Calendar icon June 12, 2023

How to Reduce HVAC Maintenance Costs Data Study

For SFR property managers, HVAC maintenance costs can be a massive drag on your monthly expenses, but HVAC efficiency is critical to resident's safety, health, and overall experience. Not to mention the longevity of the properties you manage.

Can property managers reduce HVAC maintenance costs and extend the life of their HVAC systems?

Welcome to our latest in-depth analysis, "How to Reduce HVAC Maintenance Costs.” Our analysis comes from a collaborative study by the National Rental Home Council and Second Nature. The study examined the effectiveness of Second Nature’s filter delivery program in preventing HVAC-related work orders for SFR portfolios. 

As we delve into the study, you'll discover fresh insights that can help you make your HVAC system not only more efficient but also more cost-effective. Gain an understanding of preventative measures and strategic practices to lower your maintenance expenditure and prolong your HVAC system’s lifespan. 

Tune in and save your investor’s money, your team’s time, and your resident’s comfort. That’s what we call a Triple Win!

 

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Impact of Optimized HVAC Filter Delivery Service on Maintenance Costs 

The National Rental Home Council conducted an 18-month study in partnership with Second Nature, analyzing 7,700+ SFR units to evaluate the effectiveness of Second Nature’s Filter Delivery Service. The data was sourced from Property Meld and Service Titan.

Filter Delivery is one of the major pillars of Second Nature’s first-of-its-kind Resident Benefits Package. Filter delivery service helps maintain the lifespan of your HVAC system and boost energy efficiency. This reduces the need for maintenance services and the average cost of energy bills and increases the air quality of your homes. 

Here’s how the study worked – and the findings on the total impact for property managers, residents, and investors.

HVAC Study - Methods

The study analyzed data for the frequency of resident HVAC service requests as a percentage of total units, with and without HVAC filter delivery. The frequency of tickets with and without delivery services was used to determine the overall reduction in HVAC problems and service requests.

The study was conducted over 18 months, surveying 7,772 units. Filters that required complete change-out were delivered every 60-90 days and date-stamped. Each filter delivery contains graphic instructions to help the resident make the swap themselves. 

In addition to sending the filters, Second Nature sent residents emails with tracking info and more information on safe installation. Second Nature also provides property managers with lease language and marketing language for listings and applications and renewal notices. The property management company’s name and logo are stamped on the box with messaging about energy savings. 

HVAC Study - Overall Findings Include 38% Reduction in HVAC Ticket Requests

The study found that for those units that had filter delivery service, there was a total reduction of nearly 40% of HVAC ticket requests

Across four separate operators, the percentage decrease in HVAC ticket requests ranged from 31%, 37%, 42%, and 50%

Here’s a breakdown of cost reduction in two major cities from the study:

  • Atlanta: 79% cost reduction
  • Memphis: 32% cost reduction

Other observations and conclusions:

  • The EPA states that changing filters regularly results in a 5-15% reduction in monthly heating and cooling bills.
  • All operators from the study enroll residents as part of a Resident Benefits package that saved residents money and delivers superior convenience to retail alternatives.
  • The Resident Benefits Package by Second Nature yields an average of $156 per year in gross profit per home before operational costs. 
  • All four operators from the study enrolled 85-100% of eligible leases and renewals over the 18-month period. 

 

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Tips to Reduce HVAC Maintenance Costs for Property Managers

HVAC service costs are increasing year over year. But the right package of services and maintenance plan can help reduce those costs. 

For property managers who don’t have a Resident Benefits Package to do the work for them, we do have some general tips on how to reduce HVAC maintenance costs with regular maintenance.

These tips are best practices across the board for maintaining a top-notch heating and AC maintenance plan and are helpful even if you do have filter delivery as part of your suite of resident services. Of course, an RBP with filter delivery supports most of these already.

1. Regular Filter Changes

This is obvious, considering the topic we’re covering!

Dirty filters can restrict air flow, causing your HVAC system to work harder than necessary. Regular filter changes can improve system efficiency and reduce wear and tear. They also improve indoor air quality, which contributes to a healthier environment for occupants.

Refreshing filters on a regular cadence is critical for both maintaining an efficient HVAC system and protecting your resident’s health. By implementing automated filter delivery by Second Nature, you can rest easy that your residents aren’t falling behind on this critical task.

Regular filter changes also reduce the need for maintenance visits and cut down on any replacement costs or labor costs.

2. Schedule Preventative Maintenance & Tune-Ups

Routine maintenance is the first and one of the most essential steps toward reducing HVAC repair costs. Annual maintenance is standard, but regular check-ups ensure that the system is running efficiently and any potential issues are identified before they become costly repairs. 

This can include cleaning the air filters, duct cleaning, checking for refrigerant leaks, and ensuring all components, like the compressor, condenser coils, evaporator coil, blower motor, capacitor, fan motor, drain line, heat exchanger, heat pump – the list goes on and on! – are in good working condition. 

Most property managers conduct seasonal maintenance to check the air conditioning, refrigerants, etc., before summer or give a tune-up to the heating before winter.

Filter delivery is the simplest way to automate preventive care for your resident’s HVAC systems. Simply turn it on, and Second Nature does the work for you!

3. Invest in High-Efficiency HVAC System

Investing in high-efficiency HVAC units might require more upfront costs, but they pay off in the long run. These heating and AC units use less energy, reduce operational costs, and tend to require fewer repairs over their lifespan. They also provide a comfortable environment for occupants, increasing property value.

Filter delivery helps protect the lifespan of your high-efficiency units by preventing avoidable damage. The average costs of a high-efficiency heating or air conditioning system make sense for the return on investment.

4. Install Proper Insulation

Insufficient insulation can cause the HVAC system to overwork, leading to higher maintenance costs and reduced system lifespan. By ensuring your property is well insulated, you can help maintain indoor temperatures for your heating and air conditioner and reduce the strain on your heating and AC system.

5. Use Programmable Thermostats

Programmable thermostats allow for more precise control over temperature settings and scheduling. This can greatly reduce the burden on the HVAC system by avoiding unnecessary heating or cooling during off-peak hours or when the property is unoccupied. HVAC professionals can help with installation and maintenance, or you can train your team.

There are so many moving parts with heating and cooling systems, and having a programmable thermostat can reduce the complexity significantly. 

6. Consider Ductless Systems

If feasible, consider using ductless HVAC systems. A new system like this can provide more direct heating and cooling without the energy loss associated with ductwork. This can reduce energy costs and result in less strain on the system, reducing maintenance needs.

7. Train Maintenance Staff for HVAC Service

Proper training enables your maintenance team to identify and solve minor problems before they escalate – or before a resident tries to DIY it!

A well-trained HVAC technician can also ensure that the system is correctly installed, operated, and maintained, thus extending its lifespan and reducing maintenance costs. You may not need to hire an HVAC contractor as often if your team knows how to handle day-to-day issues. 

Of course, engaging a filter delivery service can help take a ton of the day-to-day work burden off your staff. Second Nature ensures your residents have fresh filters exactly when they’re needed. No more schlepping out for repair service calls every month. There will always be occasions when an HVAC expert or replacement parts are needed, but you can reduce tune-up costs and visits with good training on your own team.

8. Deploy Energy Management Systems

An energy management system can help monitor HVAC performance and identify areas for energy-saving opportunities. HVAC companies provide these at various price points. These systems provide real-time feedback, enabling property managers to make immediate adjustments that improve efficiency and save money.

9. Opt for Longer Warranties

While purchasing new HVAC equipment, consider opting for longer warranties. This small investment can cover many future HVAC repairs, saving you from unexpected maintenance costs down the line.

Again, using a filter delivery service works in tandem with longer warranties, too. Your systems will last longer, and the longer warranty will continue to cover any issues that do come up down the line.

10. Tenant Education

Lastly, educate your tenants about the correct use of the HVAC system. This can include setting reasonable temperature limits and explaining how to properly use programmable thermostats. Well-informed tenants can play a significant role in reducing unnecessary strain on the HVAC system.

A key part of Second Nature’s RBP is providing property managers with marketing and educational materials for their residents. We help you communicate to them the value of safe and effective HVAC systems. Again, we’re taking the work off your plate and making HVAC maintenance as easy as second nature!

Final Thoughts on HVAC Maintenance

Efficient HVAC management not only reduces costs but also fosters a comfortable living environment for residents. Each of the strategies outlined above contributes to these twin goals in its own unique way. 

The best news, though? Execution of these measures can be significantly enhanced with the aid of a resident benefits package. As the HVAC Study outline above shows, you can cut HVAC ticket requests by up to 50% with a filter delivery service. That means savings for you, your residents, and your property investor. 

In fact, a well-designed resident benefits package can support and streamline the implementation of many cost-saving property management strategies and reduce the need for emergency services. Ultimately, the smart combination of the tips provided above and a supportive resident benefits package is an excellent approach to reducing HVAC maintenance costs for property managers. 

The resulting cost savings, increased system longevity, and enhanced resident satisfaction make this a worthwhile investment.

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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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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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