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Triple Win Property Management Blog

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SFR Property Management Problems and Solutions

In recent years, the single-family residence (SFR) rental market has seen significant growth as more property owners recognize the potential for steady income and long-term appreciation. With this rise in popularity comes a unique set of challenges for the rental property managers (PMs) who are tasked with overseeing these properties. Unlike multi-family units, managing single-family homes can present a range of issues that require tailored solutions. Scattered-site properties also present a logistical challenge, as they are by nature harder to service and manage. From finding quality residents to handling unexpected maintenance emergencies, a strategic and proactive approach is required to ensure a smooth and profitable rental experience. Note that even though we here at Second Nature prefer the term "resident" over "tenant" in order to foster the human element, the word "tenant" may still be used occasionally due to its long-standing legal and real estate context. What Are the Most Common Property Management Challenges? The most common problems faced by SFR property managers generally fall into three buckets: finding quality residents; maintenance and repairs; and time management and communication. Let's explore each. #1 Finding Quality Residents One of the most critical aspects of managing SFRs is resident placement. Indeed, inadequate resident screening processes can significantly impact resident retention as well as profitability. That’s because poor screening can lead to high turnover rates (including evictions), increased property wear and tear, and ultimately, financial strain. Additionally, attracting responsible residents who will treat the property with care and adhere to lease agreements can be particularly challenging in competitive rental markets. #2 Maintenance and Repairs Unexpected maintenance issues are a common hassle for SFR property managers. From plumbing leaks to HVAC failures, emergencies can arise without warning, leading to unplanned expenses and logistical challenges. Finding reliable and responsive contractors who are able to address repairs promptly adds yet another layer of complexity. The inability to swiftly manage these issues can result in resident dissatisfaction as well as potential property damage. #3 Time Management and Communication Managing multiple single-family homes requires excellent time management skills. Balancing the diverse needs of residents, coordinating with vendors, and ensuring regular property inspections can be overwhelming. That’s why it’s essential to establish clear and timely communication channels to maintain good resident relationships and efficient operations. However, juggling these responsibilities can lead to lapses in communication, resulting in time-consuming misunderstandings and unresolved issues. Solutions for a Smoother SFR Rental Experience While the challenges of managing SFR rentals are significant, there are effective strategies and tools available to streamline operations and enhance resident satisfaction. Here are some solutions to common property management business problems. Strategic Resident Screening Implementing a robust resident screening process is crucial for minimizing vacancy rates and securing responsible residents. To this end, utilizing professional screening services can help identify prospective tenants by thoroughly evaluating their rental history, credit scores, and background checks. Clear lease terms and expectations should be established from the outset to ensure residents understand the responsibilities and obligations that occupancy brings. Learn more: Tenant Screening Tips for PMs 10 Steps to Onboard New Tenants Proactive Maintenance Proactive maintenance is key to preventing costly emergencies and maintaining the property’s condition. Scheduling regular preventative maintenance inspections allows property managers to identify and address potential issues before they escalate. Building relationships with reputable and responsive repair professionals ensures that maintenance tasks and requests are handled promptly. Consider leveraging technology that allows residents to conduct their own regular inspections to provide early detection of problems and streamline the property maintenance process (learn more). Vendor and Supplier Selection Choosing the right property management service providers and vendors is crucial to successful property management. Establishing relationships with reliable and responsive contractors ensures that maintenance and repair issues are addressed promptly, reducing downtime and inconvenience for renters. It’s essential to vet vendors thoroughly, checking their credentials, references, and reviews to ensure they meet the necessary quality and reliability standards. Building a network of trusted professionals can lead to better service rates, priority scheduling, and consistent adherence to due dates as well as work quality standards. Additionally, negotiating long-term contracts with preferred vendors can offer cost savings and a more streamlined management process. By prioritizing quality vendor and supplier selection, property managers can enhance the overall efficiency of their operations and maintain high tenant satisfaction. Technology and Automation Incorporating technology and automation into property management can significantly enhance efficiency and communication. For instance, online portals for collecting rent payments and addressing maintenance requests simplify transactions and ensure transparency. They can also facilitate incentives for prompt rent payment, follow up on late payments, and generally optimize rent collection with an eye to optimizing cash flow. Property management software can also streamline vendor and tenant communication, track maintenance schedules, and provide detailed financial reporting. These tools not only save time but also build trust and improve resident satisfaction by ensuring quick and effective responses to their needs. Naturally, you will need to conduct a due diligence process of technology selection and provider assessment that addresses pricing, customer support, and support for the features that are mission-critical for your organization. Second Nature’s Outlook Effective property management is essential for maximizing the profitability and longevity of single-family home rentals. By addressing common challenges with strategic solutions, property managers can enhance resident satisfaction, reduce vacancy rates, and maintain the property’s value. Embracing technology and proactive management practices are critical components of any successful SFR business strategy. Property managers are encouraged to explore these solutions and adopt the approaches that best suit their specific needs. Learn more about property management company best practices, marketing, and more in our Second Nature Community.

Calendar icon June 7, 2024

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Single family home

How to Craft a Notice to Tenant to Clean Property [with Template]

Ensuring that rental properties are well-maintained is crucial for property managers and landlords, not only to protect the value of their real estate investment but also to provide safe and pleasant living environments for residents. One important tool for maintaining property standards is a "Notice to Tenant to Clean Property" letter that communicates concerns about cleanliness and outlines necessary actions for residents. In today’s post we’ll cover essential elements you should consider around transparency and effectiveness, as well as a sample letter you can use to craft your own notice. A note on language: Here at Second Nature, we prefer to use the terms "resident" and “residency” rather than “tenant” and “tenancy,” in order to emphasize the human element of property management work. However, there may be instances where terms such as "tenant" are used for legal or industry-standard purposes within documents or communications. In these cases, please understand that our intent remains the same – to provide clear, accurate, and meaningful information to all people involved in the business relationship. What to Do When Your Tenant is a Hoarder? Hoarding can present significant challenges for property managers. It not only poses health and safety risks but can also lead to severe property damage. Here are steps to take when dealing with a hoarding situation: Understand the issue Hoarding is often a complex psychological condition that requires sensitivity and understanding. It’s important to approach the situation with empathy and awareness of the resident’s potential mental health needs. This understanding can guide your interactions and help you manage the situation more effectively. Conduct thorough inspections Regular property inspections are crucial for identifying hoarding behaviors early. These inspections should be conducted in accordance with the lease agreement and local laws. Document any findings with photographs and detailed notes to provide a clear record of the condition of the property. Communicate clearly and compassionately When addressing the issue with the resident, clear and compassionate communication is key. Explain the concerns and the potential consequences if the situation is not addressed. Emphasize that the goal is to ensure a safe and habitable living environment. Provide a formal notice If the hoarding issue violates the lease agreement, a formal "Notice to Clean Property" may be necessary (more on this below). Collaborate with professionals In severe cases, it may be beneficial to involve professionals who specialize in hoarding disorder. This can include social workers, mental health professionals, or professional organizers who can provide the resident with the necessary support to address their hoarding behavior. Follow legal procedures Ensure all actions taken are in compliance with local and state laws. This includes providing the correct amount of notice, following proper eviction procedures if necessary, and respecting the resident’s rights throughout the process. Document all actions Keep thorough records of all communications, inspections, and notices related to the hoarding issue. This documentation can be crucial if legal action becomes necessary and helps protect you as the property manager. By addressing hoarding with a combination of empathy, clear communication, and adherence to legal requirements, property managers can manage these challenging situations more effectively while maintaining the safety and integrity of their properties. Identifying When a "Notice to Clean Property" Letter is Necessary A "Notice to Clean Property" letter becomes necessary under various circumstances. It's essential to recognize these situations in order to maintain the property's value and condition, and to ensure compliance with lease agreements. Routine inspections Routine inspections are an integral part of property management, allowing managers to identify issues early and address them before they escalate. If an inspection reveals unsanitary conditions, excessive clutter, hoarding, or neglect of cleanliness, a formal notice is warranted. This proactive measure helps maintain the property and encourages residents to uphold their end of the lease agreement. Failing to address these issues promptly can lead to severe problems such as mold growth, pest infestations, plumbing issues due to neglected maintenance, and increased costs associated with turnover when a property is vacated. Complaints Neighbor complaints regarding cleanliness issues, such as uncollected trash, odors, or visible clutter, can indicate a need for intervention. Addressing these complaints promptly with a notice demonstrates that management is responsive to concerns and committed to maintaining a harmonious living environment. Ignoring such complaints can exacerbate the problem, leading to pest infestations that can create an unhealthy living environment for residents. Lease violations Most lease agreements include clauses that outline residents' responsibilities for maintaining the property in a clean and sanitary condition. When these clauses are violated, issuing a notice is necessary to enforce the lease terms and remind residents of their obligations. Failing to act on these violations can result in significant property damage, including plumbing issues from unaddressed leaks or blockages, mold growth from damp conditions, and ultimately, costly repairs and renovations needed to restore the property for the next resident. This can also lead to increased turnover costs, as the property may need extensive cleaning and repairs before it can be re-leased. The Importance of Clear Communication Open and effective communication is vital in property management, especially when addressing cleanliness issues. A clear, well-crafted notice helps prevent minor issues from becoming major problems and sets the stage for resolution. Proactive approach Early intervention through timely communication can prevent minor cleanliness issues from escalating into significant problems. Addressing concerns as soon as they are identified shows residents that management is diligent and proactive. Setting expectations A well-crafted notice clarifies expectations for resident maintenance responsibilities. By explicitly stating what is required, renters understand their obligations and the standards of occupancy they must meet. Documentation The notice serves as a documented record of the identified issue and the steps taken to address it. This documentation is crucial for protecting the property manager's interests if further action is needed, such as additional fees or eviction proceedings. Note that property managers can proactively address cleanliness and maintenance issues by clearly setting expectations with new tenants from the outset. This can be achieved by including a detailed cleanliness clause in the lease agreement, conducting a thorough walkthrough of the rental unit at move-in, and providing a welcome packet to ensure each tenant knows their responsibilities. During the initial walkthrough, managers should highlight specific cleaning requirements and standards, demonstrating proper care for different areas of the property. Regular communication, such as periodic reminders and tips for maintaining the property, can further reinforce these expectations and prevent issues from arising, ensuring a smooth and mutually respectful resident-PM relationship. Crafting a Compelling and Effective Notice Creating an effective "Notice to Clean Property" involves several key elements that ensure clarity and encourage compliance. Introduction Begin the written notice with a clear statement of its purpose as a formal notification regarding the property's cleanliness and upkeep condition. Include the property address and the resident's name(s) to avoid any confusion. Specific observations Detail the cleanliness issues observed during the inspection or reported by others. Use clear, descriptive language to ensure there is no ambiguity about the concerns. For example, instead of saying "the property is dirty," specify "dirty dishes are piling up, attracting roaches/pests; or “an abundance of waste materials is creating a health hazard/fire hazard." This also helps differentiate the cleanliness issue from normal wear and tear. Reference to lease agreement (optional) If applicable, cite relevant clauses in the rental agreement that outline the resident’s responsibility for maintaining the property in a clean and sanitary condition. This reference reinforces the legal basis for the notice and the resident's obligations – and helps ensure that you are respecting applicable tenant rights and state laws. Outline of expectations Clearly define the expected level of cleanliness and specific actions required to rectify the situation. A timeframe for follow-up is useful for helping the resident to address the issues, such as a 7-day notice period to clean. This approach gives residents a clear understanding of what needs to be done and by when. Consequences for non-compliance (optional) Briefly outline potential consequences for failure to address the cleanliness concerns within the designated timeframe. This might include increased inspections, withholding of security deposits, or legal action, including a potential order to vacate/eviction notice. Note that although it may well become necessary to instigate an eviction process, it’s important to maintain a professional tone and avoid excessive threats to encourage cooperation. Additional Considerations for Specific Situations Different scenarios may require tailored approaches when issuing a proper notice to clean the property. Health and safety hazards If the cleanliness issue poses a potential health or safety hazard, such as mildew/mold growth, pest infestations, or overflowing sewage, prioritize immediate action. In such cases, involving relevant authorities might be necessary to ensure the issue is resolved promptly and safely. Chronic offenders For residents with a history of neglecting cleanliness standards, consider outlining a stricter course of action. This might include increased inspections or even potential lease termination if the behavior continues. Clear documentation and a consistent approach are essential when dealing with chronic offenses. Delivery Methods and Maintaining Records Ensuring that the notice is delivered and documented correctly is crucial for effective property management. Delivery methods Consider the following methods for delivering the notice: Hand-delivery with a signed receipt: This method ensures the resident receives the notice and acknowledges its receipt. Certified mail with return receipt requested: This provides documented proof that the notice was sent and received. Other methods with documented proof of delivery: Any method that provides verifiable proof of delivery is acceptable. Maintaining records Retain copies of the notice, delivery confirmation, and any relevant communication for your records. This documentation is crucial if further action is necessary and serves as evidence that the issue was addressed appropriately. Free “Notice to Tenant to Clean Property” Template Providing a template can simplify the process for property managers. However, it's essential to note that legal advice is recommended to ensure compliance with local laws and regulations. ``` [Your Name] [Your Address] [City, State, ZIP Code] [Date] [Resident's Name] [Property Address] [City, State, ZIP Code] Re: Notice to Clean Property Dear [Resident's Name], This letter serves as a formal notification regarding the cleanliness condition of the property located at [Property Address]. During a recent inspection conducted on [Date], the following issues were observed: - [Detail the specific cleanliness issues] As per the lease agreement, Section [Lease Section], you are required to maintain the property in a clean and sanitary condition. To rectify the situation, please take the following actions by [Specify Deadline, e.g., 14 days from the date of this letter]: - [List the specific actions required] Failure to address these concerns within the specified timeframe may result in [potential consequences, such as additional fees, increased inspections, or eviction proceedings]. We appreciate your prompt attention to this matter. Please contact us at [Your Phone Number] if you have any questions or need further clarification. Sincerely, [Your Name] [Title] [Contact Information] ... Promoting a Culture of Responsibility Maintaining a clean and well-kept property is a shared responsibility between residents and property management. By promoting a culture of responsibility, property managers can create a positive living environment that benefits everyone involved. Encouraging residents to take pride in their living spaces and providing resources such as Second Nature’s Resident Benefits Package (RBP) can foster this culture. The RBP can include regular maintenance tips, access to cleaning services, or rewards for maintaining high standards of cleanliness. Ultimately, a collaborative approach leads to what we at Second Nature call a "triple win" — residents enjoy a pleasant living environment, owners maintain their investments, and PMs have an easier role to play in maintaining these thriving, beneficial relationships. Learn more about Second Nature’s RBP.

Calendar icon June 7, 2024

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How to Draft a “Notice to Vacate” Letter to Tenants [with free template]

Asking a resident to vacate a real estate property is often a delicate and challenging task for rental property managers. Whether due to lease expiration or lease violations, a “Notice to Vacate” requires sensitivity, clarity, and legal compliance. This article aims to guide you through the essential steps to ensure a smooth transition and protect your rights as a property manager, as well as the rights of the property owner. It's important to note that the terms "tenant" and "resident" may be used interchangeably throughout this article. We prefer the term “resident,” as this emphasizes the human nature of our relationships, as opposed to more transactional qualities. Depending on your jurisdiction, there might be specific legal distinctions, so always refer to the terminology used in your lease agreement and local laws. Understanding When a "Notice to Vacate" Letter Is Necessary Lease Expiration When a fixed-term lease reaches its end date and you do not intend to renew, a “Notice to Vacate” serves as a formal declaration to the tenant that they must vacate the property. This tenant notice is essential to set clear expectations and allow the tenant sufficient time to make alternative living arrangements. Month-to-month Lease Term In the case of a month-to-month tenancy, terminating the rental agreement requires proper notice in adherence to the timeline specified in the lease or local law. Typically, this ranges from a 30-day notice to a 60-day notice. A well-drafted notice ensures compliance with legal requirements and provides the tenant with a sufficient amount of time to vacate. Lease Violation If a tenant has committed a serious breach of the lease agreement, such as non-payment of rent, property damage, or illegal activities, issuing a “Notice to Vacate” is a necessary step in addressing the violation. This notice should clearly outline the breach and the consequences of failing to comply. Major Repairs/Renovations There are instances when major repairs or renovations are necessary, and the property must be vacated to ensure the work can be completed safely and efficiently. In such cases, providing a “Notice to Vacate” is crucial. This notice should detail the nature of the repairs or renovations, the expected timeline, and the reasons why vacating the property is necessary. This helps residents understand the urgency and necessity of the situation, while also allowing them adequate time to find alternative accommodation. State and Local Laws State and local laws play a critical role in determining the notice period and the grounds for issuing a "Notice to Vacate." For instance, in California, tenants must be provided with at least 30 days' notice for month-to-month agreements if they have lived in the property for less than a year, and 60 days' notice if they have resided there for more than a year. Additionally, California law imposes strict regulations regarding just cause for eviction, especially in rent-controlled areas. Understanding these regulations is essential to ensure that your notice complies with all legal requirements and avoids potential disputes or legal challenges. Key Considerations Before Drafting Your Letter Review Your Lease Agreement Before drafting your notice, thoroughly review the lease agreement. Pay close attention to the terms regarding notice periods, renewal options, and lease termination procedures. This ensures that your notice aligns with the agreed-upon terms and helps avoid potential disputes. State and Local Regulations Familiarize yourself with tenant laws in your jurisdiction, particularly those related to notice periods and grounds for eviction. Regulations can vary significantly, and understanding these rules is crucial to ensuring your notice is legally compliant. Documentation Gather all documentation pertaining to the tenancy, including the lease agreement, any violation notices, and communication records. Comprehensive records support your case if the tenant contests the notice or if legal action becomes necessary. Crafting a Clear and Compliant Notice to Vacate Letter Introduction Begin the letter by stating its purpose as a formal notification to vacate the premises. Identify the property by address and the tenant(s) by name. If applicable, reference the lease agreement to establish context and legitimacy. Vacate Date Clearly specify the last day the tenant has to vacate, ensuring that it aligns with the required notice period outlined in the lease or by law. Providing written notice of an exact move-out date avoids any ambiguity and sets a clear deadline. Reason for Termination (Optional) While not always required, briefly explaining the reason for termination can help maintain transparency. Whether it’s due to lease expiration, non-renewal, or lease violation, keep the explanation concise and professional, avoiding accusatory language. Next Steps Detail the process for returning keys, scheduling a final move-out inspection, and addressing the security deposit return. Include specific deadlines for these actions, as well as preferred methods of communication to facilitate a smooth transition. Additional Considerations for Specific Situations Non-renewal of Lease If the lease is not being renewed due to reasons such as property sale or personal use, briefly state the reason in the notice. This helps the tenant understand the broader context and may ease the transition. Lease Violation When addressing a lease violation, clearly identify the specific breach and potential consequences. Refer to relevant clauses in the lease agreement to substantiate your claims and provide a clear path forward. Eviction Process If the renter fails to vacate according to the designated time frame, outline the next steps, including the possibility of legal action. It’s advisable to seek legal guidance in eviction notice scenarios to ensure compliance with local eviction procedures and applicable state laws. Delivery Methods and Maintaining Records Delivery Methods Ensure that the notice is delivered using a method that provides documented proof of receipt. Options include: Hand-delivery: Obtain a signed receipt from the tenant. Certified mail: Use return receipt requested to confirm delivery. Other documented methods: Any method that provides verifiable proof of delivery. Maintaining Records Retain copies of the lease termination letter, delivery confirmation, and any relevant communication. Keeping thorough records is essential in case of disputes or legal proceedings. Additional Resources and Best Practices Contact Information Include contact information for further inquiries or dispute resolution. Providing a point of contact helps address tenant concerns and facilitates a smoother transition. Professionalism and Courtesy Maintain a professional and courteous demeanor throughout the process. This approach not only reflects well on you as a property manager but also helps mitigate tension and foster a more cooperative environment. Legal Counsel Consider seeking legal advice for complex situations or unfamiliar legal documents. Double-check with a legal professional in order to ensure that your actions comply with all relevant laws. Free Template for Notice to Vacate Letters To assist property managers in drafting a comprehensive and compliant notice, we’ve provided a template below. Note that this template is for informational purposes only, and it’s essential to consult with a legal professional to tailor the type of notice to your specific situation and jurisdiction. ``` [Your Name] [Your Address] [City, State, ZIP Code] [Email Address] [Phone Number] [Date] [Tenant’s Full Name] [Property/Rental Unit Address] [City, State, ZIP Code] RE: Notice to Vacate Dear [Tenant’s Name], This letter serves as formal notification that you are required to vacate the premises at [Property Address] by [Vacate Date]. This notice is given in accordance with the terms of the lease agreement dated [Lease Start Date], which specifies a [number of days]-day notice period for termination. [Optional: The reason for this notice is [brief explanation, e.g., lease expiration, non-renewal, lease violation].] Please ensure that all personal belongings are removed from the property by the vacate date. We will schedule a final move-out walk-through and inspection on [Proposed Inspection Date]. Additionally, please return all keys to [Specified Return Location] by [Key Return Deadline]. To facilitate the return of your security deposit, please provide your forwarding address at your earliest convenience. Should you have any questions or require further information, please contact me at [Your Contact Information]. Thank you for your cooperation. Sincerely, [Your Name] [Your Title, if applicable] ``` Conclusion Drafting a “Notice to Vacate” letter requires careful consideration, adherence to legal requirements, and a professional approach. By following the guidelines outlined in this blog post, property managers can ensure a smoother transition for all parties and protect their rights effectively. Remember, consulting with legal counsel for specific situations is always recommended to navigate the complexities of tenant relationships successfully. Learn more about property management company best practices, marketing, and more in our Second Nature Community.

Calendar icon June 7, 2024

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Property manager handing new residents the keys to their new home

Property Management Compliance with Insurance Regulations: Answers to Your Top Questions

Property management companies navigate a complex world of regulations. Indeed, ensuring legal compliance goes far beyond collecting rent and handling repairs. For instance, the tenant screening process involves legal obligations and occupancy considerations outlined in fair housing laws, along with background checks to ensure resident safety. Habitability standards and safety regulations, dictated by local landlord-tenant laws, may require meticulous property maintenance – or real estate rental properties may require improvements to meet tenant rights and safety standards as outlined in the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). In addition, the key areas of security deposits, lease agreements, and eviction procedures all have legal requirements that must be stringently followed to avoid legal issues. Audits can arrive unexpectedly, and failing to comply can result in hefty fines or loss of licensure. However, one of the most intricate areas of regulatory compliance involves insurance, particularly when it comes to insurance for residents. We delve deeper into this specific challenge in the following sections. A note on language: At Second Nature, we prefer the term “residents” rather than “tenants.” That’s because focusing on the people in every interaction helps us create better business strategies in the long run. After all, property management is all about focusing on what residents and investors – human beings – want and need! But throughout this article, you’ll see us use both terms interchangeably due to the technical nature of various compliance issues. What Makes PM Compliance with Insurance So Complex? The biggest hurdle property managers face with insurance compliance requirements is the jurisdictional complexity. Federal laws provide a framework, but individual states and even municipalities can have their own regulations regarding insurance for tenants. Understanding these variations is crucial. Property managers must stay up-to-date on the specific laws governing their area to ensure they are not only compliant but also considering the best interests of both the property owner and the tenant. Insurance Compliance FAQs A recent discussion between Second Nature’s very own Andrew Smallwood (Chief Customer Officer) and Rob MacKethan (VP of Risk, and the Designated Responsible Licensed Producer for Second Nature’s licensed producer subsidiary, Second Nature Insurance Services, LLC, NPN No. 20224621) highlighted frequently asked questions and issues raised over the course of a number of industry discussions. Rob has been in the insurance space for about 35 years, and worked with multiple startups in the industry prior to coming to Second Nature, where he leads the team in creating value for customers using insurance tools. Below is a summary of FAQs and responses from their conversation. What aspects of property management should PMs be aware of when offering a solution for a tenant to meet the PMs’ liability insurance requirement? The key thing to remember is that insurance is a highly regulated industry, especially at the state level. If you operate in multiple states, you need to make sure you comply with local regulations in each one. In the end, regulators are there to protect consumers from being misled and to ensure insurance companies will pay out claims when needed. Can property managers require residents to get a specific renters insurance policy? No, but, in the majority of states, they may include a requirement in the lease agreement that requires residents to carry an insurance policy that provides for tenant liability coverage that meets a minimum coverage level. Regulators don’t want residents to be forced to purchase a specific policy. They want them to have the option to shop around and meet lease requirements with a policy of their choice. Can property managers add an administrative fee on top of the premium, or reduce the premium themselves? Regulations related to PMs' involvement in premiums and fees vary by state; however, such involvement is typically limited to establishing the tenant liability coverage limits. Some states prohibit any changes to the premium, while others may allow reasonable administrative fees within certain limits. The safest approach for a PM is to not change the premium at all. Is it important to avoid inducements like discounts on rent in exchange for purchasing insurance? Absolutely. Offering incentives related to the purchase of insurance can be seen as anti-competitive or a form of rebating, both of which should not be offered by unlicensed PMs. PMs must be careful to avoid acting in a manner that may cause the PM to be considered by regulators as performing certain acts without proper licensing. Unlicensed PMs should avoid any act that may cause them to appear as though they are selling, soliciting, or negotiating insurance. What should property managers be aware of when creating marketing content about renters insurance programs? This is a crucial point. Selling, soliciting, and negotiating insurance are activities that require an insurance license. Property managers should avoid creating their own marketing materials about insurance coverage, deductibles, pricing, or comparisons to other policies. They should partner with a licensed insurance company or broker and reference them in their materials. Brochures and website content are best reviewed by legal counsel to ensure regulatory compliance. How can property managers ensure residents meet and maintain liability insurance requirements throughout the term of their lease? Partnering with a licensed company that provides policy status tracking and record keeping is key. This will help ensure residents comply with the lease requirement and that the property manager, or their vendor, is notified of any lapses in coverage and can action them appropriately. What should property managers keep in mind if residents pay insurance premiums through the property management software along with their rent? It's critical that those payments be passed through to the insurance carrier or broker promptly upon collection. Withholding or retaining premiums can have serious consequences due to non-compliance with regulations. How Second Nature Helps with Your Resident’s Insurance Coverage At Second Nature, we know how valuable your investor clients’ assets are – and how much risk you take on as a property manager. While compliance with insurance regulations can sometimes feel like a zero-sum game, we aim to make every opportunity a win for everyone involved. In the end, successful property management not only fosters smooth operations, but better outcomes for all stakeholders. That’s where the renters insurance program offered by Second Nature’s licensed insurance subsidiary, Second Nature Insurance Services, comes in. Second Nature Insurance Services offers a master policy with convenient enrollment, and a customizable HO4 policy option if residents want to tailor a policy to their needs, both of which will meet your tenant liability insurance requirement. Or they can get their own policy and show they’ve met the requirements on their own. PMs get a fully managed renters insurance program that helps ensure compliance and that you, your investor, and your residents can rest easy knowing you’re protected from key areas of risk. With our fully managed renters insurance program, we’ve seen our partner PMs go from: 41% of residents covered → 100% of residents covered Self-managed portal administration → Fully managed for you Leasing team tracking certifications → 100% certificate management Higher premiums → lower premiums Complex implementation and vendor management → 1 RBP, 1 Invoice Every property manager knows insurance matters, but that doesn’t make it any less of a headache. Learn more about how our Resident Benefits Package just makes life simpler. * Renters Insurance Program is provided by Second Nature Insurance Services, LLC (NPN 20224621)

Calendar icon June 7, 2024

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Managing Property Management KPIs

Defining the KPIs you want to track as a property manager is one thing, but ensuring that you’re consistently getting useful information and insights from those KPIs is another. KPI management is an important process that is often not given enough effort, and the result is incomplete data or metrics that don’t do a great job actually showing you what you want to know about your company. KPI Management comes with two key parts. Ensuring you’re using the right KPIs Ensuring the data is comprehensive and accurate There are no steadfast rules for what KPIs you should and shouldn’t track in property management. As long as you understand what you’re trying to measure, you’re committed to continuous improvement, and you don’t overload your KPI sheet, you’re on the right track. "So I have gone across the bridge that maybe many of you have of having a spreadsheet with 400 KPIs, and it was crushing us," says Tim Wehner, Marketing Coordinator at Dodson Companies and property management veteran. "I blew up that bridge, Don't cross that again, right. I like five, especially for the property managers. You just say, hey, there's just five numbers I'm going to track. It's like the power five KPIs." Obviously, there will be different KPIs at different levels of the organization, but Wehner’s power five KPIs for his property managers are: Tenant vacancy rate Owner delinquency rate Available unit rate Percentage of units in turn Percentage of PMR collected But while what he is measuring may be valuable to you, his bigger point here is that managing the quantity of your KPIs is important in order to maintain focus and clarity in the data. These aren’t set in stone. If you find that your set of KPIs isn’t giving you the information you want, you can always adjust. Many companies conduct quarterly reviews of what they’re actually measuring to ensure the effort they put into tracking is ultimately fruitful. "We review our KPIs, not the numbers, we do review the numbers, but the actual type of KPI, we review that every quarter to see is this number still relevant? Or do we want to replace it with something else?" says Julie Mullinax, Owner of CRM Properties. "So that would be one thing that I would say, don't feel like, if you have these five KPIs for your property managers, you have to keep those five KPIs for your property managers for the next 10 years. I think we've really changed ours as we see a number got better. " Ensuring that KPIs are useful to the people using them helps heighten awareness of the importance and current state of those metrics. That team buy-in is critical. “One of the things that's really important about KPIs is this idea of trash and trash out,” says BetterWho CEO Matthew Tringali, the idea being that if you put trash effort into your KPI structure, you’re not going to get helpful insights as the output. “We all have this idea of like, oh, yeah, I agree with these beautiful KPIs. And you know, I want my software to produce this beautiful report, this beautiful number," continues Tringali. "The reality is, most or all of your software can do that stuff, but it's only going to be as good as your team is at actually putting in the numbers. So if you don't have the right fields, or your team is just, you know, they don't see the value without putting the numbers in, then you can't actually make progress with that.” Tringali’s point about KPIs is similar to a prevalent point he and many others have made about tech as the PM industry has been inundated with automation systems: If your team, as the people using the process, is not invested and committed to it, it will not work. The idea of having a simple approach and a manageable number of KPIs for people to keep track of plays directly into this, especially with more action-oriented people like your sales team. Different property management firms have different approaches to ensure data is valid and entered regularly. Wehner employs a remote team member whose job is explicitly that. “all of our property management, property managers, all of our staff, our leasing agents, they're all very, very busy,” says Wehner “So you want to make it super easy. And then one of the things that we do is we have actually a remote team member, that we have that that's what their sole focus is, is making sure that our data in our systems is correct.” Darus Trutna, Founder of Rentor, is a big believer in a process that gets his team to internalize the numbers, the theory being that being in "physical contact" with your most critical metrics on a daily basis prevents overlooking them. "You just need to type on the keyboard that number, right?" says Trutna. "It has to go from the screen here, in here, I see my delinquency rate, I then have to express that number on people. So I feel that number. And I want the team members to know those numbers, because that's pain for the owner. Right, and for the resident, and for us. And so I've actually moved away from automation." Reluctance and hesitance comes from this friction to do something right. We've all had some habit we wanted to start, right? But until you make it incredibly easy and put it in front of yourself, so you can't not do it. That's how we operate now. So we have a team dashboard that we've set up, and the team members cannot leave for the day until those data points are entered. And once again, they can ask for help with it. But it's not something that you can not do. And the whole team sees they haven't put their KPIs in there. So the data is really easy to pull, and then you can't get away in a sense, right? It's just there in front of you. It's like putting something on top of your keys before you leave, right you're not going to forget the item because you can't get your keys without touching the KPI." Wehner ties incentives to team member-specific KPIs in order to promote the importance of tracking. "What we've done with the team is we have financial incentive payments in their portfolios, so they have a certain percentage they receive every quarter based off the actual revenue of their portfolio. So every Tuesday we have our weekly huddle and the five or six property managers, they have their KPI report, their delinquency rate, vacancy rate, and turnover numbers. The discussion is that the lower the delinquency rate, a higher the bonus, the lower the vacancy rate, the higher the bonus, etc." Savvy property managers understand the importance of a system of KPIs that produce consistent, actionable insights. If you're finding that you have KPIs, but you're struggling to pull useful information from them, consider some of the tactics above to create something that's of a more beneficial nature to you business.

Calendar icon May 29, 2024

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Kristin Johnson Founder & CEO of TripleTie

15 Best Property Management Accounting Software in 2024

Property management accounting is a specialized branch of accounting that deals specifically with the financial management of rental properties. Property management accounting includes tracking rental income, managing expenses, handling tenant deposits, and producing financial reports. It helps property managers maintain accurate and comprehensive financial records for each property they manage. In today's complex real estate landscape, managing single-family rental properties can be a daunting task, especially when it comes to accounting and finance management. Understanding property management accounting, as well as the best property management accounting software to support it, can make this task significantly easier. In this article, we're talking to a property management accounting expert. We’ll delve into the best property management accounting software available in 2023, and we’ll help you choose the right software that fits your property management needs. We'll also address frequently asked questions about property management accounting software, including aspects like ease of use, integrations, pricing, and support. In general, property management accounting software serves to alleviate the time and effort that might be required to manage finances manually. It can also help plan for expenses, foresee any cash flow issues, and make better-informed financial issues. And perhaps most importantly, it helps property managers stay in compliance with requirements around tax calculations and reporting. Note that there are two key components of property management accounting: corporate and trust accounting. Corporate accounting involves the financial transactions and record keeping of the property management company itself and is generally the same kind of accounting you’d do with any business or corporation. This might include the company's operational expenses, income, taxes, payroll, etc. Trust accounting, on the other hand, is unique. It concerns the financial management of clients' funds held by the property management company. This can include tenant rents, security deposits, and funds reserved for property maintenance or repairs. It's crucial to keep these funds separate and accurately tracked to comply with legal requirements and maintain transparency with property owners. Because of the unique nature of bookkeeping with trust accounting – and its relevance for property managers – we’re mostly focusing today on trust accounting, or software that can manage both corporate and trust accounting. So, whether you're new to property management or an experienced professional looking to upgrade your software, this article has something for everyone. Let's get started! Meet the Expert: Kristin Johnson, Founder & CEO of TripleTie Kristin Johnson founded and leads the property management accounting solution TripleTie, which is designed to help property management companies manage and conduct accurate trust accounting. Related: Best Single Family Property Management Software Best Property Management Accounting Software Let’s go over some of the best property management accounting software solutions in 2023. After that, we’ll also share an extensive FAQ that we had with Johnson about the ins and outs of property management accounting. Before diving into our list, we asked Johnson what good property management software should include. “Having the ability to work within one system is huge,” she says. “Rather than having to parse out, for example, I do my screening over here, and I do my maintenance over here. Instead, you have it all integrated and built-in, and the system talks well with itself. You’re not having to import and export so much data. That’s crucial.” She gives an example of a time when she was using a platform that didn’t have that capability. “When we were working in New Mexico, we had to charge sales tax on services. So our management fees, our RBP, all of those things had to have sales tax added onto them. Our software at the time didn't have a function built where I could say, ‘This item is taxable, and this is the tax rate.’ I had to manually create recurring bills on every single one of those fees. And then, every year, when the state updated the sales tax rate, I had to go and update thousands of recurring bills. It was a nightmare!” So, as we go through the list, keep in mind that different software has various degrees of customization, open APIs, etc. Cost is a big consideration, but looking for an all-in-one is also important. 1. Rentvine Johnson’s top recommendation for accounting software is Rentvine. “Rentvine is really dialed in on trust accounting,” Johnson says. “There’s no need for a lot of the workarounds that we see in some of the other trust accounting providers. At its core, it’s a true trust accounting platform, and then the beauty and usability are built on top of that piece.” Rentvine is deeply customizable for property management tools and needs, with the ability to build your unique owner statements, custom management fees, custom late fees, etc. “The other thing I love about Rentvine is that it does have an open API,” Johnson says. “So if you did want to integrate with an external maintenance company, for example, you can get a seamless integration through the API.” Pros: User-friendly design with an intuitive dashboard that simplifies property management and accounting tasks. RentVine's accounting system is robust and includes automatic rent collection, workflows, real-time expense tracking, and detailed financial reporting. Features like online tenant portals, CRM, maintenance request management, and built-in messaging make tenant communication more streamlined. Cons: Some users have noted that the mobile app lacks some of the desktop version's features. While RentVine offers excellent features, the platform may be more expensive compared to other options, especially for smaller property portfolios. 2. AppFolio AppFolio is an extremely popular property management platform that works well for both residential and commercial property management. It has a modern and intuitive interface but can be pricey with add-ons and complex to use. What we like about AppFolio is the reporting ability, automation (late fees, smart bill entry, etc.), utility management features, etc. The drawbacks include the price and, as Johnson points out, it’s not as customizable as she would want for an accounting piece. “It is not a super strong accounting platform and does require a lot of workarounds,” Johnson says. However, if you’re willing to use a few workarounds and you like AppFolio for the other key features, it does have a solid accounting platform. Pros: AppFolio provides a comprehensive suite of accounting tools that include automated invoicing, ACH and online payments, financial reporting, and bank reconciliation. It offers a CRM with excellent resident and owner portals for transparent communication, metrics, and easy access to financial data. AppFolio supports both corporate and trust accounting, which is important for regulatory compliance. Cons: AppFolio is not as customizable as other software options and may require workarounds. While AppFolio is feature-rich, it has a steeper learning curve which may be challenging for less tech-savvy users. Pricing is based on a per-unit model, which could make it expensive for managers with a smaller number of properties. 3. Buildium Buildium is a comprehensive property management software designed to simplify all facets of property management, including robust accounting features. It provides seamless handling of all property-related transactions, from tracking rent payments and vendor bills to handling maintenance costs and fees. The software also supports both corporate and trust accounting, ensuring legal compliance and transparency. Pros: User-friendly interface with a strong emphasis on accounting. Automatic bank reconciliation, making it easy to manage multiple accounts. Robust reporting, including balance sheets, cash flow, and income statements. Cons: The learning curve can be steep for those new to property management software. Advanced key features may require premium plans, which could be costly for small businesses. 4. Yardi Breeze Yardi Breeze is a cloud-based property management software ideal for smaller-scale PMCs. The platform offers a robust suite of tools, including strong property management accounting capabilities. Pros: Yardi Breeze provides in-depth financial reporting and accounting features, from tracking rent collection and expenses to generating financial statements. It has a user-friendly interface and offers automated invoice processing and bank reconciliation, simplifying accounting tasks. It supports both corporate and trust accounting, crucial for legal compliance and transparency. Cons: The software is feature-rich, which may result in a steep learning curve for those unfamiliar with property management software. Some users have reported that customer service response times can be slow. Its comprehensive features come at a higher price point compared to other options in the market, which may be a barrier for smaller businesses. 5. Hemlane Hemlane is a cloud-based property management solution designed for small to midsize businesses, with a focus on facilitating the relationship between property owners and managers, residents, and service professionals. Pros: Hemlane's accounting features are comprehensive, providing the ability to track income and expenses, automate rent collection, and generate financial reports. It supports both corporate and trust accounting, helping property managers maintain compliance and transparency. User-friendly and intuitive interface, which is a big plus for those new to property management software. Cons: While it has a good range of features, some users report that it lacks the depth of more comprehensive management systems. Some users have reported occasional system slowdowns and bugs. Limited customer support hours can make it challenging for businesses that operate outside of these times. 6. TenantCloud TenantCloud is a cloud-based property management software solution suitable for landlords and property managers of all sizes. It offers a wide array of features, including a dedicated accounting module. Pros: TenantCloud’s accounting features allow users to track income and expenses, send invoices, collect online payments, and generate financial reports. Its intuitive interface and ease of use are especially appealing for those new to property management software. TenantCloud supports both corporate and trust accounting, facilitating legal compliance and transparency. Cons: Some users report that the system can be slow and occasionally glitchy. While its basic features are on a free plan, advanced accounting functionalities come with paid plans, which might be a drawback for small businesses. Some users have reported that the customer service could be more responsive and supportive. 7. Rent Manager Rent Manager is a versatile property management software solution that provides a wealth of features tailored to property managers, including accounting. Pros: Rent Manager's accounting features are comprehensive, enabling users to track income and expenses, automate invoicing, and payment processing, and produce detailed financial reports. The software offers both corporate and trust accounting, ensuring compliance and providing transparent financial management. Rent Manager's open API allows for integration with numerous other software solutions, making it a flexible choice. Cons: Some users find Rent Manager's extensive features a bit overwhelming, leading to a steeper learning curve. The cost can be high for small businesses or those with fewer units, as pricing is based on the number of units managed. While Rent Manager offers comprehensive support, there are some reports of slower response times. 8. Propertyware Propertyware is a cloud-based, end-to-end property management software that offers a range of features, including a strong accounting suite. They offer custom fields and automation for PMs, real estate investors, and residents. Pros: Propertyware’s accounting module is quite comprehensive, allowing users to track income and expenses, handle online payments, and generate detailed and customized financial reports. It supports both corporate and trust accounting, important for maintaining transparency and legal compliance. It includes an “owner portal” and maintenance request management features. Cons: The initial setup can be complex to get right, and there can be a steep learning curve for those new to property management software. The pricing is not ideal for smaller PMCs with fewer than 250 rental properties. 9. Rentec Direct Rentec Direct is a web-based property management software designed for “landlords” and property managers, offering a wide variety of features, including an extensive accounting system. Pros: Rentec Direct's accounting tools provide capabilities for tracking income and expenses, automating rent collection, and producing in-depth financial reports. It supports both corporate and trust accounting, helping ensure legal compliance and transparency. Features like owner portals, work order management, tenant screening, and SMSM services. Cons: The product and interface are older and less intuitive than others on the market. The reporting feature, while robust, may require some time to understand and use effectively. Some users have reported that the system can be slow at times, particularly during peak usage hours. 10. DoorLoop DoorLoop is a property management software designed to streamline the management process for property managers with all sizes of portfolios. It comes with a robust accounting suite, among other features. Pros: DoorLoop's accounting features are extensive, allowing for the tracking of income and expenses, rent collection, and generation of financial reports. It supports both corporate and trust accounting, ensuring legal compliance and providing transparent financial management. The software has a user-friendly interface, making it an attractive choice for users with varying levels of tech proficiency. Cons: While DoorLoop offers many features, it may take some time to get used to all of its capabilities, and it is less customizable than other options. Some users have reported occasional system slowdowns and bugs. The cost could be high for those managing a smaller number of properties as the pricing is based on the number of units managed. Honorable Mentions The list above is not intended to be exhaustive, but we did want to make a brief mention of a few other software applications for property managers that incorporate some accounting features: RealPage RealPage provides a technology platform rather than a software application per se, with the aim of enabling “real estate owners and managers to change how people experience and use rental space." ResMan Tagline: “ResMan’s industry-leading property management platform helps multifamily and affordable housing managers operate more efficiently and deliver higher rates of return to investors.” Entrata Tagline: “The operating system built to help you focus on residents, not technology.” A Note on Other Accounting Software While this article focuses on software tailored to property management accounting, it's worth mentioning general accounting solutions like QuickBooks online. QuickBooks, a well-known accounting software, is versatile and can be effectively used in a variety of industries, including the real estate business. It offers robust features like tracking income and expenses, invoicing, and generating detailed financial reports. However, because it's not specifically designed for property management, it may lack specialized features like tenant and lease tracking or lease management, maintenance requests, or property-specific reporting. That's why it didn't make our main list, but for some property managers, especially those managing a small number of units, it might serve their needs adequately. FAQ: Property Management Accounting At Second Nature, we’ve been in the SFR property management space for a long time. We gathered up some of the most burning questions property managers ask about property management accounting. Kristin Johnson helped us answer them. What accounting should I use for property management business? Kristin Johnson: The type of account property managers need is a true trust account – which very few banks actually offer. Many local banks or even big ones like Chase and Wells Fargo will give you a checking account and then label it a trust account. That is NOT a trust account. In normal bank accounts, you have $250K of FDIC insurance. A trust account has FDIC insurance per owner that has funds in the account. So they each have $250K of FDIC insurance. The only bank that I’m positive offers true trust accounts is Enterprise. How should you report rent in property management accounting? Kristin Johnson: If a tenant pays early, it's considered prepaid rent. It needs to stay booked as prepaid rent until it gets actually booked against the rent charge, and only then should the funds be made available to the owner. I know that some property managers use it to pay bills. But technically, it’s a liability until it's actually earned, so it should not be used to pay bills, and it should not be distributed to the owner. Those are funds that belong to the renters until there's an actual rent charge booked against them. That's piece number one to understand. Then, getting to the end-of-year side of it, the IRS does lay out that prepaid rent is taxable in the year that it is collected. So it should be reported as part of the 1099 income. What is the purpose of clearing accounts in property management? Kristin Johnson: The clearing account really serves as an intermediary while the security deposit funds are essentially in transit. When we're getting ready to move out a tenant, those funds get released from the holding account, and it goes into the clearing account where we are booking, say, cleaning against it or whatever move-out charges need to go against it before we do a final distribution to the tenant. So it's just kind of a quick intermediary place where it sits very temporarily before the security deposit gets released and then distributed. Who is responsible for sales tax in property management? Kristin Johnson: Well, it depends on the function of the sales tax. There are a couple of different instances where sales tax comes into place. For example, New Mexico is a sales-tax-on-services state. Everybody is responsible for sales tax, meaning if it's a management fee, the owner is responsible for the sales tax. If it's a tenant fee, the tenant is responsible for paying the sales tax. Ultimately, the PM is responsible for gathering that sales tax and remitting it to the state. There are some states where rent is taxable. Similarly, in those states, the owner is ultimately responsible for the sales tax. But many times, the PM will collect the sales tax from the tenant and pay it to the state on the owner's behalf. A lot of times, what we'll see is, for example, the rent may be a thousand dollars, and the state says we need 7% of that. So you would tack an additional 7% onto the rent. The tenant would pay the thousand dollars plus the 7%, which would come into a liability or holding account on the ledger. Then a lot of times, the PM would pay that to the state on behalf of the owner. What should be the frequency of record keeping in property management? Kristin Johnson: “Money in should be accounted for immediately as received. States will usually dictate how quickly receipts have to be deposited, but our recommendation is that they always get deposited same day with the bank or as soon as practical thereafter. As far as record-keeping to the owner goes, most states actually mandate that at least monthly reporting happens to the owner. Certainly, in trust accounting, record keeping should be looked at daily, weekly, and monthly to make sure that it's staying in line. Soft reconciliation should be happening at least weekly, if not daily, to ensure that all of the money is fully accounted for and that you're not going to have any issues when you're closing out the end of the month. Why would a property management firm use classes in accounting software? Kristin Johnson: Classes could be done by various categorizations: single family, multifamily, commercial – in other words, the type of property that you're managing if you wanted to keep records that way. We always used classes in our company because we were in seven markets, and so we would use classes per market. If I wanted to track my Farmington location or my Denver location, or my Charlotte location, I had all of my income and expenses broken down in classes by location. It could be location, it could be property class type, really whatever kind of granular level you want to dive down and break out could be done by classes. Do PMs set up owners as vendors in accounting software? Kristin Johnson: If you're working in a true property management software, owners will be set up as owners, and you would do owner distributions to them as owners. It's possible that if someone's not using a trust accounting platform – if they're using something like QuickBooks – then probably yes, you would have them set up as vendors. But if you're managing a true trust accounting software, I don't ever recommend setting up owners as vendors. It kind of convolutes end-of-year reporting. You have to issue 1099s to your owners, and you have to issue 1099s to vendors. If you have them set up both as an owner and as a vendor, you're theoretically sending out two different 1099s – which wouldn’t necessarily be proper. How much should a property management company spend on accounting? Kristin Johnson: Accounting is one thing in property management that you don't want to skimp on. The most important function of a property manager is to be a good steward of other people's money. I don't know that there's a range, but I will say that it very well may end up being your largest expense. But worth the money. Conclusion The software you choose for property management accounting can significantly streamline your operations and contribute to the growth and success of your business. Each option has its strengths and potential drawbacks, so it's vital to select a solution that fits your unique needs and portfolio size. By equipping yourself with the right tools, you can streamline your accounting processes, ensure accuracy and compliance, and ultimately, drive your property management business toward greater success. If you want to get more input on your property management software, check out our Triple Win PM Community on Facebook. Or, see more of our studies on property management best practices and services like our Resident Benefits Package.

Calendar icon May 21, 2024

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Your Guide to Property Management Agreements (with Free Template)

With a renewed focus on rental income as an investment trend, the popularity of property management is on the rise. Busy professionals and out-of-town real estate investors increasingly rely on property managers to handle the day-to-day operations of their rental properties. When they come to you for the first time, one approach to establishing clear differentiation with respect to your competitors is through the clarity and comprehensiveness of your property management agreement. In today’s guide we’ll cover the essentials of a property management agreement that provides a foundation for transparency throughout this critical relationship, as well as peace of mind for the investors relying on you to manage their investment. A Step-by-Step Guide to Building Your Agreement Crafting a solid property management agreement doesn't have to be daunting. Here's a breakdown of the key components: Parties Involved Property owner: Clearly identify the legal name and contact information of the property owner(s). Property manager: Do the same for the property management company or individual. Property Details Address: Include the full address of the property being managed. Legal description (optional): For added clarity, consider including the legal description, particularly for complex property ownership structures. Property type: Specify whether it's a single-family home, multi-unit building, or commercial property. Unique features/limitations: Mention any unique features (e.g., pool, historic designation) or limitations (e.g., zoning restrictions, HOA rules). Term and Termination Effective date: Define the start date of the agreement. Termination clauses: Outline the grounds for termination by either party (e.g., breach of contract, property sale). Notice period: Specify the required notice period for each party if they wish to terminate the agreement (e.g., 30 days, 60 days). Termination mechanisms: Explain how the date of termination should be communicated (written notice, specific format [e.g., certified mail]), along with any applicable indemnification measures. Manager Responsibilities Resident screening: Detail the process for resident screening, including applications, background checks, and credit checks. Rent payments and security deposit collection: Outline procedures for security deposit collection, rent collection, late fees, and eviction processes. Maintenance oversight: Specify the property manager duties and roles in overseeing maintenance requests, repairs, and independent contractor/vendor selection (approval thresholds, cost limitations). Financial reporting: Define the frequency and format of financial reports provided by the property manager (monthly statements, annual reports). Communication protocols: Establish communication protocols regarding occupant inquiries, maintenance emergencies, and routine updates. Availability: Consider outlining the property manager's availability for emergencies (24/7 hotline, designated contact person). Owner Responsibilities Repairs: Specify the owner's responsibility for major repairs beyond normal wear and tear. Providing access: Outline the owner's role in providing access to the property for maintenance or showings when residents are not present. Major decisions: Define how major decisions regarding the property (e.g., renovations, capital improvements) will be made (joint agreement, owner approval). Property inspections: Address expectations regarding the frequency and purpose of property inspections conducted by the owner. Insurance coverage: Clarify the owner's responsibility to maintain appropriate liability insurance policy coverage for the property. Fees and Compensation Management fee: Detail the structure of the property management fee (percentage of rent collected, flat fee). Additional fees (optional): Address any additional disbursements for specific services, such as resident placement or lease renewals. Dispute Resolution Process: Explain the process for resolving disagreements between the owner and the property manager (mediation, arbitration, legal action). Governing laws: Specify the governing laws that apply to the agreement in case of disputes. Free Property Management Agreement Template (Basic) This contract template is for informational purposes only and should not be considered a substitute for legal advice. Please consult with an attorney to tailor the agreement to your specific needs and to ensure that the provisions of this agreement comply with local and state laws. Property Management Agreement This Property Management Agreement ("Agreement") is made and entered into as of [DATE] by and between: [Property Owner Name] residing at [Property Owner Address] ("Owner"), and [Property Management Company Name] located at [Property Management Company Address] ("Manager"). WITNESSETH WHEREAS, Owner is the legal owner of the property located at [Property Address] (the "Property"); and WHEREAS, Manager desires to provide property management services for the Property; and WHEREAS, Owner desires to engage Manager to provide such services for the Property NOW, THEREFORE, in consideration of the foregoing premises and the mutual covenants contained herein, the parties agree as follows: 1. Services Manager agrees to perform the following services for the Property (Services may be added or removed based on specific needs. Consult with a lawyer.): Resident screening and resident selection (application processing, background checks) Collection of rent and late fee enforcement Maintenance oversight and coordination (up to $[AMOUNT] per repair) Move-in/move-out inspections Monthly financial reporting related to management of the property 2. Term and Termination This Agreement shall commence on [DATE] (the "Effective Date") and shall continue for a period of [NUMBER] year(s), unless earlier terminated as provided herein. This termination of this Agreement may be effected by either party upon [NUMBER] days' written notice to the other party. 3. Management Fee Owner shall pay Manager a monthly management fee equal to [PERCENTAGE]% of the gross monthly rent collected. 4. Legal Proceedings In the event of a legal proceeding arising out of this Agreement or the management of the Property, the following provisions shall apply: Authority: The Property Manager is hereby authorized to initiate and prosecute any legal action deemed necessary to collect rent, enforce the terms of tenant leases, or protect the Owner's property interests. Owner Approval: Prior written approval from the Owner shall be required for any legal action exceeding $[Dollar Amount] or involving potential litigation. Costs and Reimbursement: The Property Manager shall keep detailed records of all legal expenses and attorney’s fees incurred. The Owner shall reimburse the Property Manager for all reasonable and documented legal expenditures associated with authorized proceedings. Representation: The Owner shall have the right to be represented by their own counsel in any legal proceeding. However, the Property Manager shall have the right to participate in the proceedings and may retain separate counsel at the Owner's expense if a conflict of interest arises. Communication: The parties agree to cooperate fully and share all relevant information in a timely manner throughout any legal proceedings. 5. Dispute Resolution (Optional - Replace with preferred method if applicable) Any dispute arising out of or relating to this Agreement shall be settled by [METHOD OF DISPUTE RESOLUTION, e.g., mediation] in accordance with the rules of [NAME OF MEDIATION PROVIDER] (the "Rules"). The decision of the mediator shall be final and binding on the parties. 6. Waivers The Owner acknowledges and waives any and all claims, demands, or causes of action against the Property Manager arising from the following, unless such claims arise from the Property Manager's gross negligence or intentional misconduct: Acts or omissions of any resident of the Property. Loss or Property damage caused by reasons outside the Property Manager's reasonable control, including natural disasters, acts of war, or civil unrest. Unexpected repairs or maintenance issues beyond the scope of normal wear and tear. The Owner further agrees to indemnify and hold harmless the Property Manager from any and all claims, liabilities, damages, losses, or expenses (including attorney's fees) arising from the Owner's violation of this Agreement or any applicable laws or regulations. 7. Entire Agreement and Governing Law This Agreement constitutes the entire agreement between the parties with respect to the subject matter hereof and supersedes all prior or contemporaneous communications, representations, or agreements, whether oral or written. The terms of this Agreement shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of the State of [STATE]. IN WITNESS WHEREOF, the parties have executed this Agreement as of the date first written above. [Property Owner Signature] [Property Owner Name (Printed)] [Property Management Company Signature] [Property Management Company Name (Printed)] Optional addendums For specific situations, consider adding supplementary documents like: Bed bug addendum Pool addendum Pet lease addendum These addendums can address unique requirements and regulations related to these aspects of the property. Legal Considerations and Customization Consulting with a lawyer is crucial to ensure your property management agreement is legally sound and reflects your specific circumstances. An attorney can help you with: Specifying maintenance coverage: Clearly define which maintenance issues are the responsibility of the property manager and which fall to the owner. Pet policy details: Outline a comprehensive pet policy including pet restrictions, fees, and deposit requirements. Local legal compliance: Ensure your agreement adheres to all relevant laws and regulations in your area, such as resident rights and fair housing regulations. FAQs: Helping Potential Investors Demystify Your Property Management Agreement Q: Is a property management agreement legally required? A: While not always mandatory, a property management agreement is highly advisable. It protects both the owner and the manager by outlining expectations and responsibilities. Q: Can I use your template for any property management situation? A: The provided template is a basic framework. It's best to consult with a lawyer to customize it for your specific property type, location, and desired services. Q: Do I need a lawyer to draft the agreement? A: While not mandatory, legal guidance is highly recommended. An attorney can ensure the agreement is legally sound, protects your interests, and complies with local laws. Q: Can I use this template for agreements outside of property management, e.g., for lease agreements or rental agreements? A: No, this template is specific to property management agreements. For other types of agreements, consult with a lawyer or use appropriate templates designed for those purposes. Q: What should I do after finalizing the agreement? A: Once both parties have signed the agreement, keep a copy for your records and provide one to the property manager. Familiarize yourself with the terms and communicate openly to ensure a smooth and successful working relationship. Conclusion A well-drafted property management agreement is the cornerstone of a successful relationship between owner and property manager. By using the provided template as a foundation and consulting with a lawyer for customization, you can establish a clear and comprehensive agreement that provides full transparency and fosters a smooth rental property experience. On top of your agreement, consider rolling out a resident benefits package (RBP). It’s a powerful way for property managers to create a Triple Win – for residents, investors, and themselves. An RBP like Second Nature’s is designed to be simple to use and easy to implement. All the services included within it are managed externally by Second Nature, meaning there is no day-to-day upkeep required from the manager. You plug it in and Second Nature keeps it running. The value creation an RBP generates – with such little work required from the PM – is an incredibly easy way to grow your business and create great experiences that residents will pay and stay for. Don't get left behind in the evolving world of resident experience. Learn more about our fully-managed Resident Benefits Package and how we can build ease for you, your investors, and your residents.

Calendar icon May 14, 2024

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How to Reduce Employee Turnover in Property Management: A Guide to Retaining Your Valuable Team

The property management industry faces a significant challenge: high employee turnover. In the US, the national average employee turnover rate measured in 2023 across all sectors was 17.3%. With highs of nearly 33% in some sectors, and lows of 12% in others, turnover is a pressing issue. Indeed, the National Apartment Association (NAA) reported that multifamily industry turnover rates in the last decade were up to 40%. While numbers for single-family home property management companies are harder to measure, the bottom line is that employee retention is often a casualty of the stresses that come with the high stakes of simultaneously managing people’s homes on one hand, and substantial real estate investments on the other. A revolving door of staff creates a ripple effect of negative consequences: residents face disruptions in service and communication, while companies struggle with lost productivity, increased recruiting and training costs, and a decline in overall morale. This comprehensive guide will equip property management teams with the tools and strategies to build a happy, engaged workforce and keep valuable co-workers on board. Understanding the Reasons for the High Turnover Rate Multiple factors contribute to the high property management turnover rate, particularly during inflationary periods, when low wages and benefits may fail to match the demanding workload. Team members face long hours, stressful interactions with residents, and the constant pressure of handling emergency situations. Many may feel undervalued and underappreciated, with limited opportunities for career advancement. Poor communication within the company, coupled with an unsupportive culture, will further fuel feelings of dissatisfaction and disengagement. Another factor may well be the cultural fallout from the recent pandemic, which catalyzed large changes in labor market behaviors, particularly among the so-called millennial generation. This has driven an upending of traditional wage-earning paradigms, giving rise to an endemic “gig economy” that industry and governments are still grappling with across sectors. Building a culture of retention Shifting the focus to a positive and supportive work environment is key to stemming the tide of staff turnover of property management employees. Here are several strategies to help cultivate a culture of retention and employee satisfaction: Competitive compensation and benefits Analyze local market wages and offer salaries that reflect the responsibilities and demands of the job. Provide comprehensive health insurance plans, paid time off, and other benefits that demonstrate your commitment to employee well-being. Consider offering perks and incentives such as gym memberships or fitness equipment subsidies to further enhance the compensation package. Work-life balance Promote healthy boundaries by offering flexible scheduling options whenever possible. Explore remote work opportunities for certain roles, especially those suited to administrative tasks. When dealing with difficult resident issues, encourage employees to take breaks throughout the day to prevent burnout. Implementing a core-hours policy, where employees are guaranteed to be available during specific times for urgent matters, can help maintain a sense of work-life balance. Investment in training and development Investing in your employees demonstrates your commitment to their growth and success. Offer ongoing training programs encompassing property management software, tenant relations, conflict resolution, fair housing laws, and industry certifications. This not only enhances their skillset and knowledge, but also empowers them to perform their jobs more effectively and confidently. Clear communication and recognition Establish consistent communication channels to keep employees informed and engaged. Hold regular team meetings, conduct performance reviews, and encourage open communication from the bottom up. Address concerns promptly and professionally. Most importantly, recognize and celebrate employee achievements publicly. A simple "thank you" or a public shout-out goes a long way in boosting morale and fostering a sense of appreciation. Building a team environment Foster a sense of teamwork through team-building activities, mentorship programs, and encouraging collaboration. Promote a supportive environment where colleagues can rely on one another for help and share best practices. This creates a sense of community and belonging which helps reduce feelings of isolation and discouragement. Strategies to Reduce Stress and Burnout High levels of stress can lead to employee burnout and ultimately, turnover. Here are some practical solutions to address this concern: Workload management Analyze workload distribution within your teams and identify opportunities for better balance. Consider cross-training employees to share the burden and alleviate pressure points. Utilize temporary staffing solutions to handle peak periods or unexpected vacancies. Technology and automation Embrace technology to streamline tasks and free up employee time for more strategic endeavors. Implement property management software to automate tasks such as rent collection, maintenance requests, and lease renewals. Consider online portals for residents to submit service requests and access property information, which reduces the burden on leasing and maintenance staff. Stress management resources Offer access to Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs) to provide confidential counseling and support for employees dealing with personal or work-related stress. Consider offering on-site mindfulness training or wellness programs to help employees develop healthy coping mechanisms for managing stress. Retention through Growth and Opportunity Providing a clear career path is critical for retaining top talent. Here's how you can promote employee growth and development: Create clear career paths Map out advancement opportunities within the company and establish clear performance benchmarks for promotion. This gives employees something to work towards and motivates them to invest in their long-term success with the company. Mentorship programs Establish mentorship programs that connect experienced employees with newcomers. Mentors can provide guidance, answer questions, and offer support during the onboarding process and beyond. This fosters a sense of community and helps new hires feel more integrated into the team. Cross-training Invest in cross-training opportunities to broaden employee skillsets and increase job satisfaction. This allows employees to gain exposure to different areas of property management, keeps their work interesting, and prepares them for potential future opportunities within the company. Empowering Your Team: Fostering Ownership and Engagement Empowering your employees fosters a sense of ownership and engagement, leading to a more motivated and productive workforce. Delegate tasks and decision-making Delegate tasks that match employee skill sets and provide them with some level of decision-making authority. This demonstrates trust in their abilities and encourages them to take ownership of their work. Encourage feedback and suggestions Create an environment where employees feel comfortable sharing their ideas and suggestions for improvement. Hold regular brainstorming sessions and actively solicit feedback on company policies, procedures, and resident services. Recognize and value employee ideas Acknowledge and value employee ideas, and whenever possible, implement suggestions that can enhance efficiency or improve resident satisfaction. This demonstrates that their input matters and fosters a sense of ownership within the company. Conclusion Reducing employee turnover in property management requires a multi-pronged approach that prioritizes employee well-being, professional development, and a sense of belonging. By implementing the strategies outlined here, property management companies can cultivate a happy, engaged workforce that delivers exceptional service to residents and contributes to the company's long-term success. Remember, a strong team is the foundation for a thriving property management business. Invest in your employees, and they will invest in your company's success. Learn more about property management company best practices, marketing, and more in our Second Nature Community.

Calendar icon May 14, 2024

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How to Build the Perfect Property Management Tech Stack

Building a property management tech stack takes an understanding of your needs, your options, how your team will use tech, and a commitment to continuous improvement. Technology, as most people know, is a double-edged sword. When used correctly, it can optimize business processes and create more efficient systems within your business. When used incorrectly, it can tear a hole in the space-time continuum, and you don’t want that. Industries all over the world have been going through their own tech revolutions over the last 40 years, and property management’s really began in the 80s with Yardi's "Basic Property Management" software. Online listings really took off in the early 2000s, and. Now, PropTech is everywhere, and the use of tech in property management has never had more potential or been more complicated. So how do you build a tech stack that works for you and your employees? Meet Rhianna Campbell and Kelli Segretto, two property management consultants that combine to boast more than 35 years of property management experience. Both have been through more than their share of tech rollouts. They’ve seen what works and what doesn’t, and they’re here to share with you what a good process for building a tech stack actually looks like. Start from the problem Technology will help you button up inefficiencies, but tech itself can create inefficiencies if it’s implemented for its own sake, which is one of the most common mistakes PMs make when at the top of the tech funnel. “Start with your issues list,” says Kelli Segretto, Founder of K Segretto Consulting and 20-year veteran of property management. “A lot of times what I see is a property manager will go to a convention and they’ll meet with a lot of different vendors, and they’ll come home with five new things they want to implement tomorrow.” There’s something of a FOMO effect with tech as it’s viewed as innately progressive, but tech is only progressive on a case by case basis. It will only help you so long as it solves a problem for you. You have to spend the time to identify what problems exist in your business before you start searching for solutions, lest you find yourself putting the cart before the horse. “You really have to dive into your issues list,” continues Segretto. “Realize what your biggest need is first and choose technology that matches that need. Talk to your fellow PMs, join these mastermind groups, attend Triple Win LIVE events, network on Facebook, and talk to other people to find out what’s working for them.’ Segretto really stresses the importance of doing your homework, because there is a tremendous amount of money and effort that goes into a technology implementation, and the worst thing you can do is go through all of that for little to no benefit. The biggest mistake PMs make when trying to build a useful tech stack is just collecting as many programs as possible and trying to jump directly into a fully functional stack instead of identifying solutions and rolling them out strategically. “We really need to be strategic about how we onboard because how many of you want to onboard new technology today and then decide in a year that it’s the wrong one and change? None of you think that’s a good idea. It costs a lot of money. It takes a lot of effort,” says Segretto Segretto’s issue list template is something she works through with her clients. If you're interested in a professional consulting session to help create an issue/action plan for your PMC, you can schedule a call with K Segretto Consulting here. How do you compile an issue list? “I talk to every single employee and find out what their biggest challenges are,” says Rhianna Campbell, a property management consultant and former CEO with over 15 years of experience in the industry. “I love to hear directly from the people who are working face to face with residents and clients and find out what some of their challenges are in the way that they do things on a day to day basis. And then from there, you can really pull out some of the commonalities that everyone seems to be having.” Campbell goes on to clarify that your issues list that you compile from these conversations gives you a clear cut list of questions you can ask software vendors when investigating solutions. “You can say ‘these are a list of my challenges. Can you walk me through how this software can help me solve these problems?’ And that’s a more direct approach versus being sold all the features that you may not even use.” When vetting specific technologies, Segretto suggests asking for a sandbox instead of just a demo. “Ask for a sandbox to where you can actually play with it, manipulate it, break it, find where those weaknesses are in that software before you commit to it.” Segretto also recommends seeking referrals to users who have used the software successfully and who have tried the software and either passed on it or gotten rid of it. Being able to understand those different perspectives will help you see a more complete picture of who the software is for, where it excels, and where it may come up short. Implementation Once you’ve identified which proptech vendors you want to work with, it’s time to enter the implementation phase. This is where most people’s fears reside. “I’ve seen hundreds of businesses launch technology across the nation and helped them implement. Ones that tend to fail are the ones that are not prepared,” says Segretto. “What I mean by not prepared is they don’t have their team’s buy-in. They don’t even know what they really want the technology for. They just feel like they want it and they want it right now. They’re not willing to dedicate a resource or a person that’s going to own it. Without that ownership, tech stacks fail.” The biggest parts of a successful implementation are team prep, ownership, and monitoring. Team Prep Getting buy-in from your team is critical for any implementation. The people that are using the tech need to believe in and understand the tech. Nothing guarantees failure more than just throwing a new service at someone. Explaining and training are the two big words here (it’s neat that they rhyme). Make sure your team knows why you’re doing this and how to use it. “You’re prepping your team, you’re talking about it, and you’re giving those ‘why statements’ so that everyone is on board before you launch. All of that needs to happen in your pre-implementation,” says Segretto Define Ownership Segretto believes it’s critical to identify who in the company will own the technology rollout. A tech rollout is just like any other undertaking in your business in the sense that it needs a central point of leadership to understand and manage all the processes of it. “You then have to pick a designated person who's going to be the owner of that technology. Then as you implement, they're going to be the expert, and they need to have time during that pre phase to become an expert, to get the training, to know the tool so that when questions happen in your office, your team members have a point of contact in office who's going to be able to either give them the answer or find them the answer.” Monitoring “It’s never set it and forget it,” says Segetto regarding the upkeep of a tech stack. “That would be cool, but that’s not reality. You need to be constantly monitoring its performance. I think that sometimes we tend to expect things will just keep working and we don’t really do the work we need to to monitor performance.” Campbell believes it’s helpful to monitor performance of tech that same way you would monitor performance of an employee. You need to conduct regular reviews of your tech’s performance much the same way you would of your team’s performance. Things change, companies grow, priorities shift. The same tech implemented the same way won’t necessarily be efficient forever. Tech audits are necessary to identify places where you can further optimize on a regular basis. After all, constant improvement should exist in any good business. “Being able to evaluate whether or not that technology is working is really important. I've seen a number of times where people buy into the tech and then don't use it. So really having points in time where you check to see if you're really utilizing that software that you paid a lot of money for, and not just spending money on it every month. And that can happen too. So just making sure that you are creating some opportunities to evaluate the performance of your technology to make sure that it's keeping up with the demands and the changes of your organization is so key.” Continuous Improvement The point of continuous monitoring is to promote continuous improvement. Tech evolves. It updates. Platforms overtake other platforms as the landscape changes. It pays to be aware, otherwise you can end up with less of a tech stack and more a tech pile, featuring redundant technologies, unused features, and wasted money and time. Getting the most out of your tech helps prevent these issues and keep your business efficient. Segretto, in her 20 years of property management, has seen companies go searching for tech solutions to problems they’ve already solved but were just unaware of. “Once you've identified how you're using it, then we start going on a treasure hunt to start looking for the hidden gems of what are the potentially overlooked features within my current tech stack.” Squeezing every drop out of your tech is a worthwhile endeavor. For every functionality you need that you can ID in your current stack, that’s one less rollout, one less training, one less process development you need to engage in. It’s a heck of a lot easier and cheaper than getting a whole new system. “How many of you would have time to stop and rebuild all of your processes every six months? Nobody? Yeah, it's impossible. And so instead of adding a new tool into that organization, what we did was we went back in and we maximized the utilization of that existing tool, which is a lot less expensive and a lot less cumbersome on the team than shifting entirely.” Tech is a good thing. Don’t let the length of this article about implementation scare you into thinking it’s more complex than it is. As long as you’re willing to manage your tech stack and make sure your team knows how to use it, you’re going to be in good shape. You wouldn’t bring on a new employee for no reason, so don’t add tech for no reason. Tech is a tool and its power is determined by the person who wields it. If you’re purposeful and thorough, you can vastly improve the efficiency of your business with the ever-growing field of PropTech companies in existence.

Calendar icon May 9, 2024

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Single family home

How to Create a Rent Increase Letter that Provides Complete Transparency to Your Residents [Free Template]

As a property manager, navigating rent increases can be a delicate task, particularly at a time when the cost of living is rising all around. And while raising rent is a necessary part of maintaining a financially viable property, it's crucial to do so in a way that fosters trust and maintains positive relationships with your residents. The key to this process? Transparency. By clearly communicating the reasons behind the rent increase and providing all the necessary information, you can ensure your residents understand the rationale behind the decision and feel valued as part of your community. In the end, open communication fosters a sense of trust and respect between you and your residents. When residents understand the reasoning behind a rent increase, they're more likely to accept it and remain satisfied with their living situation. Additionally, a positive resident relationship translates to lower vacancy rates, reduced turnover costs, and a more stable income stream for your property. A note on language: Here at Second Nature, we prefer to use the terms "resident" and “residency” rather than “tenant” and “tenancy,” in order to emphasize the human element of property management work. However, there may be instances where terms such as "tenant" are used for legal or industry-standard purposes within documents or communications. In these cases, please know that our intent remains the same – to provide clear, accurate, and meaningful information to all people involved in the business relationship. What to Consider When Increasing the Rent There are several factors to consider to ensure fairness and transparency during a rent increase. These considerations will not only help in setting a rent increase amount that is justified, but also in maintaining a positive relationship with residents. Rent Competition Understanding the rental market competition is crucial. Evaluate the current market rates for similar properties in your area – this will help in setting a competitive yet reasonable rent increase that aligns with local conditions. Lease Term Consider the length of the lease term currently in place. Typically, longer lease terms might warrant smaller, more gradual increases to retain residents, while shorter terms might allow for more frequent adjustments based on market trends. Rent Increase Amount Decide on a fair and justified level of rent increase. This should reflect market conditions, the property's value, and any improvements that have been made. Transparency about how this amount is calculated can help mitigate resident concerns. State Notice Period Requirement Each state has specific legal requirements for notice periods before a rent increase can take effect. Ensure that you comply with these regulations to avoid legal issues and give residents adequate time to adjust to the change. Security Deposit Review the impact of the rent increase on the security deposit. In some states, the security deposit may need to be adjusted in accordance with the new rent amount. Ensure that any changes are clearly communicated and legally compliant. Reasons to Send a Rent Increase Letter Sending a rent increase letter is a necessary step in maintaining transparent and professional relationships with residents. Here’s why such a letter is essential: Legal Compliance A rent increase letter ensures compliance with state and local laws regarding notice periods and documentation. It serves as an official record of the change and helps protect against potential disputes. Clarity and Transparency Providing a written notice offers clarity to residents about the new rent amount, the effective date of the increase, and the reasons behind it. This transparency helps in maintaining trust and minimizing misunderstandings. Professionalism A formal rent increase letter reflects a professional approach to property management. It shows that you respect your residents and are committed to clear and open communication. Justification of Increase The letter is an opportunity to explain the rationale behind the rent increase. Whether it’s due to rising maintenance costs, property improvements, or market adjustments, providing these justifications helps residents understand and accept the change. Record Keeping Documenting rent increases helps in maintaining accurate records for the property manager, the property owner, and the resident. This can be crucial for future reference, renewals, or if any legal issues arise. By considering the factors that go into the rent increase and clearly communicating the reasons, property managers can ensure a smoother transition and foster a positive relationship with their residents. What should a rent increase letter include? Here's what should be included in a rent increase letter to ensure your residents have all the information they need: 1. Resident information: Clearly state the names of the residents you're addressing. Include their address. Mention the end date of their current lease agreement. 2. Clear announcement of rent increase: Unequivocally state the effective date of the rent increase. Clearly outline the new monthly rent amount. If applicable, mention any changes to additional fees like pet rent, parking, or utilities. 3. Justification for the increase (transparency is key!): Highlight specific reasons for the rent increase. This could include rising property taxes, increased maintenance costs due to inflation or repairs, market value adjustments based on comparable rentals, or significant property improvements you've made. Be specific and provide data or evidence to support your claims whenever possible. For instance, mention the percentage increase in real estate property taxes or highlight the specific property improvements that are enhancing the resident's living experience. 4. Consequences of non-payment: Clearly explain the consequences if the new rent amount is not paid by the specified date. Outline the potential late fees or penalties that may apply. Describe the steps that will be taken if non-payment persists, such as the issuing of a notice to vacate or potential eviction proceedings. Emphasize the importance of timely communication from the residents if they foresee difficulties in making the payment, and encourage them to discuss potential solutions or payment plans. 5. Resident options (maintain a positive tone): Briefly remind residents of their right to review their new lease agreement. Express your willingness to answer any questions they may have regarding the rent increase. Clearly state your contact information (phone number and email address) for easy communication. Sample rent increase letter template Below is a template you can use for your rent increase letter. Simply customize the highlighted sections with your specific information. [Your Property Name and Contact Information] [Date] [Resident names] [Address of rental property] RE: Rent increase effective [effective date] Dear [Resident names], This letter is to inform you of an upcoming rent increase for [property address], effective [effective date]. Your current monthly rent of [current rent amount] will be adjusted to [new rent amount]. Additionally, [mention any changes to additional fees, e.g., "the monthly pet fee will increase to $XX"]. We understand rent increases can be disruptive, and we want to be transparent about the reasons behind this adjustment. The increase is necessary due to [list specific reasons for the increase, e.g., "rising rental rates for comparable units… ," “neighborhood revitalization resulting in enhanced value…”]. [If applicable, provide data or evidence to support your claims]. We value you as a resident and appreciate our relationship. You have the right to review your lease agreement if you have any questions about its terms. We are also happy to answer any questions you may have regarding this rent increase. Please feel free to contact us at [phone number] or [email address]. Sincerely, [Your name and the name of your property management company] How to send a rent increase letter Delivering a rent increase letter requires a balance between convenience and ensuring you have verifiable proof of the notification. First and foremost, you’ll need to consider local regulations. Ideally, consult with a lawyer specializing in landlord-tenant law to determine the mandated method for delivering rent increase notices. Some states or municipalities may require certified mail or another verifiable method (e.g., signed delivery receipts with regular mail). Don't skip this step – non-compliance with local regulations can lead to legal issues down the line. Delivery method options Certified mail: This is generally the safest option. Certified mail provides a receipt confirming the letter's delivery and the date it was received. This documentation can be crucial in case of future disputes or legal proceedings. It is typically more expensive than regular mail, but the added security it offers can be worth the cost. Regular mail with signed delivery receipt: This option offers some level of proof of delivery but may be less secure than certified mail. Residents can potentially refuse to sign for the receipt. Hand delivery: If feasible, handing the rent increase letter to the resident in person and obtaining a signed receipt is the most secure method. Note that while some residents might appreciate the convenience of email, this is not always the most reliable notification method. Consider your residents' demographics and preferred communication channels. In any case, the original lease agreement you have with your residents should explicitly state acceptable methods for delivering important notice letters, including rent increases. For instance, if lease terms include email as an acceptable form of communication, then you may choose to use it for rent increase notifications. A note on property management software Property management software can be useful for maintaining a centralized repository of all your communications with residents, including rent increase letters. It is also a useful tool for furnishing clear audit trails and documentation in case of disputes. Do, however, remember to make updates if the software handles rent collection reminders, in order to reflect the conditions of your new rental agreement. Rent increase FAQs Q: How many days’ notice of rent increase do residents need to be given? A: The required notice period for a rental increase can vary depending on your location and the terms of your lease agreement. In general, most states require that residents be given 30 to 60 days' written notice before a rent increase takes effect (this can vary for year-to-year lease renewals vs month-to-month). It's important to check local rent control regulations for specific details on timeframes. Q: Can the rent increase be contested? A: Depending on your location and specific circumstances, residents may have the right to contest a rent increase. For example, rent control laws in some jurisdictions allow residents to challenge rent hikes that are deemed to be excessive (statewide in California and Oregon, or locally in New York, New Jersey, and Maine). It's best to obtain legal advice from lawyers specializing in applicable local laws and state laws to understand your options. Q: What resources are available for residents? For residents who ask about their rights or renting in general, here are some resources you can provide: HUD Tenant Rights: The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) website offers a wealth of information on tenant rights, including resources on rent increases and eviction processes. Local tenant rights organizations: Many cities and states have local tenant rights organizations that can provide residents with specific guidance and support for renters based on their location and situation. Final thoughts Prioritize clear communication and transparency, and you’ll find you can navigate rent increases constructively, while ensuring a healthy and positive relationship with your residents. Such communications are a unique opportunity for positioning with your residents by reconnecting on terms, updating expectations, and more. The way you compose these letters – and the way you position the changes – can make all the difference in your renewal rate and resident satisfaction. It’s also the perfect opportunity to introduce a Resident Benefits Package (RBP) and remind residents of your role in adding value to their living conditions. Learn more about the benefits of Second Nature’s fully managed RBP.

Calendar icon May 7, 2024

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Resident Benefits Package: How to Increase Revenue and Reduce Costs

You might not be surprised to hear that at Second Nature we get asked this a lot: "Exactly what is a resident benefit package?" Or "What is a tenant benefit package?" Simply put, a resident benefits package (RBP) is a suite of services provided by the property manager to make life easier for residents. In today’s marketplace, residents and property investors expect a certain level of ease, convenience, and support. Property managers have noticed that beyond reacting quickly to requests, residents want their needs proactively anticipated. And they're willing to pay and stay for it. (Ready to get started now? Build your Resident Benefits Package today!) In this article, we’ll explore what a resident benefit package is, how it can generate revenue, and how to implement a resident benefits package (RBP) to give your residents, investors, and business a win. What is a resident benefits package (RBP)? The Resident Benefits Package (RBP) is designed to transform the resident's living experience. Sometimes called a "tenant benefits package," the RBP proactively meets residents' wants and needs by providing benefits to make their lives easier. At Second Nature, we pioneered the only fully managed resident benefits package. We chose the term "resident" because the tenant benefit package sounded too impersonal for the value we're driving. Resident benefit packages include an array of services and supports for residents, from filter delivery to credit building to maintenance. Stay tuned for our next suite of services for property managers and investors: the Investor Benefits Package (IBP). What are the benefits of a resident benefits package? The resident benefits package adds value to residents by anticipating their needs and providing them with services that make life easier and better. It adds value to investors by preventing maintenance, vacancy, and delinquency. And, of course, it adds value to property managers because it differentiates them from the competition. Let’s take a deeper look at how the RBP creates a Triple Win – for residents, for investors, and for you, the property manager. Attracting and retaining residents through better experiences Offering a comprehensive benefits package can make a property more appealing to potential residents. By providing desirable perks such as exclusive discounts, concierge services, or access to credit reporting and other financial benefits, the property management company can attract a larger pool of prospective residents and increase occupancy rates. Retaining residents is also crucial for profitability, as turnover costs can be significant. A benefits package can enhance resident satisfaction and loyalty, reducing turnover and associated expenses. Higher rental rates for higher value A well-curated tenant benefit package makes properties more valuable. When residents perceive additional value in the form of amenities, services, or discounts, they are often willing to pay more for their living experience. This allows the property management company to command premium prices for their units, leading to increased revenue and improved profitability. Differentiation and competitive advantage In a crowded real estate market, a distinct resident benefits package can set a property apart from competitors. It becomes a unique selling proposition that highlights the property management company's commitment to providing an exceptional living experience. By offering a package that exceeds what other properties in the area provide, the company gains a competitive advantage and attracts residents who value the added benefits. Ancillary revenue opportunities A tenant benefits package can create opportunities for generating additional revenue streams tied to specific benefits in the package. Resident benefit fee: How much does a resident benefit package cost? Most resident benefits packages cost between $20 and $100, which is often included in the lease and added as a monthly fee for the resident. Prices vary depending on a few key factors, chief among them being the mix of benefits selected by the property manager. What does a resident benefits package include? Here’s what the Second Nature Resident Benefit Package includes. Filter delivery service Air filter delivery was the first service Second Nature offered to scattered-site and single-family property managers. It is a cornerstone of the RBP, and over 1M residents have shown that a physical, tangible product is key to their ongoing perception of value. One of the most common causes of HVAC maintenance requests is a failure to change the home’s air filters on time. Air filter delivery from Second Nature solves the problem by delivering the correct-sized high-quality HVAC filters directly to each home’s front door on a predetermined schedule. The delivery serves as a reminder for the resident to change the filter, and voila – problem solved. The resident breathes clean air, the PM has fewer HVAC tickets to deal with, and the investor has their asset protected. That’s a triple win. Our message to residents: “Changing filters is as easy as opening the front door.” Phil Owen, founder of OnSight PROS, says of the delivery system: “Last year OnSight PROS performed third-party property condition reports at almost 18k single-family rental properties on behalf of property managers. The number of filters that we have to replace or mark as ‘needs attention’ becomes almost zero when a PM implements the Second Nature program. I cannot imagine how a property manager could justify not protecting their landlords with this program. The difference between those using the program and those who simply hope that their tenants go to the store to purchase and install a new filter is staggering.” Our filter delivery service has proven to reduce total HVAC maintenance requests by 38% and save up to $250 per year per property. $1 million identity protection One in four Americans will be victims of identity theft. In 2021, digital theft incidence surpassed home burglary incidents for the first time – and is rapidly rising. With identity protection as part of your RBP, every adult on the lease automatically gets the peace of mind you can expect from professional-level identity protection. Backed by AIG and monitored through IBM’s Watson, Aura Identity Guard works proactively on behalf of the resident to identify fraudulent use of their identity and alert them. In the event of an actual identity theft case, the resident receives a dedicated case manager and is covered up to $1,000,000 for most resulting damages. This protects the resident's ability to pay rent, which makes it a win for the investor. And it keeps property managers out of the middle of another difficult situation and decision. Credit building With RBP’s credit building service, on-time rental payments improve the credit score of your residents. It may seem crazy that people are building credit by paying for Netflix and other small subscriptions, but not their largest monthly payment... rent! But that's the truth for most residents. We asked, how is it even possible that someone's largest monthly expense is the only one they aren't getting credit or rewards for? This credit reporting program reports positive-impact, on-time rent payments automatically to all three credit bureaus, helping residents build their credit simply for paying their rent on time. Residents also get an immediate boost with 24 months of back reporting included. This service directly impacts rates on credit cards, auto loans, and future mortgages, incentivizing residents to get rent in on time and helping set them up for home buying in the future. The property manager and the investor both reap the benefit of the extra incentive to get rent on time and the resident gets to see their credit score rise as a result of something they have to do anyway. It’s a big-time triple win here. Resident rewards program Rental rewards are a favorite among residents and another powerful and positive incentive for on-time rent payments. Rental rewards programs deliver automatic benefits at move-in. Then, residents can unlock even more rewards by paying rent on the day it's due. At Second Nature, all on-time payment tracking is done through the app. Like other services in your RBP, it’s managed for you. Gifts include: $30 gift card for national and local brands $25 restaurant card $40 rewards cash on rent day each month rent is paid on time And more The value of rewards is covered in the cost of the RBP, so the property manager isn’t seeing any additional liabilities. The PM and investor only see a benefit, which is the increase in on-time rent payments. For the resident, rent day is now rewards day. Another triple win. Move-in Concierge Setting up utilities can be a massive headache for a new resident. Residents aren’t sure who to call and who provides utilities and home services like internet and TV for their new address. More, the research for discounts/promotions/coupons available takes more time. Most times, the process is clunky, with lots of friction that gets in the way of it getting 100% done. And it is too easy to overlook fine print in the lease about installing satellite dishes. Move-in Concierge changes all of that for professional property managers. In one phone call, residents find out what their best options are and can even get help simplifying setup. An experienced concierge confidently guides multiple people every day to properly setup their utilities. Renters Insurance Program Nearly all property managers require a renters insurance policy in their lease agreements. As part of our RBP, Second Nature offers price-competitive insurance coverage options through a Renters Insurance Program that property managers can apply to all their residents locked in with one group rate. Residents who have their own renters insurance can receive a waiver on RBP's insurance program, but the current list of enrolled residents is tracked for you by Second Nature, and any resident who drops off of their own insurance is automatically enrolled. No more hassle for you, quality asset coverage for the investor, and immediate and comprehensive liability coverage for the resident – another triple win you can create with your Resident Benefits Package. Additional benefits At Second Nature, we help property managers deliver all their services to residents. If you’re already offering perks and are ready to level up to a resident benefits package, we can help you bundle the above benefits with other services. We’ve worked with PMs to bundle in their existing property management services, including: 24/7 Maintenance Coordination: A huge benefit to residents and PMs is a service that provides after-hours support without dragging the property manager out of bed. This type of program makes reporting pesky maintenance issues easy and fast for the resident. It also helps prioritize emergency maintenance. Online Portal: With a simplified online resident portal, residents can access all of their documents, messages, and more through an app. Residents can also pay rent and receive reminders to pay rent online. Home Buying Assistance: For residents who are building up toward home ownership, some PMs offer assistance in building credit and savings. We help them get there. Vetted Vendor Network: A vetted network ensures that vendors who service your properties are screened to exceed your standards for insurance, licensing, and professionalism on the job. Property managers, residents, and investors can rest easy knowing that they have the best vendors working on their assets. Washer/Dryer Rental: Some properties may have these appliances installed or the residents come with their own, but we’ve seen the impact on prospective applicants choosing homes due the convenience of having the washer/dryer available. Security deposit alternatives: Security deposit alternatives come in different packages, but all serve to provide residents ways to be financially liable for damages without having to pay a significant lump sum up front. Pure insurance, surety bonds, and ACH authorization programs are all versions of deposit alternatives that seek to lower the barriers to rental, which in turn keeps days-on-market low and turnover costs down. Pest control services: Property managers can partner with pest control companies to provide routine or property management pest control services to the homes they manage. Bugs are one of the most common complaints from renters, and having services available to prevent infestation issues is a big win for resident experience. When implementing a full-service, fully managed resident benefits package, you don’t have to lose the benefits you already offer. A great service can integrate all of these benefits together – delivering more impact to residents, investors, and property managers. How much revenue can I create per unit with a Resident Benefits Package? The amount of ROI on a resident benefits package will vary depending on the property class type, market, and number and type of services offered. Generally speaking, resident benefits packages are often in the $25-75/mo range for residents, but could be more or less. It depends primarily on the amount and type of products and services. To go back to our concept of the experience economy: a resident benefits package gives residents the kind of incredible experience that they will pay and stay for. In short, keeping residents happy can reduce turnover and lead to lower costs and higher ROI for you and your investor. According to Eric Wetherington, VP of Strategic Initiatives at PURE Property Management, “Revenue is all about providing a service. The younger generations we’re dealing with in property management – they want convenience, they want experiences, and they want things to be simple, and they’re willing to pay to have things taken care of for them.” A fully managed resident benefits package can generate revenue in two key ways: Increasing services to improve resident retention Decreasing costs by increasing efficiency A resident benefits package can help to accomplish both. Routine filter delivery cuts down on HVAC and maintenance costs. A move-in concierge helps cut down time and cost as residents get settled in their new home. Credit building services keep residents invested in paying on time, sending online payments, and deliver incredible value. The list goes on. A resident benefits program creates a huge win for you as a property manager, and your investor, by driving higher ROI over time. How can property managers implement a Resident Benefits Package? If a resident benefits package is new to your company, you may wonder how best to implement it. Should you roll out a mandatory resident benefit package – ensuring the maximum benefits for your investor – or allow residents to choose? What is legal or not? We do recommend mandatory rollouts to create the most ease for you, your investor, and your residents. Having a choice may give residents a short-term positive experience, but in the long term won’t be much of a benefit. Mandatory resident benefits packages tend to go much smoother and eventually have higher benefits for everyone involved. According to Second Natures Head of Sales, Bob Hansen, “You have to look at the value that a resident benefits package brings to the investor and the resident, not just you as the property manager.” At Second Nature, we’ve seen incredibly low pushback from residents when an RBP was introduced. After all, it benefits residents, and most are delighted to have the extra service. How can property managers reduce costs with a resident benefits package? The answer is: in several ways! Implementing a comprehensive residential benefits package can provide property managers with opportunities to reduce costs and increase operational efficiency. Let’s look at examples from the product above. By including air filter delivery as part of the package, property managers can ensure that residents have regular access to clean air filters, reducing the need for costly maintenance and repairs caused by poor air quality. Offering identity protection and credit building services can help mitigate the financial risks associated with identity theft and delinquent payments, potentially reducing costs related to collections and legal procedures. They also improve retention and encourage on-time payments. Including a resident rewards program can also incentivize desirable behaviors such as timely rent payments or positive referrals, fostering resident satisfaction and reducing turnover costs. By partnering with a renter's insurance program, property managers can transfer potential liability and property damage expenses to the insurance provider, minimizing their own financial risks. A move-in concierge service can streamline the onboarding process for new residents, reducing administrative costs and improving operational efficiency. By providing these benefits, property managers can enhance resident satisfaction and retention, ultimately reducing expenses associated with turnover, repairs, and legal issues. Common mistakes property managers make implementing resident benefits packages In our experience helping property managers implement RBPs, we’ve heard our share of concerns or even horror stories from PMs who had bad implementations with other products. Here are some of the most common mistakes in RBP implementations – and how to avoid them! Overpromising and underdelivering Property managers may advertise extravagant benefits that they cannot consistently provide or fulfill, leading to disappointment and resident or investor dissatisfaction. Property managers should accurately represent the benefits package, ensuring that the offered perks are realistically achievable and consistently provided to residents. Lack of communication Failing to effectively communicate the details and availability of the benefits package to residents can result in confusion and missed opportunities for using the offered perks. Property managers should effectively communicate the details, availability, and utilization process of the benefits package to residents through multiple channels, such as newsletters and online platforms. Inadequate research and selection Property managers may choose benefits that do not align with the residents' preferences or needs, leading to a lack of interest and underutilization of the package. Property managers should conduct thorough market research and engage with residents to understand their preferences and needs, ensuring that the benefits selected align with their expectations. Failure to evaluate cost-effectiveness Neglecting to assess the costs and benefits of the package can result in offering benefits that are financially unsustainable or fail to provide a satisfactory return on investment. Property managers should regularly assess the costs and benefits of the package, considering factors such as resident utilization, return on investment, and overall financial sustainability to make informed adjustments as needed. Lack of flexibility and adaptability Not regularly reviewing and updating the benefits package based on resident feedback and changing market trends can make it less competitive and less appealing over time. Property managers should actively seek resident feedback, monitor market trends, and periodically review and update the benefits package to ensure it remains competitive and relevant to residents' changing needs. Insufficient staff training Failing to train property management staff on the benefits package and its administration can lead to ineffective communication, missed opportunities, and difficulty addressing resident inquiries or issues. Property managers should provide comprehensive training to their staff on the benefits package, including its features, administration processes, and effective communication strategies, enabling them to effectively support and engage with residents. Neglecting legal and regulatory considerations Property managers must ensure that the benefits package complies with all relevant laws and regulations, such as data protection requirements or fair housing laws, to avoid legal repercussions. Property managers should consult legal experts or advisors to ensure that the benefits package complies with all applicable laws and regulations, protecting both the company and residents. Ineffective marketing and promotion Inadequate marketing efforts to promote the benefits package can result in low resident awareness and limited participation, reducing the overall effectiveness of the package. Property managers should develop a strategic marketing plan that utilizes various channels to promote the benefits package, highlighting its value proposition and actively engaging residents in participating and utilizing the offered perks. Ignoring resident feedback Neglecting to seek and incorporate resident feedback can hinder the improvement and optimization of the benefits package, missing opportunities for enhancing resident satisfaction and retention. Property managers should establish channels for residents to provide feedback on the benefits package, actively listen to their suggestions and concerns, and make necessary adjustments to enhance resident satisfaction. Lack of coordination with vendors Failing to establish clear communication and expectations with vendors offering benefits can lead to subpar service delivery, difficulty resolving issues, or missed opportunities for cost savings. Property managers should establish clear expectations, contracts, and regular communication channels with vendors offering benefits, ensuring a seamless and satisfactory service delivery process for residents and promptly resolving any issues that may arise. This is A LOT to keep in mind, and avoiding these mistakes might feel like it will cost too much or simply take too much work. But that’s why opting for a fully managed RBP is a solution so many PMCs are turning to. You can rely on a partner to manage all aspects of your RBP, and ensure its delivering on its promises to your residents. More on that in the next section. How 1,000+ property managers are creating Triple Wins with a resident benefits package Rolling out a resident benefits package is a powerful way for property managers to create a Triple Win – for residents, investors, and themselves. An RBP like Second Nature’s is designed to be simple to use and easy to implement. All the services included within it are managed externally by Second Nature, meaning there is no day-do-day upkeep required from the manager. You plug it in and Second Nature keeps it running. The value creation an RBP generates – with such little work required from the PM – is an incredibly easy way to grow your business and create great experiences that residents will pay and stay for. Don't get left behind in the evolving world of resident experience. Learn more about our fully-managed Resident Benefits Package and how we can build ease for you, your investors, and your residents. Learn More About RBP from Second Nature

Calendar icon May 1, 2024

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Property Management Outsourcing Services: Example Tasks & Best Providers

Virtual assistants are becoming increasingly important in the property management industry for a number of reasons. First are the associated efficiencies. Property managers often wear many hats, juggling tasks like resident communication, lease agreements, maintenance requests, and advertising. A virtual assistant can handle many of these administrative and repetitive tasks, freeing up the property manager's time to focus on more strategic initiatives. Virtual assistants can also act as a communication "hub" between residents, property management companies, and service providers. They can field calls and emails, schedule appointments, and ensure everyone is on the same page. In the same vein, virtual assistants can help with tasks related to online advertising for vacancies, managing a social media presence to attract potential residents, and even creating basic property videos or photos for listings. It’s important to note that virtual assistants are not a replacement for in-house staff. Instead, they allow staff to focus on important tasks that add value, as opposed to time-consuming manual operations. In today's post, we'll provide concrete examples of how virtual assistants can help property managers, the pros and cons of using these services, and a brief directory of property management virtual assistant service providers. Note on language: In the interest of clear communication, particularly regarding legal matters, this blog post may occasionally use the term "tenant" in reference to residents. While "resident" reflects the valued community we aim to support, service provider agreements and other legal documents today typically use the term "tenant." For the majority of this post, however, we'll utilize the term "resident" to best represent the positive and collaborative atmosphere we aim to cultivate. What is outsourced property management? Outsourced property management refers to the practice of paying for a third-party company or product to handle certain tasks or operations for your property management company. This could include tasks such as tenant screening, resident benefits, renters insurance programs, rent collection, maintenance and repair coordination, lease enforcement, financial reporting, and more. Property management is in itself an outsourced service for real estate investors/property owners. Just as property owners often choose to outsource their property management to save time, reduce stress, and ensure they stay profitable – property management companies may outsource several of their services for the same reasons. Property management outsourcing services, whether PropTech products or fully managed solutions, allow property management companies to build efficiencies and focus on quality and growth. Outsourcing certain services can give residents more of what they need and investors more value for their dollar. Example property management tasks you can outsource to virtual assistants The number of tasks property managers can outsource has increased over time, as companies have become more comfortable with geographically dispersed teams, and as virtual assistants themselves have become more sophisticated (better communication skills, task automation capabilities, and access to information). Given that the benefits of outsourcing to virtual assistants are on the rise, here is a sampling of tasks that can currently be outsourced to virtual assistants. Outreach to homeowners for management Virtual assistants can be a property management company's secret weapon for improving homeowner outreach in a few key ways. Given that property managers often manage a large number of properties and homeowners, virtual assistants can handle sending personalized emails, texts, or even making phone calls to homeowners. As indicated above, they can also help manage the property management company's social media presence, posting updates, building trust, and boosting its brand presence to property owners. Property assessments While virtual assistants can't directly conduct rental property assessments, which typically involve a qualified professional inspecting the property's condition, they can provide valuable support throughout the assessment process by gathering and organizing property information crucial for the assessment (for example, details such as square footage, number of bedrooms/bathrooms, year built, major renovations, and past maintenance upkeep records). They can also compile relevant data from property management software or online real estate industry resources. Virtual assistants can also manage the scheduling of property assessors and ensure clear communication between the property owner, property manager, and the assessor. This involves sending appointment reminders, handling any cancellations or rescheduling needs, and keeping everyone informed throughout the process. Once any given assessment is complete, a virtual assistant can help process and organize the assessor's report. This might involve formatting the report, creating digital copies, and ensuring it's easily accessible to the property manager and owner. Creating and presenting management proposals Virtual assistants can be a highly cost-effective asset to property management companies when it comes to creating and presenting management proposals. For instance, virtual assistants can save a lot of time by gathering data on comparable properties in the area, including rental rates, vacancy rates, and recent sales. They can pull this data from industry reports, rental listing websites, or public property records. They can also compile details about specific rental properties under management such as square footage, amenities, maintenance history, and any unique features. This ensures the proposal accurately reflects the property's value and the services offered. In addition, virtual assistants can alleviate the hassle of creating or maintaining templates for management proposals, ensuring consistency in branding and formatting. This saves time and ensures a professional presentation. As far as actual proposal presentation is concerned, virtual assistants can handle the electronic delivery of the proposal to the client and schedule follow-up calls or meetings to discuss the proposal details and answer any questions. If the property manager is competing against other companies, a virtual assistant can help research competitor offerings and identify areas where your proposal can stand out. Determining property rent In addition to the market research capabilities mentioned above, virtual assistants can gather data on rental trends in the target area. This includes vacancy rates, as well as recent rental listings for comparable properties (similar size, bedrooms, amenities) and their advertised rent prices. They can find this information on rental listing websites, property management software, or public rental databases. Virtual assistants can also handle initial communication with investors to understand their rental expectations and any specific goals they might have (e.g., maximizing rent vs. filling the vacancy quickly). Creating and organizing property photos and marketing material Virtual assistants can be a game-changer for property management businesses when it comes to creating and organizing property photos and marketing materials. If professional photography is required, a virtual assistant can schedule appointments with photographers, and even perform basic photo editing tasks like cropping, and adjusting brightness and contrast. This ensures a clean and polished presentation of the property. They can also create file-naming conventions for these photos, in order to make them easily searchable for future use in marketing materials or listings. As far as marketing materials are concerned, virtual assistants can create or maintain templates for various materials, ensuring consistent branding and design across all platforms. This saves time and creates a professional look while delivering cost savings. Advertising the property Virtual assistants can be highly beneficial for property management companies when it comes to advertising their properties. For instance, virtual assistants can create and manage listings on various online rental platforms, ensuring accurate and up-to-date property information reaches a wide audience of potential tenants. They can also optimize listings with relevant keywords to improve search ranking. On the social media channel, virtual assistants can help create targeted ads with eye-catching visuals and compelling descriptions highlighting the property's best features. They can also schedule ad posts and track their performance to optimize future campaigns. In general, virtual assistants can create and manage a content calendar for property promotions. This can include scheduling social media posts, email blasts to potential residents, or even blog posts showcasing the property and surrounding neighborhood. Responding to inquiries Virtual assistants can be the first point of contact for prospective tenants who inquire about a property through listings, social media, or the company website. They can answer basic questions, schedule viewings, and qualify leads to ensure they are a good fit for the property. Likewise, when it comes to responding to inquiries from potential investors, they can assess the lead quality and guide the initial conversation. Vetting resident applications Virtual assistants can be a valuable asset in the vetting process for property management companies. For starters, they can handle the initial processing of rental applications, collecting and organizing applicant information, as well as lease agreements and supporting documents. This frees up property managers to focus on reviewing qualified applications. They can also manage initial communication with applicants. This might involve sending automated emails with application instructions, answering basic questions about the property or application process, and scheduling appointments for viewings. Many property management companies use tenant screening software that virtual assistants can be trained to utilize, ordering credit reports, background checks, and eviction history reports efficiently. Approving a tenant application after review Virtual assistants can play a crucial role in streamlining the post-review approval process for property management companies. Once the property manager approves an applicant, they can handle initial communication with the new resident. This might sending a lease agreement electronically, explaining signing procedures, and collecting e-signatures. Virtual assistants can also coordinate move-in logistics, such as scheduling move-in property inspections, providing information on utility activation, and sending welcome packages with important building information and resident resources. Lease preparation Virtual assistants can help to streamline the process of lease preparation while minimizing the potential for errors. At a minimum, they can gather essential information from the approved application and property details to populate lease templates. This might include resident names, contact details, leasing terms, rent amounts, and security deposit details. Many property management companies use pre-defined lease templates with standard clauses outlining They can then handle initial communication with the approved resident about lease signing. This might involve sending the lease electronically, explaining signing procedures, and answering basic questions about lease terms and conditions. resident responsibilities, maintenance procedures, and lease termination processes. Virtual assistants can ensure these clauses are included in the lease agreement. They can also review completed lease agreements for any typos, inconsistencies, or missing information before sending them to the resident for review and signature. Lease renewals Virtual assistants can also help streamline the process of lease renewal, thereby helping to increase resident retention. For example, virtual assistants can monitor lease agreements and identify upcoming lease expirations. They can then create a timeline for initiating communication with residents about potential renewals, via personalized emails or letters to residents approaching the end of their lease term. These messages can express appreciation for their residency, highlight the benefits of renewing, and outline the renewal process. Virtual assistants can also track resident responses to renewal offers, flagging those requiring further discussion with the property manager. They can also generate reports on renewal rates, providing valuable data for analyzing resident retention strategies. Running tenant background checks While virtual assistants can't legally conduct background checks themselves, they can be a valuable asset in streamlining the process for property management companies. This might include managing the initial steps of collecting and organizing applicant information crucial for background checks. This includes details like full names, Social Security numbers (with applicant consent), and previous addresses. They can also help maintain standardized forms with clear instructions for applicants regarding background check consent. This ensures applicants understand the process and provide the necessary authorization for releasing information to background check companies. Organizing tenant records Virtual assistants can be instrumental in bringing order to record-keeping processes, from data entry and management to record-keeping and accessibility. They can handle the initial data entry of resident information from applications, including names, contact details, emergency contacts, lease details, and pet information. This ensures all crucial information is captured and readily accessible. Virtual assistants can upload and organize various tenant documents electronically. This might include lease agreements, signed addendums, rental history verifications, and maintenance request records. They can also create a filing system for easy retrieval of documents when needed. Note that virtual assistants should be trained on data security and privacy regulations to ensure the confidentiality of resident information – while virtual assistants can manage record-keeping tasks, the property manager should maintain oversight and ensure compliance with data protection laws. Invoicing and accounting Virtual assistants can handle a range of tasks related to recording rent payments, managing maintenance expenses, and categorizing various property management costs For example, virtual assistants can help set up secure online payment portals for residents to easily submit rent payments electronically. On the tracking side, virtual assistants can track incoming payments, reconcile bank statements, and ensure accurate records are maintained. Virtual assistants can then generate basic financial reports for the property manager, summarizing expenses and overall property income. This allows for better financial tracking and informed decision-making. Many property management companies utilize accounting software. Virtual assistants can be trained to use these platforms, automating tasks like data entry and simplifying record-keeping. Best property management virtual assistant services providers Identifying the "best" virtual assistant service provider will of course depend on your specific needs and budget. First, we'd recommend that you determine the specific tasks you want your virtual assistant to handle (e.g., advertising, resident communication, bookkeeping), then conduct research on different providers, and compare their services offered, pricing structures, and experience with property management. Also look to online reviews and ask potential providers questions about their screening processes, and data security measures. We're highlighting a couple of providers below that focus exclusively on property management, as well as a short list of solutions that include property management in their overall focus. Virtual Property Management Solutions VPM Solutions is a platform designed specifically to connect property management and real estate businesses with virtual assistants. Learn more Purple Powered Virtual Assistant Purple Powered Virtual Assistant (PPVA) specializes in providing virtual assistants specifically catered to the property management industry. They focus on connecting property management companies with qualified VAs as well as ensuring those VAs have the necessary skills to excel in the role. Learn more Honorable mentions Virtudesk Virtudesk specializes in virtual assistants for various industries, including property management. They offer a proven track record and a focus on quality service. Learn more MyOutDesk Known for their expertise in real estate and property management, MyOutDesk offers virtual assistants with experience in tasks relevant to the field. Learn more Wishup This company boasts a user-friendly platform, offers flexible pricing plans, and has a quick onboarding process for virtual assistants. Learn more Pros and cons of using property management virtual assistants Overall, virtual assistants can be a valuable asset for property management companies, boosting profitability, resident satisfaction, and business growth. However, careful vetting, clear communication, and training are necessary to mitigate potential downsides related to quality control, local regulations, legal issues, and retention. Pros of using virtual assistants in property management Increased profitability Virtual assistants can handle tasks like advertising and resident communication, freeing up property managers to focus on maximizing rental income and minimizing vacancies. Improved tenant satisfaction Virtual assistants can ensure timely responses to new tenant inquiries and manage resident portals, leading to a more responsive and efficient experience for residents. Streamlined bookkeeping and reporting Virtual assistants can assist with bookkeeping tasks and help generate accurate financial reports, allowing for better financial management. Support for business growth Virtual assistants can handle administrative tasks and marketing efforts, reducing the overhead costs of executing this work, and freeing up property managers to focus on growing their business and taking on new clients. Cons of using virtual assistants in property management Quality control challenges Ensuring the quality of services provided by virtual assistants can be tricky, especially for complex tasks like legal compliance or resident screening. Potential legal issues Data security and privacy become a concern when sharing property information with virtual assistants. Clear contracts and data security measures are crucial. Retention challenges Finding and retaining qualified virtual assistants can be difficult, especially for specialized tasks within property management. Maintaining resident satisfaction Reliance on virtual assistants for initial communication with residents might lead to impersonal interactions, potentially impacting satisfaction. Limited expertise Virtual assistants may not have in-depth knowledge of property management regulations or local real estate market nuances compared to experienced property managers. How PMCs are outsourcing services for better resident experiences Property management companies are always looking for new ways to generate value for themselves, their residents, and their investors. One of the quickest ways to scale and increase return on investment can be through property management service outsourcing. At Second Nature, we’ve pioneered the first-ever fully managed Resident Benefits Package. The goal is to make property management easier for PMs, residents, and investors – and drive value that benefits all three. We call it the Triple Win. Our RBP provides services that residents are proven to pay and stay for – and our team manages every part of the process so property managers can focus on what's important to them.

Calendar icon April 29, 2024

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What Are the Benefits of Hiring Property Management Virtual Assistants?

A property management virtual assistant, or property management VA, is a remote professional who provides administrative, operational, and sometimes technical support to property managers and their teams. As a property management company grows, its workload inevitably increases. In that scenario, virtual assistants can be a valuable asset thanks to their ability to handle repetitive tasks like lease renewals, resident communication, and basic bookkeeping. This frees up property managers to focus on strategic initiatives and resident relations, and allows the company to manage more properties and increase revenue without proportionally increasing staff costs. In today's post, we'll dig into the benefits of hiring virtual assistants for property management companies, from improved efficiency to reduced admin burdens and more. Improving operational efficiency and productivity Property management business owners juggle a vast array of tasks, from marketing vacancies to managing resident concerns. Virtual assistants can be powerful allies in this full-time endeavor, boosting operational efficiency and productivity in several key ways. Filed under "streamlining repetitive tasks" are basic operations such as handling routine resident communication via email, phone calls, or text. This might include sending lease renewals, answering basic questions about property policies, and scheduling appointments for maintenance or viewings. Virtual assistants can also support various marketing and prospecting/lead generation functions, including social media management (e.g., the creation of posts publicizing property listings, publishing calendar updates, etc.). Another area where virtual assistants can boost efficiency is in the automation of invoicing for rent payments, sending receipts to residents, and tracking incoming payments. This frees up property managers from manual tasks and reduces the risk of errors. As for more complex processes such as background checks and resident screening, while virtual assistants cannot themselves conduct the checks, they can gather necessary information, initiate renter background check requests with service providers, and follow up on reports. They can also assist with time-consuming tasks such as generating basic real estate business reports on areas like vacancy rates and resident demographics. This data can be valuable for property managers and property owners to identify trends and make informed decisions. Reducing costs by outsourcing back-office operations Back-office operations can quickly become a time and resource drain for property management companies. In this respect, virtual assistants can help generate cost savings by streamlining and managing these essential tasks. In handling routine back-office tasks, virtual assistants free up property managers to focus on high-value activities like strategic planning, resident relations, and property marketing. This increases overall productivity and leads to better financial returns. As indicated above, virtual assistants can also automate repetitive tasks like invoicing, rent collection, and data entry. This minimizes errors and saves time compared to manual processes, reducing the need for staff to correct mistakes. On the resident experience side, virtual assistants can help reduce resident turnover by ensuring timely communication, efficient maintenance request management, and a positive resident experience. This boosts cost-effectiveness in relation to marketing vacancies, new resident screening, and repairs needed to prepare properties for new residents. Reducing the administrative burden Property management companies juggle many tasks that can leave them swamped with administrative duties. Virtual assistants can help tackle some of these time-consuming chores, such as fielding resident inquiries, handling maintenance requests, and even scheduling property inspections, or showings for new residents. This ensures timely responses and frees up the property manager's time for more strategic tasks and business needs. They can also manage the influx of documents, organizing lease agreements, resident applications, and financial records. This keeps everything organized and readily accessible, saving the property manager from the necessity of digging through files. Fixing capacity limitations When property management companies are limited in their staffing resources, a virtual team can act as an extension of the in-house team, effectively breaking through these capacity limitations. For example, by handling routine administrative tasks like resident communication and lease renewals, virtual assistants free up property managers to focus on acquiring new business or managing a larger number of properties. A virtual property management assistant can also serve as a remote team by operating outside regular business hours, meaning tasks like fielding resident inquiries or scheduling maintenance requests can be addressed after hours, improving overall responsiveness and customer satisfaction. In essence, they act as a force multiplier across time zones, extending the reach and capacity of the existing property management team members. Outsourcing non-revenue tasks In sum, virtual assistant services can encompass a wide range of non-revenue property management tasks, workflows, and job descriptions: Administrative duties This can include data entry, scheduling appointments, managing calendars, and filing documents. Resident communication Responding to routine resident emails and calls about things like maintenance coordination, parking inquiries, or noise complaints can be time-consuming. A virtual assistant can handle these initial interactions. Lease management Virtual assistants can support PMs with lease renewals, sending out reminders, processing paperwork, and answering basic resident questions about the lease agreement. Move-in/move-out coordination Scheduling onboarding processes, move-in inspections, collecting pre-move-in information from residents, and processing move-out checklists are all tasks a virtual assistant can handle. Service provider communication Coordinating with cleaning crews, landscapers, and other vendors often involves pricing inquiries, scheduling appointments, following up on requests, and managing invoices. A virtual assistant can help streamline this communication. Report generation Virtual assistants can compile routine reports such as vacancy rates, maintenance requests, and rent collection summaries. The last word At Second Nature, we’ve pioneered the first-ever fully managed Resident Benefits Package. The goal is to make property management easier for PMs, residents, and investors – and drive value that benefits all three. We call it the Triple Win. Our RBP provides services that residents are proven to pay and stay for – and our team manages every part of the process so property managers can focus on what's important to them.

Calendar icon April 29, 2024

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Best Tenant Onboarding Software in 2024

The tenant onboarding process is an opportunity for property management companies to establish positive expectations and create an excellent resident experience. It’s one of the most opportune moments for resident education – in other words, to help them understand key responsibilities and the information they’ll need to take care of the home and their side of the lease, in tandem with investor and property manager responsibilities. It’s also a process with a number of different steps – many of which have traditionally involved cumbersome, manual processes. In today’s post, we’ll examine tools that alleviate these processes, and identify some of the top performers on the market. Note on language: "Tenant onboarding” is an industry term used from time to time. But we here at Second Nature are trying to evolve the word "tenant." We’ve seen the incredible work property managers do day in and day out to make renters feel like they’re so much more than just tenants – they’re residents. Making renters feel like residents isn’t just philosophical, it also encourages them to invest in care for their home and add value to the property. This is why, at Second Nature, we prefer to call tenants “residents.” Like you, we think of them as people first – making your property their home. What is tenant onboarding software? It’s important to dispel the notion that “tenant onboarding software” is a monolithic category of software applications. There really is no such category, as no single rental property management software will cover everything you need to address. Instead, property management companies are using disparate software tools to solve different pain points during the onboarding process. Indeed, the tenant onboarding process can present a multitude of pains for both property managers and tenants. Below are just a few examples. Cumbersome, time-consuming paperwork Filling out paper applications, manually processing documents, and chasing signatures can eat up valuable time. Communication challenges Back-and-forth messaging, calls, and emails regarding lease agreement details and payments are inefficient and can lead to misunderstandings. Data security concerns Traditional methods that use physical documents pose a risk of data insecurity or outright data breaches. Process inefficiency risks Accurately tracking onboarding tasks such as key handover, utility activation, or maintenance checks can be difficult without proper tools. Lack of transparency Uncertainty about application status or lease details can be frustrating for new tenants. Tenant onboarding software tools alleviate challenges such as these by offering features that translate into a smoother experience for everyone involved, saving time, reducing errors, and fostering better communication. Key features expected of tenant onboarding software There are several attributes that you should expect to find across tenant onboarding software tools, regardless of the specific platform or category. Here are some of the key features: User-friendly interface Clear instructions and intuitive functionality should enable property managers, potential tenants, and tenants (as well as property owners, in some cases) to use the software easily. Mobile accessibility In today's mobile-first world, the ability to access the software and complete tasks like online applications, payments, or maintenance requests on smartphones or tablets is crucial. Secure data management tools The software should ensure that all sensitive applicant and tenant PII (personally identifiable information) is stored securely with encryption and suitable access controls. This is particularly important for SaaS-based applications. Workflow automation Features like automated application processing can significantly streamline the onboarding process. Integration capabilities The ability to integrate with other onboarding tools, accounting software, or background check/tenant screening services in real time can create a more unified workflow. Reporting and analytics Property managers should be able to generate reports on application trends, rent collection rates, or tenant feedback to gain valuable insights. Customer support The onboarding software provider should offer comprehensive resources to support property managers in their usage of the software. This may include tutorials, webinars, or dedicated customer support representatives. Top Tools for Tenant Onboarding From the initial applicant screening stages through to move-in and the tenancy period, we’ll take a look at each step of the tenant onboarding process and popular tools in each category. 1. Applicant screening Property managers often use tenant screening services such as Plaid, Finicity, Pinwheel, and others to conduct rental screening and replace manual document upload and review. As identity fraud becomes more prevalent, identity verification tools are also becoming more sophisticated. Note that Second Nature’s Resident Benefits Package includes a $1 million identity protection program and credit building for tenants. These programs protect your tenants and help draw people who want to build responsible financial security. 2. Lease management Property management software solutions like AppFolio or Buildium often include features for lease creation, storage, and e-signing within their suite. Platforms such as DocuSign, PandaDoc, or Dropbox Sign enable property managers to then send lease agreements electronically for secure online signatures. Pay attention to the differing pricing models between these platforms, as they can vary substantially. 3. Rent collection and payment processing For rent collection, PMs typically require certified funds and will accept ACH/debit, or leverage a service like PayNearMe, where residents can pay cash at a local Walmart or convenience store location (while on the PM side, the process remains completely digital). Payment processing is typically handled by property management accounting software, although third-party tools like Zego are used in the SFH space. In addition, tools like EliseAI (a chatbot-type tool for use cases such as leasing, among others) are innovating in this space. 4. Move-in communication and coordination Platforms like AppFolio, Buildium, Propertyware, or Rent Manager provide a central tenant portal to access lease documents, pay rent, submit maintenance requests, and communicate with property managers. As for task management, Tools like Leadsimple, Aptly, or Monday.com can be used by property managers to track and assign move-in tasks, ensuring a smooth transition for new residents. For instance, the onboarding process may include tasks such as orientation calls and/or enrollment of the resident into ancillary products and services such as Second Nature’s Resident Benefits Package (RBP). Second Nature also includes a move-in concierge as part of its RBP. 5. Feedback/reputation management tools Tools like Grade.us, opiniion, and Birdeye can be used to gather feedback from tenants after move-in, helping property managers identify areas for improvement. The specific tools you use will depend on your requirements and processes. However, by and large, any of them can be used to transform the tenant onboarding process from a paper-heavy slog into an efficient digital experience. Final thoughts Remember, the onboarding process is the ideal mechanism for enhancing communication, establishing expectations, and creating a positive resident experience. Our top recommendation for ensuring a world-class onboarding and resident experience is to build a resident benefits program. Second Nature has pioneered the only fully managed Resident Benefits Package for single-family property managers. Learn more about resident experience management in our State of Resident Experience Report.

Calendar icon April 25, 2024

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How to Optimize Property Management Processes and Software

Property management software is currently helping property managers establish efficient and reliable processes at a higher rate than ever before in the PM industry. With that development in the proptech industry has come the development of tech for self-managers that has changed the capacity of the accidental landlord. Thus, the demand for efficiency at scale has risen in order to separate the professional from the amateur, and the establishment of processes that allow such a thing has become a critical topic for professional property managers. Optimizing property management processes Carter Fleck of Triton Property Management, a growth-oriented firm out of northern Virginia that is approaching 300 units with larger goals for 2024, joins us to share his expertise on process definition. Fleck is the General Manager responsible for operations and strategic growth, and he has been developing effective processes to ensure efficiency at Scale at Triton, and in the process, he has garnered an understanding of how to do so. “A lot of failing,” says Fleck. “In the early days, we were getting a lot of good and bad feedback, but typically the bad feedback is what you adjust off of.” Fleck believes that assumptions are the enemy when it comes to defining procedures and sourcing software for your PMC. “The image that we use is if you're going to build a sidewalk before people even start walking on a field, it's kind of dumb. You have to see where people will walk first, and then you'll build a gravel path. So number one, you see where they walk, see where their intentions are in the grass, then you build a gravel path. And then eventually, once that walkway is established, that's where you build your processes and procedures.” The analogy is a visualization of the concept that you have to see how people operate before you can establish processes to make how they operate more efficient. Fleck encourages the negative experiences of process breakdown and cites them as the only way to really nail down what your processes should look like. “Over time, between the tenants giving feedback and owners giving feedback, we adjusted our processes. It's a mix between figuring out where the owners walk and where the tenants walk, and then building paths that align.” Fleck details an example of how Triton adjusted its process after an assumption it made got challenged: "We had an assumption that payment plans were helpful for residents," says Fleck. "And so the way we handled delinquency is we would reach out to them and would be like, ‘you need to pay this. Do you have a payment plan option?’ And they would always say yes. Our process was we'll put you on a payment plan, we'll invite you to a payment plan, you'll accept the payment plan, and then we'll monitor the payment plan. That in itself was a lot of work, but we thought it was doing well. But some of the owners that we had managed for mentioned that another property manager doesn't allow any payment plans. And if you're not fully paid up by the end of the month, then the eviction process starts if you’re over $500 due. So we're like 'alright, well, we'll serve you in that we'll change our processes.' And we did, and our delinquency percentage shrunk significantly. So, consistently, by the end of every month, we're around 5% APR. Whereas with payment plans we're like 5 to 10%.” Fleck obviously credits seeing the assumptions in motion as what prompted the need for process iteration, and he firmly believes that making too many of these assumptions is one of the biggest mistakes growing property management companies make. Like any business experiencing growth, process definition is critical to achieve efficiency at larger volumes. What Fleck is essentially advocating for is processes based on what you know, not what you think, and there is a big distinction. Managing property management software Fleck has installed both general and tech-based processes, and cites that understanding of how people interact with processes as the key in both areas. "They don't focus on user experience. That's really important. Number one, how the tenants like the tech, but specifically how the people who are using the tech are gonna adopt it. So when we were choosing a rent inspection software, we had so many people recommend one, software and I, we almost pulled the trigger on it. But then I was like, let's do a trial run on both these two. And we chose the other one because it was way better user experience for property managers. So user experience, both for us and for residents." Tech is a tool that is ultimately as good as its users, and if it's not used correctly or at all, its potential is wasted. An over-reliance on technology can actually go hand-in-hand with an under-reliance, as both often spring up from a lack of understanding of how to choose, implement, and manage it. In this vein, Fleck can't recall many property managers who operate with too much tech. As long as you're not purchasing redundant software and you've done and continue to do your due diligence, tech-based process can make your business more efficient. "I more often find myself having that conversation," says Fleck. "When I'm talking to property managers in my sub-market, who aren't connected with like a NARPM, who aren't connected with like a Crane group, or who aren't connected with a Second Nature, aren't connected to the tune of what the property management industry is doing and the cutting edge of it, I'm just like, 'you could save so much of your time and you could scale this so much more if you only even if you just had tenant Turner, or if you had LeadSimple.'" No matter what your story is a property manager, if growth is in the cards, so is process and technology refinement. Hopefully, Fleck's experience in these areas can help you stay efficient and organized as door counts grow.

Calendar icon April 19, 2024

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Why offer a tenant benefits package?

A tenant benefits package is an increasingly important part of the equation today. That’s because today’s residents want their needs proactively anticipated. It’s something they're willing to pay (and stay) for. This makes complete sense: like everywhere else, residents and property investors alike are getting younger in the residential real estate sector – and with this generational shift comes expectations for a certain level of convenience and support. In this article, we’ll explore what a tenant benefit package is, how it improves the experience for both property managers and tenants, and crucial mistakes to avoid. Before we get into the details, we want to give a shoutout to our very own “Resident Benefits Package” – which is how we refer to the benefits comprised in the “tenant benefits package.” “Tenant” is not yet a legacy term, but we here at Second Nature are trying to evolve it. That’s because, in our experience, property managers work hard to make renters feel like they’re not just parties to a contract – they’re residents. On one hand, this is just humans being humans, but on the other hand, it also encourages them to invest in care for their new home and add value to the property. Ready to get started now? Build your Resident Benefits Package today. What is a tenant benefits package? A tenant benefits package is typically a bundle of services, conveniences, and provisions offered by a property manager on top of the basic lease agreement. They represent a triple-win situation for property managers, residents, and property owners, as they enhance the overall rental experience, generate additional income, and protect the real estate investment. It might include conveniences such as online monthly rent payment options, or portals for submitting maintenance requests and tracking their status. It could also include various financial perks, such as credit rating improvements that are contingent on on-time rental payments, or discounts on nearby services such as fitness centers. It might also include amenities ranging from move-in concierge or utility set-up services, to identity protection services, to HVAC filter delivery. The cost for resident benefits packages is typically included in the lease and added as a monthly fee, with the fee being dependent on the specific benefits. Indeed, the benefits contained in a tenant benefits package will vary depending on the property manager and the type of rental property. The overall goal is to provide tenants with an enhanced quality of life while simplifying the experience of renting. At Second Nature, we pioneered the only fully managed resident benefits package, in response to PMs who wanted to make their business stand out. Our RBP includes an array of services and supports for residents, from filter delivery to credit building to maintenance. Why should property managers offer a tenant benefits package? Beyond the triple-win considerations mentioned just above, there are compelling and concrete reasons why property managers should offer tenant benefit packages. We'll turn to these now. Ancillary revenue Some tenant benefit packages include optional services or add-ons that can generate additional revenue streams for the property manager. This might include things like renter insurance or HVAC filter delivery. Resident experience Tenant benefit packages deliver numerous savings and value to tenants, beyond the value they would get if they were obtaining the same benefits "à la carte." Additionally, by offering additional services and conveniences, benefit packages can make tenants feel valued and more satisfied with their living experience. For instance, maintenance hotline requests, tenant portals, and air filter replacements all make life easier. Add-on services like identity theft protection can offer a sense of security. And discounted renters insurance coverage, utility concierge services, or other perks can save tenants money. Decrease tenant turnover and vacancy rates In a competitive rental market, tenant benefit packages can be a major differentiator toward boosting retention rates and reducing vacancy rates. Properties that offer these packages can also attract a wider pool of qualified tenants, and potentially command higher rents. Note that certain benefits in the package, like online rent payments and maintenance requests, can automate tasks and free up the property manager's time. This allows them to focus on more value-added initiatives. How does the tenant benefits package improve the tenant experience? Tenant benefit packages can significantly improve tenant satisfaction in several ways, by making life easier, more convenient, and potentially more affordable. For instance, if an online portal (a baseline feature for most property management software) is included for rent payments and maintenance issues and requests, this eliminates the hassle of writing checks or waiting on hold to speak with someone about a clogged drain. In other words, tenants have the peace of mind of knowing they can manage their tenancy 24/7 from the comfort of their own devices. Some packages might include features like filter delivery services or regularly scheduled HVAC maintenance. This frees tenants from having to remember these tasks – and ensures their home is well-maintained. Certain packages might also offer "verified vendor" services – in other words, a vetted vendor network that can help provide a more secure feeling to residents when service providers are on-site. On the financial side of things, a benefits package might offer discounts with local suppliers for various goods and services, or on a renters insurance policy obtained through the property manager (with applicable waivers for residents who have their own insurance). This can save tenants money on a necessary expense. Some packages also help residents with their credit scores via credit reporting and credit building services, so they can transition from renting to home buying when the time is right. The idea is that the credit reporting program reports on-time rent payments automatically to all credit bureaus, helping residents build their credit simply by paying their rent on time. Some benefit packages include resident rewards programs that represent a powerful and positive incentive for on-time rent payments, including gift cards or cash. Packages can include security deposit alternatives that serve to provide a means for residents to be financially liable for damages without having to pay a significant lump sum upfront, such as pure insurance, surety bonds, and ACH authorization programs. Ultimately, tenant benefit packages create a more professional and responsive image for the property management company, which helps tenants feel valued and allows them to experience a smoother, more stress-free rental experience. What are the mistakes to avoid when offering tenant benefits packages? Property management companies should take care to avoid certain pitfalls when implementing tenant benefit packages to ensure they are providing true value to tenants as well as delivering profitability to the PM company itself. For instance, it's important to ensure that the services you're offering are actually relevant to your target renters. For example, young professionals might appreciate discounts on gym memberships, while families might prefer pet-sitting services. You should also take care to clearly communicate what's included and not included in the package to new residents. Don't oversell the benefits – focus on how they genuinely improve the living experience. It's also very important to set realistic expectations for response times on standard maintenance requests, emergency maintenance requests, or virtual concierge services. Likewise, be clear on all available payment methods, as well as rent due dates, late fee structures, and any associated payment processing fees. If your package includes services from third-party vendors, ensure that these vendors are reputable and reliable. Research their customer service record and responsiveness to ensure a smooth partnership and a positive experience for tenants. Above all, regularly monitor the usage of different benefits within your benefits package. This can help you refine your offerings and ensure you're not spending where spending is not required. Looking for a Resident Benefits Package? If you’re looking for a “plug and play” resident benefits package, Second Nature’s RBP is the way to go. Designed to be easy to implement and simple to use, all the services it includes are managed by Second Nature – which means there’s no day-to-day upkeep required from the property manager: Second Nature keeps it running. It’s a simple way to grow your business and create great experiences that residents will pay and stay for. Learn more about our fully-managed Resident Benefits Package.

Calendar icon April 2, 2024

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10 Steps to Onboard New Tenants

For property management companies, new tenant onboarding represents a cornerstone of the "Triple Win" philosophy we advocate here at Second Nature. That's because an optimal process benefits all parties. First, a smooth onboarding experience fosters tenant satisfaction and delivers winning conditions for a positive tenant relationship with their new home. It recognizes their role as property residents rather than transactional entities, and sets a positive tone for their experience with the property. It also demonstrates professionalism and competence on the part of the property management company, which not only boosts your brand, but also enhances your ability to attract potential tenants in the future. Finally, it protects the real estate property owner: Clear communication of lease terms, expectations, and maintenance procedures helps reduce the risk of issues such as late payments, property damage, or misunderstandings. But how do you actually optimize the onboarding process? Today we'll look at standardized procedures you should implement to ensure consistency and a positive outcome for all. Note on language: "Tenant onboarding” is an industry term used from time to time. But we here at Second Nature are trying to evolve the word "tenant." We’ve seen the incredible work property managers do day in and day out to make renters feel like they’re so much more than just a tenant – they’re residents. Making renters feel like residents isn’t just philosophical, it also encourages them to invest in care for their home and add value to the property. This is why, at Second Nature, we prefer to call tenants “residents.” Like you, we think of them as people first – making your property their home. 1. Run background checks, collect and verify all tenant information The onboarding process starts with thorough tenant screening and background checks on prospective renters. The process of ensuring the accuracy of tenant information can be time-consuming, so this is where you will realize the greatest efficiencies as you optimize the process. Start by leveraging screening and credit check/credit score service providers to assess a tenant's financial responsibility and ability to meet rent payments, as well as identifying any prior evictions or tenancy issues. Criminal background checks, run in accordance with fair housing laws and anti-discriminatory practices, can uncover potential red flags that may represent risks to the property or other tenants. You should also use standardized application forms that clearly request information such as: full legal name, contact details, and date of birth employment information and income verification (via recent paystubs or employer contact details) previous rental history, including contact details of prior landlords emergency contact information Directly contact previous landlords and employers to confirm details provided by the prospective tenant, and verify the government-issued photo ID (driver's license or passport) they supply to confirm their identity. Consider offering an online application portal where tenants can submit their information and upload documents securely. This allows for faster processing and reduces manual data entry (and therefore reduces the risk of errors). Again, ensure that all screening processes comply with fair housing laws to avoid discrimination based on protected characteristics. 2. Explain the lease and sign the agreement It's critical for all parties that you be transparent and clear about lease terms. To achieve this clarity in a repeatable, standardized way, consider structuring the process as four distinct stages: (i) Pre-signing review Schedule a dedicated time with the tenant to review the lease agreement. In the agreement itself, it's important to use clear, concise, plain language that avoids legal jargon. Explain each clause, addressing key points like rent amount and due date, security deposit details and return policy, allowed usage of the property and any restrictions (such as pets or modifications), maintenance responsibilities of both the tenant and the property manager, and termination clauses/notice periods. (ii) Addressing concerns After the pre-signing review, proactively invite questions and address any areas of confusion or concern. Have supplementary materials and any other necessary information readily at hand, such as property manuals or tenant handbooks. (iii) Lease signing process Consider offering the option of secure e-signatures for a convenient and efficient signing experience, but do ensure readily available hard copies of the lease for traditional in-person signing preferences. (iv) Post-signing follow-up: Present tenants with a signed copy of the lease agreement for their reference. At that point, you should outline the next steps, such as payment details (more on that below) move-in date and procedures, utility setup details, and contact information for maintenance requests or emergencies. 3. Collect payments and security deposits An efficient tenant onboarding process will prioritize secure and convenient methods for tenants to submit their security deposit and rent payments. Naturally, this starts and ends with clear communication. If you have not covered this in the context of the lease agreement, do so now: Clearly outline all available payment methods, as well as rent due dates, late fee structures, and any associated payment processing fees. It's helpful to provide flexible payment methods. Options include secure online portals (whether hosted on your site or by a third-party payment processing provider) that allow tenants to pay using debit cards, credit cards, or e-transfers. This option presents multiple advantages, including automatic recurring rent collection, online receipt for all transactions, and a record of payment history for easy reference. You can also offer the option for direct bank transfers between the tenant's account and the accounts of your property management company. For technology-averse tenants, you may find it necessary to offer traditional payment methods such as cashier's checks or money orders, which provide a secure way for tenants to submit payments without the risk of personal check bounces. When it comes to security deposit handling, compliance is key. You must adhere to all local and state regulations regarding security deposit amounts, holding periods, and interest accrual (if applicable). It's helpful to hold security deposits in a separate account designated solely for this purpose. This demonstrates transparency and protects tenant funds. 4. Share copies of electricity and gas safety certificates While some regulations require property managers to make electricity and gas safety certificates available on request, in certain jurisdictions, the property management company may be legally obliged to provide them during the onboarding process. Always consult with local regulations and ensure compliance to avoid any legal issues. In any case, by proactively providing copies of safety certificates, clearly explaining their purpose, and maintaining proper records, property management companies demonstrate a commitment to tenant safety and uphold a high standard of professionalism. This fosters trust and transparency throughout the tenancy. While the certificates indicate overall the electrical and gas safety of your rental property, as well as any potential hazards, emphasize the tenant's responsibility to report any observed issues or concerns promptly. 5. Schedule move-in To efficiently schedule the move-in, inquire about the tenant's preferred move-in date and time frame during the lease agreement signing process. If you're offering a few available move-in windows, strive to accommodate their preferred date and time, as this demonstrates your commitment to tenant satisfaction. If the tenant's preferred date is unavailable, propose options that minimize disruption, such as an earlier or later move-in time within the same day. Once a mutually agreeable move-in date and time are established, send a confirmation email or document outlining the details as well as a move-in checklist. Note that Second Nature includes a move-in concierge as part of its Resident Benefit Program. 6. Prepare the property for move-in day The onboarding process culminates in a meticulously prepared property for the tenant's arrival. Start by conducting a pre-move-in inspection and cleaning. This covers the entire property, including: Floors, windows, and all surfaces. Appliances Bathrooms and kitchens Ensure that all smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are operational, and have fresh batteries. Also, address any outstanding maintenance or repair requests, and verify that all applicable utilities are functioning properly. You'll want to take any meter readings in the presence of the tenant during the move-in process. Consider providing small "welcome amenities'' (toilet paper, tissues, light bulbs, and so on), as well as a welcome packet that includes contact details, important property information, trash collection schedules), and emergency procedures. Such gestures foster a sense that the property is being managed with care. 7. Deliver keys and share property manager contact information While the process of delivering keys and sharing contact information may seem trivial, it's an excellent occasion for once again demonstrating your professionalism and care for the property. First, coordinate a convenient time for the tenant to pick up their keys. This can occur during a move-in walkthrough or previously. Consider offering flexible options for key collection, such as collection of keys from the property management office, or secure drop-off at the property, if this is feasible. Maintain a record of the specific keys issued to the tenant. If the property utilizes key fobs or electronic access systems, ensure the tenant receives proper instructions and activation procedures. As far as contact information goes, provide the tenant with various contact methods, including any dedicated phone lines for tenant inquiries and maintenance requests, email addresses for non-urgent communication, and access to an online tenant portal (if applicable) for rent payments, maintenance requests, and communication. If you have not already done so, outline your operating hours and response timeframe for inquiries and maintenance requests. Provide a separate after-hours emergency contact number for urgent situations. 8. Leave a welcome message, card, or gift pack for the tenant While not essential, incorporating a personalized touch during the onboarding process can significantly enhance the tenant's experience. For instance, a brief handwritten note left at the property upon move-in adds a personal touch, as does a warm welcome email. Such a message can express that the tenant has chosen your property, offer availability to answer questions, and reiterate important contact details for the tenant's reference. Professional greeting cards with similar messages are also an effective way of enhancing your brand, particularly when co-branded with local restaurants and grocery stores to offer discounts or coupons. Another option consists of gift packs containing small, practical items such as basic toiletries, coffee/tea/baked goods, or cleaning supplies. Ensure that any message, card, or gift reflects a professional tone and avoids overly personal greetings. 9. Follow up after one week with the onboarded tenant to get feedback An optimal onboarding process extends beyond the initial move-in. Following up with the resident after a week demonstrates your company's attentiveness and professionalism, and goes a long way toward boosting retention rates. Schedule a follow-up call or email approximately one week after the tenant has settled in (at which point they will have become well acquainted with the property). A call allows for a more personal touch and enables the tenant to voice any concerns directly, while an email gives them the flexibility to respond at their convenience, as well as providing a written record of the communication. Sample wording might go along the lines of: "I hope you're settling in well at [property address/name]. Is there anything we can help you with?" or "We hope everything is going smoothly after your move-in last week. Do you have any questions or concerns we can address?" Remind the tenant of the various contact methods available for the property management company, and address any raised concerns promptly to demonstrate your willingness to assist in resolving issues. You may also wish to consider incorporating a brief tenant satisfaction survey into the follow-up e-mail, if you've chosen this approach. This can provide valuable insights into areas where the onboarding process can be further improved. 10. Schedule periodic rental inspections with the tenant A crucial aspect of responsible property management involves conducting periodic inspections. Here's a professional approach to scheduling these inspections while fostering a positive relationship with the resident. Clear communication is paramount. It's important that you outline the frequency and purpose of inspections within the lease agreement, and explain the rationale behind inspections, emphasizing property maintenance and ensuring tenant safety. Of course, you'll reserve the right to conduct immediate inspections in case of emergencies or suspected violations of the lease agreement. However, prioritize informing the tenant whenever possible, and always adhere to local and state regulations regarding the frequency and notification requirements for rental inspections. Before scheduling an inspection, provide ample written notice. This allows residents to prepare the property and minimizes disruption. As necessary, work with the tenant to find a mutually agreeable date and time for the inspection. Allow the tenant to be present during the inspection, and limit the inspection to the essential aspects, avoiding intrusion into personal belongings (download our rental inspection checklist to ensure you’re covering all the bases). Then, provide the tenant with a copy of the inspection report, highlighting any findings or maintenance needs. Final thoughts Remember, an onboarding process is not just a series of steps; it's a tool to enhance communication, establish expectations, and create a positive resident experience. Our top recommendation for ensuring a world-class resident experience is to build a resident benefits program. Second Nature has pioneered the only fully managed Resident Benefits Package for single-family property managers. Learn more about resident experience management in our State of Resident Experience Report, or explore the benefits of a Resident Benefits Package.

Calendar icon March 20, 2024

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7 Best Property Management Newsletters

Property managers fill many roles and hold many responsibilities. That’s why it can be helpful for them to subscribe to leading industry newsletters and publications. These publications deliver strategic time-savings by providing focused, often actionable updates on market news such as real estate market fluctuations, investment property trends, and resident demographics. They can also keep you informed about updates to legal considerations related to rental properties, so you have a longer runway to adapt to any changing requirements. Finally, they’re an ideal way of keeping tabs on the latest in best practices and tech advancements, so your operational toolbox always has the best tools available, for what can often be a challenging role. In this post, we’ll survey some of the top newsletters in the industry, and provide quick takeaways about what makes each worth the read. 1. Second Nature's Triple Win Newsletter Our very own bi-weekly newsletter is a fun and informative digest of all things property management, with a focus on our "Triple Win" approach, which favors conditions that benefit residents, property management companies, and owners alike. We make it engaging and helpful, with sample content including articles such as "Improving Delegation with the 'Who' Not 'How' Approach," "Property Management Horror Stories," and "How to Install and Manage Processes in Property Management," plus interviews with industry veterans, our take on the best of social media, and the occasional PM-focused meme. Subscribe here 2. Peter Lohmann's Newsletter Peter Lohmann is the CEO & principal broker of RL Property Management, a residential property management company located in Columbus (Ohio). His weekly newsletter has 5,000 subscribers, and according to a recent social media posting on Twitter/X, focuses on “sharing everything that works as we grow our property management business.” A testimonial from one newsletter subscriber describes the content as “honest, objective, and eye-opening,” and this does appear to be the brand of the email newsletter, as it is written in a personable, conversational tone that covers a wide range of meaningful content and marketing strategies, ranging from how daunting it can be to hire a new COO, to extended discussions around client churn (using data from his own company), as well as spotlights on conferences, local events, and new technology. Subscribe here 3. PlanOmatic Monthly Beaker PlanOmatic provides photos, floor plans, and 3D tours for single-family rental property owners and property managers. Their monthly newsletter, The Monthly Beaker, bills itself as “everything you need to know about SFR, once a month, in one place.” Although it is still a fairly “young” publication at just over a year old, it has already garnered over 750 LinkedIn subscribers to go along with their email list. It’s easy to see why – the format makes it a lot of fun to read, with an introductory editorial segment delivered in a conversational tone that nevertheless provides a significant quantity of information. This is typically followed by a series of quick hits consisting of proprietary insights into the SFR space, important data from around the sector, and final bullets providing key takeaways (“Everyone knows this stuff and you should too”) from the property management industry. Subscribe here 4. National Rental Home Council As the non-profit trade association of the single-family rental home industry, the National Rental Home Council (NRHC) publishes a wealth of resources for its different target audiences. NRHC’s intent is to support legislative and regulatory frameworks that incentivize housing providers to augment and enhance accessibility to a range of fair housing options for both homeowners and renters. This means its resources are designed to be of interest to a variety of different stakeholders within the rental market. Members receive a weekly Briefing Report on the single family rental home industry, the Quarterly NRHC Newsletter, and a Weekly Newsletter featuring national coverage and news alerts. For non-members, the NRHC issues regular news releases, as well as resources including FAQs, reports and primers, fact sheets, and videos. With archives dating back to 2015, this site is a valuable and well-established industry resource. Visit the website 5. The Evernest Newsletter Evernest’s focus is on single-family houses, condos, small multi-family buildings, and HOA management. It manages over 15,000 properties for over 6,000 owners, and its HOA and Association division serves over 17,000 homeowners. As for the Evernest Newsletter, its email list consists of over 18K landlords and real estate industry investors, all signed up to receive educational content for DIY landlords and real estate investors. This real estate newsletter also publishes content related to new podcast episodes from the Evernest team, articles and videos, and community content as well as information about upcoming events. Subscribe here 6. Jordan Muela’s Newsletter Jordan Muela has been in the property management industry for over 10 years, and is currently CEO of LeadSimple and co-founder of ProfitCoach. He started his now bi-weekly newsletter in 2021, which counts 4k property manager subscribers, and focuses on “people, process, and profit,” as he puts it. With catchy headlines and informative content, it’s worth browsing his page of posts to get a sense of his coverage. Sample headers include “Why what triggers you is a gift,” “There's a simple test to understand how aggressive your fees are,” “It's ok to want to quit,” and “2023 National PM Pricing Report”: suffice it to say that it’s all highly varied and readable stuff. Subscribe here 7. Marc Cunningham In addition to running the PM Build website, Marc Cunningham is the President of Grace Property Management & Real Estate. He's regularly featured in national real estate publications and podcasts, holds multiple designations, invests in residential and commercial real estate, and was named the 2018 national property manager of the year by Think Realty. At PM Build, Marc publishes a monthly video newsletter that addresses current topics and trends in the real estate property management space. With accessible topics such as “How To Deliver Bad News To Owner-Clients, “Top Tip To Be Successful In The Property Management Business," and “6 Numbers To Measure The Success Of Your PM Business,” his content is of immense value for new and seasoned property management companies alike. Watch episodes here Hungry for more news? Visit Second Nature’s Triple Win Property Management Blog

Calendar icon March 15, 2024

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5 Best Property Management Inspection Software

Property management inspection software is designed to simplify and streamline the process of conducting property inspections. Typical features of this property management software include customizable inspection templates, mobile compatibility, photo and video capture, scheduling capabilities, and report generation functionality. More broadly, inspection software is an important tool for establishing "Triple Win" conditions that benefit residents, property managers, and investors alike. That's because it improves overall operational efficiency and promotes proactive/preventative maintenance, while also helping to improve transparency. In a nutshell, it’s an indispensable tool for property management companies looking to deliver high-quality services and maintain property value. Today, we’ll provide an overview of some of the best property management inspection software currently available. A note on language: Developers of property management inspection software often refer to "tenants” in their workflows, and for the sake of cohesion, we’ll be picking up on that term in this software review. But here at Second Nature we regularly see the incredible work property managers do day in and day out to make renters feel like they’re so much more than just a tenant – they’re residents. Making renters feel like residents isn’t just a philosophy, it’s also a business decision that encourages them to invest in care for their home and add value to the property. This is why, at Second Nature, we prefer to call renters “residents.” Like you, we think of them as people first – making your property their home. Related: Best Single Family Property Management Software Our Criteria for Choosing the Best Property Management Inspection Software The inspection solutions on this list were selected from top-ranked inspection software on sites such as Capterra and G2, as well as sites devoted to property management solutions. Note that all inspection tools come with pros, cons, and distinctive features. In today’s overview, we’ll confine ourselves to outlining core features, as well as positioning and pricing. However, for true apples-to-apples comparisons of property management inspection software, you should evaluate its performance in the context of real-life requirements and conditions. In particular, focus on the following aspects in your assessments: Workflow templatization Workflow templatization in property management inspection software refers to the process of creating templated automations that sequence common inspection tasks and steps. Essentially a user-friendly "smart inspection checklist," these workflow templates reduce the likelihood of inspection oversights or errors when assessing property conditions. They can include areas and elements to focus on during the inspection process, as well as evaluation criteria. Ideally, users can customize workflow templates as required. Ease of tenant communication Features that focus on ease of communication are central to improving the resident experience, as they streamline communication, save time, and enhance the overall process for both parties. Examples might range in complexity from simple direct messaging capabilities to automated translation features. How fast it is to complete an inspection While workflow templates can help make inspections more efficient, other factors also considerably impact overall process optimization, including features like automatic appointment scheduling, the extent of offline data access, the degree to which report generation is automated, and more. Inspection report readability Readability is key to creating transparent communications and positive overall experiences for everyone involved in the process. Different factors include the general layout and formatting of property inspection reports and inspection data, clarity and concision of language, and accessibility considerations that promote inclusivity for any reader. Customization options No one size fits all out of the box. That’s why inspection software ideally allows user to tailor the app to their specific requirements. Customization capabilities might refer to branding options, changes to the user interface, reporting format, workflow triggers, and more. Ease of syncing between mobile and desktop Not all server capabilities are created equal, which is why it can be helpful to evaluate whether or not information can be seamlessly accessed, updated, and shared across the software’s mobile app and desktop platform. Ultimately, seamless syncing enables better property management practices. Areas to consider include data update latency, offline functionality, consistency of feature accessibility across platforms, security of data transfer, and conflict resolution in case of simultaneous data changes. Value-add services In the context of property management inspection software, "value-add services" refer to any additional services that complement the core inspection capabilities of the software. These services can be offered by the software vendors themselves, or via third-party partnerships. Examples might include yard services associated with HOA compliance, pet screening, or Second Nature’s very own air filter delivery service. Best Property Management Inspection Software 1. zInspector Billed as “the most powerful and affordable property inspection toolkit in the market,” zInspector is designed as a collaborative field-to-office solution for the property management, real estate, and construction trades. Features include the option to upload unlimited date- and time-stamped photos and videos, offline inspection capabilities, and unlimited options for customizing templates. zInspector also provides a number of tenant-directed features, including move-in/move-out inspections as well as periodic and renewal inspections, and remote tenant signing. Property inspection companies can brand zInspector capabilities within their own app, or simply customize zInspector with their logo and color palettes. Featured zInspector integrations include AppFolio, Rent Manager, Rentvine, PropertyWare, Rentec Direct, and Google Drive. Pricing ranges from free (for up to 5 doors) to the “Max” plan at $110 per month. 10% discounts are provided for annual subscriptions. According to users on G2.com, the zInspector property inspection app is “super easy to learn and use,” with “thorough options for evaluating all our units upon turnover, from our smallest and most basic efficiencies to massive 6-bedroom single-family homes.” Learn more about zInspector 2. RentCheck RentCheck is a popular solution for the scattered site property management market. It’s designed to help save time for property management teams by eliminating the need for in-person inspections. In that vein, the mobile app version (available in Android and iOS versions) allows residents to complete inspections (move-in and move-out as well as periodic) using their mobile devices, without having to coordinate with a property manager. Features of the software include the ability for property managers to customize home inspections, set reminders, generate reports, and compare new and existing reports side-by-side. Pricing options range from a free version for up to 10 doors to an enterprise tier that includes advanced API and customization features. Per Capterra, RentCheck scores extremely well (4.7 out of 5) for ease of use, value for money, and customer service. Learn more about RentCheck 3. HappyCo HappyCo is more fairly characterized as a platform rather than an inspection software solution. It’s billed as a “real-time multifamily operations platform” that aims to help property owners and managers unlock more accurate valuations, better returns, and higher property value. The function of its Happy Property suite is to streamline leasing, renewal, and maintenance tasks, and this includes core inspection functionality, including scheduling, notifications, and work order generation. It integrates with several other technologies, including AppFolio, MRI, RealPage, Rent Manager, and Yardi. Pricing is determined based on a consultative process with the HappyCo team. Reviewers on G2.com call out its simplicity and ease of use. Learn more about HappyCo 4. Onsight PROS OnSight PROS is an in-person service for property managers, landlords, and insurance companies. However, they leverage an app to streamline the inspection process. Different types of inspections include move-in/move-out (MIMO) inspections, periodic inspections, acquisition inspections, and exterior inspections (roof, gutters, landscaping, and fencing). Inspection reports can be customized and branded as needed. The service coverage area is nationwide, and pricing for the service is determined based on a consultative process with the OnSight PROS team. Learn more about OnSight PROS 5. SnapInspect Designed for a wide range of markets, including multifamily, residential, commercial, vacation rentals, and student housing, SnapInspect incorporates features such as video recording, custom reports, and custom property inspector workflows. A free trial of the software is available, and multifamily pricing starts at $199 per month, which includes iOS and Android apps, Google and Dropbox sync, report customization, and scheduling & automation options. SnapInspect reviews on G2 describe SnapInspect’s customer service as “above and beyond,” and refer to the app’s user-friendliness. Learn more about SnapInspect Property Management Inspection Software by Second Nature Inspection software by Second Nature is currently in the works! As always, our goal is to create an experience that will benefit property management companies, residents, and investors alike. Drop us a line if you’d like to be among the first to learn about our upcoming release - or take a tour of our Resident Benefits Package to explore the Triple Win experience we’re offering you right now.

Calendar icon March 13, 2024

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