Tips to Make Move-In Day Better for Tenants

It is necessary for property management to view things from the point of view of tenants to render better service. One of the difficulties many tenants face is on the move-in day. Considering that, most families move from their residence, once every two to three years, move-in day holds quite a bit of significance and they would like it to be as smooth and easy as possible. Property management can use this opportunity to have meaningful interaction and be helpful, which will in fact set the tone of relationship with the new tenant.


What they say is true: first impressions are pivotal.   


According to studies, most tenants come to a decision whether they would want to renew their lease, during the first two days after moving in. Therefore, it is paramount for property management to focus on move-in day. Here are some tips that can be helpful in creating the right impression.


Keep Lease Signing and Move-In Day Separate


Signing the lease can take time, as the property manager might have to explain various terms and conditions in the document. At such a time, the tenant cannot have the truck with all the belongings waiting outside, as the rental will simply add up. The property manager will also not be able to provide the required service, as he will be involved with the lease signing procedure.


Make Sure the Unit is Ready


The unit must be ready before the move-in date, and this is often overlooked. Property management team must have a checklist, and inspect the unit thoroughly the day before, to make sure everything is ready for the tenant to turn the unit into a home. Reacting when something is noticed by the new tenant sets a bad impression.


Add a Personal Touch to the Inspection Procedure


In many properties, the inspection form is handed over to the tenants, and they are asked to fill it out and submit it to the management office. This might seem convenient for tenants, as they are usually busy on their move-in day. However, it lacks the personal touch, and if a staff member assists them in the unit's inspection, it leaves a much better impression, and property management has the opportunity to make sure everything is in order.


Even a Small Gesture Counts


Picking up and carrying even a single box will show that you are helpful, and it will stick in the memory of the new tenant. The gesture might be small, but it reveals your attitude, and it will be appreciated. After the move-in is complete, have the maintenance staff stop by and introduce themselves to the new family.


A Welcome Gift or Treat



Property management can surprise new tenants by leaving a welcome note along with a pitcher of refreshing drink on their dinner table. Even simply leaving bottled water in the fridge will be appreciated. For new tenants, it is highly convenient, when they realize they have forgotten to shop for toilet paper. For just a few dollars, property management can make a fine impression by leaving a toilet roll. 

How to Lease to Frequent Travelers

Many companies employ expert staff to fulfill important contracts, and there are many such professionals who are looking for a comfortable and convenient place to stay. This is a lucrative segment for property management to consider, since these professionals are sometimes paid handsomely and the company is usually ready to reimburse their employees for the price of the renting charge.


Even though this presents a salient opportunity for a property manager to decrease vacancies, maintaining current contact info and collecting the rent can sometimes be challenging. 


To simplify these challenges, property management will need to maintain a proper contact record, plus certain protocols for protecting the property from legal and other issues. For instance, how to respond to an emergency when the tenant is a traveling nurse who is away on assignment to some foreign land. It is therefore essential to design special riders, agreement information, or terms and conditions in the lease for such tenants. Here are certain situations to consider while designing special riders.


Different Communication Platforms


When the tenant is going to remain away from the unit for a month or more, and that too frequently, then it is important to have multiple contact points. Property manager should be able to communicate with the tenant through written correspondence, phone, email, or by texting. This way, there will always be some platform available to communicate when the others have failed. Secondly, contact information must be updated at least once in three months to ensure correct information is available in the tenant's file. Having an online portal would be the best way for facilitating payment of rent and updating current contact info.


Accessing Tenant's Vehicle


There could be many situations where the vehicle of the tenant will have to be moved. It could be due to resurfacing of the parking lot, or during general maintenance of the building. Consider whether tenant should leave the key of the vehicle in the custody of some local person, or whether the vehicle should be stored off-site. If neither is possible, then fix the responsibility for towing and storing the vehicle.


Protocol when the Tenant is missing


First, determine when the tenant would be considered missing, if he has not returned to the unit when expected. If the property manager is unable to reach the tenant directly, then lay down a procedure for contacting interested parties of the tenant, or the police if you have too.


Protocol when there is Property Damage or Natural Disasters


A natural disaster, or plumbing problem, or fire originating from another unit can damage the unit of the tenant who is away. Under such circumstances, there should be a protocol in place to access the unit for preventing, or repairing such damage.


Policy for Guests


Tenants, who are away for a long time, usually employ house sitters or engage services that will take care of their plants or pets. Property management should design policies that will take into account the requirements of such tenants, but at the same time protect the property from issues of sub-letting. Secondly, proper security procedures should be in place to keep track of people who are entering such a unit. 



Improving Customer Service in Property Management

Providing a good service is the best sales and marketing tool, especially for property management. Simply mentioning on the property website that the best service will be provided is not enough, as people expect you to deliver. Prospects or potential tenants often check social media and tenant reviews to find out whether they can indeed expect impressive and professional service.


In today's world of networks and connectivity it is not easy to get away with poor service, and in fact most people expect to be surprised by excellent service, since many companies are able to deliver this now. Here are a few tips that can improve the quality of service considerably.


Listen Attentively to Residents


Each tenant is different, and will have their set of requirements. It is therefore important to know you tenants more by initiating conversations and asking pertinent questions. Now only will property manager learn new things about tenants, but also establish more connectedness with residents, which can result in more loyalty. Property manager should also be able to customize responses according to the type of tenant he is responding to, and avoid unnecessary confrontations.


Finding Opportunities to Connect


In a large community, it is often difficult to maintain close relations with all tenants. However, property management should not miss any situation where there is a possibility to interact and establish marvelous communication. Simply things like sending thank-you notes as per the situation or acknowledging an important event in their lives can go a long way in forming outstanding relationships. Additionally, make sure all office staff is able to recognize tenants when they call or walk into the office.


Quicker Responses


Responding to questions, complaints, and issues of tenants is the basic duty of property management. However, you can stay ahead of the competition when you have a very quick response time. The level of your service will significantly improve when you are able to respond within a few hours, even if it is just acknowledging the complaint, and assuring them that it will be attended to shortly.


Deliver as Promised


The result counts the most, and if you are unable to deliver on your promise, no amount of strong or cohesive relationship will make any difference. If you are setting certain expectations, make sure you are able to deliver. Simply mentioning various services and not delivering can have much more negative impact, compared to offering fewer services and delivering them. Trust is built by not only doing what was promised but also doing it on time.


Identify Areas for Delivering Special Services


For rising above the competition, it is now necessary for property management to identify areas for delivering specialized or standout services. In a service-oriented market, it is not possible to survive without providing basic services, but that is provided by almost everybody, and when you need to compete, you need to think of unique ways that can surprise your tenants with services that they would not normally expect. For instance, providing some extra service for pets or having much better security system will definitely impress tenants.



Handling Competition from New Construction, New Apartment Complexes

According to reputed and trusted financial sources, the level of construction of new rental units is the highest it has ever been in the last forty years. This is an amazing sign, since it indicates the economy is still struggling because more people are looking to rent than to own. However, this also means intense competition in the rental market, and property owners or property management have to think of various ways of staying ahead in the competition.


Almost all the newly constructed units will have better amenities and features, which is going to attract prospective and motivated renters. On the other hand, older properties will still have their existing features and amenities, which may not look as appealing as the new features available in modern units. Therefore, how can these properties compete effectively to maintain their profits and reduce vacancies? Here are certain suggestions that might prove very helpful.


Maintain the Property in Top Condition


If costly renovations and adding new features are not possible, you can still be in the competition by maintaining the property in top condition. Dirt and clutter are the two main enemies when you want the property to look pristine. Maintain a neat and beautiful landscape, have the trash picked up regularly, and include policies that eliminate clutter. All this will improve the looks of the property and the first impression should be full of smiles.  


Highlight the Best Features of Your Property


Consider all the features of the property and pick out the best ones. Your property could be having the best view in the area, you might be providing high speed Wi-Fi, or it could be the new pool. Take pride in these features, brag about them, and broadcast them, whenever you have the chance. Make sure you prominently display all the best parts of your property.


Take Measures to Retain Terrific Tenants


When the property is already having an acceptable rate of occupancy, then steps should be taken to retain fantastic and reliable tenants. Focus on implementing policies to improve services and start initiatives that will keep tenants happy. Retaining existing tenants, works out much less expensive than finding new ones.


Using Marketing Initiatives of Your Competition to Your Advantage


New properties coming up in your area will start advertising, and that can be a positive detail for you, since more people will be driven to the area. Use clever marketing campaigns to turn this influx to your advantage, and highlight your community to be the most respected and admired for quality services in the area. 


Plan a Facelift


When new properties are being developed in your area, it is imperative to update certain features on your property. Carefully calculate available budget and consider what investments you need to do to stay in the competition. Modern tenants are mainly looking for convenience and reduced costs. Improving broadband and cable connectivity could bring about the break you may be seeking. Sometimes, it could be simply pruning overgrown trees and sprucing up the landscaping. Consider the demographics and preferences of your tenants and invest in updating features accordingly.



Fire Prevention Tips for a Property Manager

fire preventionFire is one of the biggest disasters that can destroy any property. Many aspects can increase the risk of fire on a property, and a property manager should be aware of such hazards and take proactive steps that can help prevent fires. Property management should also consider various measures the will help in minimizing the damage, in case a fire does happen. Here are important tips for fire safety.


Assessing Fire Risks on the Property


This is the most important step for preventing fires, and property manager should evaluate every unit for fire hazards and risks. Possible fire risks can include faulty or old wiring, faulty or old electrical equipment and appliances, and the type of tenants living in the unit.


For instance, units having toddlers are more at risk, since children are more likely to cause fire accidents. Secondly, units with old or disabled tenants are also high risk, since they may not be able to effectively prevent or control a fire if it does occur. Based on these risk factors, property management should take steps to educate all tenants about fire hazards, and install fire-warning devices.


Inspection of Equipments and Wiring


Periodic inspections of wiring, chimneys, heating equipment, and appliances should be carried out to spot fire hazards. Special attention should be given to these things while carrying out annual inspections of each unit. Heating equipment such as boilers can pose serious fire hazard when they have not been maintained properly. Inspections should be done by professional technicians, who will not only spot a fire hazard, but also conduct the required maintenance for maintaining outstanding efficiency of the equipment.


Secondly, chimneys should be cleaned periodically, as the build-up is a common cause of fire accidents. Lastly, do not ignore the wiring. Redoing old wiring is costly, but it is worth the investment, when you consider the loss it can cause if it is the reason a major fire erupts.


Fire Safety Policies


Certain fire safety policies can be included in the lease agreement. Such rules should be enforced and any violations should be dealt with strictly. One of the major causes of fires in apartments is smoking indoors. Hence, it would be wise to prohibit indoor smoking explicitly in the lease document, and post warning signs on the property.


If the property manager smells cigarette smoke inside any unit, he can immediately send a warning notice to the tenant. Another major cause of fire in apartments is unattended candles. This is a bit tricky, since you cannot ban the use of candles inside an apartment. However, property management can always discourage the use of candles indoors, and provide advisories about its dangers.


Evacuation Procedure in Case of Fire


Unfortunately, whatever preventive measures property management implements, fire accidents cannot be ruled out totally. Therefore, to minimize injuries and fatalities, effective evacuation procedures should be charted out, depending on the layout of the buildings. All tenants should be made aware of these procedures, and a mock drill can be held annually, to make sure nobody forgets crucial instructions. 

How Property Management can Expedite Evictions

In the eviction process, the main delay for property management is often caused in serving the tenant personally with the summons and complaint for unlawful detainer. Most occupants are aware of the legal process and they know that they need to be legally served for the court to take the next step in making the judgment for wrongful possession. When they know this legal process, they will usually try to lengthen the time of the eviction by a couple of weeks or more, by avoiding the person who serves the summons and complaints. If it is not possible to serve the tenant personally then the unlawful detainer can also be served to another person residing in the unit, or to the tenant's employer. Such a person should be 18 years old and of sound mind. If there is no substitute person who can be served the summons, then the court permits the server to affix the unlawful detainer document on the entrance door of the unit, and mail a copy of the same to the tenant by certified mail. This method of serving the summons is allowed only after the court has issued a signed order permitting this type of serving. The court will usually allow this method only when the process server has made at least three attempts to serve the summons on three consecutive days, at different timings, morning, afternoon, and evening. When the occupant is not served personally, then he gets 15 days for filing the response documents, instead of the usual five days. Hence, it is important for property manager to make it possible for the process server to serve the document personally, to avoid the delay. Property manager should provide the process server with more information about the occupant/s, so that he is personally able to serve the unlawful detainer successfully and quickly. Here are some ways property management can help the process server, and avoid delays in the eviction process. Best Timings Property management can notice when the occupant leaves the premises for work. For instance, if the occupant were working the late shift, then early mornings after he has returned would be an ideal or terrific time for the process server. Place of Work Address It is not so easy to avoid the process server at work, compared to home. Many occupants simply do not answer the door when the server knocks. However, they cannot escape the server at the work place. Hence, provide the server with the address/s where the occupant is working. Parking Space and License Space Number Property management should provide the process server with the description of the car, the license plate number, and the number of the parking space allotted to the occupant. If the stake out is going to be the only means of serving the notice personally, then the place where the car is parked would be a fantastic spot to wait. Providing Gate Code or Keys The property manager should provide the process server with the gate keys or codes, so that he does not have to wait until someone exits or enters the property to reach the occupant's unit.

Some Methods to Handle Clutter for Property Managers

Clutter is a challenging situation for property management, since the looks of the property play an important role in attracting new prospects. If applicants are confronted with units that are cluttered and messy, it leaves a poor impression. It is possible for the property manager to overlook the clutter that could be slowly accumulating on the balconies and patios of the units. It is therefore a prudent idea to take a round early in the morning, and view the property from the standpoint of a prospective tenant. A property manager is seldom lucky to see clean and neat balconies. Most often, balconies and patios are filled with old furniture and stacks of boxes in addition to the regular table and lawn chairs. This is a common problem for property management and here are a few tips to keep this in check. Be Clear from the Start Being clear from the start will save property manager many issues later. List the things that are specifically not permitted on patios and balconies, and this list could be included in the terms and conditions, or as a clause in the lease document. When tenants move in, they can be given a list of what items are acceptable. Include many things as possible, so that you do not appear very restrictive; however, make sure there are no items that would give the balcony a cluttered appearance. Enforce No Clutter Policy Unless you enforce the no clutter policy, tenants will not be inclined to follow it. There should be penalties or consequences if the anti-clutter rules are violated. Treat the violation as any infraction of the lease, and make the consequences more severe, if the tenant does not heed the warnings. Start the warnings with a notice of violation of the lease terms, and provide a period for the tenant to clear out the items, which are specifically not permitted. Fines and penalties can be levied if the tenant fails to take any action. Provide Incentives In the list of community activities and events, include a contest for the best patio or garden. You will find many tenants to be quite creative, and some might even manage to store things without the place appearing cluttered. You could allow such creativity, provided it does not include items that are specifically not permitted on patios and balconies. Offer Storage Solutions Many families have quite a bit of stuff, and they really might not have sufficient space, especially if the area of the unit is small. One option would be to provide smart storage solutions in the unit itself. If renovations are not possible, then property management can take a proactive stand and partner with some storage facilities in the area, which will help in providing tenants with a discounted rate. Rules against clutter can be quite difficult to enforce, and some tenants might not appreciate it. However, property management should make tenants understand the value of a good-looking property and that building such an image is beneficial for all.

Fair Housing Policies and Tenant Screening

Choosing a TenantAccording to Fair Housing Act of 1968, it is illegal for property owners and property management to refuse tenancy to an individual based on religion, sex, race, national origin, disability, or family status. However, a property manager has to consider the prospective tenant's finances and ability to pay the rent. Therefore, property management should have strict policies based on consistency and fairness, regarding screening of prospective tenants. Here are some important criteria that can be implemented into the screening process.

Establishing Income Level Requirement

This might involve extra work, but it will save a lot of time in the end for a property manager. When there are different types of properties, or different types of units on a single property, property management can work out the minimum income a prospect should be earning for renting the particular unit. For example, if there is a one-bedroom unit that has a monthly rent of $600, the minimum income requirement could be fixed at $1,800. All applicants for such a unit whose income is below the required level are to be declined without exceptions.

Policies for Reviewing Credit Report

A credit report is a strong indicator of the prospective tenant's finances. However, there are many ways to judge a credit report, especially when the economy is not doing well. Many property managers consider various aspects, apart from the figures shown in the credit report. Hence, if you are willing to accept a tenant with a low credit score, while considering other aspects, then you should consistently apply the same policy to all prospective tenants. Once a particular standard is fixed, it should be uniformly applied without any exceptions.

Rental History

Considering rental history of a prospective tenant is quite important, as it provides a picture of what type of tenant the person has been in the past. An application can be legitimately denied if the rental history shows, damaged homes, evictions, and/or consistent late payments of rents. Again, if you are basing your policies on rental history, then they should be consistently applied for all, and not be biased towards a specific group.

Employment History

Job stability is an important factor to consider while screening prospective tenants. Evaluating employment history of the individual will provide information about how long the person is able to hold on to a job. However, it is difficult to frame an exact policy about reviewing job history, as many factors can come into play regarding job changes. Individuals, who are just starting out on their career might have to change jobs to find better opportunities according to the experience they have gained.

Secondly, a person who has recently moved into the area might not have enough time in a particular job, which might indicate instability. Hence, it is important to carefully chart out all types of exceptions and apply them uniformly.

While screening tenants it is important not to take cultural background, disability, familial status, sex, or race into consideration. Secondly, whatever standards are adopted for screening various other aspects, they should be uniformly applied to all.

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