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.
The millennial generation are people in the age group of 18 to 34 years and are a popular segment of society. They are known for being tech-savvy, their self-expression, and for their social and racial diversity. Another very interesting fact about them is that they are movers and most of them live in a different city from their hometown or college.
Since they move around, almost all of them prefer rentals to owning a home. It is important for property management to note this interesting fact, and know the reasons why the millennial generation moves around so much. Such information can be useful in marketing the property and for wooing this huge segment of renters.
Millennials Prefer Urban Areas
According to a recent survey, almost all respondents said that they preferred living in a city or in an area that is more urban than the place where they grew up. Almost 44% respondents said that they had moved away for their hometown or the place where they completed college because of their love to live in a city. Even though, 60% of these renters who were surveyed prioritized affordability, they were willing to upgrade their budget to live in an urban place with more population density, compared to where they were residing before.
So, why does the millennial generation prefer densely populated urban areas, or the reason behind their moving?
To Seek Better Job Opportunities
Whether it is a move to a city or simply moving to a new area, the main reason for the millennial generation to move is to find better job opportunities. The millennial crowd seems not to be willing to sacrifice better job or earning opportunities for the love of any particular place. Almost half of the surveyed respondents said that their transition was motivated by a job opportunity or a career move.
Therefore, if the property is near a commercial area or if new companies are opening up shop nearby, property management can use such information in their marketing strategy.
To be with a Special Person
Next to job opportunities, the other most popular reason for moving was love. About 21% respondents said that they had moved because they wanted to be closer to someone they loved. For property management this would mean single tenants, or couples who are planning to move in together. In such instances, marketing strategy would be to focus on amenities and conveniences the property has to offer, and how such amenities would be helpful if the couple were planning to start a family in the near future.
To be Near the Workplace
A large portion of the millennial crowd also moves within urban areas or within the same city to be nearer their workplace. Most millennials seem to prefer walking, cycling, or taking public transportation to reach their workplace, and do not prefer driving to work. This is one of the major reasons for movement within the same city, and preference for properties that are within walking distance from their workplace.
Not only this, millenials may not have the income to afford a decent car so living closer to their workplace is even more paramount. Property management that understands this will be able to design their marketing agenda accordingly and hire staff that realize this.
One of the major concerns for property management is a plumbing system on the property and the rising cost of its maintenance. Plumbing issues can pop up at any time, and it can be as minor as a leaking faucet to a major repair of broken underground pipes.
Proper Plumbing Strategies
Resolving plumbing issues quickly would be considered one of the important skills for a property manager; however, this is often a daunting task and sometimes the cost could eat off a major portion of the profits. Here are some tips on preventive plumbing maintenance that can help in improving response time and curtailing costs of plumbing maintenance.
A property manager should be proactive in detecting plumbing problems before they are likely to occur. For this, he will need to carry out periodic inspections of the plumbing system on the property with a special checklist. This will provide early warnings of possible plumbing issues, and the matter can be resolved before it develops into a major problem. Here are some of the most important points that should be included in the special checklist.
Try to detect signs of visible pipes that might lead to leakage. Such signs could include water stains, or small puddles on the floor. Additionally, focus on spots where the pipes enter walls or run underground to the building foundation.
Keep track of corrosion and signs of rusting. These may seem minor when they first appear, but if they are not repaired, the corrosion can cause poor connections and leaks. Look for corrosion signs such as orange or yellow stains on steel pipes, or green stains on copper or brass fittings.
Check water pressure to make sure the water is flowing with the correct force when it is coming out of showerheads and faucets. If the water pressure seems to be low, it could be due to buildup of sediment in the fittings. If sediment clogs are suspected, remove the showerhead, check for signs of sediment, and have them cleaned. Sometimes low pressure could be due to more serious problem of leakage in the underground water line, which will need major repair. However, first clean all the sediment clogs to see if the pressure is restored.
Check the speed of water draining from kitchen and bathroom drains. When the drainage is slow, check the vent and drains for clogs. In an unclogged drain, the water will swirl fully, while in clogged drain you will notice bubbles forming while the water is draining. A gurgling sound on the other hand could indicate a potential issue in the vent.
During inspection, flush the toilet in every unit to ensure it is working properly. Check the flush assembly externally and internally for missing, broken, or corroded parts. The water should stop when the flush is filled, and if it is still flowing then it could be draining into the toilet or if there is a leak somewhere that needs to be fixed. Otherwise the water bill will be much more than it should be if this is what is happening.
Water heaters are another major cause of plumbing problems and should be given thorough checkups periodically.
Incidences of intense weather seem to be happening more frequently across the country, and these incidents have a direct impact on utility costs on properties. Therefore, keeping track of utility data and monitoring usage is important for property management for identifying spikes and managing utility costs.
Monitoring energy usage should be a continuous process and should not be only implemented when the weather is severe. Sudden variances or spikes in energy consumption can happen due to various reasons, and they can go unnoticed if you do not have a regular system for tracking usage. Here are some of the common issues property management can avoid with the proper tracking of utility data.
Malfunctioning Delivery or Equipment
Energy spikes are common in old building stock but it is possible even on new properties. Property management cannot become complacent even when the project is LEED certified. Here is an actual example where property management was able to correct the problem because they noticed frequent spikes and crashes in their utility data. The data showed sudden surges in usage, even though the condensing boilers were certified efficient. A technician was sent to find out the cause of the sudden surges and he found the boilers were not condensing because the gas line pressure was not adequate. The utility provider had to be contacted to correct the issue.
On another property, the tenants were complaining of overheating and the consumption was peaking as well. In this instance, the technician found the controlling valve of the thermostat was stuck on fully open. Once all the valves were replaced, the energy consumption was back to normal levels.
Water consumption on a property can spike due to leaks, and some leaks can be hard to find. For instance, on a property, when the water consumption increased abnormally, all the units had to be inspected, but no leaks were found. The maintenance staff then had to do a thorough check of the pipelines and found a major leak in one of the underground pipes. The leak was costing the property over $2,000 every month, which would have continued if there was no utility tracking and time intervention.
You might feel that since everything is computerized, there are no chances of errors happening in utility bills. However, billing errors are more common than you think. For instance, a property management company having more than 200 buildings in its portfolio noticed a spike in gas consumption on one of the properties after they had implemented a utility tracking platform online.
The typical usage of the property was around 100 therms per month, but the bill showed consumption of 1,000 therms on a particular day. Property management immediately contacted the utility provider with the details, the error was detected, and the property was refunded the extra amount that they had paid.
There can be different reasons for energy spikes and many could be due to sudden changes in weather. However, it is important for property management to track utility data since it significantly helps in saving unnecessary energy costs and in an age where not any business is getting any help from Uncle Sam, energy savings becomes all the more important.
A Terrific Procurement System can Improve Profitability for Property Management
Property management has to procure services and products frequently for its properties, and if this system is non-standardized and inefficient, it can take a huge chunk out of the profits. Cost of services and products has a major impact on the overall profit margin, and therefore it is critical to have a procure system that not only reduces costs but also deliver quality goods. Here are certain points that can help a property manager devise afantastic procurement strategy.
Have a Separate Purchasing Department
Instead of procuring at the property level, it is better to have a purchasing department that controls bids across all the properties. The type of services required and specification of products will be accomplished at the property level, and the requirements will be sent over to the purchasing department.
This way there is a single window for receiving bids, and the purchasing department is left with the responsibility of identifying and determining the best value and quality. The purchasing department will develop a list of qualified vendors, thus avoiding unnecessary quotes and possible fallacious information, and saving the time of the property manager.
Procuring Discounts Based on Volume
Rather than compromising on quality, it is best to procure discounts based on higher volume. Vendors will be more willing to negotiate the price when there is a bigger volume at stake. Here again, having a purchase department will be beneficial because all requirements across properties will be routed through a single department. This will increase the needed volume of services and products, which in turn will give better bargaining power to the department.
Consistency of Products and Services
Since the purchasing department controls the actual purchase, even though it is based on the requirements of individual properties, the services and products acquired will be of consistent value and quality. If there is no single basis for bids, there will be inconsistency in costs as well as quality.
For instance, manager of property A might select more discounts by compromising on quality of paint, while property B manager might procure costlier paint being more interested in the quality. Hence, there will inconsistencies in the product used, as well as the amount spent across two properties. On the other hand, the purchase department would already have a set standard on the quality of paint to be procured and will entertain bids from qualified vendors based on volume.
A Working System for Tracking Warranty
It is important to know whether the product is still under warranty before replacing it since this can help the company save money. Many products and services are procured to maintain the property. But unless there is a computerized system for tracking the warranty, it would be almost impossible to know whether you should buy another unit or call for repairs or replacement.
It is best to have an internal system, where the property manager simply has to enter the identifying code and serial number of the product or service to know the warranty status. If the purchase department is maintaining records of all the warranties, then these records should be accessible at the property level.