Property Management Tips and Tricks
If you’re a property manager for a multifamily apartment building or community, especially a larger one, you are probably busier than ever. Between juggling current resident issues, onboarding new residents, and navigating changing health and safety guidelines, you’re likely stretched thin. Fortunately, there are a few simple property management tips you can follow to help free up time and make property management easier.
Learning to do more with less can feel challenging as there are only so many tasks that one person can handle during the space of a business day. Successfully managing more tasks in a short space of time takes planning and strategy, but can help to alleviate stress that would not be manageable in the long run otherwise.
Here are a few property management tips and tricks to make future property management easier and more efficient.
Property Management Tips and Tricks
Property management basics argue that a property managers’ goal, aside from ensuring resident satisfaction, is to increase efficiency and optimize operations. To find areas of improvement for your residential property, start by answering the following questions:
- What task or tasks take too much of my time? – Oftentimes, there are tasks that you want to focus on that wind up taking a backseat to repetitive and sometimes tedious, but necessary tasks. If you find yourself spending significant amounts of time on repetitive administrative tasks, it may be worthwhile for you to consider outsourcing those tasks to a support employee, app, or service. Even outsourcing one task can save precious minutes, even hours of your time. Over the space of a year, those minutes can add up.
- What are my tenants’ most common complaints? – Providing a desirable community environment starts with observing tenants most common complaints, or even surveying tenants for their most desired amenity ideas. Consider giving tenants a suggestion box or an outlet to provide anonymous feedback about issues they’re having around the community. Proactively addressing complaints and suggestions can show current and potential tenants that they are valued and also help you find operational issues you might not have realized were a concern.
- How can I be better organized? – Even the best time management skills can be challenged by an overflow of jobs and demands. Consider scheduling or batching your time instead of knocking things out as they come up. There are several apps and services available that can help to streamline processes or organize anything from handling rent payments to accepting packages.
- What are the recurring design problems or tasks that cause you the most grief? – Each multifamily building or community has its share of issues. It may sometimes feel like a revolving door of problems – as soon as one thing is fixed, another problem takes its place. That said, many communities have issues that, for one reason or another, seem to pop up regularly. This could be anything from package theft problems to complications stemming from a lack of parking. Whatever the particular issue, take some time to brainstorm solutions and hopefully grant both you and your tenants some relief.
Common Problems and Solutions For Property Managers
Now that you’ve taken some time to reflect on opportunities for improvement around your community, here are a few other common problems you may want to consider adding to your list, as well as some solutions that other property managers have turned to for help.
The meteoric rise of e-commerce platforms has changed the way that people shop for and purchase goods. Over the past two decades, e-commerce sales have grown from around 1% of total retail sales in 2000 to 16% in 20191. And, since the start of the pandemic, e-commerce penetration has seen 10 years of growth in less than 3 months – with the percent of total sales reaching nearly 35%2.
With Americans shopping online now more than ever – with some properties experiencing a 60-67% increase over normal package volume3 – many property managers are struggling to keep up with package management. This results in two key issues for multifamily communities:
- Porch Pirates – An increased supply of packages, especially those left ready and waiting on resident doorsteps, has created a new subset of people who seek to steal other’s possessions. If the community or building entrance isn’t monitored, packages left on a rental unit’s doorstep are vulnerable to package theft. Even installing security cameras might not be enough of a package theft deterrent.
- Package Management – The steady deluge of packages means that a good portion of your job could soon be devoted to accepting, organizing, and delivering tenants’ packages. In a multifamily apartment community, especially for those with 100+ units, this could result in a massive overflow that stresses mailroom capacity.
A solution for this problem is simple and aesthetically pleasing: smart package lockers, such as those provided by Parcel Pending. Smart lockers free up property managers’ time by creating an easy, secure, and contact-free way to handle daily deliveries.
Smart residential lockers provide a number of important benefits, including:
- Contact-Free Package Pick-Up: Residents can scan a barcode in the delivery notification or push a button in the mobile app to access their packages without using a touchscreen.
- Efficiency: Smart lockers streamline the delivery process, and our flexible solutions reduce the space needed to accept deliveries.
- Advanced: Our flexible API allows for seamless integration with property management software systems.
- Weatherproof: Durable lockers protect packages from sun, rain, wind, and snow.
- Accessible: Multi-sized lockers accept most package sizes, and our ADA-compliant supports any user.
- Versatile: Multiple locker sizes to accept most packages.
- Mobile-Friendly: Residents can receive delivery alerts, manage packages, and retrieve deliveries with their smartphones.
- Customizable: Parcel Pending offers custom locker configurations, color options, or wraps to match property aesthetics or branding.
Managing Potential Tenant Screening
A large part of any property owner’s job is meeting with and screening a prospective tenant for residency in the community. Although it would make the job significantly easier to just accept an application from anyone who shows up and wants to sign a lease, a property owner’s job is to bring in residents who will pay rent promptly and be good neighbors to existing residents.
An ideal prospective tenant will meet the following criteria:
- Good credit
- Steady employment
- Have a monthly income that is 3 times higher than the rent
- No prior evictions
- No prior convictions
In fact, according to TransUnion, “84% of landlords say that non-payment is one of their top concerns about new tenants”4. But, to ensure the screening is thorough and correct, the process can take a lot of time. Here are some tips property managers can use to streamline potential tenant screening:
- Create a Pre-Screening Survey – You likely already spend a good amount of time answering phone calls and emails. Instead of simply allowing a general application (wherein applicants can ignore criteria like monthly income), consider using a survey or Google Form to help separate the qualified applicants from the non-qualified applicants.
- Use a Consistent Screening Method – However you go about screening residents, it’s important to find a system that works and stick to it in order to consistently yield good results. If you change up how you interview, what you ask, or what your must-have criteria are, it’s much harder to compare and contrast responses or gauge who will be the best fit for your community.
- Perform Background Checks – Your first priority should always be the protection of your current residents. It’s critical that you do everything in your power to ensure you’re not bringing dangerous or untrustworthy people into your apartment community. Background checks can help you accomplish the following:
- Protect you and the community from liability
- Help prevent non-payments
- Allow you to confirm that the prospective resident or residents are who they say they are
- Provide both existing and potential tenants with peace of mind as they know that you are serious about their safety
Managing Rent Payment
According to a CitiBank survey, 59% of Americans have paid a bill late in their lifetime, and 88% of those have done so in the past 12 months5. Why are Americans missing due dates? Survey respondents cited forgetfulness (61%), lack of available funds (42%), as well as being busy with work and family obligations (39%) as the top reasons.
Rental property payments are most property managers’ primary concern. Why not make it easier for both you and your tenants by making payments virtual and automatic? This allows you to easily collect, track, and organize payments, thereby reducing the amount of time you spend worrying about whether or not a resident has paid their rent.
Since the vast majority of all late payments arise from people simply forgetting that they need to pay, it might be wise to use a property management tool such as an automatic rent payment system or one with a payment scheduling feature to help facilitate this process.
Using tools or systems like this can benefit both tenants and property managers. Here are a few of the most important benefits:
- Set and Forget – Tenants prefer to set up recurring payments so that once a bill is scheduled, they won’t have to think about it again. This allows them to avoid the hassle of sending a check in the mail or delivering it to the leasing office by hand.
- Auto Ledger – Automated rent collection systems categorize and record rent collection into an account ledger, making it easy to see who has paid rent and who hasn’t.
- Reduce Late Rent Payments – Even if tenants don’t use autopay, they can enable notifications and reminders that rent is coming due. This saves you the trouble of tracking residents down and harassing them for payment, which can become a sore spot in the tenant-landlord relationship.
Managing Access to Amenity Spaces
In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, some communities are requiring reservations for the use of common areas, or amenity spaces like the pool or workout room. Depending on the number of amenities or common areas your community offers, this can easily become a time-consuming process – especially for an in-demand amenity or common area.
Consider investing in a resident amenity scheduling software to make life easier for both you and your residents. Note that this may also come as a part of your property management software and not require a further investment on your part.
A resident amenity scheduler enables a resident to reserve an amenity for any available time slot and receive reservation alerts and reminders so they don’t miss their time slot. This is perfect for managing resident use of amenity spaces like the pool, gym, common area, or flex workspace.
Property management staff can easily control the hours of operation, the number and duration of time slots, capacity, and even how far out residents can make reservations.
We also recommend that properties follow the suggestions noted below in addition to enforcing advanced reservations for the use of any indoor amenities. Alternatively, if space and weather permits, consider moving some gym equipment outside to allow for better ventilation and proper social distancing between residents.
Here are some additional things to consider when it comes to shared amenity spaces around the rental property:
- Request residents wear a mask at all times while using shared amenities.
- Do not allow residents to bring any outside guests into shared amenity spaces.
- Place stickers and decals on the ground to remind residents to keep at least 6-feet apart at all times.
- Utilize posters to remind residents to wash their hands and maintain proper social distancing at all times.
- Provide complimentary hand-sanitizer stations for use by both current and prospective tenants.
- Provide complimentary disinfecting wipes so that residents can wipe down any shared amenity space features before and after use.
While you may want to consider monitoring residents to ensure they are adhering to social distancing guidelines around the whole building, utilizing an amenity scheduling software can relieve some of the workload caused by rapidly changing health guidelines and provide peace of mind for your staff and other residents.
Tips and Tricks
There are a variety of issues that property managers face on a daily basis. By addressing larger concerns such as package overflow, rental payments, and tenant screening, you free up time to focus on the more important matters like property maintenance requests and issues. This newly freed-up time can even allow for more time to focus on the customer service aspect of property management.
Your time is valuable and limited, therefore it’s paramount you take advantage of these property management tips and tricks in order to optimize your operational efficiency. Doing so can provide noticeable benefits for both you and your residents! And once you have happy residents, you will, in turn, see better tenant retention.
Adding new amenities may not be at the top of most properties’ to-do list right now. But if package management has gotten out of hand, Parcel Pending is available to help. Reach out to a member of Parcel Pending’s team to find a solution that fits a range of unique property needs and budgets.
- Sentence, R. Econsultancy. 20+ stats that show how online retail is changing. (25 July, 2019). https://econsultancy.com/stats-show-online-retail-ecommerce-changing/.
- McKinsey & Company. Five Fifty: The Quickening. (2020). https://www.mckinsey.com/business-functions/strategy-and-corporate-finance/our-insights/five-fifty-the-quickening#.
- Parcel Pending. (2020, June 18). Multifamily Communities Should Expect Holiday-Level Package Volume Throughout 2020 Per Parcel Pending [Press Release]. Retrieved from https://www.parcelpending.com/news/
- Collatz, A. TransUnion. Landlords Reveal the 4 Most Important Tenant Screening Factors. (5 September, 2016). https://www.mysmartmove.com/SmartMove/blog/top-4-screening-factors-revealed-by-landlords.page?.
- Citigroup. Citi Simplicity Says Goodbye to Frustration of Late Fees. (14 May, 2013). https://www.citigroup.com/citi/news/2013/130514a.htm.