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.
Maintenance is one of the major issues that are the most challenging for property management. It is not only important to make sure the job is done within the shortest amount of time, but also it should be done properly and at the least cost. The people who do the actual work are your main assets for any maintenance job, whether these people are vendors or they form a part of your staff. A team of reliable vendors is as prudent as having some maintenance help who permanently remain on site and who work directly for you.
Compiling a Vendor Database
However, it is important to make sure you have a built a chain of vendors you can depend on, any time during the year. This calls for implementing a highly effective vendor management system. Your vendor database should include list of primary and secondary levels of vendors who are highly qualified for every maintenance category including flooring, plumbing, appliances, air conditioning, and heating.
It is smart to include in the compilation small and large vendors, who are specialists in their fields, and who are bonded and insured. It is important to check whether these vendors can be relied upon and are not some business that could disappear at any time.
Compiling a vendor database takes time, and should be done patiently. Firstly, shortlist reliable vendors and interview all of them, even the large ones. After the interview process, have the best ones fill out the required application and sign agreements. However, make sure that they submit all the copies of documents that prove they have insurance and are bonded or licensed.
Implementing an Effective Vendor Management System
After compiling the main list, it is also sensible to have a list of backup vendors. This will certainly reduce the chances of maintenance work being delayed. Even the most reliable vendors will not be able to fit your property into their schedule all the time, and therefore it is always best to have a concrete and dependable backup.
While developing a vendor management system, it is fundamental to categorize and classify the main and backup vendors. This will significantly help property management select the right vendor for the job quickly. For instance, when you need to redo flooring, you might want to check out vendors who specialize in certain flooring types or might want to compare vendors by their pricing.
It is critical, or something to consider, to have at least three vendors in a particular category to make sure you have a range of choices. But you should have a go to vendor already picked out and they should know they are your top choice as well when something goes wrong or when you need some help. Secondly, when you have multiple properties to manage across the city, you would want to pick vendors operating in the same area for that of the particular property.
Vendor Training and Reporting
To obtain the best from your vendor management system, you might have to hold a vendor training session, to ensure vendors work in accordance to your requirements and expectations. Additionally, property management can also have a report card system that enables vendors know how they have performed.
Carpets are major components in a unit, and it is possible for property management to overlook them. If the carpet in a unit is stained, has matted fibers, or if the pile is crushed, then it is time to replace it. Renters will consider the state of carpets and if they are in bad shape, property management could lose terrific and normally loyal tenants. Cost, durability, stain resistance, and material are the important aspects to consider while selecting carpets.
It would be best to consider a tenant profile before selecting a carpet. Typically, kids and pets will wear out carpets at a much faster rate, and therefore property management should consider cheaper options that can be replaced more often. However, you also need to weigh in durability and consider the cost benefit ratio of a carpet.
While considering the durability of a carpet you will need to consider twist, density, and fiber. Nylon fiber is extremely durable carpet fiber and it is resistant to stains as well. Olefin or polypropylene is durable as well, but may not resist stains as much as nylon does. The twist of the carpet refers to number of twists in each tuft of the carpet. The more twists the better the durability.
For instance, carpets with seven twists per inch of tuft fiber will resist wear and retain the appearance much longer than carpets having four twists per inch. Finally, density refers to the number of tufts packed tightly per square inch. If tufts are packed less than 1/6th inch apart, then the density is reasonable and the carpet will retain its appearance for a longer period of time. If you want more durability, select carpets with higher density.
Resistance to Stains
Stain resistance capacity is a major consideration when it comes to installing carpets in rented units. Studies show that people are more careless with things when they do not own them, even if they have to pay a part of their deposit to replace stained carpets. Nylon and polyester fibers are resistant to stains; however, any fiber can be topically treated to improve its stain resistance capacity. However, topical treatment could wear off quickly compared to stain resistance of polyester fibers. Nevertheless, carpet fibers made from recycled plastic tend to matt easily and the pile will appear crushed.
It is important to have softer carpets in areas where tenants are likely to walk barefoot, such as the bedroom area. High-density carpets with many twists are durable but they will not provide the comfort and softness that is preferred in a bedroom. Hence, property management might have to choose different types of carpets for different rooms.
Choice of Padding
Padding is the carpet's foundation and it influences the comfort aspect of the carpet. Fiber padding is one of the best types, as it does not stretch under heavy traffic. Rubber is heavy-duty material, but it is more expensive. Rebond on the other hand is much more reasonably priced and is stronger than foam. Rebond padding does very well in high traffic areas and in houses with pets or furry critters that people enjoy having around them.
Outdoor space is often not given the importance it deserves in property management. Simply having a decent landscape or inviting lawn is not going to cut it, especially when there are new properties coming up in the neighborhood. Indoor amenities and fantastic ambience are no doubt important to renters, but most prospects, especially the millennial crowd also check out outdoor spaces before making a decision.
What do Renters Look for in Outdoor Spaces?
The landscaping should obviously be appealing and should blend aesthetically with the environment. Apart from this main requirement, most renters look for recreational space and facilities. Millennials are particularly looking for playgrounds for kids, game courts, a jogging track, and a pool. These facilities not only provide the ideal environment for exercising but it also promotes social interaction, which is now quite important to modern renters.
On the same lines, a barbeque facility is another major attraction for most tenants, since it provides space to entertain and hold parties. Finally, renters look for adequate lighting in outdoor spaces. Bright lights not only enhance the beauty of the outdoors, but also play a strategic role in keeping the area safe and secure.
How can Property Management Improve the Outdoors?
Building a pool or installing a game court would definitely spruce up the outdoors and increase the value of the property, but these projects involve hefty investments. On the other hand, there are certain projects that do not cost much, and help in improving the outdoors considerably. Here are some ideas, property management can consider for enhancing outdoor space on a budget and curtailing maintenance costs.
Switch to LED lighting. Since this lighting consumes less electricity, property management can install brighter lights and yet keep utility costs to the minimum. LED bulbs are costlier to purchase, but they will work out cheaper in the end. The transition to LED lighting can be done in a phased manner in order to avoid a huge one-time investment.
Laying jogging or walking tracks on the periphery of the lawn or around the boundary of the property can certainly improve the value of the property. This might involve a major investment depending on the size of the property, but it should help in reducing vacancies and property management can even consider raising the rent for providing this visible convenience.
A simple landscape that is well maintained attracts more people, than a fancy garden that is poorly maintained. Simple things like removing weeds and mowing grass regularly, do not cost much, and yet can greatly boost the ambience of the property.
Be on Top of Your Game
If you have provided barbeque facilities then make sure the grills are kept clean and the area is kept tidy. A poorly maintained and dirty barbeque area will be a turn-off, and renters will not even register the fact that you have provided this amenity. In fact, any outdoor area that is kept cluttered or dirty will spoil the ambience of the whole property, and even if you provide salient indoor amenities you will find less takers since one is canceling out the other.