Calendar icon May 11, 2023

What Is a Long-Term Lease? How to Win with Long-Term Property Management


Today we’re diving into all the nuances of the long-term lease, the pros and cons, and why engaging long-term property management can build a win for you, your residents, and your investor clients.

Related: State of Resident Experience Study


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What is a long-term lease?

A long-term lease is a lease agreement that lasts longer than the standard in an industry. In commercial real estate, long-term rentals could be ten years or more. 

In single-family homes, a long-term lease could be anything more than one year. Long-term leases have the benefit of locking in payment for however long the lease lasts. It benefits property managers by guaranteeing cash flow and reducing vacancy, though with less frequent lease renewals, you may not be able to increase the price as often as you feel you need.

The concept of a long-term lease agreement may spark some preconceived notions among professional property managers. Locking a new tenant into their rental agreement for two-plus years seems like something of a gamble where you bet on the quality of the resident and the value of the lease remaining high. While it’s true that this type of lease comes with some tradeoffs, many PMs don’t see the positives, which have begun to outweigh the risks in an evolving market.

Benefits of a long-term lease 

A long-term residential lease can offer several benefits for residents, property managers, and owners. Let’s get into the details:


With a long-term lease, residents have the security of knowing that they can stay in their home for an extended period, often one or two years, without having to worry about the possibility of the owner deciding to sell the property or not renew their lease. This can be particularly important for families or individuals in single-family residences who want to establish roots in a community and avoid the hassle and expense of moving frequently.

Predictable expenses

With a long-term lease, residents know exactly what their rent will be for the duration of the lease, which can help them plan their budget and avoid any unexpected rent increases. Similarly, property managers and owners can count on a steady stream of rental income, which can help them plan their expenses and investments.

Reduced vacancy rates

A long-term lease can help property owners and PMCs reduce the vacancy rate of their properties by providing them with a stable, reliable resident who is committed to staying in the property for an extended period of time. This can save time and money that PMs would otherwise spend trying to find new residents and dealing with turnover.

More responsible residents

Long-term tenants lease are often more committed to taking care of the property and being responsible “tenants.” This can lead to fewer damages, less maintenance, and a better overall experience for both residents and property managers.

Better creditworthiness

A long-term lease can also help residents build their credit score by establishing a history of paying rent on time and staying in one place for an extended period. This can be a particularly useful perk for young adults or those who are just starting to build their credit history. With Second Nature’s Resident Benefits Package, they can receive the benefit of getting their on-time payments reported to credit bureaus. 

Overall, a long-term residential lease can offer a range of benefits and create a Triple Win for property managers, owners, and residents. However, it's essential to establish clear terms of the lease to ensure that it meets everyone’s needs and expectations.

Liabilities of a long-term lease

Of course, along with benefits, long-term lease liabilities exist as well. The primary drawback of long-term management is that you need to be more certain that the lease – and the resident – are the right fit for you and your investor. 

A few things to consider before starting with a long-term lease apartment or long-term lease house:

  • Ensure you do a thorough background check and credit check for all renters
  • Ensure the lease clearly outlines behavior that could lead to eviction
  • Be prepared that it may be more difficult to transition a difficult resident out
  • Account for the fact that you won’t be able to raise the rent as easily or quickly as with a short-term rental

Long-term lease vs. short-term lease

A residential long-term lease and a residential short-term lease differ primarily in their duration, with long-term leases generally lasting for a year or more and short-term leases lasting for less than a year. 

Below are some of the main differences between the two types of leases.



As mentioned above, the primary difference between a long-term and short-term lease is the length of the lease term. A long-term lease typically lasts for one or two years, while a short-term lease can be as short as a few weeks or as long as 11 months. 



Short-term leases are generally more flexible than long-term leases, as they allow residents to move out relatively quickly if they need to. This can be useful for renters who are unsure about their future plans or who need to move frequently for work or other reasons. Long-term leases, on the other hand, provide more stability and predictability but can be less flexible if the resident needs to move out before the lease term is up.


Rent amount

The cons of short-term leases are they can be more expensive than long-term leases month-to-month, as owners or property managers can charge a premium for the flexibility they offer. Long-term leases generally have lower monthly rental rate, but residents are required to commit to paying that amount for the entire lease term.



Long-term leases typically include a renewal clause, which allows residents to extend the lease term beyond the initial period. Short-term leases may or may not include a renewal option, and residents may need to negotiate with the PM or owner to extend the lease or agree to a new lease. 



Long-term leases often place more responsibility on residents for maintaining the property, as they are expected to stay in the property for an extended period. Short-term leases, on the other hand, may include more maintenance services from the property management company, as they are more likely to have turnover between residents.


download rental inspection checklist template


Long-term lease examples

A long-term residential lease typically refers to a lease agreement between a resident and an owner that lasts for a year or more. Below are some examples of long-term residential leases.

One-year or two-year lease

A one-year lease is the most common type of long-term residential lease. It lasts for a period of one year and requires the tenant to pay rent on a monthly basis. Two-year leases are less common but still fairly standard.

Multi-year lease

In some cases, owners may offer a lease agreement that lasts for three, four, or even five years. This type of lease provides residents with a high level of stability and predictability, but it may be less flexible than shorter-term lease options.

Corporate lease

Some companies may lease a property for their employees on a long-term basis, typically for several years. This type of lease often requires the company to pay the rent directly to the owner.


This type of long-term residential lease allows residents to rent a property for an extended period with the option to purchase the property at the end of the lease term. This can be a good option for residents who are not yet ready to purchase a home but want to establish roots in a community.

How the long-term lease helps investors

Gregg Cohen of PWB Properties is one of the property managers leading the charge on the long-term lease. PWB has positioned itself as a different kind of property management company, one that's focused on helping investors achieve their highest possible return on investment.

"As with most things in life, if goals aren’t aligned, one party typically loses. In “normal” property management, this is an unfortunate truth as well. It’s a shame that so many potential investors who see the incredible opportunities for earning above-average risk-adjusted returns on investment passively in rental property investing are so fearful of a poor property manager and resident relationship that they give up on their investing journey before they even start. At JWB, we are not trying to be “better” at property management. We are DIFFERENT."

JWB is successful because they have perfectly understood how to create a Triple Win in an environment that is increasingly demanding of a relationship-focused property management strategy. As a property management company that offers far more than just plain old management of properties, they've built a business model that is extremely attractive to investors, part of which includes the long-term lease. Note their 5-year case study below on the financial results for the investor of signing residents to long-term leases.

The key takeaway is the dramatic decrease in fees paid by the investor. These numbers may scare you at first. JWB is willingly forfeiting profit from tenant placement fees, and quite a bit of it. Understanding the context of this decision is critical though, lest you end up playing catch-up with the rest of the industry over the next decade. JWB's commitment to their investors creates so much value that the growth of their business and retention of clients offsets the short-term profit decreases from this strategy. Property management strategies and business models built around short-term profit from things such as tenant placement fees will lose whatever staying power they're clinging to over the upcoming market cycle. Those types of companies will struggle to attract clients and many will eventually go out of business. JWB has proactively avoided being swallowed by the commoditization of the industry by offering something more personalized, relationship-driven, and value-creating.

As mentioned, JWB is focused on long-term investors that intend on growing their portfolios, holding properties for at least a full real estate market cycle, which is typically 10 to 20 years, and are  intending to create income via real estate investment over a long period of time. The returns for these investors are diminished by property vacancies, so note the vacancy percentage decrease with JWB's long-term model versus the high-turnover model.

All of these benefits come together to provide clients with longer-term, goal-focused property management instead of short-term profit-focused property management, which is differentiating JWB right around the time that property management is becoming commoditized. It creates an enormous amount of opportunity to sign a large number of long-term clients by providing something that isn't otherwise available, creating a sustainable business model ready for consistent growth and prepared to sustain threats such as commoditization and do-it-yourself property management technology.

The longer lease is just one element of this triple win, but it's a significant one. As the case study notes, the dramatic decrease in costs is very attractive to investors. However, the long-term lease only works if the residents are willing to sign such a lease. So let's make this double win into a Triple Win.

How the long-term lease helps residents

Uncertainty has been a big theme over the last two years, mostly as a result of the coronavirus pandemic throwing the SFR space into quite a predicament. PMs have certainly taken some hits as a result with eviction moratoriums, residents being furloughed, and other challenges. But residents are experiencing significant challenges of their own as a result of the uncertainty they’ve experienced within their jobs, their ability to pay rent, and the potential of changing rent. 

These are problems, but problems demand problem-solvers, and problem-solvers create solutions that end up differentiating their business. The long-term lease is proving to be that solution for many PM companies. The stability that it provides is proving to be a welcome sight for residents. Knowing where they will be in three years and exactly what their rent will be is valuable to residents who are fearful of a changing market, and the percentage of residents who see that value is continuing to increase. The result is one of the best resident retention tools out there.

For the PM, this doesn’t mean that rent is stuck. Rent adjustments are still possible, but they’re baked into the lease from the start. This allows the PM to plan for a changing market while giving the resident notice of pending changes prior to them signing the lease. Residents are much less likely to react negatively to rent increases if they signed off on them before ever moving in.

“Stability starts with helping them understand what their financial responsibilities are going to be years in advance. That’s where it starts and that’s a big reason why residents do like long-term leases.”

People find value in knowing where they will be in 3 years. A long-term lease is a commitment for a resident, but it's one that JWB has found that many are willing to make. Implementing a long-term lease program isn’t for everyone, but it’s proving an effective method for creating a Triple Win by creating stability, something everyone is after in these uncertain times.


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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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