If you’re a property manager for a multifamily apartment, especially a large unit, you’re probably busier than ever. Between juggling the problems of current residents as well as onboarding new ones, you’re stretched thin—your time is finite and there’s only so much that one person can handle in the space of 24 hours.
Being Superman may have not been in the description of your management agreement and although you might successfully manage your Superman impression for a short space of time, you won’t be able to keep it up in the long run. Fortunately for you, there are simple things you can do to make managing a property easier and free up more of your time. Below, we’ll discuss some property management tips and tricks so that you can expend your energy in the most efficient way possible. Make the future property management easier and read on to discover more!
Property Management Tips and Tricks
So, your goal is to increase efficiency and optimize your operation, right? We assume that would be part of the property management basics. If so, then it would behoove you to take the time to write down some pressure points in your operation in order to find areas of potential relief. Ask yourself the following:
- What task takes too much of my time? – There are tasks that you should be focusing on and others that are superfluous. Should you be spending an inordinate amount of time on a job, particularly one that could be done more efficiently by an employee, app, or service, it may be worth it to look for avenues of relief. There are plenty of small steps you can take or changes you can make to save minutes, if not hours, of your time. Over the space of a year, those minutes add up.
- What are my tenants’ most common complaints? – If you wish to provide a place that people want to live in, you need to ask your tenants for areas where they think you can improve. Make sure that they have the ability to make suggestions or anonymous complaints about problems that they’re having. By showing them that you are not only open to feedback but responsive to it, you make them feel as if they are valued.
- How can I be better organized? – Sometimes, stress just comes down to inefficient time management skills coupled with an overflow of jobs and demands. So, if you want to reduce stress, it helps to schedule order your day rather than simply knock things out as you go. There are several apps and services that can streamline processes or organize anything from rent payments to accepting packages on your behalf.
- What are the areas or tasks that cause you the most grief? – Each multifamily unit has its fair share of issues. Typically, it’s a revolving door where one thing gets fixed only to have another problem arise. That said, most have particular issues, which for some reason or another seem to pop up regularly. This could be anything from problems with packages being stolen to complications stemming from a lack of parking. Whatever the particular hitch, it’s crucial that you brainstorm ways to address them, granting both you and your tenants relief.
Common Problems and Solutions For Property Managers
Now that you’ve taken some time to jot down reflections and your areas of weakness, it’s helpful to speak generally about common problems that property managers run into—then discuss solutions that many have been turning to.
Over the past 2 decades, e-commerce has grown from around 1% of retail sales in 2000 to 16% in 2019. The meteoric rise of Amazon has changed the way that people shop and purchase goods. According to Amazon’s 2018 Q4 summary, they shipped more than 4 billion packages last year alone. This steady increase of packages being delivered has resulted in two issues for property managers:
- Porch pirates – The increased supply of ready and waiting goods has created a subset of people who seek to steal other’s possessions. If packages are left waiting in front of a rental unit’s door or sitting in a mailroom, especially if your property is not gated, those packages are vulnerable to theft. Even if people have a security camera, it doesn’t always work as the best package theft deterrent.
- Package management – The steady deluge of packages means that a good portion of your job is now devoted to accepting, organizing, and delivering tenants packages. In a multifamily apartment community with 100+ units, that could result in a massive overflow that stresses your mailroom capacity.
A solution for this problem is simple and aesthetically pleasing—smart package lockers, such as those provided by Parcel Pending. These lockers free up a property manager’s time by creating a quick, easy, and secure way to handle daily deliveries. Smart residential lockers accomplish the following:
- Reduce operational costs that would be spent on accepting, sorting, holding, and delivering packages.
- Increase resident satisfaction by giving them a worry-free delivery system. They can retrieve packages when they want without fear of them being damaged, overheated, or stolen.
A large part of any property manager’s job involves meeting with and screening residents for potential residency. Although it may be easier to just accept any person who shows up and wants to sign a lease, your job is to bring in residents who will not only pay their rent promptly but will also be good neighbors to those already living there. The ideal tenant will meet the following criteria:
- Have a monthly income that is 3 times higher than the rent
- No prior evictions
- Good credit
- No prior convictions
- Steady employment
In fact, according to TransUnion, “84% of landlords say that non-payment is one of their top concerns about new tenants.” Naturally, this process can take up a lot of time. So, take steps to streamline this process. Tips include:
- Create a prescreening survey – You already spend a good portion of your time on the phone and email. Instead of simply allowing a general application (wherein applicants ignore necessary criteria like minimum salary), it’s helpful to separate the wheat from the chaff by having them fill out a survey or Google Form in order to be considered.
- Use the same methods – However you go about screening residents, it’s important that you find a system that works and then stick to it in order to consistently yield the best results. If you’re regularly changing up how you interview, what you ask, or what your criteria are, it’s much harder to compare and contrast responses or gauge who is the best fit.
- Perform background checks – Your first priority should always be the protection of your current renters. Therefore, it’s crucial that you do everything in your power to ensure that you’re not bringing in dangerous or untrustworthy people into your apartment. Background checks accomplish the following:
- Protect you from liability
- Help prevent non-payments
- Allow you to confirm that they are who they say they are
- Provide tenants with peace of mind that you are serious about their safety
Managing Rent Payments
Rental payments are most landlords’ primary concern. Why not make it easier for both you and your tenants by making payments automatic? This allows you to collect, track, and organize all payments, reducing the amount of time you spend worrying about whether or not someone has paid their rent.
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 months…Why are Americans missing due dates? Survey respondents cited forgetfulness (61%), lack of available funds (42%) and being busy with work and family obligations (39%) as the top reasons.
The vast majority of all late payments arise from people simply forgetting that they need to pay. With that in mind, it might be wise to use a property management tool such as an automatic rental payment system to facilitate this process. Benefits of this for both tenants and landlords include:
- Set and forget – Tenants prefer to set recurring payments so that once it’s scheduled, they won’t have to think about it again. This allows them to avoid needing to deal with sending a check in the mail or delivering it to you by hand.
- Auto ledger – The automated system categorizes and records rent collection into the account ledger, making it easy to see who has paid and who hasn’t.
- Reduce late rent payments – Even if tenants don’t use autopay, they are provided with notifications and reminders that rent is coming up. This saves you the trouble of physically going around and hassling them for payment, which can become a big sore spot in a tenant-landlord relationship.
Tips and Tricks
There are a variety of issues any property manager will face on a daily basis. By addressing the larger concerns such as package overflow, rental payments, and tenant screening, you can focus on the smaller problems like maintenance issues. This freed up time will 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 in order to optimize your process. Doing so will provide noticeable benefits to both you and your residents! And once you have happy residents, you will, in turn, see better resident retention.
Sentence, R. Econsultancy. 20+ stats that show how online retail is changing. (2019). https://econsultancy.com/stats-show-online-retail-ecommerce-changing/
Last10K. Amazon SEC Filing 10-Q Quarterly Report. (2018). https://last10k.com/sec-filings/amzn/0001018724-18-000108.htm
Collatz, A. TransUnion. Landlords Reveal the 4 Most Important Tenant Screening Factors (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. (2013). https://www.citigroup.com/citi/news/2013/130514a.htm