Posts Tagged ‘Property Management’

How to Tell That Your Lease is Working

Written by Landlord Property Management Magazine on . Posted in Blog

Lease_RenewalMany of us think of a lease agreement as the ultimate weapon, wielded only when there’s a legal dispute.  The rest of the time it sits dormant in a file drawer.

But a lease needs to do more than that.

Fortunately, few of us will have to put our lease to the ultimate test. Yet all of us need it as a day-to-day guide to managing the rental property. Tenants need it, too, as a daily reminder of what is expected of them.

If you are having problems with your tenants, than your lease may not be working.

That’s why it’s important to be finicky about how your lease agreement reads. The more specific the lease is to your rental property, the more credibility it has with your tenants.

Using generic lease forms that set out the rent requirements and barely more than that leaves everyone in the dark. That can generate conflicts.

Likewise, a lease with too much legal mumbo jumbo is like having no lease at all. If the tenant can’t understand it, they are more likely to ignore it.

View the lease less as a legal document, and more as a road map for the relationship with the tenant. It will be a more effective tool if you hold your tenants to the rules, but also meet your own responsibilities, like quick response to a repair request or noise complaint.

Be prepared to enforce any policy stated in the lease. Don’t use tough language if you don’t plan to enforce it — like threatening to evict a tenant for getting a pet, then turning away when it happens. Otherwise, the tenant will soon call your bluff, and problems will spiral.

Similarly, don’t accuse tenants of breaking the lease when they do something that’s not in there.

Stay in your tenant’s mind during the term of the lease. Something as simple as a rent receipt or email can remind tenants they are under a lease agreement.

Make sure your lease agreement is something you can live with — and it will be much easier for your tenants to live with it, too.


logo_aaoa American Apartment Owners Association | Company Website 

Rental property management can be very demanding. Our job is to make this day-to-day property management process smoother. AAOA provides a host of services ranging from tenant screening to landlord rental application forms and contractor directory to apartment financing. 

2014 Predictions for Apartment Managers and Real Estate Professionals

Written by Landlord Property Management Magazine on . Posted in Blog

Appfolio_2014PredictionsIf the end of the year numbers from the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) are any indication of what we can expect in 2014 — managers and property owners in the multifamily housing market have plenty to smile about.

NAHB reported building permit issuance jumped more than 15% in October. There was so not-so-nice news though.  While the West and Southern regions experienced healthy increases, 15.4% and 9.4% respectively, the Midwest reported a steep drop of 9.6%.

Resident Demographics

It looks like 2014 is going to be the year for filet mignon and top ramen. There are some indications that luxury and high-end apartment home communities, along with economy units for students and recent grads, can expect better occupancy rates than mid-priced properties.

On one end there is a  high number of recent college graduates saddled with high student debt loans. On the other end, baby boomers with extra cash and empty-nest syndrome are trading the large family home for a smaller dwelling.

Sustainability and Digital Trends

Back in 2011, Multifamily Executive Magazine reported more than 60% of participants in a residential survey conducted by Strata Research said that environmental elements were high on the list of things they considered when choosing a place to rent. That trend is expected to continue into 2014. Evidence shows that more people expect low-energy appliances and windows with lower U-values and better thermal performance.

There is still some disparity between what consumers want and how much they are willing to pay for environmentally friendly features in apartments. The gap is beginning to narrow as residents learn more about how saving money and saving the planet can work together.

Residents in 2014 will be looking for electric car fueling centers, built-in iPad docking stations and community access to wi-fi and Cat-5.

Visuals and Aesthetics

Glass Magazine reports that commercial customers are demanding windows that not only provide superior thermal performance, but also have less visual obstruction and uninterrupted sight-lines. Look for more vinyl and less metal based windows in newer apartment homes and retrofit buildings. Fenestration trends include addressing the demand for aesthetics, sustainability and performance in one package.

Residents want more green space — with connectivity. Property owners will hear more requests for community gardens, rooftop retreats and common areas to socialize with other residents and online friends.

This new year will bring many exciting opportunities for property managers to connect better with current residents and make changes to lure new renters to their property with eco-friendly features and digital everything. Bottom line. Expect 2014 to be an exciting year with last years emerging trends gaining more traction and stability, and new technology opening doors to create better relationships between real estate professionals and people searching for a new place to call home.


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.

Show And Tell, Making An Apartment Tour Memorable

Written by Landlord Property Management Magazine on . Posted in Blog

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Many apartment communities do not have the budget or the decorating pizzazz to stage a furnished model.

A hodge podge of abandoned furniture will not improve the marketing presence of the apartment, (with evergrowing concerns about bedbugs…this could create a whole new range of problems.)

The lack of a model often sets a negative tone, when a prospect asks to see an apartment.  The first experience the prospect has is negative..”we don’t have a model.”

“I can show you a vacant apartment”..Just the language has an unappealing tone….vacant..vacated….consider including the term “vacant” with words that don’t belong in a marketing conversation.  ”Lets take a look at our two bedroom.?”  Or instead of jumping in, with a “we don’t have a model, but I could show you a vacant”…could we respond with an offer to show an unfurnished model home?

A cost effective alternative to the undertaking of furnishing four or five rooms with accessories from Pottery Barn or Pier One. A mini-model can fit any budget.

imageMini models can be structured with budgets ranging from $25 to $100.  The presence of kitchen, bath, closet or laundry accessories can soften the impact of an unfurnished apartment home.  Mugs, hot chocolate, and a basket of star shaped marshmellows offers a focal point in the apartment, a unique objectt for a prospect to remember. A sink full of yellow rubber ducks or a themed shower curtain are quick easy options.

If its apartment touring day, a propsective resident will tour a half dozen apartment homes, double that for weekends.  Mini model accessories can be the item that helps an apartment stand out in a prospects memory.

The mini model accessories can become the move in gift for the new resident. This small addition to the featured apartment gives both the leasing staff and the prospect a focus point. The prospect leaves the property remembering the apartment with the spaghetti basket or the frog shower curtain.

Randomly placing “Resident Delights” can add a fun element to tours creates spontaneity. Opening a freezer to find a sign with treats, “What would you do for a Klondike bar?” Taking the time for a quick snack allows more conversation with the prospect.

Keeping leasing tours fresh with a variety of quick mini models adds some excitement for the leasing team. A property doesn’t have to support an extensive marketing budget to make an impression with available apartment homes.


Lori_Hammond Lori Hammond | Company Website | LinkedIn Connect |

Lori has 30+ years’ experience in the Property Management Industry, working with both market rate and affordable housing.  Lori has been privileged to work with some tremendous industry leaders during employment tenures with Oxford Management, NHP Management, AIMCO, Alliance Residential, Boston Capital, The Sterling Group, P.K. Housing and currently Management Resources Development.

Solving The Occupancy Equation, Affecting Vacancy With Leasing Prospects And Closing Ratios

Written by Landlord Property Management Magazine on . Posted in Blog

Leasing apartments is a skill for property management professionals. To forecast the results, there are two measurable factors: the number of leasing opportunities who make appointments or arrive at the property; and the number (percent) that commit to lease.

Explaining the financial impact of vacant apartments and the recovery period will assist in creating a sense of urgency for the staff to secure leases and move ins.

With average rents of $600, every day an apartment remains vacant, the property loses $20. This doesn’t seem to be an amount of lost revenue to cause concern. The same twenty dollars increases to $140 each week. With ten vacant apartments, the loss is $200 each day, totaling $6000 per month. The property quickly has accumulated 3000 days of vacancy loss.

imageFacing this inventory of vacant apartments and several pending move outs; employing an occupancy matrix can forecast the timing to restore the desired occupancy. Part of this analysis includes the historical trend of prospective leasing visits received each week or month, and the number of sales/leases secured. A property supporting 20 leasing opportunities and securing 4 leases, has a closing ratio of 20%. With no changes or adjustments; to overcome ten vacant apartments would take more than 2 months, resulting in more than $10,000 of vacancy loss.

To increase move ins, the property needs more leases. This can be achieved by either increasing the number of leasing opportunities coming to visit the property or increasing the number of individuals who make the decision to lease.

Doubling the volume of visits to the property to 40 individuals will result in 8 leases. With this increased traffic, adding some closing tools; complimentary carport for a month, discounted security deposit, a structured follow up effort, the closing ratio could grow to 30%. This results in 12 leases. Occupancy can be back on track within thirty days instead of sixty, recovering a potential $6,000 into the revenue stream.

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Without an adjustment to the number of visits or the leases secured, the number of vacant apartments lingers on resulting in a financial drain on the property. Setting goals for prospective leasing visits, securing commitments to lease and completing the move ins, will put the property on road to occupancy recovery.


Lori_Hammond Lori Hammond | Company Website | LinkedIn Connect |

Lori has 30+ years’ experience in the Property Management Industry, working with both market rate and affordable housing.  Lori has been privileged to work with some tremendous industry leaders during employment tenures with Oxford Management, NHP Management, AIMCO, Alliance Residential, Boston Capital, The Sterling Group, P.K. Housing and currently Management Resources Development.

End-of-Year Lease Check-Up

Written by Landlord Property Management Magazine on . Posted in Blog

Lease_RenewalAs the year comes to a close and a new one is set to begin, it’s a good idea to make sure your tenant leases are in order.

Simple oversights or non-compliance can lead to headaches, lawsuits, and if you’re not careful, thousands of dollars of losses.

Here are a few items you need to review:

1. Security Deposit Terms
Security deposits are perhaps the biggest bone of contention for both landlords and tenants.

One of biggest issues that often comes up is the actual amount of the deposit. Make sure that you are not overcharging tenants for their security deposit, or you could end up in hot water.Each state has very specific laws that regulate security deposits. It is worth a quick check to make sure your state has not changed their laws over the last year, and double check that you are compliant with any limitations written into the law.

Another hot button is when the security deposit needs to be returned. Make sure your policy is in line with state law.

If you allow pets, be sure to clearly stipulate whether a separate pet deposit is required, what the deposit covers, and when it will be returned upon acceptable surrender of the unit.

Be careful to check that your security deposit is clearly delineated from other fees that you may be charging, especially the non-refundable fees.

2. Who is Actually Living in Your Unit?
It is extremely common for tenants to flow in and out of a unit, without the landlord’s knowledge. One tenant moves on, and another one takes their place…but nobody notifies you.

In order for you to be able to enforce the provisions of your lease, every adult tenant in the unit needs to be listed on the lease.

So, it probably can’t hurt to send a friendly end-of-year notice to your tenants, confirming who is supposed to be living in the unit, based upon the names on the lease.

If you suddenly learn that the tenants have changed, you should run a tenant check on the new tenants and amend your lease to reflect the changes (assuming the results of the tenant background check are acceptable).

3. The Potential for Crime
Make sure your lease is compliant with the laws of your state in regard to criminal behavior.

Many cities and states are enacting ordinances that make landlords responsible for tenant crimes and other actions. It is not uncommon for these laws to require landlords to take legal action against a tenant in order to avoid hefty fines on the landlord.

In light of this reality, it is especially important to confirm that the tenants who signed the lease originally (those who passed a criminal background check) are still the same tenants that occupy the unit.

If not (and if they have unacceptable criminal backgrounds), you could find yourself in a heap of trouble if they commit a crime in your unit.


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About the American Apartment Owners Association

American Apartment Owners Association offers discounts on products and services for all your property management needs. Find out more at www.joinaaoa.org.

The Future is Here: Property Management Goes Mobile

Written by Landlord Property Management Magazine on . Posted in Blog

By: Jason Randall | VP Product Management AppFolio

It wasn’t long ago when “mobile devices” and “property management” wouldn’t have been used in the same sentence. But as tablets and smartphones have grown both in power and capability, they’ve transformed the field of property management.

If a renter is searching for their next rental home, they’ll likely open up their smartphone, tablet or laptop and start investigating properties. Renters have the power to search by neighborhood, read online reviews, look into crime reports and view 3D previews of available units – all on their mobile devices.

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San Francisco Area Map Search with Crime Filter

Once they find a potential home, they can use their mobile devices to fill out applications, scan drivers’ licenses and send it off to the property management company – all without ever setting foot on the property. And after they’re moved in, they’re just as likely to use a mobile device to make rent payments, enter maintenance requests and communicate with property managers.

Property managers have also benefited greatly from the convenience and flexibility that mobile devices offer. Mobile apps and management portals let property managers screen prospective residents and access client accounts without even visiting their offices, resulting in expedited background checks and quick resolution to billing questions. And since long-distance residents can now apply for rentals remotely, property managers have a larger pool of potential renters. Property managers can use mobile payment apps for both accepting and processing payments, freeing them up to pursue other business.

If you’re new to mobile apps, all of this might sound like behavior that’s limited to just a few tech-friendly firms and residents. But mobile apps have really gone mainstream. At AppFolio, we’ve seen firsthand the increase in mobile usage and demand with the thousands of companies who use our Web-based property management software every day. We’re tracking the rapid growth of mobile across our customer base as well as with their residents and have gathered some interesting statistics:

  • The number of residents who submitted rental applications from a mobile device rose by 22.37 percent in 2013
  • Residents using online “Resident Portals” from a mobile device to submit maintenance requests or payments rose from 22.61 to 27.88 percent in one year
  • Residents paying their rent from a mobile device rose from 16.96% in 2012 to about 25% in 2013 – a whopping increase of 45.34 percent
  • Property owners are going mobile too, with a 29 percent increase in visits from mobile devices to owner portals to receive monthly statements

At this point, there’s no doubt that smartphones and tablets are becoming embedded in every facet of property management. As the world goes increasingly digital, modern residents will expect – and even prioritize – mobile convenience when choosing between properties. Luckily, it’s a convenience that benefits property owners and managers too.


jrandallJason Randall is the VP Product Management with AppFolio, providers of Web-based property management software . He is responsible for setting the product and market entry strategy for all AppFolio products.

The Power & Importance of Likeability

Written by Landlord Property Management Magazine on . Posted in Blog

People do business with people they like

It seems obvious doesn’t it? Don’t you automatically gravitate towards people who you like? Don’t you just find yourself attracted to people that you perceive to be friendly and nice?

Think about it…if you walked into a store and one associate smiled while the other had a snarky smirk, who would you ask for help?

So I ask you…why do so many apartment communities still insist on hiring people who aren’t all that likeable? I bet right now you have an image of someone in your mind who you worked with, or worked for or managed that just decided s/he didn’t need to be nice to anyone-except maybe for the cute residents in the community.

Less Than Half

According to an Apartments.com white paper (Preferences of Today’s Renter) less than half of prospects who visited a community left with a favorable impression. Is it just me or is that just unacceptable? Why do we tolerate this?

A couple of weeks ago I walked into a client’s community to begin a video project. I went up (wasn’t greeted) to the leasing consultant, introduced myself and let her know the reason I was in the community. She did not introduce herself and just gave me the vibe that she wasn’t all that interested in helping me. There was really nothing about her that gave off the impression of warmth or friendliness.

Later in the day we had to film in the office, so we were around this leasing consultant quite a bit for about a half-hour. I don’t remember her smiling at all, incidentally. Once when I tried to make conversation with her, she pretty much ignored what I had to say. In fairness, I will say that she wasn’t overtly rude to clients or residents. She just wasn’t friendly, and I couldn’t wait to get out of the office and the negative vibe around that associate.

That’s What Friends Are For

The following week I was working in another community managed by the same company and what a difference! The assistant manager called me the day before to offer her help. When we arrived both the assistant and the leasing consultant were friendly, welcoming, engaging and went out of their way to help. They were also a lot of fun to be around!

I noticed that residents and clients seemed to genuinely enjoy being around them as well. (As a former community manager I always eavesdrop on what the onsite teams are doing and saying!) There was such a different feel and vibe to this office as compared to the other one; and I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that a prospect visiting both communities would feel the difference too. According to the Apartments.com white paper I quoted from earlier, only 47% of prospects rated their overall experience as excellent or very good. I know we can do better…and it starts with better people.

The next time you have to bring on a new associate, or if you’re currently evaluating whether to retain an associate remember these things:

  • You can train sales skills.
  • You can train closing techniques.
  • You can train how to answer the phone in the most effective way.
  • You can’t train “nice.”
  • You can’t train “friendly.”

Multifamily housing is such a people-driven business … doesn’t it make sense to have associates who are good around people?


Rommel Anacan | Company Website | LinkedIn Connect |

Rommel is the president of The Relationship Difference; a corporate training, motivational speaking and consulting firm.  He is a multi-family housing veteran, having worked at all levels of the industry from onsite to corporate, where he developed a reputation for solving common industry challenges in an uncommon way.

What Does Property Maintenance have to do with Resident Retention?

Written by Landlord Property Management Magazine on . Posted in Blog

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Maintenance is often regarded as a necessary evil or odd stepchild to the whole rental experience.   Like in a restaurant, the busboy is not high on the totem pole, yet remove or neglect the bus service and the restaurant falls into chaos and diners are not happy.

Maintenance_CostThe same can be said in the apartment industry.  Neglect maintenance and you will quickly find out how important maintenance is to your residents.  In 2012, SatisFacts Research published an e-book that revealed the highest-ranking factor for an apartment resident’s renewal decision was “Quality of maintenance service provided”.  Maintenance ranked higher than perks, parties and even the desire for more parking.

Keeping in mind that maintenance is such a great concern for lease renewing residents, successful property management teams look at maintenance providers as a valuable asset to be used in resident retention programs.  Consider the cost of routine maintenance against the massive cost of a rental make-ready in the event that a resident does not re-new their lease.

List or identify the ten top routine maintenance requests in the past year.  Determine if the item could have been quickly resolved by asking a few key questions such as:  “Is the pilot lit?”, “Have you pushed the reset button under the garbage disposal?”, “Have you reset the GFCI button on the electrical outlet?  Team up with your maintenance team or provider for a much more extensive list of simple questions that may resolve an issue while your resident is on the phone.  Asking the right questions will also save on your maintenance costs.  Sending out a plumber to reset a button is very expensive use of a resources and a potential time waster for your resident.

An often-overlooked aspect of maintenance is the follow up call to ensure the work was satisfactory and the work solved the resident’s issues.   This a good time to practice your customer service tools and ask the resident if there is anything else they need.

Use the maintenance team as a secret weapon in the war   against vacancies. Make sure the residents know who the maintenance team members are; introduce them, mention their long professional service to the community.  Emphasize their maintenance proficiency and ability to perform service requests in a timely manner.

The property management and maintenance team are not separate teams.   As an example, the property management & maintenance departments are very much like offense and defense teams in a football game.  Both work as one team and both are critical to the success of a winning game.  One makes the points and the other defends the points.  One without the other spells disaster.  Communication is key to a winning strategy. Both teams need to know the end goal.  Treat both your management/leasing team and maintenance team as equals; they are two sides of the same coin.   Use both your leasing and maintenance departments as a two-prong approach to filling vacancies and controlling resident retention.  In other words; a happy resident will be a long term resident.

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Frankie & JerryBuffalo Maintenance, Inc. provides comprehensive maintenance and repair solutions for the rental housing industry.  Jerry L’Ecuyer  is a licensed contractor & real estate broker.  Frankie Alvarez is the Operations Director and has been involved with apartment maintenance & construction for over 18 years.

Before You Hit ‘Send’-Three Reasons to Call Instead!

Written by Landlord Property Management Magazine on . Posted in Blog

By: Rommel Anacan | www.RelationshipDifference.com

E-mail imageSome of my favorite things to read online are the things people say when they’re commenting on stories! I am always amazed at how ugly, mean-spirited and downright awful some people can be when they communicate behind a wall of anonymity provided by the computer.

Here are some comments I found on a few sites:

You are a FOOL–with a LOT of company.

3 crap articles in a row.  You’re on a roll Doyel.

Obviously Ravens fans can’t speel, no surprise.

Do you think any of these people would actually make those comments if they were standing in front of the people they directed them to? I don’t. (And BTW-I love that the comment about someone not being able to spell has the word “spell” spelled wrong.)

When I was the customer care manager of a property management company in Southern California, I discovered very quickly how making a phone call could be the best thing you do in resolving a complaint! I usually had a practice of communicating with people in the same way they first contacted me, unless they told me otherwise. So of course I loved it when people emailed me or wrote me a letter because I could respond back without having to actually talk to them! (Admit it, you feel the same way!)

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But sometimes I’d notice that an issue that should have been resolved would keep going; or sometimes I’d see that my email back would trigger another email that seemed more angry and frustrated and the first, which of course, was not my goal!

Here is the funny thing…when I’d see these escalated emails or letters, I would then pick up the phone and reach out to the customer personally. In a majority of the cases the residents would typically be very nice and sometimes apologize for how they communicated to me in their writings.

It seems that the one-on-one connection was often enough to defuse a customer’s anger. Sure, I often had challenges that still needed to be resolved, but I found that residents were often more willing to work with me and see my point of view when I spoke with them personally, instead of relying on email or letters. I can’t count how many I’ve spoken with who thanked me for calling them and working with them, even when I wasn’t able to give them what they wanted!

Why You Should Consider Calling Instead of Writing

It’s Easier to Sound Like a Jerk Over Email

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This one works both ways. I’ve seen many emails from associates to residents that made me cringe and fear for the job security of the associate who wrote them! As I talked about earlier, when you are safe and secure behind your desk, it’s easier for you to say something you shouldn’t say, or to say it in a way that you shouldn’t. It’s also easier for your upset resident to do the same thing.

When you are talking in person (or on the phone) there is a tendency for people to want to find some type of common ground, because not everyone is comfortable being combative or aggressive in person.

It’s Easier to be Misunderstood Over Email

There is no way around this one, letters and emails often read harsher than they are intended. This is why you’ve probably heard that you should never use email to correct or discipline or chasten someone. The other issue with written communication is that it can be looked at and stewed over again and again, further inflaming an already upset resident. If you must send an email read and re-read it from the customer’s point of view~and have someone else (who is generally level headed) to read it for you if you have any doubts!

Personally Connecting is Powerful

Personal ConnectionWhile technology allows us to communicate in every way possible, it also seems to isolate us from people as well. In today’s world where we text more than we call, where we Facebook more than we meet for coffee, there is something emotionally powerful when you pick up the phone and say,

“Hi Roger. This is Kimberly from the Quail Run office. I just got your email and I am so sorry about your experience and wanted to talk to you right away about it…”

Before you click on the “send” button, would you be better off picking up the phone instead?


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Rommel Anacan is the president of The Relationship Difference; a corporate training, motivational speaking and consulting firm in Orange County, California. He is a multifamily industry veteran, having worked at all levels of the industry from onsite to corporate, where he developed a reputation for tackling common challenges in an uncommon way. For more information visit his website at www.RelationshipDifference.com

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