How to Improve Your Rental Property
Tenant needs and preferences continue to shift as the pandemic response evolves. To remain competitive, it’s essential to improve your rental property. Detailed below are the top six shifts and the concurrent implications for any rental property manager interested in learning more on how to improve their rental property along with other valuable property management tips.
Consumer Shift 1: Hybrid Work is Here to Stay
Although the UK Government guidance on working safely during coronavirus (COVID-19) has eased, many employers have changed their tune about returning to the office in full force. High-profile companies including Wells Fargo, Apple, Lyft, BlackRock, and Amazon have all delayed their return to office plans, or opted for a more flexible approach. In a recent Accenture study of 9,000 workers, 83% expressed a preference for hybrid work: a combination of work-from-home and work-in-office. As a rental property owner, taking this shift into account will be essential to success when it comes to planning for amenities and rental property upgrades.
Rental Property Implication: A Rental Unit Must Work as a Remote Office
Speedy Internet today is a necessity and not a luxury. A tenant expects that broadband will be available from the day they move in. Most importantly for property management, however, is that they are willing to pay higher rent for high-speed internet access — about $35 more per month.
A potential tenant is seeking an apartment that offers a variety of usable space to accommodate their new normal of balancing work and work and personal life at home. Making rental property upgrades by creating dedicated workspaces — whether in the rental unit or as an amenity — is often a competitive advantage. Businesses centres are being transformed into new co-working spaces that meet social distance guidelines. Charging centres, WiFi boosters and extra power outlets that make sure residents stay connected can also appeal to a prospective tenant.
At Broadway Chapter, a 242-unit apartment community under construction in Fort Worth, Texas, developer CRG has prioritised such property upgrades and has redesigned some amenities for remote workers. Instead of game rooms or social lounges, the rental property now includes private study offices, small group rooms and hospitality suites for hosting small business gatherings. Further, CRG’s new development strategy includes amenities specifically designed for the work-from-home tenant, with pocket offices and what Managing Partner J.J. Smith refers to as “Zoom-worthy common spaces.”
Consumer Shift 2: Many Residents Continue to Stay Home
With the requirement for mandatory Covid passports easing and most venues now able to choose to use the scheme on a voluntary basis, it was expected that life would return to some level of ‘normal’. However, the easing of restrictions has caused uncertainty for many consumers and residents with some of them returning to lockdown habits of staying in, ordering take-out, socialising in small groups, and refraining from international travel.
Rental Property Implication: Design More Flexible Spaces
According to a recent RENTCafé survey, a renter wants more space in their rental unit, making it a higher priority than the safety concerns of last year. Residents working from home will make new demands on their living space. This is likely to impact how rooms are used, with bedrooms doubling as studies, and requirements for office-type furniture. It may also be reflected in how shared spaces are designed, with collaborative working spaces forming part of communal building areas.
Consumer Shift 3: Outdoor Spaces are Safer Than Indoor Spaces
As SAGE and other scientific institutions have reiterated, outdoor spaces are safest as fresh air is constantly circulating and dispersing the respiratory droplets of others.
Rental Property Implication: Expand Outdoor Areas
Balconies and outdoor space are a hotly requested amenity and have become a ‘must-have’ feature for many apartment communities, especially in medium- and high-rise apartments where private outdoor space is often limited.
CGI Strategies, a California-based real estate investment and development company, previously stated that approximately 70% of their apartments included balconies, they are now aiming for at least 90% in new projects.
Research shows that investing in a roof-top deck not only has a positive return on investment but can also attract and retain a potential renter too. Lush landscaping boosts the aesthetic appeal and acts as a natural insulation lowering heat and air conditioning costs. For example, some property managers in New York are creating flexibility in their outdoor spaces by repurposing cabanas as outdoor schools and installing movable furniture.
Consumer Shift 4: Residents Got Closer to Their Furry Friends
We are a nation of animal lovers and more people than ever before have welcomed pets into their lives and homes. Residents were obviously looking for companionship during the pandemic as 3.2 million households got an animal companion during lockdown.
Rental Property Implication: Create Pet-Friendly Environments
In a recently revised Model Tenancy Agreement, Landlords are encouraged to no longer issue a blanket ban on pets in a bin to support tenants with pets to find rented accommodation.
Research is rolling in that pet-friendly rental properties act as a competitive advantage. According to 2020 CoStar data, pet-friendliness is one of the top three amenity searches. Whether you’re a property manager or property owner, how can you make your property better suited to four-legged friends?
- Dedicate Recreational Space – Creating a dog park (also known as a “bark park”) at your rental property provides safety for residents and a respite for pets. It’s also possible to create segments of outdoor space dedicated to pets such as a rooftop deck.
- Add Pet Grooming Services – Fluffy not only wants to look good, but also smell and feel good too. Higher-end rental properties are partnering with grooming services and even dog walkers to raise the satisfaction of pets and their owners.
- Create Pet-centric Activities – Allow your marketers in property management to get creative here. Options include pet adoption days, look like your pet contests, best pet photo via social media, etc.
Consumer Shift 5: Consumers & Regulators Embrace Electric Vehicles
In a push toward electric vehicles, the UK government’s latest strategy includes £620m in grants for electric vehicles and charging points, in a bid to shift towards a virtually zero-carbon economy. Car manufacturers will be mandated to sell a proportion of clean vehicles each year. An extra £350m is promised to help the automotive supply chain move to electric.
On the consumer side, the number of people buying electric cars has doubled in the last year, according to the latest data from New AutoMotive’s Electric Car Count. In January 2022, UK motorists bought 13,000 new electric cars, up from 6,000 in January 2021.
Rental Property Implication: Investing in Charging Stations
At the crossroads of consumer behavior and governmental regulation lies the opportunity to meet tenant demand for charging stations on-site. As Amanda Clevinger, policy and programs manager for Bright Power explains: “Property owners are already thinking about how they can electrify their properties, and they should keep EV charging in mind as they build their capital plans.”
Consumer Shift 6: Online Shopping Continues to Expand
Consumers shifted to online shopping during the early days of the lockdown, but new research suggests that they are not going back to their old shopping habits. The BRC reports that during Q4 of 2021, online sales continued to outperform their pre-pandemic levels, with a growth of +23.4% on a 2-year basis.
Rental Property Implication: Move to More Efficient Parcel Handling Processes
With the exponential rise in online shopping, there is a concurrent spike in residential delivery and a greater need for secure package delivery.
The way Quadient parcel lockers works is simple. Couriers deliver directly into the lockers. Recipients are instantly notified by text, email, or app notification when they have a delivery. Once the notification is received, the recipient can pick up the package using the unique code provided in the notification, or by using our mobile app. Property managers do not need to sign for, sort, or distribute packages to residents. Instead, our locker solutions provide a secure, fast and easy way for residents to retrieve their own packages at their convenience.