Triple Win Property Management Blog
Get unique insights on all things property management, including market trends, technology, resident retention, and profitability.
Get unique insights on all things property management, including market trends, technology, resident retention, and profitability.
Resident experience is the sum total of interactions and experiences a resident has with their property manager and the rental property itself – from the initial lease signing to the eventual move-out and all the day-to-day living moments in between. It encompasses everything from the quality of services provided, like timely maintenance and communication, to the overall livability and enjoyment of the property. In essence, it's how a resident perceives their rental journey in its entirety. Excellent resident experience management is the mark of a top-tier property management company. It boosts resident retention, satisfaction, and outcomes. In this article, we delve into nine actionable ways to enhance the resident experience in your single-family rental properties, fostering stronger relationships and, ultimately, achieving greater success in property management. Read the full report! If you haven’t already heard, we recently published our first-ever State of Resident Experience Report, which explores resident experience management: the pivotal touchpoints between a resident and a property manager. The report draws fresh insights from the SFR property management industry and explores the three top factors impacting resident experience right now. 1. A Seamless Move-In Experience Ah, the move-in process – the start of a beautiful friendship between the resident and the property manager. It's a bit like a first date – you're setting impressions that could make or break the relationship. A seamless move-in experience is your chance to roll out the red carpet for your new residents, showing them they've made the right choice (and have definitely swiped right on the best property around). And guess what? A resident who's had a great move-in experience is a happier one. Happier residents stay longer, pay on time, take care of the property, and make positive recommendations. Resident experience examples: How to build a perfect resident move-in experience Here's how to ensure your move-in experience hits all the right notes. Clear Communication: Provide detailed information about the new home and move-in process, including key collection, utility setup, and property rules. Who's handling utilities? Where's the best pizza joint nearby? Share all the important details. Welcome Packet: Roll out the resident red carpet with a welcome packet. Not only does it have all the must-know info, but it also says, "Hey, we're glad you're here." Include essential information such as garbage collection days, rules, important contact numbers, and a neighborhood guide. Property Readiness: Nothing dampens spirits like a flickering light on the first day. Ensure the property is thoroughly cleaned, all appliances are working, and any previous damages are repaired before the move-in date. Efficient Paperwork: Let's face it, nobody loves paperwork. Make it painless with easy online forms and digital sign-offs. Personal Touch: A little welcome gift can go a long way. It's like saying, "Welcome home, neighbor. We're going to rock this thing." Second Nature’s Resident Benefits Package includes a Move-in Concierge to ensure the process is seamless and personal. 2. Responsive Communication In the symphony of successful property management, responsive communication is your melody. It's the backbone of a harmonious resident experience, and when done right, it can elevate your property management status from “forgettable” to “virtuoso.” The sooner you respond to your resident’s queries or concerns, the more they'll feel valued. And a valued resident is a happier resident. Remember, good communication isn’t just about speed—it’s about clarity too. It's like being a great tour guide in the bustling city of property management—clear, informative, and always ready to help. Ways to improve communication with your residents Let's explore some best practices: Multiple Channels: Embrace the digital age! Offer various communication channels like emails, text messages, phone calls, and even a resident portal. Variety is the spice of life, right? Be Proactive: Don’t wait for your residents to reach out with issues. Regularly check in and ask if they need anything. Set Expectations: Be clear about your communication protocols. Let your residents know when and how they can reach you and when they can expect a response. No one likes to be left on read! Listen Actively: When your residents speak, lend them your ears! Show understanding and work collaboratively towards solutions. It's a two-way street, after all. Be Respectful: Always communicate with respect and professionalism. Treat your residents the way you’d want to be treated – it’s the golden rule, even in property management! 3. Better Maintenance Services with Quick Response Times Think of maintenance services as the superheroes of the property management world. When done right, they swoop in to save the day, ensuring minor issues don't escalate into supervillain-sized problems. Quick response times? That's your superhero's super speed. The quicker the response, the happier your resident, and the safer the day. How to improve maintenance services and response times Here's how to get your property management cape (sorry) flapping in the wind: 24/7 Maintenance Line: Offer a dedicated line for maintenance requests. To belabor our superhero analogy, it’s like having a bat signal for your tenants – they know help is just a call away. Online Reporting: Make it easy for tenants to report issues. An online system can keep things organized and ensures no request gets lost in the shuffle. Prompt Follow-up: Act swiftly on maintenance requests. Even if you can't fix the issue immediately, acknowledging the request and providing a timeline can ease the resident's mind. Regular Inspections: Regular property inspections can help you catch potential issues before they become major headaches. It's all about that ounce of prevention! Trusted Vendors: Work with reliable and professional vendors who provide quality work in a timely manner. They're your sidekicks in maintaining property harmony. 4. Resident Surveys and Active Feedback Gathering Resident surveys and feedback gathering are your property's annual check-up, a key health indicator for your relationship with residents. These invaluable tools allow you to take the pulse of resident satisfaction, uncover hidden issues, and celebrate what's working well. When residents see their feedback being valued and acted upon, it creates a sense of involvement and community, enhancing their overall living experience and driving resident retention. Importantly, active feedback gathering shows your residents that their voices matter. It instills a sense of ownership and care that can often lead to better property care and longer tenancies. How to turn resident feedback into a better resident experience Here are some ways to champion feedback in your property management: Regular Surveys: Don't just wait for the annual survey. Keep the feedback coming in regularly, like a monthly check-in or a quick poll after a service call. It's like catching up over a virtual cup of coffee – relaxed and informative. Feedback Boxes: Consider setting up a digital feedback box where residents can drop their thoughts, ideas, or concerns anonymously. Think of it as your modern suggestion box. Act on Feedback: Here's the real deal – taking action. Show your residents that their feedback isn't just being heard, it's being actioned. 5. Resident Rewards Resident Rewards are a huge factor in resident retention and satisfaction. Rewards make residents feel appreciated and have proven to incentivize habits like on-time payments and better care for the property. Perks like this can significantly boost resident satisfaction, increase lease renewals, and even stimulate referrals. It's a win-win all around! For multifamily and apartment community managers, that might look like community-focused programs. For single-family property managers, we’ve got some other tips. Second Nature’s Resident Benefits Package includes a robust resident rewards program. How to improve the resident experience with resident rewards Here's how you can sprinkle some rewarding magic into your resident experience: On-Time Rent Rewards: Create a system that rewards residents for consistently paying their rent on time. It could be a small discount or a gift card to a local coffee shop. Longevity Rewards: Celebrate lease renewals or long-term residents. A gift, a discount, or even a personalized note can make your residents feel valued for their loyalty. Referral Rewards: Turn your residents into ambassadors! Offer a discount or a bonus for any referral they make that signs a lease. Surprise Rewards: Keep the excitement alive with occasional surprise rewards. It could be as simple as a movie ticket or a voucher for a free car wash. 6. Incentive Programs Incentive programs are the next level of resident engagement that professional PMs offer. They can positively influence resident behavior, promote a sense of belonging, and even enhance your property's appeal to prospective residents. When residents feel that their good habits (like timely rent payments) are being recognized or they're being offered valuable services (like credit reporting or identity protection), it builds loyalty and satisfaction. It's like saying, "We're in this together, and we've got your back!" How incentive programs can boost the resident experience Here's how to serve up a great menu of incentives for your residents: Credit Reporting: Offer a program that reports timely rent payments to credit bureaus. It's a win-win: they pay their rent on time, and they build their credit! Identity Protection: In a world where digital safety is paramount, offering identity protection services can be a powerful incentive. It's like providing an invisible, protective bubble around your residents. Rent Discount for Referrals: Encourage residents to become your ambassadors. Offer a rent discount or a gift for successful referrals. It's like having your very own fan club. Early Payment Incentives: Reward residents who pay their rent well before the due date. It could be a small discount or a token gift, but it makes them feel appreciated. Rewards for Green Habits: Encourage residents to adopt environmentally friendly habits, like recycling or energy conservation, and offer incentives for their green efforts. This can really help in SFR when you don’t have the same level of control as PMs managing an apartment building. 7. Support Tools Support services work behind the scenes, often unnoticed, but they play a crucial role in streamlining the resident experience. From filter delivery subscriptions to online payments, these services add a layer of convenience and assurance for your residents. Integrating support services into your property management strategy can not only elevate resident satisfaction but also reduce your workload. It's like having a friendly assistant who's always ready to lend a hand, both to you and your residents. How to create support services that add convenience to your resident experience Here are a few ways you can amplify your resident experience through support services: Filter Delivery Subscription: Offering a filter delivery service for your residents ensures their HVAC system is always protected. It reduces your maintenance issues and costs and ensures they have a safe living environment. Second Nature’s filter delivery reduces resident and PM costs by hundreds of dollars a year. Online Rent Payment: Providing an easy-to-use online portal to process and automate rent payments and lease renewals adds a layer of convenience for you and your residents. Maintenance Request Portal: An online system for maintenance requests helps keep track of issues and ensures timely response. It's like having a 24/7 maintenance desk at their fingertips. Digital Notifications: Use email or SMS notifications to keep residents updated about important things like maintenance schedules, community events, or changes in property rules. Proptech solutions can help with digital support. Resident Portal: A comprehensive resident portal where tenants can access services, find information, and connect with management can significantly enhance the overall resident experience. 8. Concierge Services Concierge services are the above-and-beyond offerings that can truly set your property apart from the rest. This personalized attention can transform the often stressful processes into a smooth and enjoyable experience. How concierge services help with resident experience Here are some other examples of concierge services: Move-in Concierge: Who doesn’t want a personal assistant during the often chaotic time of moving? A move-in concierge helps with utility setup and pricing comparisons and provides local area information. Learn more about Second Nature’s Move-in Concierge in our Resident Benefits Package. Cleaning Services: Offering access to trusted cleaning services, whether for regular use or during the move-out process, can be a huge convenience. Maintenance Scheduling: A service to help residents schedule routine maintenance can keep their homes running smoothly without them having to worry about coordination. 9. Insurance While, as a property manager, you carry insurance for the physical property, it's equally important for your residents to have renter's insurance. Your coverage protects your owners' real estate investment. Renter’s insurance protects residents’ personal belongings and covers them for liability, and it's a small investment for significant protection. Plus, in case of a mishap, it can help the recovery process go much more smoothly. Resident experience examples: How to leverage a renter’s insurance program Here's how you can integrate insurance into your resident experience: Educate Residents: Make sure your residents understand the importance of renter's insurance, what it covers, and what it doesn't. This is critical information that every renter should know. Insurance Requirements in Lease: Include a clause about renter's insurance in your lease agreement. This helps to set the expectation right from the start. Annual Reminders: Send out annual reminders for policy renewals. It's a small step, but it ensures continuous protection for your residents. Renter’s Insurance Program: While most property managers require insurance, less than half of renters maintain coverage. Second Nature has developed a renter’s insurance program that has 100% compliance and leaves residents – and you – with the coverage they need. How SecondNature Improves Resident Experience Resident experience – those pivotal touchpoints between a resident and a property manager – can significantly shape the success of a single-family rental home. At Second Nature, we’ve built our entire company on the idea that resident experience can change the game in property management. Our Resident Benefits Package wraps up each of these strategies into an all-in-one resource for property management companies. It saves money for you and your residents and delivers the best in convenience and resident experience. Learn more about the Resident Benefits Package or read our State of Resident Experience Report.
July 18, 2023
In the property management world, tech solutions abound. There are so many different players on the market, but sometimes, that wealth can be tough to navigate. When it comes to property management maintenance software, single-family property managers have to identify, first, how they approach maintenance and, second, what tech solution will best support their team, workflows, and operational structure. It’s a daunting task! That’s why Second Nature builds integrated solutions to support residents in preventing issues from ever developing. These solutions reduce maintenance needs through preventive maintenance strategies and take work off the property manager’s plate. But no matter how much prevention you build in with tools like our Resident Benefits Package, you’re always going to need some maintenance management. So, today, we’re going to look at some of the best approaches you can take and the best software available to you for property management maintenance. Property management maintenance software solutions come in two basic categories: Platform Solutions: Property management operations platforms or accounting software that include maintenance support, among other full-service property management solutions. Dedicated Point Solutions: Property management software designed to tackle one specific problem – in this case, maintenance. We’ll explore solutions that fit into both of these categories and how to weigh the pros and cons of each. 1. Property Meld Property Meld is a leader in the small to medium-sized property management business space. It’s a maintenance point solution to optimize work order management, response time tracking, vendor and resident communication, scheduling, and analytics. Its built-in “Owner Hub” helps provide the right amount of transparency to your clients. Perhaps the best feature is the Insights Tool, which helps you track metrics like the median speed of repair, average resident satisfaction, vendor health score, total spend per unit, and more. Pros: The user interface is intuitive for PMs and residents Opening repair tickets takes just minutes Tracking repairs and resident satisfaction is easy and transparent Powerful analytics help you see your success at a glance Cons: If you’re looking for a full-service operations platform, Meld won’t be the solution for you. 2. Lula Lula is another dedicated point solution focused on property maintenance technology. They leverage a network of vetted contractors to make finding the best technicians easy. Lula’s team becomes an outsourced extension of your property management company, troubleshooting, coordinating, and managing maintenance tasks. They operate in over 30 markets in the US and boast results like 80% one-trip resolutions and a net promoter score of 80. Pros: They do the work to vet and provide the vendors You can bring your own vendors in if you want to Integrates with any software Customizable plans for self-service or full-service Cons: May not yet be available in your market Only focuses on maintenance 3. Buildium Buildium is a popular all-in-one solutions platform and property accounting software with excellent management features. The web-based solution and app provide support in accounting and invoicing, communications, leasing, and maintenance activities. Their portals provide tenant support, maintenance management, and templates to make every part of property management easier. Pros: A near-complete solution for property management Excellent tenant and owner portals and communication hubs Analytics and tracking to streamline operations and results A 14-day trial helps you evaluate if it’s a fit Customizable packages Cons: Lack of transparency for owners The listing process isn’t as comprehensive as some users want Can be pricey 4. Mezo Mezo is an AI-driven, cloud-based property maintenance management software. The aim of the app is to take work off your plate by automating maintenance ticket responses, resolutions, and insights. Mezo takes requests directly from residents and uses conversational AI to ask questions in real-time, identify problems, and diagnose the issue. It will support residents in resolving the issue on their own or integrate with your management system to get work orders quickly sent. Pros: Residents can get help immediately when they have issues and potentially resolve themselves with Mezo’s chatbot support Technicians arrive with Mezo’s analysis and diagnosis, allowing them to come prepared and resolve issues quicker Integrates with most PMS options Cons: Doesn’t integrate with all other PM tech solutions As a newer technology, still has some bugs and gaps 5. Lessen Lessen, formerly SMS Assist, is an enterprise-level solution providing tech-powered renovations and maintenance at scale. It’s an end-to-end platform for maintenance operations with a vetted vendor network and provides everything you need for maintenance or turning projects. PMs simply use the app to request projects, deploy Lessen network pros, track progress and checklists, check for quality control remotely, and process payments – all in one slick tech solution. Pros: Excellent, seamless tech that’s easy to use and deploy A fully vetted vendor network takes that work off your plate An established brand that has worked out the “kinks” in service Cons: More ideal for more enterprise companies who need scale (rather than smaller SFR PMs) 6. AppFolio AppFolio is a full-service rental property management platform solution that is very popular with single-family property management companies. The web-based app streamlines and automates every stage of real estate management, including management, training, marketing and leasing, maintenance, accounting, reporting, and communications. For maintenance, AppFolio includes workflow automation, work order managemen toolst, online maintenance request, mobile inspections, and more. Pros: Easy-to-use technology with great UX Fully mobile and automated Customizable dashboards and advanced reporting Cons: An expensive platform if all you need is a maintenance point solution Customer service is not always available for maintenance line 7. Rentvine Rentvine is a full-service property management platform that focuses on communication support between PMCs, residents, and clients. The platform streamlines application and tenant screening, inventory management, accounting with a manager’s ledger and client money tracked separately, marketing, leasing, and – of course – maintenance. The app tracks all your work orders from start to finish and supports communication between residents, property managers, and vendors throughout. Pros: Easy to use with excellent customer support Owner and tenant portals work seamlessly Excellent accounting process Cons: Has fewer features than some competitors but is continuously improving 8. DoorLoop DoorLoop is another full-service property management software that provides all the features a property manager needs to manage their portfolio. You can handle accounting, maintenance, listings, marketing, client success, and more, all from the app. For property management maintenance, their software helps manage work orders, handle vendor payments, and track the process from start to finish. Pros: Intuitive, streamlined UX that’s user-friendly Great customer service Excellent integrations Cons: Expensive if all you need is a maintenance point solution rather than a full platform Some functionalities are still being developed 9. FTMaintenance FTMaintenance is a computerized maintenance management system (CMMS) point solution platform designed for maintenance managers, executives, and technicians. While it’s not specifically designed for property management, the software streamlines work order management, vendor payments, tracking, and more. For some PMs, this could be the added solution they need to focus simply on complex maintenance jobs. Pros: Robust work order tracking Excellent mobile app for vendors and maintenance managers Analytics and organization Cons: Not designed specifically for property managers, focused more on commercial properties Complex if you are not tech-savvy 10. Latchel Latchel is a property maintenance point solution that helps automate maintenance communication, scheduling, work orders, etc. Your residents message the Latchel team directly on the Latchel platform and get an immediate response to begin troubleshooting the issue. If the problem requires a maintenance visit, the Latchel team will deploy that and follow up with the resident. Pros: Fast response times Easy to use for maintenance communication Cons: Many reviews say the issues didn't get fixed correctly App is great for communication but sometimes requires the PM to step in and manage How Second Nature Helps with Property Management Maintenance When it comes to maintenance, at Second Nature, we’re always looking to empower the resident. Our Resident Benefits Package provides solutions that minimize maintenance needs and costs in the first place. From HVAC/air filter delivery to on-demand pest control to rental rewards, we aim to incentivize residents to care for their property and take work off the property manager’s plate. We also work closely with other property management software providers to ensure you have everything you need for success in your SFR property management business. Learn more about the Second Nature RBP and how it can bring ease to your work.
November 17, 2023
A big part of property management is prevention. Property managers anticipate issues, plan for problems, and execute solutions. For some, a key part of this prevention is to develop a property management preventive maintenance checklist. For multi-family property managers, a regular preventive maintenance check is standard–and easy. Their properties are often all contained to one apartment building or community, and it’s easy to do a walkthrough to ensure everything is as it should be. For single-family property managers, it gets a lot more complicated. With scattered-site properties, regular inspections are impractical and expensive. In fact, one of the best ways to approach prevention is to help equip residents to take preventive measures themselves. At Second Nature, that’s our approach: “How do we make it easy for residents to handle preventive care of the property?” In this article, we’ll explore both approaches to preventive maintenance: Doing inspections as a property manager – or finding solutions where residents support the process. Let’s dive in. What is Preventive Maintenance? Preventive maintenance is a proactive approach to keeping a property in good condition with the purpose of preventing unexpected failures and maximizing longevity. This type of maintenance encompasses a broad range of activities, from routine inspections (more common in multifamily) to air filter delivery services that keep HVAC systems running smoothly. By implementing preventive maintenance tactics, property managers aim to prolong the lifespan of property components, maintain property value, and provide a safe, functional, and appealing living environment for residents. What is a Preventive Maintenance Inspection – and Who Conducts It? A preventive maintenance inspection is a regularly scheduled, systematic evaluation of a property designed to identify and rectify any emerging issues before they escalate into serious problems. In other words, a preventive maintenance inspection is like a health check-up for a property. A well-documented inspection also provides a record of maintenance that can be valuable for insurance claims, move-outs, etc. Generally, SFR property managers find themselves in three different camps when it comes to property inspections: Those who visit sites only when an issue arises. Those who conduct scheduled annual preventive inspections, whether there are issues or not. Those who conduct biannual or seasonal preventive inspections, whether there are issues or not. But there’s also a fourth option: Those who rely on a partner who helps manage prevention for them. There is so much residents can do themselves to prevent larger issues from ever developing – they just need a little support. For example, if a resident is changing their air filter on time, the property manager is going to get fewer HVAC tickets, and the HVAC system is going to last longer. If you can provide scheduled air filter delivery, residents can stay on top of their filter changes. Whichever of the camps you fall into, we want to provide you with resources in this article to make preventive maintenance easier. If you’re the type of property manager who prioritizes regular preventive maintenance inspections, we have a checklist template for you below. If you’re the type of property manager who prefers to react when issues arise (often more cost-effective), we have some suggestions for how to help residents manage preventive measures on their own. What to Include in a Preventive Maintenance Checklist Let’s say you do prioritize regular inspections. Crafting a preventive maintenance checklist for property management is all about anticipating needs and averting potential issues before they arise. Building your checklist begins with a thorough assessment of the property's unique features and vulnerabilities. By understanding the life cycle of various components of a property across the seasons – from HVAC systems to appliances – you can prioritize tasks and schedule maintenance in a way that minimizes wear and tear. Your checklist will likely include the following categories: Structural Maintenance Electrical Systems Plumbing & Water Systems HVAC Systems (Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning) Appliances (if provided) Lawn & Outdoor Areas Pest Control Safety & Security Systems Interior Checks Miscellaneous (Garage, waste disposal, etc.) Sample Preventive Maintenance Checklist for Property Management Companies With input from OnSightPROS, we’ve built a preventive maintenance checklist template for single-family rental property management companies. Use this template as-is or tweak it to fit your property needs! If you want a downloadable and more in-depth template for all types of rental inspections, check out our original post on rental inspection checklists and Get the download here. Structural Maintenance Roofing: Inspect for leaks, damaged tiles, or shingles. Check gutters and downspouts. Foundation: Check for cracks, water damage, or shifting. Walls and ceilings: Look for cracks, dampness, and signs of mold. Electrical Systems Safety checks: Ensure that outlets, switches, and wiring are in good condition. Lighting: Regularly test all indoor and outdoor lighting fixtures. Inspect circuit breakers and panels. Plumbing & Water Systems Drains and pipes: Check for leaks or buildup. Water heater: Test hot water temperature and pressure relief valves and inspect for signs of wear. Faucets and fixtures: Ensure proper flow and check for leaks. HVAC Systems (Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning) Filters: Ensure they are up to date. With Second Nature’s Air Filter Delivery, you’ll have the date stamped right on the filter itself. Ductwork: Check for mold or leaks. Seasonal checks: Ensure the heating system is ready for winter and cooling for summer. Appliances (if provided) Oven, range, microwave: Check for cleanliness and ensure they are working efficiently. Refrigerator: Check coils and inspect seals. Washer and dryer: Inspect hoses and ensure the resident is keeping lint and drainage clean. Lawn & Outdoor Areas Landscaping: Ensure that the landscaping is tidy and up to HOA standards, if applicable. Paths and driveways: Check for cracks or tripping hazards. Pools: Ensure safety measures are in place. Pest Control Notice any signs of pests With Second Nature’s On-Demand Pest Control, you can be sure residents can call a professional immediately if they ever have issues. We handle it for you. Safety & Security Systems Smoke and carbon monoxide detectors: Ensure residents have kept up to date and they are installed properly. Fire extinguishers: Check expiration dates and ensure they're easily accessible. Emergency exits and paths: Ensure they're clear and well-marked. Interior Checks Floors: Look for damaged tiles, caulk problems, carpet wear, or wood floor issues. Windows and doors: Ensure they open and close smoothly, and check seals. Miscellaneous Garage and parking areas: Check for proper lighting, security, and cleanliness. Waste disposal: Ensure trash bins are clean and in good condition. The Importance of Preventive Maintenance Did you know that something as simple as getting air filters delivered on time can reduce HVAC costs by hundreds of dollars annually? More on that in a minute, but it’s clear that for property managers, preventive maintenance isn’t just about keeping the property in good shape—it's a strategic approach that yields all kinds of benefits. By prioritizing prevention, you can: Minimize costly repairs: Regular maintenance can prevent small maintenance issues from escalating into expensive emergencies. Extend asset longevity: Helping residents proactively care for components like HVAC systems extends their lifespan, saving money in the long run. Enhance resident satisfaction: Supporting a resident in maintaining their property means fewer complaints and issues, leading to higher retention rates. Ensure safety: Regular checks keep safety hazards at bay, reducing the risk of accidents and liability. Improve property value: Consistent upkeep maintains or even increases the property's market value. Stay compliant: Keeping up with building codes and safety regulations is non-negotiable, and preventive maintenance ensures compliance. By incorporating a preventive maintenance strategy, property managers not only safeguard the property's physical health but also its financial viability and desirability in the market. It's a proactive measure that resonates well with residents and investors alike. Best Tools to Support Preventive Maintenance Here’s the big question: How can property managers for single-family homes make preventive maintenance easier? Scattered-site properties don’t lend themselves to regular inspections. So, the best solution, as we mentioned above, is to help your residents do it themselves. Here are three of our favorite products to get that done. Second Nature We’ve built a Resident Benefits Package with proactive property management in mind. Each feature – from renter’s insurance to on-demand pest control to air filter delivery – aims to address ongoing needs and prevent common issues from escalating. Let’s take air filter delivery as an example. In the largest HVAC data study of its kind, filter delivery service reduced HVAC ticket requests by 38% Just by including a filter subscription for your residents, you can help them cut energy costs and ensure your HVAC system lasts for the long term. Learn more about all of the features of our Resident Benefits Package and how it delivers results for residents, property investors, and property management companies. RentCheck RentCheck is a property inspection app built to help residents do inspections on their own. The property manager can request and track routine inspections from the resident. You can set up any cadence you want and customize the self-guided inspection requirements. RentCheck will fully automate reminders and support residents in completing a video inspection that then gets sent to you as a shareable report. zInspector zInspector is another very popular rental inspection app in the SFR property management space. Like RentCheck, property managers use zInspector to schedule, customize, and receive inspections conducted by residents themselves. The app also includes a toolkit with an evolving set of property and task management tools. You can get 360 photos and virtual tours with a compatible 360 camera and printable, customizable inspection reports. FAQs Q: What are the benefits of preventive maintenance? Preventive maintenance offers a multitude of benefits, including: Cost Savings: It reduces the likelihood of incurring expensive emergency repairs and extends the life expectancy of property assets. Efficiency: Regular maintenance ensures that all systems and appliances are running at optimal performance, which can lower energy costs. Tenant Retention: A well-maintained property leads to higher tenant satisfaction, which can decrease turnover rates. Safety: It helps identify potential safety issues before they become hazardous, promoting a safer living environment. Value Preservation: Ongoing care maintains and can enhance the property's value over time. Compliance: Ensures that the property remains in compliance with the latest building codes and safety regulations. Overall, preventive maintenance is essential for maintaining a property's integrity, ensuring tenant satisfaction, and optimizing operational budgets. Q: What is included in basic preventive maintenance? Basic preventive maintenance for property management typically encompasses: Routine Inspections: Regularly checking the structural integrity of the property, including roofs, walls, and foundations. HVAC Maintenance: Ensuring heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems are clean and functioning properly. Plumbing Checks: Looking for leaks, clogs, or wear in pipes and fixtures. Electrical System Audits: Inspecting electrical panels, wires, and safety systems to prevent malfunctions. Groundskeeping: Checking outdoor areas, including landscaping, gutters, and drainage systems. Appliance Upkeep: Servicing provided appliances to prevent breakdowns and extend their lifespan. Safety Inspections: Verifying that all safety equipment, like fire extinguishers and smoke detectors, is in working order. These tasks are designed to identify and address issues before they develop into more significant problems, helping to ensure the property remains safe, functional, and appealing to tenants. Q: What’s the ideal schedule for preventive maintenance? The ideal schedule for preventive maintenance can vary depending on the specific needs of a property, but a general guideline is as follows: Weekly/Monthly/Quarterly: Regular checks on a weekly to quarterly basis are more common for multifamily properties and apartment buildings, with quick checks on high-usage areas and equipment, such as communal spaces and gardening upkeep. Quarterly maintenance inspections could include more in-depth inspections of HVAC systems, plumbing and electrical systems, and seasonal preparations. Annually/Seasonally: A small number of SFR property managers will conduct seasonal or semi-annual inspections. A few more conduct annual inspections (unrelated to move-in or move-out, which always includes inspections). These are more in-depth inspections to keep an eye on potential issues.
November 15, 2023
In single-family property management, there's a hero tool that stands between you and potential disputes, wear and tear issues, and even costly oversights. It's not a fancy gadget or software for single-family property management – it's a Property Management Rental Inspection Checklist. Now, someone who isn't in property management might think, "It's just a checklist, right?" But professional property managers know that without it, everything can kind of fall apart. Throughout this article, we'll dive deep into what rental inspections are, their undeniable importance, the key items you shouldn't overlook, and – because we love making your life easier – we're gifting you a comprehensive checklist template. Stick around to have all your pressing questions answered in our FAQ section and discover how Second Nature can be your partner in acing rental inspections. What is a Rental Inspection? A rental inspection is a systematic evaluation of a rental property's condition carried out by the property manager, landlord, or a dedicated inspector. It’s not just a casual walkthrough of the premises. The inspector will thoroughly assess, every nook and cranny of the property – from the foundation to the roof, from the plumbing to the electrical fittings – is thoroughly assessed. The primary goal? To ensure that the property meets all safety and maintenance standards, that the residents are complying with their lease agreements, and that potential issues are identified and addressed before they escalate into major, costly problems. Think of it as a health check-up, but for properties. It provides an objective snapshot of the property's current state and offers insights into areas that might need attention or repair. Why Are Rental Inspections Important? Rental inspections play a crucial role in the property management world, and here’s why: Resident Experience: A well-maintained property is a happy home for residents. When renters see that the property management company is proactive about upkeep, it fosters a sense of value and respect. This can translate to longer tenancies, on-time rent payments, and even positive word-of-mouth referrals. (Learn more about this in our State of Resident Experience Report.) Protection of Assets: Your rental property is a significant investment on the part of your client. Regular inspections ensure it remains in top condition, preventing minor issues from escalating into costly repairs, and protecting your clients’ real estate investments. Safety Assurance: By checking everything from electrical fittings to potential structural issues, inspections make certain the property is safe for habitation. No landlord wants to be on the receiving end of lawsuits or liabilities. Lease Compliance: Regular inspections ensure that tenants are adhering to the terms of their lease, such as not making unauthorized alterations or keeping pets when they aren’t allowed. Predictive Maintenance: Rather than always being in a reactive mode, inspections help in predicting potential issues. This way, you can schedule maintenance tasks before problems arise, which can be more cost-effective in the long run. Property Value Preservation: A well-inspected and maintained property not only attracts and retains quality tenants but can also help maintain or even increase its market value over time. In essence, rental inspections aren’t just a formality; they're a pivotal tool in ensuring the long-term success of your property management endeavors and in enhancing the overall resident experience. What to Include in a Rental Inspection When you're planning a rental inspection, your approach should be methodical and thorough. As Janet Sprissler, Broker/Owner at Rent 805, puts it: “There are no optional parts of the checklist. That’s why it’s a checklist; you have to check everything off. I don’t have any nice-to-haves on my checklist because everyone is treated the same. We don’t do for one resident what we won’t do for the other.” Organizing your checklist by room or space is a practical way to ensure no corner is overlooked. For each item listed within these spaces, always include a status, such as "Good," "Requires Maintenance," or "Replaced." This helps in keeping track of the condition and any changes over time. You should also consider what type of inspection you’re conducting and may want to tweak what you include depending on where the property is in its rental cycle. Different types of inspections include: Move-In Rental Inspection: Conducted right before a resident moves in, the move-in inspection serves as a benchmark for the property's condition at the start of a lease. It helps to document the existing state of the property, from the functionality of appliances to the appearance of the interior and exterior. This documentation can be invaluable in resolving potential disputes over damages when the resident eventually moves out. Move-Out Rental Inspection: Carried out once the resident vacates, this inspection compares the property’s condition to its state during the move-in inspection. It identifies any damages or changes that have occurred during the tenancy. Based on this, you can decide what portion of the security deposit needs to be returned. Routine Rental Inspections: These are regular checks conducted during a resident’s lease period. Typically done every six to twelve months, routine inspections monitor the ongoing condition of the property. They're also a great way to catch and address issues early, as well as to ensure lease compliance. “Drive-By” Rental Inspections: These are less invasive checks where property managers drive by the property to ensure its exterior is in good shape and being maintained appropriately. This type of inspection is less about detailed checks and more about getting a general sense of the property's outward appearance and ensuring no major lease violations are visible. For single-family property managers, these inspects may be less frequent since properties are often spread out from each other geographically. As you create your rental inspection report, remember that every property is unique. While categorizing by room ensures thoroughness, it's essential to adjust and add specific items tailored to each property’s unique features and needs. And always remember, communication is key. Ensure that residents are aware of inspections, their purpose, and the schedule to foster a transparent relationship. Property Management Rental Inspection Checklist With the help of OnSightPROS, we've developed a rental inspection checklist template for single-family rental property management companies. Use this template to build out your checklist. General Overview Date of Inspection: Inspector Name: Tenant Name: Address: Previous Inspection Date: Front Exterior Status: [Good / Needs Maintenance / Poor] Mailbox: Functional door and flag, no damage Lawn and garden: Well-maintained landscaping free of debris, no bald grass spots Driveway and walkways: No cracks or obstacles Fencing: In good condition, no damage Exterior lighting: All bulbs functioning Windows/Screens: Clean, no cracks, seals intact, screens intact Walls/Siding: No damage or cracked/peeling paint or caulking, no insect damage Downspout/Splash Blocks: Attached properly Light Fixtures: No missing bulbs or broken fixtures Roof/Trim/Gutter: No visible damage or leaks, discoloration, holes, clogged or loose gutters Rear Exterior Status: [Good / Needs Maintenance / Poor] Lawn and garden: Well-maintained, free of debris, no bald grass spots Patio/Walkways: No cracks or obstacles BBQ Grill: Set away from house, not under awnings Rear Door: Weather stripping intact, locks installed as needed Possible Hazards: Trampoline, open fire pit, swing set Pool: Clean, clear water, no damage, fence and lock in place Fencing: In good condition, no damage Exterior lighting: All bulbs functioning Windows/Screens: Clean, no cracks, seals intact, screens intact Walls/Siding: No damage or cracked/peeling paint or caulking, no insect damage Downspout/Splash Blocks: Attached properly Light Fixtures: No missing bulbs or broken fixtures Roof/Trim/Gutter: No visible damage or leaks, discoloration, holes, clogged or loose gutters Entry Status: [Good / Needs Maintenance / Poor] Smell test: No odors from animals, smoke, waste, must Patio/Porch: No cracks in concrete, railing, stair intact Front door exterior: No scratches, chipping, stains Locks/Keyless Deadbolts: Check for installation, functioning correctly Front door interior: No gaps in weather stripping, clean Walls and ceiling: Clean, no signs of mold or damage Closets: Shelves stable, no stains or damage to walls Flooring: No damage, carpets clean Lighting fixtures: Operational Electrical outlets: All functioning, no visible damage Blinds/Drapes: Fully functional and clean Windows: Open and close easily, locks work Living Room Status: [Good / Needs Maintenance / Poor] Smell test: No odors from animals, smoke, waste, must Door/Door stops: Fully functional Walls and ceiling: Clean, no signs of mold or damage Ceiling fans: Working properly Closets: Shelves stable, no stains or damage to walls Flooring: No damage, carpets clean Lighting fixtures: Operational Electrical outlets: All functioning, no visible damage Blinds/Drapes: Fully functional and clean Windows: Open and close easily, locks work Smoke alarm/Carbon monoxide alarm: Up to code, batteries good, working order Kitchen Status: [Good / Needs Maintenance / Poor] Smell test: No odors from animals, smoke, waste, must Door/Door stops: Fully functional Flooring: No damage, carpets clean Walls and ceiling: Clean, no signs of mold or damage Lighting fixtures: Operational Cabinet under sink: No leaks with running water, no standing water Countertops/Backsplash: Clean, no damage, caulking intact Cabinets: Doors/drawers work, no damage Sink/Faucet: No leaks, drains well, spray hose works Pantry: Shelves intact, walls clean, lights functioning Appliances (oven, fridge, dishwasher, microwave, etc.): Clean, functional Exhaust fan: Functional, no excessive noise Electrical outlets: Functioning, GFCI where required Windows: Open and close easily, locks work Smoke alarm/Carbon monoxide alarm: Up to code, batteries good, working order Hallway/Stairway Status: [Good / Needs Maintenance / Poor] Smell test: No odors from animals, smoke, waste, must Door/Door stops: Fully functional Railings: No loose or missing spindles Walls and ceiling: Clean, no signs of mold or damage Closets: Shelves stable, no stains or damage to walls Flooring: No damage, carpets clean Lighting fixtures: Operational Electrical outlets: All functioning, no visible damage Blinds/Drapes: Fully functional and clean Windows: Open and close easily, locks work Smoke alarm/Carbon monoxide alarm: Up to code, batteries good, working order Bedrooms (repeat for each bedroom) Status: [Good / Needs Maintenance / Poor] Smell test: No odors from animals, smoke, waste, must Walls and ceiling: Clean, no damage or mold Ceiling fans: Working properly Flooring: No damage, carpets clean Closets: Shelves stable, no stains or damage to walls Lighting fixtures: Working Door/Door stops: Fully functional Electrical outlets: All functioning Blinds/Drapes: Fully functional and clean Windows: Open and close easily, locks work Smoke alarm/Carbon monoxide alarm: Up to code, batteries good, working order Bathrooms (repeat for each bathroom) Status: [Good / Needs Maintenance / Poor] Smell test: No odors from animals, smoke, waste, must Door/Door stops: Fully functional Flooring: No damage, no sagging floorboards or discoloration Walls and ceiling: Clean, no damage or mold Exhaust fan: Working properly Closets: Shelves stable, no stains or damage to walls Lighting fixtures: Working Toilet: Flushes correctly, no leaks Sink/Faucet: Drains well, no leaks Cabinet under sink: No leaks with running water, no standing water Shower/bathtub: Drains well, faucets work, no mold Towel bars: Present and functional Mirrors: Clean, no damage Electrical outlets: Functioning, GFCI installed Blinds/Drapes: Fully functional and clean Windows: Open and close easily, locks work Smoke alarm/Carbon monoxide alarm: Up to code, batteries good, working order Utility Spaces (if applicable) Status: [Good / Needs Maintenance / Poor] Smell test: No odors from animals, smoke, waste, must Door/Door stops: Fully functional Flooring: No oil stains or cracks Electrical outlets: Functioning, GFCI installed Lighting fixtures: Working Walls and ceiling: Clean, no damage or mold Closets: Shelves stable, no stains or damage to walls Blinds/Drapes: Fully functional and clean Cabinet under sink: No leaks with running water, no standing water Windows: Open and close easily, locks work Washer/dryer: Functional, no leaks Water heater: No visible damage, no leaks HVAC system: Operational, air conditioning filters clean, no moisture issues around drip pan Satellite dish: Attached to house correctly Smoke alarm/Carbon monoxide alarm: Up to code, batteries good, working order Garage (if applicable) Status: [Good / Needs Maintenance / Poor] Smell test: No odors from animals, smoke, waste, must Interior door/Door stops: Fully functional Garage door opener: Functions correctly Flooring: No oil stains or cracks Walls and ceiling: Clean, no damage or mold Lighting: Functional Electrical outlets: Functioning, GFCI installed Windows: No damage, hardware intact, no evidence of moisture Storage areas: Organized, no damage Smoke alarm/Carbon monoxide alarm: Up to code, batteries good, working order Additional Notes: Space for the inspector to make any additional comments or observations. Signature: Inspector’s signature, date. FAQ Here are a few frequently asked questions about rental inspections. Q: How often should you conduct rental inspections? A: The frequency of rental inspections can vary based on several factors, including local regulations, lease agreements, and the specific needs of the property. Generally, here's a recommended guideline: Move-In Inspection: Once, right before a new resident moves in. Move-Out Inspection: Once, immediately after the resident vacates. Routine Rental Inspections: Typically, every six to twelve months. It's a balance between ensuring the property is being maintained without being overly intrusive to your residents. Drive-By Rental Inspections: These can be conducted more frequently, perhaps quarterly, since they are less invasive and don’t require entering the property. However, always consult your local laws and regulations, as some areas might have stipulations on how often you can inspect a rented property. Also, it's crucial to provide residents with proper notice before any inspection, respecting their privacy and rights. Q: Can a tenant refuse a rental property inspection? A: While rental inspections are essential for property managers, tenants have rights, and their privacy must be respected. Generally, a resident cannot outright refuse a rental property inspection if: It's Stipulated in the Lease: Most rental agreements or leases have clauses that allow for periodic inspections by the property manager or landlord, given proper notice. Adequate Notice is Given: Many jurisdictions require landlords to provide a specific amount of notice (usually 24-48 hours) before entering the property unless there's an emergency. The Inspection is Conducted at a Reasonable Time: Inspections should be scheduled during reasonable hours, avoiding early mornings, late nights, or any time that might intrude on the tenant's reasonable expectation of quiet enjoyment. However, if a resident has a valid reason like health concerns, religious reasons, or personal issues, it might be possible to reschedule the inspection to a more convenient time. Always be sure to check local laws and regulations as tenant rights can vary by jurisdiction. Open communication and understanding between both parties can help mitigate any concerns or conflicts. Make Property Management Easier with Second Nature At Second Nature, our goal is to make property management easier for professional property managers. We built our Resident Benefits Package to support property management companies in delivering the best resident experience on the market. From a move-in concierge to air filter subscriptions to rent reporting, we deliver the services that residents will pay for – and stay for. Learn more about our RBP today!
November 6, 2023
Property management maintenance is one of the most important parts of the resident experience. But it’s also costly and difficult to control. We’ve heard from hundreds of property managers that maintenance can be one of the most unpredictable parts of their job – and one of the biggest headaches for residents, property managers, and real estate investors. Triple headache! Of course, the unique frustrations and challenges of rental property maintenance also mean that an effective strategy can become one of the most outstanding differentiators for a property management company. So how do leading PMCs take their routine maintenance practices to the next level? How can PMCs turn that triple headache into a triple win? Here’s what we’ve learned from years of working with PMCs. What is property maintenance? Property maintenance is everything involved in ensuring your properties are in excellent shape and any issues are repaired in a timely manner. Property managers take responsibility for maintenance in most cases, and their tasks include both preventive and responsive maintenance. Property maintenance may include: Resident maintenance requests Servicing and repairing HVAC systems Pest control Landscaping Painting and repairs Maintenance is critical to the resident experience, to keeping a property fully functional, and to ensuring safety and quality of life. Failure to follow through on maintenance can result in serious consequences. Property managers must balance their residents' needs and their investors' goals. For example, what if an investor isn’t interested in putting a whole lot of maintenance or repairs into a specific property – but the resident wants a higher level of service? Another layer of complexity is the round-the-clock nature of maintenance tasks. You don’t know when a roof will spring a leak, an HVAC system will go haywire, or a dishwasher will give up the ghost. Property managers have to juggle on-call hours, after-hours, increasing work orders, and emergencies all the time. Benefits and challenges of property management maintenance That’s all easier said than done! Property management maintenance is uniquely challenging. It’s unpredictable, almost always urgent, and involves several stakeholders and fluctuating pricing. Bottom line: How do you build solutions that support your team, the resident, and your investor? Let's look at both the benefits and challenges of property management maintenance. Benefits of property management maintenance: Extending the life of properties and equipment Reduced costs Ensuring resident health and safety Boosting the resident experience with high-quality homes Avoiding liabilities and accidents Increasing property value Happier tenants! Challenges of property management maintenance: Prioritizing reactive and preventive maintenance Increased expenses and maintenance costs Delegating tasks to your team Managing resident expectations After-hours and emergency work is 24/7 Balancing investor's goals and resident's needs Examples of maintenance in property management Here are some top examples of property management maintenance company services for single-family homes. Spring property maintenance checklist: Check gutters and downspouts for blockages left over from the winter Check interior for any mold or mildew growth Start prepping landscaping for summer with new flowers or shrubs Summer property maintenance checklist: Clean window wells, gutters, and downspouts Find and fix any gaps in windows, doors, and walls (to keep out pests and ensure HVAC efficiency) Maintain yard and landscaping if that's within your responsibility Increase watering frequency Prune trees and any hazardous limbs Lawn care Check outdoor lighting Pressure wash and repair outdoor areas/decks Fall property maintenance checklist: Check the roof and exterior for leaks or repair needs Clean chimney for cold weather Clean gutters and downspouts again Prep landscaping for winter Remove dead leaves, branches, etc. Prep sprinkler system for winter Winter property maintenance checklist: Ensure roof is in good state for winter Check batteries in smoke and carbon monoxide detectors Ensure pipes, windows, and doors are insulated Cover and winterize outdoor areas, including pools and pipes What to look for in property maintenance workers? When property management companies consider hiring in-house maintenance workers or contracting with property maintenance services and technicians, there are several key qualifications and skills to look for. These not only ensure efficiency and quality in maintenance tasks but also contribute to the overall safety and longevity of the property. Here’s a checklist of what to look for: Experience in Managing Repairs: Look for a proven track record in handling a variety of repair tasks. This includes the ability to diagnose issues quickly and provide effective, long-lasting solutions. HVAC Systems Expertise: Essential knowledge in maintaining and repairing HVAC systems is crucial, given their complexity and how important they are to resident comfort. Boiler Maintenance Skills: Expertise in maintaining and repairing boilers, especially in regions with colder climates where heating systems are in constant use. Installation Abilities: Proficiency in installing various types of equipment—ranging from basic fixtures to complex machinery. Electrical and Plumbing Knowledge: A solid understanding of basic electrical and plumbing systems ensures that routine issues can be addressed promptly and safely. Certifications and Training: Relevant certifications or completed training courses in property maintenance or specific systems (like HVAC or electrical work) add credibility and assure competence. Problem-Solving Skills: The ability to think on their feet and creatively solve unexpected problems that arise during maintenance work is key. Communication Skills: Clear communication with property management team and tenants is essential, especially when coordinating repairs and addressing tenant concerns. Attention to Safety: A strong focus on safety protocols to prevent accidents or property damage, including adherence to all relevant regulations and guidelines. Customer Service Orientation: Since maintenance technicians often interact directly with residents, a friendly demeanor and strong customer service skills are important for maintaining tenant satisfaction. By ensuring that your property maintenance workers or contracted technicians meet these criteria, property management companies can maintain high standards in property upkeep, leading to satisfied tenants and well-maintained properties. What should an ideal property management maintenance solution have? We’ve spoken with leading property managers across the industry and collected some of their best tips for taking the puzzle of property maintenance and delivering next-level service and experiences. Here are three key steps they’ve shared for leveling up when it comes to property maintenance. 1. The right team Getting the right “who” is critical before addressing the “how.” We spoke to leading property management consultant Kevin Hommel about what he looks for in his property management team. He looks for people who are proactive, self-driven, and resilient in the face of complex problems. Maintenance is no exception. A self-driven team will always aim to be proactive rather than reactive. Hommel says: “I would rather find somebody who is going to come in and hustle – even if I have to teach them everything about property management – than find somebody who's a property management expert but has the wrong attitude. It's going to be a completely different experience.” The benefits of finding the right full-time or part-time team are twofold: First, you’ll produce better work and better service. Second, a trustworthy team helps you focus on bigger strategic opportunities. As a property management business owner, you should be free to focus on 10X opportunities rather than get bogged down in day-to-day tasks. Peter Lohmann, Co-founder & CEO of RL Property Management, says it this way: “In property management, a lot of us are in the habit of wanting to know what's going on at all times – every rental application, every maintenance request, works orders, every disbursement amount. But I would challenge everyone to step back from that and ask yourself, ‘Why?’ The need to ‘stay plugged in’ is not going to help you unlock growth for your company. Time to work on 10x opportunities instead.” By hiring a team you can trust, you’re setting your residents up for success. You know they’ll be taken care of, and you can focus on higher goals to improve your resident experience overall. 2. A clear process for managing requests After setting up your team – and before we get to the tools you can use to support them – we need to talk about the process. Every property manager we’ve spoken to is bullish when it comes to getting your processes right. Lohmann again: “(It’s important to) do things in a standard way throughout your business. The more exceptions and one-off arrangements you make with the property owner and tenants, the harder this becomes. Your priority should be to standardize all your contracts and operating procedures so you can innovate around a small number of core processes that apply to every unit you manage.” This is more than just having a maintenance checklist. The best way to build a process is to approach it from the lens of the resident experience. The most successful property managers set up maintenance processes by asking themselves what the resident wants and needs: What’s the easiest way for a resident to report an issue? In what way do residents like to communicate with me or hear from me? How can I best keep residents informed? How can I bring speed and convenience to residents? Using an experience lens to build or update property maintenance processes can help you see new opportunities. 3. The right tools and technology Automation and AI are some of the newest ways to support your team and improve functionality. No-code tools and app integrations help connect workflow, client management, communication, and task tracking. No-code tools are products that enable those of us with no coding experience to build digital solutions for every part of our workflow. Property managers can use no-code tools to design their websites, build online content, create email campaigns, or set up automated task tracking, communication, and more. In terms of property maintenance, PMCs can now use accounting platforms with native portals for maintenance requests or adopt maintenance solutions platforms like Meld. These solutions offer customizable automation where you can track tasks, deadlines, time, vendors, costs, and employee responsibilities. With just a few clicks, automation helps cut out manual work like: Creating a New Property Checklist every time you add a new door Populating data fields in your CRM Assigning the correct tasks to the correct people Sending an email to a property investor with updated information Sending maintenance reminders Tracking safety checks and code enforcement Etc. Property management software and partner solutions run the gaut. They can include features like: Tenant portals for maintenance requests and more 24/7 and after-hours call center services Accounting platforms Self-help video libraries and knowledgebase platforms Technology ultimately brings greater speed, convenience, and ease to you and your residents. 4. A resident benefits package Whether you’re already implementing automation or if that feels a long way off, we still haven’t addressed one of the best tools for boosting resident experience: the resident benefits package or RBP. An RBP is considered by many property managers as the most powerful, profitable step to impact the resident experience. And it is the only one that generates revenue while also creating operational efficiency. RBPs provide tools like filter delivery service, identity protection, rewards programs, on-time rent incentives, credit building, move-in concierges, insurance, and more. Here’s just one example: The National Rental Home Council (NRHC) surveyed 7,772 single-family residences over 18 months to analyze the frequency of resident HVAC service requests with and without HVAC filter delivery service. Second Nature delivered HVAC filters every 60 to 90 days in a date-stamped box with illustrated instructions and sent emails with tracking information and educational content before each delivery. Overall, there was a 38% reduction in HVAC-related ticket requests among the group that received filter delivery—a result achieved without creating any additional work for the property management company. Resident benefits packages help standardize benefits in a cost-effective way across all your properties. With an RBP, you know every resident is getting a level of service that feels high-touch but doesn’t create any extra work for your team. RBPs strengthen communication, transparency, self-service, and speed – in other words, the resident experience and relationship. How to effectively manage a property maintenance team Managing a property maintenance team efficiently is key to ensuring your properties are well-cared for, and your residents remain satisfied. From scheduling tasks to fostering teamwork, every aspect plays a crucial role. In this section, we'll break down essential tips into actionable strategies to help you lead your maintenance team effectively. Establish Clear Communication Channels Effective communication is the backbone of successful team management. Establishing clear channels for reporting issues, discussing solutions, and sharing feedback ensures everyone is on the same page. Use digital tools like email, messaging apps, or property management software to streamline communication. Implement a Scheduling System A well-structured scheduling system is crucial for organizing maintenance tasks. Make sure your maintenance team uses digital calendars or maintenance management software to allocate tasks, set deadlines, and track progress. Ensure their schedules are flexible enough to accommodate emergency repairs while maintaining routine maintenance work. Prioritize Tasks Based on Urgency and Importance Not all maintenance tasks carry the same weight. Prioritize issues that directly impact resident safety and comfort, such as HVAC problems or plumbing leaks. Regular maintenance can be scheduled around these more urgent tasks to ensure efficiency without compromising on critical repairs. Use Technology for Efficiency Leverage technology to automate reminders, maintain records, and manage work orders. Property maintenance software can significantly reduce manual administrative work. Regularly Evaluate Performance Conduct regular assessments of your maintenance vendors. Use these evaluations to identify areas for improvement, acknowledge accomplishments, and set goals for future growth. Encourage Feedback from Residents Residents are often the first to notice maintenance issues. Encourage and facilitate easy ways for them to report problems. This feedback can be invaluable in identifying areas that need attention and enhancing resident satisfaction. Plan for Preventive Maintenance Instead of always being reactive, schedule regular preventive maintenance checks. This proactive approach can significantly reduce the frequency of emergency repairs and extend the life of property assets. Building in solutions like a Resident Benefits Package can bring residents on board with prevention strategies, too. Balance Workload Fairly Ensure that the workload is evenly distributed among team members if your team does the maintenance work. Overburdening certain individuals can lead to burnout and reduce the overall efficiency of the team. How does a Resident Benefits Package help reduce maintenance needs and costs? Managing single-family properties presents unique challenges, particularly due to the fact they're generally scattered-site management. This setup can make regular maintenance a logistical and financial burden for SFR property managers. But a well-structured, fully managed Resident Benefits Package (RBP) can make a huge difference in alleviating those challenges. At Second Nature, we built an RBP with integrated solutions that support and empower residents to take better care of the properties themselves. This helps reduce maintenance needs over time. Take air filter delivery: Simply subscribing to HVAC filter delivery can reduce HVAC ticket requests by 38% and save hundreds in energy bills. Another example is pest control. On-demand pest control can ensure residents deal with pest issues immediately. Instead of paying for expensive prevention, you can be sure actual issues are dealt with before they escalate. Or, consider resident rewards. With a built-in rewards program, property managers can customize the behaviors they want to encourage. Small preventive tasks or maintenance checks can be included in those incentives. Maintenance, tracking down vendors, invoicing work orders, etc., will always be a part of the property manager's life. But with an RBP, you can significantly cut down on the time and money you spend on a maintenance team. Why property maintenance can make or break your success as a PMC You’ve heard this from us before, and you’re going to hear it again – it’s all about the resident experience. Retention depends on it. Consumers today are looking for products that can offer them: Ease and convenience: Thanks to companies like Uber and Amazon, consumers are now used to having solutions at their fingertips – or the click of a button. Personalization: With our data everywhere, we’ve all become accustomed to brands that know us more intimately than ever before. Automation or speed to answer: Smart homes and connected devices can solve problems remotely and quickly. Even though PMs aren’t robots, we see more PMs solving with digital solutions and proactive services like resident benefits packages that anticipate and deliver on residents’ needs before they become problems. The modern resident has different expectations than the generation before. The “convenience economy” has come for us all. Residents don’t just expect to have maintenance issues resolved. They expect management services to provide a certain level of ease, comfort, familiarity, and convenience. Of course, maintenance work has obvious urgency: Nobody wants to live with a clogged toilet, a leaky faucet, no hot water, backed-up gutters, etc. But emergency repairs are now the minimum that property managers provide. Property management maintenance is integral to the resident experience – and one of the primary ways to set your business apart. We’re not just looking for “good enough” – we’re looking to answer the question: “How do we create experiences so good that residents never want to leave?” Regarding rental property upkeep, delivering on that question will involve many factors: Safety first: Safety is the baseline for all properties. If residents don’t feel safe, they are not likely to stay. Staying on top of carbon monoxide detectors, leaks, etc., is paramount. Timeliness: According to Ray Hespen, “the biggest leading indicator for resident satisfaction is speed.” Transparency: Whether through an online dashboard, text communication, or other tools, residents expect to know what’s going on with their homes. Preventive maintenance: We have to go beyond reactive maintenance. Processes that prevent issues from occurring can save time and money and boost the resident experience. We’ll talk about how resident benefits packages can deliver this for PMCs. First-time fixes: Nothing is more frustrating than getting something fixed only to realize the maintenance team didn’t actually resolve the issue. Communication: Residents don’t want to explain themselves or the problem several times to different parties like the property manager, the vendor, etc. Self-service: Many residents like the control and convenience of self-service options like air filter delivery or online payment portals. These are the characteristics we’re seeing across some of the most successful property management companies – the PMCs standing out from the crowd. How to reduce property maintenance costs Maintenance costs can quickly spiral if not carefully managed, but with strategic planning and smart practices, you can significantly reduce these expenses without compromising on quality or resident satisfaction. Let's dig into a few practical tips that will guide you on how to efficiently lower your property maintenance costs, ensuring your operations remain both cost-effective and top-notch. Implement Preventive Maintenance Proactive maintenance can significantly reduce long-term costs. By implementing services that protect key elements like HVAC systems, plumbing, and electrical circuits, you can prevent minor issues from becoming major expenditures. Services like air filter delivery create excellent return on investment when it comes to prevention like this. Use Energy-Efficient Solutions Invest in energy-efficient appliances, lighting, and HVAC systems. These not only reduce energy costs but also tend to have a longer lifespan and lower maintenance requirements. Consider LED lighting, energy star-rated appliances, and smart thermostats to boost efficiency and cut costs. Train Staff on Basic Repairs Equip your team with the skills to handle basic repairs in-house if it makes sense for you in terms of time and cost. Training staff to fix common issues like minor leaks, electrical faults, or appliance glitches can save on expensive contractor fees. However, ensure more complex tasks are left to professionals. Negotiate Contracts with Vendors Establish long-term relationships with trusted vendors and negotiate contracts for regular maintenance services. Buying services in bulk or agreeing to long-term contracts can often result in significant discounts. Ensure these vendors are reliable and offer competitive rates for their services. Monitor and Manage Inventory Efficiently Keep a close eye on your inventory of maintenance supplies if that's something your team manages. Bulk purchasing of frequently used items can save money, but be wary of overstocking, which can lead to waste. Use inventory management software to track usage and avoid unnecessary purchases. Optimize Use of Technology Leverage technology for maintenance management. Use property management software to track maintenance requests, schedule work orders, and monitor expenses. This can help in identifying patterns or areas where costs can be trimmed without compromising on service quality. Conduct Regular Financial Audits Regularly review and audit your maintenance expenses. This practice can help you identify areas where you may be overspending, spot inefficiencies, and adjust your maintenance strategies accordingly to ensure cost-effectiveness. How thousands of property managers are approaching the future of maintenance and resident experience A property manager’s ability to respond to maintenance needs proactively can have a massive impact on renewals and referrals. We’re sure every property manager has stories of how maintenance can make or break the resident experience and company growth. Innovative property managers set themselves apart by building teams and systems that go above and beyond for the resident experience to create a Triple Win. They create systems that proactively address maintenance, apply technology to support their teams, and provide fantastic benefits to residents. If you want to build a differentiated resident experience people pay for and stay for, learn more about our Resident Benefits Package or subscribe to our podcast for regular insights from the PMC world.
June 28, 2023
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! 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. 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.
June 12, 2023