Calendar icon June 28, 2023

Property Management FAQs about Resident Experience

Resident expectations are changing. In today’s “experience economy,” residents and consumers alike are looking for experiences that make them feel taken care of, bring more ease into their lives, and set businesses apart. 

With these changes in mind, property management companies are developing innovative strategies to build better resident experiences – experiences residents will pay and stay for.

Today we’re sharing a Q&A about the resident experience with Melissa Gillispie, the Director of Leasing & Property Management at JWB Real Estate Capital. Here’s what you’ll find in the article. 

Key Learning Objectives:

  • Core tenants of resident experience
  • Steps to improve resident experience
  • How improving resident experience can save money for property managers
  • Resident experience examples that have worked
  • Resident experience examples that haven’t worked
  • How to monitor resident experience

Meet the Expert: 

Melissa Gillispie, Director of Leasing & Property Management at JWB Real Estate Capital

Melissa started her career with JWB in 2013 and is currently the Director of Property Management. She is the licensed real estate broker for JWB and plays an integral role that has led JWB to manage over 4,900 single-family homes in Jacksonville FL, being the largest local rental management company in Northeast FL. Under her purview, JWB has delivered over 26 million dollars in cash flow to its current clients through exceptional management services. Melissa also sits on the Board for NARPM Northeast FL as the Membership Co-Chair. She won the 2022 NARPM Rocky Maxwell award for dedicated service and contribution to NARPM. She is married to her husband of 14 years and has three sons aged 11, 9, and 6. When she is not working, she can be found at the football and soccer fields cheering her sons on! 

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Why should property managers pay attention to the resident experience? What steps can property managers take to improve the resident experience? 

Happy residents stay longer, take better care of the home, and provide better long-term stability and return on investment for clients. They also spread the good word locally and refer more renters to you. And happy residents are usually nicer, leading to happier staff! 

Residents (and customers in general) are increasingly driven by instant gratification. They expect immediate communication, results, and benefit. Due to this, we have to increase our speed to outcome for them and set great expectations so that we can "under promise and over deliver" – one of our JWB core values! 

Some key steps to improving resident experience include:

  • A great lease signing experience with impeccable expectation setting. If everyone knows from day one, who is responsible for what, we can avoid tough conversations down the road. 
  • Timely communication. Knowing the type of communication each resident prefers. We have a field in our system called "preferred contact method" – if it is via phone, pick up the phone. If it is text, text away. It helps the resident feel like you're willing to customize their experience. 
  • Answer the phone! Like any place open for business, you need to be reachable during office hours. 
  • Solve their maintenance issues. Make it easy for them to report those issues to you. 

If I had to give just one: Clear communication is EVERYTHING. Clear expectations, timely responses, and thoughtful and respectful interactions make us a professional industry vs. a mom-and-pop one. 

How can improving the resident experience save property managers money? Do you recommend hiring a dedicated resident experience specialist, resident manager, or separate team? 

Improved experience saves TIME. Time is money. Fewer tough conversations, supervisor calls, upset people impacting employee satisfaction, etc. Great experience leads to retention, which saves money and increases revenue for the business.

I think the idea of a dedicated specialist or team is great in theory, but many places want to scale back on staffing (employees are expensive!). I also think that putting the responsibility on one person/group of people in the organization is a mistake to some degree. This limits creativity and reach. 

At JWB, our approach is that it is every teammate’s responsibility to dedicate effort and time to a great client/resident experience. This allows a wide range of ideas to generate and gives the feeling of impact and satisfaction to every teammate for their contribution. 


download rental inspection checklist template


Do you recommend using software or tools to help improve resident retention? 

Here are some of the best tools we’ve used. 

  • Automation: Implementing things that don't require a ton of person-hours will allow you to scale your business at a lower cost. The automation/technology investment is worth it in the long run. 
  • The Resident Benefits Package (RBP) by Second Nature: DO IT! 
  • Find a mail fulfillment house in your city and rely on them to send mass communications via snail mail. 
  • Partner with local businesses for discount codes.
  • Text Magic and Call Fire are great automation tools for communication via phone and text.

What are examples of resident experience initiatives that have proved effective? On the flip side, what doesn’t work? 

Residents need to see the value in any initiative. Knowing your audience/clientele and what matters most to them is important. Is it time savings? Money saving? 

RBP from Second Nature has been a game-changer. It meets a real need and serves a purpose. We also do a monthly resident newsletter. We send out automatic happy birthday emails to every resident on their birthday (we have been able to automate this completely, so 0 time for staff and 100% feel-good for residents). 

We do "get to know your city" marketing for new residents with mural maps, restaurants and grocery stores near them, etc. We include a magnet at move-in on their fridge with our contact information and after-hours information. These all create moments that show care and concern, and we sprinkle in love for our city. 

When you miss the mark on providing value or miss the need the resident actually has, that experience moment may fall flat. So we constantly focus on who our residents are and what will fill their cups. 

How do you monitor or measure the resident experience? 

We love surveys! We have maintenance and resident net promoter score (NPS) surveys. Every time a work order closes, the resident receives a survey to give feedback on the experience. We review that weekly. For positive surveys, we ask for reviews. Supervisors reach out for low scores to see how we can improve. 

For the NPS surveys: If they leave a high score, we ask for a positive review on one of our online platforms (Google, Facebook, BBB). If they leave a low score, supervisors seek feedback to improve. 

The key is DOING SOMETHING with the information you receive; otherwise, there is no value. Don't just let a low score come through and then do nothing. Reaching out shows the resident you pay attention, value the feedback, and want to improve. 

Reviews online are also a good way to gauge experience. Take those with a grain of salt, however. People are much more likely to leave a bad review than a good one, so it is a lot of work to win here! 

We ask for positive reviews anytime we have a  great interaction with a resident – a phone call where we solve a problem, an email where they say thank you, or anytime someone pays on time or renews their lease – we ask. You don't get positive reviews you don't ask for!

How do you use the information you receive in resident feedback or surveys?

There is value to it. You can gather a lot of good information and start to identify trends in the data. 

We can pinpoint areas as a team to improve and celebrate the things we do well. I do think you have to take some of the responses with a grain of salt. You can't make everyone happy even when you try. View it as information to help make decisions vs. the end-all-be-all to measure your worth as a company.

We survey on maintenance every time a work order closes, and we get about a 3-5% completion rate. For the NPS surveys, we survey 60 days after move-in and then every six months. We get a 10% completion rate on those. 

What questions should you ask if you are considering a resident experience survey? What’s a good sample size for a survey? Are there other tips and tricks to keep in mind? 

For our NPS survey, it is one question: “How likely are you to refer your friends and family to rent from us?” They score us 1-10, and then we allow an open text response field that is optional if they have more to say. 

For the maintenance surveys, we ask: “On a scale of 1-5, how satisfied were you with 1. the work order submission process; 2. Your maintenance coordinator, 3. The vendor who performed the work, 4. The amount of time it took to complete the work; 5. The overall experience?” Each star scale also allows for open-text responses (again, not required). 

I think a good sample size is when at least ¼ of your customers have had the opportunity to review. Until that point, the results seem to be all over the place. We track results monthly, quarterly, and annually, as well as by the property manager and maintenance coordinator, work order category, and property type (multi-family, single-family, condo, townhome, etc.). 

All of this helps us put together a comprehensive picture of where we stack up against ourselves over time. I think it is important to benchmark against yourself. Each business runs in a unique way, so I get less caught up in how other people are doing compared to me and more caught up in how I am doing compared to myself/my business three, six, or 12 months prior.

Perspective is important when you are being vulnerable and asking for feedback! 

Easily Manage and Improving Resident Experience With Second Nature RBP 

As Melissa mentioned, the Resident Benefits Package (RBP) by Second Nature goes a long way to creating premier resident experiences. And as the country’s only fully managed RBP, it doesn’t take up your team’s time or bandwidth.

We designed the RBP to solve headaches for property managers and help them deliver world-class resident experiences that delight residents and build long-term retention. Happy residents = happy clients = happy PMC teams. A triple win! At Second Nature, we’re all about building experiences that residents will pay for and stay for.

Keep learning

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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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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