Blog

Restrictive Breeds and Service Animals in Property Management

Increasing injuries and damages caused by dog bites is a growing concern for property management. In two states, judges have ruled that the property owner or management could be held liable for a dog attack or a bite by the dog of a tenant. Last year, the Supreme Court in Kentucky ruled that a property owner can be deemed to be the dog's statutory owner, and hence responsible for the injuries and damages cause by the dog's attack or bite.

In view of these rulings property management tend to take a hard stance in their pet policies, especially against restrictive breeds such as a pit bull. The image of a pit bull even when on a leash is quite disturbing for most tenants, especially those with kids or other pets. However, there seem to be other developments and court rulings that have given the status of service animal to the pit bull breed. Hence, property management will have to again reconsider their pet policies in order to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

Pit Bulls are Protected

According to the ADA, it is wrong to discriminate against service animals; however, the DNA of the pit bull is considered dangerous, and that does not help the case, particularly in the multifamily industry. The question is can property management ban a service animal from the property if it is on the restricted breed list. Unfortunately for property owners and property management, the answer is no. The only think that can be done is to handle the liability as best as possible.

The ADA has specified that a service animal is an animal that has been specifically trained for performing tasks or doing work for disabled person. Tasks could include alerting deaf people, guiding blind individuals, protecting a person having a seizure by alerting others, calming people with PTSD, or even pulling a wheelchair. Interestingly, the ADA has amended the Act recently and has classified service animals to include only dogs, and exclude other animals that provide emotional support.

Not just Dogs

However, the Housing and Urban Development (HUD) department has included other animals in the service animals list, and a disabled individual could request for service animals other than dogs, which could include a parrot and even a miniature horse.

However, the main cause of concern is the Pit Bull Terriers who are included in breed-specific laws and are usually used in illegal dogfights. They are not allowed on most properties because they usually display aggression towards tenants and visitors. Property management can decline having a pit bull on the property only if it is a pet. However, if the dog is being kept as a service animal then there is not much property management can do, and only hope the dog is trained well enough and it does not resort to aggressive behavior.

An Understanding

Property management should state the city and council rules about animals and then form a policy about restricted breeds. However, including a breed that is used as a service animal on the list will not be of much use, since the judge is most likely to side with the disabled person. But even a disabled person will be responsible for any person that is attacked by their dog.

How to Use Instagram in Property Management

Many things are possible on an online platform that enables you to store and share videos and photos for free. Instagram is one of the latest apps that is being increasingly used on mobile devices, and property management could use it effectively for different purposes for the community.

Creating a Sense of Belonging to a Community

Interaction is critical to property management for improving and maintaining good relationships with existing residents and prospects. Prospects and residents share something in common about the community, and based on this common interest, property management can share content on Instagram that provides information or some value. For instance, host a photo contest based on some theme, or postphotos of the new store that has newly opened in the neighborhood.

Prospects and residents should have some common reason for following you and for you to follow them back. The use of hashtags is vital in Instagram, for following a line of topic or theme. When property management uses hashtags it enables tenants and prospects to use the same hashtag if they are posting something similar or following a particular topic. Secondly, the exposure is also fantastic since all videos and photos using the same hashtag are grouped on one page, which will be displayed when someone is searching for that particular hashtag.

Community Branding

Instagram enables property management to create a brand for the community. Creating photo ops for residents is one way of developing awareness of the community. Encourage residents to take photos and share them on Instagram by placing many Instagram photo frames at various locations within the community. Instagram has a huge membership, which means the exposure of the community will also be massive when some resident uploads a photo with the name of the community.

Secondly, it is easy to create a location page on Instagram, and it can be particularly useful to property management to improve exposure of the community. This location page will allow anybody to add videos and photos to the photomap in the particular location. It is not only the photos that gain exposure but also the community's name. 

Engage Residents

There are many ways to make residents actively engage on Instagram. For property management, tenants are the main assets, and it helps sharing with the world, how happy residents are in the community. Share videos and photos of happy hour and other community events. This not only shows the residents are a happy bunch, but also shows the community is a socially happening place.

Do not Forget the Pets

Almost 60% residents have pets, and it would be shame to ignore all the lovable cats and dogs on the property. Create hashtag like #catsofdowerscommunity and you will be surprised to see how much residents love posting the portraits of their feline companions.

Run Referral Campaigns

Acknowledge residents who have referred a friend to the community, by posting their photos. This will not only remind residents of the referral program, but they will also become aware that so many people in the community are happy and actually referring others. 

Earthquake Preparedness for Property Management

With the increasing number of natural disasters, property management needs to be prepared to face the worst calamities. Amongst all disasters, earthquakes have the most devastating effect depending on their magnitude. According to United States Geological Survey, moderate quakes are now being recorded in areas that are relatively new to any kind of seismic activity. For instance, several smaller quakes in the Fort Worth Dallas areas have significantly rattled business establishments and homes recently.

Since the start of 2015, eleven quakes have hit the North Texas region, which is quite a distance from the usual epicenter that affects western part of the country. This indicates that almost any areas in the country are at risk from unexpected quakes, and therefore property management needs to be prepared for all types of seismic activities. Here are some important points to consider for limiting property damage and reducing risks to life of residents.

Strengthening Structures

If there are existing structural issues, they should be looked into and corrected immediately. Cracks in foundations and ceilings will dramatically increase the chances of structural collapse, which causes the greatest destruction and harm. Check for deep cracks and all structural repairs should be given priority. If there are signs of structural wear, it is best to seek expert advice and professional help.

Minimizing Risk of Fires

Earthquakes can cause fires that increase the devastation considerably. Detect and repair faulty gas connections and electrical wiring, these two are the major reasons for fire even during times when there are no quakes. Flexible pipefittings are more resistant to breakage, and their installation should be seriously considered when property management is thinking of renovations and repairs. Property management could also consider installing protective mechanisms such as gas valves that automatically shut off when strong vibrations are detected.

Limiting or Securing Objects that can Move Around

Avoid hanging objects in common areas, since they can fall and greatly increase the risk of injuries and fatalities even during small tremors. Inside units, make sure shelves are solidly secured to the walls and are not likely to come off their mounts during tremors. It is not possible to secure everything, but in quake prone areas special attention should be given to photo frames, mirrors, and decorative wall hangings.

These can be secured by earthquake putty or strong adhesives. Similarly, electronic devices like televisions, computers, and printers can be secured using nylon straps to avoid damage. Gas appliances and water heaters should be bolted to the floor or strong strapping can be used to prevent their movement.

 

Educating Residents and Holding Mock Drills

Many residents may not have faced an earthquake in their lives and will not have any idea about what they should do in such situations. Hence, property management should hold a meeting or post material that educates tenants about earthquakes and what tenants can do to minimize damage and injuries. It also helps an astounding deal to hold mock drills so that tenants are aware of safe spots in the units, or possible escape routes to move to comparatively safer areas.

If you do not want to run actual drills because that could affect peoples’ lives and day, you can at least hand out fliers on where to go in case of an emergency. 

Handling Flu Epidemics in the Community

Flu epidemics have become quite common in the past few years, and it is a very difficult task for property management to keep flu causing viruses off the property. Previously the flue and influenza used to occur mostly in certain seasons, but now, CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) has cautioned that these epidemics are highly unpredictable and can occur any time.

Deep into Spring

Usually, the holiday season was considered prime time for these viruses but now their presence could last up to May and even beyond.

Young children and older people are particularly vulnerable during these epidemics, since they can suffer serious complications from the flu. Apart from the flu virus, there is another highly contagious bug, Norovirus, which causes acute gastroenteritis and affects over 60,000 people each year severely. Therefore, property management needs to take certain steps to avoid or contain such outbreaks and keep the community safe.

Before the flu season arrives, property management should educate residents of the possible ways to avoid an outbreak in the community. Here are some of the measures that are considered highly effective by the CDC.

Encourage residents to wash hands regularly with soap and water. Parents should be instructed to pay particular attention to children to make sure they wash their hands often, especially immediately after they enter the home. When soap and water is not available, people can use a hand sanitizer that has minimum 60% alcohol content. Property management could also keep germicides at entrances and encourage staff, guests, and residents to make use of it and stay germfree.

Property management should also advise residents to be vaccinated, even if the same type of vaccines from last year is available. Staff should also be vaccinated, and it is important to be inoculated against pneumonia. If somebody is affected, isolation can greatly prevent the spread of the disease.

Proper Precautions

If anybody on the property management staff is infected, he should be sent home immediately, and if it is a resident, he or she should be encourage to stay in the unit to avoid interaction with other. Children in particular should be kept away from infected adults and parents should not allow them to visit any sick neighbors.

When several people in the community have been infected with the flu virus or Norovirus then extra precautionary steps should be taken. If a member of a household is sick, it is best to switch to disposable cups, plates, and utensils for that person.

Protect Yourself & Your Family

The sick member can be served meals in plastic plates and after the meals all utensils used by the person can be bagged, sealed, and thrown into the trashcan. It is very easy for the entire household to catch the same virus if one member is infected, and therefore it is critical to take these precautions even if they sound drastic.

It is also crucial for people who feel they have recovered from the disease to wait at least two days before they start to mingle with others. Usually, these ailments could make the person feel content for some time, but the disease may not have fully dissipated or burned itself out.

Are Real Estate Postcards Outdated for Lead Generation

When you hear words like letter and postcard, people usually feel that you are talking of a bygone era. However, there are realtors who still swear about the efficacy of real estate postcards in generating leads. In a world where email campaigns and social media are considered the best marketing tools, are postcards still relevant.

Surprisingly, they still are, and many real estate agents have excellent results to show, when used along with social media. Many agents have reported that they were able to net around three listings for every hundred postcards they mailed.

Real estate postcards and direct mailing campaigns might sound basic, but you cannot write off a technique simply because it is old and basic. If your real estate business is lagging or you have newly started it, then postcard marketing could render excellent results, provided you are consistent. Direct mail marketing is still effective even after many years since its inception, particularly in the real estate field.

Developing a Successful Campaign

However, success of your campaign will mainly depend in correctly identifying the farm or target market, which comprises the best pick of potential clients, and your level of consistency in mailing the postcards. Identifying the farm area will involve thorough market research. For instance, if you are trying for first-time purchasers, you might need listings of luxury home communities.

On the other hand, if you are looking for listings in general, you might want to pick neighborhoods that are most promising, including the areas having the most baby boomers. Condominiums and neighborhoods, where other realtors have an established presence should be avoided. The objective is to develop dominance in one area so that anybody seeking property in the place automatically thinks of contacting you first.

Number of Postcards and Consistency

Every realtor has his own optimum number of how many postcards to mail. Experts believe that sending postcards in the range of 1,000 to 3,000 will provide the best results. However, reach may not be as important as frequency. Some marketers believe that asking 20 prospects ten times will generate much better results than asking 50 prospects only once.

The Best Content for Postcards

Realtors who have managed successful postcard campaigns believe that content should simply be an announcement of a property that has just been listed, sold, or one where the contract has just been signed. However, this content is best used when you are known to the residents of the area and you are promoting a listing in your target market.

If you are newly developing a farm area, the content of your postcard will mainly be your introduction. Later you could follow up with reports and newsletters on a regular basis. Make sure you are providing value through your content to homeowners in your area.

Type of Postcards

The quality of the postcard and the printing will mainly depend on your budget. If you are newly establishing yourself in the area, choose all the bells and whistles, since you want to be seen as a notable and respectable realtor who understands this realm.  

Page 47 of 80