services that are reliable and adept at what they do. The maintenance amount can simply be added to the rent. Experienced Gastonia property management understands that such issues may come up a few times in the year.

They will create a plan that foresees such events and then create an effective rent structure that covers the cost of professional repair and maintenance. Over a long term, hiring professionals will mean less unnecessary repairs and reduction of maintenance costs.

Purchase Repair Contracts

The best of appliances will splutter and die eventually. Getting an extended warranty or repair services contract is a marvelous idea for Gastonia property management. Not only will the appliances be insured, contracted services will have the repair work done on time and help you save money in the long run. 

Roles and Responsibilities of a Property Manager

Role of a property manager

Property management involves taking care of and looking into the organizational aspects of real estate. In order to administer real estate properly and to insure a healthy rate of return, a property manager is appointed. This person can be working for a property management company or just be an individual with professional experience in this arena who is manages various operational aspects for the owners or landlords. The property manager should act as a liaison between the owner and the tenant and be able to co-ordinate between the concerned parties in a proficient and affable manner.

In charge of tenants

The property manager is the one who will be responsible for finding suitable tenants and will suggest the best places to advertise along with the kind of promotions that should be used. They might also suggest making changes to a piece of property since they know what appeals to tenants for that particular piece of property or area.

The property manager also deals with the screening of prospective tenants which includes checking their credit background, criminal checks, and any debt issues. Processing the required leasing out documents with specific legalities incorporated as well as the security deposit aspect is their duty too. These tasks occur before the tenant ever moves into the room, apartment, condo, and so on.

In charge of maintenance

Property managers need to look into the overall physical property management as well, such as the up keep of the exterior such as the lawns, lobby, outside garden areas, etc. Interior management such as plumbing, painting, and adequate security needs to be looked into as well. They also need to deal with emergencies which disturb the peace such as noise or any other complaints from neighbors or from other tenants alike. If any repairs are required they must hire suitable contractors and tradesman who find a solution and fix it. When a tenant moves out, they need to check for damages and define if charges need to be deducted from the deposit sum.

In charge of administration

Property managers need to supervise other employees who work on maintaining the property such as security and other contractual employees. They need to see that a thorough and professional job is being done so tenants are satisfied as well as potential tenants. They need to do what they can to work with tenants and to attract new ones. Being professional is the key at all times. They will handle the salaries and pay for these employees. Once in a while they may have to hire and fire an employee as well and know the legalities pertaining to this.

In charge of knowing the law & keeping the appropriate records

A property manager should keep abreast with state as well as national tenancy, ownership, and property laws so they are not caught off guard in this property management arena. They do not want to disappoint the owners and the tenants as well.

New laws regarding tenant screening, managing security deposits, lease termination, tenant eviction, and maintaining property safety standards should be strictly enforced so as to avoid legal entanglements or issues. They can also help owners with property related taxes and file the same for them. It is crucial to maintain soft and hard copy records of all transactions, major and minor, that are used in property management. They should have a computer backup of everything and a secure filing cabinet for all signed paperwork. Every tenant and contractor should be accounted for.

Property Management Best Practices while Choosing Tenants

property management best practices for good tenants

Fair Housing rules codify the laws that Gastonia property management and landowners need to follow while choosing tenants. When it comes to the tenant selection process, there are clear rules that say what can be done and what cannot. Here are a few best practices that will help landowners and property managers choose the best tenants without falling foul of the fair housing laws and rules.

  1. Conduct a Credit Check

Running a credit check is not an expensive affair. For a nominal fee, you will be able to run a potential tenant’s credit reports to understand whether or not they will be a fantastic bet for your rental property.

  1. Calling References

Most potential tenants provide references when they apply for tenancy. If they have not, landlords and Gastonia property management may ask for references. It is prudent to call these references and verify pertinent information about the tenant. If one of the references is a previous landlord, speaking to them might give insight into what kind of tenant the applicant is.

  1. Know the Fair Housing Rules

Understanding the importance of fair housing rules is not enough, you need to know how they apply to you. According to the laws, there are many illegal reasons for refusing tenancy. Under the Federal Fair Housing Acts, you may not discriminate against tenants on the basis of race, nationality, religion, age, gender, disability, past addictions, and familial status. Furthermore, it is important to know the fair housing rules that are upheld by your city and state. For example, some states consider discrimination based on sexual orientation illegal, while others don’t.

  1. Follow the Rules You Set

Consistency is an important word when it comes to choosing tenants. It has to be followed both ways. For example, it is important that you follow a consistent pattern when screening tenants. If you choose to check credit reports or call references, ensure that you follow the same procedure for applicants of all races, marital status and ages. Treating tenants equally is essential. You may think you are doing a wonderful thing by lowering the security deposit for a single parent, but if you are not doing the same thing for other tenants, they may level a charge of discrimination against you.

Legally, you are free to choose one tenant over the other, as long as your decision is not based on personal reasons but on legitimate business eligibility requisites.

Importance of Fair Housing in Gastonia Property Management

fair housing in Gastonia, NC

Enactment of fair housing laws was aimed to protect underrepresented groups from discriminative practices in purchasing or renting a house. It is important for Gastonia property management to know these laws, since violations could translate into huge liability and damage to the reputation of the property. Discrimination complaints and lawsuits are on the rise, and a property manager should pay special attention to the following aspects to avoid liability.

Tenant Screening Practices

Most complaints arise from the tenant screening process. The point is to subject every prospect to the same screening process. To ensure that it is seen as a universal requirement, post a written policy of the criteria required for renting the unit. This could include income, employment history, credit history, and so on. Property management should also reveal the steps involved in the whole application process, and that fair housing laws are being adhered to strictly.

Do not include questions about ethnicity, race, age, or disabilities in the application. However, you may inquire about bankruptcy filings, money judgments, and prior evictions. You may also ask the reason why the prospect is changing to a new accommodation.

Advertising Language

You cannot advertise about the type of tenant you are looking for. For instance, even mentioning phrases like “excellent for younger people” could be considered discriminatory by older people. Words that suggest exclusivity should be avoided, as you are posing a restriction on choosing tenants. All ads should also carry a statement confirming non-discriminatory practices or the logo of fair housing.

Transparent Eviction Process

According to laws of fair housing, tenants can only be evicted for legitimate reasons such destruction of property, not paying rent and so on. If you are initiating eviction process, for any other reason make sure the tenant has seriously violated the lease agreement or you have evicted many other tenants in the past for same reasons. If the tenant is causing disturbance or troubling other tenants, keep a record of every written complaint, and steps taken by property manager. Usually, authorities will examine the following documents, if there is a complaint of wrongful eviction:

  • §Eviction notice/s
  • §Warning letters
  • §Police records
  • §Photographs or video evidence
  • §Written records

Employee Training

Property management staff, especially new employees should undergo training regarding policies, and how to comply with fair housing laws. The employee should also be made aware of the consequences of law violations. There should be a documented policy about all forms of harassment and discrimination, and each employee should be given a printed copy of such policies. The employee should also be made to sign agreement that states termination of employment in case of fair housing law violation.

Consistency in Rules

Gastonia property management can frame mandatory rules for tenants, as long as they are not discriminatory and do not violate any terms of the lease agreement. Each tenant should be given a written copy of such rules, and they should be enforced uniformly. When rules are violated, detailed records should be maintained about the type, date, and time of violation, and the actions taken for enforcing the rule. 

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