How to Find the Right Tenants as a Property Manager

Renting to complete strangers is a very risky proposition; however, when you are having a huge property, you cannot limit your tenant prospects to known contacts, friends, and family. It is therefore very important in property management to know how to find the right tenants. Here are certain strategies to weed out the bad ones.

Background Checks

One of the most important duties of the property manager is to conduct a thorough background check on all prospective clients even when other information seems to be in order. According to a recent psychological study, it was found that most people lie about their background and try to hide things. Start with investigating criminal history of the prospective tenant.

Even though breaking the traffic rules is a crime, the property manager has to be concerned about serious crimes. These include drug dealing, robbery, and list of violent crimes. It is also very important to see if the name of the person is listed in the sexual predator or sexual offender lists. It is also possible to find out many things about people by checking their online presence on social networking sites.

Rental History

Checking rental history of the prospect from past property owners is important; however, this will not always be an accurate pointer. Some property owners or managers have been known to provide a false positive report, simply to get rid of a tenant who has been defaulting on rent payments. Secondly, first-time tenants like students or people from other cities will not have any rental history, and therefore it is best to check their financial background and creditworthiness.

Credit History and Financial Background

Even though it is not easy to maintain a perfect credit history in these hard economic times, property managers should set clear parameters for checking creditworthiness of a person. Ask for credit reports and credit scores, since these are fantastic indicators about the finances of a person. Finances can also be gauged by checking employment history and seeing whether the person holds a bank account. Checking with the individual’s current employer can reveal financial aspects about the person. Tax returns from previous years will also provide useful information about the financial background of the person.

Questionnaire

A cleverly designed questionnaire can reveal many interesting things about a person and it is possible to see if the person is lying. If the prospective tenant leaves certain questions unanswered, it should definitely sound the warning bell in those aspects. Here are some important questions that should be included in the questionnaire:

§    Do you have a good credit score?
§    Where are you employed?
§    Do you have a rental history?
§    Do you have pets?
§    Have you ever been arrested?
§    How many individuals are going to live on the property?
§    Are they family members?
§    Are you willing to sign a lease?
§    Do you have a bank account?
§    When are you planning to move in?
§    Do you have any disabilities?
§    Have you ever been evicted from a building?

If the prospective tenant does not know how to answer one or some of these questions or if you receive a form back that has one or many of these questions unanswered, that often is a warning sign. If they refuse to answer some of these questions, a red siren should be going off in your head. Silence does not personify honesty in this case.

How to Deal with Difficult Tenants

How to Deal with Difficult Tenants

One of the challenging tasks in property management is dealing with difficult tenants. Being difficult can mean many things, such as being unreasonable and belligerent, not paying the rent on time, creating disturbances, fighting with other tenants, and so on. Difficult tenants not only waste a lot of time of the property manager, but also create a negative atmosphere on the premises. Here are a few tips for handling difficult tenants.

Making Everything Clear

In property management, it is always wise to keep everything in black and white and show what is expected from the tenants, and what tenants can expect from the management. All these expectations can be clearly stated in the agreement, so that the tenant has a clear picture. These points can include garbage removal practices, expected level of cleanliness, laundry schedules, procedure for reporting issues, minimum maintenance required from the tenant, common maintenance procedures followed by property management, policies for late payment of rent, expected noise levels, and minimum etiquette expected towards other tenants.

With certain tenants, it may not be enough to mention these expectations in the agreement. In such cases, the property manager should take the initiative and educate such tenants whenever the opportunity arises.

Being Professional and Maintaining Good Relations

The property manager should always have a professional attitude, which means neither being defensive nor being aggressive. Arguing with an angry tenant will only make matters worse, and being submissive will not be productive as well. It is important to speak calmly but firmly and communicate effectively. At the same time, it is also important to maintain good cordial relations with all tenants.

The best way of showing that the property management cares for the tenants is to listen to all complains attentively. The next step would be to respond and fix issues in a timely manner. Additionally, also have a system in place for the tenant to report late fixing of issues and the inconveniences they had to endure. This will help tenants to air out their problems and grievances, without causing any major disturbances.

Updating the Screening Process

The problem of difficult tenants can be avoided largely by having an efficient screening process for prospective tenants. Property managers should patiently carry out background checks, check out feedback from previous property owners, investigate credit worthiness, and check, to see if the individual or any member of the family has a criminal record. A clever questionnaire can be designed to reveal behavioral aspects of people, and their attitudes. Employ all the latest technological advances and tools available to create an efficient screening process.

Having Full Knowledge of Laws

The property manager should have full knowledge about the laws governing tenancy and tenant rights. It is important to understand tenant’s rights, and know all the procedures and protocols that will come into play in the event of certain situations and incidents. The most important aspect is to know the rules regarding rental delinquency and non-payment of dues. A difficult tenant can very easily turn into a bad tenant, and the property manager should know all the legalities for evicting such a tenant. 

How to Acquire Positive Reviews in Property Management

How to Acquire Positive Reviews in Property Management

One of the major tasks of property management is effectively marketing the property to lower the vacancy rate. The property manager can use many online tools and social media to improve the visibility of the property. However, many prospective tenants like to read reviews of existing tenants, before they make a decision. This means the website should have a sizeable amount of positive reviews from tenants, which ultimately comes down to keeping tenants happy. Additionally, satisfied tenants should also be prompted to write an online review and share their experiences with others.

Soaking Up Positive Reviews

Prompting tenants to provide reviews can be a little tricky, since you do not want the property website filled with negative reviews. Most people think of writing a review, when they are not satisfied by the service or product. Hence, the property manager should first make sure the tenant is happy, and then request a review. For instance, if the manager has recently solved some issue for a tenant or completed some repairs in a timely manner, then such times are ideal for asking a review.

Timing Matters

However, make sure the tenant feels the issue was taken care of promptly. It is better to have a chat with the tenant and gauge their reactions, and ask them if they were satisfied with the service. If the tenant seems happy and in a positive mood, then it is the ideal time to request a review.

Most people do not have the time or the inclination to provide a review, which could be because of their busy schedule. Therefore, it is very important to make the task of giving a review extremely easy and fast for the tenant. The best way to handle this would be to send an email after providing a service or resolving an issue. The email can contain a few questions that require only a few clicks to answer.

Certain Details

Sometimes a tenant may be displeased about something, which is actually not directly related to the property or the management. For instance, there might be some construction work going on near the property, and the tenant is not happy with the noise. Even though this is not actually the fault of the property, the tenant might voice this in a review, which might seem a negative comment about the property to a reader. In such a case, the tenant has to be reminded to provide the full story, and include the part about the noise not being on the property and not being anything the property manager can do anything about.

Property Managers can Post Information & Comments Too

Even if a tenant has made a negative comment in a review, then the property manager can take steps to resolve the issue immediately. The tenant can be asked to offer a detailed account of the problem, and attempts should be made to fix it as soon as possible. Once the problem is fixed, the property manager should ask the tenant to provide a comment about the service. The property management should also post comments in the review page, so that readers are aware that the management is playing an active role in resolving issues.

Marketing Techniques in Property Management

Marketing Techniques in Property Management

A major part of property management is reducing the vacancy rate by finding new tenants. Hence, a property manager needs to be proficient in marketing the property to prospective people looking for rentals. Various marketing techniques are employed today, including business networking, developing presence on the social media, pay per click campaigns, and other marketing efforts. However, it is very important to have a well-developed system for managing leads, to make sure the marketing efforts do not go in vain.

One Fact to Know Before Employing the Marketing Strategy

Lead management starts with recording the origin of the lead. The property manager should know where the lead has come from. To do this the manager should note the email id or phone number that was given to the prospect from various marketing initiatives. It could be a blog, social media profile, or special email campaigns, where the lead originates. Knowing where the lead has originated from, the manager will be able to gauge which marketing initiative is working the best.

Quicker Responses

The response time plays a major role in establishing contact with leads. For instance, it may not be possible to attend all the phone queries, but there is a major advantage if the response is given within ten to fifteen minutes. Providing a quicker response there is the higher likelihood of directly speaking with the lead. Hence, calling back quickly, the management can close leads faster.

Constructive Sales Calls

After the initial contact with leads, it is important to have a clear plan and system for follow-ups, whether it is through phone or emails. However, be careful not to spam or be a nuisance on the phone by calling many times. Initially you could call twice a day if the prospect shows interest. After that, a follow up call or email can be sent three to four times within a fifteen-day period. What you talk on the phone or the content of your follow-up email has to be designed carefully to prompt the best response and early closing.

Proper Adjustments

Keeping a record of the full process, right from the time of origin of the lead, to different stages of follow up is quite essential. Each month, the property manager can review the full history of each lead and decide whether any further action or follow up is required. This data is also a rich resource for knowing how the lead management system is performing. The management can see where the system is falling short and what marketing efforts are not bearing any results. Reviewing the whole process is an important part of lead management, and it is possible to improve the outcome dramatically simply by making a few tweaks.

The Results will Bear Fruit

Ultimately, the success rate will depend on the closing strategy. You might do all the required follow ups, but if your closing is weak the lead might slip away. It is shrewd to accompany your closing pitch with some enticement or deal that is highly beneficial for the prospect. Marketing in property management is not easy and the property manager might have to put up with many rejections. However, having an effective and outstanding lead management system will always pay off.

The Importance of Outside Appearances in Property Management

The Importance of Outside Appearances in Property Management

Property management should pay attention to the curb appeal of their property, since sparkling outside appearances can attract quality renters. One of the most important criteria for people looking to rent property is the exterior looks. According to a survey, more than 75% prospective renters, first consider the outside appeal of the structure and then only would consider reviewing the apartment or house.

Priorities

The condition of the rental property directly influences the number of possible vacancies. Therefore, taking care and managing the outside appearances and beautifying the location should be considered a wise investment. Certain cosmetic improvements do not need much investment, and they are usually covered by maintenance tasks such as painting, repairs, replacing the trim, and installing window shutters. However, property management should also consider investing in a decent and reliable landscaping service.

It is not necessary to carry an expensive landscaping service on your docket. The main point is to make the outside appearance more attractive, which can be achieved even with cheaper and low-maintenance landscaping. First, consider the weather conditions in your area, and select plants accordingly. It is always better to opt for drought-resistant plants, as they will require the least maintenance. From the variety available, select plants that bloom during multiple seasons in a year. They should also have a lush texture with colorful flowers and leaves.  

Suitable Plants

First, consider the path that leads to the main entrance or door of the building, as a beautiful pathway can make a big difference to the looks of a property. If there is a concrete walkway, you could consider replacing it with attractive paving stones. You could also consider a combination of grass and paving stones, as that would make the pathway much more attractive. Now, to make the pathway more aesthetically appealing, plant some ornamental plants, on both sides of the walkway.

You could also opt to plant trees; however, you will need to consider the available space and the approximate height of the trees when they are fully-grown. Finally, consider installing attractive external light fixtures along the pathway to make it more appealing during the night.

A small garden can also make a major difference in enhancing the appeal of the property. Even a small patch on either side of the entrance, can give the building a welcoming exterior. Even when the property is an apartment complex, a few patches of greenery and plants can improve the looks tenfold. Greenery is always pleasing to the eye compared to drab concrete. Add to that a splotch of color with some plants and you have a winning combination.

Alternatives

The next step would be to consider an impressive door for the front main entrance. Embellishments like engravings and brass knocker will make the door even more attractive. If a new door is too expensive, then simply lay out an attractive doormat, to improve the appeal of the entrance.

Another major element in improving exteriors is installing an attractive trim. The trim around the windows facing the street can enhance the looks of the property manifold. If new wood trim is out of your budget, at least consider a fresh coat of paint for the trim that you have currently.

Handling Cash Rents

Handling Cash Rents

Property managers are now increasingly finding that a few renters do not have a bank account or actually, would rather pay their rent without involving the banking system. According to studies, more than 8% of the adult population in the United States is unbanked or does not use or maintain a bank account, and this could be due to many factors, including the economy and undesirability of engaging in banking transactions. Hence, modern property managers have had to implement an effective cash payment option to collecting some rents.

A Basic Reasoning

Property owners can lose many renters if they insist on bank transactions or having a banking account. Around 50% of all ethnic groups and some young people below 34 years do not have a bank account and prefer dealing in cash. Additionally people with low to medium incomes are unable to save enough in the present economic situation and therefore do not find it worthwhile to have an account where they have to pay fees if they do not have a minimum balance. Considering all these aspects it is now vital to have some system, to make it easier for renters to pay cash.

When there is no office on the property, where tenants can come and pay their rents, then accepting money orders or cashier checks from services such as Western Union and MoneyGram, are viable alternatives for the property manager. However, the management will also have to implement an efficient system for depositing these checks and issuing receipts. Tenants will also have to put up with the delay from the time they issue the money order or cashier check, and receiving a receipt.

Another better option would be implementing cash payments at convenience store/s through PayNearMe or similar services. Such a cash transaction is very convenient for the tenant, and he or she immediately receives a receipt for the payment. The property manager on the other hand also receives immediate notification of the rent payment, and the money is directly deposited in the bank account of the property.

Risks Involved

A manual receipt of cash by the property manager or staff is not a sterling option, since it can be expensive. First, the property manager or a particular designated member of the staff has to be at hand to accept cash from the tenants. Then there is the work of manually recording the transaction, issuing a receipt and keeping the money safely until it is deposited in the bank account. All this would result in longer office hours, designating one staff member with this task, and having enough security for all the collected cash. This is neither economical nor convenient method for collecting cash rent in property management.

Property management will have to evaluate various methods for receiving rent in cash, based on certain aspects:

Saving of Time: Consider each method based on the time and staff requirements for completing the transaction, and evaluate it my simulating the full process

Convenience: When you have made the system convenient for the tenant, you will have much less instances of late payments and tenants will be a happier lot.

Issue of Receipt: There should be immediate issuance of receipt to the tenant on receiving the money

Security: The process should have minimum risks of fraud or theft of the money

Leasing Essentials in Property Management

Leasing Essentials in Property Management

One of the most important jobs in property management is to draft an effective lease agreement. This document has to cover all the critical points of a tenancy agreement; otherwise, it can lead to strained relationships with the tenants, unnecessary legal disputes, and costly lawsuits. Before presenting the lease document, make sure you have covered everything that is important. Here are some of the essential aspects that should be included in any lease agreement.  

Rent

The lease agreement should obviously have a detailed portion on rent. This may appear quite straightforward, but it is important to spell out everything in detail. The usual rental terms will include the amount of rent, the due date each month for making the payment, and penalties for late payments. If the owner has an accommodating policy, a certain grace period can also be included after the due date.

Permission to Enter

It is very necessary for the tenant to specify when entry into the residential unit is permissible by the owner or property management. Under this clause, you could also mention if a notice is required for the entry, and what circumstances would supersede any restrictions. It is obvious that at times of emergency, permission will not be necessary, but it is better to spell out these exceptions. It is important to be clear on when you can enter the unit, so that the tenant is not annoyed and there are no legal complications.

Repairs and Maintenance Responsibilities

In most residency complexes, maintenance responsibilities are shared by the owner and tenants. The lease agreement should clearly define what maintenance responsibilities the owner is willing to undertake and what is going to be left to the tenants. For instance, if the owner is responsible for all structural maintenance and the tenant is responsible for the lawn, then it should be clearly stated.

If the costs of certain repairs are to be shared, then these repairs should be clearly enumerated along with the ratio of sharing. If the owner does not want the tenant to do any major changes in the unit, such as the installation of ceiling fan and so on, then it should be clearly stated in the lease agreement.

Deposits

It is better to have a separate section for covering the different deposits; you are going to take from the tenant. These deposits could be for keeping pets, as a security, or for having the apartment cleaned. Clearly mention if such deposits can be used for paying the last rent. For each deposit, mention clearly, if the amount is refundable and under what conditions.

Illegal Activity

Even though you are going to screen your future tenants thoroughly, before committing to a lease agreement, it is necessary to have clauses that cover consequences of any illegal activity on the premises. There are many instances where the tenant is involved in illegal activities like distribution or manufacture of drugs, and uses the premises for engaging in these activities. Make things quite clear as to what actions you are going to take if the tenant is caught doing any illegal activity. They should know that these actions will not be tolerated and if the tenant pursues them, they will have a witness against them in any court of law.

This is why you should have a police officer who lives in the complex (offer them lower rent to attract an officer) who can squash these matters before they germinate.

Retaining Residents in Property Management

Retaining Residents in Property Management

One of the most challenging tasks in property management is retaining loyal and reliable tenants. It is also less costly to maintain a current resident than to locate and approve a new tenant. Even though renting is usually transient activity for most people, since they may be looking for a place to buy, it still makes sense to retain fantastic tenants for as long as possible.

One of the points acting in favor of the property manager is that tenants also do not like the idea of moving frequently. However, unless the tenant is kept happy there is always a good chance of losing the tenant. Therefore, the property manager should provide good reasons to the tenants for staying where they are, and this can be accomplished by considering the following points.

Maintaining the Quality and Aesthetic Appeal of the Property

One of the major tasks of property management is to maintain the looks of the property, and this can become a major issue with many tenants. The usual complaint of most tenants is that the property went “downhill”, meaning it does not look as good as it looked before. The property can lose its appeal due to many reasons. It could be poor ways of disposing trash, neglecting the landscaping, not painting the structures on time, or selecting some bad tenants.

All tenants consider the rented property their home and nobody would like to enter premises where there is trash scattered around, the walls have peeling paint, or the neighbors are a suspicious lot. Hence, the property manager has to ensure the property is kept aesthetically pleasing and there are no evil or malicious tenants.

Being Responsive

Property managers can become quite unresponsive to tenant requests and complaints, when they have to handle this task on a daily basis. However, this is one of the major reasons for tenant dissatisfaction, which eventually leads to the decision of leaving.

The property manager and support staff should respond promptly to requests from tenants, resolve maintenance and repair issues, professionally and quickly. If it is not possible to attend to a tenant’s request, the manager should take time to explain to the tenant why the task could not be performed, instead of simply ignoring the tenant.

Keeping Tenants Involved and Informed

A property can be managed more effectively when it is taken to be a community. Hence, a property manager should promote community activities and make sure all tenants participate in these events. Holding monthly or bi-monthly parties, yard sales or sports events are great ways to bring the community together, where all tenants attain the opportunity to interact with each other. It is also a salient idea to publish a newsletter through which tenants are kept informed about the various activities taking place on the property. The newspaper can also serve as a platform for providing information about new rules and regulations.  

Avoiding Changes in Staff

Tenants usually are attached to staff members, and do not like to see a new face frequently. Hence, it is important to maintain the same staff as long as possible, and reduce staff turnover.

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