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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.

Skills Required in Property Management

Skills Required in Property Management

Property management is not easy, as there are many responsibilities and the property manager has to deal with different types of people. There are certain skills required for doing this job efficiently, and here is a list of the most important ones.

Organizational Skills

Property managers have to not only organize their own work but also need to organize the working of various staff members. Organizational skills are required in all aspects of this job and any weakness in this skill can have disastrous results. The manager has to organize his or her daily schedule to attain the required office work done for the day, which will include filing applications, maintaining files and records, and other related duties. The manager will also have to organize various staff teams that are involved in maintenance, repairs, and accounts.

Time Management

Property management is an extremely busy job, and the manager has to manage various tasks within limited time. The manager will have to shuffle various task efficiently, and even multi task to get the maximum results. It is not a question of doing things quickly, but allocating time efficiently for the completion of various tasks, and switching between tasks whenever required to make maximum use of the available time.

Negotiating Skills

The property manager has to negotiate with almost everybody to get the job done. Whether it is with city officials, tenants, or staff members, the manager has to negotiate matters skillfully to reach the best outcome. Negotiating with city officials, the manager has to get the plans passed and see if the property is keeping to the laws and codes. If there are any issues the matter has to be negotiated well to avoid fines and other penalties. Negotiating skills also come in handy while resolving disputes between tenants and staff members. While procuring new tenants, the manager will have to negotiate the best rentals and term, to optimize returns.

Financial and Business Skills

Property management is mainly concerned with maximizing returns for the property owner. This involves maximizing profits and minimizing various costs. The manager will have to take quick decisions on rentals, review financial documents, estimate costs of maintenance and repairs, assess the rental worth of the property according to prevailing market situations, and solve issues resulting from financial crunches. All these tasks require outstanding knowledge of finance and sharp business acumen.

Overall Technical Knowledge

There is an abundance of maintenance and repair work involved in managing any property. There will be routine issues involving plumbing, electrical, carpentry, and masonry. The property manager does not have to be an expert in all these fields, but must have some basic knowledge to oversee the work in these departments. Having some technical knowledge, the manager will be able to supervise the service staff in a much better way, and will be able to get the work properly organized and executed. If the property is need of repairs, a manager having technical knowledge will be able to hire the services at a lesser cost and to reduce the repair charges.  

Inspection Checklist for Property Management

Inspection Checklist for Property Management

The task of inspecting the property is crucial for preventive maintenance, and for making sure, everything on the property is in accordance with property regulations and housing laws. Regular inspections help to address problems immediately before they escalate into major issues. In property management, the requirements for inspection will vary depending on the size of the property, the number of structures, and the landscaping. However, here is a general checklist that will make the inspection job easy.

Inspecting the Grounds

Property grounds will include all common areas, parking spaces, swimming pool/s, gymnasium, tennis lawn, and the landscaped areas. Landscaped areas and small gardens are usually given to outside contractors to be looked after, and the property manager has to inspect these areas to make sure the contractor is doing the job well. Unkempt lawns and untidy garden areas offer a shabby and pitiful look to the property, which can undermine rental rates.

Swimming pools have to be inspected to see if the water and surrounding area is clean and free of debris and fallen leaves. It is best to fix dates during the year for the draining of the pool and other maintenance tasks of the surrounding fencing. Parking lots have to be checked for cleanliness and to see if the individual spaces are properly marked. Lastly, all the signs posted across the property have to be checked for deterioration and a date has to be set for having them freshly painted annually.  

Inspecting Structures

Regular inspection of all structures on the property is an important task in property management. The manager will have to keep a look out for cracks, peeling paint, growth of mildew on the walls, and loose shingles and shutters. The gutter channels running from the roof have to be checked for debris, and blocks. Inspection of structures will involve a close view as well as a view from a certain distance to observe any defects that are visible on the upper levels of structure’s sides.

Apart from the structure itself, the electrical and phone cables running from the structure have to be checked for damage. If the property has security devices like alarms and video cameras, they too have to be inspected for any problems.

Inspecting Interiors

The common areas inside the building need to be inspected for structural and other defects. It is best to begin from the lowest level in the building, which may be housing the laundry room, pump room, boilers, or heaters. These areas will be exposed to more humidity and warmth, and hence check for fungi and mildew growth on the walls.

Also, inspect the ventilation shafts and channels to check their level of functionality and efficiency. In the laundry room check to see if, all machines are functioning properly. Keep an ear open to detect unusual noises when the machines are in operation. A lot of money can be saved if problems are detected early in these machines. At each floor, check electrical fixtures and also the doors and windows. Check for water damage and keep a look out for any leakages in the plumbing.   

Property Management Task List

Property Management Task List

Property management requires a fair amount of planning and timely execution of various tasks. There are many important routine tasks, and it is prudent to keep a task list handy. Here are some important items that you should consider including in your task list.

Schedules for Inspections

It is very important to conduct inspection of the individual units as well as the common areas of the property at regular intervals. An inspection of signage also has to be performed at least once a year, to verify that the required signage is posted properly on the property. Inspection tasks are often forgotten because they are to be done once or twice in a year. Hence, prepare a schedule for the respective inspections and include them in your task lists for particular months.

File Management

Filing can be one of the most time consuming and challenging tasks if not handled properly. Keep a reminder for regular filing work that has to be done on a daily basis, but most important is to set the date for doing jobs such as archiving and disposal of unwanted files. For archiving, you will want to place files of the prior year in storage boxes or separate cabinets, so that they are not mixed up with the files of the current year. Older files that are dated past two years can be moved to long-term storage.  

Property management involves lot of documentation and paper work and you need to form a policy about the retention of documents. You can update this policy depending on legal changes and things you might have learnt during the past year. However, review your documents at regular intervals and either archive or dispose files that are not needed. If you are disposing papers and files, make sure they are destroyed, instead of merely throwing them in the trashcan. If the required equipment for proper disposal is not available on the property, it is advisable to hire document disposal service, which will handle the job professionally.

Policies and Annual Forms

Distribution of various forms to staff members and tenants is an important task each year. These forms are needed for legal compliance of various issues, such as W-4 for taxation and so on. If new laws have come about, you will have to formulate new policies to accommodate these laws and inform the concerned parties. Acknowledging ongoing policies annually is also fantastic and prudent practice, as that will remind staff members and tenants what they need to follow.

Meetings

If you are holding tenant or staff meetings then they have to be planned and the agenda and invitations should be sent much in advance. Although these tasks seem simple, they can pile up if you are not vigilant, and you might not have the time to complete them.

Education Compliance

First, determine what type of continuing education is required for staff members and then plan for the whole year. For instance, you might need to hold legally required courses for meeting licensing requirements, or for fair housing, and so on.

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