Strategies for Retaining Terrific Tenants

Retaining outstanding tenants is highly profitable for property management, since it will reduce vacancies considerably and the workload will be substantially reduced as well. Hence, forming specific strategies for tenant retention is a fantastic idea, and should be given the highest priority, especially for the coming year, where competition is expected to be intense.

When you want to retain impressive tenants, the obvious objective would be tenant satisfaction, as a satisfied tenant is not likely to leave, provided other factors in his life are stable.

Check the Competition

This could be considered as an indirect way, but it is quite effective when you are ruling out the places, where your tenants are likely to relocate. Review similar properties in the area and check out the tenant profiles and vacancy rates on those properties. Consider what features and amenities they are offering, and see if your property is able to match or falls short. Make the necessary changes, do renovations, and upgrade to their level, so that your tenants are no longer inclined to move.


Check for New Developments

New building projects in your area means increased competition, and you can track these by paying a visit to the municipal council of your locality. New developments will not only upset the demand-supply ratio, but the new properties will also be offering incentives and better features to attract prospects. To counter this, property management can consider offering the same incentives or better features to their tenants.

Improving and Maintaining Impressive Relations with Tenants

Tenant satisfaction has a lot to do with the type of relationship property management develops and maintains with the tenant. Better features and incentives do play a major role in retaining tenants but ultimately if the relationship goes south, the tenant will think of moving. Here are some of the major points that can help property management build stellar relationships with residents.


Being Responsive and Attending to Issues Quickly


This is one of the most important aspects of maintaining remarkable relations. Facilitate open communication channels, where it is easy for tenants to contact property management. Ignoring emails or calls is a major mistake, even if the concerned matter is hardly worth noting. Delaying response could escalate issues, and repeatedly ignoring tenants will make them disregard the property and its rules.

However, being responsive is not enough, since you need to follow it up with actions to set the problem right. Many tenants are dissatisfied due to the delay in the execution of maintenance and repair requests. If it is not possible to carry out the request in time, then at least inform the tenant about the difficulties and ensure that the repairs will be done as soon as possible.

Having Pet Friendly Policies


With over 60% tenants having pets, it would be very helpful for property management to have pet friendly policies. For many tenants their pets have become a part of their families, and they would not hesitate to move if they feel their pets are uncomfortable or being discriminated against. Well, if they have a pet cobra, that type of pet should be frowned upon.

Syndicating Social Media for Real Estate Business

Usually realtors consider any person who wants to purchase, lease, or sell property as the ideal customer. However, in actuality this is not the case, as realtors work their own niche comprising of certain price ranges or specific pin codes and so on. Hence, everybody in the business is looking for more listings, buyers, and leads, but in the end the question remains as to who is the ideal customer.

It might be surprising to note that in many instances the ideal customer for a realtor is another realtor.

A real estate agent is capable of bringing a signed contract with money, and not a client. However, you might argue that other agents will be farming the area, where you have listed a home, and they might have potential buyers. This may be true, but you could befriend them and change the competition into a fruitful collaboration. Moreover, the best and easiest way to become friends in today's world is through social media.

Utilizing Social Media

When you are mostly representing purchasers, you would be relying on agents who have listings for your inventory. The reverse could be the case as well, where you are the listing agent and you require purchaser's agents for selling your properties. Finding a random seller or buyer with a complete executed contract and money is not probable, and therefore your ideal customer is another realtor. Befriending several realtors by syndicating power of social media platforms is quite easy.

One of the most important aspects of social media is that when you want to acquire loyal friends you need to be a marvelous friend. This means you will have to give more and act first, if you want to be the leader of your group. You cannot expect other realtors to in your circle to act first. You need to be proactive for instigating a reactive response, this type of approach works reliably well.  

Creating a Syndicate on Social Media

The first step would be to surfing and searching Facebook to find realtors whom you already know. These people could be realtors with whom you entered contracts in the past or other realtors in your office. Secondly, from now on, when you acquire a contract from another realtor, immediately follow them on Twitter, or become friends with them on Facebook and LinkedIn as well.

When you are browsing Facebook walls of other realtors and you come across latest listings, simply click on the share button. This will make their posts visible to your friends as well, which means the visibility of their properties will be almost doubled or trebled, depending on the number for friends in your circle. However, do not forget to insert a call to action in the sharing or your personal posting.

Virtual Networking

You could insert a call to action like - "My friend Robert has listed this excellent property in Charlotte. I always love working with Robert, and if you are looking in this area, please contact me". Since the agent's name is tagged by you, the agent will automatically receive an email from Facebook about him being mentioned in a post, and this will demonstrate your proactive help in marketing his listing. 

Property Management and Pet Friendly Policies

Many surveys show that over 65% of renters in the US are pet owners, and it not surprising to find many tenants give preference to properties that have pet friendly policies. Almost none of these renters would be likely to give up their pets to live in a particular property just because there are impressive features, an awesome fitness center, and the area is pleasant to live in but there is not any permission to keep pets.


Therefore, property management has to consider improving pet policies, if they want a larger share of this growing segment. Here are certain points that can help property manager or property owner frame better policies for pets.


Pet Screening and Waiving Deposits on Certain Pets


Property management can provide discounts or waive the pet deposit altogether, when the tenant is able to provide proof that their pet has undergone obedience schooling or some sort of professional training. Waiving the initial costs is a major incentive for pet owners; however, property management can still enforce strict regulations for damages caused by pets.


Secondly, prospective tenants should be encouraged to bring their pets along for their first interview, since it is much better to form an opinion of the pet when the property manager is able to observe the pet in-person. A pet interview might seem like an outlandish idea, but this approach has been found to be highly effective in spotting problematic pets. Pets such as pit bulls and Rottweiler’s are certainly pets that should require a hard look.


Avoid too many Regulations


Property management can avoid developing a discriminatory reputation towards pets by not having too many regulations. It is usually not necessary to specify the type, weight, and breed of pets, as long there is a list of dangerous pets that are not allowed. Making such a list, will be quite challenging, as many people are going beyond the traditional choices of fish, dogs, and cats. Small pigs, ferrets, rabbits, monkeys, and even snakes are some of the popular pets today.


Before excluding certain pets, it would be best to consult certain organizations like the Humane Society, and do some extensive research to know about pets that should be realistically excluded. Property management will have to make some clever judgment calls while creating new pet policies, especially when you consider the exotic taste most people are developing for pets.


Being Polite and Clear


Pet owners consider their pets to be part of their family, and hence the property manager has to be extra careful and polite while conveying the pet policy. For instance, the prospect would not want to hear why pets are generally a problem, and that you are levying huge fines and deposits to keep the area clean. Nevertheless, the property manager has to communicate the pet policy in a clear and concise manner, but at the same time sounding well disposed towards pets.


Enforcing Cleanliness


Investing in cans for dog waste is a smart idea, but property management should also implement fines for violating poop disposal norms. It is wrong to assume that all pet owners are responsible and will be picking up after their pets. In fact, some are lazy and will only adhere to common decency because of the fines. Sad to say, that is a strong contingent of human nature but most people are honest and wholesome.



How Property Management can Increase Rents without Increasing Vacancies

Property owners are allowed to increase the rent of their units each year but it is limited by a percentage fixed by the law. For 2015, the allowable rent increase is 2.5% for residential tenancies. However, the rent increase is more of a balancing act for property management and property owners, since they could end up with a loss if the increase has caused some vacancies to materialize. Here are some important points to consider, before you make a decision to hike rents in an economy that is nothing to write home about.


Assessing Tenants and the Market


Research has to be conducted in two areas, and property management will have to assess tenants' value and the state of existing rental market. In order to assess accurately consider the following points:


For Tenants


*      The last time rents were raised

*      Who are the valuable tenants and can you risk losing them

*      Can you consider excluding certain high-value tenants from the rent hike to avoid the risk of losing them


For the Rental Market


§  Review rental rates of similar properties and see how they match up with rent on your property

§  If your rates are higher than other, what features or amenities justify the high rate

§  Is the demand for your type of property higher than usual

§  Your current rate of vacancies

§  What type of units are more in demand, for instance smaller units compared to bigger ones, and should you consider hiking rent for only units with higher demand


Announcing the Increase in Rent


Obviously, nobody is going to be happy with an increase in rent, but the negative effect can be reduced largely by effective communication in a professional, clear, and polite manner. Use the official medium for announcing the hike, which is usually a printed notice on company's or property owner's letterhead. The language should be simple to understand, concise, and include some of the reasons for justifying the increase, so that number of complaints can be reduced before they occur.


Formulating a policy where you tie the increase to an indexed measurement would be an incredible and judicious idea, since that way you can avoid surprises and it can help tenants plan their budget accordingly. For instance, a consumer price index would be a magnificent point of reference to base the increase.


After the Announcement


After the increase in rent has been announced, be ready to respond to negative feedback and even outright anger and shock from tenants. Ready a list of legitimate justifications, which you feel were the main reasons behind the hike in rents. Some of the reasons that most tenants will understand them to be legitimate are higher costs of repairs and maintenance, expensive janitorial service, higher cost of utilities, and increased rates of property fees and taxes.


If you are planning to improve features and amenities for enhancing the living experience of tenants then make a point to mention it to them. However, first make sure, most tenants will value such improvements. There is not any point in increasing parking spaces for instance if everyone already has a spot to park and there are already enough extra spots available. Finally and moreover, if you have not raised the rent in a long time, point out the duration since the last increase in rent took place. But keep in mind that the economy has not improved in years so that date may not mean as much.  




Handling the Move-In Process in Property Management with Acumen

An effective move-in process involves much more than simply signing lease documents and providing the keys of the unit to the new tenants. Most property managers do not give much importance to the move-in process and are not even equipped with a thorough checklist. Even though this is a simple task, it can backfire if it is not thought of and executed properly.


Being a Professional Organization


The most common issue is when the tenant is moving out and is leaving a mess behind. Most tenants will claim that they are leaving the unit in exactly the same condition as when they moved in. The only solution to this problem is to have a checklist procedure that documents the state of the unit when the tenant is moving in. The property manager could document each item on paper and rank the state of the paint and other features of the unit, but this would be a lengthy and inefficient procedure.


Eliminating Ambiguity


Now, with the ready availability of digital devices, it would be ideal to document the state of the unit by using a digital camera. The property manager could click photos of the items or could take a walk-through video that documents everything in the unit. The photos and videos provide substantial proof of the state of the unit at move-in, and they do not leave any room for arguments or denials.


An effective move-in checklist will also provide a reference to check maintenance and repairs requests. Many tenants are in the habit of making repair requests for items that have not been damaged by normal wear and tear. When the move-in checklist is available, property manager can show proof of the item being in solid condition and that the tenant would have to bear the expense for repairing it.


First Rate Organizations know about First Impressions


Move-in checklists are actually meant for protecting the rights of property management as well as the tenant. The checklist will protect property management from costly damages, and the tenant from foregoing security deposit unnecessarily. Move-in checklist also provides a strong indicator to tenants that the property management is quite serious about the condition of the property, and does not tolerate any damages. The tenant will receive this message quite clearly, and will be more cautious in using the items and maintaining their condition.


If someone is moving into a rental unit and it seems the property management does not have it together, loses the renter’s paperwork, does not have keys at the moment for the unit, does not show up on time, the unit is not even cleaned yet, and so on indicates to most professionals and students (certainly their parents) that this property is not ran well. To most decent and dignified people, this could be wakeup call that perhaps this is not the place you want to be doing business with. First impressions matter in any professional setting.


Lastly, move-in checklists offer peace of mind to tenants, as they know their security deposit money will be safe and will be given back to them when they move out, if they maintain the place properly and avoid damages. Coordinating the document signing and move-in inspection is usually a daunting task for property management, but it has to be handled efficiently. It is best to have a protocol or a sequence of things that need to be completed within a given period.


Processing New Renters should be Routine


The lease document and move-in inspection and checklist are equally vital, and any mistakes can prove costly to both parties, especially to property management. However, tenants should not be rushed, and they should feel welcome, since they will be forming their opinions of the place when they are moving in as already indicated, and these impressions will play a major role when they will be extending their lease later.  



Is there Rising Demand for Smaller Units?

Many people are under the impression that Gen Y and millennial crowd prefer smaller living spaces. This may be true to a certain extent but the demand for micro units has not risen sharply. Micro units could be classified in the 200 to 600 square feet range, and in urban areas, these units may not be game changers. According to a report by Urban Land Institute, units that were below 500 square feet formed only 2.7% of the real estate market in 2012-2013.


Additionally, many developers have not considered this segment when they are developing new properties. Most developers are unwilling to downsize after considering the performance of micro units compared to larger floor areas. Even though minimum unit sizes have an appeal for the millennial segment, they are being redefined for millenials wanting more living area.


Small Spaces Sought After


Most property managers and property owners feel that young professionals in urban areas would consider favorably units with bigger areas that provide better living and entertaining facilities. Another interesting development is the millennial segment that is doing well in their professions and businesses. Many developers want cater to their needs and they feel increasing the square footage would be a sunny idea. In many properties, apartment units that were around 550 square feet were booked in record time.


Nevertheless, recent studies also show that the number of single adults and single households has grown steadily for the past seven decades, and so has their concentration in urban areas. Single adults seeking life in the midst of urban areas have a low rent paying capacity, and therefore prefer micro units. Secondly, studies also show that occupancy rate of smaller units were overall higher, and they had the best occupancy rates at around 91%, in new developments that were finished recently during the year.


The Hot Spots


Smaller units are appealing to those residents who simply prefer less living space, and those who like to live in trendy locations with limited finances. However, certain city councils seem to be opposed to the idea of smaller apartments and are implementing size restrictions on new developments. This is mainly to pacify residents who do not like living near micro units and the tenants they serve.


The Trend is Shooting towards Smaller Spaces


Most developers are now considering upping their square footage, since they not only want to meet the city council restrictions but also want to meet the demands of future renters who prefer increased footage areas. However, many developers whose average floor plan was in the 850 to 880 square feet range are considering switching to 650 square feet plans.



In view of all these developments, property management should focus on demographics that are able to afford larger floor areas, rather than restricting their efforts to only single household segment. Competitive pricing could play a role in attracting new prospects, but one has to be careful not to lower the rent drastically, since it might reflect on the state of the property. Secondly, young couples have dual incomes and they do not want to own a property, but prefer rentals with appealing features.  

How Property Management can Handle Challenges of Heavy Snowfall

Winter weather hits hard each year and property management is faced with the challenge of snow and ice on the property. Precipitation and snowfall has been steadily increasing each year, and this year it is expected to gain new momentum.


Apartment properties are especially at risk during heavy snowfall, since they can be dangerous and damaging to the property and residents. In 2013, there was a record seven feet of snow, which caused roofs to cave in, and FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Administration) had to declare a disaster designation.


For property management protecting the units and residents during heavy snowfall is a challenging task, and digging and clearing the snow is even more challenging and arduous. Many workers who are hired to remove snow sustain serious injuries every year, and some are even killed. Injuries and fatalities are usually caused by falls through skylights, from roof edges, and from aerial lifts and ladders.


Property management should regularly listen to weather forecasts, and before expected snow or stormy weather, devise an effective plan for safely removing the snow from elevated surfaces and roofs. Here are some tips for removing snow effectively and safely.


Use Special Equipment and De-Icing Agents


One of the best ways to avoid injuries and fatalities is not going on top of the roof to clear the snow. Instead, use draglines, snow rakes with extensions, and de-icing agents. Property management could also consider installing de-icing system on the structure, comprising of heating elements that will minimize buildup of snow on the eaves and roofs.


Mark Hidden Hazards


Falling is the leading cause of injuries and fatalities, and many of these falls are through vents, roof drains, and skylights. Property management can make it safer for workers by providing a map of the roof and highlight these hidden hazards, so that workers are aware what lies underneath the snow at those points on the roof.


Consider the Load of the Snow


Snow removal should be done in a systematic and uniform manner to avoid unbalanced loading. Certain important things have to be considered before the removal task, including the weight of the workers, equipment, and the snow's weight. Estimating the weight of snow, and the weight a roof can cope with, is quite difficult. The focus should be on uniformly lessening the load, rather than removing the snow completely.


Protective Gear and Safety Rules


Property management should make sure workers are wearing the appropriate clothing and they should be equipped with protection gear just in case they actually do fall. While ladders can be used for accessing rooftops, it is important to see that workers are not using a shovel or snow rake while climbing or working from the ladder. Injury and illness is also possible from too much exertion and exposure to the intense cold.



Make sure workers are wearing warm clothing suitable for extreme cold, to avoid hypothermia and frostbite. Provide adequate rest breaks to avoid exhaustion, back injuries, and dehydration. These conditions are known to cause falls and serious injuries and even fatalities which is a serious detriment to the entire operation and business. 

An E-Payment System is the Best Option for Collecting Rent Payments

There has been an alarming increase in book manipulation by property management staff to steal rent payments and at the same time causing undue stress on residents and other property management employees. This is because some residents are being wrongly evicted which does not help anyone. These residents paid their rent on time but because of internal theft, their rent payment is never recorded.


There have been cases where the site employees have diverted large amounts of rent payments to their personal accounts, and rent checks have been reported stolen from drop boxes.


Ultimately, it is the paying tenants, the property owner, and the property management company that suffers. Even though most of these crimes are solved, residents have to endure inconvenience, stress, and even agony, including legal payments and issues as well. The consequence is a much greater loss than the rent payment or money order was worth.


The best solution to these issues is implementing a secure electronic payment system. Such systems can now integrate seamlessly with payment sources and many popular property management software, thus minimizing the risk of fraud and theft. For residents who do not have credit cards or bank accounts, can still make cash transactions and make their rent payments through electronic money order from anywhere.


The level of integration available in today's systems enables cash payment transactions from numerous retail locations, which can be done securely and without risk of employee theft. Tenants do not have to make a separate trip to purchase a money order and then deposit it into the drop box. In most instances, they can make their payments while they are shopping for their groceries.


Integrated electronic payments systems provide several advantages to tenants, as well as property management.


Security and Convenience to Tenants


Tenants can make their rent payments securely through an integrated electronic payment system. Retailers or shops in the area are designated, which offer the electronic portal for payments. Residents can make their payments any time, even after office hours, and there is no necessity of depositing payments in drop boxes.


Helps Property Management in Eliminating Internal Fraud


Identity theft and other types of fraud are possible when the checks provide personal information, account, and routing numbers. This information can be easily stolen and manipulated from checks, whereas in an electronic payment system, all this information remains secure and it is not easy to pilfer.


Efficient Process


An electronic payment system will eliminate the paper trail at the property office, and employees will not be able to manipulate account books or even a record keeping system kept on a computer. In fact, employees are not involved in the whole process, and only an acknowledgement is received by the office that the particular resident has made his rent payment.


Real Time Transactions


Rent payments can be made in real time from anywhere. Even when the tenant buys an electronic money order, the payment is posted to the tenant's account in real time.


Integration with Property Management Software


Certain property management software allows full integration with electronic payment systems, while others can interface. Both ways the payments are accepted according to conditions and rules mandated in the system, which ensures a safe and secure transaction and easy processing. 



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