Posts Tagged ‘Property Management’

Should you be Required to Accept All Emotional Support Animals?

Written by Landlord Property Management Magazine on . Posted in Blog

By Becky Bower

emotional support animals

The term “emotional support animal” has always produced mixed opinions, with some property managers claiming that it’s a loophole term to get applicants’ pets accepted, while others cite federal law concerning tenants with disabilities. Whether your pet policy attracts applicants out of the 79 million households that own cats and dogs or prohibits residents from having their own big red dog, California property managers might be required to allow tenants to have emotional support animals, regardless of their pet policy.

What are the Differences between Service Dogs, Psychiatric Service Dogs, and Emotional Support Animals?

Service animals are animals that are trained to help a specific individual with a disability. Some states, like California, limit service animals to dogs (and in some cases, miniature horses as well). Psychiatric service dogs are individually trained to help a person with a mental disability. Both of these service animals are trained to aid someone with a disability, whether it be pulling a wheelchair or responding to the owner’s panic attack. Emotional support animals, on the other hand, can be any type of animal and are not trained to perform a specific act that relates to an individual’s disability. These types of animals give their owners emotional relief, rather than physical relief, and unlike most service dogs, they do not need to wear any form of identification (like a vest or harness).


In compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the Fair Housing Act (FHA) requires housing providers to provide reasonable accommodation to tenants with disabilities, allowing them to “request a reasonable accommodation for any assistance animal, including an emotional support animal.” Federally funded housing (like Section 8 housing) is required to accept emotional support animals without proof.  That being said, legally, you may not request to show proof that the animal has any specialized training. This means, if a resident with a disability requests for reasonable accommodation and provides a letter legitimatizing the need for an emotional support animal, under the FHA, you legally must provide reasonable accommodation for their support animal regardless of your rental policy on pets. If you deny their request for reasonable accommodation, the resident can file a discrimination complaint with the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

Potential Legislation could require the Admittance of All Emotional Support Animals in California

Currently, it is within a property owner’s right to disallow pets on the property, and deny applicants (who are not covered under the ADA) based off of those written rental requirements. However, according to Ron Kingston of East Bay’s Rental Housing Association, that might change. Their online magazine, Rental Housing (issue Dec. 2016, page 22), illuminates that California’s Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) is currently proposing “broad new regulations requiring rental property owners to allow tenants to have ‘emotional support animals’ of all breeds and types to live with them in their units.” While (as said above) federal regulations require residents to request reasonable accommodations for support animals, Ron Kingston argues that the DFEH’s proposal is too broad and gives property managers limited authority to “deny a support animal request when the animal poses a threat to health and safety of other tenants, and to the property.”

As the transportation industry has enabled service and emotional support animals to fly on airlines for free and an increase in emotional support animals on airlines has been present, the validity of emotional support animals has come into question. Brian Skewis, California State Board of Guide Dogs for the Blind executive officer, has previously stated that he has found a “misuse” of the service dog law in airports. While Sacramento International Airport spokesman, Mark Haneke, has said that he is not aware of a false service dog problem, it puts into question whether or not significant misuse could be present in rentals.

Big cities like Los Angeles (which has the highest percentage of renters) have been facing a pet-housing shortage for a long time. Early last year, the City of Los Angeles even stated that they’ll start creating pet-friendly housing legislation to combat the 22.6% of dogs and 18.6% of cats that are surrendered to animal shelters due to pet restrictions. While no legislation has been passed since this statement, with misuse, the DFEH’s proposition could inadvertently cause rentals to become pet-friendly to avoid a discrimination case.

Although the California proposition has yet to be released in full detail (be sure to subscribe for updates), its broad nature would limit Californian property owner’s rights. While it might positively affect the pet-housing shortage in large cities, federal regulations already protect the resident’s right to request reasonable accommodation that allows emotional support animals. If these rights are already protected, the big question is what does this law really do?

Regardless of whether your community is pet-friendly or has a strict no-pet policy, make sure your online application has space to provide additional information (like about service animals or pets) and that you perform thorough screening of all your applicants. Just because an applicant doesn’t come with a furry friend in tow, doesn’t mean they’re a perfect fit for your community.

Becky 201509 Becky Bower is a writer for the ApplyConnect® Blog and the communications executive at ApplyConnect®, a consumer initiated tenant screening company.  She has also spent several years in compliance and auditing.  Becky holds a degree in English with a focus in creative writing from CSU Channel Islands and is a published writer.

Landlords and Natural Disasters

Written by Landlord Property Management Magazine on . Posted in Blog

By  | Original post from RentPrep
natural-disaster-prepMost parts of the United States are subject to at least one kind of natural disaster, and some areas may be impacted by several different kinds. These disasters can often be tragic and cause devastating losses in lives and property. As a property owner, it’s always a good idea to educate yourself on what natural disasters could take place in your area. Then, you can create a plan for dealing with them during and after they occur.

What is a Natural Disaster?

A natural disaster is a significant event that occurs because of normal functions and actions of the Earth and its forces. Examples of natural disasters include:

  • Earthquakes
  • Hurricanes
  • Tornados
  • Floods
  • Wildfires
  • Tsunamis
  • Drought
  • Landslides
  • Sinkholes
  • Volcanos
  • Blizzards
  • Extreme weather, hot or cold

Natural disasters, depending on the severity, can affect an area economically and cost millions of dollars of state and federal money to help the region recover. The impact on a property owner can be significant and even in the best case scenario, natural disasters can create plenty of stress, damage and tenant issues for landlords.

Regional Risk Factors

The biggest natural disaster risks can be broken down into regions, where certain types of natural disasters are most likely to occur. There is no single area that is completely safe from natural disasters, but some areas have increased odds while others remain relatively disaster free for long periods of time. Let’s review the biggest natural disaster risks for each major geographic region of the United States.

Northeast United States

This area is subject to incredibly powerful storms in this area are called nor’easters. These macro storms get their name from the direction the wind is coming and bring heavy rain or snow, hurricane-force winds and coastal flooding in some instances. Severe winter storms can cause power outages that last for a few days or a few weeks in extreme cases. These storms can also interrupt road travel and cause property damage.

Southeast United States

In the states that border the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean, the biggest natural disaster risk has to be hurricanes. From the first of June through the end of November, the area is susceptible to tropical storms and hurricanes. Hurricanes bring strong winds, heavy rain, and high waves that can affect coastal communities. A hurricane’s heavy rain can cause flooding inland so distance from the coast is not always a relief from damage. Tornados are also common in this region and can cause plenty of damage.

Midwest United States

From North Dakota down to Louisiana, the likelihood of tornados here are high during certain parts of the year. Known as Tornado Alley, this region generates many tornados every year. With strong winds, tornados can decimate a small town in just a few minutes, and cause extensive damage and loss of life. The Midwest is also subject to flooding disasters due to heavy spring rains.

Mountain West United States

Due to the dry nature of the region, the Mountain West’s biggest risk comes from wildfires. With huge expanses of dry forests and acres of grassland, a small spark can ignite a wildfire that can threaten homes and lives. Another risk of natural disaster in the Mountain West region comes from earthquakes, as several significant fault lines run throughout the region. While there hasn’t been a large earthquake in the area for decades, scientists have determined that it’s not a matter of if, but when.

West Coast United States

Similar to the Mountain West, the West Coast is most likely to be affected by wildfires, but the increased activity of earthquakes in this region catapult this type of natural disaster to the top of the risk list. Even moderate earthquakes can cause damage to structures, and the region has a history of several large earthquakes that have resulted in extensive damage and loss of life.

Natural Disaster Risk Areas

Thanks to decades of study and tracking, scientists and researchers can calculate the areas of the country with the highest risk of natural disasters as well as those places with the lowest risk of natural disasters. Several reports have been created to give residents an idea of what kinds of natural disasters they are most likely to face, depending on where they live.

Here is one report that ranks the top 10 states most likely to have natural disasters, as well as what residents are most likely to encounter there:

  1. Texas—tornados, floods, wildfires, hurricanes, floods
  2. California—earthquakes, wildfires, flooding, severe weather, tsunami
  3. Oklahoma—tornado, snow, flooding, wildfires
  4. New York—snow, ice, tropical storms
  5. Florida—hurricanes
  6. Louisiana—hurricanes, flooding
  7. Alabama—hurricanes
  8. Kentucky—flooding, tornados, mudslides, severe weather
  9. Arkansas—heavy rain, snow, ice, tornados, flooding
  10. Missouri—ice storms, snow, tornados, flooding

This report reveals both the highest risk cities, as well as the safest cities, in the United States:

High Risk Cities

  • Dallas-Plano-Irving, Texas
  • Jonesboro, Arkansas
  • Corpus Christi, Texas
  • Houston, Texas
  • Beaumont-Port Arthur, Texas
  • Shreveport, Louisiana
  • Austin, Texas
  • Birmingham, Alabama

Low Risk Cities

  • Corvallis, Oregon
  • Mt. Vernon-Anacortes, Washington
  • Bellingham, Washington
  • Wenatchee, Washington
  • Grand Junction, Colorado
  • Spokane, Washington,
  • Salem, Oregon
  • Seattle, Washington

It’s easy to see that where the Southeast and Midwest intersect, there are more chances for residents to encounter natural disasters. It’s always a good idea for landlords and property owners in general to get familiar with the risks associated with their region, so that proper preparation can begin.

Landlord Plan for Natural Disasters

No matter where you live in the United States, as a homeowner and landlord, you should find out what natural disasters may occur where your properties are located. There should be plenty of state and local resources on how to prepare physically for a natural disaster.


As a property owner, consider reviewing your current insurance policies and see what kind of coverage you have signed up for. Some areas require separate insurance for certain disasters that is outside of a standard policy. For example, if your rental property is located on a flood plain, your standard homeowner’s insurance may not cover any damage by a flood and you would need to purchase a separate insurance policy for floods. Follow your insurer’s advice on listing the features of the property and even taking pictures to document everything before disaster strikes. Also, educate your tenant on renter’s insurance.


Keep your information about insurance and so forth in a safe place so you can access it after the natural disaster occurs. If you live in the same area as your rental property, keep hard copies of important documents where you can access them easily. It’s a good idea to create digital copies and store them in the cloud or in an online storage facility like Dropbox or as attachments to an email. Even if you are without a computer or power, you will eventually be able to access the documents. They may be the only versions left if your own home is affected severely.

Tenants and Lease Agreements

It’s also important for landlords to become familiar with the laws concerning the destruction of rental property and how that affects the lease agreement. If the laws are vague or non-existent, landlords can include wording in the lease agreement for clarity in the event of a natural disaster that destroys or otherwise makes a rental property uninhabitable. For example, will rent be temporarily abated while the property is being restored or repaired or will the lease be dissolved?

In other words, make sure the lease agreement has specific wording that covers provisions if the rental property is partially or completely destroyed. Of course, check with a landlord tenant attorney to ensure that your lease is compliant with state laws on the subject.

Structural Preparations

Depending on what types of natural disasters your area is prone to, there may be some things you can do to minimize damage to your rental property. For example, if your rental is in a high hurricane area, consider replacing standard windows with impact resistant glass and installing hurricane shutters. In an earthquake area, take the time to anchor large appliances, like refrigerators, with hooks and straps. For rental properties in wildfire zones, choose landscaping that places shrubs and trees several feet away from a structure. Taking the time now to prep a rental property can mean the difference in thousands of dollars worth of damage and may even lead to keeping tenants safer.

Other Factors

Other factors to consider when it comes to rental properties and natural disasters:

  • Whether a lease is terminated because of a disaster.
  • What happens to the tenant if the rental property is uninhabitable.
  • If the tenant’s job and income is affected by the disaster and how that can impact the ability to pay rent.
  • How the tenant might pay rent on time if normal methods are not stable (mail delivery, electronic banking, etc.).
  • How tenants become informed about the steps for them to recover from the loss of personal belongings or injury claims due to the disaster through FEMA or other avenues, as well as from their renter’s insurance policy.

In order to minimize the amount of stress and to ease the financial burdens for landlords in the event of a natural disaster, the best advice is to be prepared. While there is no way to predict where and when a natural disaster will take place, you can control your level of preparation and ensure the best possible scenario for your property and your tenants.

Landlord Resources

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Natural Disasters and Severe Weather

Federal Emergency Management Agency: FEMA Disasters and Emergencies

Red Cross: Prepare for an Emergency

You can also go online and search for your state’s division of emergency management or emergency department for resources and guidance specific to your state.

What steps have you taken to protect your property from a natural disaster and minimize the stress of a devastating aftermath? Please share this article and let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.

Learn more about RentPrep at

Roof Coatings are not Roofs!

Written by Landlord Property Management Magazine on . Posted in Blog

By Tom Scherer  | T&G Roofing

roofing materials

Roof coatings became popular in the 1970’s and 80’s, along with the “Bee Gees”, and they have been around ever since. Coatings are applied over an existing hot tar roof in an effort to “extend” the life of the roof and to add reflective qualities to the system. This is sound thinking, however, in many cases, coatings are misrepresented by the coating industry and contractors who install them. Most of the waterproofing is done before the coating is even applied. (All cracks and holes are mended with plastic roof cement)

To “extend” the life of the roof could mean getting an extra year or two out of the existing system. But I have heard boasts of 10 and 15 year warranties that may not hold water. I installed one of these coatings exactly as directed by the manufacturer. After being told that I would get a 10 year “leak free” warranty from the manufacturer, I had to refund my customer’s money after the first year. I then installed a single ply TPO system to keep water out of the building and to keep myself out of the “People’s Court.”

Since elastomeric coatings are as thin as a piece of paper, how could they be expected to maintain a waterproof membrane for more than a year or so? They can’t and they don’t.

Coatings are not to be confused with actual roofing systems like hot tar, torch-down or single ply. Coatings, by themselves, are not considered to be a legitimate roofing system. They are considered to be a roof restoration only.

Coatings are often required to be installed over a cap-sheet roof so it meets the title 24 (environmental reflective demands) requirement. But it was never intended as a waterproofing system in itself. Single ply systems, on the other hand, have a reflective coating, that meets Title 24, built right into the system.

The best available flat roofing systems as of Jan. 2015 are single ply systems (TPO or PVC) that carry 20-30 year warranties. Hot tar systems are legitimate, but they do not compare with the single ply across the board in terms of safety, longevity, environmental issues. Torch-down is at the low end of the tier. It has the shortest lifespan, uses open flames, and has safety issues.

Emulsion and elastomeric coatings rely on the roof system that they are covering for longevity. When the roofing that the coating is covering deteriorates then the coating fails.

I know of some manufacturers offering 10 year warranties on their coatings however, the warranty has stipulations that do not protect the property owner. The cost of coatings is about half of regular flat roofing options so many property owners are lured by the lower prices and the long warranties, however these warranties do not stand up to close scrutiny.

Single ply roofing does not rely on the existing roofing at all. It stands by itself, whether it’s over an existing roof or bare plywood. It is like large sheets of thick rubber. This material is substantial and will not allow water to penetrate it for 20+ years. The warranties for single ply are legitimate and are validated by reputable companies.

There is really no comparison between the two. One is akin to painting over a roof (coatings) while the other is a new roof covering (single ply).

New buildings across America are roofing with single ply roofing. No building chain (Lowes, Home Depot, WalMart etc.) is roofing their buildings with a coating only.

Hot tar roofing is an acceptable re-roofing choice as it is substantial and will last 15+ years, however single ply is the better choice for longevity, reflectivity, and environmental effects. (no fumes, not oil based, and it’s recyclable)

At T&G Roofing Company, Inc., we pride ourselves on quality. Every installer is a professional with many years of roofing experience. The materials that we install are of the highest quality, always number one grade and we never use seconds. We install brand name roofing products such as GAF, CertainTeed, Owens Corning, Monier-Lifetile, US Tile, and Eagle. These products have proven time and time again that they can stand up to what Mother Nature has to dish out.

Millennials Actually Like the Suburbs

Written by Landlord Property Management Magazine on . Posted in Blog

By Tierney Plumb | Shared Post from the Hightower Blog

millennials in the subs

For the past few years, the media has churned out a steady stream of stories describing how city-loving millennials are driving a re-urbanization of the U.S.

But not so fast. As it turns out, the white picket fence life is still desirable for the young age group, according to a new report from CBRE.

Census data shows domestic net migration out of cities and into suburbia. We chatted with the author of the report, CBRE director of research and analysis Darin Mellott.

By the numbers

The most recent annual data from 2014 shows that 2.8 million people moved from the suburbs to cities that year, but 4.6 million did the opposite. That means the death of suburbs isn’t nigh.

“This news is quite shocking to some people because of how much life that prevailing narrative that has taken on its own,” he said.

Millennials, or those mostly born between 1980 and 1995, make up the largest age group in the country and the biggest segment of the U.S. workforce. But census data does disagree with the media when it comes to where they actually live and where they have been moving to.

About 30% of millennials live within urban areas. The remaining balance doesn’t appear to be rushing to city centers; in 2014, 529,000 people between 25 and 29 moved from cities to suburbs, while only 426,000 did the reverse.

For the younger end of the spectrum (ages 20 to 24), the flow’s direction was even more pronounced, with 554,000 becoming city dwellers and 721,000 trading cities for ‘burbs (keep in mind some of that represented relocation into parents’ basements).

Among the oldest millennials and the tail end of Gen X, negative net migration was even more: 1.2 million people aged 30 to 44 moved from cities to suburbs, while 540,000 did the contrary.

So what do they want?

Space and an urban feel rank high on the list. A recent survey showed that 81% of young people (classified as millennials and those born in the late 1970s) want three bedrooms or more in their place.

That preference means suburbs would be the more likely pick when it comes down to family formation and affordability, he said. “It’s hard to afford a three-bedroom in Manhattan.”

In another study, nearly two-thirds of millennial-aged respondents self-identified as suburbanites or rural people.

Still, country mouse types aren’t everywhere. Millennials love urban perks, like access to public transit, shops, restaurants, and offices. Just because millennials appreciate city living doesn’t translate into demand for downtown real estate.

Suburbs can grow on younger demographics once injected with urban qualities.

In San Jose, for example, mini mixed-use developments like Santana Row have plunked down a myriad of restaurants, bars, and housing that replicate the environment found an hour north in San Francisco. Similar redevelopments on the outskirts, dubbed “hipsturbia” and “urban burbs,” are popping up more and more.

Why the increase? As millennials leave cities, they still crave certain amenities and more developers are reacting to that request, he said.

Western cities like Phoenix and LA are seeing pockets of strong suburban activity, he said, and that same phenomenon is occurring in suburbs of New York and New Jersey.  “Those pockets share common characteristics—that is suburban areas with urban qualities,” said Mellott.

Exceptions to the rule

Of course, the report doesn’t aim to make a blanket statement across the board about millennials and suburbia; keep in mind no two property markets are created equal, and each market has its own dynamics that play out on various levels and in unique ways,

And there are definitely downtown markets across the country that have outperformed—and will continue to outperform, in some cases—suburban markets.

For example, McDonald’s Corp. recently announced plans to move its headquarters from the suburbs to downtown Chicago.

“While we are continuing to suburbanize, that doesn’t mean dynamics are negative in cities,” Mellott said.

Some big firms are realizing that an urban setting is a big selling point when it comes to attracting and retaining new talent. And in San Francisco, Silicon Valley-based Facebook is considering adding a ton of square footage in San Francisco. And LinkedIn recently tacked on an entire office building in downtown San Francisco to appeal to city lovers.

While there’s some truth to the idea of the resurgent urban core, it is also fair to say the extinction of the suburbs and millennials’ love of cities have been “greatly exaggerated,” he concluded. His study aims to dispel erroneous thinking that millennials are anti-suburb.

“We are trying to form a more informed and intelligent conversation around these topics. Suburbs aren’t dying,” he said.

Tierney Plumb
Tierney Plumb is a former reporter for Bisnow San Franscio. She previously worked with the San Diego Daily Transcript and the Washington Business Journal.

Tips for Turning Your Properties Pet-Friendly

Written by Landlord Property Management Magazine on . Posted in Blog

Shared post by Appfolio

pet friendly apt_2

We all know the saying: a dog is a man’s best friend. There are plenty of reasons why—they are cute and fun, and they bring comfort and joy when you need it. If you are a property manager who has a furry friend, you probably understand this already. But even if you don’t have one or are not particularly fond of them, a pet could also be your business’s best friend.

Animals are assets in attracting potential residents and differentiating yourself from competitors. The most frequently asked question from renters is “Do you allow pets?” So while a renter’s dog might not be your cup of tea, it means a good deal to their owners and therefore should mean a lot to you.

As an example, allow me to take a quick moment and tell you how AppFolio utilizes dog friendliness to propel happiness and productivity in the workplace. Trust me, it directly relates to how you can take advantage of pet friendliness in your property management business.

A Dog Friendly AppFolio Boosts Employee Happiness

The dog friendly environment of AppFolio’s offices is one of the reasons why people love working here and why they feel like they have found a home upon joining the team. Welcoming a new dog keeps spirits high throughout the day. They unknowingly foster values beneficial for a productive and close knit community; employees will occasionally reach out to coworkers for dog care which cultivates a mindset of helping one another during and outside of work hours. And when you’re having a rough day, a five-minute break with a new puppy is all it takes to bring a smile. It’s important for companies to offer perks that enable employees to have both a successful personal life and also a professional one. Dog friendliness at AppFolio promotes a happy and social atmosphere, and these points can be easily transcribed from the AppFolio setting to the Property Manager setting.

Screen Shot 2016-08-15 at 9.07.25 AM Screen Shot 2016-08-15 at 9.07.03 AM 11403337_10153073807878924_6376389284413661031_n-2

How Can Property Managers Institute Dog Friendliness

Most people’s pets are like family to them, so being told that there’s no room for pets can be enough for an applicant to walk out the door. Alternatively, dog friendliness at a property can be very enticing for a potential renter. It can be the reason that your listing initially draws their eye, but can also play a part in what keeps the renter happy and feeling at home.

Making a shift towards dog friendliness (or pet friendliness in general—this is not exclusive to dogs!) can be difficult, but also incredibly rewarding for your business. One of the most common things property managers do is to simply have a “pet interview” where they sit down with the pet and their owner. This can be a great way to make renters feel more welcomed while also helping you stay knowledgeable about the pets living on your properties. Here are three more ways that can make your transition to pet friendliness a smooth one.

  1. Educate your residents about socially acceptable pet behavior. This might seem like common knowledge, but it can be helpful to set expectations when transitioning to a pet friendly community. Having pamphlets available and providing doggie bags gives dog owners and other residents all the tools they need to live in a collaborative and successful multifamily home. Educating your residents ensures that they are up to date about the acceptable pet behavior which helps keep everyone happy.
  2. Charge a fair fee for your additional service. Accepting pets can also be used as another avenue of collecting payments. You are providing an additional service: accommodating pets. As such, it is reasonable to introduce security deposits or additional fees for pets. It might also be worth considering putting limitations on the type and number of pets. You can make the dog friendliness aspect of your business worth your time and effort by putting rules, regulations, and fees in place.
  3. Host pet friendly events to promote resident mingling. One of the best ways to avoid conflicts between pet owners and non-owners, is to host social events that encourage co-mingling. People who love pets, but who don’t own one, are more inclined to forgive their infractions if they actually know the pet. This is also a good way to introduce new members into your housing community, and  it helps both pet owners and their neighbors feel more comfortable and friendly with each other. You can use the pet friendliness of your business to bring together residents and foster a more inclusive and social community, which will in turn improve the face and feel of your business.

While pets can sometimes be a nuisance, the reality is that there are a significant number of dog owners looking to rent properties. In a 2015 All Property Management Research Report, 65% of households had pets and 42% had more than one pet.

AppFolio recently surveyed over 200 property management customers and 78% of respondents allow pets of some kind. While you can certainly set the rules—small dogs only, no cats, etc.—the number of renters who are also pet owners is too high to ignore, and catering to their specific needs or at least making them feel welcome is a great way of expanding your business.

appfolio Appfolio | Company Website | LinkedIn Connect |

AppFolio, Inc. develops Property Management Software that helps businesses improve their workflow so they save time and make more money.  Appfolio submits articles & blogs including topics of Resident Retention, Improved Owner Communication, Time Management, and more.


As the apartment rent rocket slows its climb, portfolios turn to Google for higher revenue.

Written by Landlord Property Management Magazine on . Posted in Blog

By Matt Easton is EVP of MultiFamily Traffic 


Regional Manager Mark Hunter found a way to stand out from all of the other properties rushing to lease apartments in Austin’s hippest neighborhood: he is using SEO and Google AdWords to skip the line and get instant access to qualified potential residents willing to sign a lease with him today without a special offer like free rent or a lower lease rate.

“I found myself questioning why my community website did not appear on Google by itself for the top keywords luxury renters in Austin were searching for,” said Hunter, whose property went from 82% occupancy to 100% with a wait list in just 120 days using SEO and AdWords from MultiFamily Traffic. “We decided we weren’t happy only being visible to Austin renters in the cattle-call of Internet Listing Services and that it was time for us to stand out and attract renters willing to sign a lease today without a concession.”

Apartment managers are having to take digital marketing and apartment SEO more seriously as weaknesses are starting to show up in the boom that has sent apartment rent rates skyrocketing for the last five years all across America. Now with many cities like New York, Dallas, San Francisco and Denver starting to build a surplus of new apartment units, rents are beginning to slow and leasing units is becoming increasingly more difficult without solid online visibility.

Over the last five years, many community developers have decided to concentrate much of new construction on luxury communities in an effort to help them achieve the profits needed to cover the added expenses of staff salaries and rising cost of land to build on. With many new properties featuring trendy locations, rooftop pools and fire pits, managers like Mark Hunter will have to work harder to find renters.

“We found that once we started to rank the community at the top of Google search results, renters called our leasing office before anyone else”, said Hunter. “By being the first property a renter visits, I don’t have to be saying “me too” as the prospect mentions amenities they have already seen somewhere else. The best part about SEO is that I get the first at bat and when those renters that visit us before any other property and sign a lease, I can avoid a price war with my neighbors.”

So if you are as concerned as many operators are that your units will not be able to fetch premium rents and you won’t keep occupancy at 100% what can you do to get Google working for you?

98% of all leases start with a search online. It can be on a phone a tablet or a PC or Mac it doesn’t matter; if your property is not in the search results it may as well not exist. So then why are renters calling you if you are not in the search results? The answer is, you are – you just happen to show up via a surrogate like an apartment listing service. ILS’s like are fantastic but as Mark Hunter put it “a cattle call is not the best place to get the highest rent”.

ILS’s are great but by nature they make you compete with other properties.  If you want the highest rents and 100% occupancy you don’t want to compete you want to DOMINATE YOUR SPACE that means when someone even thinks about an apartment in your city your property company comes up! Working with the right apartment SEO and certified Google AdWords specialist can help you ensure that your community dominates as renters look for an apartment. If they come to you before they ever use an ILS you want have to compete in the cattle call.

The first step is knowing what the top searched keywords are in your city and where your website ranks for them. Multifamily Traffic has a dedicated research team that performs this as a free service for anyone. You can call that team directly and have your research back free of charge in less than 1 hour in most cases. They are available at 888-683-5885.

The next step is looking for a partner that can drive renters to you without asking you to make changes to your website or overcharging you for the work they do. There are many SEO providers that charge thousands per month for a mixed bag of results. You want to work with a firm that understands the industry and can guarantee results for a price you can fit in your budget.

Once you get your property to the top of the search results you will hear the results in the form of hundreds of calls to the leasing office. Make sure your staff is ready to follow up quickly. If you wait to set an appointment the renter is likely to go back to square one and look at an ILS placing both you and themselves right back in the “cattle call”.

MattEaston_BloggerAbout the author:

Matt Easton is EVP of MultiFamily Traffic the leading apartment SEO and digital marketing provider. MultiFamily Traffic works with 500 communities across the U.S resulting in thousands of leases signed every day. Matt can be reached at 303-803-7372 or

5 Crazy Marketing Tactics That Actually Attract Student Renters

Written by Landlord Property Management Magazine on . Posted in Blog

Shared Post by Appfolio

If you currently manage a student housing portfolio then you probably notice that you have to go the extra mile to be the hottest property around, as most students are just hoping for a room with a bed. This means you might have to employ some more creative marketing tactics to max out your student housing.

Here are a few unconventional ideas on how to fill your properties on and off campus this year.


Hit the Road with Mobile Marketing

Some student housing property managers have taken to the road with a rather ingenious way to attract attention—a rent bus.

If the student housing pool in your area is particularly competitive, standing out is an absolute must. That’s why Haven Campus Communities decided to take their marketing to the streets with an old food truck that they tricked out to be a mobile leasing station. Parking at sporting events or around campus, students are invited inside the bus to check out floor plans, photos, and even apply for an apartment on the spot.

Talk about driving demand! When taking your business to the streets, mobility and cloud functionality is key—property management software can help you streamline these processes.

Throw a Pool Party

If the property you are trying to fill has a shared pool, what better way to attract new renters than to throw a pool party? Spread the word across campus using flyers, an email blast, or social media. Invite local DJs or bands to play at your party. If your property has grills, use those to offer your prospects free food while they splash around. Throwing a huge party is a great way to show renters that your properties will keep the good times rolling…All they need to do is apply.

Offer Free Food (Who Can Say “No” to Free Food?)

If you want to draw a crowd, free food is always the way to go. No matter where you may be promoting your properties, if you bring food people will come. Consider hiring a food truck for the day and bringing it to a student housing event or local beer and wine festival. Hungry students (and prospective renters) will never refuse an application if it comes with free tacos!

Be a Renter Superfan

Students have a wide variety of interests. College students have the highest attendance rate of sporting events and music festivals than any other age group in the country—and where there are large gatherings of students, there is an opportunity to market!

If you have a marketing team, get them to help you design cool paper collateral to hand out at festivals, concerts, or sports games; Millennials and younger generations think of quality creative work as a sign of professionalism, and a fresh poster or postcard design is one of the best ways to leave a positive impression in a student’s mind.

Many events also need local sponsors to help bring their projects to life. Sponsor a local event and get permission to set up a booth where attendees can speak to you in person about your properties. To sweeten the pot, you can even provide a little free swag like a fanny pack or water bottle that displays your company brand while providing a service to your prospects.

Get Creative with Incentives (Loan-a-bike systems, public transportation included in rent, etc.)

In college towns or large universities where student housing is competitive, most students know that they can be picky about where they want to live while also staying within their price range. You can make your properties more attractive on a financial level by providing creative yet practical incentives for your renters when they sign.

As an example, Chicago is a diverse city filled with many different types of higher learning institutions; it is also very large and can be difficult and expensive to navigate. Divvy is a local a bike loan service that allows students to pick up a bike in one of their many locations and drop it off when they are finished. At only $75/ year per student, this could be a great signing incentive that would provide real value to students without breaking their bank or yours.

While students need to get around, they also need places to go. Many large universities will offer season passes to sporting events to their students at a discount; try to strike the same deal for your property, then run a promotion offering free season passes to the first 100 students that sign a lease with you. Most students will reason that they were going to buy the tickets anyway, so they might as well get them for free.

Remember, young renters are not always financially stable on their own, so a big piece of the marketing puzzle is about including their parents in the rental decision. Your marketing can be fun and adventurous so long as it also shows professionalism and makes fiscal sense to the real decision maker.

Along the same lines, you may also want to consider accepting cosigners for your student housing portfolio. Not only is it financially safer for you and your renters, it helps create a sense of responsibility and ownership in young adults without forcing them to sign a lease completely on their own. Allowing cosigners will help you fill vacancies faster and assume less risk.

These are just a few of many wacky ways to capture a college student’s attention, don’t be afraid to get a little more edgy when it comes to marketing to a younger crowd. Who knows? You might discover new ways to market to your larger portfolio in the process.

appfolio Appfolio | Company Website | LinkedIn Connect |

AppFolio, Inc. develops Property Management Software that helps businesses improve their workflow so they save time and make more money.  Appfolio submits articles & blogs including topics of Resident Retention, Improved Owner Communication, Time Management, and more.

Why Rental Housing Professionals Should Think About HR

Written by Landlord Property Management Magazine on . Posted in Blog

Shared post by The Mammoth HR Pros

Hand holding a Human Resources Word Sphere on white background.

Hand holding a Human Resources Word Sphere on white background.

With the minute-to-minute demands of managing and servicing rental properties, who has time for HR? Best hiring and retention practices can take a back seat to maintenance repairs, rent collection, showings and listings, right?

It’s true that HR usually can’t compete with maintenance emergencies and other such urgent matters, but it needs to be part of the regular routine. HR done well gives employers the tools to create a great workplace and to ensure compliance with employee-related laws and regulations. It sets and maintains a solid, stable foundation. Ignoring HR—or doing it poorly—is like building on unstable land: the foundation will eventually crack and, in a crisis, the structure will collapse. Bad HR is bad for business.

HR Helps You Create a Great Rental Workplace

Let’s imagine a common scene: two prospective tenants have taken their lunch hour to visit a couple of nearby apartment complexes. The two places have similar rates and offer comparable perks to renters. Nevertheless, the prospective tenants rule out the second one almost immediately after entering the property.

At the first location, they’re greeted warmly by the apartment management staff. They have to wait a few minutes to be seen, so they have a moment to take in the office atmosphere. The front office is busy, but not chaotic. Maintenance and janitorial employees pop in and out, and their interactions with the office manager are courteous and efficient. Overall, the employees seem happy, and the office has a welcoming vibe.

At the second location, the prospective tenants are seen to immediately, but there’s no warmth to the place. The employee at the front desk mutters that today was supposed to be his day off. Two others argue audibly in a back office. The employees clearly don’t want to be there, and the applicants conclude they feel the same. They leave, without having looked at any of the available apartments, and drive back to the first place.

When employees like where they work, they tend to be happier. That’s good for customers, clients, and prospects too—it makes the place they come to for business (or residence!) a happier place, a place they like to be. And when employees dislike their workplace, their disapproval shows. Having angry or disengaged employees is the fastest avenue to negative reviews and a negative reputation.

Whether a business has a good or bad reputation is no mere matter of chance: it’s largely a consequence of doing HR well or poorly. Doing HR well means valuing and honoring the work and contributions of employees, attending to their working conditions, establishing consistent employment practices and policies, setting clear channels for communication, building a workplace culture of collaboration and camaraderie, and providing perks and benefits when possible. Doing HR poorly means choosing to neglect one or more of these areas.

Human Resources Helps You Comply with Laws and Regulations

HR is also about the law, meaning HR can be a headache and a half. But whether or not an employer attends to HR, the laws and regulations are going to be there. And ignoring them has consequences.

Every employer needs to know about federal laws like the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and the Family and Medical Leave Act (FLMA), the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, the Equal Pay Act (EPA) and the Affordance Care Act (ACA). Every law won’t apply to every employer, but violations can be expensive, so an employer shouldn’t just assume they’re exempt. Even simple oversights can be costly. A company can incur fines simply for not having the proper labor law posters displayed!

States too have their own labor-related laws, covering everything from minimum wages, to payroll deductions, to sick leaves, to travel reimbursements, to what questions employers can ask applicants. Twenty-three states even have social media privacy laws! Municipalities are getting more and more into the action as well: some cities have their own minimum wages and sick leaves, among other ordinances.

To handle all these laws and regulations, large companies have their own HR departments, but small and midsized companies can often afford to have only one person in charge of these matters. These one-person HR Departments often have many other responsibilities demanding their attention (like setting rentals rates, calculating taxes, and advertising vacancies). Consequently, HR often gets less priority, putting these organizations at risk.

Bottom Line

It’s vital to the health of an organization to put at least one person in charge of HR and give that person adequate time to attend to it – and not only during times of an HR crisis. Whoever oversees HR matters needs time to do research or seek the advice of other HR professionals. With sufficient time and resources, an HR individual or team can help ensure that the organization has a great and compliant workplace. And that’s good for increasing rental income and reducing expenses, no matter what the business!

By The Mammoth HR Pros

At Mammoth, our mission is to make HR approachable, simple and intuitive for small and medium-sized organizations nationwide. We serve over 15,000 businesses and offer live, 1-on-1 consultations with our certified HR Pros, a state-of-the-art online portal, exclusive HR compliance tools, support for all 50 states, live online chat assistance and more. Whether you need an employee handbook, answers to your HR questions, or help understanding the rules and regulations, our on-call HR team is here to help. And they’re awesome – 95% of our clients say they’d recommend us to others. Visit us at

6 Ways To Reward Residents For Referrals

Written by Landlord Property Management Magazine on . Posted in Blog

Shared post from

refer a friend

When it comes to bringing in more tenants and keeping your rooms full, the best method is to get your current tenants to recommend the place. However, encouraging residents to go out of their way to promote their place can be a bit tricky.

This is where resident referral rewards come in. Most will go for the obvious money draw, but there are definitely other ways that may fit in better with your current residents (and save you more money). Here are six different ways to reward your residents for referrals.

1. Cash

The most tried and true method to gaining more residents through resident referrals is to give a flat rate of cash. Depending on your demand and need for referrals, this amount of money can vary greatly. Some apartment complexes will offer anywhere from $50 to $300 just for one valid referral.

Giving an unconditional flat rate appeals to all your residents. Everyone can use a little extra cash. Apartment owners know that no advertising is as good as a solid recommendation from another trusted person which makes resident referrals all the more worthwhile. They’re necessary to keeping your resident economy running at its best.

2. Rent decrease

Another way to reward your residents for giving referrals isn’t to pay them outright, but just to let them pay you less. This is most easily done by allowing some decrease in rent, whether it be waiving a half month’s or entire month’s fee. If your resident is loyal and plans to stay for a while, it could mean simply lowering their monthly rent by a small amount so that it adds up in savings over time. Essentially, a rent decrease is a similar bargain as the cash offer, but just handled in a different way that could be easier and more cost effective.

3. Gift cards

Another way to promote resident referrals if you aren’t keen on just giving out cash is to reward your tenants with gift cards. Most towns and areas have similar stores that are useful no matter the situation. From Walmart to McDonald’s to Applebee’s, give your residents a choice of whichever gift card they feel they’ll get the most use out of.

Some people like getting gift cards instead of cash because they’ll either end up just saving the cash or spending it all immediately. If they’re given a gift card, they may be more apt to treat themselves modestly on a nice meal or some new shirts.

4. Cleaning services

Some people will do almost anything to avoid cleaning their apartment. When you have people like this, sometimes a cleaning service can be of the most value. It also works as a win-win for you as the landlord because you know the space is being kept up. You could offer them a free carpet cleaning, window washing, painting, landscaping if they have it or whatever else they seem to be needing.

Sometimes it is best to reward tenants with something immediately practical and useful rather than something that could be spent on something trivial.

5. Local benefits

If you’re looking to boost your resident referrals and help out your local economy, consider giving them benefits and gift cards to local places and shops. Residents may find appeal in a free gym membership or tickets to a community event. They may also find appeal in small gift cards to multiple local shops around town.

If you go to some of these businesses, they may even give you free gift certificates for your residents to help promote their own sales. This could be a good way to keep your own costs down by not having to pay out of pocket and to bolster the community around you.

6. Use a point system

Some apartment complexes already have resident reward point systems that include resident referrals. Tenants can rack up differing amounts of points based on paying rent in a timely manner, renewing their lease, helping out in local community events, amongst other things.

Resident referrals can easily be worked into this system likely as the highest value of points. When your residents reach their point goal, they can then be rewarded with any of the aforementioned gifts above. Reward systems encourage residents to keep up their good work continuously rather than doing one good thing and stopping. This could also help the reward seem greater and the tenant more accomplished if they’ve been working toward it for some time.

If you’ve followed any of these ideas, or even come up with your own, you’ll soon see the benefits of the resident referral. One good personal review and recommendation can win someone over dozens of other online reviews and websites. They are absolutely key in making sure your complex stays full and profitable. Their power can’t be overstated.

Homeowners Associations vs. Property Management – What’s the Difference?

Written by Landlord Property Management Magazine on . Posted in Blog

Shared post from Appfolio


It’s easy to confuse a homeowners association (HOA) with property managers. They are both involved in the management of housing communities. It could be helpful to view a brief description of both HOAs and property managers to see how the functions of each are different. In most cases, they work together, but sometimes they may come into conflict. This information should be useful to property owners, property management companies, and tenants who live in a community that is governed by an HOA.

What Are Homeowners Associations?

Neighborhoods, subdivisions, and condo complexes contain lots of housing units that are owned by many different owners. At the same time, homeowners may need to share the responsibility for certain things. They may also share expectations for the way that their neighbors will maintain their properties. Thus, these communities form HOAs to develop and enforce the rules (known as covenants, conditions, and restrictions, or CC&Rs for short) that all property owners need to abide by.

According to the Community Association Institute, over 63 million Americans reside in an estimated 320,000 association-governed communities.

The individuals who belong to these organizations also own property in that community. While all HOA members may propose and vote on rules, an elected HOA board usually has the final responsibility for ensuring that rules get kept and other responsibilities get met.

Besides making and enforcing rules, typical HOA responsibilities include:

  • Maintaining common areas, like playgrounds and swimming pools
  • Setting and collecting dues to pay for things like maintenance of common areas and security
  • Setting budgets for the items that HOA dues pay for
  • Obtaining insurance for common areas
  • Hiring staff and contractors

Obviously, the HOA doesn’t physically perform all of their responsibilities. For example, they may hire security people, secretaries, and maintenance crews. In some cases, overseeing all of the work requires a separate property manager to assist them. To help with all of the tasks involved, an HOA may also hire a property manager or property management company.

What Do Property Managers Do in a Homeowners Association?

There are two different situations when a community may have both property managers and homeowners associations. In the most commonly discussed case, the property management company works for the HOA. In another case, property owners may own some houses or condos in a community that also has owner-occupied units. In this second case, the property owners and their managers are just property owners with the same status as any other owners. If property owners occupy their own housing or lease it to tenants, they still have the same responsibilities to the HOA.

Property managers as employees of the HOA: HOA members may volunteer for their positions as an investment in their community. As volunteers, they may not have time to oversee all of the day-to-day obligations of the board. In this case, an HOA might hire a property manager or property management company to assist them.

The duties of property managers can vary, but they may include overseeing paid staff or contractors, communicating with residents, collecting dues, and handling emergencies. As employees of the HOA board, property managers report to them.

Property managers as owners within the community: In this case, property managers simply have to abide by the same rules that any owners who occupy their homes do. This situation is somewhat more complex because tenants actually occupy the property. The owners and tenants may have to cooperate to stay in compliance.

The property managers for leased housing units may make sure that HOA dues get paid if this cost is simply included in the rent. Still, they need to make certain their tenants don’t violate other rules. For example, there may be guidelines about maintaining lawns, how to handle garbage, behavior in common areas, and so on. It’s prudent to include a clause in the lease about adhering to HOA rules and to make sure that renters know the guidelines.

Many HOAs Have Power to Enforce Rules

Typical HOAs will issue warnings if rules get violated. However, they do have legal power to enforce their rules. For example, an HOA can put a lien on a property if HOA dues don’t get paid. If a lawn doesn’t get mowed after a warning, they might send their own landscapers and charge the property owner a high fee. If property managers work for the HOA or are simply managing properties in the community, the HOA will factor into management duties.

The post Homeowners Associations vs. Property Management – What’s the Difference? appeared first on The Official AppFolio Blog.